Breaking Us in Two

Sunday. It’s one degree warmer than yesterday morning–wow, right? But you will undoubtedly be thrilled to know that I get everything on my list done yesterday other than go to the gym; and after spending two hours in the storage unit moving boxes of books around, I was pretty damned exhausted physically, and then braved Costco on a Saturday afternoon (it wasn’t bad at all, other than stupid people, which is every day). I also came across some books in the storage that I thought hey, these need to be reread and so I took them out. One of them was Richard Matheson’s Hell House, which seemed, at least to me, to be the proper reread after The Haunting of Hill House, in that they’re very similar; one could even go so far as to say Matheson basically took Jackson’s story structure and turned the dial up a notch. I am enjoying the reread very much; although I’m not very far into it thus far. I also found my copy of Michael Rowe’s groundbreaking anthology Queer Fear, which I reviewed in the Lambda Book Report many years ago when I worked there, and was to be my first encounter with Mr. Rowe; I remember he came up to me at the Lambda Awards the next year, introduced himself, and thanked me for the lovely review. We’ve crossed paths a few times since, and have become friends over the years. I do remember loving Queer Fear, and look forward to delving into it and rereading its short stories again.

I also found my high school scrapbook and my diaries from the 1990’s. I used to buy blank books and carry them around with me everywhere, so I could jot down story and/or book ideas, or write diary entries whenever I wanted to. I am always hesitant to reread my old diaries; I often wince from my immaturity and my over-dramatization of events in my life. Yet at the same time, the diaries also served as a very vital source of self-reflection and self-examination; I suppose this blog has served that purpose since I started it on Livejournal back in 2004 (the idea that I have been consistently blogging for thirteen years rather staggers the mind, doesn’t it? But I’ve been writing in a diary of some sort, off and on, since I was a teenager; this seems to be a natural continuation of that process).

I also found the three ring binder where I kept everything from the Virginia situation of 2005 and 2006; including the ACLU letter to the school board. I’d always intended to write a non-fiction book about it all, called Gay Porn Writer, in which I examined what happened to me in the context, not only of the times but extrapolating it out further into what was going on in publishing and the culture. My memory lies to me now, of course, so I am not certain that I’ll ever write such a book–I don’t know that I would remember things correctly, and even then, what is colored by my perceptions of things. I’ve since moved on, of course–I mentioned the incident in passing on my panel at Bouchercon and had to explain it a little, which was kind of crazy. It was so long ago, and I used to get invited to speak about it all the time. The memories are now hazy and unclear, but I am definitely going to keep all this information.

You never know.

I think I am probably just going to scan everything in the scrapbook, in order to preserve it electronically, and then throw it away. I don’t really need to keep programs from my high school football games, or from choir concerts, and scanning them will better preserve them anyway.

I have one errand to run today, and I also want to go to the gym for a little bit, start dipping my feet back into the water of working out regularly, and despite the cold, I am going to give that a try.

And hopefully, I’ll get some writing done, or at least something done that will move all projects forward.

Here’s a Sunday hunk for you:


Joy to the World

It is highly ironic that, on National Coming Out Day, I was reminded of the existence of someone whom I hadn’t thought about in years; someone who, back in the days before my first novel came out was editor of a gay fiction publication (whose name is, in fact, lost in the mists of time). I remembered emailing him, when I was working for Lambda Book Report, to see if we could do a piece on the magazine, what he was looking for in terms of submissions and so forth–my vision of Lambda Book Report, was to make the magazine not only about reviewing books but also to provide resources and support for aspiring LGBTQ writers and publications (the way I described my vision was “an LGBTQ hybrid of Publishers Weekly and The Writer“). He emailed me back, having totally misread my email and its intent with the simple sentence, I’ve had to reject much better writers than you.

I didn’t bother responding; I never had trouble finding material or pieces to fill the magazine to waste my time explaining myself to such a rude piece of shit. And yes, I admit it, I was small enough of a person to enjoy the moment when I heard his publication folded, and when his own first book disappeared without a trace. I’d forgotten he even existed until this morning.

I suppose it’s small of me to even mention this today; but it’s also nice to be reminded, every once in a while, that my voyage to becoming a published writer wasn’t always as smooth as I remember. But I digress; it’s still October, it’s still my month to write about horror, rather than the horrors of being a writer–and I have decided, in honor of National Coming Out Day, to write about two books that showed me that there was the possibility of such a thing as gay horror: Steam by Jay B. Laws, and Queer Fear, an anthology edited by Michael Rowe.


Queer Fear (and its sequel, aptly titled Queer Fear II) was a revelation to me. The stories (by authors like Douglas Clegg, Michael Thomas Ford, William J. Mann, Gemma Files, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and Nancy Kilpatrick, among many others) were extraordinary; great horror, terrific writing, and inspirational for me as a horror fan. I reviewed both editions for Lambda Book Report, and I still have my copies of both somewhere; I kind of want to dig them out and reread them again. Both were nominated for Lambda Literary Awards; the second won. It was when I found out there wouldn’t be a third (which I still think is criminal) that I decided to put together one of my own,Shadows of the Night.


It’s been years since I read Steam, and I don’t know where my copy is; I know I still have it. Jay B. Laws only wrote two books before dying far too young from HIV/AIDS in the early 1990’s; he was an extraordinary writer. (I have a copy of the second, The Unfinished, but haven’t read it.) When I was senior editor at Harrington Park Press I wanted to reprint both books, but I was never able to uncover who owned the rights to them; Alyson had originally published them but they were long out of print, and of course, Laws was deceased.


Steam was not only a great horror novel–terrifying, really–but it was also a powerful allegory about HIV/AIDS itself. In the story, there is a demonic presence in one of the bath houses in San Francisco, that is spreading and getting more powerful as it kills; and in order to save the men they love, some gay men have to go into the possessed bath house to kill the demon and close the portal to hell. It was an amazing, amazing read. I think I read it over the course of one day; I’ve always regretted the loss of Laws and the books he could have written.

In the LGBTQ ghetto of publishing; there have always been a lot of romance and mystery novels; but speculative fiction has never really been as represented as well as romance and mystery (the point can be made that romance and mystery are both much larger genres in the mainstream; and therefore the smaller percentage of queer speculative fiction novels corresponds to that as well), and I’ve always felt that there should be a lot more of them. Lethe Press is, as far as I know, the only press currently primarily focusing on LGBTQ speculative fiction; they are doing a great job, but I would love to see more.

And now, back to the spice mines.