Around the World

Join me as I catch up with Bold Strokes Book author Yolanda Wallace at Atlanta Pride. Despite the rain and crowd noise, you’ll hear about her recent and most excellent release, The War Within, her upcoming novel 24/7, and there might be an outing of sorts.

Let Them Eat Cake!

While at Atlanta Pride last weekend, I had a chance to catch up with veteran Bold Strokes Books author, Erin Dutton. Tune in to hear what she has to say about her upcoming lesbian romance:


By Connie Ward


What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

There was no decision-making involved. Rather it was something I found myself doing, something inside I could not ignore. That sounds so clichéd, but it’s true and carries through to today: that odd nagging in the back of your mind…or maybe heart…that insists there’s something you need to be doing. I started by writing for my closest high-school pals, romantic “scenarios” embellishing (a lot) on their straight crushes. What evolved into my first attempt at a novel started in tenth-grade French class, when I was bored and daydreaming about a girl becoming a rock star. I’ll never part with it (and maybe someday I’ll tackle it with serious intent) because it really chronicles the changes in my attitudes and lifestyle, not to mention my writing ability through the years.


What type of stories do you write?  And why?

That’s a tough one because I’ll jump into practically anything. I do have a love of history and enjoy “using it” to tell a tale. In a broader sense, I suppose I lean toward strong, bold, female success stories because there just aren’t enough of them. My stories tend to be very visual with lots of dialogue, because I want readers to see and hear exactly what I’m seeing and hearing as I write. I’ve considered writing scripts but know I’d miss digging into all the small details.


What do your family/friends think about your writing?

Family members are very happy for me, knowing that I’ve written all my life, but unfortunately, they have never wholeheartedly accepted my lifestyle. Friends, however, provide the finest, most genuine support system I could ever imagine. My partner Kathy is my ultimate blessing. In the past few years, I’ve found it interesting that my work tends toward family themes, the support and “connection” experienced by my lead characters. I’ve never set out to write such things; they’ve emerged on their own. And I’m a bit proud of that.


Where do you get your ideas?

Anywhere and everywhere. As an only child, I guess my imagination has always been “out there,” making toys, games, adventures out of simple things or nothing at all. (At family parties, I’d be the one with the kids, making tents with them, pretending to camp out in a toy-filled bedroom.) As a newspaper reporter and editor, I believed in “looking deeper” into stories. There’s a root of a good story in everything around us, as long as we allow ourselves to “see.” That includes the woman pushing the double stroller, the solitary oak on forty acres of meadow, or your grandmother’s engagement ring. The literary version of the “photographer’s eye.”


How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

Easy question. I’m a pantster to the core. I bounce lots of ideas off my better half, and Kathy has learned to “play catch” with me very well. I might jot down a few thoughts, but I often joke about what my fingers have typed, as if they’re on their own and leave magical things on the screen for me.


What makes Stick McLaughlin The Prohibition Years  special to you?

As my first novel, it’s beyond special to me; it’s surreal. Stick was a fun adventure to write because I was able to step back—not only into an exciting historical period—but into the city, sights, and neighborhood I remember growing up. And I’m very happy for the characters and their story, to have them so well received at this early stage.Stick McLaughlin 300 DPI


How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

Doesn’t every writer, possibly every type of artist, leave fingerprints behind? There are bits of me scattered throughout most of Stick’s characters—the good ones, that is. J


Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite

of this author(s)?

It’s impossible to point to one or two. I can say, however, that three particular novels stand out as having had an impact on me: Curious Wine, by Katherine Forrest, for its gloriously romantic storyline; Lee Lynch’s Swashbuckler, for the timeless character Frenchie; and Radclyffe’s Safe Harbor, for seamlessly blending romance, characters, and a setting I loved into the perfect package. I’ve attended Women’s Week in Provincetown for years and been fortunate to meet/hear Radclyffe, Lee Lynch, and many Bold Strokes Books authors enough times to know these women are special. I’m grateful for the time each of them has spent with me, signing, reading, at Q&As, and simply chatting. Individually and collectively, they’ve been my inspiration.


Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

Write. You truly never know when opportunity will strike. It’s okay to start out writing what you know, because you’ll see how much you don’t. Soon enough, you’ll be researching, compiling data that you’ll discover you need “techniques” to use. Next thing you know, you’re studying the craft more, learning how to weave that data into your work, and looking at your piece from a more well-rounded perspective. All good.


When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

I’m a fan of Boston pro sports and have played guitar/sung for years, mostly just for fun. My workday is fairly long, so there isn’t much “free” time until the weekend, and I’m usually very content when my partner, Kathy, and I can just hang out at home. (Yes, I usually end up writing…bless her.)

The Amazon Trail

The Territorial

It wasn’t possible in those days to be young and gay in NYC and not go to bars. One night I ended up at a place in Harlem called The Territorial. It greeted customers in the manner of prohibition speakeasies, with eyes peering through a window in a wooden door.

I was with Suzy, my first girlfriend and, by that time, my ex. Her lover Kenny was there too, a tough as nails old school butch who’d been Suzy’s original connection to the gay world. Kenny had given me a very hard time when I was still in high school because she wanted Suzy. Harvey, also white, was our escort, a nice gayboy who was known, with his slight, funny, darker-skinned boyfriend, at The Territorial.

When I think back to the 19 year old me boldly clubbing on 125th Street with this crew, Kenny and Harvey only slightly older than Suzy and me, it’s no wonder the night ended the way it did. Suzy and Kenny were high school dropouts who both had a long way to go before they got where they needed to be. Harvey didn’t live with his boyfriend, but with his mother in a small apartment in the Bronx.

This was a “bottle bar,” like The Stonewall Inn. You paid a cover and bought a setup, overpriced mixers, ice, glasses, to go with your own bottle. I used to cash $2.00 checks at a grocery store to get me through a week at college, so if I managed to bring had ten dollars with me, I probably spent it on dinner and the subway. Someone, probably Kenny, paid my cover and bought the vodka.

At the time, I knew no other gay people. I had a sort of girlfriend at college, but she knew no one either and was probably out with her boyfriend that night. What can I say; it was the sixties and everyone was experimenting. Except me. I only wanted to be queer, be with queers, in queer places.

My problem was, as isolated as I was at school, I didn’t belong with Harvey and Kenny at all. Suzy moved into their orbit after I left for school. I had a foot in both worlds, but there was no solid ground under me.

I’ve written about The Territorial before. It was a huge high-ceilinged space, probably a former warehouse, possibly owned by organized crime. The management kept the lights low and what light there was spiked the dark like flame. People sat on a balcony above us and across from us. It was typical of the hellish pits allotted to gays.

In those days, I experienced depressions so bad I could barely move. Light disappeared from my vision. I don’t know how I kept from killing myself.  I’d been prescribed tranquilizers called Milltowns so I had the means and I frequently mixed them with alcohol. By this, my sophomore year, I’d added marijuana and hash and speed to the mix. I like to believe some kind of higher power kept me alive so I could perform good works for my people, for gay people, so I could put our world on paper with words.

That night it was vodka and Meprobamate. It was also fear — what was I doing so far uptown and with my nemesis, Kenny, and two strange men? I’d lost my ability to connect with Suzy, or perhaps Kenny intimidated her enough that she had to shut me out. I was lost, so lost, and no one was looking for me, no one even knew I was gone.

I drank the vodka straight, tipping it up and pouring it down my throat. I got blackout drunk. I tried to quench my fear and confusion, tried to douse the conflagration of my unmoored blazing soul with this flammable liquid. Suzy had invited me and I’d gotten out of control. Kenny told Suzy to let me, if I needed to, when I took another and another  draught straight from the bottle. I’d hated the times my father came home drunk and my mother raged at him, but like him, I knew of no other solution. I didn’t even know what I was trying to solve.

Gay people are kind. In the end, we take care of one another the best we can. That night it was Kenny who nursed me when I was sick in the wreck of a bathroom. That night, it was Harvey who skipped whatever romantic plans he had with his boyfriend to, somehow, take me home, to get me past his mother, to give me a bed where I could sleep it off.

Goodness knows what would have happened if they’d let me loose in the post-midnight city, sent me off to Grand Central to catch a train back to school.

Goodness was what it took for them to keep me safe from a world that might not be kind to one more nearly wasted gay kid.


Copyright 2014  Lee Lynch

An American Queer cover 3 14

Lee Lynch’s most recent book is available for order October 1 at .

BSB Author Interview with Samantha Hale

By Connie Ward

What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I’ve always loved books. As a kid, I would read anything I could get my hands on. I was just fascinated with the way authors could create these entire, imaginary worlds, and so of course I had to try it out for myself. It became something that I did for fun, something to keep me amused on a rainy day or when my friends couldn’t come out to play.

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started to take my writing seriously. Up until then it was just a hobby, and I never really considered that it could be more than that. But I think that wanting to become a writer was the inevitable next step.

I’d spent so many years being so captivated by books that I’d read and loved, and almost as many years writing stories of my own that, naturally, I started to think about publishing my own work. My school offered a couple of writing classes, which of course I took. I tried to learn as much as I could about writing, about style and technique. And I wrote, I filled notebooks with story after story. For years. Until finally I felt like I was ready, that I had a story worth publishing.

What type of stories do you write?

I’ve played around with various genres, but the majority of my stories are young-adult ones. Most of them are coming-of-age type stories about friendships, families, and romances.

And why?

I like writing about the dynamics between people. Whether it’s friends, siblings, lovers, I like to explore the relationships by setting up a scenario for my characters and then letting it all play out.

What do your family/friends think about your writing?

I think they are, for the most part, bemused by it. None of them are writers, so they don’t really get why I choose to hole myself away in my apartment for hours on a nice day, but they’re supportive.

Where do you get your ideas?

It’s hard to pinpoint, exactly, where an idea comes from. It can be anything, a song lyric that strikes a chord, a quote from a book or movie, something said in conversation, or sometimes seemingly from nowhere at all.

I’ve taken concepts or themes from an older, abandoned piece of work and taken them in a new direction and ended up with an entirely different story. And I’ve sat down in front of my computer without a single idea in my head and just started writing.

How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?

I don’t do much in the way of planning. Most of the time I’ll start a story with an opening line and a vague idea of what it’s going to be about. I don’t usually know what’s going to happen in a chapter until I’m actually writing it.

What makes Everything Changes special to you?

Everything Changes BSB_EverythingChanges_covis my first published novel. So, that’s special. Seriously though, Everything Changes was a labor of love for me. It took me almost ten years to complete. I wrote the first draft when I was in my early twenties but was never completely satisfied with it. I didn’t know how to fix it so I put it aside and moved on to other projects. I kept going back to it though, tweaking it, trying to get it right. Seeing it in print, after so many years, and so much time spent working on it, is incredibly gratifying.

How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?

I try not to mirror myself or people in my life in the characters. I try to make the characters as unique to themselves as I can. I want the relationships and interactions within the story to be genuine to the characters and the situations they’re in. And I don’t think I could do that if I were modeling a character after someone in my own life.

Sometimes, traits that I recognize in myself or in a friend will pop up. It’s inevitable, but it’s never a conscious decision to put them in there.

Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?

The first lesbian author that I ever read was Radclyffe. Up until I started reading her Provincetown series, I wasn’t even aware that gay/lesbian-themed novels even existed. It was an eye- opening experience for me, seeing lesbian characters depicted in print like that.

And it opened up a world of possibilities for me, as a writer, allowing me to be freer in my own writing.

Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?

I think Safe Harbor will always be my favorite of Radclyffe’s novels. It was the first of her novels that I read.

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

To new writers I would suggest, write as often as you can. Short stories, novels, poems, whatever keeps you feeling passionate about writing. And find yourself a good support system, whether it’s in your real life or online. Surround yourself with fellow writers who will offer honest critiques, support, and encouragement.

When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?

When I’m not writing, I’m probably reading. I’m still as much as a bookworm as I was when I was a kid. I also love to travel. I’ve been all over the world, and there are still so many places that I want to visit. I dabble in photography and am currently attempting to teach myself how to play the guitar.

The Riting Life or all Misspellings and Typos Being the Intent of the Author

By David Holly

Witch title brigs us to a discusion (sic) of tgpfgrapal errors (sic), otherwise known as the writer’s inability to spell authorial brain farts—or finger farts because the brain is imagining a story that is travelling by neural impulse down the writer’s neck and down the writer’s arms and into the writer’s fingers and coming out the pads of the writer’s fingers onto a keyboard (sick). Oh, my God—The Humanity!


On a purely personal note, I write to avoid clichés like the plague, clichés in language and clichés of thought that rain down like cats and dogs. I write to avoid allegory that brings a tempest in a tea pot or sentimentality as American as apple pie. However, there is always some sentimentality that will wiggle in on pretty puppy paws and wag its tail until I give it a bed in my manuscript, and there is always the lurking cliché, the cliché that is so cliché and so lurking that it hits the nail on the head so well I don’t even recognize it as a cliché, because it creeps in lurkingly (on little puppy paws) and toes the line.


Then too, and by too I mean also and added on, there is repetition, which repeats repetitively until it repeats itself beyond all previous repetitions. I can’t say enough about this problem.


As one of my college professors warned his befuddled student (me) so long ago, the writer must suppress his or her sesquipedalian tendencies and eschew obfuscation. So we pick the perfect word, but it turns out not to be so perfect because the readers think it means something the writer never intended.


Take my novel, The Raptures of TimeThe Raptures of Time 300 DPI (yes, please take it, and by take I mean buy the damned book because it needs to sell ten million copies because it’s brilliant and meaningful and thrilling and it will give you a hard on—even if you are a female).


When I fished about for a title for The Raptures of Time, and as Thoreau wrote, time was a stream that I went a fishing in, I spent a hell of a lot of time seeking a word that would convey the idea of being carried away through time and another dimension while also being carried away by extreme sexual ecstasy. Certainly the primary meaning of rapture is being lifted up, even out of oneself, by gusty emotions or sexual transport. The first known use of the word rapture occurred in 1594, a while before John Nelson Darby came along and applied the term to Christian eschatology and created the “rapture” of dispensationalism.


Could I have ever considered that my title might lead readers to assume falsely that my gay erotic novel might connect up with the so-called Left Behind series?


So take note, fellow authors, beware, for you too may be rabidly incoherent and end up mentally masturbating metaphorically instead of writing something meaningful and profound like these meaningful and profound words of expert advice.

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