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The Guncle Returns!

New York Times-bestselling author Steven Rowley celebrates the sequel to his popular novel.

Steven Rowley (Image by Afonso Salcedo)

Patrick O’Hara, everyone’s favorite fictional “guncle,” or gay uncle, is back and bringing readers along for a Eurotrip to remember! New York Times-bestselling author Steven Rowley is celebrating the launch of his latest book, The Guncle Abroad, a sequel to his award-winning novel The Guncle. In this latest installment, Rowley’s beloved characters are gearing up for a wedding in Italy, with O’Hara drafted back into his guncle duties. This second installment is sure to delight readers, while serving as a story about humanity and queer familial love.

“The first book came out in May, 2021 at a time when we were emerging from a dark year after COVID. I didn’t get to tour for that book, and it’s not until I see the enthusiasm for this followup that I really understand the passion for the first one and how it has really changed my career,” reflects Rowley. “It followed a suddenly retired television star living a somewhat reclusive life in the desert, when he’s tasked with taking in his niece and nephew for the summer after the death of their mom, which leads to a season of healing for all three of them.”

This is very much a book about second chances and the idea that there can be room for joy and celebration in life, even after loss.” — Steven Rowley

At the time of this interview, Rowley is packing for his in-person book tour to promote The Guncle Abroad, which included a stop in Houston in May. “I always love coming back to Texas. It’s a big diverse state with many incredible readers, so I will always be back,” he says. Regarding his latest publication, the charismatic writer offers, “This one picks up five years after the events of the first book. The children’s father decides to get remarried, and neither kid is happy about it. So this time, instead of helping them handle grief, Patrick is teaching them about love and why someone might want to have a second chance at it. This is very much a book about second chances and the idea that there can be room for joy and celebration in life, even after loss.”

Drawing inspiration from what he refers to as the “magical caregiver genre,” including muses like Auntie Mame, Mary Poppins and Maria from The Sound of Music, Rowley, a guncle in his own right, effortlessly tackles subjects such as love, loss and family conflict with humor, wit and a touch of camp. “I’m so inspired by the queer community and how humor and joy has always been part of our culture, particularly in response to some very dark times—discrimination, violence against us, AIDS,” he says. “We have refused to lose our joy and our ability to laugh. Humor has always been such a survival tool for so many of us, and we can offer it to others who are grieving or going through difficult times.”

Rowley compares the whirlwind trip his characters take through Europe to another famous literary family tour abroad. “The sequel to the novel Auntie Mame is titled Around the World with Auntie Mame, so as a continued hat tip to that series, I knew if I ever revisited these characters we would be taking them abroad,” Rowley explains. “I try to not write about places I haven’t been. These are all trips that my husband and I have taken together—with the exception of Austria.”

Rowley is thrilled to present his latest project to the world and hopes that readers will be entertained, as well as take some topical lessons away with them as well. “I would love for readers to take away the fact that humor can be kind. There’s a lot of conversation happening now around whether or not it is possible to be funny in a politically correct world and I do think it’s possible.”

The author also shares the emphasis the book puts on the dynamics of queer families. “When I came out in the early 1990s, I never thought I would see marriage equality in my lifetime. It seemed impossibly far away. Yet, we’ve made so much progress on that front.” Considering the state of the world in regard to book bans, Rowley says, “I think that in these times when people in power are trying to keep books away from young readers, we should be trying to get them in as many hands as possible. I want this to be a celebration of the things that queer people have to offer children.”

With The Guncle Abroad finally out in the world, Rowley urges readers to expand their worldview through literature. “The work is political, but I want to lead with heart and humor. Heart and humor can often be the spoonful of sugar that helps the politics go down. It’s one of the most important things I think about books and reading, and particularly fiction. I do think that it’s really hard to deny someone their humanity when you’ve read their story.”

Keep up with Steven Rowley on Instagram:  @mrstevenrowley/

What: Steven Rowley & Byron Lane | The Guncle Abroad & Big Gay Wedding
When: Tuesday, May 28, 2024 at 7:00 PM
Where: St. Thomas Presbyterian, 14100 Memorial Dr.

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Zach McKenzie

Zachary McKenzie is a marketing professional and freelance writer in Houston, TX. He received his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014 and has lived in Houston since. Zachary is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and enjoys spending his free time with friends, exploring the richness and diversity of Houston.
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