Deprivation Ivri Lider Oregon self That Door Is a Mischief The New People The Padişah’s Son and the Fox The Young Professionals work in progress

oh, hi

Three and a half months since my last post. Wow. I never intended it and it doesn’t feel that long. The calendar says so, though: the calendar and the season, which—here in Eugene—is pretty definitely spring although people where I used to live are still digging out from under Snowpocalypse ’15. (Can’t say I’m sorry to have missed that.) The calendar, the season, the randy neighborhood frogs ribbitting all night long, and my beard.

Yeah, laugh if you want, I’m growing a fancy big beard. I never believed I could! One of the tragedies of my genetic heritage—I’ll never go bald up top but never have sufficient hair elsewhere to please me. But maybe I was wrong! (Not about my chest, dammit.) This selfie is actually a month old: there’s more to the thing now. I’m going to stick flowers in it like an Instagram hipster. And there will be flowers.

The crocuses in the wooden planter are nearly over and the dianthus above too heavy but I planted a bunch of flower seeds that ought to poke their tiny green heads out of the soil any day now. Lobelia, love-in-a-mist, sweet alyssum, sweet peas, nasturtiums. Iceland poppies and cosmos to come when I pick up a suitable planter—maybe later today. All suitable candidates. So, you know, I’m generally pretty cheerful right about now despite badly screwed-up sleep patterns and a sinus infection that will not quit.

Reasons to be cheerful:

  • Mr ’Nathan Burgoine was a vocal Liam fan long before I completed That Door Is a Mischief so I’m p.r.e.t.t.y well convinced this complimentary review isn’t all down to my naming a couple of characters after him (and killing ’em both off)…or dedicating the book to him.
  • I’d never even heard of Big Gay Horror Fan before my attention was drawn to this review. It made me smile.
  • Mr Jerry L. Wheeler of Out in Print has been kindly disposed toward my work in the past but I kind of wondered whether he had too many review copies in his queue to squeeze my new one in. I was wrong. And pleased.
  • Oh, and there’s a gentleman who calls himself Constant Reader when he ventures into the swamp of the Amazon. (I know his real name. He’s been writing me kind letters and e-mails about my fiction for, goddamn, nearly twenty years. And I, I fear, am a rotten return correspondent.) Just recently he took it into his head (to cheer me up) to post extremely thoughtful reviews in aforementioned swamp. So far he’s hit three, including the very first review ever of the M-Brane Press Double of which half is my The New People; Deprivation; and The Padişah’s Son and the Fox. Thank you, sir.


  • Mr Ivri Lider (him again, you say) released his new studio album, Ha’ahava Ha’zot Shelanu [This Love of Ours], last month. I was briefly too broke to justify purchasing it—a tragedy of epic proportions—but now it’s on endless repeat on my iTunes. It strikes me as his most varied, accessible, and foot-tapping group of tracks since Ha’anashim Ha’chadashim [The New People] but what do I know, I don’t understand a word of Hebrew. Anyway, it makes me happy. Word is his side project, the ¥oung Professionals, will have a new album out soon as well. Those lyrics will be English, I expect.


  • The black widow in the corner of my bathroom (I’m convinced it’s a black widow) hasn’t bitten me yet. Nor Curious Jane, who follows me downstairs nearly every time. You can bet I’m keeping that door closed. I had forgotten how much more creepity-crawly indoor fauna there is on the West Coast than in New England.


  • It’s not expected to rain today.


  • I’m writing again.

Least likely for last, eh? I have a new novel in mind. First chapter-plus and a good bit of background material composed since early February. I’m not prepared to say much about it yet—so the in progress tab up top will continue to default to Bedtime Stories for the Boy Himself, Perhaps, a worthy project returned to the trunk again—except that the working title is The Goblin’s Bride, it starts out in Eugene (right here in a version of this very apartment!), and the lead character is a girl. A young woman, I mean—she’s seventeen in chapter one. For the moment her name is Helen.


awards Deprivation erotica fantasy Lethe Press magical realism The Padişah’s Son and the Fox

multiple finalist

Weallll. This is a startle. Just got off the phone (how I hate the phone!) with Gentle Publisher, who informs me I am a double finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards, longlists shortlists (oh god I’m tired) announced this morning.

1. In the category of LGBT Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror: Deprivation; or, Benedetto Furioso: an oneiromancy.


2. In the category of Gay Erotica: The Padişah’s Son and the Fox.


So. I’m in more than a bit of a fog just now for other reasons entirely and will confess that, although Gentle Publisher listed off my competition in both categories, I don’t quite recall. And am far too bleary to go look at the list. Except that Deprivation’s up against two books I am very fond of, Death by Silver by Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold (Lethe Press) and Light by ’Nathan Burgoine (Bold Strokes Books), so when I lose to one or the other I won’t be all that upset. If I lose to one of the other seven (! I believe GP said) finalists, possibly a different story.

Winners announced sometime in May, I think 2 June 2014, at some kind of folderol ceremony in Manhattan. Possibly by then I will be awake and competent again. Probably not in Manhattan. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

[Edited 8 March to add a few links.]



This, this is the kind of review a marginal small-press writer dreams about. OMG. ::walks on air for a good hour::

Deprivation fiction SF short stories

gratifying newses

Busting out all over!

I’m not about to start using this site as a soapbox for broadcasting my political and/or social/cultural opinions. But I’m nonetheless pleased, and pleased to acknowledge my pleasure, by the Rhode Island State Senate’s decision today to pass the same-sex marriage bill and take a decisive (if belated) step toward bringing the state where I reside into the twenty-first century along with the rest of New England, Iowa, New York, DC, Washington state, and Maryland. …And the eleven enlightened nations, and the several states within Mexico and Brazil, where committed gay and lesbian couples may expect to have their relationships granted the dignity of legal recognition.

On a much more personal level, I was deeply touched this morning to receive an e-mail from a reader—a citizen of one of those enlightened nations, in fact, though currently expatriate—about one of my stories. One of my very rare politically engaged stories, the politics coincidentally having to do with marriage (not simply same-sex marriage): “The Arab’s Prayer,” originally published in 2011, reprinted last summer in You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home and (where the reader encountered it) in Wilde Stories 2012: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction. It’s very much not my place to say anything more in public, except to note, Gentle Reader, if you happen see this post first, that I am composing a reply.

On a professional level, I’m startled and gratified by a review of Deprivation posted today at Lambda Literary. (Scroll down: it’s the fourth of four reviews.) I have my own longstanding issues with the Lambda Literary Foundation into which I will not delve, as well as with the bizarre placement of the book in question within the rigidly defined genre of “romance,” but Lambda’s romance columnist/reviewer Dick Smart won me over with his thoughtful—indeed smart—response and analysis. (Even though he got Ben’s father’s name wrong.)

So three cheers.


another interview

In which I ramble some about Deprivation, some about writing and reading and other matters of survival, and reveal at least one embarrassing personal secret.

My thanks to the perspicacious Gavin Atlas for the questions and to our genial hosts, Jerry L. Wheeler and William Holden of Out in Print, a site you should make a point of visiting every Monday and Thursday. It’s all you need to read about all you need to read.

Not a great deal to report otherwise. Strong possibility of a story sale but I’m not permitted to speak about it yet. Some (not enough) writing: something like a tooth-pulling paragraph a day on a balky subcontinental story. Some (not enough) designing and editing to keep me—and my bank account—entertained. [Speaking of which, I ought to update the design portfolio: six books out since the last additions at the end of February. Maybe tomorrow, a day I’m warned will be chill and miserable.] Some (not nearly enough) signs that spring in New England might finally spring and allow me to retire the fuzzy slippers and long johns for six or eight months.


Deprivation fiction Ireland Lethe Press short stories

spring, huh?

And yet I look out my window to snow flurries. Feh. Well, if we must go by the calendar (Gregorian/Persian/Bahá’í), Happy Northern-Hemisphere Spring (I’ll believe it when I’m not wearing longjohns and fuzzy slippers), Nowrūz, and Naw-Rúz. Slightly belated on the first two, sorry.

I have been ill and distraught in a distressing number of ways and so missed noting a very kind review of Deprivation last week, by the ever kindly Jerry L. Wheeler of Out In Print Queer Book Reviews.

[Deprivation], then, is a wonderfully plotless piece of art to be savored and admired. How could you possibly ask for anything more?

Warms the winter-shrivelled cockles, that does.

Ill, distraught, and writing. (And designing and proofreading and whatnot, but who’s counting.) Completed in draft this afternoon, revised and sold this evening: a story I never intended to write. Said repeatedly throughout the open-submissions period I. Would. Not. Write. Changed my mind when the theoretically final MS of the anthology came into my virtual hands for copyediting and eventual layout.

Artwork & design: Niki Smith.
Artwork & design: Niki Smith.

The anthology is Where Thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe, a Steve Berman production for Lethe Press which means to do exactly what it says on the tin.

Exactly what I’m seldom interested in doing. “I don’t like being bound by another writer’s imagination,” I whined in response to Steve’s artful, flattering cozening. “I refuse to write slash/fic, however gussied up as homage. It’s unseemly. I find Poe’s prose—and verse, my God!—unreadable, his obsessions repulsive.” (Substitute Stoker for Poe and you hear my arguments against writing a story for Steve’s Suffered from the Night: Queering Stoker’s Dracula. We’ll see how well my scruples stand up to that one. There’s still time.)

So the MS came to me and I read Steve’s introduction with its charming recollections of gay-boy-geekdom…and was somehow reminded of the luxurious, poisonous illustrations created for a 1916 British edition of Poe by the Irish graphic (and stained-glass) artist Harry Clarke. Now, I was as much a gay-boy geek as Steve, though *cough* significantly longer ago. Young Steve, I believe, missed out on the glories of Lin Carter’s Ballantine Adult Fantasy program (unfortunate title, wut?) and had to settle for Poe to get his fantastical adolescent jollies. But I was also an illustration geek: Aubrey Beardsley, Alastair, Kay Nielsen, Erté…Harry Clarke. Who I didn’t recall was Irish until Wikipedia told me just two weeks ago.

Bitten by the nostalgia bug, I went Googling and quickly found the full, public-domain complement of Harry Clarke illustrations for Tales of Mystery and Imagination. What glory. Those crazy tapered hands! The faces! The knowledgeably horror-vacui textures and patterns! The draftsmanship!

Nostalgia bug had not had its fill of my tasty, tasty blood. Wikipedia’s telling me Harry Clarke was Irish threw me back to my long-ago Co. Waterford childhood at Rockmount, a grand Georgian big house nr. (as our postal address put it) Kilmacthomas. This is a setting I had, astonishingly, only once used for fiction—a twenty-odd-year-old novella that had best not see print in my lifetime.

I wrote to Steve. I said, “Hrrrrm.” He said, “Go for it. I can give you a week or two.”

So my very first completed story of 2013 is not any of those I’ve been badgering to death since last year (or longer ago) but “A Portrait in India Ink by Harry Clarke”—inspired by the illustration for “Morella,” below, and my own history of migraine, and which, truly, queers Clarke more than Poe, but so be it—set in a grander house than Rockmount on a stormy winter night of 1968. Due in print and e-book in July. How delightful to share a table of contents with Christopher Barzak, Richard Bowes, and Jeff Mann, whose recent/forthcoming books I had a hand in, as well as a mysterious and imaginative congeries of others new to me and not.

Deprivation fantasy fiction magical realism

publication day

Deprivation; or, Benedetto furioso: an oneiromancy is today officially in print. Hard copies can be purchased at Amazon, if not today, soon. Jumping the gun a bit, e-books have been available a few days already: at Amazon for those who reside in the Kindle’s walled garden, at Smashwords in many other formats (try this discount coupon-code that may still be good: AJ87V), probably other places I don’t know about. </e-book skeptic>

And here’s a pleasant pub-day review:

To call Deprivation a romance or coming-of-age story would certainly be accurate but not entirely true and a criminal understatement. This latest novel from Alex Jeffers, author of Safe as Houses and the story collection, You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home, follows a young man’s arduous quest to find his place in this world and someone to love amidst economic hardship, family drama and pervasive delusions resulting from an alarming lack of sleep.

Chris Verleger for Edge Atlanta


As promised, another excerpt! Considerably longer and somewhat less painterly than the previous one. Contextual note: The scene is Cambridge, Mass., January 1991. Neddy is a bike messenger in downtown Boston by day, a freelance illustrator otherwise. Ben has just been laid off from his job at a temp agency.

Neddy before their shower smelled rich and strange, dense, layered tropical odors of sweat and exertion with citrus undertones of aftershave and deodorant, chalky traces of baby powder. In the bedroom, the lights on, voracious, Ben held Neddy tight, before beginning to strip off the layers of his clothing. Pinned to the walls, sketches and finished drawings regarded the two live men dispassionately. In the corner under an angled lamp stood Neddy’s easel bearing a large, nearly finished canvas. This depicted the head and torso of a person wearing polished plate armor, heavily ornamented and gilded—show armor, useless or dangerous in practice, even for the ceremonials of a chivalric tourney. The crested helm was held in the crook of an arm. Behind the figure, men and women in Renaissance court costume dallied in an idyllic glade. Anachronisms abounded: the painting was an Arthurian or operatic (or Ariostovian) fantasy. Ben looked away from the androgynous figure’s piercing green eyes and pulled Neddy’s sweater over his head.

They had gone through the apartment to the kitchen, where Eric, fully dressed, was stirring a pot of every mother’s meat-and-tomato spaghetti sauce. Eric’s boyfriend, a burly, bearded man in his thirties, was there as well. “Oh, hi, Tony,” Neddy had said, and introduced Ben, and given Eric a comradely kiss. He fetched two bottles of beer from the refrigerator. “Do we have time for a shower before dinner, Eric?”

His expression between genial and lascivious, Eric glanced pointedly at Neddy’s crotch and turned to Tony. “Neddy’s always coming up with new euphemisms for fucking. You’ve got all the time you want, darling: this can sit here for weeks without damage. If Tony and I get hungry before you’re ready, we’ll just boil up half the pasta.”

Neddy had hardly reacted, not even a blush, only thanked Eric sweetly. In his room, the door closed on them, he kissed Ben and said, “I don’t like eating early anyway.”

The sweater came off, the several shirts, and then Ben warmed his palms on Neddy’s chest for a moment, plaques of compact muscle coarsened by the veil of hair. This lust was surprising: it had qualifications, accouterments. He felt he wanted to make love with all his clothes still on, but Neddy naked. Naked and helpless—helpless in a false sense, for Neddy was bigger, stronger, unless Ben were to tie him down. But the bed was simply a mattress and box spring on the floor, there was nowhere to anchor the ropes. At the same time, he wished Neddy to be savage, to rip the shirt from his back, scattering buttons over the floor. Not to rape but to overwhelm him. There was something domineering in Neddy he wanted properly to let loose. Yet, again, there was something hardy that was also sentimental and melancholy and wanted fostering. Picking at the knotted drawstring of Neddy’s tights, clumsy, Ben muttered, “You smell like a high-school locker room.”

Neddy pushed Ben’s hands away. “Shoes off first.”

Obedient, Ben knelt and untied the laces of the black leather sneakers. Far overhead, Neddy reached to undo the clip on his ponytail, shook his hair out, raked the fingers of one hand through. He lifted his feet by turns so Ben could remove the shoes, the socks. In the shiny black skin of knitted Lycra, his calves were heavy, the bones of his shins long, ruled lines. His hands were on the drawstring, but Ben said, “No, that’s my job.”

But as Ben rose to his feet, Neddy covered his crotch with his hands and stood back. He stared at Ben. “You don’t have a job. Remember? Take off your clothes.” The line of his mouth was cruel, his eyes hard. Abrupt, he turned away and went across the room to the stereo. His bare feet made small slapping sounds on the floor. Streaks of light glistened on his legs, his buttocks, in his hair tumbling between the shoulders. As if he knew precisely the music he wished to play, he snapped open a CD’s jewelbox, stabbed the power and open buttons, and dropped the glittering disk in place.

Appalled, Ben stared after him. “That’s not fair.”

Fast, violent noise thrust out of the speakers, pounding on a deep bass more rapid than a panicked heart, programmed drums playing faster than any human could manipulate the sticks, electric guitars shrieking with feedback, synthesizers and sequencers producing grating, anguished, industrial clamor. Deep in the mix a thick metallic voice vomited excoriations. “Take your clothes off,” Neddy said again, his voice reasonable with threat, and turned up the volume.

Clumsy with adrenaline, Ben pulled off his tie, unbuttoned his shirt. Neddy moved quickly around the room, lighting more lamps, adjusting their shades so all the illumination was focussed on Ben’s figure. By the time Ben stood naked, his clothes strewn around him, he had lost his erection, his heart was hammering in a vain effort to match the furious bass, and he felt giddy, ill, angry and afraid, exhilarated in a way that was sexual but admitted no sexual response. Standing in the glare, defenseless, trembling, he was dazzled.

Opening a closet, Neddy removed a blue plastic case with a handle and chromed latches. He was graceful, easy, as he moved through the vicious torrent of the music, but the impossible rhythm set up a strobing effect in Ben’s perceptions so he saw Neddy in flickering, jerky flashes, mechanistic. Carrying the box, Neddy approached and crouched before him. “Don’t move.” Now his tone was kind or abstracted. He stroked Ben’s thigh, against the grain, and brushed his palm cruelly over the genitals. “No hard-on,” he observed.

He snapped the latches. As the lid was raised, a kind of gantry lifted two interior trays and set them, step-fashion, in line with the shallow interior. Each tray held a row of paper-wrapped crayons, their waxy, greasy tips a spectrum of potent colors. Still crouched down, Neddy chose a glistening, grassy green. He scribed a line down the crest of Ben’s right instep, over the knuckle of the big toe. The slippery feel of it, the slide of the crayon over the skin, had a lubricious tactility, and the stripe left on Ben’s foot glistened wetly. Neddy held up the crayon and lifted his chin. Sure Ben was watching, he drew it around his mouth as though it were a lipstick. “Non-toxic,” he said. “Water based. Fully washable.” He smeared it with the back of his hand, then leaned over the display and chose a poisonous carmine.

The next track on the CD maintained the punishing bass and drum attack, but played against it an annoyingly melodious guitar riff and ethereal, whining soprano vocalise that did not add up to any kind of language. Ben closed his eyes. His heartbeat was slowing. It seemed he was to stand here as long as Neddy wanted, to feel the crayons like greased fingers travel over his skin, and not to know. He clenched one fist for a moment, then the other, then the muscles in his groin.

Where his skin was hairless or nearly, the color glided on, frictionless—he hardly felt it—but where the hair was thicker or when Neddy drew against the growth it slithered, and it almost seemed Ben could sense the faint twitch in the follicle as each hair was caught, then released. Neddy covered the foot, then moved up the front of the leg, stroking, daubing, stippling, efficient and impersonal. Trying to distinguish the patterns from within, Ben seemed to move his attention, his consciousness, into the surface of his skin and only to his leg—he discarded any awareness of his other limbs, his spine and torso and head—but he could not predict where the crayon would strike next nor envision what the illumination might reveal.

And the disk kept spinning, hurling its unending abuse, here a sustained diapason so deep you heard it through the soles of your feet, there a distended crunch as of crumpling metal, then a piano figure distorted into noise or a flurry of gun shots or an angelic choir. Shrill electronic tones bounced between the speakers, but turbulent drums and the bass were always balanced, produced within your own skull.

The programming on a CD generally lasted forty-five minutes or an hour. By the time it ended—the last track as vehement, propulsive, detestable as the first—Neddy had finished with both of Ben’s legs and moved to the torso. He had worked in spirals of a sort, covering the legs front and back and also incising unknown patterns on the buttocks. Unable to keep his eyes shut the whole time, Ben had blinked from time to time but couldn’t bear to look down, to view what he was becoming. He would glance edgewise at the top of Neddy’s head where the black hair maintained a state between being groomed, gelled—the tracks of a comb’s teeth molded and frozen—and tangled as a thicket. Or he would focus for a few minutes on one of the drawings hung on the walls or the painting on its easel, or stare into a high-wattage bulb until he was dazzled. If, from the strain of being held rigid, a muscle twitched or cramped, Neddy would cuff him lightly in a place that hadn’t yet been decorated and say “Relax” or “Loosen up” or “Be still.” These were the only words either spoke. No conversation could have been conducted through the interference of the music, even if Ben had been able to think of anything to say. The music was horrible, horrifying, but increasingly difficult to resist: when it ended without warning Ben felt his heart plunge a great distance.

Neddy worked on into the sudden silence for a minute—he was performing a delicate operation around the center point of Ben’s navel—and then laid down his crayon and stood up. His face rose into view, features compressed with concentration. Green smears around his mouth made the face frightful. Gentle, he placed his palms on Ben’s shoulders and kissed him lightly. “I’m not done yet.” He shook out his shoulders, reached overhead to clench and unclench his fingers. “But you can stretch if you want, if you’re careful. This stuff smears easy. You can look, too, I don’t mind.” He headed toward the stereo.

“Could we have something more humane?” Ben asked, tentative. He was afraid to look at his illuminated limbs.

“You don’t like techno?” Taking out the disk, Neddy put it back in its case and looked over his other selections.

“It’s hateful!”

“Well, it’s good to dance to. But here’s an old chestnut for you.”

Musically ignorant though he was, Ben recognized the Baroque when he heard it and inclined his chin slightly in gratitude. The solo violin, the tinkly harpsichord continuo and massed subsidiary strings—he might not have chosen it himself, but you could listen to it. Then there was a voice, a bright contralto—no, an alto, a countertenor taking the castrato rôle, singing in brilliantly ornamental Italian. Ben couldn’t concentrate sufficiently to take in the sense of the aria.

But Neddy, turning from the controls, put his hands on his hips and, narrow-eyed, gazed at Ben. “But I don’t know if I can work to it.”


Dismissive, Neddy ran his fingers through his hair, reaching above and behind, lifting it into a crest. “Too brittle and brilliant and stylized.”

“Not that.”

“I’m marking you, Ben.”

“But why?”

In reply, if it were a reply, Neddy pulled apart the knotted drawstring and began to peel down his tights. Shifting his weight, Ben took a small step forward. Neddy glared at him. “No, not yet.” Still, Ben watched him remove the tights, the shorts. Nude at last, more naked than Ben in his greasy skin of paint, Neddy scratched at his chest and smiled. Smeary green, the smile was less than reassuring. “Have I frightened you, Benjy?”

Without waiting for a response (no reply could be anything but true), Neddy went to another cupboard. When he turned back to Ben he was holding a camera. “I’m taking pity on you. You’ll just have to remain an unfinished masterpiece.” He held the camera to his eye and spent a little time focussing. “I’ll just take a few pictures first, so I’ll have something to remember you by. Souvenirs. Mementos.”

Apparently the room was bright enough flash was unnecessary: the camera only clicked. As Neddy moved about, snapping pictures from different angles, Ben held himself rigid, still, but couldn’t prevent himself from trembling. The digitally recreated countertenor (it was Orlando, one of the many operas based on Ariosto) discovered Angelica’s name carved into a tree’s trunk hand-in-hand with Medoro’s, and with scary virtuosity and bravura Orlando went mad. Kneeling near Ben’s feet, the camera angled up, Neddy took another photo. “No need to be scared, Ben: it’s only magic.”

“Neddy.” Afraid even to look down, to move that much, Ben stared straight ahead. “I’m not going to California—that’s not home anymore. I’m not even going to look for work in Providence.” He was staring at the face of the armored figure in the painting. The penetrating green, glazed eyes stared back and the lips appeared to be about to draw up in a disdainful smile. The voice too high to be a man’s but expressing a man’s childish outrage kept on, tumbling up and down arpeggios like an acrobat. The words were nonsense. “And, Neddy, listen: I’ll be in Boston all next week, day and night, job or no job.”

“See: the magic worked.” Now Neddy crouched off to the side. “Move your arm a little—forward. That’s it.”

The magic worked. Fear was often at least half fury. “It’s not something that happened just now—it was all planned and confirmed by yesterday morning.”

Complacent and reasonable, Neddy said, “Magic takes no account of time. If I hadn’t marked you tonight, well, who’s to say about yesterday.”

Angrier still, Ben turned his head, away from where Neddy still crouched, focussing. “Then why didn’t the magic stop me from being laid off?”

“Ah, it’s a silly job. You’re better without it.”

“Sillier than riding a bike through the snow?”

Now the click of the camera’s shutter came from behind Ben. “So what are you going to be doing in town all next week, Ben? What about your cat?”

“Can’t the magic tell you that?”

Neddy didn’t reply. He squeezed off three more shots before coming into Ben’s view again. “No more film,” he said, and pushed the film-advance lever several times. Setting the camera aside, he faced Ben squarely, arms akimbo, hands on hips. The orchestra was playing a slow sinfonia. “That’s that,” he said.

“That’s what?”

“Now we have to seal the magic. Then we’ll take a shower—I told you, the stuff comes off with soap and water. Then we’ll have dinner.”

Orlando, presumably, having rushed raving off stage, soprano Angelica and contralto Medoro (a woman in travesty) sang a duet of melting, saccharine devotion.

Seal the magic?”

Neddy smiled sweetly, then pouted his lips. His right hand moved to his crotch. “Get hard, Ben. I laid in a supply of condoms. Like Eric said, we’re going to make euphemisms.”



an interview!

Some months ago, I was asked to copyedit a novel forthcoming from Lethe Press prior to designing and laying it out. The author, I was told, was very nearly as persnickety and detail-OCD as I. (Steve Berman, Lethe’s publisher, trembled in fear of her. It takes a lot to make Steve tremble.)

The author was Joyce Thompson, whom I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t heard of or read before, the book a remarkable and remarkably eccentric murder mystery told in the pitch-perfect voice of an African-American gay man, an occasional drag queen, non-practicing lawyer, apostate from one particular House of the Afro-Cuban faith Santería although still a devotee of the faith itself.

Fortuitously, I happened to have done a fair amount of reading about/research into Candomblé, Santería’s Brazilian cousin. So I was more or less at home with the orishas (their names looked funny, transcribed from Yoruba using Spanish orthography instead of Portuguese) and some esoteric concepts that might have thrown a different editor. And Joyce was (is) as careful about her words and sentences as a grammar/vocab geek could wish. So we bonded. Doesn’t happen that often.

How to Greet Strangers is out there now, as of a few weeks ago. You should go buy it (the print edition is currently on sale at Amazon) and make Archer Barron’s acquaintance. You won’t regret it. The world he lives in is not yours or mine, and yet it is, so very much: you will be enriched and changed.

Meanwhile, at some point Joyce learned about my forthcoming novel, Deprivation, and asked for a copy of the Advance Readers’ edition with the thought of maybe reviewing it somewhere. Deep in a flu delirium, she decided she liked it and, instead of reviewing it, wanted to interview me about it. Now, in her super-secret identity Joyce is a marketing professional so who was I to say no?

Her questions were tough—brutal. She got it. You’ll see, below the ornamental spacer. Or you could read it at Joyce’s site.

An Interview with Alex Jeffers about his novel, Deprivation

Joyce Thompson:

Surrendering to Deprivation requires a reader to slow down. You make this happen by turning the sensory evocation way up. Every sight, smell and sensation is described—beautifully, but almost indiscriminately in the first chapters. A reader who stays the course does so with an altered sensibility, counting dreams as real as mundane events and being opened wide to the impact of the sex scenes.

Does this happen by chance or strategy? Talk about the importance of sense data in your evocation of character and world.

Alex Jeffers:

Strategy in the sense that it’s always my aim to be reread. I want patient readers and I want the work to be rich enough to reward their coming back to it. Twenty years ago, when I wrote Deprivation, the richest tools in my arsenal were description and lyricism—actual prose rather than stage directions and dialogue. (I may have discovered a few more since. Plot, perhaps.) The fact that serious American fictioneers and critics—back when I paid attention to such people, anyway—seem to distrust words, rhetoric, and their sensual values doesn’t, to my thinking, signify. I would rather read García Márquez or Pamuk or Gene Wolfe any day than Hemingway, Bret Easton Ellis, or Heinlein.

Chance in the sense that that’s the way I write. (Or did. As I said, my armament is a little more varied these days.) I somehow missed the memo that novels are meant to be scenarios for film. I like prose. I like to chew on it and sniff it and rub it between my fingers and listen to it moan and whisper, speak and shriek and sing.

But also both: Chance that it was a pair of dreams inspired the book, strategy to deploy narrative and prosodic techniques intended to immerse the reader the way one is immersed in a dream.

Joyce Thompson:

The protagonist Ben is a very young man. Is the intensity of your descriptions meant to reflect his age—a young man who’s not yet blunted his perceptions?  What’s different in writing a young versus a more jaded character?

Alex Jeffers:

Ah, twenty-three isn’t that young. The first-person narrator of the novel I should be revising right now is sixteen. Although, truth be told, sixteen-year-old Nate often acts more mature than twenty-three-year-old Ben.

That’s a lovely idea, unblunted youthful perceptions reflected in floods of description, but it would take a far more analytical, conscious, and self-conscious writer than I’ve ever been to do it on purpose. I’m also not sure how true it is. I tend to think young people’s brilliant senses are also brilliantly focussed: they see what’s important to them in the moment without noticing the inessentials, the stray beauties and horrors that don’t immediately affect themselves. Young extroverts, anyway. Me, I’ve been a middle-aged introvert since I was wee, far more interested in the periphery than the center. Ben’s a bit like that too.

I’d also point out that, while I’m much older than Ben now, I wasn’t so much when he spent a year and a half scrambling my brain. I had just about a decade on him then but, due to peculiar circumstances in my own history, was at approximately the same life stage: a transplant from California still absorbing the matter of New England, a recent college grad (same university) with a similarly impractical liberal-arts degree, commuting between Providence and Boston to jobs unlikely to become any kind of career. The “intensity of descriptions” in many cases is simply me transcribing my own perceptions, because that’s how I make sense of the world, in sentences and paragraphs.

I like to think that, at whatever ungodly age I am now, I’m not jaded yet. That’s kind of a necessity for a creative writer, isn’t it? But the signal advantage of a youthful protagonist is simply that he or she is open to more possibilities, hemmed in by fewer restrictions and responsibilities. I find myself writing a lot of teenagers these days because teenagers—first-world teenagers, that is—don’t have careers. Careers get in the way of stories.

Joyce Thompson:

This level of descriptive intensity is more common in short fiction than in novels, I think. You’ve written many well regarded stories. How does that inform the way you shape a novel?  Do you experience any tension between the demands of the two forms?

Alex Jeffers:

The thing about the contemporary understanding of the short story is that it’s the only form of fictional prose in which every sentence is meant to be meant, essential. I think that might be what you’re seeing, rhetorical intensity more than descriptive. Of course it’s generally an artificially plain, falsely transparent rhetoric because American distrust of style manifests as…style. (Hemingway’s sentences are differently artful than Proust’s but equally so. Guess whose I prefer.) Nevertheless, short-story readers expect the prose to be highly worked—to answer to a higher rhetoric than looked for in the prose of novels.

A short story is a sculpture. You can walk around it, inspect it from all angles, see it whole. There’s no room for error. Novels are buildings—sometimes a house, sometimes a palace or skyscraper. You have to go in the front door, walk around, explore, and you don’t really get a sense of how all it fits together, how it works, right away. If the foundations are sound it doesn’t much matter if a sentence or two or whole paragraphs aren’t first rate.

My natural length seems to be the long story easing on up to the novella. Stories  of the length magazines prefer, 5,000 words and under, I find almost impossibly difficult. In the rare instances they succeed, they’re either all narrative, all language, or all character. In 10-30,000 words, I can give all three their due.

Novels—proper novels are horrible. (To write. Tremendously satisfying to have written.) Plot, plot, plot: architecture. Structure more important than style, rhetoric subservient to narrative. In my first (published) novel, Safe as Houses, after many failed drafts I ultimately used architectural metaphors to obscure the lack of plot. My second (published) novel-length work, The Abode of Bliss, admits in a subtitle that it’s really a sequence of ten stories, ten plots, although I tried for several years to pretend it was a proper novel.

Deprivation was a not immediately intentional experiment: a full-length novel written as if it were a long story, without stopping, no pauses for breath or reflection. I may have had in mind García Márquez’s The Autumn of the Patriarch, in which each forty-page chapter is a single paragraph—once at least a single sentence. There are no forty-page paragraphs in Deprivation, but no chapters either.

In that sense, then, there was no tension between the demands of the novel and those of a shorter story, because I refused to allow they weren’t the same. I don’t think I’ll try it again.

Joyce Thompson:

There’s an engrossing family melodrama near the heart of the novel—a story you don’t start telling until the reader’s already come a long way with you and Ben. It’s almost as if you’re saying, See, I can do this more common thing, too, but it’s only one dimension of the tale I want to tell.

Did you know from the start that the novel would contain this family saga? How did you keep it from unbalancing your magical dream fugue?

Alex Jeffers

I always need to know a thing or two about my protagonists’ families in order to begin understanding the protagonists themselves. The very first thing I knew about Ben’s mother, Sandra, was that she wrote savage but extremely civilized novels—I picture them as Anita Brookneresque, if Brookner wrote about the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s. The very first things I knew about Ben’s father, Ian, were that he was gay and that he would neither fool around behind Sandra’s back nor leave her by choice. (And then I slapped myself really hard and said, “David Leavitt already did that!” Didn’t stop me. Leavitt and I are very different writers, his Owen in The Lost Language of Cranes and my Ian very different husbands. As are his Philip and my Ben very different gay sons. The gay father and son in Sandra’s novel might deliberately more resemble Leavitt’s.) So the family melodrama was implicit, whether or not it got used.

And in some ways, yes, when it crops up it’s meant to say: Look! This could have been a conventional, conventionally “realistic” novel! Ha ha! Excellent joke.

Not to say I planned it that way, though. If I’ve learned one thing in mumblety-mumble years of writing fiction, it’s that planning, outlining, is death. (For me. YMMV.) If I know what’s going to happen, why the hell put myself through the hell of writing it? The point—the excitement, the joy—of a story is discovering what it wants to be. About a third of the way into Deprivation, I think I remember, I realized what the very last scene would have to be but I needed to get there to understand how to get there.

As to balancing Ben’s dreams and his everyday life, that would be one reason the melodrama never gets properly resolved. Like a dream from which one wakes untimely, it breaks up into incoherent fragments, flittering off into the empyrean. Maybe it was a dream, too.

Joyce Thompson:

The role dream plays in Deprivation seems to change over the course of the book, especially as it unfurls in parallel with Ben’s “real” life. At first, the reader wonders if you mean it to be related to mental instability or an escape hatch, but by the time his family’s secrets are revealed, we believe dreams are his way of being his own shrink, his agency of healing and becoming his own man. Was this always your intention or was it a gift of the process of writing? Did your sense of the meaning of his dreams change as you wrote your way through the story?

Alex Jeffers:

This is a tough one. Partly because it was all so long ago—who can remember? Partly because my conscious understanding of the novel has changed, evolved—caught up, I really think, with the understanding my subconscious always possessed. The novel I see now is a different animal than the one I believed I was writing back in 1991-92. Thankfully, a healthier, better put-together animal. The book I thought I wrote was a chimaera, its lion and goat and serpent heads all battling with each other to see which would win: Dream? Reality? Dream reality?

Now I see Ariosto’s hippogriff: still a mythical beast, still an assortment of unlike parts grafted together, lion and eagle and horse. But these parts work in concert and the animal is as concrete, as integrated, as it is impossible.

The chimaera reading, in which Ben’s dreams are his own unconscious self-analysis, remains valid, if reductive. He makes the point himself. I’m content for readers to take it that way.

The hippogriff asks, however: Is any of it real? Is all of it real? What is “real”? Is the entire novel one dream after another, dreams within dreams on top of dreams without beginning or end?

Or not.

I’ve admitted above that bits of Deprivation are in conversation with David Leavitt’s very fine, conventionally realistic The Lost Language of Cranes and, less pointedly, Anita Brookner’s many terrifically smart, bracingly hopeless novels. Epigraphs acknowledge the conversations with Charlotte Brontë’s Villette (so much stronger, better than Jane Eyre!) and Elizabeth Bowen’s A World of Love (most of her quietly spectacular oeuvre, actually). It’s abundantly clear, I expect, that there’s a larger conversation with Ariosto’s Orlando furioso—with the entire genre of chivalric, romantic epic he perfected. The book I’m not at all certain anybody will see that Deprivation is talking to, without my telling them, is H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. I really need to reread that.

Joyce Thompson:

Each of Ben’s lovers seems to reflect an aspect of himself. It’s almost as if by loving these men he’s assembling the puzzle of his own personality. Is that the role that lovers play in our lives when we’re young? How did you conjure up Ben’s romantic partners?

Alex Jeffers:

I would hope we all, young and not so, learn as much about ourselves from those we love as we do about them. I would hope we all are always all the time endlessly learning. Please don’t disabuse me.

Dario came to me in a dream, all of a piece. I built Ben for Dario because it wasn’t Dario’s story, he was the impetus, the inspiration merely. The others, Liam, Neddy, Kenneth, Paul—I wouldn’t say I created them to reflect aspects of Ben (that’s the kind of thing an outliner does, planting characters ahead of time so they’ll flower at the perfect moment like scentless florist roses so beautiful they might be plastic), but I didn’t discourage them either. When I noticed what they were doing, I encouraged them. It’s a mysterious back-and-forth process, writing about imaginary people.

Joyce Thompson:

When you finished the book, how far could you see down the road into Ben’s future?  Has your sense of what the book means in your own development changed over the 20 years between when you wrote it and now?

Alex Jeffers:

I adore series and multi-volume novels. Reading them. Following characters from one book to the next to the next. Dorothy Dunnett’s House of Niccolò. G.R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. Melissa Scott & Lisa A. Barnett’s Books of Astreiant. Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories.

Reading them. Not writing them. By the time I stagger panting over the finish line, I never want to see those imaginary people or deal with their problems ever again. I am very content to believe that Ben is, and has been for twenty years, happily not having adventures in the Italy of dreams.

I make a poor career novelist. Partly because I tend to be really slow and to work in fits and starts. Mainly, though, because each book—even every story—is a new and intoxicating challenge, not a data point in a career strategy, and that’s the way I like it. As a writer, I have a low boredom threshold. I want new characters, new worlds, new rhetorics and techniques.

Granted there are commonalities from story to story, book to book, themes and subjects I attack over and over (Jesus Effing Christ, Jeffers, not that again!). Doubtless the characters and rhetorics aren’t as distinctly different to readers as they seem to me. But still, I like to think I’ve reinvented the wheel multiple times.

For most of twenty years I believed Deprivation would always be my most successful novel-shaped wheel. (I am not talking New York Times-bestseller type success. There’s no point going there.) Which was kind of dispiriting, because nobody wanted to publish it—until Steve Berman came along, thanks be to Daulton—and because any macro-lessons it taught me weren’t applicable to any other wheels while the micro-lessons apply to all of them. Gosh, this metaphor is unwieldy.

But sixteen-year-old Nate’s book, as much as it wants revision, succeeds very well indeed, I think, on largely different terms. Always learning, always trying new things. That’s why (and how) I do it.

Joyce Thompson:

Did you rewrite the younger man’s book before the present man published it?

Alex Jeffers:

I thought about doing so. Several times. I thought about updating it to the twenty-oughts or teens. Get some contempojazz playing. Didn’t work. Too much that happens in 1991 couldn’t happen in a period without answering machines, with smartphones and Facebook. Ben didn’t even own a computer. The parallels between the elder George Bush’s recession and Iraq war aren’t close enough to the younger’s. Everything’s so much more serious now, and terrible. Writing a joyful novel set in post-GWB America—well, I don’t know if it’s possible. For me. Nate’s joyful novel, set in 2009, takes place mostly in an imaginary European micro-nation.

So no. I cleaned up the punctuation some (somewhere along the way I’ve developed an allergy to semi-colons), trimmed a few adverbs, but that was about it.

Joyce Thompson:

In your afterword, you say you don’t speak Italian. Is there anything autobiographical in Deprivation?

Alex Jeffers:

There’s a goodly amount of autobiographical furniture and incidental. There usually is. I lived in Ben’s apartment before he did, owned his Canaletto poster and several of his ties. I rode the MBTA commuter train and Bonanza Bus between Providence and Boston—wrote a fair bit of the first third of the novel on that train. I worked for a small Boston temp agency, if on the opposite side of the desk from Ben. His nervy cat Persia was a toned-down version of my bad-tempered cat Element. I too find the Mediterranean periphery more interesting than the good ol’ US of A.

But in the sense of its being autobiographical fiction? No. Nonononono. I don’t understand autobiographical fiction, I truly don’t. It horrifies me. They are opposed terms, “autobiography” and “fiction,” violently opposed. Fiction is honest lies, autobiography false truths. Confusing them together—oh, the thought of it nauseates me.

Besides, nothing interesting enough to be worth reading about ever happens to writers except in their heads. Hah!

Thanks (I think) to Joyce Thompson for making me think and speak/write and spiral out of control, and to Archer Barron, Steve Berman, and sorely missed Daulton for bringing us together.

Deprivation fantasy fiction Italy magical realism

to press

My second full-length novel and sixth book, Deprivation; or, Benedetto furioso: an oneiromancy, has gone to press. The print edition should therefore be available (through Amazon at least) by the official publication date of 28 February. Currently preparing conversion files for Lethe Press’s e-book wizard, in expectation of electronic versions for computers, tablets, e-readers, and—who knows how people read novels these days?—smartphones going on sale right around the same date.Jeffers_Deprivation_hi-res

So how about an excerpt to whet your appetite?

This bit comes late(ish) in the book but, in its way, I think, epitomizes many of the themes and approaches I was aiming to hit.

In the dream, Ben was walking with a friend. More peculiar than the fact that he couldn’t get a grip on his companion’s identity (his features, if Ben glanced to the side, were lost in a sunny glare, his voice was, in the dream, characterless, his speech had the uncanny quality of being transformed, in Ben’s hearing, instantly from phrase to paraphrase)—even more peculiar was Ben’s certain knowledge of where they were: they were in Italy. Not really, of course (it was a dream), for how could you dream of a place you’d never been? A pastiche Italy cobbled together from his reading—as much Browning or Forster (or Alexandra Benedict) as any native writer, from films and paintings and those volumes of shockingly beautiful landscape photographs he bought off remainder tables, from history, cartography, memoir, occasional essay—all the drugs of the armchair traveller, from imagination, too, and longing. A counterfeit Italy, then, to which you couldn’t attach names from any atlas—and only a province, truly, of the vast Italy of dreams, a tiny territory you could cover on foot in a morning.

They were walking. The narrow lane wound among the foothills of a massy range of which you caught glimpses from time to time, shouldering up into a sky that was, overhead, cloudless and a dry, powdery blue, deepening and greying through imperceptible hazes and washes into and beyond the mountains. Knuckles and fists and elbows of rock, tawny or purple or grey, protruded here and there from the green flesh of the range. Crowning one sheer scarp, a mediaeval fortress raised a beetling round keep and square watchtower built of the same stone so it appeared to be carved from the crag itself. But you’re walking among sloping meadows, through groves leafing out in the spring warmth, in shady, bosky valleys beside clattering small streams. From the mosses at the roots of trees you pluck odorous violets or buttery aconites for your companion. A clearing ripples with waves of creamy narcissi, and anemones with petals like the veined, gauzy wings of insects.

The lane climbs slowly, taking into account dips and swales, but with certain purpose. Angling across a shallow slope washed in sunlight, the roadbed is dusty and flinty, but below you a succulent pasture spreads velvety green skirts embroidered with tiny flowers over the folds of the hillside. On the far side of the broad valley a steeper incline, its verdure blued by the distance, is spattered with small white blots: sheep. In the valley itself, lines of slender trees—cypress, poplar, beech—mark other lanes and roads and the boundaries of cultivated fields. A slow civil river flows through it. Made toylike by distance, the pediment and winged façade of a Palladian villa are reflected in the river’s waters, among the trailing streamers of great willows. The villa’s many green shutters are all closed, the umber stucco patchy, the box-hedged formal gardens overgrown. A chestnut lifts white candles. The plumy silver-green torches of poplars, dark pyres of cypress.

And all the while as you walk, you’re talking, you and your companion, laughing, the easy unmemorable conversation of dear friends on a ramble. You can’t retain a word of it. Once he chases you a few hundred feet along the lane, another time you trip him into a meadow of sweet grass where both tumble end over end a short way down the hillside, breathless. Sometimes you walk hand in hand, or you drape arms over each other’s shoulders and stride lockstep, a single creature whose shadow has three legs and two heads. Or, content, you amble separated by a few feet, where the lane lies sunken a bit below the dry soil of the prosperous vineyards.

And now, over a slight grade, you find yourselves on a crest. Below, the slope falls broken through a deep ravine, and across, where it rises again, less steeply, the buildings of a village or a small town clamber along a bent spine of granite. Somewhat lower than your own position, the town flaunts its pitched, pantiled red roofs, crazily splayed out from their roof beams like the heap of opened books on an invalid scholar’s counterpane. At the tip of the ridge stands the Baroque campanile of a small church. The bells toll noon, bright and hollow across the gulf. The grey stone and ocher plaster faces of the buildings absorb light and heat, inhaling it through thick walls. The glass of many small windows glitters. Down the bluff your paired shadows rush, the negative relief of quicksilver, and one of you confirms the other’s hunger, his agreeable fatigue.

Taking hands again, encouraging each other, they took to the lane again. It headed downhill at an angle to the slope, with long grasses overhanging the path from the bank above, the roots of old olives knitting the bank together and the shadows of their leaves making patterns like dense shoals of tiny fish on the roadbed. As the grade steepened, Ben and his companion walked faster, until near the bottom of the gully they were running, gasping out the names of the dishes that might satisfy their appetites. A swift cold stream was bridged here. They paused to splash their faces, cool their wrists, rinse their mouths, and then they kissed, and then they went on again, upward now.

Even kissing the man, Ben had somehow not been able to make out his face, determine his identity. It hardly seemed to matter, though, for he knew this was (or was to be) his life’s companion, the love of his life. There was the certain familiarity in the ways their hands and lips met, the way the two sides of their conversation met without exception, requiring no explanation, as though there were no barriers. A passion lay exposed between them that need not be iterated for it was expressed in their simply walking side by side, and which, contrariwise, made walking side by side an exercise in revelation: Ben saw everything (if not the man himself) more clearly, as though he was storing up image and incident for the narration of their shared story. And there was a simple friendliness, a kind of joy both domestic or intimate and ecstatic, universal. You felt that here was life’s purpose: a small, manageable objective well within the scope of a man’s ambition.

Maybe I’ll toss up another excerpt on the day itself….

Deprivation novelette work in progress

a startlement

Long ago when the world and I were young, carefree—before mobile phones and e-readers and the World Wide Web, almost before personal computers (a decade before I acquired one of my own)—I worked in a public library. For the greater part of that tenure, I was the drone who made sure all the new books the professional librarians recommended were promptly ordered and added to the collection. Among the wonders of that job* was license to study the review journals on which the librarians based their decisions. Committed readers may recognize the names of some of those journals attached to fulsome praise on the covers or flyleaves of their favorite books:  Publishers Weekly. Library Journal and its younger sibling School Library Journal. Booklist. Kirkus Reviews.

In library, bookselling, and publishing circles, Kirkus particularly is renowned for the gleeful savagery of its judgments. Its takedowns were often a sheer, mean joy to read. I can still feel the tingle of outrage and delight when one of my pro-librarian friends brought to my attention Kirkus’s brutal evisceration of 75% of an anthology containing an early story of mine. Alas that I can’t quite recall the vicious half-sentence devoted to my piece—only the demoralizing fact I rated just half a sentence.

I better remember the oddly pleasurable disappointment I felt years later when I understood Kirkus had entirely ignored the first edition of Safe as Houses. How vicious will they be? I’d asked myself again and again. So cruel they declined to recognize its existence!

All of this is preamble to announcing that Kirkus has reviewed my long-delayed second full-length novel, Deprivation; or, Benedetto furioso: an oneiromancy. And…and I am bewildered! The anonymous reviewer isn’t savage at all. I could wish three tiny errors hadn’t been made [it’s Ben’s small apartment in Providence; the man’s name is Paolo and he taught Italian] and the review is almost uncomfortably perceptive, but really, really, I’m shockingly pleased.

Fascinated by an idealized version of Italy he imagines from literature and art, a young gay man goes through the motions of a mundane life in the 1990s, while sleep deprivation causes vivid dreams that blend strangely with reality.

Jeffers’ fuguelike story elevates everyday people and places to the fantastical with beautifully evocative language and detailed descriptions. … At the same time Ben is perhaps creating these people, they help define him. Everyone seems to have moments when they’re real and moments when they’re fantasy; even dreams have agendas and needs to push upon Ben. … An exquisite flow of language ensures that the narrative doesn’t get lost even as Ben drifts.

A gorgeous journey to nowhere.

The full review won’t go live for non-subscribers to Kirkus until two weeks before publication, but here’s a link to where it will show up. Lethe Press will release Deprivation in two and a quarter months, at the end of February, 2013.

*I’m not going to lie. The opportunity to buy books for myself at library discounts was the very best part.

In other news, I guess I’m announcing a majorish project that may or may not work out.

And here is the cover of Wilde Stories 2013: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction, in which my novelette “Tattooed Love Boys” (originally published at GigaNotoSaurus last spring, then in You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home) will be reprinted. Forthcoming from Lethe Press in mid-June.

Photo by Rob Lorino, layout/typography by me.