BuzzFeed interviews Armistead Maupin about ending his Tales of the City series with his new book The Days of Anna Madrigal.
BF: These last three novels are different — initially you said that Michael Tolliver Lives was not a sequel, but you changed your mind about that. What was the process like of deciding to continue the series, and realizing you were writing sequels?
AM: I started out with the idea that I wanted to write a standalone novel about a middle-aged gay man who had survived AIDS. It became very clear to me early on that I had such a middle-aged gay man in the person of Michael Tolliver, and that people knew his history very well, and that would add a resonance to whatever I wrote. I didn’t want to disappoint readers who thought they were going to get the old format, the multi-character tapestry of lives that had been in the previous six novels.
And I did that. I wanted Michael Tolliver to be a tribute to my generation of gay men, to address directly the people who had survived and what they’d gone through if they were still around when they thought they were going to be dead. I thought Michael was going to be dead when I announced the end of Tales with Sure of You. But I was bound and determined not to end a work with another gay man dying. So I brought him back for that one, and then I realized the formula that I created early on was extremely effective, and I knew how to work it. I could still tell everyone’s story by using it. So as a consequence, the Mary Ann novel and the Anna one are both structured like the earlier tales.