In 2010 Alden set out to write her autobiography. When I First Knew tells the story of her early years from 1951 to 1957 when she began to express herself as a young lesbian, long before the words gay and lesbian were adopted by the community. Strictly speaking, the book is a creative memoir because the sub-plot is fiction.
When I First Knew is Abby Harper’s journey of self discovery in the 1950s with all the challenges of being different in an era of conformity, identity confusion, bullying, and the heartache of shame and rejection, which exist today in spite of new understanding and acceptance of the LGBT community.
Joan Alden was born in Detroit, Michigan and educated at The Ohio State University and The Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting in New York. She has previously published three novels and a children’s book. Her novel, Letting in the Night was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for Fiction, and her children’s book, A Boy’s Best Friend, was selected by The New York State Rainbow Curriculum in 1992.
This morning I counted twenty-two rosebuds starting to open on the side of the house.
At school today they sang the birthday song to me. After that we had cupcakes with pink frosting. I’m not crazy about pink, but it’s okay for frosting. Bobby Baker was standing next to me when I blew out the little candle on my cupcake and he tried to kiss me. I didn’t mean to push him away hard and make him so mad he squashed a cupcake with his shoe.