In just three decades, Patricia Nell Warren has become one of the most popular and respected authors of gay literature in the world. With eight successful novels to her credit and an estimated readership of over twenty million people worldwide, her books are considered by many to be an intrinsic part of the GLBT rites of passage as well as a literary synthesis of the gay and lesbian experience.
In more recent years, she has also become a distinguished investigative journalist and columnist — always willing to test public opinion and her popularity to get at the facts of any issue she explores.
Patricia Nell Warren was born in 1936 and grew up on the prestigious Grant Kohrs cattle ranch near Deer Lodge, Montana. She has been writing professionally since she was a teenager in the 1950s, and a publishing professional since 1959. Her subjects have a wide range of appeal — from youth, Goddesses, Earth, human rights, gay and lesbian life, mixed-blood people and American history to sports, wild animals, eco-agriculture and current events. Her provocative literary themes quite often dramatize a conflict between individual liberty and authoritarian culture while revealing unconventional social perspectives and exploring the deepest vulnerabilities in human nature.
Warren enjoys telling a powerful and original story. “Even in my editorials, I am a storyteller,” she freely admits. “Whenever I craft a story, I put myself within the character, and look for every possible parameter in that individual’s world. I’m not interested in labels or being politically correct. In fact, I often explore the disastrous consequences of labeling people or merely going along with the status-quo.”
Her most celebrated novel, The Front Runner, was first published by William Morrow in 1974, and has become the most popular gay love story of all time. This landmark classic about the relationship between an ex-Marine track coach and his Olympic athlete has sold an estimated 10 million copies worldwide and been translated into 10 languages (English, Spanish, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Japanese, Chinese, Latvian). According to the Publishing Triangle, readers have acclaimed The Front Runner as #1 of the 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels. Selected by Book of the Month Club for its â€œBest of the Paperbacksâ€ series, as well as the InsightOut Book Club, The Front Runner is now in development as a major motion picture. 2004 marks the 30th anniversary of this gay literary classic.
In 1994, Warren completed Harlan’s Race, the long-awaited sequel to The Front Runner. This was the premiere title offered by Wildcat Press, an independent press co-founded by Warren and her business partner, veteran media specialist and short story writer, Tyler St. Mark. Harlan’s Race received top reviews and remained on the Lambda bestseller list for an entire year. In 1997, Wildcat Press released Billy’s Boy, the third book in The Front Runner series, which won the Lambda “Editors’ Choice” Literary Award that year. Both sequels have been published in other languages as well including German, Japanese, Latvian, and Spanish.
Warren’s most recent novel is The Wild Man, a harrowing chronicle set in 1960s fascist Spain. Her newest bestseller chronicles the illicit relationship between a disillusioned Spanish bullfighter and a young idealistic peasant during the fascist regime of Spain in the 60’s. Stunningly detailed and startlingly accurate (Warren worked in Spain between 1964 and 1972 as a liaison for the Spanish edition of The Reader’s Digest), The Wild Man has been acclaimed by literary critics nationwide as perhaps Warren’s finest literary effort to date. The Wild Man appeared on both the Lambda and Amazon.com gay bestseller lists and was chosen for imprint by both the Quality Paperback and InsightOut Book Clubs. In 2003 it was published in Spain, under the title El Hombre bravo. It’s also available in German from Bruno Gmuender.
Warren has also published two mainstream novels. The Last Centennial (Dial Press1971) is a set of three short novels that take place in a small Montana town during the 70’s and One Is the Sun (Random House/Ballantine 1991) is a historical epic about a legendary woman chief of the Montana Territory during the 1800’s. One Is the Sun took almost a decade to research and is based on actual events. In 2002, Wildcat Press published their edition of this amazing adventure, which quickly sold out and is into a second printing.
Warren has also published four books of Ukrainian poetry between 1959 and 1973 as well as hundreds of short nonfiction pieces over the years. Her incisive articles and essays have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Los Angeles Times, The Reader’s Digest, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Woman, Mythosphere, Foreword and Persimmon Hill, to gay publications like The Advocate, Out, Gay & Lesbian Review, Genre, Philadelphia Gay News, and The Letter, Lodestar Quarterly.
Now a popular columnist, Warren writes regularly about gay pioneers in sports history for Outsports.com, while her provocative “Left Field” on the politics of AIDS and public health appears monthly in A & U Magazine.
In addition to her impressive literary record, Patricia Nell Warren has, for many years, been a committed human-rights activist. Her personal activism started during the 1960s, with her efforts to have American media recognize the individuality of Ukrainians and other ethnic groups in the USSR. In the 1970s she moved on to women’s rights, where she was the plaintiffs’ spokesperson for Susan Smith v. Reader’s Digest, a landmark lawsuit that resulted in a class-action victory for women. As a former amateur athlete, she helped lead a group of women distance runners who forced the AAU to change discriminatory rules in the mid-70s.
Currently, Patricia Nell Warren focuses on free speech and issues confronting youth. From 1996 to 2000, she voluntarily taught at a GED program for GLBT youth, and served on the Gay and Lesbian Education Commission of the Los Angeles Unified School District, as well as the district’s Human Relations Education Commission. She is one of several dozen plaintiffs in ACLU v. Reno and ACLU v. Reno II, a case-setting lawsuit seeking to stem unwarranted censorship of the Internet. She was also one of the founders of Just Dissent, a California activist group seeking to protect the rights of peaceful protesters.
Her literary and political work has been recognized by numerous awards. They include the Arizona Human Rights Fund’s Barry Goldwater Award, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Western Heritage Award, the Lambda Literary Award, the Saints & Sinners Hall of Fame, and the Gay and Lesbian Literary Hall of Fame.
Today, Patricia Nell Warren’s novels have become essential gay literature for bookstores, libraries and college courses worldwide and, according to recent surveys of independent book sales, are the most popular novels among classic gay literature. Warren lectures nationwide, and conducts many writer’s workshops. An entertaining and highly informative speaker, she draws upon on her vast experience, as a writer, editor and publisher, to help newcomers orient themselves artistically and to be well informed on professional writing standards and industry practices. Her personal web page features a menu of help articles for this purpose titled “Secrets of Writing and Publishing.”
Warren and her company are now in the process of establishing the Patricia Nell Warren Endowment Fund, which supports creatively gifted but financially challenged youth. She is also in the process of launching her new nationwide workshop series for young writers, called “Youth Writes!”