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Ford, Michael Thomas 1969(?)–

Ford, Michael Thomas 1969(?)–

PERSONAL: Born c. 1969. Hobbies and other interests: SCUBA diving.

ADDRESSES: HomeSan Francisco, CA. Agent—Mitchell Waters, Curtis Brown Ltd., 10 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003. E-mail[email protected] thomasford.com.

CAREER: Novelist, columnist, author of nonfiction, and radio commentator.

AWARDS, HONORS: American Library Association (ALA) best book for young adults, 1992, for One Hundred Questions and Answers about AIDS; ALA best book for young adults, Booklist editor's choice, and National Science Teachers Association/Children's Book Council (CBC) outstanding science trade book designation, all 1995, all for The Voices of AIDS; National Council of Social Studies/CBC Notable Children's Book, 1998, for Outspoken; Lambda Literary Award for best humor book, 1999, for Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me, and Other Trials of My Queer Life, 2000, for That's Mr. Faggot to You: Further Trials from My Queer Life, 2001, for It's Not Mean If It's True, and 2002, for The Little Book of Neuroses; New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age designation, 2000, for Paths of Faith: Conversations about Religion and Spirituality; Lambda Literary Award for best romance novel, 2004, for Last Summer.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

One Hundred Questions and Answers about AIDS: A Guide for Young People, New Discovery Books (New York, NY), 1992, published as One Hundred Questions and Answers about AIDS: What You Need to Know Now, Beech Tree Books (New York, NY), 1993.

The Voices of AIDS: Twelve Unforgettable People Talk about How AIDS Has Changed Their Lives, Morrow Junior Books (New York, NY), 1995.

The World out There: Becoming Part of the Lesbian and Gay Community, New Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me, and Other Trials of My Queer Life, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 1998.

Outspoken: Role Models from the Lesbian and Gay Community, Morrow Junior Books (New York, NY), 1998.

That's Mr. Faggot to You: Further Trials from My Queer Life, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 1999.

It's Not Mean If It's True: More Trials from My Queer Life, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2000.

Paths of Faith: Conversations about Religion and Spirituality, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2000.

The Little Book of Neuroses: Ongoing Trials from My Queer Life, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2001.

My Big Fat Queer Life: The Best of Michael Thomas Ford, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2003.

Ultimate Gay Sex, DK Publishers (New York, NY), 2004.

Author of "My Queer Life" (syndicated newspaper column), beginning 1996; contributor to Instinct magazine and to Web sites.

FICTION

(With others) Masters of Midnight, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Last Summer, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Looking for It, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2004.

(With others) Midnight Thirsts, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Author of young adult fiction under various pseudonyms. Also author of musical Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me.

ADAPTATIONS: Selections from Ford's columns have been recorded as My Queer Life, Fluid Word, 2000.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Television-script projects and screenplays.

SIDELIGHTS: As the author of "My Queer Life," a syndicated column that touches on everything from Life after Viagra to the legal troubles of oft-reviled and equally admired business tycoon Martha Stewart, Michael Thomas Ford has been compared to writers such as James Thurber, and been called everything from the "gay Erma Bombeck" to the "gay Everyman." Ford has been widely applauded throughout the gay community for his dry humor, which is reflected in the titles of several anthologies of his columns: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me, and Other Trials of My Queer Life; That's Mr. Faggot to You: Further Trials from My Queer Life, and The Little Book of Neuroses: Ongoing Trials from My Queer Life. The last book, in particular, showcases what a Publishers Weekly reviewer dubbed Ford's "delightfully inventive wit" in its tackling of such compelling subjects as "how Tiger Beat magazine made him gay" as well as providing "relationship tips for the neurotically inclined and mus[ing] … on how eBay allows us to relive our childhood by buying back our past." However, he also has a more serious side that has also been expressed in his award-winning books for young adults, such as One Hundred Questions and Answers about AIDS: A Guide for Young People and Outspoken: Role Models from the Lesbian and Gay Community.

Interviews are an important component of all of Ford's books for teen readers; they have been particularly important in making his nonflction books on coming-of-age issues popular among a readership for whom peer identification is important. In One Hundred Questions and Answers about AIDS he talks to four teens who are HIV positive, supplementing those discussions with what a Publishers Weekly contributor noted are "concise, very candid explanations" of the symptoms and effects of the disease. Ford's 1995 book The Voices of AIDS continues to address the concerns of teens, particularly those in the gay community, by introducing a range of men and women who either have the disease, are involved with an infected lover or family member, or are educators or AIDS activists. "Ford's careful, pointed questions bring out issues related to self-esteem, stereotyping, and discrimination that make the people he's talking to seem very real," noted Stephanie Zvirin in Booklist, reflecting the view of other appreciative critics.

From books addressing the most important issue facing young gay Americans—AIDS—Ford has also addressed the social issues that, to many adolescents dealing with their own homosexuality, can often feel as devastating. Outspoken does more than just present interviews with eleven gay and lesbian Americans: it allows readers the opportunity to meet eleven men and women who have allowed their differences to make them stronger individuals. Praising Ford's skill in posing "good, interesting questions" to his subjects—which include boxer Mark Leduc, actor Dan Butler, Rabbi Lisa Edwards, and artist Alison Bechdel—Christine Heppermann added in a Horn Book review that Outspoken "illustrates that there are as many different ways of coming to and participating in the gay community as there are people in it." In Booklist, Zvirin praised the book as "accessible, informative, and sensitive" to its intended audience.

Continuing his focus on teens, Ford has also gone beyond issues of sexuality to address another aspect of personal identity in Paths of Faith: Conversations about Religion and Spirituality. Again centering his book on interviews, he talks with Wiccan writer Star-hawk, Catholic Archbishop John Cardinal O'Connor, and representatives of Shaker, Islamic, Episcopal, Quaker, Hindu, Jewish Reform, and Buddhist spiritual communities. "Just as good biography can bring to life an historical era, these individuals' stories provide intriguing introductions to a variety of religious faiths," noted a Horn Book contributor, while a School Library Journal reviewer dubbed Paths of Faith "a thoughtful look at contemporary religious practice in the United States." Although some critics noted that the individuals interviewed reflect predominately liberal religious views, as a Publishers Weekly contributor maintained, "Ford does an expert job of balancing discussions about the particulars of a religion with the overarching concerns common to most faiths."

From his stance as a commentator on gay culture, Ford continues to strike a balance between entertainment and education in his writing. While continuing his column, he has also branched out into fiction, and his novels of gay life and love have been praised for their likeable characters and insights into romantic relationships even as they have gained a following for their sexual content. Ford also remains outspoken on serious issues within the gay community at large, particularly racial issues, drug and alcohol abuse, and depression. As he commented during an interview with Paul J. Willis for the Lambda Book Report, "What we call the queer 'community' is really an extremely diverse group of people united by one commonality—our sexuality…. Because of that one commonality, we've been brought together as a family that has to learn how to support one another and look out for one another. Until we do that, then gay rights laws and marriage initiatives and all of those things will mean very little. If the individual members of a community are not working together, then there is no community."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Advocate, September 26, 2000, Edward Guthmann, "Seriously Funny," p. 73.

Booklist, August, 1995, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Voices of AIDS: Twelve Unforgettable People Talk about How AIDS Has Changed Their Lives, p. 1948; July, 1996, Ray Olson, review of The World out There: Becoming Part of the Lesbian and Gay Community, p. 1783; May 1, 1998, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Outspoken: Role Models from the Lesbian and Gay Community, p. 1516; October 1, 20000, Ilene Cooper, review of Paths of Faith: Conversations about Religion and Spirituality, p. 353; November 1, 2001, Michael Spinella, review of The Little Book of Neuroses: Ongoing Trials from My Queer Life, p. 456; August, 2003, review of Last Summer, p. 1952; August, 2004, Whitney Scott, review of Looking for It, p. 1908.

Entertainment Weekly, September 23, 2003, review of Last Summer, p. 158.

Horn Book, May-June, 1998, Christine Heppermann, review of Outspoken, p. 358; January, 2001, review of Paths of Faith, p. 108.

Lambda Book Report, July-August, 1999, Louis Bayard, review of That's Mr. Faggot to You: Further Trials from My Queer Life, p. 24; September, 2000, Paul J. Willis, "Michael Thomas Ford Tells the Awful Truth" (interview), p. 8; April, 2001, Nancy Garden, review of Paths of Faith, p. 24; May, 2004, Jonathan Harper, review of Ultimate Gay Sex, p. 29.

Publishers Weekly, October 12, 1992, review of One Hundred Questions and Answers about AIDS: A Guide for Young People, p. 81; November 13, 1995, review of The Voices of AIDS, p. 63; April 5, 1999, review of That's Mr. Faggot to You, p. 226; August 14, 2000, review of It's Not Mean If It's True: More Trials from My Queer Life, p. 339; January 29, 2001, review of Paths of Faith, p. 87; October 8, 2001, review of The Little Book of Neuroses, p. 58; August 4, 2993, review of Last Summer, p. 56; April 5, 2004, review of Ultimate Gay Sex, p. 58; July 19, 2004, review of Looking for It, p. 145.

School Library Journal, January, 2001, Elaine Fort Weischedel, review of Paths of Faith, p. 144.

ONLINE

Michael Thomas Ford Web site, http://www.michaelthomasford.com (August 24, 2004).

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