Jun 282013
 

HERITAGE OF PRIDE RALLY TONIGHT!
7 to 10 @ Pier 26! NYC
Kick off Pride with a rousing outdoor event

FREE!!!

I’ll be sharing stories about building queer  families

Jun 172013
 

I’m a huge fan of Laura Antoniou’s work, her Marketplace series was one of the first times I remember reading about  leather characters in a way that I could in some ways connect with. I discovered them while I was working at the leather shop in downtown Portland, we had a tiny book section and all of us punk kids who worked there were obsessed with her work. We would read them when the boss wasn’t around and the store was quiet, and finally our assistant manager managed to buy the whole series on layaway and would let me borrow it book by book to finish reading.  I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to collaboriate with Laura, she read at my Queer Memoir: Leather event about a year and a half ago, and then wrote the foreword for my BDSM anthology Leather Ever After!   Her newest book a murder mystery “The Killer Wore Leather” is absolutely fantastic – you can read my full review over at Curve Magazine so I was thrilled when asked if I would participate in the book’s blog tour!  I’d already reviewed the novel so I was excited for the opportunity to do something a little different….. below is an interview with Laura talking about the new book, but also her creative process, leather, and of course what’s coming next!  Check it out!

 

What was the inspiration behind The Killer Wore Leather?

Two things! First, a little book titled “Bimbos of the Death Sun,” by Edgar Award Winner Sharyn McCrumb. It’s a murder mystery set at a science fiction convention back before nerds were cool. It was snarky and illustrated and poked fun at the convention culture of the early 80s, and was the first mystery I ever read that was intentionally *funny.* I have been wanting to write a funny book about the leather scene for many years now, and my joke title was The Killer Wore Leather.

The second thing that sparked the inspiration was realizing that as more and more people started investigating BDSM, the media views of it tend to be skewed by CSI episodes and an occasional “dark” book about some woman being seduced away into a violent, hidden culture of pathologicalnarcissistic weirdos who could order their submissive partners to kill people - or just kill them personally. But no one showed what it REALLY looked like. And we look funny. The time was right. I wrote. 

Can you talk a little bit about the experience of writing a novel not set in The Marketplace world?

Who says it’s not set in the Marketplace world? I’m a very conservative world builder. I don’t see why it can’t be in the very same world, just about very different people. Other than that, this book is the first ever written in my authentic voice, snark and all. The MP books have a more melodramatic bent to them; this is just pure fun and adventure. Also, I had to be prompted to add sex scenes. That was new.

 How has it felt to be doing readings in places like Barns & Nobel and having so much mainstream crossover success with this book?  What have audience reactions in those venues been like?

I’ll let you know about mainstream success after two years, when the publisher isn’t waiting for more returns. And as for B&N – they won’t carry the book nationwide. So far, I have been to two stores that do, because their buyers made the decision to take a chance on it. The biggest difference in response to this book for me so far has been with gay men! If I had known all I had to do was kill one of ‘em, I would have done that years ago! But seriously, the response from the leather/kink community has been amazing. I am waiting to see how we do getting mystery readers and other groups to pick up the book.

How has your own relationship to leather influenced the books that you write? 

Absolutely. I choose to write about the things I do because I have an enduring interest and passion for them. You can’t be out for 30 years and teaching and writing for 20 without having something driving you. Otherwise, I’d still have a day job, or I’d be writing cowboy-werewolf romances for the easy money.

What keeps you writing?

I have this stubborn eating habit. Plus, I am a huge fan of shelter. My hobbies of consistent medical care, reasonable access to entertainment and of course, very large lattes, also drive me to write more.

What are the hardest characters for you to write?

Genuinely nice, altruistic people. tend to suspect them of deeper, more suspect feelings, or think of them as wildly improbable. Nasty, scheming people are MUCH easier. Right now, Detective Rebecca Feldblum, the lead in my mystery, is too nice for my taste. I know she has something she has to be hiding, or fighting. We’ll see what develops as I keep writing.

Who is your favorite character in The Killer Wore Leather? Why?

Oh, I love Earl, the producer of the Mr. & Ms. Global Leather (and Bootblack) Contest. Also, Bitsy. And Detective Dominick DeCosta. That’s more than one. What can I say, I like my work. But wait, there is also Mickey Abraham, the bitter, sarcastic, cynical, over-educated author of books no one reads…

I know that you’re working on book six in The Marketplace Series, can we expect another non-Marketplace novel in the near future too?

If the near future is “next year” the I would say the chance of pretty damn good. I think I need to know more about my Detectives. And there’s another body being discovered right now in the back of my mind, if not yet on paper.

Queer Heros NW !

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Jun 142013
 

There’s something outrageously special about being honored by your hometown, to have the place that raised you up look at where you are and the work that you have done/are doing and not only respond positively, but honor you for it. I’ve had a lot of really special moments with the Portland, Oregon queer community in recent months.  I was asked to keynote this year’s Oregon Queer Youth Conference  and now the youth book group at SMYRC (the queer youth center where I grew up) is reading Roving Pack!!!

Amidst all of this I got the news that I had been selected as one of the 2013 Queer Heros NW by the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest and the Q Center!!!!! 

 

“We thank you from the bottom of our queer hearts, Sassafras – we know we can survive whatever the LGBTQ-hating adult world can throw at us, because you did” 

This is one of the most powerful compliments I’ve ever received. I’m humbled, and honored that my hometown thinks of me and my work so highly. The last two weeks have been an incredible whirlwind between this and the Lammys, I am even more committed to writing the kinds of stories that people can really connect with

Saints & Sinners

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Jun 142013
 

my tiny little aligator friend at the hotel pool

The Saints & Sinners Literary Conference was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had as a writer. It was a weekend filled with the kind of queer literary community that I hunger for. Over the course of the weekend I: was stuck in a huge thunderstorm that grounded my plane, worked with Dorothy Allison, met tons of incredible LGBTQ writers, talked about the industry on panels, listened to other brilliant panels, ate bengals, ofended a lady in a cathedral and SO. MUCH. MORE.  Curious about what my experiences at the conference was like?  Check out my what my weekend was like in my report back over at Lambda Literary! 

Jun 102013
 

This morning I wanted to share a really special Roving Pack fan with all of you. Her name is Michele Brennan and she’s a badass queer living in Michigan. Do you remember being in elementary school and doing reports on books? Remember how a big part of that was creating a diorama in a box – depicting the characters and important parts of the book? About a month ago Michelle posted on Facebook that she was working on a diorama of Roving Pack! This was just about the coolest thing I could imagine (now I want to start creating dioramas of queer books!) and I was thrilled that she felt so connected to Roving Pack that she was inspired to do this! Since that Facebook post Michelle has been working on her diorama and it’s fucking incredible! No seriously, this thing is ridiculously good and so accurate to the book—right down to the black sheets and floggers on the wall! I am completely IN LOVE with this art!!!! Reader responses to my books are the greatest honor I can get as an author, and never in a million years did I imagine I would see a book diorama of Roving Pack!!! Check this out!!!

While Michelle has been making this Roving Pack diorama she’s also been fighting a battle against cancer. She and her support team are trying to raise $5,000 to help with the numerous expenses that incur when someone has a medical emergency like this. I want to share this with Roving Pack readers because I believe in the power of community. My hope is that some of you will be able to chip in $1, $5, $10, $20 whatever you can to help support this amazing member of our queer community during a very difficult time.

Lammys!!!!

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Jun 062013
 

Kestryl and I on the red carpet!

The Lambda Literary Awards were Monday night, and I’m still coming down from accepting the Dr. Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award and as such, what was one of the most incredible experiences not only as a writer, but in my life as a whole. I got my start in writing as a queer punk zinester, not unlike many of the characters who appear in my stories. I started writing first to save myself, to make myself feel, even for a moment less isolated, and a little more alive. Then, I began writing as a way to connect with others: folks, other queer kids trying to save themselves would shove crumpled dollar bills into envelopes that wound their way through the USPS (and numerous change of address forwardings) and in return received zines in their mailboxes. We were writing the stories we had been told not to, the kinds of stories we had never seen on a library bookshelf, the kinds of stories that made everything hurt a little bit less.

I don’t have an MFA.  I am, at my core not only a community based writer, but a community educated one as well. As I said, I was a zinester; most of my writing skills have been picked up, or made-up along the way. For a while, especially when I was working on Kicked Out, this was something I was ashamed of, something I tried to hide. Somewhere about halfway through the Roving Pack manuscript I found the power in claiming that, and moved forward with the intentional decision to keep the raw and grittiness in my writing that I believe comes directly my creative roots. I write queer stories, explicitly with queer readers in mind, and as such I can think of no bigger honor at this point in my career to have received this kind of recognition from my queer literary community.

As I sit here looking at the beautiful blooming bouquet of flowers my partner Kestryl brought home as a surprise on Monday, my mind keeps replaying snippets of the Lammys. From the moment I learned I had received the award, until the Lammys themselves I continued to use the word “shocked” to describe what it felt to know I was receiving such an award.  I still feel that way: the surprise that someone like me, from my writing background, could be at this place where the most important organization in queer literature believes that my work embodies “the future of LGBTQ literature” completely blows my mind. But, at the same time I walked away from the Lammys feeling like in one more way I’ve found a home, my queer literary home.

Nicola Griffith who (along with Trebor Healey) at the Lammys received the Mid-Career Award gave a beautiful acceptance speech where she talked about having always felt like an outsider be it because of her nationality, disability, and/or sexuality but that there, on that stage at the Lammy’s she felt as though she’d been welcomed home, as though she belonged within this queer literary world.  She said it far more beautifully than I am paraphrasing here, but her words resonated deeply with me.  This award means so much more to me than I have even fully understood, it’s a validation for the path’s that I have walked as a writer, and the stories that have come from that place.

We didn’t have long for acceptance speeches (with good reason these kind of award ceremonies are always VERY long) but I tried my best to pack in as many thanks as I could.  I discovered while writing the initial drafts of my remarks just how many people I had to thank, and how many seconds it takes to do that!  Most important for me was to thank Kestryl who for the past 9 years has stood by me and all of my creative projects, my chosen queer family, the authors that have in some way taken me under their wing – especially Kate Bornstein, independent feminist bookstores, the queer youth center that raised me up, and my first writing teacher Linda Hummer – who taught creativity and healing classes in the women’s studies department at my college (where I almost flunked out numerous times) she was the first person to tell me I was a writer, who handed me the books that have changed my life and shifted my career, who died right before Kicked Out was published.  I also wanted to thank all of you who read my books and stories, who write me letters talking about how something I wrote really resonated with how you see and experience the world. You are my biggest inspiration to keep writing, and I wanted to say that from stage.

I’m so grateful that Kestryl was able to capture on video my acceptance speech so that I could share it with all of you

 

 

 

When I first began working on Roving Pack I conceptualized of the book as being outside of the general course of my work. I saw Roving Pack as a story that needed to be told, but in some ways separate from what I generally do. I thought of it as a fringe book, small project that would appeal to a small niche of the community. I didn’t expect the kind of widespread response that the novel and I received. I especially didn’t anticipate that I would fall so deeply in love with writing queer fiction. What began two and a half years ago, as a creative experiment has become my home, but also my future.

Now the work begins.  I’m so intensely grateful for the ways that my books have been seen and validated in such an official way. I never expected to be here, but now that I am I intend to take full advantage of every opportunity I’m given. This is not in anyway to say that prior to this award, or without this award I wasn’t driven to continue putting these kinds of queer stories into the world, I absolutely was. However, I would be lying if I said something hadn’t shifted within me as a direct result of receiving the Berzon Award from the Lambda Foundation.  This award is a validation it means that my work an I will be taken more seriously in the literary world, and as such I believe that with this award comes a responsibility. I must continue to be worthy of having received it.  I cannot be lazy; to write the easy story that is less threatening, or more comfortable (to me, or readers), and I must do what it takes to get those edgy stories out into the community and into the hands of the queers that need them. I see it as my obligation write the best and most dangerous queer stories that I can, and to continue to queer the future of LGBTQ literature in every story I write, and every book I publish.

It’s time to start writing……….

 

 

 

busy!!!

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Jun 022013
 

I’ve been quieter than I would like in the blog world . I’ve been keeping up with my new Leatherati column  and have been making pretty substantial progress on my new novel Lost Boi.  I’ve also been SUPER BUSY.  Last weekend I had the incredible chance to travel to New Orleans for the Saints & Sinners Queer Literary Festival which was one of the most incredible experiences of my writing career.  I have a huge blog post all about my time in New Orleans that will soon be published up on Lambda Literary so I won’t give too much away here just yet.  Also, tomorrow is the 25th annual Lambda Literary Awards! Still can’t quite believe that I’m getting the Emerging Writer award!  I plan to write in much more detail about what all of this means to me, including a copy of my acceptance speech — speaking of, my boots have been polished but I better go work on practicing and polishing that speech!  I have 30-60 seconds and a LOT of people to thank!

It’s hard to believe it’s already June!  I’ve got a lot of fun things coming up this month – I’ll be reading at Fuck You Dad an annual father’s day queer event here in Brooklyn. I’ll be reading some D/s Daddy/boy stuff, and then I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be performing at the NYC Pride kickoff Rally!!!  More info about all thdse events coming very soon!