After 9 years, Armistead Maupin to release new “Tales of the City” novel

Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City, Mona of the Manor, gay author
Armistead Maupin Photo: YouTube screenshot

After a nine-year hiatus, celebrated gay author Armistead Maupin recently revealed that he will be releasing the 10th novel in his beloved Tales of the City series, entitled Mona of the Manor, in March 2024.

Not only has the series been praised — and adapted into numerous TV miniseries — for its depictions of LGBTQ+ life in the changing city of San Francisco, California, but Maupin has used his celebrity to speak out against the recent wave of “fascist” anti-LGBTQ+ politics.

The new novel will focus on Mona Ramsey, a nervous advertising executive turned restless, hippy bisexual who appeared in the first Tales of the City book. Ramsey eventually befriends Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, a gay HIV-positive character who is seen as a stand-in for the author, and becomes his temporary roommate. In the series’ second book — More Tales Of The City, published in 1980 — a transgender landlady named Anna Madrigal reveals that she’s Ramsey’s biological parent.

However, Ramsey’s character gradually faded from the series after 1982, leaving fans wondering what happened to her. The new book will reveal that Ramsey’s marriage to Lord Teddy Roughton to help him secure his U.S. visa eventually led to her becoming the sole owner of Easley House, a grand, romantic country manor in the United Kingdom. As such, the new book takes place mostly in the U.K. rather than in San Francisco like the others.

“[Ramsey] didn’t imagine that she’d need to open the manor’s doors to paying guests to afford the electric bill and repair the leaking roof,” the upcoming novel’s description reads. Ramsey must act when an American couple with a “terrible secret” shows up at the manor. She must then work with her girlfriend and local residents to bring order to the estate while juggling a visit by Tolliver and Madrigal and the quickly approaching Midsummer festival that’ll bring the entire town onto the manor grounds.

Last year, Maupin told the BBC that he considers the book series concluded. However, he said that the new novel is simply an “interstitial” one that fits into the middle of the series, Q News reported. He also said that he has no further novels planned but added, “If I have to pay the rent, I’ll write another one!”

In a September 2021 interview, Maupin described the MAGA party of former President Donald Trump as “a fascist movement in America,” adding, “We have to keep a very close eye on it.”

“Trans people are getting the s**ty end of the stick right now,” he said, “… [because people are] not living in their higher selves – not thinking about what their fellow human beings feel and do and need…. [We need to] show our support by speaking out against anybody in our circles who are making [transphobic] noises like that. Challenge them, don’t be afraid to call an as***le an as***le. Support your trans friends. Do what you can.”

The TV legacy of Tales of the City

Maupin’s series first appeared in serialized form in the San Francisco Chronicle on May 24, 1976. It was groundbreaking in its frank, matter-of-fact depiction of the recreational use of cannabis and quaaludes as well as of gay and lesbian characters and sex scenes. Gradually, Maupin integrated aspects of the HIV epidemic and tales of a closeted mainstream actor later understood to be Rock Hudson.

The original Tales of the City books and TV series were predominantly white, something that the author later called “a mistake” that he made out of fear of misrepresenting characters unlike himself. His more recent installments of the series included characters of color and transgender characters.

The first three books have been turned into TV miniseries. The first 1978 book, Tales of the City, was produced by the U.K.’s Channel 4 and broadcast in the United States by PBS in 1994. Then, in 1998 and 2001, the Showtime cable network adapted the 1980 and 1982 book sequels, More Tales of the City and Further Tales of the City, into separate miniseries.

In 2019, Netflix aired a limited series of 10 episodes partly based on the 2010 novel Mary Ann in Autumn, the eighth book in the overall series. The series featured Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis, reprising their roles as one-time Bay Area newcomer Mary Ann Singleton and Miss Madrigal, roles they played previously in 1994, 1998, and 2001. 

Maupin, a 79-year-old author, came out as gay in 1974 and is married to producer Christopher Turner. Maupin served as the grand marshal of the 2003 San Francisco Pride parade. He also appeared in the 2017 documentary about his life, entitled The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin.

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