Queering the Beyond with Adam Sass

With the creation of new worlds, aliens, and inter-galactic politics one would think that science fiction is a literary genre welcoming of diversity. However, both queer and female voices in sci-fi are often either hard-to-find or snubbed by the genre’s readers. Startling Sci-Fi: New Tales of the Beyond edited by Casey Ellis (New Lit Salon Press) is inclusive of both queer and female voices. The collection also attempts to disprove the misnomer that “literary fiction” and “genre fiction” can’t be one in the same. I sat down with one of the anthologies authors, Adam Sass, to find out how he’s helping to queer the beyond.

SF cover, ebook cover WEBBrandon: Why do you think Science Fiction attracts so many gay readers and writers?

Adam: It has a flair, doesn’t it? Sci-fi writing lends itself to splashy, showy, larger-than-life characters. It colors the mundane, presents big ideas, creates fabulous powers, and features operatic drama; all things gays (on average) find to be mother’s milk. It’s also a genre that’s big on metaphor. Gays can really rock a metaphor.

Brandon: Pop culture plays a big role in your story, “98% Graves.” Can you discuss pop culture’s influence on your work in general and in this story specifically? [Read more…]

Retro Reads… and a Giveaway

I’m over at Prism Book Alliance talking about two of my more literary fan favs, Listening to Dust and The Value of Rain. Feel free to stop by, enter to win a gift card, and join in the conversation at Prism.

Read their review of Listening to Dust.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00066] Listening to Dust - gay fiction

Spotlight: The Boy and His Wolf – Paranormal Romance

Welcome new author and Librarian of the Year, Sean Thomas, to the blog. 

The-Boy-and-his-wolf-smallMy time in the self-publishing industry has been very short and in less than six months I received recognition as Librarian of the Year by the Romance Writers of America, wrote a novella, and now made it into an audio book. If anybody asked me six months ago if I believed any of this would be possible I would have looked at them like a crazy person. Sure, I’ve always loved to write but I never actually expected to publish anything and to be honest, I hadn’t given self-publishing much thought until very recently. Calling myself an author was just a far off dream that I only hoped I would aspire to one day. [Read more…]

Second Chances

Welcome award-winning novelist and short story writer, Nathan Burgoine, to the blog with some insight into his writing. 

On the Run

When I wrote my first novel, Light, there was a bit of recurring feedback from some of the readers who knew my short fiction that made me smile: “I wasn’t expecting to laugh.”

That’s probably fair. I have a reputation for bittersweet when I write short fiction; my first published short story, “Heart,” continues to be one of the stories I get the most feedback about from readers (and mostly about how it made them cry). In short fiction, I like to explore the theme of second chances – and second chances generally require someone to mess up something the first time around.

So, when Light hit the shelves and people started to laugh (which for the record is exactly what I was hoping for and boy was I a wreck waiting to find out if I could be funny or not) I was very pleased. Kieran the telepathic and telekinetic gay massage therapist was a very unlikely superhero who managed to deliver the chuckles I’d hoped he would, even as he fumbled his way into saving the day.

After Light, I’d intended to go back to short stories for a while, but I got a request from Jerry L. Wheeler that was too good to pass up – he was putting together a collection of four novellas with a theme of pursuit, chasing, or tracking down, and wondered if I’d consider submitting something.

[Read more…]

The Future of LGBT Rights

lgbt flagWhat challenges do you see for the future for LGBT Rights?

A lot has been written in response to this question. There are still so many challenges for the future of LGBT rights that it is hard to narrow them down to just a few key points.  But I do think there is one key element which succinctly addresses all the larger concerns.

Single-fix focal points

We tend to focus on one issue at a time as if the issues we face as LGBT were non-inclusive of all the other issues. And we do so to our own detriment.

The battle for LGBT rights will never end. Never. I know many feel that statement to be pessimistic, but it’s reality. You only need to watch the news and you’ll see the strife (often carried across generations) to realize we will always be fighting for equality. And if not fighting, then defending against the corrosion of those rights we have won.

Where we leave gaps, our opponents gain a foothold. Marriage is the current focal point. It’s snappy, it has immediate gratification, it has great sound bites, and look at all those smiling faces…everyone is all dressed up for the party.

What you don’t see behind those photos are the 200,000+ homeless LGBT kids still on our streets, the level of poverty that most LGBT’s live in every day, the barbarity of verbal and physical attacks on trans people, and the continuing racial divide that separates much of the LGBT community.  Job discrimination? It’s bursting at the seams, but you hardly hear a word about it.

All these issues are connected, but our opponents have successfully lobbied the public (which includes LGBT) into believing that we should segregate our thoughts. This is a health issue, this over here is a black/white issue, that one is a jobs issue. Look, this is a trans issue, that a religious issue, and this is a gay issue.  And those lesbian feminists, that’s something else completely.

We need to start understanding the mindset behind the attacks on the LGBT community. They come down to one very effective mechanism for ineffectiveness: divide and conquer.  As we allow our opponents to create dissension among the LGBT community, they gain and we lose. Yes, single-focus has helped us make great gains (look at how far we have come with marriage), but at what cost? Who do we leave behind? Who decides who we sacrifice? How many do we sacrifice?

The single greatest challenge for the LGBT community is to finally come to the understanding that we have allowed our enemies to divide us.  All LGBT issues affect all of us.  If just one LGBT person is bound by the definitions set by our adversaries, then we are all bound. Not a single one of us truly gets the rights we are fighting for. Not one. The commonality between us is not that we are LGBT, but that we are human and that our opponents have taken our self-anointed labels and attempted to turn them against us.  But we’re changing that, slowly. (See below.)

What are gay activists/allies getting right? Getting wrong?

Got it Right

Redefining LGBT. For a long, long time our definition of what means to be LGBT was determined by others, haters usually. Every major movement, every major victory comes down to one basic fact: We have taken back and begun to redefine what it means to be LGBT. Our voices are now heard, not because we have shouted down our foes, but because we have proven them wrong both morally and factually.  These facts –the essence of who we are, what we do, and how we live – are what have given us every major victory. Remember, it only takes 10% of population holding an unshakable belief to convince the rest of the population to adopt the same belief.[1] So yes, every voice counts, including yours.

Got it Wrong

Claiming we won. We haven’t won, not by far. Victory in a few skirmishes and battles is not winning the war. Ask any African American if they won the battle against racism, ask any immigrant, any non-white. Ask a woman how the battles still rage over misogyny and sexism. Ask an LGBT kid in a small town how safe they feel, or how included, or how reviled.

Exporting ‘My Gay Life’.  There’s a lot we can do to support the movements in other countries for LGBT rights, but simply exporting our own ideas and ideals in the same way we market the ideal gay image (which is male, white, svelte and rich) is not going to work. Real change is cultural change and most Americans (gay and straight) have little understanding of other cultures, including those which are relatively close to our own.

You cannot take the supposed playbook from the US LGBT rights movement and simply plop it down in another country which has thousands of years of history and culture. Boots on the ground is what we need focus our efforts on – that is supporting those native men and women who are striving to make a change within their own countries. Anything else is viewed as another attempt at a subversive ‘western imperialism.’ See China, Russia, Uganda, Croatia, etc. (The list is endless.) The religious right and extremist groups are making strides at proclaiming that LGBT rights are an ‘imported phenomena.’ (Next they’ll be a CIA plot.) We know this is not true, but we still continue to market being LGBT as a ‘freedom’ and not as an inalienable right of being human. And we still, unfortunately, have the imperialist idea that we, as Americans, know what’s best for others. It’s hurting our international brothers and sisters, and it is something we need to halt, now. A freedom is something that is granted by the powers that be, a right is something inherent in being alive. We, as a community, need to learn the difference.

[1] Branderati

Being Gay Didn’t Mean I Was Wrong

Readers nominated Me and Mine by Sarah Goodwin for a 2014 LGBT Book Gem. I asked her to stop by and give us some background on the story.  ~B.

me and mine - Sarah GoodwinI wrote the first version of Me and Mine while I was in my second year of university, doing my Creative Writing degree. At the time I was only just starting to receive treatment for depression, and because I wasn’t able to focus on assignments, I began to write a lot of fanfiction. I’ve always read fanfiction, since I was about thirteen, but I’d never really written any before. This was the first time I’d read slash fiction, and writing it threw me in at the deep end.

Once the fanfiction version of Me and Mine had accumulated and I’d finished it, someone, just one person, messaged me and said that it should be a novel. I think it was just a throwaway comment, but as I’d been writing ‘novels’ since I was a teenager, I thought it would be a good project to keep me busy. So in the summer break I converted the original text into a more novel-like format, and changed the names. I also ended up adding about 40k to what I’d already written. [Read more…]

The Wolf at the Door

More than a few readers nominated Jameson Currier’s The Wolf at the Door for a 2014 LGBT Book Gem.  I asked him to give us readers a little of the story behind the novel.

The Wolf at the DoorThe Wolf at the Door, my novel set in a haunted gay-owned guesthouse in the French Quarter of New Orleans, was begun in 2003, after several visits to New Orleans, including participating in the annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival and taking innumerable walking tours throughout the French Quarter, Garden District, and local cemeteries. At the time I started writing the novel I was also writing several ghost short stories, all with gay characters, gay situations or gay themes. I read more than 1,000 ghost stories to understand the craft, technique, and style of literary ghost stories and to sharpen the themes I wanted to present in my own. What I liked about New Orleans was its rich sense of history in its everyday life. I finished my final draft of the novel on Sunday, August 28, 2005, the evening before Hurricane Katrina landed ashore in Louisiana. It was apparent to me in the ensuing days that this would be a manuscript that I would have to put aside because of the unfolding tragedy and aftermath of the hurricane. I continued to work on other ghost stories set in difference locales and these stories were collected as The Haunted Heart and Other Tales. By 2010, when I launched Chelsea Station Editions, a small press devoted to gay literature, New Orleans was back on its feet and I decided the first book the new press would publish would be The Wolf at the Door. [Read more…]

The Boy I Love

Welcome Marion Husband to the blog. Readers nominated her The Boy I Love series for a 2014 LGBT Book Gem. 

The Boy I LoveWhen I give readings and talks about The Boy I Love trilogy of novels, I am sometimes asked why, as a heterosexual woman, I wanted to write about homosexual men.  I answer that it was accidental, a way into a plot: I’d started a novel and it seemed to me that it didn’t have enough drama, there had to be more conflict,  more struggle and interest.   It occurred to me that if the central character was a gay man then there would be more for him to overcome and therefore more for me to write about.

Because that’s the thing, isn’t it?  What to write about.  I think so many books are written about murder because it’s the only thing that many writers can think of that’s interesting enough.  Death and trauma are interesting – we rubber neck when we pass a car accident, we don’t watch Mr Smith parallel park his Honda Civic (although we might if he was bad at parking and in danger of smashing that Jaguar’s headlight – this would be comedy, I suppose).  I knew I didn’t have it in me to write a crime novel, but I was in love with this character I had thought up, Paul Harris, and I really, really wanted to write about him and how he survived the First World War.  So, here is Paul in his lieutenant’s uniform and he is very handsome and troubled and he wants only to be left in peace – but that peace has to be disrupted – disruption is drama – as Henry de Montherlant said, happiness writes white.  Peace and contentment?  No story.  Peace and contentment might be the ending of the story, but Paul has to go on a journey to reach that happy-ever-after. [Read more…]

Proud to Be Different: The Road to London

You may have heard about it, but if you haven’t, you will.  Adriano Bulla is here to talk to us about his highly lauded novel The Road to London. Readers were quick to point me to this as an LGBT Book Gem.  ~B.

The Road to LondonWhen I started writing The Road to London, in the very same gay club mentioned in the novel, I was blessed with having no idea about what I was writing: while dancing away, words just started coming to me… I say blessed, because that may have felt like a rather daunting and, at times, ‘spooky’ experience, not knowing where you are going with a story, having no clue about what will happen to the characters and not having a ‘plan’ for her did not give me any control over her birth, on the other hand it gave me the freedom to follow the novel and not force her to fit in with my intentions. The Road to London wanted her freedom from the start. [Read more…]

Talking Muses with Julie Bozza

reading lgbt booksIn between going to the Rainbow Con, traveling and business, I had a chance to sit down with Julie Bozza and talk about the writing process, reader reactions, and tropes. You might be a little surprised with my answers. Join in our conversation and let us know what you think.