To know me, all you really need to do is read my books. I'm in there. I grew up in the country in southern Indiana, near small towns that were much like the fictional Verona that appears in my books. The high school I attended was very much like Verona High School. We had no openly gay boys in my school, but there was much prejudice and hate against homosexuals. Being called "gay" or "fag" was about the worst insult that could be hurled at anyone. I have no doubt that many of the fictional scenes in my book could well have happened in my old high school. All of Indiana tends to be fairly conservative and anyone who does not fit in the narrow mold of normalcy is largely considered an outcast. Being "outed" in my high school would have meant both being exposed, and being excluded, even exiled if you will.
I lived for a while in a small town in northern Indiana that is little different from the towns near where I grew up. Verona is a composite of all these towns. It is a town that could be located just about anywhere in the U.S., not just in Indiana. A few years ago I returned to my hometown in southern Indiana.
I get a lot of questions about whether or not my characters are based upon me. In many ways they are, especially those found in "The Soccer Field Is Empty". Both Mark and Taylor were very much based upon myself, so much so that in early drafts they were far too much alike. I ended up splitting my personality between them, giving Mark my more confident and determined side and Taylor my more thoughtful and sensitive side. When you read the thoughts and feelings of these two boys, you are reading about me. I think every author puts much of himself in his characters. Most of what I am and believe can be found in my novels. Just about every single character has a touch of me in him.
I am a full time writer and plan to keep on writing novels until I'm no longer able to do so. There are always new characters and situations to explore. I've received a lot of letters from young and not so young gays telling me how much my books have touched them. It is for these individuals, and myself, that I write.
Mark A. Roeder