I woke two days ago with a sore throat and stuffed-up sinuses. Granted in the northern hemisphere it’s the beginning of the traditional season for the common cold but I’ve been more than usually eremitical lately. It was a good four days since I’d been within sneezing distance of another human being (who did not in fact sneeze on me). All my understanding of the etiology and epidemiology of rhinoviruses is thrown into disarray. I am ’mazed and bewildered by this dark, fearsome sorcery.
Also I feel like shit. Coughy, snivelly, mucussy, achey, miserable shit.
Meanwhile, whilst I drink liter after liter of Jamaican ginger tea with honey and continue listening to Mashrou’ Leila, I’ve been putting the last polishes to The Padişah’s Son and the Fox. Text and cover files will be submitted to the printer tomorrow, conversion files to the wizard who makes Lethe Press’s e-books. So I’m expecting all editions to go on sale within a week. Watch for it at your favorite on-line booksellers.
I have also been contemplating the collection of wonder stories I mentioned last time. This is still up in the air, you understand. But my expectation is it’ll be released sometime in 2014 and its title will be Not Here. Not Now. Here is the tentative table of contents:
“Composition with Barbarian and Animal”—written 1992 / first published 1994.
“A Handbook for the Castaway”—1996 / 1997.
“The Celebrants”—1979 / 1981.
“Cartography”—1988 / 1988.
“A Man Not of Canaan”—2010 / 2013.
“Seb and Duncan and the Sirens”—2010-2012 / previously unpublished.
“Michael in the Library”—1991 / 1998.
“The Fire the Fire”—1980 / 1992.
“Annie”—2008 / 2010.
“From the Bridge”—1982 / 1992.
“The Hyena’s Blessing”—2012 / 2013.
Eleven is an uneasy number and the MS is a bit lengthy so I won’t be surprised if I end up pulling one story from this list. Which one is the question.
A question I will consider in bed with more Jamaican ginger tea.
Holding out on us, AX? When did you write this one?
In 1995, hah!
So, see, well, I’ve been anxious and depressed. Blue…deep dark navy-blue funk. A stack of reasons besides faulty brain chemistry, most of which I see no need to burden you with but one germane: the writing. Rather, the not-writing. The pile of really goddamn promising stories that have hit their walls and will not progress, plus, you know, the novel I meant to spend the summer revising. Augh. So I’ve been flailing about, not writing.
Gentle publisher and I have it in mind to put out another collection of wonder stories next year maybe, this one to include some of ye olde stuffe. Fiddling with the table of contents for that, I went fossicking through a few antique floppy disks (remember those?), on one of which I rediscovered an eighteen-year-old novella that was only ever published in severely abridged form, in a book long out of print issued by a publisher long defunct.
It’s erotica. Well, porn, to speak plainly. A genre I think I’m not especially known for—I can count the number of porn stories I’ve written/published on one hand. (See what I did there?) Largely unmemorable, I’d say, even so far as porn can be memorable. With the apparent exception of this one.
Couple of years ago, out of the blue, soon after this iteration of sentenceandparagraph.com went live, I received fan e-mail from an expat Scot in the Canary Islands (lucky bugger). Not, as I might have half expected, about Safe as Houses or Do You Remember Tulum? No. Mr Damon Shaw of Lanzarote wrote: Of all the stories you have ever written I bet this isn’t one you were expecting to get mail about.
Damn right it wasn’t.
Since that e-mail of February 2011, Damon and I have become friends—long-distance electronic friends. He’s a spec-fic writer himself and you should look his stories up. He gave aforementioned novel a thoughtful, welcome critique when nearly everybody else exclaimed no time! no time for 144,000 words! We’ve even shared a TOC: his charming little “Air Tears” appears in The Touch of the Sea (Lethe Press, 2012) along with my “Ban’s Dream of the Sea” and nine other fine stories.
At any rate, when I ran across the ancient Microsoft Word file on that floppy, I recollected Damon’s e-mail and thought, Hmmm. At least one person besides the editor who bought it (one Michael Thomas Ford—you’ve heard of him) liked that. Let’s take another look. And…
…and it’s still porn, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but porn isn’t particularly something I want in a collection of wonder stories. Although it is, in its porny way, a wonder story itself: a re-envisioned Turkish folk tale. But it’s also far too long too cram into a collection, a third again as long as the version Damon read so long ago and recalled.
Just about as long as Do You Remember Tulum?
Uh, said I to Gentle Publisher. Uh? And Gentle Publisher said (paraphrase), Huh. Untapped audience for you.
Coming from Lethe Press this autumn—like, gasp, next month!—The Padişah’s* Son and the Fox, an erotic novella, complete and unabridged for the very first time. Not unexpurgated because it was never expurgated to begin with. The abridgment was a matter of excising the frame story.
[*Listed with booksellers as “Padishah’s,” because, you know, freaky non-ASCII character!]
I’ve revised it some (although for once allowed the majority of the semicolons to stand) and expanded one scene. Fortuitously, I just discovered Lebanese alt-rock band Mashrou’ Leila (thanks, Guardian.co.uk!), whose concert at the Paléo Festival in Switzerland last summer, complete on YouTube, provided a stirring soundtrack. What a voice Hamed Sinno has.
An erotic fairy tale from the acclaimed author of The Abode of Bliss and Deprivation.
In a Turkish prison on the Black Sea coast, a lifer known as Yamyam—the Cannibal—whiles away tedious days and nights retelling old folk tales to the other inmates. But on this day, as Yamyam and naïve young drug dealer İzzet clean the prison’s Turkish baths, Yamyam’s tale goes twisty—far removed from the stories he heard at his mother’s knee.
Yamyam’s tale of a prince and an enchanted fox is engineered for seduction, as young İzzet sets out on his quest for the magical caged dove that will cure his father’s blindness. In a strangely deserted city, the prince and his wicked little brother will encounter the lustful, ravenous giant who ate the city’s entire population…after raping all the men and boys. İzzet will discover the depths of his brother’s and the giant’s perversity, and encounter a talking fox and (in his dreams) the handsome lover he never suspected he yearned for. He will embark on further quests—to the land of the giants, the mountain of lions, and the palace of the tricksy peris. Following the fox’s sage advice, he will triumph in all his endeavors, until his vulpine friend sets him the hardest task of all.
Meanwhile in the prison baths, the yard, his cell, Yamyam’s tale goes on as he and İzzet negotiate the terms of their relationship. Can a murderer who’s never heard the word gay be any man’s lover? Can a youth raped on his first night in jail learn to trust the man who desires him?
Now back to that pile of, erm, promising stories….
Now it can be said. My story of dervishes and Rumi and sex and other stuff, “Turning” (which has been referenced previously under a different title), will appear in the premier issue of Chelsea Station, out in November. I just read the proofs. Handsome layout.
Further to the entry of two days ago, I’m relieved to report the revisions to my summer story were less painful than I feared. Mr Berman’s editorial eye is keen and true: if I had but outlined the story in the first place instead of winging it (perish the thought) I might have known to do it his way from the start.
And so I am delighted to report the sale is confirmed: “Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorrow, Blood for Joy”* will appear in Boys of Summer, edited by Steve Berman, from Bold Strokes Soliloquy, next year—May, I now learn, not July.
* Possibly with a different title. We’re still wrangling over that. There’s plenty of time: Steve’s only settled on four stories so far.
I am less pleased to report that my prediction as to weather and ambient temperature in this neck of the woods was correct. While certainly not cold or even chilly, it has definitely turned cool and a whole spate of trees that were green on Sunday have since gone yellow and orange. I shall have to close my windows tonight. Pfaugh. This superannuated boy of summer is not pleased.
This afternoon, probably the penultimate warm day of 2011 if the long-range forecast and my hard-won knowledge of New England climatic patterns are to be trusted, I completed a draft of my third story for the year. Not a short story. At nearly 12,000 words, it’s about midway through the range defined by SFWA for award purposes as a novelette. A summer story.
Literally. The central notion’s been kicking around my head for a few years but I couldn’t find the right angle of attack until Steve Berman issued a call for submissions to an anthology of stories for gay youths to be called Boys of Summer. I commenced serious work in August.
It takes place on and off the Aegean coast of Turkey, where a teenager from Berkeley, CA—third wheel on his dad and stepmom’s midsummer honeymoon—becomes tangled up in the multiplicitous myths of Adonis and, naturally, falls in love with a handsome Turkish lad. At Sandra McDonald’s insistence, it has a happy ending. You don’t want to quarrel with Sandra!
I e-mailed the draft to Steve almost as soon as I could convert it from *.pages to *.rtf. Two hours later he called me. He sees some structural weaknesses and is not especially thrilled by my unwieldy (though justified!) title, “Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorrow, Blood for Joy”…but assured me I’ve made the sale. The Soliloquy imprint of Bold Strokes Books will publish Boys of Summer next July. Compassionate God willing, and revisions completed by 1 November 2011, “Wheat, Barley” will be part of it (if, grumble, under a different title), in time for my mumblety-fifth birthday.
In other news, I still don’t have confirmation of my plausible fourth story publication of 2011. There are rumors, wild dark rumors, but no unambiguous statements I’m willing to bank on. If it happens, it should happen next month.
But my other three 2011 stories are out there waiting—go get ’em (if you haven’t already)!
“The Arab’s Prayer” in M-Brane SF #24 (still available for free download) and the print Quarterly #2.
“Captain of the World” in Steve B.’s earlier queer YA anthology, Speaking Out.
“Liam and the Ordinary Boy” in Icarus #10, both print and PDF.
Several months later than I expected, BrazenHead has signed up (well, the contract hasn’t been issued/signed, but I’m working on that) its first title:
Eat Your Heart Out
by Dayna Ingram
A breakneck tale of kick-ass, wise-ass, sexy-ass lesbians and ZOMBIES, Eat Your Heart Out opens on what promises to be another tediously annoying day at Ashbee’s Furniture Outlet. Then the strip-mall calm of Nowhere, Ohio, is shattered by the sudden, simultaneous appearance of Renni Ramirez—hyper-competent star of the beloved Rising Evil B-movie franchise—and actual ZOMBIES, leaving Ashbee’s hapless staff and Renni trapped behind an automatic door they can’t lock.
Can failed creative-writing student/apprentice store manager/eagle-eyed markswoman Devin escape the besieged furniture store to rescue her girlfriend? Will Renni’s experience slaughtering motion-captured CGI monsters save the day before the army bombs the town? Once bitten, how many zombies can a person expect to take out before succumbing to infection? Who is the mysterious Deus Ex Machina, and what is he doing with that bone saw?
All of these questions and more whisper behind the scream of the single most important thing Devin needs to know in order to survive: is Renni a top or a bottom?
Find out in November 2011.
Dayna Ingram, originally hailing from Ohio, currently relocated to the Bay Area because super-expensive rent super appeals to her, has a BA in Creative Writing from Antioch College and is currently studying for an MFA at San Francisco State University. Her work has previously appeared in the queer speculative-lit journal Collective Fallout. Eat Your Heart Out is her first book.
It doesn’t so much appear there will be two BrazenHead releases this year as I’d halfway planned. But there’s always 2012: Writers! Check the guidelines and send me your work!
Other, brazenly self-promoting newses:
New book! Somewhat prematurely, several e-book editions of The Abode of Bliss have been available for a week or so, including a Kindle version at Amazon and versions for different platforms at Smashwords. Presumably the B&N nook and Apple iPad editions will show up in due course. The print (preferred) edition should be out tomorrow. Some Amazon seller is claiming to have a used copy already—must be one of those rare, not-for-sale Advance Readers’ Copies.
Story sale! “Liam and the Ordinary Boy” will appear in the Autumn issue (#10) of Icarus: The Magazine of Gay Speculative Fiction around mid-September. The first of the Liam sequence, “Liam and the Wild Fairy,” appeared in issue #5 last summer. Who knows what will happen to the third…or the four more I have (not really) planned.
Story completion! The first I’ve been able to wrestle through to conclusion since “Captain of the World” in February. “Ban’s Dream of the Sea” is a secondary-world fantasy with no in-story ties to the world we know, something I don’t attempt that often—we’ll see if the editor I wrote it for thinks it works. I started four other tries at meeting the anthology’s theme, all of which died miserable deaths, but perhaps something from one of those corpses can be resurrected. Onward!
Have just seen an advance review of Steve Berman’s inspirational YA anthology Speaking Out from Kirkus Reviews, notorious in book circles for brutal negativity. The one-paragraph review disappoints, not for its expected negativity (Kirkus doesn’t think much of the book) so much as errors of fact—the book has more than one transgender protagonist, Kirkus; the (slim but definite) majority of characters are female; and it’s the reviewer’s innate bias that reads most of the boys as white, not anything in the text.
Still, my pleasure in the following line is not diminished:
In Alex Jeffers’ standout “Captain of the World,” a gay, Turkish Muslim goalie fights back against both racial and sexual harassment on the soccer field.
Bold Strokes Books will release Speaking Out in September.
Waiting fifteen years to read something new from Alex Jeffers was well worth it. This collection is a treasure chest of perfectly-polished gems, each one radiating an inner beauty brought out by evocative prose, rich characterizations, and a strong sense of place. A rare treat indeed, it is over all too soon and leaves you longing for more.
Can anybody see how hard I’m blushing?
Advance Reader’s Copies (ARCs) of Abode are beginning to be distributed. Maybe I’ll hold a competition to give one away to an adoring fan? Don’t all comment at once!
M-Brane SF Quarterly #2, the print compendium of issues 22 (November 2010), 23 (December), and 24 (January 2011) of the e-zine M-Brane SF, is now available, featuring some additional material not seen in the monthly e-issues. Now you can own your very own hard copy of my short science-fiction story “The Arab’s Prayer” from 24.
Elisa Rolle, a major opinion setter in the fascinating and occasionally terrifying (to gay male writers) world of M/M fiction, has posted a flattering (if slightly bewildered) review of Do You Remember Tulum?, for which I am grateful.
Those blushes may actually be fever. I have a miserable cold and must go back to bed with a posset or something. Whiskey, maybe.
It has been confirmed. This coming August, Lethe Press will issue The Abode of Bliss: ten stories for Adam, a book I wrote a very long time ago. The back-cover précis:
Explaining himself to himself and to the man he loves, Ziya tells Adam the stories of his life:
A bilingual childhood and youth in cosmopolitan İstanbul, city of the world’s desire, and the Aegean resort of Bodrum. A bewildering trip by ship and train and jet across Europe and the Atlantic to college in America, that strange and terrifying country. Friendships, passionate affairs, one-night stands, rape—a richly dissatisfying erotic education. A wedding, a death, an act of inexplicable violence—a meeting.
Intricate as Ottoman miniatures, Ziya’s stories reveal a world unsuspected: the world we live in.
Four of the ten stories have been published previously: “The World of Men” in 1996; “The Strait” in 1998; “Kindness” in 1999; “Ramazan in the Gardens of Paradise” in 2002. PDF copies are available for download on the stories page. Cover and interior samples to be posted when finalized.
At some point, I will get back to work on The Gate of Felicity: ten stories for Ziya, the companion volume.