Author Randy Boyd says it took 20 years of living with HIV to bring his novel Walt Loves the Bearcat into the world. 'I would think about it now and again, but I never had an urgency to do it,' says the four-time Lambda Literary Award nominee. 'Somehow it was the 20-year mark--having survived AIDS for 20 years and the 20th anniversary of Rock Hudson's death from AIDS--that led to me write it. It was just time. I really do understand now that I survived those 20 years to write this book.' Published in November, Walt Loves the Bearcat, Boyd's fourth novel, focuses on the lifelong gay romance between a college football cheerleader and a superstar quarterback, mixed with a healthy dose of whimsical twists and turns. But in many ways the novel's core is autobiographical, admits Boyd, who was a University of California, Los Angeles, cheerleader. 'It follows a character similar to me,' Boyd explains, 'and takes two tracks in his life and in his mind--one where's he's HIV-positive and one where he's not.' And while the book does examine some of Boyd's deeply held questions about what his life might have been like if he were still HIV-negative, it also embraces the writer's sense of playfulness, his love of sports, and his profound belief in the power of the imagination. 'The overall message is that dreams--or ideas or thoughts--can be very powerful things,' he says. 'If you use your imagination, there's a lot of fun to be had along the way, even with HIV.'