Some photos from last night’s event at Bureau of General Services-Queer Division, courtesy of my honey Genaro.
There’s a Facebook meme going around where you get tagged by friends to list 20 books that have stuck with you over the years. I thought that subject fit equally well on my website where I sometimes talk about books and authors who have influenced me.
It’s not precisely a list of favorites. As I understand it, the point is to call up the titles that come to mind the quickest. They’re books that made the strongest impression on you in some way.
I read about 20 books each year, and I’ve been doing that for oh, about 35 years. So this task wasn’t easy. Also, my forty-something brain isn’t as sharp as it used to be. I broke the rules a bit because I didn’t want to focus entirely on books I read recently just because those are the freshest ones in my head.
In the end, I chose books that represent different periods of my life as a reader, and I focused on the ones that still recall vivid scenes, characters and/or imagery. They’re books that I feel like I know like the back of my hand, and some of them I read 30, 20 or 15 years ago.
In alphabetical order by title:
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
City of Night, John Rechy
Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger
The Front Runner, Patricia Nell Warren
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling
The Hotel New Hampshire, John Irving
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin
Mordred: Bastard Son, Douglas Clegg
Mysterious Skin, Scott Heim
Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger
The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco
The Persian Boy, Mary Renault
The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
Saul’s Book, Paul T. Rogers
The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller
The Wicked Years series, Gregory Maguire
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Yeah, I gave three slots to J.D. Salinger. Go sue me.
Surf over to Dear Teen Me where my letter to my teenage self went live earlier today.
Dear Teen Me is a project aimed at teens in which young adult authors tell their personal stories about growing up. Some of the stories are funny. Some are harrowing and painful. The common thread is that they’re told from the heart, and the goal is to bring teens diverse points of view.
This was one of my favorite pieces to write, but I was surprised by how emotional it was to do it. My teen years had their awesome moments, and I had a lot of support from family and friends. But to write something that would have been helpful to me back then took going back to some delicate places in my life. Check it out and let me know what you think!
I’m very happy to share that I recently signed a contract for my short story “The Vain Prince” to appear in Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales (Radclyffe and Stacia Seaman, eds) forthcoming from Bold Strokes Books.
The title is an anthology of retold fairy tales and legends from a queer point-of-view. Rather squarely up my alley, huh?
A select few may remember “The Vain Prince” from its first appearance in Ganymede back in 2009. The story is a bit of a mash-up of “The Frog Prince” from the Brothers Grimm and the opera “Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini. It was my first fiction publication. Sadly, Ganymede went out of print when its editor and founder John Stahle died in 2010.
I gave the story a tune-up for its republication. It’s a bit campy and definitely whimsical, and I hope that readers will enjoy it on its second run.
If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been scandalously MIA, it’s because I’ve been devoting most of my writing time to the manuscript for The Seventh Pleiade follow-up, plus, well, it’s summer.
I haven’t completely boxed myself up from the world, and I’ve signed on to this event which I’m quite excited about.
On September 4th, 7:00pm at the Bureau for General Services: Queer Division, seven authors from Bold Strokes Books will be reading from their latest releases and signing copies of their books. It’s billed as a “Mixed Grill” with a wide selection of titles from gay and lesbian young adult, to gay horror, to lesbian romance and beyond.
The event is totally free, with a suggested book purchase. Here’s the Facebook page where you can RSVP.
Greg and Donnie from BGSQD always put on a great event at their funky bookstore slash event space. It’s worth dropping by just to check it out.
I thought I’d share these “extras” from The Seventh Pleiade that aren’t included in the recently released edition of the book.
The story takes place in a prehistoric kingdom that was founded by the legendary Poseidon. There are many clans and many characters, but for the most part that’s a backdrop to the main story, which concerns sixteen-year-old Aerander who is undergoing his Panegyris–a sacred rite of passage for boys of royal birth. Aerander uncovers a conspiracy while searching for his missing cousin Damianos, and that investigation leads to a mission to save his kingdom.
Here’s more about the backstory and the sideline characters.
The kingdom of Atlantis was founded by Poseidon and bequeathed in portions to his five sets of twin sons. Poseidon’s sacred commandments maintain their union, the foremost being: “Ten Kings for One Kingdom.”
Each son was given the right to govern his lands as he saw fit, but in matters of the kingdom, there was one vote for each son. They convened every four years as a Governor’s Council to decide upon those matters, such as pledging units to the kingdom’s military and negotiating trade agreements. Naturally, when there were competing interests, alliances and rivalries formed. But the sons were sworn to never take up arms against each other. They were sworn to Poseidon’s commandment that there would never be one King for their country.
Governorship passed down those ten ancestral lines from father to first-born son or in an alternative patriarchal fashion (e.g. first-born son to second-born son if the first-born died without producing a male heir).
Here are the ten lines or Houses, briefly characterized. The emblem illustrations are by my husband Genaro Cruz. As the first-born son of Poseidon’s first set of twins, Atlas received the kingdom’s seat of power: the island city of Atlantis. The kingdom takes its name from him as does the Atlantic Sea.
Atlas stands above all in glory among Poseidon’s sons. He fought Minotaurs and Amazons and was known to be his father’s favorite. The Atlas emblem contains Poseidon’s most sacred symbol: the trident spear.
Still, a curse haunts his House. It was said that Atlas insulted an Amazon priestess, and she called upon her goddess to doom him to never raise an heir. According to legend, Atlas’ wife Pleione gave birth to seven daughters (the ‘Pleiades’) and one son Atlas II who died before reaching manhood. The Atlas bloodline is blighted by stillbirths of male children.
Featured Characters: Aerander, Prince Regent; Pylartes, his father and House Governor; Thessala, Pylartes’ wife; Damianos, a minor relation taken in by Pylartes as an orphan; Alixa and Danae, Aerander’s younger half-sisters; Atlas’ lost daughter, the titular “Seventh Pleiade.”The twin of Atlas, Gadir was given the bread basket of the kingdom in the wintry plains of Azilia, which borders the frozen and barbarous north. The House’s alliance with his ancestral brother has always been tinged with a bit of sibling rivalry. Gadir has produced strong politicians if not the military heroes of his brother clans.
Its emblem is verdant to extol the House’s agricultural power. Its three crescent moons in silver, bronze and gold represent Gadir’s nobility.
Featured characters: Dardanos and Evandros, friends and allies of Aerander; Governor Hesperos.
Amphisos is the first clan of the seafaring twins who received dominion of The Fortunate Isles. Amphisos holds the key island outpost of Bimini, the “Gateway to the West.”
The House is known for its rugged and reliable trade galleys that ferry commodities around the world. The fighting dolphins represented in its emblem commemorate the sea-dwelling creatures that were sacred to Poseidon and a sign of good fortune to sailors.
Featured Characters: Kaleidos, a Panegyris celebrant; Deuterion, House Governor..
Eudemon’s House garnered fame for its naval adventurers. Its people have a proud tradition of sagas which chronicle the journeys of their sea captains who fought barbarian raiders and monsters like the Scylla.
Its red emblem represents its stouthearted, red-bearded men who command the House’s warships in the fearsome North Atlantic Sea. A starburst hails Eudemon’s supremacy on the glinting waters.
Featured characters: Lysimachos, a Panegyris celebrant; Leonitos and Kosmos, his cousins; Eulian, Lysimachos’ father and House Governor; Hecamenes, father of Leonitos and Kosmos.
As Atlas was the favorite of Poseidon, Mneseus was the favorite younger brother of Atlas. Handsome and fearless, Mneseus received the continent of Lemuria where he battled an ancient kingdom of natives (Lemurians) into subjugation. The country boasts the kingdom’s prized lumber — teak and locust — as well as a thriving market for domestic slaves. The hawk is a symbol of Mneseus’ martial strength.
Featured Characters: Calyiches, Aerander’s boyhood lover and a Panegyris celebrant; Oleon, Calyiches’ younger brother; Kondrian, Calyiches’ father and House Governor.
The emblem for House Autochthonos is the stallion tower shield, which reflects its martial tradition. They boast that their boys are taught to ride ponies in the grasslands of Tamana before they have learned to walk on their own two feet. Military discipline is their hallmark, and the House can be counted on to have strong contenders in the kingdom’s athletic games.
Featured characters: Radamanthes, a Panegyris celebrant; Ephegene, House Governor.
Elassipos’ stronghold is the southwestern coast of Azilia where Atlantis’ “second city” Tartessos flourishes. Like Autochthonos, they are a military clan, and the two Houses vie for bragging rights to having the most ferocious legionnaires. Their men are tall of stature with aquiline noses, and they wear their golden hair long with one ponytail knotted high on their heads. Their symbol is the ibis rearing her wings for flight.
Featured characters: Didophyles, a Panegyris celebrant; Trachmenes, House Governor.
When Mestor mined the arid mountains of his province in Mauritania, he discovered precious silver and gems that would make his House the richest of any of Poseidon’s legacies. His progeny built lavish palaces on the cliffs of the Middle Sea. The gentlemen and ladies of the court pride themselves on their refined, fine-woven costumes and handsome grooming. The women’s jeweled hair pins and pendants set the kingdom’s style. The rival Houses call Mestor frivolous and haughty, but its hard to finance a military campaign without the support of Mestor’s treasury.
Featured characters: Perdikkas, celebrant of the Panegyris; Basilides, his father and House Governor; Palmdyra, Perdikkas’s sister and hearthrob of the Panegyris.
The youngest set of twins was portioned the wild continent of Lost Pangea, which had been discovered and claimed by Atlas during the Twin Emperors’ reign (during which their brothers were too young to preside at court).
Azaes built its acropolis in the farthest reaches of the Pangean backcountry and commands a mighty land army to crush its barbarian enemies. Their high-walled fortresses are equipped with parapet archer stations. The House’s favored weapon: the bolt and crossbow are represented in its emblem.
Featured characters: Mesokantes, a Panegyris celebrant; Amphigoron, his father and House Governor.
Diaprepos was tasked with settling the southern portion of Lost Pangea. Like its twin House Azaes, Diaprepos boasts a tradition of rugged, battle-trained warriors.
The emblem also represents the clan’s rustic mysticism, specifically the sacrifice of the bull, which was instructed in Poseidon’s commandments. Diaprepos originated the ritual of bull-fighting. Its famed bull-masters risk their lives for a seat of honor at the table of their ancestral father in his heavenly realm.
Featured characters: Boros, a Panegyris celebrant; Spinther, House Governor.