Serious man with short dark hair

Jordan Rodale bio

Jordan Lucius Rodale was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on July 17, 1988, to Thomas and Margaret "Margie" Rodale, joining older brother Devlin. In 1991, Thomas moved the family to Oxford, Mississippi.

Growing up, Jordan always felt different, and his older brother's popularity only intensified Jordan's feelings of isolation. Margie Rodale was a prolific letter and diary writer who encouraged her sons to read extensively and keep their own diaries. While Devlin embraced journaling, young Jordan never took to it, making it one more area where he felt he didn't fit in.

At Bennington College in Vermont, Jordan finally felt comfortable, and his sophomore Advanced Composition class changed his life. Not only did he discover his talent for essays and memoirs in that class, but he also met his first real boyfriend, Vasca Pellerano, the son of a Spanish politician.

Vasca showed Jordan that history could be exciting and fun, inspiring Jordan's senior project: a novel about Spanish explorers combing the earth in search of gold. With Vasca's research help, Jordan completed a massive 600-page manuscript.

An admiring writing professor made some calls, and before long, a major publishing firm snatched up Conquistador Maps. Jordan's elation at becoming a published writer was tempered by Vasca's return to Spain to fulfill his family obligations there. Jordan wasn't willing to move to Spain, so the lovers achingly parted.

Jordan returned to Oxford, where his reputation as an author brought him new acceptance in the literature-loving town. The moderate success of his second novel, Love in the Shadow of the Guillotine, cemented his image as a writer of popular-if-not-literary books.

In 2013, Jordan's brother, Devlin, moved back to Oxford after their mother suffered a debilitating stroke. Their shared family crisis didn't bridge the gap between the two men, who spoke rarely and only about their mother's care.

After Margie's death the following year, the brothers' efforts to rebuild their relationship were destroyed when her lawyer revealed she'd left her entire estate to Devlin. An ugly court battle ensued, and after several months, Devlin gave Jordan a small portion of the estate in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.

Jordan's 2017 novel, March of the Crusaders, didn't even dent the bestseller lists. Hoping to quickly erase the failure, Jordan accepted a sizable advance for another book. After many frenetic nights at his computer, Jordan submitted Panning for Gold in early 2019, but his tale of the gold rush was poorly researched and even more poorly written. His agent reluctantly told him the publishers insisted he return the advance, so Jordan wiped out his savings to pay them back.

In 2020, Jordan began dating Memphis architect Bennett Estes Kauffman. As much as Bennett's presence improved Jordan's life, maintaining his high-society lifestyle was draining Jordan financially.

With mounting debts, Jordan decided to leverage the memoir craze by writing about growing up gay in a small Southern town. To pique publishers' interest, the book would also probe the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Margie Rodale's first husband. The publisher was initially skeptical, but they issued an advance when Jordan promised to include excerpts of his mother's journals.

In early 2022, Jordan began work on this book and asked Devlin for their mother's journals. Devlin refused, saying they were her most personal items, which she left to him because of their shared devotion to keeping diaries. No matter how much Jordan begged, cajoled, or threatened, Devlin wouldn't relent.

A year later, Jordan reached an impasse on his book. He'd written all he could without the journals, and he'd spent the advance. With no way to pay back the money, he was desperate to get access to the journals and finish the book.


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