The author’s process & personal experience of writing David, My David:
(For his personal rationale for having written it, see Why I Wrote »David, My David«.)

David, My David
started as a multi-page outline in 1994.

That outline had more the characteristics of a screenplay than a novel, and bore only the most basic of similarities to what appeared 22 years later, in 2016. Within that antique outline, my own, undergraduate and graduate studies in German literature were more prevalent (both Edi and Thomi/David were literature students in its sketches) but, even then, it had music ringing through its scenes, its words.

Previously that year, the conditions of the Jews within Nazi Germany had come very much to my attention. In particular, I became interested in the plight of those who, because they did not fit the Nazi stereotype of “Jewishness,” had been able to “hide in plain sight,” to lead more-or-less normal, albeit ever-terrified, lives within the Third Reich.

How would those non-Jewish Germans around them react if or when they discovered the secret those hidden ones bore came to light? Would these Reichsdeutsche react with their culture’s pre-Nazi teachings of Christian kindness, concern and forbearance, or would they be treacherous tools of the dictatorship? The backgrounds of these every-day Germans, the foundation of their lives, their emotional strength, and psychological turmoil, all these intrigued me.

And what if, amongst these hiding ones were a mixed-religion, gay couple? Would “the love that dare not speak its name” conquer the distress, the ignorant bias, the grinding travail?

Too often the Holocaust is seen by non-Jews as having happened to “them” and of not applying to “us”.

However, I had grown up in a small, but cosmopolitan town that had a sizable Jewish population. I had grown up with Jewish children, had known them all my life. Would their being excluded, damned, abducted, not have affected me?

In 1994 I had sensed strongly that that early outline was missing something.

Only with the passage of years did what that was become apparent. Only with mounting personal losses did the emotions dig themselves deeply within my life, and a true, encompassing understanding arise.

The evening of Saturday, July 11, 2009, I rushed the 300 miles [483 km] from a quick family-weekend in Arkansas back to my home in the Dallas area to find out why my partner of twelve years, Jeffrey Qualls, was not answering his cell phone, nor any of the house phones.

I discovered Jeffrey, cold, collapsed face-first onto one of the couches in our living room.

Jeffrey had suffered a singular, unheralded, fatal seizure approximately 16 hours before I found him. The brain injury accruing from the concussion (with its extended day of coma) suffered in a wreck in June of 1997—compounded by nine years of psychiatric medical-malpractice, of those quacks’ perpetual, utterly incompetent fishing for medications—had taken him.

Jeffrey was only 34 years old.

In the midst of my unrelenting bereavement (deepened by the depths of my survivor’s syndrome), during June of 2013, I retrieved that antique outline from 1994, re-read and critiqued it, then sat down to write a full text. I did not realize it at the time, but this process was an unscripted attempt finally to overcome the PTSD that had arisen from that shock of finding the (otherwise healthy) center of my life, cold and alone in a darkened house.

Within three days of starting the text, I had written 14,000 words.

Over the course of the next year, the text grew to 190,000 words, shrank to 142,000 words then, over the course of subsequent years’ editing, assumed its present status of c. 187,000 words. (In der deutschen Ausgabe findet man c. 194,000 Wörter.)

I recognized that David, My David had truly become an expansion of so much of the history, so many experiences, so very many aspects of my own life, of how Jeffrey suffuses so many characters. This is why the saga is told in the first person, and why I gave the main character, and his uncle, my own first name, Eduard: Jeffrey had been my Reinhold, my David, my LJ.

Back in November of 1997, on the day after we had met, it was upon Jeffrey’s telling me about his near-fatal wreck that previous summer that my mind first emitted, unexpected, the spontaneous phrase, “I almost lost you!”

And then, I did.

My elderly mother became bed-ridden during 2013. Over the next year and a half, her body shut down gradually, taking her mind with it. Although diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, hers was an unusual case in which her memory did not fail in typical fashion, i.e., losing memories with that loss-front moving backwards, regressing. At times, she might forget people or events from the early years of her life temporarily, but still remember her grandchildren, then unexpectedly regain the ability to recall things from the entire course of her life.

Suddenly, the afternoon of the Friday (21 November) before Thanksgiving of 2014, she became completely lucid. However, by that point, she couldn’t raise her head and had already lost her blink-reflex. She could speak only with effort.

It was that day that I was to arrive from Texas.

That next morning, without going into details, I explained to her that a part of the text spoke of the importance of Matthew 22:37-40, of “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

To this she replied clearly and without hesitation, “Well, that’ll be good then!”

It was the last thing my mother ever said to me.
It was the last complete sentence she said in her life.

I hope that the reader will agree with her insight.