Alex Sanchez, the former metro Washingtonian who has made a name for himself writing a number of novels dealing with gay teens coming of age, recently published his sixth book, The God Box. While the gay coming-of-age is still there, The God Box explores faith to a greater deal than Sanchez has in the past. That exploration may have come to a head during his recent U.S. book tour, which included an invitation to speak at a Catholic high school in the San Francisco area.
''It was awesome,'' he says. ''Regardless of whether you're gay or straight, high school can be such a challenging time. I was so confused about my own sexuality. Now, to go to a Catholic high school and see how much things have changed, to be in a high school that says we want to be an inclusive environment, I think back to what a difference that would've made in my life.''
Sanchez, who left the D.C. area in 2004, now spends part of his time in Florida with family, and in Bangkok. The Thailand connection was made after a gay Thai-American couple there asked to publish one of Sanchez's novels in Thai. He went over for a reading and fell in love with the country, he says, adding that the economics of living in Thailand allow him to spend his time writing, rather than holding down a regular ''day job.'' It's also provided this Catholic-raised Latino American an opportunity to explore a new culture.
Take, for example, his 50th birthday earlier this year.
''Part of the Buddhist philosophy is the tradition of making merit,'' Sanchez explains. ''That's how they celebrate birthdays. So I went to a place where you could buy a coffin for someone who can't afford one. You make a donation. There, death is much more accepted as part of life. It seemed very appropriate to do that on my birthday. It wasn't morbid at all.''
For more about Alex Sanchez, visit him online at www.AlexSanchez.com. The God Box is available at Lambda Rising Bookstore, 1625 Connecticut Ave. NW.