A new memoir by a former Los Angeles LGBT Center staffer, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, has been receiving unabashed social media praise from such celebrities as Jim Parsons, Andrew Rannells and Andy Cohen, among others.
All confessed to doing a lot of crying but also plenty of laughing as they made their way through a story of love and loss and the final year in the life of Michael Ausiello’s husband Kit Cowan.
Cowan was diagnosed with a rare form of neuroendocrine cancer in 2014 and died 11 months later. Already together for more than 12 years, the couple got married the very day Cohen was essentially given a death sentence by a doctor at New York’s premiere cancer center.
Ausiello, 45, worked on the Center’s Marketing Communications team in the mid ‘90s and went on to influential writing and editing jobs at TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. He is currently founder and editor-in-chief of the popular website TVLine.com.
The book, published by Simon & Schuster, went on sale this week.
Ausiello donated a generous portion of his advance for Spoiler Alert to the Center and answered some questions for Vanguard Now on the eve of the book’s release.
Vanguard: Congratulations on the publication of your book Michael. It takes the reader on such a powerful journey. What led to your decision to write Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies?
Ausiello: Kit's death was a nightmare. I wanted to turn that nightmare into something positive. And maybe find some peace in the process. I also wanted the world to meet and get to know Kit.
The book details your relationship with your husband, Kit Cowan, and the last year of his life as he fought cancer and you cared for him. What do you want people to know most about Kit?
He suffered like hell that last year. But he was never a victim.
The book is heartbreaking and harrowing but it is also very, very funny. What role did your sense of humor-and Kit’s sense of humor-play during this period of your lives?
It played a huge role throughout not only his illness but during our entire relationship. He was the funniest person I had ever met, but more importantly, I was the funniest person HE ever met. I mean, he never said those EXACT words to me, but.... it was implied!
From your mother’s death to relationship struggles to past weight battles-not to mention your Smurf collection-Spoiler Alert is such a personal and revealing book. In the writing process, was it difficult to be so open?
Revealing stuff about myself was surprisingly not tough at all. If anything it was liberating. Choosing how much to reveal about KIT was harder. People can judge me all they want. But the thought of people judging HIM made me nauseous. Ultimately, I realized I'd be doing him a disservice by softening his edges.
How do you feel about being so revealing about yourself‐ and about Kit ‐ now that the book is out?
It's a little weird. But I don’t have any regrets. Not yet anyway. Check back with me in a few weeks. I may be singing a different tune!
During the 11 months of Kit’s cancer battle, you had many Shirley MacLaine ‘Give my daughter the shot!’ moments (an iconic scene from Terms of Endearment). What did you learn about yourself during that period?
I'm stronger than I give myself credit for. And I have the ability to instill fear in doctors and nurses.
What kind of feedback have you gotten since the book’s release? Has anything surprised you?
I'm surprised at how surprised people are about the fact that I was overweight as a kid. And people are VERY interested in the status of my Smurf collection.
You will be holding an event at Barnes & Noble at The Grove on Sept 16 where you will be in conversation with Jim Parsons! How did the participation of this four‐time Emmy winner come about?
I've been interviewing Jim on red carpets and at Comic‐Cons and on the Big Bang set for the past 10 years and during that time we've developed a fun, silly interviewer/interviewee repartee. I thought it'd be neat to turn the tables. Lucky for me, he did too.
Before you began your career as an entertainment reporter, you worked at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. What was your role here and what are some of your favorite memories?
I was the Media Relations Coordinator. I worked under the tutelage of the communications master himself, Jim Key. I was newly out of the closet when I was hired and being surrounded by so many incredible LGBT role models had an immeasurable impact on my personal and professional growth.
My fondest memory was the day The Center's then‐ (and current) Executive Director Lorri L. Jean took time out of her busy morning to give my visiting brother Pete (who I had only recently come out to) an hour‐long tour of the Center's main campus and wide array of services, educating him on issues regarding AIDS/HIV, marriage equality, suicide prevention and employment discrimination in the process.
She basically gave him a crash course on his gay brother while I looked on and it did wonders for our relationship. Every time I run into Lorri I thank her for that day.
People who read the book will most certainly want to know how you are doing now?
My therapist says I'm doing remarkably well so let's go with that!