Pigeon Pages Interview with Garrard Conley


Do you have a bird story or favorite feathered friend?


What is your most memorable reading experience?

Once, while living in a small Ukrainian village during the gas crisis (Russia tried to basically kill us by cutting off the gas), I was so cold I didn’t want to take my hands out from under the blanket but I still wanted to read, because I was bored, and I thought my fingers were going to freeze off while reading Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. I wouldn’t have said it was my favorite reading experience at the time, but somehow that physical memory registers as my “favorite” right now. 

What makes you most excited about Boy Erased?

One thing I think people miss, because of the subject matter, is the beauty of the small town where I grew up. I went to great lengths to describe some of that beauty alongside some of the more harrowing internal thoughts I was experiencing at the time. 

To tweet or not to tweet?

Owls hoot.

What books do you have in your bag right now?

I’m reading Impossible Owls (!!!) by Brian Phillips. 

Can you tell us your favorite rejection story?

I get embarrassed by rejection stories. Mags are typically so overworked and people miss great stuff all the time, and it makes me sad, both for the writer and the editor. But my personal fave rejection came from Roxane Gay, when she worked at PANK. She told me my story was strong but that I needed to work on details, that details are what make a story. She’s right.

What literary journals do you love?

Alaska Quarterly was a fave in my grad school days. Also really enjoy VQR. When I was in a grad program I loved to find random journals and open up to random stories and just read, then research the author. Still think that’s my favorite method for inspiration. 

What shakes your tail feathers?

People who are self-aware but not jaded. 

What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

Don’t quit! 

What other eggs do you have in your basket right now?

I’m writing a novel due Spring 2019.


GARRARD CONLEY is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Boy Erased, which has been translated in over a dozen languages and is now a major motion picture. Conley is also a creator and producer of the podcast UnErased, which explores the history of conversion therapy in America through interviews, historical documents, and archival materials provided by the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. His work can be found in The New York Times, TIME, VICE, CNN, BuzzFeed, Them, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Huffington Post, among other places. Conley lives in New York City with his husband, and is currently at work on a novel about queer 18th century lives. He can be found online @gayrodcon and garrardconley.com.