More About the Author
**God's Other Children: A London Memoir has been shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize**
Video: This is why readers (and the six Polari judges!) are so very impressed: http://bit.ly/XmuLCs
Vernal Scott writes from his soul to yours, the reader. In addition to his pioneering role as head of HIV/AIDS services in London during the the 80s and 90s, he is also a gay father, diversity professional, fathers' access advocate, and media commentator, regularly appearing on Sky Channel 519 - Arise News. Due to God's Other Children - A London Memoir, his ground-breaking non-fiction book, Vernal has been invited to speak at a wide range of venues, including the London School of Economics, King's College London, Polari Salon (Southbank), Brighton Pride Literary Festival, St Anne's Church Soho, and Queer Nation, the popular night club. His Facebook page, You Tube channel, and Twitter activity reflect the growing interest in Vernal and his book, and it's the same on Linked In.
As stated in the many enthusiastic reader comments on Amazon UK and elsewhere,Vernal's first book is a very different, inadvertently entertaining reader event. It successfully demonstrates the human consistencies and similarities between gay and heterosexual people, as well as capturing the essence and relevance to millions around the globe of World AIDS Day, and the associated pain, stigma, and tears of too many premature goodbyes. In their respective forewords, Lord Paul Boateng says the book has "a searing honesty", and Peter Tatchell, the renowned human rights activist, refers to it as "painful and shocking in its exposure of raw prejudice." Sir Nick Partridge, former CEO of the Terrence Higgins Trust, describes the book as "remarkable, sobering and powerful."
Over 500 pages and 57 reader-friendly chapters, the book starts out in happy but poor 1930s Jamaica. The author's 'Windrush'-generation parents move to 1950s London, and that's where the substance of his non-fiction story really begins, taking the reader up to the present day. While occasionally funny, the overall mood is acutely serious, mature, and even 'dark' in nature, dealing with: love and loss; sex, sexuality and 'coming out'; religion and homosexuality; domestic violence and borderline child chastisement/abuse; disease, death and dying; divorce; racism and homophobia; equality challenges at home and abroad; gay/lesbian baby-making and parenting; fathers and family court; and teen depression. Even voodoo and the paranormal make a spooky yet convincing appearance. And although written like a novel, with engaging themes and many rarely aired issues, the book has no fictional characters or scenarios, thus making for a more compelling non-fiction read.
Tragically and most powerfully, the book captures, up close, the truly horrific impact of AIDS on both heterosexual and gay communities in the 80s and 90s, and the role in the crisis of the author and notables, such as Princess Diana. Finding himself at the forefront of the then challenge, the author describes the period as "a conveyor belt of death and dying." Scott portrays HIV as a virus of equal opportunity, and the pain it causes as human: not gay, straight, black, or white. He sets out the national and international statistics - 75 million affected globally - and further states: "Every day is World AIDS Day. There are real people behind the horrendous numbers." The book's various accounts of the affected men, women, and children make tearful, heartbreaking reading... especially when AIDS comes home.
The youngest of five children, Vernal's father left when he was just a boy, leaving him in an eternal search for an affectionate replacement, mostly in the wrong places and faces. The reader lives the anxiety, as, in his critical teenage years, the author cries for help in a failed suicide bid, which leaves a permanent reminder. He blames the episode on homophobia and fear of repercussions from his family and the wider black community. A short spell with a banned 'cult' strengthens him and becomes something of a rebirth for Vernal: from victim to victor!
Scott later persuades a then vibrantly happy Whitney Houston to support his historic London event, the six-thousand-person strong, Reach Out and Touch UK AIDS Vigil, which the singer attends with her 'friend', Robyn Crawford.
Having survived the "AIDS war years", and in an unkind twist, Vernal's long held wish to become a father came true when he embraced his beautiful daughter on the day of her birth, but happiness is short-lived when he finds himself at the Royal Courts of Justice in a bitter and expensive legal battle to regain access to the two children in his life. His opponents are an equally determined lesbian couple. Compounded by the death of his mother, a depressed Vernal begins to play (sexual) Russian roulette with his life, and it would take more than his faith to rescue him, especially as he begins to question "blind religion" and "inhumane Bible scripture."
The book includes scores of previously unpublished London-shot photos, which add extra vibrancy, including those depicting remarkable liaisons with legendary divas such as Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick, and Gloria Gaynor.
Readers can expect to be informed, moved, angered, and inspired.