Posts Tagged 'fantasy'

Let’s Get Stuck Together

By Barbara Ann Wright

BarbaraAnnWright (459x640)

 

As I get older, I’ve discovered that ruts are more frequent than they used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I loved a good routine when I was a kid. I adored schedules. I like to plan ahead, and I shudder a bit when plans change at the last minute, but as I’ve gotten older and acquired some long-term illnesses, the ruts have a tendency to pile up.

Medication tapering off? Let’s wait a little while to change it, give the old one a chance to work again. (Like that makes sense!) Want to go out for a special dinner? Maybe next week. Tonight I have laundry to do. Routines are comfortable, even if that comfort turns into boring. It’s easy and safe.

Lately, though, I’ve been trying to break out of my ruts, to try new paths. After all, there will always be more work to do. My fresh perspective prompted me to write Coils. Well, that and my love of all things mythology. (My favorite classes in college.) Cressida is a mortal girl who has little in her life but study. Her aunt June is a world traveler, an adventurer, and her disappearance shakes Cressida out of her routine and leads her to the mystical Underworld. In the Underworld, Medusa has also been stuck in a cycle, a millennia long slog of revenge and hatred. Together, they can make each other’s dreams come true, just probably not in the way they think.Coils 300 DPI

I’ve long wanted to tackle the Medusa myth. She and her two sisters, the infamous Gorgons, were demigoddesses long before the story that had Medusa cursed by Athena. They were fearsome, snake-haired, winged women, and their faces still adorn some ruins as protective symbols, a threat for anyone who entered with ill intent. Then, when later religions took over—like those that favored the Olympians—Medusa was demoted to a monster, a prize for the hero Perseus to slay. I wanted to take her back to that earlier form, still slain by Perseus, but a powerful figure in her own right.

Cressida is my everywoman. We’ve all been her, so stuck in our ruts that we don’t see how unhappy they’re making us. And what better way to shake her up than a sexy, snake-haired demigoddess? I think she would give all of us a wake-up call.

Even though my illnesses will be with me the rest of my life, I’m grateful I’ll always have my books to help me out of my ruts. They take me new places, from fantasy cities to the depths of space to the magic and mystery of the Greek Underworld. And I’m always happy to have company. Anytime you need a lift out of your routine, we’ll go together. You never know what monsters and magic await you. There could be a goddess in your future. Or something you least expect.

 

Th Pyramid Waltz 300 DPI 1Barbara Ann Wright writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories when not ranting on her blog. The Pyramid Waltz was one of Tor.com’s Reviewer’s Choice books of 2012, was a Foreword Review BOTYA Finalist, a Goldie finalist, and won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Fantasy. It also made Book Riot’s 100 Must-Read Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels By Female Authors. A Kingdom Lost was a Goldie finalist and won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Fantasy Romance.A Kingdom Lost 300 DPI

 

Inside A Writer’s Mind:

 

Or

What Do You Mean ‘A.D.D.’?

By

Eric Andrews-Katz

 

 

 

 

We’ve all seen the meme that shows a person sitting at a computer diligently staring at the screen, fingers flying over a keyboard with a towering, freshly typed manuscript neatly stacked next to them. The caption reading: “What my friends think a writer does”. The second frame shows the same person completely frazzled, fried, burnt out, sitting behind and staring bug-eyed at the same screen with crumbled paper covering the floor, and utter chaos sprawled out around them. The caption truthfully proclaims: “What a writer really does”. Since I am to write a blog that introduces my upcoming book release, I thought I’d give a tiny glimpse of the actual absurdity going on inside a writer’s mind. * Welcome to the inner sanctum that is my sanitarium.

(* Disclaimer: I never have had the advantage of being ‘typical’ anything, and results in other writers may vary)

 

I have set aside this Sunday afternoon to write and my husband has vacated the premises. It is 11 o’clock in the morning, and I sit at my computer with an empty Word document ready for writing. Immediately, my cat Ophelia somehow knows. She wakes from her fourth nap and begins her mournful Banshee howling. It is a high-pitched cry that drills through the brain but…she loves me. Ten minutes later, once she has been petted and given treats, she is satisfied I still love her and goes back to sleep. I sit back at the computer to try again; the empty page is waiting.

Tartarus_Cover  I think of what the blog is to be about; it is to create interest for the release of my upcoming novel, Tartarus (Bold Strokes Books – December 2016). The book is about Echidna, the mother of all ancient Greek monsters who breaks loose from Tartarus, the prison of the gods. She appears in the modern day Pacific Northwest and vows to hunt down the descendants of her Olympian jailers. Ok. So what do I write in the blog?

Writers of poetry and prose have been influenced by Greek mythology since the very beginning of their existence. Sculptors and painters have all heard the call of The Muses, and have felt Divine hands guiding their creations for over 3,000 years. Why do these stories hold fascination for us more so than any other mythology (aside from, maybe, Christian)? Not being shy with an opinion maybe I should write about that.

I can only talk of how the stories influenced my work. My introduction came at age five, when a family member first read D’aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths to me. The book is an oversized, colorful, watered-down retelling of the ancient Greek (yet oddly enough Anglo-looking) gods and goddesses, and their many adventures. I remember that Pan was always my favorite.

Wait! I could write about Pan. The Demi-god with the upper torso of a man supported by two goat legs frequently appears to me, and always has been a major presence in my life. The bearded face with the golden horns fills my earliest dreams. His image is my first recalled memory, and his attributes have influenced every aspect of my being. Only recently did I discover that he is known as ‘The God of Massage”, as well as being credited as the first Theatre Critic; two ways I have earned my living.

But Pan doesn’t appear in Tartarus; it’s not his story. Pan appears in the book after Tartarus; the one I’m working on now called Shalom Y’all, so it wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about Pan in this blog. The main gods involved in Tartarus are Apollo, Artemis and Zeus with several others making more casual appearances. I could discuss some of the hybrid creatures that come to life such as the Minotaur, Chimera, and Sphinxes (oh my!), but nowhere does a satyr or faun make a cameo. Pegasus, furies, and centaurs; yes, but Pan, no.

I could discuss my theory of how the archetypical Greek gods still appear in today’s gay male community. One only has to look at the Gay Games to see the Jocko-homo of Apollo’s shining glory. Attend any political organization and you’ll hear the chaotic shouts of Ares cracking through the air. Go to any bar to see shades of Zeus licentiously studying the younger patrons. I could do that and continue with the dissection of the six main Olympian gods, and that would definitely be enough to write about. If I only analyze the male aspect, then I potentially run the risk of sounding misogynistic and alienating my female comrades and readers by not including the archetypes of the goddesses. I’m not a woman, and my insight would not be an accurate assessment on their foundations. I found this out when writing a voyeuristic lesbian scene in Tartarus. A man will objectively view a woman very differently from the way a woman views another woman. I learned a lot from having conversations with my female friends, and the section was rewritten several times before I felt it was represented on a fair level maintaining the sensuality of the scene. The idea of comparing archetypes is a huge project, and I should leave it for a larger, more in-depth exploration than a blog would allow.

Back to square one: the empty word document still waiting. Skip the enormous undertaking of exploring Greek myths and turn to the characters of the book. I should discuss a contrast of the characters in Tartarus, and how they differ from the writing of the previous main characters in my first two books (The Jesus Injection, Balls & Chain), the “Agent Buck 98 Adventure Series”.

I could start by defining each main character. Agent Buck 98 is in his late 30’s and is flippant, flamboyant, sarcastic, and an excellent detective for a secret agency. His focus is good food, colorful fashion and musical theatre as much as getting the assignment accomplished. That pretty much sums up Buck. It would be easy to contrast his attitudes with the lead character from Tartarus. Adrian Petrakis is 48 years old, sullen, introverted, dresses casually for comfort, and enjoys classical music. He is an artist on the verge of discovering he is descended from an Olympian god. That’s a good start, but where do I go from there? What about their sex lives? Buck is after someone ‘here and now’. His sexual interests are momentary and superficial. Adrian is fed up with casual encounters, and isn’t interested in App hookups. Adrian is brought out of his reconciliation with bachelorhood only when he meets Zack, a very handsome, older sculptor and sexual tension ignites between them. With the ‘Agent Buck 98’ series, most of the sex happens off-page, while Adrian is plagued with erotic dreams that awaken his sexual appetite, and Tartarus explores that more graphically.

Now I’m analyzing the sex lives of fictional characters. That’s good…for a paragraph, maybe two – not an entire blog. The idea is quickly dismissed. I stare at the blank page and the blinking curser that waits for my command. The black, vertical line pulses at me like the mocking laugh of a Simpsons’ character; “You got Writer’s Block. Ha-ha!” The cat has woken up – the Banshee wailing has resounded. My mind is babbling over repeating suggestions as quickly as it dismisses each one for various reasons. I need the clutter to stop – stop the insanity! My mind, the cat, and Nelson’s mocking laugh are thundering inside my skull.

My eyes tear away from the screen and absently scan the top of my writing desk. I dig through the drawer and find a half-smoked joint and an old Bic lighter. May the gods bless the great state of Washington! If I indulge a little maybe my mind will quiet down, and the evoked creativity will help inspire my writing. Truman Capote, referring to his alcoholism, said that every writer has his or her ‘ailment’. If it is good enough for Capote… The keyboard is slid away and I reach for the instruments of my own vice.

Several hours later I have gotten nothing accomplished on the blog. On the other hand, I have baked and eaten a frozen pizza, let the cat attack a peacock feather until she was finally tired, explored PornHub… thoroughly, and have completely cleaned off my desk by rearranging my paperwork. This was after I reviewed and reorganized my collection of signed books according to size, instead of author and then not liking it, I put them back. I slide the keyboard back into place and tap the space bar to bring the empty word document back to full size.

The cat is crying again. This time it is to remind me that Game of Thrones starts in half an hour. I stare at the blank page. I am defeated for the day, I am tired, and I succumb. There’s time before the blog is due, I can write it later. “After all Cap’n Butler, tomorrow is another day”, and Mondays I am out of my massage office. I shut down the computer and go into the bedroom.

I turn on the television. Ophelia jumps on the bed, glad I’m finally with her, crying for attention and settling down just out of my reach. I know I really should be writing the blog. The joys of On Demand are that I can watch Game of Thrones anytime I want. The chill of guilt starts as I remember the house was vacated so I could get work done.

Suddenly, I have an idea! I should write a blog on the challenges of writing a blog. It’s original, and I think it might have potential. A smile creeps across my lips. I can see ways of mentioning Tartarus and hopefully stirring up an interest before it gets released. I could tie in some of my other writing in the process. I could show how a writer’s mind functions, when trying to create something from nothing, and dealing with the pressures a writer feels when working. That is creative. It might be interesting to explore the random babbling of ideas flooding through my brain. My smile broadens as the possibilities stream before my open eyes. I feel excited and inspired, renewed with fresh creativity.

I reach for the remote to turn off the television, but I am too late. The music swells; the pulsing beat of drums sound, and the whining of string instruments are heard. The flaming Valyrian sword has already appeared on screen, and the scaled down mechanical cities are erupting all over the Westeros map. I settle back feeling the ideas ebbing away, the energy sapped from my body.

“There’s always time to write the blog later. It isn’t due for another three weeks.”

I banish all work with that excuse. I settle in to watch the latest episode. The wheels in my brain are still spinning but with only one burning question now:

“How come I don’t have dragons?”

BOLD STROKES BOOKS AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA HARWELL

By Connie Ward

rebecca-harwell-467

 What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

 

I don’t know if I’ve ever consciously made the decision. I started writing as soon as I realized it was possible, and I haven’t stopped. I wrote my first “novel” when I was eight, a story of war between unicorns and dragons and a chosen girl destined to save the world. Over a decade later, my stories have improved (I hope!), but the same spark from those early novels is still here.

 

What type of stories do you write?  And why?

 

I write fantasy and science-fiction stories. I believe that speculative fiction answers questions that realistic fiction can’t ask, not to the same degree. It creates a space that is both safe and dangerous, often dealing with the very edge of what humanity is capable of, the good and the terrible. That’s what has drawn me to it, both as a reader and a writer. I began writing LGBT speculative fiction because I so rarely saw people like me populating fantasy realms and alien worlds, and I wanted to fix that.

 

What do your family/friends think about your writing?

 

They have been nothing but supportive, for which I am extremely grateful. I was lucky enough to be part of a wonderful writing community as an undergrad, which continually challenged me to become a better writer.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

 

No single place. The Iron Phoenix came about because I wanted to see a superhero story set in a fantasy world and to explore how the genres would fit together. I took what I loved about both kinds of stories, discarded what I didn’t, and built something new. Ideas for characters and descriptions and all the small details came in bits and pieces, sometimes from the background of other stories and sometimes from the shower.

 

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

 

I am a compulsive outliner, spending quite a bit of time with an idea, shaping and developing it, before ever writing the first line. The ending of a story is one of the first things that I figure out. Instead of being stifled by knowing the story, I find it incredibly freeing, and I’m still surprised by my characters and my world every time I sit down to write.

 

The Iron PhoenixWhat makes The Iron Phoenix special to you?

 

Many things. It began as a challenge to outline and write an entire book over spring break during my first year of college. In order to do that, I poured everything that I loved into one story: a strong heroine, superheroes, fantasy worlds, and romance. I did write a draft, but it had to be torn to the ground and built up again several times until I found the story’s core. It was the first time I threw out all the rules, everything about what I thought I should be writing, and let the story take over.

 

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

 

Not very much, actually. My characters are entirely made up, built from scraps that I have floating around in my head and refined by the story they’re in. Most of the time, they don’t become fully formed until later drafts.

 

Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?  Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?

 

Malinda Lo, a lesbian YA fantasy writer, has been one of my biggest inspirations. Reading her lesbian retelling of Cinderella, Ash, was the first time I saw myself in a fantasy novel and the first time I realized that it was something I could write.

 

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

 

Be passionate about what you’re writing. Process changes, but I think passion is key in order to stay in love with a manuscript as you revise it for the fifth time. I also believe it’s vital to get feedback on your work. I’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful critique partner who pushes me to write better and dig deeper on revisions, and I think that has made a huge difference.

 

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

 

I’m currently in grad school, so there’s not a whole lot of time for anything but studying and writing. I do enjoy reading and playing video games as well as hanging out with my rabbit, Elphie.

Writing is like…

BY REBECCA HARWELL

It was spring break my first year of college, and I was going to be stuck on campus. With nearly everyone gone and nothing to do, I decided, practically on a whim, that I was going to write a book in one week.

 

An impulse decision, as I had not developed anything in my folder of book ideas. I sat down on my bed, computer on my lap, and asked myself: What is the one book I’d always wanted to read?

 

The answer came far more easily than I had anticipated: a superhero story set in a fantasy world starring a lesbian protagonist. An amalgam of my favorite genres with a main character who I could relate to.

 

Three days of planning, plotting, and developing the idea, and then seven days of writing. As a student, I had never been able to completely give my time over to writing. Being able to write all day, to live and breathe the story as I wrote it, was incredible. It was also exhausting, and when I typed out ‘the end,’ I didn’t look at it again for months.

 

The Iron PhoenixThe first draft of The Iron Phoenix was the worst draft I’d written in years, full of uneven characterizations, dropped plotlines, thin worldbuilding. But it had a spark, and that drew me back to the mess of a draft. Revising it took the better part of two years (and a lot of patience from my wonderful critique partner), but with each pass, the dead parts got stripped away, and the essence of the book I was trying to write became clearer.

 

I’m not very good at ‘writing is like’ analogies because, for me, the nature of writing changes from book to book. I’ve written manuscripts that have been like building a home (or so I imagine): careful blueprints, steady constructing, finishing fixes, and minor polishing. And I’ve written stories that behaved more like a road trip: a rough map of the freeways with a clear destination with little to no idea of what I’ll see on the way.

 

Some writers are explorers, knowing nothing of the terrain except what is right before them. Others are engineers, constructing each piece carefully, fitting interlocking bits of the story together.

 

As I consider the process of writing The Iron Phoenix, it proves difficult to pin down to a specific analogy. Writing it did not feel like constructing anything, or following a map. Instead, I felt like I was unearthing the story from all the books . I knew what was buried beneath all those plot ideas, secondary characters, and fantasy descriptions. I knew what I was searching for as I wrote it, and each word I put down, each word I rewrote, brought it that much closer to the surface.

 

So, perhaps, for this book at least, writing is like archaeology, a slow uncovering an artifact, learning its secrets one at a time.

Slaves of Greenworld

BY DAVID HOLLY

slavesofgreenworld_wallpaper

Slaves of Greenworld Poster

 

The Post

I’m excited to broadcast that Slaves of Greenworld, my latest novel from Bold Strokes Books, is coming out this very month. In fact, I’m brimming over with pride—which is revolting and messy—that I created Slaves of Greenworld. This novel involved complex world-building, mythological invention, and imagining an alien species quite unlike their human invaders.

 

Slaves of Greenworld is SF—science fiction, speculative fiction, and speculative fantasy—and then came the plot and the sub-plots that twist and weave through the narrative.

 

The Plot, Characters, and Setting

Slaves of Greenworld depicts an alien landscape with unearthly creatures, a lurking hostility from an extinct alien species, and environmental dangers. Human versus nature always makes for an interesting theme. However, as is typical in human activities, the greatest dangers to people come from other people. As a result, the most essential conflicts in Slaves of Greenworld involve human versus human, and the fights, skirmishes, and battle scenes in this novel are colorful, sad, glorious, and convincing.

 

Humans settled Greenworld more than a thousand years before the events of this novel take place, and at some undetermined point in that past, humanity lost its technology. No one living on Greenworld knows why they lost their science, nor do most even know that it was lost. Some texts from the old Earth exist, but the Greenworlders don’t possess texts that explain their downfall.

 

Greenworld is riddled with justice, and cruel capital punishment. Of course those are all human institutions, which are abhorrent to the two surviving native species. For reasons unknown to them, Greenworld’s humans have settled into a caste system and slave economy with the xeng, the slaves, being at the bottom (where slaves customarily end up). One of the several plot threads in Slaves of Greenworld involves a violent slave revolt.

 

Just prior to the beginning of that murderous slave revolt, the novel’s narrator emerges naked, after nearly drowning in a stream, only to discover that not only does he not know how he came into the stream, but also he cannot remember his own name or anything of his past.

 

When the narrator encounters Paun, an old and fanatical hermit, something prompts him to declare that his name is Dove, although he cannot imagine why. Paun rescues Dove, and by the next afternoon, Dove is claimed as a young lover by a wealthy woman, Lalayla. It is in her house in Rivertown (see map below) that Dove meets the great love of his life, a male slave named Raret.

 

Raret and others teach Dove about Greenworld’s society, while Lalayla teaches him the basics of commerce. Soon Dove commands a caravan of riches, with Raret as his choice of personal slave. Dove’s caravan must travel to New Marth on the south coast, but along the way, Dove increases his personal wealth and knowledge.

Map of Greenworld

Map of Greenworld

 

Dove and Raret travel together over much of Greenworld, sharing adventures as they seek out Dove’s origins. Along the way they gather friends and enemies, and they are surrounded by intricate webs of treason, trickery, and political intrigue. Dove, Raret, and their companions survive attempted assassinations, judicial malfeasance, and marauding sex slugs (orgasmic but unsexy).

 

Finally, Dove will discover his origins, his true name, and his destiny as this dramatic, sweeping, picaresque SF saga winds to its close.

 

Themes

Cruelty—I don’t like it, so I depict cruel acts as being as repulsive as possible.

Slavery—I’m against it, so I emphasize the ill effects of owning people upon both the owners and the owned.

Love and devotion—I’m all for them, and I show self-sacrifice and enduring affection.

 

Sex

Yes, sex happens. There is male/male sex, female/female sex, male/female sex (though he’s thinking about another male while he does her), solo sex by everybody, and even some interspecies sex (not disgusting, but joyous and contagious, while being ultimately tragic—if I’m not giving too much away).

 

More, More, More

I’d like to talk more about the battles, the courtroom scenes, the prisons and execution yards, the throne rooms, and the conclave, but further description might spoil it. I’d like to describe the lurid encounters and the horrific tortures, the strange and terrible beasts and the wondrous beauty, but those must be enjoyed in reading the novel.

 

In between editing, cutting, and proofing Slaves of Greenworld, I’ve read my own book three times in this past year. And as soon as I get a print copy, I plan to read it again for the pure enjoyment of this story. I hope that you will do the same.

 

David Holly

Happy Valley, Oregon

March 2016

A BOLD STROKES BOOKS AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH TOM CARDAMONE

BY CONNIE WARD

AuthorPhoto3

 

What made you decide to become a fiction writer?

I remember the moment so vividly. It was as if I were “literally” struck by lightning. As a child I was serious reader, forever with a book in hand, and then one day, not yet a teen, reading one of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars books at the kitchen table in my family’s cabin in North Carolina, the summer sunlight just streaming in, it hit me: “I’m going to do this, too.” I put his book down, grabbed some graph paper, and started mapping out my world.

What type of stories do you write?  And why?

I have two settings: weird and dirty. Sometimes, if the mood strikes, I’ll write something primarily erotic. Being gay is a risk and a journey, so exploring the sexual nature of existence is, well, natural to me, but I also know that every story is a story of transformation. And no matter what our intentions or the intentions of others are, alchemy happens, and we either turn into gold or are stuck with bat wings that don’t work, so speculative fiction lets me work that stuff out as well. Often with a shudder.

 What do your family/friends think about your writing?

My family is somewhere on the spectrum between intensely horrified to mildly proud. My friends are always extremely delighted whenever I‘m sober and productive. And they’re very supportive. My best friend Kate designed the cover for Night Sweats. My partner Leo has done two of my book covers. My friend and old roommate, Jay, took my author photo, my college buddy Mike has been doing my website for years now…I think that’s New York City. Everyone is not only interested and interesting, but also there to lend a hand. I just hope I’m returning the favor.

Where do you get your ideas?

Drugs were good to me. And that’s not a pithy response, When I was younger I was fortunate enough to get into psychedelics with a reverential yet playful attitude, meaning the first time I tripped, I also read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but since the words kept sliding off the page, I went for a bike ride instead. But somewhere in those early experiences, I was able to learn to let my imagination off the leash. I still go for long bike rides, and I often walk across the Manhattan Bridge just before dawn. And sometimes I think about Poe. Didn’t he walk incessantly across a bridge from the Bronx to Manhattan, deep in thought?

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

Oh, all I think about is sex and money. Writing is what happens when I come up for air. So no plotting, no planning, very little research, just a lot of gasping before I sink back down toward the bottom.

Night SweatsWhat makes Night Sweats special to you?

This is my second collection of short stories, and I remember sitting in a bar in the panhandle of Florida, way before I came out. It was a live show, I think the band playing was Man or Astro Man?—and I’d spent several years working on a horror novel that I’d never shared with anyone. Nothing yet published, and I was telling my friends about this idea I had for a werewolf story, and I caught them looking at each other like “here he goes again.” Honestly, that moment deepened my resolve to become a writer like no other. Getting a book out there is a big fucking deal. And to repeat the process, to return to the mine again and find your own peculiar gems, well, it’s not a fluke then, is it? It’s a passion and a profession, and when you get to combine the two, well, that is a splendid moment, and that’s what Night Sweats is to me, a fantastical event. So you can imagine how thrilled I am that Bold Strokes not only decided to publish this collection, but that everyone has come at the project with such interest and care.

I would like to comment on the title. This book has more horror in it, hence the name, a symptom of the virus that causes AIDS. And that’s purposeful. There’s not one mention of HIV or AIDS in any of these stories, but as a community, we’re still in the midst of an ongoing plague. That horror consistently impacts our lives in ways visible and invisible—queer folk have a daily dread, and the resolve we muster to beat it down, well, maybe that adds that extra bit of sparkle I see in so many of us, and that’s also present in this collection, or so I hope, but most of the work here is dark, and for some of us, that’s the same thing as honest.

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

Ha! One of my dear friends, John, who is also a great reader, likes to tease me. He says he likes my stories but particularly enjoys the ones that aren’t “Tom-in-disguise.” So, yeah, some stuff is autobiographical, or just me taking the easy route, so I don’t know what triggers it when I jump into someone else’s skin.

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

of this author(s)?

Tough question! I think I’d like to go at it this way: from childhood through college I was a voracious reader. I’m shocked at how much I absorbed. A small cadre of writers stood out. And before everyone was name-checking Philip K. Dick, he was a huge influence on me in the 80s, like when major books of his were actually out of print and passed around among the acid-heads hanging out in the school parking lot. John Varley was a huge influence, and the fluidity of his characters sexuality was earth-shattering for me. Funny story. A few years ago I got a very nice note from a fan, and I thought, “Well, I should return the favor!” So I looked up John Varley and wrote him an email, telling him how much his work meant to me as a kid struggling with being gay in the age of Reagan, and “boom!” He wrote me back thanking me for thanking him! Like in a few minutes, so I was doubly thrilled. But I digress. Octavia E. Butler, Alasdair Grey, Geoff Ryman, and Kathe Koja, all of them are my pantheon of originality and style. They have inspired me, and I’ve been lucky to interview two of them, befriending Kathe, and I heard Octavia give a warm talk in person, right before she passed. I’ll never forget that night. And I got to drink in a pub in Glasgow where Alasdair Grey worked off a bar tab by painting a fantastic mural. And when it comes to nonfiction, Edmund White is a light. There’s so much focus on his sparkling novels, but man, his nonfiction is immortal, too.

Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

The joy you felt in creating something is not automatically transferred to the reader, much less the editor and publisher. Worse, that joy is an emotional experience, so rejection doesn’t always lead to rational thoughts/decisions, like “I wonder what I could do better,” or “Maybe I just wasn’t a good fit for this publication.” If your goal is to write and improve, rather than just write, chances are you’ll have a better go at it.

In this field, all you have is your talent and your relationships, so how do you treat others? How do you treat yourself? I think these are decent questions to ask.

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

I travel whenever I can. There are so many places I want to go.


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