Archive | September, 2014

News Roundup: Ali Smith, Stella Duffy & Val McDermid hit the airwaves, New Anthologies from R.J. Samuel, Rebecca S. Buck, & Maureen Duffy. Interviews, Reviews, and More!

26 Sep

So, in the week that Scotland decided to vote nay to independence, what have our authors in this most United of Kingdoms been getting up to?

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alismithFirstly, congratulations to Ali Smith, whose novel How To Be Both has been short listed for the Man Booker Prize. You can hear her talking about the novel on this episode of Radio 4’s Open Book, an episode that also features Stella Duffy looking back at twenty years or writing, and discussing her new anthology of short stories, Everything is Moving, Everything is Joined (the blurb is available on our New Releases page.)

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330x235valmcdermidVal McDermid might be a little unhappy with the way the referendum went, but she has also been busy chatting on the airwaves. In this recent interview on Radio 4’s Saturday Live show, she talks about “her passion for football, her musical aspirations and where she finds inspiration for her novels.” If you’re wondering, she’s an avid Raith Rovers fan…

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Amy_Dunne_lgIf you’re anywhere near Nottingham this Sunday, Bold Strokes YA author Amy Dunne will be appearing at the inaugural night of a new women’s only entertainment event, Womyn’s World. Amy will be in the Green Room at the Nottingham Arts Theatre from 6.30 p.m. to talk about her début novel, Secret Lies, future projects, and to take part in a Q&A. The full program can be found at the link, with further events planned for the last Sunday in each month.

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the alleywayThe last few days have seen the publication of new short story anthologies from Rebecca S. Buck and R.J. Samuel. Rebecca’s “prison tales across time” e-book release A Queer Kind of Justice is available from the Bold Strokes website, or Amazon. Meanwhile, R.J. has published The Alleyway and Other Short Stories under her full name, Rejini Samuel.  The collection isn’t LesFic, but we thought you might be interested in hearing about it anyway. This is what R.J had to say about the anthology:

Nervous and excited as I’m going to be publishing this collection of very short stories on Amazon tomorrow. Doing it under my real name as I wrote most of them a few years ago and some of the stories were shortlisted in competitions under my name. They’re also quite a bit darker than my novels. They feature a variety of main characters and no real ‘happy ending’, more like ‘no real ending’…but I hope they leave the reader thinking…

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Killing For Keeps RHB V3 copyKilling for Keeps, the fifth novel in Mari Hannah‘s award-winning Kate Daniels series now has itself a cover. The book is due for publication on December 4th, and its blurb goes like this:

Two brothers from the same criminal family die within hours of each other, five miles apart, one on the edge of a Newcastle industrial estate, the other in a busy A & E department of a local hospital, unseen by the triage team. Both victims have suffered horrific injuries. Who wanted them dead? Will they kill again? Investigating these brutal and bloody killings leads DCI Kate Daniels to break some rules, putting her career as well as her life on the line.

As the body count rises in the worst torture case Northumbria Police has ever seen, the focus of the enquiry switches, first to Glasgow and then to Europe ending in a confrontation with a dangerous offender hell-bent on revenge.

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paper wingsMaureen Duffy‘s new collection of love poems, Paper Wings, has been turned into “wonderful and varied images by the artist Liz Matthews” in a free exhibition which has just opened at Enitharmon Press, 21 Bury Street, Bloomsbury, London. The exhibition is open 10-6, Monday to Saturday, and closes 17 October.

From Maureen’s FB page: There’s also a beautiful (but affordable) artist’s book version of the entire exhibition – and Paper Wings is also available as a DVD, with Maureen reading the poems aloud in the background as the images appear, page by page, on screen.

You can find more information about the exhibition at the above link.

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stilllifeIt’s hard to resist this introduction to L.T. Smith‘s latest blog entry, extolling the virtues of a new audio file she has posted:

Maybe you want to protect your hearing. Maybe you have had enough of screeching Northerners to last you a lifetime – thanks to Coronation Street and/or Emmerdale – and would prefer to skip this small audio clip I have made. The decision is completely yours and the onus is definitely on you.

If that’s tickled your fancy, and you want to listen to L.T. – whose voice has apparently been extra-butched up thanks to a cold – reading a chapter from her latest novel, Still Life, then head here to her blog, where you’ll find the YouTube link.

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catherine hallCatherine Hall has been answering 10 lovely, varied questions over at the Alma Books website. If you want to know what three books she’d save from a house fire, or which period of history she’d most liked to have live through, then click the link.

Catherine’s new novel, The Repercussions has also been reviewed over at the Elysion website:

She manages to evoke the horror and confusion of World War One and twin it with current day experience, laying bare the personal cost of conflict. In amongst the often harrowing settings, the book blossoms hope through its tales of love and longing which expertly manage to keep humanity as the core theme and lend a softness and compassion to the whole book.

…It’s a lovely and touching novel; not always comfortable reading, but somehow sad and optimistic at the same time – a perfect read for an autumnal night.

You can read the full text of the review here.

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Writer-Sarah-Waters-006Finally this week, I know we’ve had a lot of Sarah Waters stuff to highlight of late, but this interview with the Salon website is probably one of the best that’s come out of her publicity tour for The Paying Guests. It’s a fun, in-depth, and candid chat with Laura Miller, who obviously knows Waters’ novels backwards:

There’s a maturity in being able to write novels about lesbian relationships and not feeling obliged to depict them as this perfect bond that society is unjustly crushing.

I’m also conscious that being able to write about lesbians is a luxury of living in my own society, one that’s fairly relaxed about gay lives. Plenty of other parts of the world wouldn’t have that luxury. I remember when “The Night Watch” was published in Russia, they sent me a review and translated it for me and it said something like, “This novel gives us a fascinating glimpse of the tragic lives of these poor …”

“These poor, poor, tragic lesbians!”

Go read it at the link.

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And that brings us to the end of another romp through the LesFic news. Have a splendid weekend!

Guest Blog: Catherine Hall on The Repercussions

19 Sep

catherine hallToday’s guest post is from Catherine Hall, an author who was born in the Lake District and worked in documentary film production and international peacebuilding before publishing her first novel, Days of Grace, in 2009. She was chosen as one of Waterstones’ New Voices that year and as an Amazon Rising Star. Her next novel, The Proof of Love, won the Green Carnation Prize 2011 and a Fiction Uncovered Award.

We invited Catherine to write a guest blog about her latest book, The Repercussions newly released this month in paperback and on Kindle – and we were rather delighted when she said yes…

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Hi there, it’s so nice to be here on UK Lesfic and have the chance to tell you a bit about my new novel, The Repercussions.

the repercussionsThere are two main stories in the book, intertwined in various ways. My main character – or one of them – is Jo, who’s a war photographer who’s just returned from Afghanistan and has moved into the Brighton flat that she’s inherited from her great-aunt. She’s in a bad way because of things that happened in Afghanistan, and other, more complicated reasons, and hopes to hide out for a while and sort herself out. Jo finds a diary in the flat that belonged to a woman called Elizabeth who nursed Indian soldiers at the Brighton Pavilion in the first world war. Reading this diary forces her to come to terms with things that happened in Afghanistan but also her relationship with her ex girlfriend Susie – the book is written in the form of a long confession to her. So, having said there’s two stories, there’s actually four: what happened to Jo in Afghanistan, what’s happening to Jo now, what happened with Susie, and what happened to Elizabeth in 1915.

Jo’s a tricky character. I think anyone who spends most of the their life hopping from conflict to conflict, seeing more wars than most soldiers, is bound to be affected by it. And that was what I really wanted to explore in the book – the impact of her work on her and on her relationship with Susie, the girlfriend who was left at home while she went to some of the most dangerous places on earth. Susie was always desperate to have a baby – a thought that terrified Jo and led to their break-up. I started to write the book when my first child was six months old and finished it two years later, a week before the second one was born, and so the impact of children on careers and relationships was very much on my mind.

days_of_grace_original_coverMy first book, Days of Grace, was about an old woman haunted by what happened when she was evacuated as a young girl to a vicarage in Kent during the first world war, and fell in love with the vicar’s daughter. She was never able to really express her sexuality, and that repression ruined her life. In this book, I didn’t want Jo’s sexuality to be the main point – or at least not something that bothered her. I think that’s something that’s changed in lesbian fiction over the last ten years or so. Not everything has to be a coming out story – we can write about lesbian lives and loves in a broader context – and they can even have happy endings!

proof_of_love-original-cover1I recently did an event at Gay’s the Word bookshop in London and spoke about how I first went into the shop aged 16 or so, when I’d sneaked away from a school trip. Shaking at the thought of being in a gay bookshop, I dared to buy a copy of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. It was a great feeling to be there, 25 years later, with my own book, and talking to a room full of people who wanted to know about it. It’s still not easy to persuade publishers to buy books on gay themes – they’re so cautious about finding audiences – but I think the audience is definitely there. I also think that lesbians are still slightly invisible in mainstream culture but the more we write about ourselves the more we’ll be seen and hopefully understood.

That all sounds very serious! I hope at the end, I’ve written a story that people will want to read and be entertained and hopefully moved by. I guess that’s what any writer ultimately wants.

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Cheers very much, Catherine!

To find out more about Catherine and her novels head to her homepage, and the full blurb for The Repercussions is up on our New Releases page.



News Roundup: Landmark Scottish LGBT Anthology, New Author Chrissie McDill, Fingersmith gets a Korean Makeover, UK Authors on Tour, & More!

16 Sep

With only two days to go before Scotland decides on its independence, you may well be wondering what will happen to UK LesFic should the vote go with the yes camp (alternatively, you may be wondering what the hell I’m talking about, in which case, turn on your telly!) The answer – from my POV at least, as Tig’s on holiday and we’ve not discussed it – is absolutely nothing. We like our Scottish authors, they’re funny and supportive of the site, and I think we’ll let them stick around. Plus, I’m far too lazy to go and edit the author listing. Whatever happens to the UK, best of luck to us all, eh?

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OutThereAs if to prove a point, we’re sticking with Scotland for our first three news items this week…

Keren McGill at Freight Books has been in touch about their new Scottish LGBT anthology, Out There, an important landmark in Scottish literature and LGBT writing worldwide.

In the year that Scotland votes on independence from the rest of the UK, Freight Books brings a new and definitive anthology of prose writing and poetry from Scotland’s leading and emerging LGBT writers. It will be edited by Zoë Strachan and includes a stellar list of contributors; Ali Smith, Louise Welsh, Kerry Hudson, Jackie Kay, Ronald Frame, Toni Davidson, Val McDermid, Damian Barr and UK poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy to name but a few.

Following Glasgow’s ‘Gay Games’ and the now famous Glasgow Kiss, this is the first anthology of its kind in over twelve years. Out There is the perfect barometer of just how far Scottish LGBT writing has come in that time. The writing is diverse, sometimes hilarious, sometimes polemical, often surprising and deeply moving, but always suffused with energy, wit and empathy.

‘It will pose key questions, not just about LGBT writing in Scotland today, but also about the social and sexual landscape of our nation as a whole.’ LGBT History Month

The anthology is available to purchase now, and you can see photographs from a preview event at Glasgow’s Pride House at this link.

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no way to liveThe newest author to our listings is Chrissie McDill, who describes herself as “an ageing writer for the more mature lesbian”. She has lived in London and Surrey, where she beat the feminist drum to become one of the first women branch managers of a national building society in the early 80’s. She left in 1988 to start her own women’s taxi business, which has provided her with a wealth of ideas for her stories. Since retiring and moving back to her native Scotland, she has published No Way to Live, a psychological thriller about a woman haunted by her past and terrified of her future. Chrissie lives with her partner and two bonkers but loveable Cairn terriers in South Lanarkshire and can be contacted on Facebook. For more information on Chrissie, pay her website a visit, and look out for her new novel in the next couple of months.

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hp munroTo round up our north of the border news, H.P. Munro is the latest author to be profiled over at Planet of the Books. These short, snappy interviews are good fun, and this one is no exception:

Where do you write? And what do you need around you? 

To begin with I wrote while travelling for work, so it was on planes and train and in airports and hotels. Now I tend to write at home in whatever room takes my fancy or where the comfy seats are. I recently got some friendly abuse from some fellow writers from posting photos of me writing at the poolside while on holiday in Thailand, which was easily the nicest place I’ve even written.

To read the full interview, head here.

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the murder wallCongratulations this week to Mari Hannah who has made the longlist for the CWA Dagger in the Library award. The award honours an author’s whole body of work, rather than a single title, and the longlist was voted for by readers and librarians. The shortlist will be announced on November 3rd, with the winner revealed in a ceremony at the end of that month. To see all the authors on the longlist, hit the link.

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Andrea Bramhall has been chatting to the good ladies at the Cocktail Hour podcast for one of their Conversation at the Bar features. You can download or listen to the interview at this link. Sadly, said link contains no photographic evidence of Cheri’s amazing bed head.

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Writer-Sarah-Waters-006With a few UK authors currently embarking on country-wide tours, it was getting a little complicated to keep up with the wheres and whens. To try to remedy this, I’ve just updated the Events page with links to the listings of all forthcoming UK appearances by Nicola Griffith, Catherine Hall (we’ll have more for you from Catherine on Friday!), and Sarah Waters. Sarah has recently added a Manchester date to her listings, which is good news for everyone in that area who’s not working a bloody night shift that night (12th October.) Tickets for lucky, not at work northerners can be purchased here.

Meanwhile, the incomparable AfterEllen website has revealed that a big screen version of Fingersmith is on the way, only this version will transplant the story to Korea. Casting for Agashi (English title still to be decided) will take place this month, with production getting under way early next year. Click here to read the full piece.

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stilllifeFinally, if you’re between books and wondering what to read next, the Lesbian Reading Room has a new review of L.T. Smith‘s latest release Still Life: 

The writing is sharp and witty. Very British humour and language so you Americans need to be prepared. L.T.’s style is down to earth, direct and realistic. When Brits are full of angst you really know it. The writing flows and the story weaves around us, playing on all the stupid mind games we all go through with often hilarious results. Of course that’s easy to say as a reader, much harder when it is your heart on the line.

Still need more? Okay, then, you can read the full write-up at this link.

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Right, I’m off to bulk-buy Haggis, Irn Bru and shortbread before they become rare foreign delicacies.

GOOD LUCK Scotland whatever you decide 🙂


A rare sighting of the Haggis in the wild.


News roundup: a scintillating Polari shortlist, Beatrice Hitchman’s intriguing Petite Mort, events, Maureen Duffy, Stella Duffy and more!

11 Sep

Cari’s been gambolling around the coast complete with baby seals, so you’re stuck with me again for this week’s post. Let’s have a quick romp through the news…


petitmortThe Polari shortlist was announced at Monday’s Polari evening in London, and what an exciting short list it is. Paul Burston has commented on the great diversity of this year’s entries, which can be any first book that explores the LGBT experience in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction. Here’s the list:

Sarah Westwood‘s The Rubbish Lesbian – a collection of her columns for Diva magazine
Dean Atta‘s poetry collection I’m Nobody’s Nigger
Diriye Osman‘s short story collection Fairytales For Lost Children
Vernal Scott‘s God’s Other Children – a London memoir
Beatrice Hitchman‘s noir novel Petite Mort

We’ve mentioned Sarah Westwood’s book in passing before but we haven’t featured Beatrice Hitchman. Hitchman’s intriguing debut has drawn comparisons with the writing of Sarah Waters and Angela Carter and with films such as  Moulin Rouge.

Here’s the blurb for Petite Mort:


Photo by Sarah Lee

A silent film, destroyed in a fire in 1913 at the Pathé studio, before it was seen even by its director. A lowly seamstress, who makes the costumes she should be wearing, but believes her talent – and the secret she keeps too – will soon get her a dressing room of her own.

A beautiful house in Paris, with a curving staircase, a lake, and locked rooms. A famous – and dashing – creator of spectacular cinematic illusions, husband to a beautiful, volatile actress, the most adored icon of the Parisian studios. All fit together, like scenes in a movie. And as you will see, this plot has a twist we beg you not to disclose…

For a bit more background on the book and author there’s a review in the Polari Magazine and an interview in Diva. You can also read more about Beatrice on her website.

Sticking with Polari just for a moment, you can read a little about the background of Polari and the Polari Tour here and also get a taster for what to expect from Kiki Archer at the Birmingham event in this video.


duffy_maureenOn to interviews.

Maureen Duffy was interviewed on Totally4Women.  Maureen talked about diverse topics from prizes, her opinion of self-publishing and the representation of women in media. On that last matter she has this to say:

You have only to count the numbers of titles and reviewers in the Times Literary Supplement and London Review of Books by men as against those by women to see the discrimination. Also while women read books by both men and women, men read predominantly books by men. The emphasis is for youth and glamour for women writers still. Our enemy is still the patriarchal society, witness Cameron’s cabinet even after the reshuffle. Even Mrs Thatcher whom they all profess to admire was painfully dumped when the novelty wore off.

You can read the whole interview here.

ellendeanPlanet of the Books has a new author profile up and this time it’s Ellen Dean‘s turn. She answers the usual questions and this is what she had to say about spending the day as one of her favourite characters:

It has to be Hyacinth Dickinson from Beautiful Strangers and Beyond Midnight, Books 1 and 2 in the Hyacinth Dickinson Series. Tall, blonde and gorgeous. Hyacinth is psychic and can use telepathy to get into people’s minds and learn all their secrets, or make them do what she wants them to do. Plus, she owns valuable and rare diamonds (a girl’s best friend) two fabulous houses, a yacht and enjoys partying with a wide circle of friends. It would be a hard to decide where to actually be: in one of her fabulous houses, controlling the Amethyst Coven or lazing on the yacht in Cannes. Oh, decisions, decisions!

You can read the full profile here.


fallingcoloursRJ Samuel‘s Falling Colours was reviewed over on Piercing Fiction. The review starts with “Let’s start by saying this is a fun book to read.” A phrase that might not auger too well with a Lynne Pierce review.

But fear not, the review’s a good one and this is what Lynne has to say in summation for RJ’s tale of a vision painter:

RJ Samuel has used the theme of a person caught between two cultures before, but Kiran has a comic twist that makes her fun while revealing the struggle she goes through.  The book is a slapstick mystery in the best tradition of the old 1930s movies.  It would be great to have a sequel to this book to see where Samuels could take the characters, but Kiran would have to bring Marge back again.  That might be too much for any of them to take.

Read Falling Colours.  It’s fresh; it’s different; it’s worth it.

You read the full review here.


Clare-Lydon-LV-cropClare Lydon‘s been blogging again and this week it’s about some harsh truths for writers. Her ten truths cover everything from the number of copies a typical book sells (not many) and who cares about your manuscript (you and your mum). Here’s her truth about muses:

Writing is an art. But like any art, it’s 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration. Like anything, you have to work at it and you have to do regularly to get good at it – it takes practice. If you only write ‘when the muse takes you’, you will never finish that book you’re working on. And muses are like fairies btw – they don’t exist.

Here’s the full entertaining list.


PayingGuest_D-2-186x300Now for our weekly sample of Sarah Waters news.

There was an interesting article in The New York Times this week. While everyone in the UK, from my mother-in-law to my doctor, is looking forward to picking up The Paying Guests, apparently that’s not the reception she gets in the US:

Ms. Waters has tended to receive less critical attention in the United States than at home. Laura Miller, who wrote a delighted review of her novel “The Little Stranger” for Salon, said that might be because she has fallen, unfairly, into a genre ghetto.

“She does have a devoted readership here, but if there’s a problem with her work getting the respect it deserves, it’s probably because it’s historical fiction. Some people who write it are at the top of their game … but at the same time, it’s full of cheesy, endless series about things like the women of the War of 1812.”

The article goes on to give some nice detail on Sarah Waters’ background from being the only gay in the village, to then meeting the other one and how she fell into writing. Here’s the full article.


everythingStella Duffy has just released a collection of her work that has been previously published or broadcast on the radio. Here’s the blurb for Everything is Moving, Everything is Joined:

This collection of short stories brings together, for the first time, a selection of Stella Duffy’s award-winning writing, as well as some of the numerous stories that have been broadcast on radio and appeared in anthologies over the past 20 years. Many of these books are out of print and the radio broadcasts are unavailable; this collection therefore not only highlights the range and variety of her writing, but also breathes new life into some of her best stories.

Here’s the Amazon link although note that the Kindle version for 80 p is just a single short story.


Finally some events for your diary including one tonight.

Nicola Griffith is touring at the beginning of October. The tour includes places as different and as far-flung as London and Ilkley. Full details are on her blog.

Stella Duffy and Catherine Hall are both appearing at Gay’s the Word tonight – a great chance to see two excellent authors. Starts at 7 p.m.  More details here.


Right, my turn to gambol around the coast. Ta ra!

News roundup: Short story competition, Nicola Griffith is grandiose, Sarah Waters is everywhere, and there are a few others besides

5 Sep

Internet gremlins have hit the Ashton household, so this will be short and snappy….


GreenLadyFirst up, news of a publisher opening up in Oxford. Green Lady Press isn’t a lesbian publisher but it welcomes innovative literature from all genres. It specialises in short stories and novellas and got in touch with UKLesFic with details of its annual short story competition. This year’s theme is ‘Resistance’ and they’re looking for innovative interpretations (any genre) of the theme up to 3000 words. Get your entries in by 30 November. First prize is £50, second £25 with other selected entries being published in an ebook anthology together with the winners. You can find more details here.


nicolagriffithlocusNicola Griffith is interviewed in and appears on the front cover of science fiction magazine Locus this month. You can get a digital copy here.

She was also interviewed for Real Change News where (in her own words) she ended up being a little grandiose about Hild’s influence – wouldn’t have democracy as we know it without her for example. It’s a typically informative and fascinating piece and here’s the link to the full article.


Kiki-117The Planet of the Books continued its author profiles this week with Kiki Archer.

In her profile answers, Kiki admits that her parents had to pay her to read as a child after Little Women and Black Beauty failed to catch her imagination. Although the Beano found its appeal for some reason. She answers questions like “which of your characters would you like to spend the day as” and naturally picks the one that has the best sex.

You can find the full profile here.


598px-Sarah_WatersIt may be a while before we go a week without mentioning Sarah Waters. Here’s this week’s inclusion.  Dulwich Books in London are holding an evening with Sarah Waters on Wednesday 1st October. She will be talking to John O’Connell and books will also be on sale. A few more details below and here’s the relevant link.

Location: Alleyn’s School, Townley Road, East Dulwich, London SE22 8SU

Tickets £10/£8. The Paying Guests will be on sale at £15.00.

Tickets: Book tickets online, via email to, via telephone 020 8670 1920 or pop into the bookshop.

There are probably some reviews around for The Paying Guest this week, but you know, if you like Sarah Waters you’re probably going to read it, and if you haven’t read any Sarah Waters, go and at least read Fingersmith too. (We’ll catch up next week when my internet connection hasn’t got its knickers in a twist.)


On to new releases:

stilllifeLT Smith’s Still Life is out now – here’s the Amazon link. LT has written a blog about its release which is a little earlier than intended. She’s a bit pleased. Here’s the post.

Last week’s new publication, The Empath by Jody Klaire, is book of the month on the Facebook group LesficREADER. Jody will be answering questions weekend of the 27-28th so get reading and join the group here.


Finally, a reminder about the LGBT Monologue writing workshops run by VG Lee and Paul Burston. The sessions accompany the Polari tour to Brighton, London, Stevenage, Newcastle, Birmingham, St Albans, Manchester and Liverpool. You can find dates and venues here but for more information and to reserve a place please email Val at vglee at

If you’re still not sure about attending the workshops here’s VG Lee with a little more information about the sessions and about her lovely self too. Take it away Val: