Archive | November, 2013

News Roundup: Amy Dunne & Kiki Archer Reviews, Rachel Dax at the VLR, Loot from LT Smith, Get Drunk with Frog Music, and More!

29 Nov

As November winds to a close and Christmas lights start to sparkle around the houses of the more enthusiastic festive types, we have a slightly more sedate news update for you than of late. That’s not to say there’s nowt been going on, of course…

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BSB_Secret_LiesAnyone with an empty slot on their Christmas list might want to consider adding Amy Dunne‘s début novel Secret Lies. A glowing advance review of the book over on C-Spot Reviews had this to say:

Secret Lies by Amy Dunne is a book that I read over two days, but stayed with me for quite a bit longer. Categorized as a Young Adult book, it deals with some rather difficult subject matter and is something that deserves a bit of reflection both during and after reading. This isn’t to say that the book is nothing but doom and gloom – but it also isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. I’m impressed at how well Dunne balances the darker story lines against the burgeoning romance between the two main characters to produce a remarkably good first novel.

With a 1st December release date, Amy’s book is nicely timed for all those Christmas stockings that are lacking a certain something, and the full review is available here.

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rachel-dax-stencil-imageAnother date for your December diary now, as the online discussion group the Virtual Living Room  are hosting a spot-on weekend for historical lesbian fiction commencing 6th December. Guests include UK’s Rachel Dax, author of the Pope Joan Trilogy. If it’s anything like the recent UK author weekend, it’ll be a very lively event and well worth turning up for. You can join the group and access archived posts by hitting the link.

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Kiki ArcherKiki Archer has a new interview over on Ylva author Jae‘s website, in which she chats about turning her hand to writing full time, her success as an indie author, and what shapes her typical day:

I start at 9.00am with a cup of tea and I try and catch up with emails and social media, but I hope to be ‘on task’ by 9.30am. I’ll often find myself working through lunch and stopping when I realize it’s school run time. I sometimes find myself working in the evenings when they’re in bed, but this is an option now and not a necessity, which is lovely.

You can find the full Q&A here.

Kiki’s new novel One Foot Onto The Ice is also reviewed in the December issue of Diva, which calls the novel a “fast paced, sexy romance.” So, that’s another one to ask Father Christmas nicely for…

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NicolaGriffithSticking with authorly interviews for the moment, as Nicola Griffith has been chatting to Victoria Brownworth at Lambda Literary. The piece, Nicola Griffith: Master World Builder is a fascinating in-depth look at Hild, history, and sexuality:

Griffith’s love of Hild is palpable as she describes her and why she has wanted to write about her for literally decades. She’s succinct, “I had to write about Hild because she was so important. She changed the world. Her story demands to be told. She basically midwifed English literature. And there’s no book about this woman. The more I thought about it, the more I thought, well, why?”

The full interview is ready and waiting at the link.

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See Right Through MeFree loot time! LT Smith is giving away a signed copy of her latest novel, See Right Through Me. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is “like” her Facebook page.  Easy peasy. The giveaway is open until December 2nd, and the winner will be announced on December 3rd.

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frogmusicHeading into the new year now, and Emma Donoghue’s forthcoming Frog Music has a release date  (31st March for the UK, 1st April, USA) and a shiny new cover. It also, somewhat bizarrely, has a tie-in cocktail. The recipe for said naughty beverage can be found here, along with a hint about the novel and the character that inspired the drink.

 It’s the United States’ Centennial and brash and dynamic San Francisco is where Blanche Beunon will be run over – literally – by Jenny Bonnet, a frog hunting, oft-arrested (for appearing in the apparel of the opposite sex), bicycle stealing twenty-seven-year-old who will spirit into your consciousness even quicker than she can snatch frogs.

More’s the pity that Jenny is shotgunned on page three.  Leave it to Ms. Donoghue to introduce a woman you’ll fall in love with as soon as she sings a lullaby to Blanche – leaving the rest of the novel to show how they met and why they ended up ambushed at Eight Mile House.

For those who are still sober enough and would like a reminder of the novel’s synopsis, I’ve added it to the New & Upcoming Releases page.

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manda-scottIf you’ve had a particularly frantic week, what better remedy than listening to the dulcet tones of Manda Scott as she talks to Mariella Frostrup in a recent Radio 4 piece discussing The Charioteers by Mary Renault:

The novel has been described by many as a landmark work in gay literature, coming out when it did in 1953 at a time when male homosexuality was still banned in the UK.

I’m not sure how long the feature will be available for, but at the moment it’s still here.

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planet londonLastly but by no means leastly, a quick reminder that this blog, and a few other familiar faces, are up for Ultimate Planet awards, and the voting ends in a couple of days (30th November.) Clicking this little link and adding your vote would be very much appreciated. Ta!

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Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend, and I wish all our American readers a peaceful recovery from their turkey hangovers.

A Very Civil Wedding – guest post by V.T. Davy

27 Nov

VT_Davy_jpg_210x1000_q85Today’s guest post comes from V.T. Davy, writer of LGBT and historical fiction. Vic’s first novel Black Art featured Arty Shaw, female-to-male transgender detective, and A Very Civil Wedding is a lesbian romance that examines the issues surrounding same-sex marriage. Here Vic talks about the complex views held on gay marriage in the UK and its dramatisation in A Very Civil Wedding.

I came to write A Very Civil Wedding because, whilst the debates over same-sex marriage were happening last year and earlier this year, I found myself struggling to understand what it was that individuals and organisations, in particular the Church of England, had against opening up marriage to homosexual couples. How could anyone be against something so patently fair? What was their problem?

In the age of flash news and impact sound bites, it is often difficult to really get to the heart of complex debates. Inevitably, this leads to shorthand name-calling by the two opposing sides of an argument.

‘Homophobic’ was one such name that was bandied about a lot but I couldn’t believe that some of the educated and erudite men and women expressing opinions, which were obviously deeply held, could simply be homophobic. There had to be more behind their opinion. So, I set myself the task of finding out what their argument was all about. A Very Civil Wedding is the result of my research.

It tells the story of what happens when Princess Alexandra, second in line to the throne after her father, proposes to her long-time girlfriend, Grace Stephens. Both girls have a private Anglican faith and Princess Alexandra will one day be the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. However, they cannot get married in the eyes of the church.

GB-Cover_SmallThe novel not only examines the arguments for and against same-sex marriage but also the relationship between the monarchy and the church, how some of Britain’s oldest and most revered organisations have acted to give equality to homosexuals and become stronger for it, and what happens to institutions when they refuse to embrace the demands of an enlightened society.

Readers may wonder how an esoteric argument, such as ‘what happens when the gay heir to the throne wants to marry their partner?’ affects them. In fact, as I discovered, it goes to the heart of the difficulties of legislating for same-sex marriage in the UK; difficulties that gay and lesbian Christians, in particular, still have to deal with.  Embodied in one person, HM the Queen, are the church and the state. As head of both, she now presides over one organisation that is for gay marriage and one that is not. Princess Alexandra’s situation, as heir to all that, is therefore the perfect prism through which to view the arguments and the experiences of those opposed and those for same-sex marriage.

I should say that my support for same-sex marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships has not been altered by the process of writing A Very Civil Wedding, but I do now understand the difficulty of accepting the changes that seem to be happening in leaps and bounds at the moment(!) for those who hold an opposing view to my own.

I have also come to an understanding of how it is possible to say that marriage should be between a man and woman exclusively, and not be homophobic. I realise that some people who are anti-gay marriage are out and out homophobes but many, possibly the majority, are not. They are not homophobic because they don’t hate gay people, they have gay friends, they don’t want to exclude gay people from their church, and they will defend gay people against homophobes. They simply believe that marriage should be between a man and woman exclusively because marriage has a very specific meaning within the liturgy that their church uses.

Arguments about whether the Bible condemns homosexuality explicitly, whether one should follow a text from a different millennia in the modern age, whether homosexuality is a natural part of God’s plan or not, whether you will be taken before the European courts when you refuse a marriage for a gay couple, are side shows. What it all boils down to is this: Christians, and those of other faiths who have similar associations with the word marriage, are being asked to change or expand their understanding of the meaning of that word. And that is difficult for them.

Those of us who support gay marriage see marriage as a less specific word, one that means all sorts of things to different people, from family to love, commitment and partnership. We understand the significance placed upon that word globally to legally validate a couple’s right to be treated as one unit and we see the damage that happens when committed homosexual couples are not afforded the same rights as committed heterosexual couples. We see the word differently and, perhaps, in more flexible terms.

We may now have gay marriage in the UK but, make no mistake, the passing of legislation has not altered the views of those who oppose same-sex marriage. Education is the key to opening up minds to other possibilities and other ways of looking at things. We still have some way to travel on that journey. A Very Civil Wedding is my contribution to a debate that is not yet over in the UK and is still very young in many countries campaigning for equal marriage.

News Roundup: Mari Hannah Wins the Polari Prize, Nottingham’s Newest Book Shop, Interviews with Kiki and KE, New Novels, Reviews, and More!

21 Nov

And good morning! The fabulous British weather has put paid to our plans for the day, so I’m cunningly delaying reading through page proofs to bring you this week’s news. Never let it be said that I don’t make sacrifices for this site…

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Mari-Hannah-008First up this week, big congratulations to Mari Hannah, whose début novel The Murder Wall was awarded the Polari First Book Prize in a ceremony held at the Southbank Centre on November 13th. A piece written by Mari was subsequently featured in The Guardian, where she spoke about writing a crime novel with a lesbian protagonist and suddenly finding herself a “go-to person on lesbian issues.” Mari also has some encouraging words for any authors whose submissions suffer repeated rejections from publishers:

Monument to Murder cover imageDid I ever think about giving up? Hell, yes. I had to dig very deep to keep the faith. Fortunately, I had the financial means to keep going. Often, aspiring writers don’t. They work full-time, indulging in their passion whenever they can snatch a moment or two to write. Thank God for a patient agent like mine. If he had waivered, even once, I was sunk. He didn’t, so I ploughed on, determined to give Kate a voice.

You can read the full feature at the above link. Meanwhile, Monument to Murder, the fourth novel in the Kate Daniels series (it has been quite a busy year for Mari!) is released in hardback and on Kindle today.

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five_leaves_bookshop_openingFabulous news for anyone living in the Nottingham area, as the brand new Five Leaves independent bookshop is now open. I dropped the shop a line to find out what sort of books they had in stock:

Our lesbian books range from political/biography etc. to “literary” and “romance”. The section is clearly marked – or rather LGBT is marked and has various subdivisions including lesbian fiction and lesbian non-fiction. We also stock Diva and Curve (and Gay Times). The section is modest in size, but growing already!

The shop is open 10-5.30, six days a week (Mon-Sat), and is located at 14a Long Row in Nottingham city centre. Directions and a handy map can be found at the link. As bookshops are currently closing down at a rate of knots, it’s lovely to see a new one bucking the trend and opening instead!

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KikiArcherIn the last news, I mentioned the opportunity to send in questions for a video interview with Kiki Archer. Said video is now up and ready to view here. Take a peek and see who got to ask what, and how many people managed to make Kiki blush…

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KePayneSpeaking of interviews, KE Payne has been chatting to fellow author Jae over on Jae’s blog. In the Q&A piece, KE talks about the benefits and pitfalls of life as a full-time author, her current and upcoming novels, and the perils of setting herself a daily word count:

I never have a daily word-count as I don’t like to restrict myself, or ever want to feel like I’ve failed if I don’t match that word-count! As other writers will testify, words either flow like a river, or trickle out like a dried-up stream in summer. I write because I love it, and have never coped well when my back’s against the wall, because then I feel like I’m forcing it.

The interview is well worth a read and can be found here.

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guilty-hearts-187x300Someone else who likes to keep herself busy is Jade Winters, who has just posted details of her next novel on her blog. The novel is called Guilty Hearts, and the first part of the synopsis goes a little (well, exactly) like this:

When a doting husband becomes suspicious of his gorgeous wife’s true sexuality,  he decides to set a honey trap to reveal the truth, however painful.  Little does he realise that the honey trap is to leave a bitter-sweet taste for everyone… 

You can read the rest of the blurb at this link, and as soon as we have a release date for the novel we’ll let you know.

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playing passionNews of another upcoming release now, albeit one that won’t be around for a while yet, as Lesley Davis has recently announced that her next book Playing In Shadow is to be published by Bold Strokes Books in early 2015. In Lesley’s own words: “this is the sequel to Playing Passion’s Game so that means one thing….more Trent!! Game on!!!”

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OutLateWithFriendsThose of you who are quick off the mark can pick up an early Christmas treat at the moment, as Suzanne Egerton‘s début novel Out Late With Friends and Regrets is currently free on Kindle. I’m not sure how long this offer is valid for, so be sure to hit the link sooner rather than later.

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HILD_jacket_closerWith Hild now a whole week old, Nicola Griffith has apparently been “enjoying blinking and catching up with my reading (and sleep.)” She has, however, managed to find the time to compile two further Hild roundups, featuring links to all the interviews, reviews, and discussion pieces that have been posted to tie in with the novel’s release. Hop on over to Hild #3 and Hild #4 to read more.

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mosaic of airFinally this week, Cherry Potts‘ rereleased short story collection Mosaic of Air has been reviewed at Sabotage Reviews. The review discusses the enduring relevance of stories examining the era of the 1980s, and finds much to like about the collection:

Then there’s the reclaiming of myths. The great joy in reading a Feminist collection like this is the re-imagining, from Woolf to Winterson, Cherry Potts also reimagines Helen of Troy as a mere beautiful pawn in the powerplay of the ancient world, but who, like most women in today’s society, negotiates the system. If you read nothing else in this book you must read ‘Arachne’s Daughters’; this takes apart a myth about Arachne (a human) challenging Athene (the goddess)

The full text of the review is available at the above link.

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Righto, that’s yer lot for this week. I’m back off to the page proofs – wish me luck!

Exclusive Interview with Nicola Griffith

14 Nov

NicolaGriffithIn her own words, Nicola Griffith is “a native of Yorkshire, England, where she earned her beer money teaching women’s self-defense, fronting a band, and arm-wrestling in bars, before discovering writing and moving to the US.” In our words, she’s a bit of a LesFic legend. With six novels under her belt (including the much-loved Aud Torvingen trilogy), Nicola was awarded the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist prize at this year’s Lambda Literary Awards, which she can pop onto her shelf alongside her six Lammies and her Tiptree, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

Her latest novel Hild (released on Kindle this week) has been described as “a pulse-pounding page turner” (Lambda Literary Society), and “the most absorbing and addictive story I’ve read in years” (Vulpes Libris). Needless to say, we were chuffed to mintballs when Nicola said yes to our Q&A request and then responded with some absolutely fabulous answers…

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A historical novel is quite a change from your previous work. Why did you choose Hild for a subject? (Was it suggested by the legend that she created ammonites?)

91CYqVEe28L._SL1500_Y’know, I’m not sure it is so very different from my other work. Take my first novel, Ammonite. I had to build a whole world–extrapolate cultures from tiny bits of information. That’s exactly what I did with Hild. Yes, one is far-future SF on another planet and one is set fourteen hundred years ago right here in Britain. But that doesn’t matter much. They’re both a different time, a different place. In both I got to really just let my imagination off the leash and immerse myself in the notion of difference.

In some ways, of course, they are totally different. In Hild I couldn’t use the kind of metaphors that might come naturally to Marghe (or Lore, or Aud—the main characters in my other novels). No turbine whine, no bullet-train speed, no electricity building between two women. Given that Hild didn’t know what writing was for the first few years of her life, for example, I couldn’t even describe the sky as inky. And I deliberately restricted my language to words that might have been around in Anglo-Saxon times.

I had a most marvellous time with it. Constraint, it turns out, is freeing. Poets have known that for centuries. (Otherwise why would they cling to such ridiculous metres and rhythms and forms?)

As for Hild herself, well, I didn’t so much choose her as gradually realise I couldn’t not choose to write about her. I tried to ignore her as long as possible but she was always there, giving me that look, waiting for me to understand.

I’d never heard of Hild until my early twenties when I took my first trip to Whitby. I was living in Hull and exhausted doing the kind of pays-nothing work that was de rigueur in those days: teaching women’s self-defence, helping to set up and then counselling for Lesbian Line, singing in a band then cabaret duo, setting up the Northern Dykes Writing Workshop, trying to teach myself to write, and so on. One week my partner was doing something (some kind of course? a retreat? I forget) in Whitby and I managed to get away to join her for 24 hours. Just 24 hours–but it changed my life.

abbeyWhitby Abbey blew my mind. It absolutely pinned me to the turf, flooded me with sensation. I’m guessing I stood there with my mouth hanging open. I realised that history was made by real people, people who had their own daily concerns, people who didn’t know they were part of great events. Just ordinary people going about their business like you or me. People who had no clue that some decision they made in a moment of boredom, or lust, or irritation, might set in motion changes that ripple through history. Why did this occur to me in this place, at this time? I couldn’t tell you, except that the place itself is steeped in a kind of magic. I’ve been there many times since and it never fails to move me. (My first author photo was taken there.)

Anyway, I fell in love with Whitby. That epiphany about history being made by real people, not actors in this stilted stage play call History, is probably one of things that nudged me from the song-writing path to writing fiction. I visited as often as I could. Even when I moved to the US I tried to get back once a year. Whitby seeped into my bones and is now inextricably intertwined with my writing DNA.

ammoniteIn the last couple of months I’ve been talking about Hild a lot and I’m only now beginning to understand how deeply entangled she and her abbey are in everything I’ve written. Just to take one novel, Ammonite. Whitby is rife with ammonites, extinct cephalopods belonging to the genus Hildoceras–named in honour of Hild. There is a legend that ammonites were created by Hild when she turned a bunch of snakes into stone. Or the Aud novels: Aud is fascinated by phi, the golden ratio. Ammonites are the embodiment of that ratio. Slow River is set in Hull, the city where I was living when I first went to Whitby. English literature itself owes Hild a debt; it was at her instigation that the very first (Old) English poem was written down. The connections are almost endless.

But I knew that in my twenties and early thirties I simply didn’t have the chops to write Hild’s story, so I waited.

Historical fiction is on a high at the moment, with Mantel’s Cromwell novels winning two Bookers, and many other authors – including LesFic favourites Manda Scott, Stella Duffy and Jeannette Winterson – turning their hand to history. Why the increase in popularity?


Hild in manuscript form

Adrienne Rich said, “We must use what we have to invent what we desire.” (What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics) That’s what I’m doing with Hild: I’m inventing what I desire. I desire a vision of the world in which the woman I had imagined (after years of research) might have existed, in which she might have been able to live her life as a human being: as subject not object. I wanted to believe that the Hild I imagined was possible. To look at where we come from–the past–and believe we could have survived there as ourselves. By making Hild possible, I wanted to recast what people today think might be possible and so make it possible.

In other words, I’m recolonising the past. Recasting it. Retelling it. And by so doing, I’m recreating the present and so steering the future.

This is what history is: our interpretation of what happened. Our shared understanding of events in light of what we think/know/feel today. Our cultural attitudes inform our understanding of the past. But it’s a story. It’s not fact.

Our cultural attitude to gender has changed a great deal since Bede wrote his History of the English Church and People, the only extent source for the life of Hild that’s even remotely contemporary. (Hild died four years after Bede was born.) I think she deserves a new story. It wouldn’t shock me to discover that Manda Scott was similarly motivated on behalf of Boudica, Stella Duffy for Theodora, Jeanette Winterson for the so-called witches of Pendleton.

Also, you get to write about all those things that modern literary fiction (which I find etiolated at best, and claustrophobia-inducing at worst) eschews: the outdoors, war, lust, glory, terror. It’s perfectly forgivable to get epic in a novel set in the long ago; in fact, it’s expected.

The “Dark Ages” are a relatively obscure period of history. Does the paucity of documentation (and the ignorance of readers!) make your task as novelist easier or harder?

We don’t call them the Dark Ages anymore 🙂 Depending on your academic speciality and focus it’s the Early Medieval ages, sub-Roman era, or Late Antiquity. I tend to go with Early Medieval.

There’s very little written down about the time of Hild’s birth–mainly because the elite of her time and place weren’t literate. There’s some material culture–finds from archaeology–but interpreting that is as much an art as a science. We have no idea what Hild looked like, where she was born exactly, whether she was married or had children. We don’t even know what attitudes to sex and sexuality were.

We all know the myths of the time, of course: snaggle-toothed men labouring in the field in mud and misery; women in filthy hovels popping out babies every year starting at fourteen. If you’re lucky you’re old at 30 and dead by 40.

Well, it turns out that’s a load of rubbish. At least for the early 7th century, for Hild’s part of the world. Hild was one of the Anglo-Saxon elite. She would have had access to luxuries like spice and sapphires, glass beakers and finely woven clothes. She would have had plenty of good food–but because it wasn’t processed, her teeth would be strong and straight, though not white. (No Crest white strips.)

It’s true that royal men died young. I can’t think of any kings of early Northumbria who died in their beds. For royal women, of course, childbirth was the prime cause of mortality, but judging by the evidence of remains, they didn’t marry and start to have children until they were older, and they didn’t have many.

Women were much more than baby machines. For one thing, they ran everything except armies: it was women’s logistics skills that kept a community’s head above water.

HILD_jacket_closerBut that’s what we know in general–that is, what we can guess. It’s not about Hild in particular. That gives me a lot of leeway–which I wasn’t afraid to use. So, in addition to Hild’s status I gave her three attributes that have always be useful among any power elite: she’s tall, she’s smart, and her mother is well-connected, subtle, and ambitious.

As I’ve imagined her, Hild was a striking figure. Niece of the all-powerful king, tall, multi-lingual, rumoured to be uncanny, a seer: a rumour engineered by her mother but maintained by Hild’s constant attention to detail and burnished by her appalling risk-taking.

That’s what this kind of writing is: risk-taking. It’s a huge gamble, but it’s also hugely rewarding. It’s play. Serious play, granted, but play nonetheless. It was a rush to write this book.

So in some ways it was easier not knowing things; I got to make shit up. I made her far from the sweet and pretty picture usually painted of saints. Saints are difficult people. You don’t get to be that famous by being all butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-your-mouth ish. So I played that to the hilt.

But in other ways it was terrifying. Very few people know the first thing about the seventh century–not like, say, the times of Cromwell and Henry VIII. But I didn’t want to write tedious expository paragraphs or “As you know, Bob,” dialogue. I wanted for things to just magically be clear to the reader. I dithered, because I didn’t know how.

But I began, and there was Hild, under a tree. She was three years old. And I thought, Of course! A child–the reader will learn as Hild does.

But that, of course, has its own set of challenges; I’d never written from a child’s point-of-view before…

How much research did you do? Was it all just a good excuse to revisit Yorkshire and have a decent pint?

Oh, I can’t tell you how much I miss Yorkshire bitter. And fish and chips. And a decent curry.

kstallabbey02I went back as often as I could–my family is there–but mostly I worked from my home in Seattle. And I read everything: Old English and Middle Welsh poetry, Irish annals, books on arms and armour, agriculture, jewellery, textile production, architecture, flora and fauna, even the weather. I’ve read popular histories, scholarly monographs, festschriften, blogs, academic journals. I’ve been researching this book on and off for fifteen years.

I wrote this book to find out who Hild was, and how she managed to do what she’d done. To do that I had to build the seventh century and grow Hild inside. To grow her properly I had to get the world right. I was absolutely determined to not contravene what’s known to be known.

But scholarship changes radically all the time. Once the book went into production I lived in fear that I’d read about some new discovery, or new interpretation of extant finds, and realise that I’d got it all wrong.

So far it’s fine…

What was the attitude to homosexuality/bisexuality at that time? Would it have differed amongst religious orders such as Hild’s?

When Hild was born I’m guessing the regional hierarchy didn’t give care who you rubbed up against–as long as you didn’t have their baby and screw up the lines of power and inheritance. They weren’t Christian. Some of the underclass might have been Christian–but an old-style Christianity with a tinge of Celtic egalitarianism. (I wrote a blog post on the topic.) When the Roman Christians arrived, just as Hild was becoming a teenager, they would have been quivering with Pauline morality/misogyny. Sex = bad; even sex inside marriage.

But that’s just a guess. For all we know the Anglo-Saxon religious attitude could have been even more restrictive. I don’t think so, though; judging by their poetry they were a lusty lot.

You mentioned in a recent blog post that interviewers and reviewers have already been asking you about Hild’s bisexuality. Do you think mainstream fiction will ever get to the point where authors writing lesbian/gay/bisexual characters won’t need to defend or explain the sexuality of their characters?

Yes. I think it’s already begun. And not a day too soon.

Hild must have been a huge undertaking. Did you grieve when you finished it?

I haven’t finished it 🙂 Ask me in a few years…

Seriously, there’s two more Hild books. Or at least I think there are. To start with I’d intended Hild’s story to be one big book, from birth to her death at age 66. But I hit 100,000 words (normal novel length) and she was only 12. I knew that wasn’t going to work.

What I’m saying is, I’m not the best predictor in this regard.

237642-MMany readers loved your Aud Torvingen trilogy. Are you ever tempted to return to the series and write a fourth instalment?

I think about Aud sometimes. Her attitude to the world is so refreshing! And without her I would never have been able to write Hild. I have more of her story in my head. But I don’t know if it’s urgent enough to write it. And certainly first I’d want to get the rights back to the three previously published novels. Right now those books are with three separate publishers. It’s ridiculous. I’d love to see them published coherently, all three together in matching jackets. I want them published in the UK, too.

What are you planning next? Or, having recently completed a 200,000 word novel, are you just lying in a darkened room with a damp flannel on your forehead?

I’m working madly on interviews like this. And pondering the next chapter of Hild’s story. That will take another year or two. Beyond that I want to finally publish a collection of short fiction. I’ve published enough stories–but I’ve never collected them in one place before. I dither about whether this should be a traditionally published book or self-published. It might be fun to experiment. I also love to see my memoir published in a trade edition as well as the gorgeous, but severely limited 450-copy collector’s edition. It’s a multi-media thing; it might make a good app as well as a paperback.

Then there are several short story ideas circling patiently, waiting for me to find time to bring them to a safe landing. I wrote one recently; it should be coming out soon–I hope–from

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Our heartfelt thanks to Nicola for taking the time to chat with us, and to Sarah at FSG Books for being our cheerful and very willing go-between!

News Roundup: Interview Kiki on Video, New Novel from Jade Winters, Lambda Reviews, Podcasts, WhoreStoricals, Festive frolics, and loads more…

12 Nov

Oh, I knew that setting this roundup to music wasn’t going to end well. One song in and I’ve written bugger-all. Still, it was a really good song… Right, this was one of those weeks where I had no news and then suddenly almost too much to cram in! So, grab yourself a brew and a packet of bourbons, and enjoy.

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Kiki-264Starting with a fun opportunity that’s on a bit of a deadline (hope I’m not too late with this, but it seemed too good to leave out), as LBTQA Culture are giving fans a chance to interview Kiki Archer on video. All you have to do is record a 10-15 second video clip of yourself on your phone asking Kiki a question, and send the clip to: Don’t forget to introduce yourself and ask something that’ll make her blush (actually the site says “interesting” – heh). The responses will be posted next week. See here for more details.

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caught by loveWe never get much warning of new releases from indie writers, so it’s always a nice surprise when a book pops out unexpectedly. This week it was Jade Winters, who published her new novel Caught by Love. I’ve added the synopsis to the New Releases page. In a bit of a rollercoasting last few days, Jade also briefly dallied with the idea of signing up with Bold Strokes Books, when they accepted one of her novels for publication, before she decided to remain a self-published author.

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VT_Davy_jpg_210x1000_q85Sticking with new releases, and VT Davy has a guest piece over at Francis James Franklin’s blog to tie in with her début novel, A Very Civil Wedding:

More interesting is the question of what Britain as a nation would do if the heir to the throne was gay or lesbian and wanted to marry, or make their relationship official. Britain has had gay and lesbian monarchs before (Edward II, James VI, and Anne), but in all cases they married a member of the opposite sex and kept their affairs out of the public eye. Partly this was due to the prevailing view of homosexuality, and partly it was due to the law not enabling the relationship to be recognised. There are no such barriers today.

You can read the full feature at the link. Personally, I’d be more tickled by what Prince Philip would say than the nation as a whole!

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91CYqVEe28L._SL1500_There’s been so much new stuff about Hild that Nicola Griffith has had to start compiling roundups not unlike this one. Hit Hild #1 and Hild #2 for reviews, interviews, and news about Whitby. The novel has been picking up some fantastic reviews, not least this one by Susan Stinson at the Lambda Literary Society:

Nicola Griffith is a brilliant, prolific, entertaining, risk-taking writer. Her new novel, Hild, about the most powerful woman in seventh century Britain, is magnificent. In it, a girl whose mother has dreamed her to be the light of the world finds out more about what that means than most human beings could bear. Hild–so young, sharp and tall–is very much a human being, and her story grabs a reader like a king’s gesith grabs a sword. Reading Hild is an urgent, expansive pleasure. 

You can read the full text of the review here, and we hope to have our own special feature with Nicola posted in the next week or so 🙂

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The-Daylight-GateJeanette Winterson‘s The Daylight Gate has also been reviewed by Lambda this week. The novel, which  has been out a while here, certainly impressed Sara Rauch:

The Daylight Gate is a show-stopper. A tour de force. It’s a dark dazzler, break-neck (literally, metaphorically), brutal and beautiful. Once you pick it up, you won’t put it down.

The full review is available at this link.

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BSB_Secret_LiesJust nipping in under the deadline are two brand spanking new podcast interviews. The first features Amy Dunne on the Liz McMullen Show where, in a podcast themed around mental health, Amy discusses her début novel Secret Lies and its issues of self harm and domestic violence. You can listen to the recording here.

Meanwhile, Cherry Potts has been chatting about Mosaic of Air with the ladies from the Cocktail Hour podcast. There’s also a short reading from the book. Listen or download here.

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emma-donoghue-illo_2373764bChanging the subject entirely now, with Emma Donoghue picking her favourite five whorestoricals (that’s historical novels about whores!) at the Daily Beast. In amongst Emma’s five choices is lesbian fave Tipping the Velvet:

Waters’s cheeky debut follows her oyster-girl protagonist through many adventures, but perhaps the most interesting and atmospheric is her stint as a rent-boy. This novel captures the fundamental fakery of prostitution—how, for the Victorian gentleman who thinks the trousered youth giving him a blow-job is male, what he’s buying is as much fantasy as flesh.

Find out what made the rest of the list at the link.

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Monument to Murder cover imageFor some reason, this coming weekend seems to be a busy one for our authors. First up is an event oop north, for those of us who live some distance from the Watford Gap. Crime authors Mari Hannah (author of the DCI Kate Daniels series) and David Jackson will be in conversation at the Bedlington (a town in Northumberland, about ten miles north of Newcastle – I do the Googling, so you don’t have to!) Community Centre on Saturday November 16th, 7.00 p.m. – 8.30 p.m. Tickets are £5 and can be purchased from this link.

Stella Duffy, writer, actorOn Sunday 17th November at 5 p.m.Stella Duffy will be appearing at Writeidea (Tower Hamlet’s free reading festival) in East London:

Stella Duffy will read from her novels, talk about her work as a writer in many genres and also as a theatre director. There is every chance she will also mention that not only posh people can be writers, that Equal Marriage is a very exciting thing, and how the Fun Palaces Project is taking over her life.

The event is free, tickets are available at this link, and more details about the festival can be found on its homepage.

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dyke the hallsMoving with frightening speed into the festive season, and December 1st and 2nd will see VG Lee and Rose Collis Dyking the Halls and hosting an evening of hardly festive fun, words, and music at the Emporium Theatre, Brighton.

Writer, performer Rose Collis will serve up a personally prepared party platter of songs and stories. VG Lee, author and comedian and generally non-festive person, will be reading, talking and musing on just when she first realised she preferred cheese and pickled onion sandwiches to a turkey with all the trimmings.

Both authors will be available for mince pies and a mingle at the book stall after the event. More details and tickets are available here.

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51Zch618BLL._SY445_And last but certainly not least, King’s College London are hosting a day of celebration for legendary lesbian novelist Maureen Duffy on Friday 6th December. You can join Maureen for a festive day of talks, readings, discussions, exhibitions, refreshments, and entertainment, which will also feature Ali Smith, Anne Sebba, Maggie Gee and more. Attendance is free but ticketed, and tickets are available here.

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Okay, that’s about yer lot! Apologies for any misspellings, grammar SNAFUs, or general incoherence, but singing (well, wailing) and typing is a notoriously tricky business, especially with songs as bloody fabulous as this one

The International Nod – guest blog by V.A. Fearon

7 Nov

V.A FearonToday’s guest post comes from new author V.A. Fearon whose debut The Girl With the Treasure Chest was published last month. She has a background in psychology and criminal law and her novel is the first in a series set in London’s dangerous gangland.

My favourite part of a book reading is the question time. At this point I have already exposed so much, reading and reenacting scenes that were once so private. I find I have no choice but to relax.

And there are always wonderfully surprising questions. But the question I’m always asked is Why? Why did I write The Girl with the Treasure Chest?

There isn’t only one answer to that question but the most important one to me has to do with what I call ‘The International Nod.’

I’ve been fortunate in that I have travelled to different countries around the world (twenty at last count) and in pretty much all of these places I have given or received The International Nod.

What is this nod I speak of?

Well if, like me, you are extemely lesbian looking, I mean a definite tomboi, stud or dyke, then you will be used to those looks that we sometimes get from straightland. But The International Nod is the one we get from our counterparts, particularly our not so definite looking counterparts.

It’s such an affirming feeling to be in a remote part of the world, where the exposure to popular media is minimal, and yet still to walk past someone on a dusty road and see that flicker of recognition. It’s like a tiny current of electricity …and then you nod. And she nods back.

I’ve had this nod from wise old ladies who see me and know exactly who I am.

I’ve had it from teenage girls who suddenly realize they’re not the only one. And I’ve had it from my bois, my studs, my dykes. And with the nod comes more than just recognition. It’s that knowing that we’re out on our own but not alone. We are who we are because we have to be who we are. And we are who we are whether we see our counterparts or not, whether we know of their existence or not.

treasure chestSo back to why I wrote The Girl with the Treasure Chest.

It’s my International Nod to all those who will identify with or recognize the character Dani.

She’s not James Bond. She’s not Vin Diesel. She’s not a lothario or a player. She’s very much an individual.

She’s real.

She does exist.

And she’s one of us.

News Roundup: Help us Win Stuff, Free Stuff, New Stuff, P-Town Stuff, and Spooky Stuff!

4 Nov

Morning, morning! To compensate for last week’s lack of news (in truth, there wasn’t much going on, I was snowed under with Tumbledown edits, and Clare was snowed under with having a life!) we have a ginormous update for you this week. Loads of authors have been up to mischief, and there’s plenty of free stuff for you all to get your grabby hands on. So, where to start?

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nominatedLet’s start with us. And when I say “us”, I mean UK LesFic, which has been nominated for an Ultimate Planet award in the category of Blogger of the Year, over at the Planet London website. Huzzah! And, of course, thank you to all those who took the time to nominate the site. So what happens next? Voting for the shortlisted nominees is open here throughout November, and it would be rather fab if people would hop on over there and put a tick in our box (so to speak).

VG Lee, Stella Duffy, and Jackie Kay are nominated for Published Author of the Year, and also on the list are Clare Ashton and Kiki Archer, who are scrapping it out for Published Author of the Year (Independent).  Congratulations to all, and um…good luck to those trying to decide between the latter two 🙂

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onefootWhilst we’re on the theme of Ultimate Planet and Ms Archer, Planet of the Books (the literary offshoot of Ultimate Planet) recently reviewed Kiki’s new novel One Foot Onto The Ice, where they had this to say:

Well paced, and gentle, and sometimes very sexy, this romance offers some sweet moments as two polar opposite women find love and face their internal demons in a bid for love.

You can read the full text of the review here.

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the black houndSpooky stuff now, and Niamh Murphy has published a new short story for Halloween over on Wattpad. Complete and in three parts, The Black Hound tells the story of Isobel, forced to live in a crumbling manor where something lurks on the surrounding moors. With the arrival of the new lady’s maid, Kate, Isobel’s life is about to be altered, forever…

The story is free to read, and available at the link.

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Amy_Dunne_lgDébut Bold Strokes Books author Amy Dunne has a Behind the Writing interview up at her BSB author’s page, where she chats about what made her become a writer (“the gift of the gab”!) where she gets her ideas from, and what her family have had to say about the whole shebang (which sounds naughtier than was actually intended!)

They’ve been amazingly supportive—especially considering I’ve been telling them I was going to write a book for over ten years. My beautiful wife was the only person I trusted to read the first draft. She kept putting it off and making excuses, and only later she confessed it was because she was terrified it was going to be awful and she wasn’t sure how she’d break the news to me…

You can read the full interview at the first link, and with Secret Lies due for release in December there is a short excerpt from the novel in the November BSB newsletter.

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FinalistSMMore awards news for you, with Elisa Rolle running a month-long Treasure Hunt throughout November to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Rainbow Awards. Each day, mystery excerpts from 6 of the shortlisted novels will be published. To enter, try to identify your chosen book in the comments. There’s no limit on how many books you can win, and you can keep entering until November 30th. Correct entrants will go into a draw at the end of the month. The books offered are a mix of e-books and paperbacks. You can find the entire list of novels at the link, and there are quite a few LesFic authors on it…

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the january flowerSticking with the theme of freebies, Orla Broderick‘s Polari-longlisted novel The January Flower is currently free on Kindle. The offer is open for five days, and the original announcement was made on Friday, so there should be a couple of days remaining for you to go and get yourself a copy. The first link is the UK link, and the US link (before we get our arses kicked by our US readers!) is here.

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See Right Through Me- Draft2With the joyous prospect of Christmas shopping creeping onto the horizon, November seems set to be a lively month for LesFic releases. LT Smith has been talking about her new novel See Right Through Me over on the Ylva website:

When I was writing See Right Through Me, I kept on thinking about how we sometimes doubt the most obvious good things in our lives. How we question those three little words—not “I love you” exactly, but the three other little words that should come hand in hand with it. Trust, respect, and love. How sometimes our own actions can lead to negativity, lead to those other three words—jealously, insecurity, and heartbreak. I wanted to show what could happen if we found ourselves in that situation, what we could lose if we allowed our lack of confidence to encroach on love. Not the most pleasant experience, believe me.

See Right Through Me has just been published, and you can read the full piece from LT here.

Sneaking in at the last minute is MORE FREE STUFF! Ylva have just announced that they have two e-book versions of See Right Through Me to give away. All you have to do to enter the draw is leave a comment at the foot of this page, or send an email to Better get your skates on though; the closing date is 5 a.m. Tuesday morning (how random!)

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GB-Cover1VT Davy, another author with a new book out, has been blogging about Deadlines, Rewrites and Getting it Out There

The biggest rewrite happened back in May following the passage through Parliament of the same-sex marriage bill. I never thought that it would go through. I thought that the bishops in the House of Lords would ensure that it was sent back down to the Commons to be revised. When it did pass, I spent 24 hours worrying about whether the novel that I’d worked on for seven months was now relevant. It didn’t take me long to realise it was, as the news about the battles for equal marriage from the USA and Australia kept on coming.

And just before I hit post on this news, up went a guest blog from VT over on Women and Words, where she talks about the politics behind A Very Civil Wedding .

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NicolaGriffithThere are not one, but two new interviews – one video, one print – with Nicola Griffith talking about Hild. The print interview at The Coffin Factory includes a particularly lovely description of Nicola discovering Whitby for the first time:

In my early twenties I was living in Hull, a depressed (and depressing) city in East Yorkshire. And one spring I needed to get out, get away for a few days. I hiked north up the coast, to a town called Whitby. I’d read Dracula so I was expecting the one hundred and ninety-nine steps up the cliff. I was expecting the great ruin of an abbey against the skyline. I wasn’t expecting what happened next…

To find out what did happen next and how it inspired the novel, hit the link.

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I.Beacham_lgClosing out this week with reports from three of our Brits who made the trip over to PTown for Women’s Week and then made it all the way back, safe and sound, to tell us about it. Over on the UK BSB blog, I. Beacham shares her insight into the benefits of Women’s Week:

So there’s a lot of lovely exchange going on all week and women meeting women and talking (and possibly other stuff, but I’m British and I don’t talk about sex). PTown is very relaxed and definitely a place every lesbian (reader or not) ought to go at least once in their lifetime. The place is alive, exciting, exhilarating.

She also gives some handy travel tips for anyone who might be considering making the trip next year: Is it easy to get to? Remember PTown is right on the far tip of the Cape, any further right and you’ll be a fish. 

Sage advice indeed. For more of the same, head here.

PTownJoining the BSB contingent was Andrea Bramhall, whose A Brit Abroad blog gives a comprehensive look into the panels and various hijinks that occur when a lot of lesbians gather in one rather small town:

Saturday was the last day of readings and signings. We were in the Provincetown Library and Vk Powell went into full cop mode trying to coral us all on the When Sparks Fly panel. Shelley Thrasher drafted in the considerable theatrical talents of Melissa Brayden and Carsen Taite to play characters in her reading. Carsen was meant to be playing a French woman but she had a decidedly German accent. It was hilarious. 

There are some lovely photos, and of course the rest of the tale, at the link.

Not to be outdone, RJ Samuel has posted a series of seven blog entries detailing her time in the States. From clicking on the link to buy plane tickets, to meeting online friends, playing wiffle ball, and of course, appearing on her first panel, RJ has left no stone unturned:

RJ Samuel reading on FridayI enjoyed the experience of relaxing and just reading my words aloud to what seemed like a group of interested friends. While planning the trip, I’d printed out 10 booklets of a short story and had promised them to the first five women who came up to say hi to me after each reading. On the spur of the moment, looking out at the audience, especially at the friendly face of Tonie, Kate’s partner, I wanted some way to thank them for listening, for being supportive. I asked for a hug instead and the wonderful hugs I got were another highlight of my trip. And a surprise for me and for anyone who knows how shy and introverted I can be.

Her epic blog starts here, and the links for the next entry can be found at the base of each page.

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And I think that’s about yer lot. If you’re off to a bonfire this week, wrap up warm, eat parkin, and try not to have anyone’s eye out with a sparkler 🙂