Armistead Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., in 1944 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and with the River Patrol Force in Vietnam. Maupin worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, before being assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. In 1976 he launched his groundbreaking Tales of the City serial in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Maupin is the author of several novels, including the seven-volume Tales of the City series, Maybe the Moon, The Night Listener and, most recently, Michael Tolliver Lives. Three miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were made from the first three Tales novels. The Night Listener became a feature film starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette.
Maupin lives in San Francisco with his husband, Christopher Turner.
Armistead Maupin's website
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A Conversation with Armistead Maupin
You are known for producing complex plotlines full of unexpected twists.
Does this require careful planning, or is the process more organic in nature?
I always let a storyline percolate for a while before I begin to write, but even then I have only a general road map of the territory. Many of the side trips arise unexpectedly, which is a source of delight to me. Sometimes, of course, it's necessary to rewrite in order to look like I'd always planned on taking that side trip. This requires engaging both sides of your brain simultaneously. That is, you have to maintain a kind of formal structure but go a little crazy at the same time. And, for me, that's never a speedy process. I usually write two pages a day at the very most. I wish I could let it spill out heedlessly, but I've grown more and more fussy over the years--thanks, in part, to the invention of the word processor.
Did you know how The Night Listener would end when you began it?
No. That came to me very close to the end, when I was out walking the dog. But it arose from what I'd already learned about Gabriel--and about myself--in the course of writing the book. It was thrillingly obvious, too, as ...
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