Guest post from Karen Campbell: Diary of a Broken Heart

20 Apr

diaryFresh from being shortlisted for a Goldie award for Little Whispers, Karen Campbell is here to talk about her new book Diary of a Broken Heart. Karen is not one to shy away from brutal subjects. Violet’s Story tracks how a woman comes to be admitted to a mental institution and The Knowing is a gripping supernatural thriller. Her readers love her for tackling those different and difficult stories, and last year she won the Ultimate Planet’s award for new author of the year.

~~~

I’ve never written a blog but I thought I would try my hand. Why not? I have a new book out called Diary of a Broken Heart and I want to talk about this until the Highland Cows come home. (I am unapologetically Scottish.) I wrote this book for two reasons.

One is because I wanted a heroine who was ordinary, as that’s where the real heroes are found (in everyday life) and because I wanted to highlight the risks of cervical cancer to lesbians.

So, my narrator is Viv, a proudly over-weight lady, who works the night shift in Tesco. Not your average lesfic heroine. I wanted to write about a woman you could walk beside in a shop and not know her struggles, I wanted a face you could see and forget because she was ordinary. People don’t like to see themselves in books because then they’ll have to think about their lives. I’m sorry but if you want a lesbian fantasy where a rich movie producer seduces the hot lesbian actress, don’t bother reading me. If you want to read about a woman, like you or me, who fails and lies and has weaknesses, then you should.

I wanted Viv to be happy in her own skin. She likes being over-weight. I’ve been criticised because I wanted to call the book “Diary of a Fat Cow”. People saw it as a slight but, to me, that was judging a book by its title. Viv is desired, she has girlfriends, a job where she is valued, friends who want her support and advice. There is nothing derogatory there. I think, if anything, it has shown that a bit of flab makes no difference in life. That was important to me, that Viv was unhindered in life because of her weight. She was hindered by the weights in her mind.

Photo Emma Bailey Photography

Photo Emma Bailey Photography

The second thing I wanted to show was that lesbians who don’t sleep with men still get cervical cancer. I should know, I am one. I’m not traumatised by the experience but I am grateful to be alive and if one woman has a smear that saves her life then it’s worth it.

Every emotion I’ve ever felt has come through my pen and not my actions. I don’t know how to live the words I write but I can make endings for my characters as though they were real people that life cries out for.

I’m not good at doing myself justice without sounding arrogant but if my Viv were a real person, she would be my best friend. Read it and see.

~~~

Thanks Karen. You can buy Diary of a Broken Heart on Amazon and catch up with Karen on Facebook.

Gateway Girls – A Guest Blog by Evangeline Jennings

14 Apr

evangeline jenningsToday we have the pleasure of welcoming Evangeline Jennings as guest blogger. Born and raised in Liverpool, Evangeline now spends most of her time in Austin, Texas. She is the author of Riding in Cars with Girls, a crime-themed collection of essentially feminist, very noir, and almost entirely queer short stories and novellas, and she is the founding editor of the Pankhearst writers collective. She describes herself as an unreliable narrator who tells lies for fun and profit. Mostly fun…

~ ~ ~

When I was younger and confused about all kinds of things, it was a rare pleasure to discover a writer or character I could connect with. Val McDermid’s Lindsay Gordon was one. Mary Wing’s Emma Victor another.  I found them sitting on my father’s bookshelves, side-by-side.

Looking back, they were my gateway drugs. The Women’s Press was my dealer. And my life was never the same again.

Lindsay was a Scottish journalist. Emma a burned-out publicist working on a women’s help line in Boston. Later she moved to San Francisco – where else? – and set up as a proper licensed detective. One day, Emma introduced me to Pam Nilsen, Barbara Wilson’s Seattle-based printer and part-time detective.

dog collar murdersIn The Dog Collar Murders, Pam took me to a conference on sexuality, taught me about safe words, and openly discussed all kinds of tantalizing ideas I had thought were better left unspoken.

That was when I was hooked.

Crime fiction, I realized, wasn’t only Belgian moustaches, country houses, ageing spinsters, and dashing rough-tough heroes with a glint in their eye, a quip on their lip, and far too much testosterone stuffed down their pants. And it could say much more about my life than whodunit?

Katherine V Forrest’s Kate Delafield came to me next – a University friend had noticed a trend in my reading – and that was pretty much that. Kate was hot.

Sure, I’ve flirted with straight women from time to time. The Women’s Press published Marcia Muller, whose early Sharon McCone might as well have been queer, and suggested I take a look at Sara Paretsky’s VI Warshawski. Suddenly I was on a long and winding road that took me through Liza Cody, Lauren Henderson, Linda Barnes, Carol O’Connell, and Karen Kijewski. Sue Grafton and Laura Lippman were next. Eventually Stephanie Plum. But my Women’s Press books were the ones.

They taught me what crime fiction could be. A way to talk about life. A context for any story.

They told me it was OK to be me.riding in cars

And they inspired me to write.

My first full length book is called Riding in Cars with Girls. It’s a very noir, mostly queer, and thoroughly feminist crime fiction collection. My women are heroes and villains. Their sexuality is multi-faceted and explicitly depicted. Their streets are mean. Their worlds are wrong. And their solutions frequently lack in subtlety. There are, I have just realized, precisely no whodunits in this book. Not one murder is solved. But there are mysteries and, at heart, these are stories that go all the way back to my very first night with Lindsay Gordon. I’m very proud of that and I hope that maybe one day these stories may help someone just like the teenage me.

~ ~ ~

If you’re tempted to take a walk on the Noir side of the street, Evangeline has sent us some of her top reading tips:

collectiveMurder in the Collective by Barbara Wilson (1984)
This intricate mystery is the first Pam Nielsen book and therefore the start – I think – of the first amateur lesbian detective series. If that wasn’t enough reason to read, here’s some more. First, this book is steeped in the women’s movement of the early 80s. It’s a story of two print collectives – one left-wing, one radical lesbian – and when they meet and plan to merge, it’s moider. Of course. Second, as if aware that she’s defining a new genre, Wilson’s Nilsen (ahem, giveaway rhyme ahoy) is straight when the book begins and only begins to realize the truth about her own sexuality in parallel with her search for a murderer.

murder at the nightwoodjpgShe Came Too Late by Mary Wings (1986)
The first of the Emma Victor series. Not the best, but a good place to start.

Murder At The Nightwood Bar by Katherine V Forrest (1987)
Strong, smart, and caring, Kate Delafield is an LAPD detective. This is the second of nine Delafield books, and it’s so much better than the first that I recommend you start here.

Common Murder by Val McDermid (1989)
In her second outing,  Lindsay Gordon investigates first an assault and then a murder at a Women’s Peace Camp. It’s so clearly based on Greenham Common that it’s hard not to compare and contrast with Wilson’s Murder in the Collective for different takes on the feminist politics of the nineteen-eighties. It’s a purely personal point of view, but I think Wilson’s work has aged better.

~ ~ ~

Riding in Cars with Girls will be published on April 16th. You can find out more about Evangeline and her books, here at her blog.

News Roundup: New Books from Karen Campbell and Jen Silver, Clare Ashton Hits a Top 10, Val McDermid webchat, Sarah Waters video, and much more!

9 Apr

Be warned, this week’s news is fuelled by unseasonably warm sunshine and loads of Easter chocolate, so things might just get a bit giddy. On the bright side, if I do decide to write this whilst wearing shorts, at least you won’t be able to see them!

~ ~ ~

diary of a broken heartLet’s kick off with the news that Karen Campbell has published her new novel The Diary of a Broken HeartThis is Karen’s third novel, and its blurb reads like this:

The Diary of a Broken Heart is a year in the life of thirty-eight year old lesbian, Vivian Westwood. Viv is an over-weight night-shift Tesco worker, who likes to eat, watch ‘Jeremy Kyle’ and lament the state of her love life.

The diary introduces Viv and her friends: Trace at work with the topsy-turvy love life; best friend, Lor, that Viv is hopelessly in love with; and her pen-pal Flash (Morag Gordon) who obsesses over Kate Bush.

But this is more than just a diary. This is an insight into the mind of an ordinary woman, who gets through her ordinary days in an ordinary way until she is diagnosed with cervical cancer. This diary will bring her self-deprecating humour to the fore as she fights this ghastly disease and begins to see her life in a new way, finally seeing the truths from her past and making decisions for her future happiness.

~ ~ ~

that certain somethingMeanwhile, over at the Lesbian Review, Clare Ashton‘s Lammie nominated RomCom, That Certain Something, has been included in their Ten Best Lesbian Books:

This is a delightful, quirky romance with a boatload of angst thrown in for good measure. This is my favourite of Ashton’s books. It manages a lightness not generally present in her work. The characters are well written and believable. The book is filled with moments so lovely you wish you could frame them and keep looking at them.

The site has a full review of the novel here.

~ ~ ~

clarelydonClare Lydon (AKA: The busiest author in LesFic) has narrated the first chapters of The Long Weekend and London Calling for your listening pleasure. You can find both excerpts here.

If you’d like the chance to meet Clare in person, she will be chatting to readers and selling her books at the 2015 Indie Author Fair, April 17th at Foyle’s bookshop in London. For more details about this Indie extravaganza and a chance to win one of 40 books, see Clare’s blog or our bang-up-to-date Events page.

And squeaking in just under the deadline – the sixth episode of Clare’s Lesbian Book Club podcast, which features an interview with Katie Bennett-Hall of Planet Of The Books, is available to listen to right here.

~ ~ ~

arc over timeSome news on forthcoming books now, and Jen Silver recently revealed the cover and blurb for her second novel, Arc Over Time, the sequel to her début, Starting Over.

Dr Kathryn Moss, professor of archaeology, has much to think about. The job offers are flowing in after her exciting archaeological discoveries at Starling Hill the previous year. Now she has choices to make that could jeopardise her relationship with Denise Sullivan, the fiery journalist, who has become her lover.

Den has her own worries. She feels they have moved beyond the casual sex stage to something more like a true relationship. However, she’s not sure how to handle Kathryn’s continuing infatuation with Ellie Winters, the beguiling owner of Starling Hill farm.

Arc Over Time is a journey of discovery for all involved. I hope you will be tempted to come along for the ride.

The first chapter is available to read here, and the book is due for publication in May.

~ ~ ~

PLayinginshadowSticking with the theme of sneak-peeks, a quickie reminder that Bold Strokes Books publishes excerpts of their forthcoming novels that are far more expansive than the traditional Amazon “Look Inside” feature. This means that the first three chapters of Gill McKnight‘s Soul Selecta, Lesley DavisPlaying in Shadow – both released this month – and Jenny Frame‘s May début, A Royal Romance, can be found by hitting those handy links and clicking on the Excerpt tag.

~ ~ ~

With a general election pending, those of you who have ever wondered about the political bent of thrillers and crime fiction can hop over to this link where Val McDermid will set it all out for you. I’m not sure it’ll help you choose which idiot will make the least mess of our country over the next five years, but it does make for interesting reading:

val mcdermidThe current preoccupations of the crime novel…lean to the left. It’s critical of the status quo, sometimes overtly, sometimes more subtly. It often gives a voice to characters who are not comfortably established in the world – immigrants, sex workers, the poor, the old. The dispossessed and the people who don’t vote.

The Guardian also ran a live webchat with Val towards the end of March, the full transcript of which can be found here.

~ ~ ~

intothefireRemember the days before Facebook, e-books and Twitter? Remember modems and dial-up? It’s hard to believe that fifteen years have passed since the release of Manda Scott‘s Dreaming the Eagle, but my grey hairs would seem to suggest that that much time has actually gone by, and this blog by Manda adds further credence to the claim:

We’ve sold somewhere around a million books since then. And this week, the e-book of Eagle was reduced as a way to introduce Boudica and her era to a new generation of readers around the world (we’re working on the US/Canada digital version, trust me on this) and to give them time to work through the series before the launch of Into the Fire in the middle of June. (It’s a dual time line book. Half is set in the world of Jeanne d’Arc, another woman warrior whose story is not remotely as we’ve been led to believe: the other half is contemporary – if you want a taste of my contemporary thrillers, head back to No Good Deed). 

Read the full blog here if you want to know more about Manda’s novels, and get all nostalgic about waiting till after midnight to access the Internet because the lines were busy!

~ ~ ~

Writer-Sarah-Waters-006A treat now for Sarah Waters fans, with a new video interview being posted over at her website. Sarah was chatting to Canadian LGBT online magazine Daily Xtra, and you can find the full 20-minute interview here. The Events page of Sarah’s site has also been updated to give details of a tour that’s taking in Scandinavia, South Africa, Australia, and um…Norwich. Some of the details are still pending, but you can get an idea of the locations and dates here.

~ ~ ~

I think that about covers it for this week. The sunshine and my back garden bench are beckoning, so I shall bid you all a fond farewell.

News roundup: new books, old books, events and more events! Everything from L Fest to Aye Write and Manda Scott to Nicola Griffith

28 Mar

Whoever is planning the festivals this year has suddenly got their arse in gear because events are being announced every which way this week. But first, some other tasty morsels from around the interweb.

~~~

You Are What You Eat, and if it’s a biscuit you’re probably a Brit, and if it’s a cookie you’re more likely to be from the US. And that’s before you even get to different brands. This causes a problem for the likes of Cari Hunter who can’t go two chapters without someone having some’t nice to eat. Her trials and tribulations with the great food divide across the pond was explored in a Curve article this week by Diana Simmonds:

no good reasonHunter says, of her culinary concerns, ‘I think it’s a fear of chucking a reader out of a scene by throwing something at them that’s so completely alien it makes them stop and go ‘huh?’ I’ll probably swap custard creams for shortbread. But I am sad Americans don’t have Battenberg cake, though, I mean look how pretty it is!’

And so it is, even if you don’t like marzipan, and whether you care or not that it might have been named in honour of Queen Victoria’s husband. But that’s the thing: if you don’t explore, you might as well stay home and guzzle more S’mores.

Read the rest of the entertaining article here.

There’s more from Cari as she gears up for the publication of No Good Reason in June with a taster of her life as a paramedic, which closely resembles that of her heroines.

I’ve worked for the ambulance service for thirteen years, eleven of those as a paramedic, and the last four of those leading a dual life as an author. My books tend to resemble my world – medical themes, with police, doctors, chaos, and violence – and I’ve always tried to keep them on the right side of realism. Bearing that in mind, none of my leading ladies are uber-heroines, those striding, muscle-ripped superwomen so beloved of cop/doc fiction, and the central pair in the Dark Peak series are no different. Sanne and Meg are bright, intuitive, and good at their jobs, but they get knackered, get puked on, laugh at the wrong things, and fuck up just like any of us.

Have a read of the post No Angels Here for an excellent taster of life as a paramedic – it’s a typically gripping and funny read.

~~~

On to new books and pieces.

Lesley DavisPlaying in Shadow is now available from the Bold Strokes website (it will be available on Amazon April 20th). This is the link if you want to get your mitts on a paperback or have your ereader gobble up an ebook.

Lesley has also revealed the blurb and cover for the next book in the pipeline, Starstruck, which is due out January next year. Here’s the blurb and cover:

starstruckActress Cassidy ‘CJ’ Hayes is famous for her role in “The Alchemidens”, a fantasy show where she plays a kick-ass heroine. Her rising success has brought her quickly under Hollywood’s glaring spotlight. It also gained her the unwelcome attentions of an obsessive fan who wants more than just an autograph. Aiden Darrow is both a well-respected screenwriter and a writer of lesbian romances. As a big fan of actress C.J. Hayes, Aiden is astounded when the woman of her dreams ends up moving into the house next door to her. Their attraction is undeniable but Cassidy is understandably nervous about getting too close to anyone. Aiden, meanwhile, is trying to separate reality from fiction because Cassidy is nothing like the character she portrays so well. All through her childhood, Aiden dreamed of a hero to come rescue her. Can she be the hero that Cassidy so desperately needs now?

reloadKiki Archer has been quiet of late, beavering away on a screenplay and waiting for news from various production companies in between the odd appearance on Sky News. But she has been tinkering with a short story or two. Her latest is another funny piece, Reload and Try Again, and has been published in the digital magazine Cracked Eye. Head on over here to download the app and buy a copy of this promising new magazine.

intothefireManda Scott has released the synopsis for her forthcoming novel Into the Fire (release date of June). It starts:

FORGET WHAT YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW…

2014 – A man’s charred corpse is found in the latest of a string of arson attacks in the French city of Orléans. There’s a secret, hidden within the body that changes everything.

1429 – Joan of Arc, warrior-knight, leads the armies of France into victory, and escorts her king to his consecration. But even then, her story was a lie.

SOME LEGENDS NEVER DIE – but they may be rewritten…

Brilliantly linking past and present, Manda Scott’s exhilarating thriller challenges us to think again about one of the most enduring legends in history.

swordfishUKLesFic doesn’t know if there is any lesbian content, but that sounds like a cracking read. The whole synopsis and excerpt is available from Manda’s website, which is looking beautiful after a recent make-over.

And a quick mention of Andrea Bramhall‘s Swordfish: her sequel to Ladyfish is now available from Audible. Flutter over here for a copy.

~ ~ ~

Now for some books that have been out for a while but which have had rather nice mentions this week:

hild coverNicola Griffith‘s Hild has made it onto a list of 29 Awesome Books With Strong Female Protagonists (and for some reason it bugs me that they didn’t find 30). This is what they had to say about the epic: “Nicola Griffith’s Hild is a sweeping, historical novel that takes place in Britain during the Middle Ages, where a bright, curious child named Hild, the king’s niece, becomes his seer in a brutal, violent time. Strong-willed and gifted, Hild grows up to become one of the most powerful women in seventh-century Britain: Saint Hilda of Whitby.

Go and have a shufty at the rest of the list here.

(Do you think that looks like Nicola on the cover? Apparently six out of 10 readers think Nicola looks like one of her heroines. Here’s the pie-chart to prove it.)

pennanceClare Ashton‘s books got a favourable mention on Indie Reader in an article about how indie publishing is allowing marginalised authors to reach an audience beyond the traditional publishing world, often criticised for being being male-, hetero-, cis- and white-centric.

The article lists nine authors who don’t fit the usual publishing industry mould. Of Clare’s books, it says “[they] are shining examples of literature featuring lesbian romance. Her first novel, Penance, is a hauntingly moving ghost story, and the romance that blossoms from tragedy demonstrate Ashton’s unique ability to spin a yarn.” All true you know :p

~~~

Right, on to those events.

LFest2015Hot off the press is the lineup for L Fest in July, and it’s looking mighty fine with a first showing for the literary salon, Polari, at the festival. VG Lee and Kiki Archer will be appearing as part of that session and will pretty much guarantee a good guffaw from even those with the most insensitive of funny bones.

There also looks like a great mix of indie authors on the panel entitled Close & Personal with the Indie Authors: Desire, Dramas & Divas. Go and rub, err, shoulders with HP Munro, Karen Campbell, Veronica Fearon, Suzanne Egerton and Clare Lydon, who’ll be hosting the panel.

AND Manda Scott will be there. She’ll be doing an hour-long slot on Women Warriors: “from Boudica to Jeanne d’Arc to Christine Grenville, Nancy Wake and Violet Szabo of the SOE, there have always been women that wanted to fight – and were good at it. In this hour, we celebrate their victories, and look at what’s changed – and what hasn’t – when fighting flows in our life blood.

L Fest is a unique lesbian festival with three days of entertainment from fabulous UK authors, bands, cinema, workshops and you can have a laugh with a great big bunch of lesbians in a field, all for £99. Have a look at the rest of the lineup here.

ayewriteThe Polari Salon will also be popping up in Glasgow as part of the Aye Write Festival in April. Paul Burston will be the fabulous host as usual to guests Jackie Kay, VG Lee and Patrick Gale. Not one to be missed! The session costs £9 and will be held at the Mitchell Library at 7.30 on April 23rd. More details and tickets on the Aye Write website.

Kerry Hudson and Jackie Kay will also be appearing on the Out There panel. They will be reading their work from the anthology of the same name and discussing issues around LGBT literature in Scotland. The panel is in the same place on the same date as Polari, just a little earlier in the evening. More details and tickets here.

Kerry Hudson will also be appearing at the Ullapool Book Festival in May, as will Val McDermid. More details here.

catherine hallCatherine Hall gets around a bit.  On Wednesday 22nd of April, she’ll be taking part in the Reader Series at Canterbury Christ Church University at the Sidney Cooper Gallery.  The event is bargainously free. More details here.

She’ll also be appearing at the Brighton Pavilion, which is where her latest book, The Repercussions, is set. The event is on Friday 24th April, costs £8 and includes wine. You can’t get much more convivial than that.

Meanwhile, Maureen Duffy will be appearing at Poetry at The Print Room on Tuesday 14th April. This is part of a series of intimate evenings in the company of contemporary poets at The Coronet in Notting Hill. More details here.

~ ~ ~

Phew! Nearly there.

And finally, don’t forget to catch up with the latest Lesbian Book Club podcast with Clare Lydon. Clare has a romp through the UK and US Amazon lesfic charts and also gives us a quick update on progress on her own writing with book 3 – the yet unnamed follow up to London Calling. She then interviews Karen Campbell about her gritty novels.

Karen reveals (in that rather lovely Scottish accent) how she started writing years ago with Violet’s Story after mulling over a story centred on mental health and featuring that favourite name of hers. They cover a great range of topics, including the follow up to The Knowing, a hint of the supernatural, the madness of writing and being shy and introverted, with some hints about a collaboration with Angela Peach. Oh, and football. Have a listen here.

~~~

That is all. Good night!

News Roundup: Brits’ Lambda Award Joy, New Author Evangeline Jennings, Emma Donoghue on the Stonewall Honour List, and More!

12 Mar

It’s been an excellent couple of weeks for news here in UK LesFic land, not necessarily in terms of quantity, but definitely in terms of quality. So let’s bloody-well get on with it, eh?

~ ~ ~

that certain somethingFirst and foremost, a massive shout out to our very own Clare Ashton whose delightful RomCom, That Certain Something, has been shortlisted for a Lambda Literary award.

For those not in the know about these things, the Lambda Literary Awards “identify and celebrate the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year and affirm that LGBTQ stories are part of the literature of the world. The Awards ceremony has consistently drawn an audience representing every facet of publishing.”

The much-anticipated shortlist was announced on Wednesday 4th March, with Andrea Bramhall‘s Nightingale joining That Certain Something in the Lesbian Romance category. Sarah WatersThe Paying Guests was also listed in the category of Lesbian General Fiction.

The awards ceremony will take place on June 1st, and a full list of all the finalists can be found here. Congratulations and all the luck in the world to the three Brits (and to everyone else, of course!)

~ ~ ~

riding in carsIt’s always lovely to welcome a new author to the site, and Evangeline Jennings has recently joined our listing. Born and raised in Liverpool, Evangeline now spends most of her time in Austin, TX. She is the author of Riding in Cars with Girls, a crime-themed collection of essentially feminist, very noir, and almost entirely queer short stories and novellas. She is also the founding editor of the Pankhearst writers collective. Her full bio can be found on the Authors page, and her next publication will be a short story in this erotica anthology.

You can find out more about Evie over at her blog.

~ ~ ~

Nicola Griffith‘s website has a whole new look and very nice it is too, with links to all of her books, loads of information, a blog section, and updates about guest appearances. The site is still a work in progress and Nicola is keen for reader feedback, so pay a visit and see what you think.

Sticking with that theme, Val McDermid‘s site has also had a makeover. There’s certainly a lot of information to be found, but with so much moving, streaming, and jumping out at you, you might want to take some Hyoscine before heading on over there!

~ ~ ~

frog musicIt’s a very award-themed update this one, and Emma Donoghue has just announced that Frog Music is one of four Honor Books in Literature for the 2015 Stonewall Book Awards:

The first and most enduring award for GLBT books is the Stonewall Book Awards, sponsored by the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table. Since Isabel Miller’s Patience and Sarah received the first award in 1971, many other books have been honored for exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.

All of this year’s Stonewall winners can be found here, and Emma’s news nicely coincides with the paperback release of Frog Music, which comes complete with a rather natty new cover design.

~ ~ ~

Cold to the TouchSpeaking of new covers and shiny things, I was pleasantly surprised to receive word from Bold Strokes that my fifth novel, Cold to the Touch – the second in the Dark Peak series of crime thrillers, and the sequel to June release No Good Reason – will be published in December, 2015. That was rather earlier than I’d anticipated, but very fitting for a winter-themed book. I suppose I’m a bit like the 192 bus: you wait and wait for one book to come out, and then two turn up in quick succession.

Given that the first book in the series isn’t out yet, I’ve tried to keep the blurb for book two spoiler-free, but it should be enough to give you a general idea…

Winter in the Derbyshire Peaks: months of knee-deep snow, short days, and rocketing crime rates.

Detective Sanne Jensen is living in self-imposed isolation and quietly falling apart, while Dr. Meg Fielding–Sanne’s best friend and occasional lover–is struggling to cope with her violent brother, who is back in town and demanding money that she doesn’t have.

When the murder of a drug addict is dumped onto Sanne’s already unmanageable caseload, she suspects the death may be the start of something more sinister. But how can she investigate a crime when no one cares about the victim? And how can she stop a killer who has no identity, no motive, and no conscience?

~ ~ ~

POLARIpinkLARGEA call to all budding UK LesFic authors now, as the Polari prize opens for submissions. If you’ve no idea what I’m yammering on about – where have you been?

Now in its fifth year, The Polari Prize is for a first book which explores the LGBT experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction published in English by a writer born or resident in the UK within the twelve months of the deadline for submissions (this year 1st February, 2015). Self-published works in both print and digital formats are eligible for submission.

Previous winners and nominees have included Mari Hannah, Kerry Hudson, and Beatrice Hitchman. All submissions for this year’s prize need to be in my May 1st, and for more information about the process, head over here. Good luck!

~ ~ ~


mask of the highwaywomanNiamh Murphy
‘s recently republished swashbuckling epic, Mask of the Highwaywoman has been reviewed by jj over at Rainbow Book Reviews, who had this to say about its central characters:

Bess is a rather sweet enigma wrapped in a formfitting disguise for the road that somewhat has her blending in with her highwayman colleagues and initially she is masked as they are… Along with Evelyn, I was constantly losing my balance and a sense of perspective largely because the highwaywoman is so difficult to get a handle on and nothing that unfolds could possibly have been anticipated. Disconcerting and exhausting, it was also exciting and extremely challenging. These twists and turns more than elevated the excitement. For me, they put this book in a class by itself! 

You can read the full text of the review here.

~ ~ ~

Rounding out the roundup with a couple of dates for your diary…

manda-scottCatherine Hall will be appearing at the Words by the Water Festival in beautiful Keswick on Friday 13th March, at 10.45 a.m). Tickets and more information are available here.

Hopping across into April, and Manda Scott will be discussing the topic Romans to Redcoats (which probably has nothing to do with Butlins!) at the Wrexham Carnival of Words on Saturday April 25th. The event will run from 2.30 p.m., and tickets can be purchased at this link.

As ever, event info can be found separately on our Events page, and I’ve recently updated the New & Upcoming Releases page as well – authors if you have a book out in the next five months or so, let us know about it!

~ ~ ~

And that’s about all she wrote for this update. Have a lovely weekend and watch out for the eclipse (20th March!)

 

News roundup: a lot of blogging and chatting from Emma Donoghue, VG Lee, Nicola Griffith, Amy Dunne and more!

27 Feb

A whiff of spring is in the air, or at least the green shoots of a busy lesfic year are coming through at last, and there’s quite a bit to tell you this week:

~ ~ ~

emma-donoghue-illo_2373764bEmma Donoghue has been answering Seven Questions for the Working Writer over on Jenna Leigh Evans’ blog. She answers questions about juggling writing with earning a living (she’s never had a day job) and how she knows when a passage needs editing (it makes her stomach twinge). Read the full piece here.

~ ~ ~

NicolaGriffithNicola Griffith has been busy on her blog. This week she has been talking a little about how to avoid cliched characters when writing fiction and how to create a memorable cast.

But a great story or novel—oh, a great story is dense. The characters’ actions are plot-driving and characteristic and specific. These people are fully human, the kind of people we would recognise this year, last century, tomorrow. In this fiction, the writer is almost profligate in her generosity: we know a lot about the protagonist just by the way he flips his hair, just by the speed with which they blinks before they kill someone.

Here’s the full piece.

It also turns out that even the best get the odd duff review. Nicola has been braving Amazon and reading Hild reviews and details her reaction to some particularly snide 1-star reviews. It only bothered her, mildly, for 5 minutes. Still, an entertaining and interesting piece which is here in full.

~ ~ ~

vgleepolariVG Lee was interviewed by Sacha Black about VG’s writing process. She talks about her technique of prolific note taking as first draft, what and who inspires her characters and her take on the publishing industry. This is her advice for aspiring novelists:

Not to be influenced in any way by friends and family. They will be biased. To aspiring novelists I would recommend a writing group, creative writing classes at local colleges or universities. Here you will get unbiased feed back. Friends I made through a creative writing class when I first began writing, I am still friends with them now. We are all still writing and we have all been published, in fiction, non-fiction, flash fiction and poetry. We help each other.

VG is always an interesting read and here’s the full interview.

~ ~ ~

LT Smith has been catching up her readers on her writing exploits. And she’s been busy. Beginnings is out in its second edition and she talks about the horticulture involved in that. She’s also having a shufty at Once and a few other things besides:

I can remember not long after Once was published and I won an award from the Lesbian Fiction Readers’ Choice Awards for comedy. Obviously, I was really excited, as anyone would be if his or her book had been given the big thumbs up by the reader. But, I can still remember thinking ‘I thought it was sad’. Shows how much I know doesn’t it. Maybe if I write a comedy I may get an award for drama. Food for thought.

Read the full article, and keep an eye out for an imminent book giveaway too, over on LT’s blog.

~ ~ ~

Clare Lydon continues with the book club on Lesbian Radio. And this week she had a good natter with Amy Dunne author of Secret Lies and Season’s Meetings. Amy gives some insight into her writing approach to each book and what inspired her to write the gritty Secret Lies. Have a listen here.

Amy also revealed the cover and blurb for her next book this week. The Renegade, a post-apocalyptic romance, will be available in September. Here’s the blurb:

renegadeIn this post-apocalyptic world, you have a choice: survive as a slave or fight for your freedom.

The Red Death pandemic wiped out most of the human population, and the world that remains is dangerous and unforgiving. Survivor Alex Clarke and her companions are rescued after a vicious attack and welcomed into the Rapture’s Haven Camp. Although given medical treatment, food, shelter, and protection, Alex senses something sinister lurking beneath the camp’s friendly exterior.

Camp medic Evelyn Bennett is instinctively drawn to Alex and warns her that the camp is a dangerous cult and the women are slaves. While planning to escape, their secret relationship is discovered. Escape is no longer possible. They must fight for their freedom—or die trying.

~ ~ ~

V.A FearonMeanwhile Cherry Potts and VA Fearon have been chatting about lesbian fiction. Cherry talked about running Arachne Press and trying to fit in her own writing. VA Fearon revealed her obsessive writing habit and also chatted about the Dani series. All five books have been written – although only The Girl with the Treasure Chest is out so far. Here the video of their conversation.

~ ~ ~

A few items in brief:

thehysteryappVT Davy‘s second ‘state of the lesbian nation’ novels, The Hystery App, is now available. VT has produced a trailer for the book which is a blend of science fiction, romance, and women’s history. The trailer is available here on YouTube.

Jenny Frame has been putting the final touches to the forthcoming A Royal Romance and has an update on her other work here.

Gill McKnight, author of the Garoul werewolf series, has been quiet of late, but she’s just about to get a lot noisier. She’s joined Women and Words as a regular contributer and she’s already received a very warm welcome. She has a new book, Soul Selecta, is due out in April.

~ ~ ~

hp munroFinally, you can catch HP Munro in the Virtual Living Room today. The online discussion group is hosting a Hollywood weekend where authors of novels with a film theme will be chatting about their books. Authors include Melissa Brayden (Waiting in the Wings), Karin Kallmaker (Stepping Stone), Krystin Zimmer (The Gravity Between Us), Jae (Departure from the Script) and Chris Paynter (Survived by her Longtime Companion). You can join the group here.

~ ~ ~

That’s all folks!

Q&A with Jane Retzig

23 Feb

The_Wrong_Woman_Cover_for_KindleToday we have Jane Retzig in the hot seat for a Q&A. Jane started writing in the 90s and published Boundaries – a tale of passion and turmoil between a young and older lover in 1970s Northern England. After a break in writing she has written three more novels – stories with a bit of a difference to keep her readers on their toes.

Her latest, The Wrong Woman, is a lesbian mystery romance set in the north. It features Kate, the rising star of the trauma therapy world, accused of a terrible crime and finding love when she least expects it.

Hi Jane. How would you describe your novels and please tell us a little about your new work The Wrong Woman.

I’ve always seen my novels as Lesbian Romantic Fiction. I’m interested in situations where something happens to take my protagonists out of their comfort zone… How they respond under pressure.

The Wrong Woman was inspired by personal experience of bullying directed against myself and several of my friends. While I was writing it, I jokingly referred to it as ‘my revenge novel’ but I don’t think it is really. It was motivated by a desire for the ‘baddies’ to get their come-uppance, but I hope I managed to capture the light and shade in all of us. The book pretty much wrote itself and took me by surprise on several occasions. It was a cathartic experience. I felt a lot better after I’d written it.

What have readers liked most about your latest novel?

boundariesIt seems to be a bit like Marmite – people either seem very enthusiastic or they hate it. It’s got a big ‘cast list’ compared with my usual writing and the lack of chapters seems to have thrown and confused some readers. The people who like it seem to have enjoyed the fast pace, the twists and turns, and the fairly quirky characters. A friend who read it texted me at 2.30am with ‘Just finished your book, you ****! Thought you should be awake in the middle of the night too!’

You have a diverse set of characters. Who have you enjoyed creating and writing most?

I’m very fond of a lot of my characters, but in The Wrong Woman I’d have to say Saskia, my ‘shake-up cocktails girl’. I had a lot of fun with her.

How important is setting and region for your novels?

All of those things – region, season, period, time – they all vary in importance depending on how important they are to my characters.

Who has influenced your writing and which authors/novels have left their mark on you?

thephotograph

The Photograph – a lesbian mystery romance

There have been so many, starting with Enid Blyton as a kid. Then the great Northern writers – Stan Barstow, Keith Waterhouse. A whole swathe of American authors – Patti Smith, Kate Millett, Jane Bowles, Carson McCullers. American lesbian fiction – I think I worked my way through everything Silver Moon and Gay’s the Word had on their shelves. I also love the books of my Northern gay romantic fiction writing buddy Tim Bairstow. But probably if I had to name my two biggest influences I’d have to say Daphne du Maurier and Elizabeth Taylor for their brilliant characterisation and great storytelling.

Are you a fan of lesbian fiction and if so, which novels have tickled your fancy?

I love lesbian fiction and I’ve currently got five UKLesFic blog featured novels waiting impatiently for me on my kindle. Frustratingly, I don’t seem to be able to read when I’m writing though, and I’ve been writing fairly constantly for the past year.

So the last lesbian-themed novel I read was By Blood by Ellen Ullman. It’s brilliant, very creepy and compulsive and set in San Francisco in the 1970s.

When I finish my current novel, I’m looking forward to a massive lesfic binge (hopefully in the garden on a sun lounger).

You had a break from writing. What got you back in the saddle?

The_Full_Legacy

Lesbian tale with a hint of the supernatural

It was more the other way round. I’ve always tended to write when I have space. I just hit a period in my life that was quite turbulent – moving four times, looking after a poorly elderly relative, coping with the breakdown of a very long-term relationship – I’m much more settled now, so I’m writing again.

What’s next in the pipeline?

I’m about a third of the way through a new novel. Its working title is The Retreat, and it’s about a long term affair that’s on the verge of being uncovered.

Thanks Jane! You can find out more about Jane and all of her novels on Amazon.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 261 other followers