Tag Archives: Jackie Kay

News Roundup: New Books from Jade Winters, Gill McKnight, Rebecca S. Buck, and Amy Dunne, Goldie Win for Andrea Bramhall, Clare Lydon Does a Lot of Stuff, Reviews, Events & More…

31 Jul

Huzzah! It’s finally stopped raining and there’s a weird yellow light in the sky. Let’s shake off our brollies and see what the UK LesFic lasses have been up to…

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Hopefully, the sun will continue to shine for Saturday at least, as Brighton Pride prepares to strut its stuff and get out the gay. Clare Lydon will be hosting shenanigans in the literature tent with a line-up that includes Catherine Hall and Carol Robson. You can find general information about tickets and timings on the festival’s main page, and Clare has more info about the book side of things here.

clare lydonIf you want to keep up with Clare (and she takes some keeping up with – she’s a busy lady!) then head to the subscription page for her newsletter where you’ll get exclusive info on first reads, new releases & offers. And if you need proof of how busy she is, you can read her recent Women & Words blog here (nb. the giveaway has finished), and watch her compering the recent Indie Panel at LFest here. Finally, just slipping in beneath the deadline is the latest episode of The Lesbian Bookclub, featuring Clare’s interview with Bold Strokes author and all-round lovely person, Crin Claxton.

Videos of VG Lee‘s and Kiki Archer‘s LFest stints have also been posted on YouTube. Hit the names for the links.

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nightingaleCongrats to Andrea Bramhall whose novel Nightingale won a Goldie for Best Lesbian Romance at the GCLS conference last weekend. The Brits had a great presence in the finals, and Jen Silver and Angie Peach both made it over to New Orleans for the event, so fingers crossed UK authors will pick up a few more gongs in future years!

If you want to read more about the conference, Jen has just posted a recap of her GCLS experience over on her blog.

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Plans for the inaugural lesbian book festival to be held at the Hideaway Cafe in Urmston (Manchester) are picking up speed. The date is set for September 12th, with proceedings scheduled to kick off at 2 p.m. So far, the authors confirmed attending are: I Beacham, Andrea Bramhall, Karen Cambell, Veronica Fearon, Michelle Grubb, Cari Hunter, and Jen Silver. Cake, tea, lesbians, and books. It’s a no-brainer really. The women’s LGBT book club is also up and running at the cafe on the first Tuesday of each month, 7-9 p.m. See the website for more details.

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in it togetherNew books now, and Jade Winters has recently released her twelfth (crikey!) novel, In It Together:

Cara has no one but herself to blame for the situation she finds herself in – she broke the cardinal rule: Don’t read someone’s personal diary. But what if she hadn’t? How long would it have been before she found out that Maddie, her girlfriend of four years, was sleeping with her flatmate?

Now suddenly homeless, Cara flees to her family home in the heart of Cumbria to lick her wounds. There Cara reunites with the past she so desperately tried to outrun and comes face to face with the heart wrenching dilemma that caused her to leave in the first place.

With nowhere to hide Cara finally has to confront her demons head on. Does she tell the truth and risk tearing a brother and sister apart? Or does she carry on with the lie and be without the love she has denied herself for so long?

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cover_the-tea-machine_500x800Meanwhile, Gill McKnight has revealed the gorgeous cover for The Tea Machine, her first release after shifting publishers to Ylva. Gill has promised “Victorian ladies, and giant space squid, and hunky big Amazonian warriors with lasers, and tea”, and the official synopsis reads like this:

The story of a love that never dies…except it does, over and over again.

London 1862, and Millicent Aberly, spinster by choice, has found her future love—in the future! She meddled with her brother’s time machine and has been catapulted into an alternative world where the Roman Empire has neither declined nor fell. In fact, it has gone on to annex most of the known universe.

Millicent is rescued from Rome’s greatest enemy, the giant space squid, by Sangfroid, a tough and wily centurion who, unfortunately, dies while protecting her. Wracked by guilt and a peculiar fascination for the woman soldier, Millicent is determined to return in time and save Sangfroid from her fatal heroics. Instead, she finds her sexy centurion in her own timeline. And Sangfroid is not alone; several stowaways have come along with her.

Soon Millicent’s mews house is overrun with Roman space warriors and giant squid.

The book is due for release in November.

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BSB-HopeHeartWinterSkip forward into December and Rebecca S. Buck‘s new lesbian historical story, Hope in the Heart of Winter, will be released onto e-book via Bold Strokes:

In 1927, Evadne Burns invites her closest school friends to join her for a weekend reunion at her grand home, Winter Manor. The passing of time and the dark shadow of the First World War has shaped them all as women, yet their friendships remain strong. The tragedy of the era has only made them more determined to live their lives to the full.

Evadne is delighted to see Clara and Courtney again, two women dedicated to each other since they were schoolgirls and still unable to keeps their hands off each other, even in view of Winter’s servants. There is the more conservative Madge, to remind them of the life they were expected to lead. But most of all, Evadne is pleased to see Edith Richardson, with whom she shared one precious night but left a lasting connection. With Edith, she chooses to share a secret that will affect the rest of their lives, together or apart.

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renegadeWith The Renegade hitting shelves in September, Amy Dunne has posted an excerpt from her futuristic apocalyptic romp (is “romp” the right word a book that pretty much wipes out humanity before the end of the prologue? Probably not!) over on her blog. I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more from Amy as the release date rolls around, but for now get stuck into the first chapter, or head to the book’s official page on the BSB website where the first three chapters are ready and waiting, and where the book can be pre-ordered.

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too late I love youOver at Chick Lit Plus, reviewer Michelle has been finding a lot to like in Kiki Archer‘s Too Late… I Love You:

Without giving too much away, I will say there is some hilarious banter in here. Some of it is crude so it’s not for the faint of heart but I was literally laughing out loud at some of the things that came out of everyone’s mouth. The twist at the end completely took me by surprise. It was actually fantastic. For a book I would not have normally read, I really enjoyed this.

You can find the full review at this link.

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Writer-Sarah-Waters-006Off to bonny Scotland now, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where Sarah Waters and Jackie Kay will be discussing their favourite Virago Modern Classics authors on Saturday 15th August.

The Female Gaze: Classics by Women Writers

Three of Britain’s best-loved contemporary writers join us to discuss their favourite Virago Modern Classics author. Sarah Waters discusses Rebecca West, Maggie O’Farrell chooses Molly Keane, and Jackie Kay opts for Zora Neale Hurston. Why were these wonderful writers previously neglected, and what does their work tell us about the contemporary author who chose them? 

Chaired by Lennie Goodings as part of her Guest Selected strand of events.

The event will take place at Baillie Gifford Main Theatre, 5A Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH2 4DR, at 5pm. For further information and tickets, head here.

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NicolaGriffithAnd we’ll round out the fortnight with Nicola Griffith discussing why it’s so important to count women’s stories, in a recent interview with the Seattle Review of Books:

My book Hild was out here in paperback and it came out in the UK in hardcover, so I had to do publicity — write “five-best” lists and, you know, that kind of thing. So I was thinking about my five favorite historical novels and I wrote them down and I was pleased because at least three of them, or actually four of them, were by women. I thought, “yay women!” And then I realized that those books by women were all about men. And then I thought, “goddamn.” These were my influences…

You can read the full piece at the above link.

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Right, that little lot should keep you ticking over for the next couple of weeks. If you do happen to catch some sunshine, be sure to make the most of it!

News Roundup: Sarah Waters Hits the Stage, New Romance from KE Payne, Blogs from Jody Klaire, Clare Lydon, Jenny Frame, & Cari Hunter, Angie Peach Heads to GCLS, and Loads More!

9 May

Ahh, the sun is shining between rain showers, the birds are singing, and the Tories have finally stopped ringing me up at inopportune moments. Life is good and the news is absolutely hopping. So without further ado…

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KePayneLet’s start this week with a snippet about a new romance from K.E. Payne, who contacted the blog to let us know she has her seventh novel due out with Bold Strokes in October. The novel’s title is When I Knew You and its blurb goes like this:

When Ash Wells and Nat Braithwaite are thrown together after seventeen years apart, old resentments and passions are rekindled. The days of their heady teenage relationship are long gone – or are they? As they put aside their differences to honour the memory of a friend, Ash and Nat learn that sometimes, to build a future, you have to be willing to let go of the past.

K.E has promised to let us know when she gets the cover for this one sorted, so keep an eye on the news for updates.

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frog musicAwards season is continuing apace, with Emma Donoghue‘s Frog Music and Sarah WatersThe Paying Guests both shortlisted for the Third Annual Bisexual Book Awards. The Bi Writers Association will announce their winners in a ceremony to be held Saturday 30th May, with Waters and Donoghue competing against each other in the Bisexual Fiction category. You can find the full list of nominees here. Good luck to both Brits!

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We’ll stick with Sarah Waters for a moment, as word of a stage adaptation of Tipping the Velvet has sneaked onto the ‘net. Waters’ much-loved début novel is to be adapted for the stage as part of the Lyric Hammersmith‘s new season:

The play opens this autumn, and will run from 18th September to 24th October. This new adaptation of the novel by acclaimed playwright Laura Wade (Posh, Royal Court/West End) has been in the planning for four years. It will be directed by Lyndsey Turner (Chimerica, Almeida/West End).

From October the play will also be running in Edinburgh at the Edinburgh Lyceum, with the final performance scheduled for Saturday 21 November. As ever, more details can be found by hitting the link.

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vgleepolariThe Still Got Manners website has reviewed Polari‘s recent evening at Glasgow’s AyeWrite! festival. The event featured VG Lee: “who kicked things off in riotous style with accounts of her attempts at writing lesbian erotica. The droll sense of humour that runs through her writing is made even more hilarious by her impeccable comedy timing”, and Jackie Kay “with the talent of the true poet, she had audience members wiping away tears one moment with a lyrical tribute to her mother (and a reminder never to dismiss people as simply ‘old’)”. 

You can find the full review at the above link. Upcoming events from Polari feature Karen Campbell and Kerry Hudson. For more details see their schedule here.

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clare lydonSkipping onto blogs now, and Clare Lydon has decided that Book Editing: Not for Wimps in a new post detailing the trials and tribulations of cutting her next novel down to size:

With The Long Weekend, my beta readers brought up the fact I kept using the word ‘arse’, and had all the characters slapping each other’s bums every other scene – so I changed it. In This London Love, my beta readers told me people kept cocking their heads, putting their hands on their hips and turning on their heels every five minutes – all terribly camp and dramatic, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Clare’s third novel, This London Love – “not strictly a sequel” to London Calling – is due out in June, and the full blog entry is at the first link.

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blindtrustJody Klaire has been busy getting ready for the release of two novels. With Blind Trust, the sequel to The Empath, due out in summer, and a new romance La Vie En Bleu also pending, Jody has three blog updates to get people in the mood. You can find a primer for Blind Trust here and a character study on Renee Black from The Empath here. Rounding it all up is Jody discussing writing a romance when she’s better known for thrillers, along with a sneak-peek at the blurb for La Vie En Bleu, a snippet of which reads like this:

My name is Pippa Saunders and I have a BIG secret. You see I am engaged to Prince Charming, AKA Doug Fletcher, (Well unless it’s a golf day,) and my best friend and I, Rebecca (The one with the terrible haircut) live in our pokey little flat and are wonderful underachievers.  My life is pretty simple, I go to work in an office, go out to dinner with the handsome Doug and enjoy girlie DVD nights with Rebecca. It’s how I like it. Simple, uncomplicated and… well… Rebecca says boring…

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a royal romanceOver at the Bold Strokes blog, Jenny Frame, whose début A Royal Romance is out this month, is the feature of a new interview. In an interesting read, Jenny field questions about her influences, writing methods, and inspiration, amongst numerous other topics:

I always wanted to tell a story that was a modern retelling of a fairy tale. So my knight in shining armour and handsome prince is a handsome butch instead, who falls in love not with a suitable princess, but the village girl who protests outside the palace gates…It also gave me the opportunity to write about history and politics, two subjects I love, but still keep at its heart a sweet romance, with a healthy dose of spice.

Read more at this link.

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laddow3Finally in our blog hop I’ve chucked some pretty pictures of the Dark Peak and a shot of some rather gnarly-looking sheep onto my blog as a scene setter for No Good Reason. The snaps were mostly taken during the last year’s worth of hikes and include a few spectacular snowy shots from what turned out to be a good winter for walking. The pics and a bit of Dark Peak history can be found at the link.

And sneaking in just before the deadline, my freebie author copies arrived, which means only one thing: Giveaway! I’ve put two copies of No Good Reason up for grabs, either here at my blog or on my Facebook page. Deadline for comments/likes/discussion of biscuits is whenever I get my arse out of bed after my night shift (officially: noon GMT) on Wednesday 13th May. Best of British to you all.

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playing my loveFor those readers who might be reading this across the pond, or for anyone fond of travelling, Angela Peach will be heading Stateside in July to play at the Golden Crown Literary Society conference. Taking place 22-26 July, the conference is an extravaganza of LesFic, featuring panels, signings, readings and discussions, and culminating in the Goldies award ceremony. Although the schedule is still a work in progress, Angela has confirmed that she will be appearing on one of the panels. Hit the main GCLS site if you fancy making the trip or to have a toot at the finalists for this year’s awards.

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If you’re more of a homebody, Vic Oldham has offered a glimpse of what this year’s Bold Strokes UK Nottingham bash has in store. With 13 BSB authors in attendance, the event promises to be bigger than ever and will include two after-event parties, the chance for prospective authors to pitch their novels, panels, chats, signings, and something called a Mayhem Team. I wish I could shed some light on the latter, but I honestly have no clue. As ever, the weekend will be held at the Waterstones store in the centre of Nottingham and it takes place 5-7th June.

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News roundup: a scorching Scottish anthology, new books, Sarah Waters and more!

23 Aug

It’s the summer bank holiday which would explain why I’m sitting here with two jumpers on and have a streaming cold. Here is the news…sniff…

First up are shiny new covers for forthcoming books.

OutThereOut There is a very promising anthology of works by Scottish LGBT authors and includes pieces by Ali Smith, Kerry Hudson, Jackie Kay, Val McDermid and Carol Ann Duffy. The publisher describes the collection of poetry and prose as “diverse, sometimes hilarious, sometimes polemical, often surprising and deeply moving, but always suffused with energy, wit and empathy” and with that list of authors I’m not surprised.

The book is available late September and now available for pre-order on Amazon.

SecondThoughtsJade Winters has pencilled in her new book Second Thoughts for September and it has this very pretty cover. Here’s the blurb:

Melissa Carter thought she had it all. On the cusp of an exciting new journey with her partner Amy, Melissa’s once perfect life is thrown into a roller coaster ride when her ex, Sadie Miller, shows up unexpectedly. All too soon, Melissa’s emotions are pulled in different directions as she is faced with a life changing dilemma: should she choose the safe haven with Amy or follow a long lost dream with Sadie? With her wedding to Amy looming, one thing is for certain, time is not on her side.

RoyalRomanticNew Bold Strokes author Jenny Frame has also revealed her sumptuous cover for her debut A Royal Romance. Here’s the blurb for the 2015 publication:

Georgina, Princess of Wales, has always known her destiny, but she never expected duty to call so soon. When her father dies suddenly, she is called back from her Royal Navy post to assume the crown. While the people acclaim their new Queen, Great Britain’s first openly gay monarch, all George feels is the isolation of her station.

Beatrice Elliot’s staunch anti-monarchist views have always been a point of gentle contention with her working class, royalty-loving parents. When Bea—director of a hospice charity—must spend six months working with Queen Georgina, her charity’s new patron, sparks fly and passion blooms. But is love enough to bridge the gap between Bethnal Green and Buckingham Palace?


Well it’s still not August the 28th is it? But if you’re wringing your hands in anticipation at Sarah WatersThe Paying Guests, here are a few more tidbits to torment yourself with. (I wonder how many times Sarah Waters has been asked if there are lesbians in it.)

First up is a short video of Sarah talking about the background to the novel and the story itself. It’s well worth watching for anyone at all interested in the novel. She covers her research of the time and setting of early 1920s suburban London – a turbulent and very different place to the glamorous latter half of the decade in the city. She says the heart of the novel is a romance and that the story is about what happens to a loving relationship under pressure of guilt and shame. Here’s the vid:

September’s Diva also has an interview with Sarah Waters discussing the novel and her research into the era and setting. Again well worth a read and if you’re already wondering about what Sarah is working on next, apparently she hasn’t anything specific yet but you could bet good money on it being historical.

The Guardian has a review by Rachel Cusk of the Paying Guests. She says of the novel:

This fascinating domestic scenario might have made for an absorbing short novel; but at more than 500 pages long, The Paying Guests has ambitions elsewhere. That these pertain to plot rather than to the development of the novel’s core ideas is disappointing

She also adds that “the sexual perspective is designed for the modern reader,” and labels the novel as “middlebrow entertainment”.

I for one couldn’t be more pleased to hear it. It sounds like a bloody good quality read.


nightingaleAndrea Bramhall has been blogging about L Fest over on Women and Words. She talks about the Bold Strokes panels, the event in general and that tricky decision of whether or not to camp at a British festival. Here’s what she says of the event:

L-Fest itself had been set up like a music festival but with a little bit of everything thrown in. Paintballing, comedy acts, live music, fancy dress disco, volleyball, a dog show, workshops, Indie authors, a massage tent, thousands of lesbians…it had all the ingredients to be a fabulous weekend, especially when there was free child care available in the day for all those who were travelling as a family, and doggie day care for those with fur-babies.

While we’re with Andrea we should also mention that her latest novel, Nightingale, is now available on Audible. Here’s the link to the unabridged audio book.


the knowing

And this just in (or at least I’ve only just seen it), a smashing review of Karen Campbell‘s supernatural thriller The Knowing.

This book is probably one of the best I’ve ever read. The character of Jen is fantastically written and I really felt like I connected with her on every level, actually feeling every emotion she experienced, both good and bad. There are so many twists and turns in this book you really don’t know what is going to happen next and this made we want to continue reading, I found it hard to actually put the book down.

You can read the full review here.


Right I’m off for a glass of Talisker. My grandad used to swear by it, or at least swear a lot after it. Ta ra!

News Roundup: Stella Duffy on 20 Years of Being Published, Ylva Call for Festive Submissions, VG Lee at L Fest, New Books, Giveaways, Blogs and More!

20 Jun

With the national team performing their usual rousing routine of losing horribly and destroying the slender hopes of the three fans who thought they might have a chance of glory, why not take your mind off the footy and settle down with a nice mix of news? There’s a little something for everyone this week…

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Stella Duffy, writer, actorI’ll start with a blog update from Stella Duffy, who has been reflecting on her 20 years of being a published author and offering her thanks to those who have supported her along the way:

Interaction with readers has been one of the greatest unexpected gifts of my writing work. I didn’t realise this interaction would happen, and back when I was first published it happened very differently – without twitter, without facebook, without amazon, goodreads, blogs …

To read the rest of the piece, and feast your eyes upon a vintage Calendar Girl cover, click here.

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ylvaNow, I know that Christmas stockings, tinsel, carols, and festive shenanigans seem like a long way away when you’re currently debating which bikini to pack for your summer holiday, but Ylva are already decking the halls in preparation for a Christmas anthology:

We are looking for lesbian fiction. At least one of the main characters must be a lesbian. If the story is erotica, it must be F/F. All submissions should have Christmas or Hanukkah as the main theme. The stories can be romantic, humorous, or erotic.

christmas-tree-snow-1If you fancy trying your hand at writing a short story (4000-8000 words) for the collection, head to this link for all the necessary details. All the proceeds from the anthology will be donated to the Albert Kennedy Trust in the UK and the Ali Forney Center in New York City. Both organisations provide housing for homeless LGBT youth.

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VGLeeSticking with the authorly theme, if you are heading to the lesbian weekend extravaganza that is L Fest, more details have been posted about the writing workshops with VG Lee:

Workshop 1: A leap of faith: Let’s get emotional! To create believable characters and a credible narrative we have to know how people really feel and react…

Workshop 2: Fast & furious: Perfection in a few hundred words or less. We will work towards writing a piece of flash fiction… 

Hit the above link to read more about each of the sessions. Both workshops are included in the price of the admission, so they really are too good an opportunity to pass up.

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edinburgh BookFest-LightThere’s a veritable embarrassment of riches for lovers of lesbians and lesfic authors at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year.

Set in a specially created tented village in Charlotte Square Gardens in the heart of Edinburgh, the Edinburgh International Book Festival offers something for just about every age and every interest, bringing readers and writers together for inspiration, entertainment and discussion.

The festival runs from 9-25th August, and the schedule has just been made public. Feast your eyes on this little lot (with love to the missus for copying them all down out of the paper for me!)

Carol Ann Duffy (Poet Laureate): 9th August, 18.30

Jackie Kay (author of Reality Reality & Trumpet): 12th August, 18.30

Ali Smith (author of Girl Meets Boy): 15th August, 10.30 & 24th August, 20.30

Val McDermid (author of the Lindsay Gordon series & many more!): 20th August, 17.00

Sarah Waters (author of Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith, and the upcoming The Paying Guests): 25th August, 20.00

Tickets for each event are around £10. For more details and ticket availability/booking, the official site for the festival is here.

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BSB-QueerJusticeI was just tooting around looking for new release info, when I happened upon the cover for Rebecca Buck‘s forthcoming collection of short stories, A Queer Kind of Justice: Prison Tales Across Time. The collection is slated for a September e-book release from Bold Strokes in the category of Historical Fiction. Given Rebecca’s love of all things historical and her recent experience guiding people around the Galleries of Justice museum in Nottingham (“On any given day you might find me dressed as a Victorian warder, a drunken Georgian prisoner, or conducting a mock trial with a group of children!”), she’s probably the perfect person to get her teeth into the subject. There’s no blurb on the BSB site yet, but as soon as one appears, we’ll let you have it!

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faking itAnother author with a new release pending is Jade Winters, whose novel Faking It is scheduled for publication on June 29th. Jade has just updated her blog with a new post about Diabolical Dialogue:

Conversation is an exchange of information – it’s not dialogue… My book was full of conversation. The way I had written my characters’ dialogue was so out of sync with how people spoke in real life. Why did I fall into this trap? Because I wanted to get the message across in a clear and precise manner (whilst boring the pants off the reader). I was scared to have my characters swear, say something rude, you know, all those things that comes naturally to some people.

Hit the link to read the full piece. Faking It is – as yet – blurb-less, but for now you can feast your eyes on its shiny new cover.

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HILD_jacket_closerFree Stuff! Ha! Thought that’d get your attention. There are 5 copies of Nicola Griffith‘s Hild currently up for grabs over at goodreads. The giveaway ends July 8th and is open to residents of Great Britain only. All you need to do is hop over to the link and add your name to the hat. Good luck.

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JodyKlaireJody Klaire has a new blog post over at Women and Words, where she chats about her début novel The Empath and the challenge of finding a unique voice for her characters:

Well, my writing is a little different, as are my characters. When you meet Aeron Lorelei, my protagonist in The Empath, you will see from the very first page that she is unique. Her voice, her speech, her thoughts and feelings are hers alone. I never intended to create characters who were so very… well… different but I hope one thing that resonates is that when you pick up one of my books, it’s unmistakably mine.

Apologies for not quite hitting the giveaway deadline with this one, but it fell between two news posts!

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Right, three night shifts and a bunch of rowdy, drunken, and inconsolable footy fans await. I sincerely hope that your weekend turns out to be better than mine…


News Roundup: Stonewall Award Nominees, Jackie Kay in Sheffield, Spooky Fun at the Ivy House, Clare Ashton Interview, and much more…

18 Oct

With quite a few UK authors burning the midnight oil over at the Virtual Living Room last weekend and three hopping over the pond for Women’s Week, it’s a wonder there’s anything to report in this news post. But we like a challenge here at UK LesFic (unless it involves making something that resembles a brain covered in swiss rolls) and have discovered that there’s still plenty going on…

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charlotte-mendelsonWe’ll start this week by donning our posh frocks for the announcement of the eighth annual Stonewall Awards nominees. The awards are designed to acknowledge and celebrate those who have made a positive impact on the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain over the last 12 months.  Among the categories for Broadcast of the Year (obviously we’re rooting for the Great British Bake Off!) and Sports Award of The Year (Clare Balding is up for this one) is the award for Writer of the Year, where Charlotte Mendelson has made the list for Almost English. This is what the Stonewall Awards had to say about the work:

‘Longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize Almost English is described by The Guardian as ‘beautifully written, warm, funny and knowing’. It follows a 16 year olds disjointed life, torn between an unhappy existence at a mixed boarding school and her life with her mother who lives under the overbearing presence of three elderly Hungarians.

The complete list of nominees can also be found at the link above.

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With ever dwindling numbers of bookshops, it’s great to see Nottingham based publisher Five Leaves opening a new independent store.  Five Leaves Bookshop will open mid-November in Nottingham centre.  As well as specialising in lesbian and gay books it will also stock history, politics and landscape, general fiction and poetry.  For more information about the shop, head over here.

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JK realityBit last minute this, but poet Jackie Kay will be appearing at the Off The Shelf literary festival in Sheffield tomorrow. During the day she will be exploring the theme of “Outside” with various guests, while the evening sees her across at the Crucible Studio theatre reading from her new short story collection Reality Reality. The full program for the festival and information on booking tickets can be found at the first link.

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Those folks who like a blog post that prompts you to stand up and offer a rousing round of applause should head over to Nicola Griffith‘s latest entry, in which she has this to say about Hild’s sexuality:

Interviewers and reviewers have already asked me: So why is Hild a lesbian?

I say: First, she’s bisexual. Second, why the fuck not?

I am tired of having to have a reason for characters being queer. When my first agent told me that my proposal for Slow River was “not a selling outline,” I asked her to explain. She said, “Well, why does Lore [the protagonist] have to have a girlfriend?” I said, “Because she’s a dyke.” And fired her.

And if that doesn’t make you want to read Hild, I don’t think anything will!

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ArchnePressStorySessionsThose with a penchant for spooky fun, should plan to join Cherry Potts and VG Lee at The Ivy House in London on October 30th for a night of Halloween Tales, which sounds like a great event organised by Arachne Press. There will be readings by VG and Cherry and then a Flash from the Floor where anyone can read their 100-word story whether carefully crafted beforehand or scribbled in the interval. For more details, head to the special Event page on Facebook.

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3901374Lesley Davis has been blogging at Women and Words about her new novel Pale Wings Protecting. She talks about how the story evolved around a character from Dark Wings Descending (book 1 of the Wings Series) and how the main characters from that book muscled in too. Here’s a snippet:

When the character of Blythe Kent was introduced in “Dark Wings Descending” I knew I wanted to have that character in her own story. The FBI agent would play a small role in her best friend Detective Rafe Douglas’s investigation, being the profiler who unwittingly profiles something more than just an evil in a human form. But whereas Rafe and Ashley Scott’s story would involve all manner of heaven and hell, I had originally plotted that Blythe’s story would just be a crime book, without the added supernatural twist.

You can read the rest of the post here.

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clareashtonAnd rounding up this news is a fab spotlight interview with Clare Ashton over at Ylva Publishing, where Clare reveals a longed-for super power, her lottery dreams, and exactly how much of herself is in her characters:

Less than some people think, more than I’d like to acknowledge (even to myself).

Of course, my time as a high-class escort was vital for writing After Mrs Hamilton (Mum—this is a joke).

The interview is a great, fun read and can be found by bobbing over here.

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Speaking of bobbing, is anyone looking forward to Halloween quite as much as I am? Only 13 more days till I’ll be carving up pumpkins, decking the porch with icky stuff, and stealing all the Haribo I’ve bought for the nippers! We’re hoping to bring you a special Halloween feature for that week, so keep your fingers crossed we can round up enough authors who are willing to share their scares…

L Fest

23 Jul

ClareUKLesFic’s Clare Ashton reports from L Fest 2013.

L Fest was big, beautiful and had something for everyone this year. The music side of the festival has always been major part of the event, but this year they ramped up the arts side (organised by Spring Out) with everything from a cabaret night, carnival procession, tea dance, cinema and, of course, author events.

VG Lee and Clare Ashton

VG Lee and Clare Ashton

Headlining act VG Lee kicked off the event with her one-woman play The Lady of Wild West Hill. There were various technical hitches but being the pro and quick thinking wit, VG accommodated the interruptions with aplomb and the audience assumed they were part of her funny act and the play was a fabulous success.

(I was very chuffed to catch up with her on Sunday to grab a quick photo.)

Saturday morning author events kicked off with the panel Ghosts From the Past with Crin Claxton and New Zealander Robyn Vinten. The audience looked hungover but happy from the fabulous opening night and Robyn started with an excellent read from her first literary novel. Bruceville reunites three childhood friends for a reunion that stirs up the horrifying and romantic past.

Crin Claxton

Crin Claxton

Crin followed up with a reading from her novel the Supernatural Detective, a funny ghost crime novel brought to life by Crin’s excellent reading and assistance from actress partner Deni who added some wonderful voices for incidental characters. Crin talked about her penchant for the extraordinary in the ordinary – stories with a little bit of magic in them. This was the second reading I had seen from this book. This time I had the good sense to buy a copy and get it signed by Crin who later gave me a lesson in good signing practice (i.e. bringing a bloody pen).

The day continued with an open mic session for author readings and workshops from Helen Sandler (from Spring Out) on Performing Your Work and VG Lee From Truth to Fiction – generating ideas for fiction and getting them down on paper. VG also did another popular workshop on the Sunday (The Lesbian Monologue).

Robyn Vinten

Kiki Archer

Saturday night was time for cabaret headed up by Clare Summerskill, and a Grease themed party – which seemed to involve a large amount of alcohol and bad behaviour (further coverage has been censored, but UKLesFic has come by some photos…) .

Kiki Archer

Kiki at the romance panel signing session

Sunday morning was time for the romance panel with me, Kiki Archer and Angie Peach. I started with a passage from After Mrs Hamilton (video here) and Kiki followed up with (by popular demand and unrelenting pressure) the kitchen scene from Instigations (video here). Angie had the hard task of following that, but she did with an absorbing read from In Reflection (a book that both Kiki and I found dark and unnerving and memorable). Angie’s reading’s here.

The Q&A session that followed was great fun with all authors having awkward questions about how much of themselves they put into their work about high-class escorts, murderers and teachers who have affairs.

You can see the session here:

Not fiction, but a very affecting and inspiring session was Clare Summerskill‘s Gateway to Heaven reading – a collection of oral histories from older lesbians and gay men. Clare showed what a class act she was with her commentary and analysis of the lost voices of generations of especially working-class GLBT people and by bringing to life the histories in her performance. The session was heart-breaking, uplifting, funny and above all inspiring.

Rose CollisThis was followed up with a popular spoof costume drama, Cromford, and Rose Collis’ one-woman show Trouser-Wearing Characters about gender-bending characters of the past.

The biggest disappointment of the arts side of L Fest? I missed Jackie Kay‘s session. I saw Jackie Kay on panels at the last ever YLAF and she was incredibly witty as well the seriously talented writer you’d expect. As well as a reading and Q&A there was a book club session discussing Reality Reality which I also missed. So I kicked myself hard twice this weekend. Next year….

If you haven’t considered going to L Fest before, please do.  The timetable was packed with music, comedy, cinema and workshop events as well as games and activities so that everyone had more sessions they wanted to attend than they physically could from dog shows, pole-dancing workshops and throwing yourself around in a sumo suit.

Romance panel

The romance panel with L Fest organiser Cindy Edwards

Finally, and just because they were fabulous, dynamic, charismatic and bloody good to photograph, here are some photos of Betty – and yes they did play the L Word theme tune.


News Roundup: Goldie win for Clare Ashton, Ke Payne Giveaway, Stella Duffy, Emma Donoghue, reviews, festivals and more!

3 Jul

My, what a lot can happen in a week. Everyone fell over at Wimbledon (and then blamed the grass!), the word “shitstorm” was added to the German dictionary, and the sun threatened to come out for a microsecond before heading straight back in again.

Meanwhile, in the UK LesFic world, all this has been going on…

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GCLS-2x2Blackweb---2Top of the Pops this week is Clare Ashton, whose second novel After Mrs Hamilton scooped a Goldie award in the Romantic Suspense/Intrigue category. Saturday’s awards ceremony was the highlight of the ninth annual Golden Crown Literary Society convention, which celebrates everything there is to celebrate about lesbian literature and creative non-fiction. The conventions are held in a different American city each year and the 2013 awards were dominated by American authors and publishers, so it was lovely to see UK LesFic being represented. Congratulations to Clare and all the other winners and nominees. If anyone is looking to expand on their To-Read list, a full breakdown of the 2013 Goldie awards can be found here.

Sticking with Clare for the moment, After Mrs Hamilton and her début novel Pennance and will be the focus of this month’s read on the LesficREADER Facebook group. Clare will be discussing both books through the weekend of 18th-22nd July weekend. The group is invite only, so try hitting the link and smiling sweetly at the admins.

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BSB_The_Road_to_Her_smallSpeaking of sweet, Ke Payne has free stuff to give out! She is holding a GoodReads giveaway for signed copies of her new novel The Road to Her. There are two copies available and the giveaway ends July 5th, so get your skates on. Hit this link to enter. The Road to Her will be released by BSB on July 16th. To read more about it, head to the New Releases page.

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I’m trying to write this news update in some semblance of order. Y’know, like a proper journo would. So, a word now about another new release (see what I did there?)

emma-donoghue-illo_2373764bEmma Donoghue has been talking about her forthcoming novel Frog Music over on her Facebook page. The novel is due for publication on 1 April 2014 and its blurb looks a little (well, a lot) like this:

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heatwave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny’s murderer to justice – if he doesn’t track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women and damaged children. It’s the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts. In thrilling, cinematic style, Frog Music digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue’s lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boom town like no other.

Aww, crap. Now I have this stupid song in my head. Quick, someone whistle something else. ANYTHING ELSE.

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Stella Duffy, writer, actorOkay, I give up. I can’t find a way to link frogs with Stella Duffy and it’s far too early to try. The lovely and very unfrog-like Stella will be teaching a two-day improvisation for writers/writing workshop on 22nd & 23rd August at MakeBelieve Arts in Deptford, as part of her Chaosbaby show week. Both days will run from 10.30-4.30pm and just £95 will get you your spot at the workshop. All the necessary info is on this image. For more details about the fabulous-sounding Chaosbaby project go here.

If any readers/authors do attend this workshop, be sure to let us know how you get on!

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Cherry PottsAnyone in Oxfordshire (or thereabouts) who may be looking for entertainment over the August bank holiday need look no further. Cherry Potts will be at the Towersey Festival, where David McGrath (a fellow Arachne Press author), Esther Poyer (a poet) and Cherry – otherwise known as the #SpreadtheWordThree – will perform on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday in various venues at various times, and run workshops to explore the joys of writing with the festival audience. If that’s not enough of an incentive to head on down, there will also be folk music, and more Real Ale than you can swing a stick at. Seriously, this is a festival that’s very proud of its booze!

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Nicola_05-08-30_003rA recent Reading In the Closet feature at the Work In Progress blog saw authors discussing the novels that helped them to come out. In a heartfelt piece, Nicola Griffith chose Mary Renault’s Alexander, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword:

The problem was loneliness: all my friends were turning into squealing, boy-fancying aliens. So I turned to books. I wasn’t looking for queer role models—or perhaps I was but, hey, Catholic school, north of England—just people I could understand. I found them in stories of adventure set in unknown and sometimes dangerous places.

Go here to read the full article where you can also watch a short video with Nicola.

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Back in May we gave you a heads up about a Niamh Murphy short story Is She? that was being posted as a work in progress over at Wattpad. The six chapter story is now complete and you can catch up with it here. Niamh has been chatting to readers over at the site so be sure to leave her some feedback.

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JK realityClosing out this roundup now with a little feedback in the form of reviews. This last weekend, The Guardian reviewed Jackie Kay‘s recent collection of short stories, Reality Reality, and ranked it “among the best of the genre.”

Listening to the voices in these interior monologues is like eavesdropping on the private thoughts and secret lives of a host of disparate women, many of whom share a quiet desperation and self-delusion. We all know that older women slowly become more invisible in our youth-obsessed society, so for Kay to place predominantly middle-aged and older women centre stage feels like a radical act.

The full text of the review can be found here.

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Desolation Point desktopHaving spent the last few news roundups blowing everyone else’s trumpet (so to speak), it seems a little daft not to blow my own. Queer book review blog Out in Print recently gave Desolation Point a smashing review, warning folks not to read it “too close to bedtime, or you might find yourself late for work in the morning”.

The result is a fully engaging and absorbing read that will keep you up at night in order to finish it. I found myself saying, “Just one more chapter, and then I’ll go to bed” until I finally turned the last page. I particularly liked the way the balance of power and responsibility shifted between Alex and Sarah and back again, both of them alternately courageous and vulnerable. Their dialogue is also well-turned, sounding spoken rather than written.

You can read the review at this link.

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Arrgh! It’s now an hour and a half later, and I’m still humming that bloody song. Please feel free to head to the earlier link and share my earworm pain.