Dear Valued Correspondent,
Last Thursday night in Chicago was dark yet curiously unstormy.
In my hotel room overlooking the city lights I left the drapes daringly open, and put on my best black silk beaded evening skirt (I only have one, but it is the best one), my understated black shell by a famous designer, a borrowed ruby silk scarf, calfskin heels, PANTYHOSE, MAKEUP, and most of the jewelry I have. My beloved partner Marcia and I then attended the 16th annual Lambda Literary Foundation awards dinner. My attitude was this: odds are I won't win, but at least I'll show the world what a truly glamorous author looks like. Since most of the world was at another dinner across town listening to Bill Clinton talk about his forthcoming autobiography, I felt safe.
Imagine my surprise when my second novel, Damn Straight, was announced the winner in the Lesbian Mystery category. Having carefully consumed ONLY ONE martini before dinner, I was able to mount the dais and read my acceptance speech with a minimum of slurring. This is what I said:
Thank you to the Lambda Literary Foundation. And thank you to my publisher, Alyson Publication of Los Angeles, especially my editor the sensible Angela Brown. Thanks, Angela. And my deepest thanks—for everything—go to my beloved partner, Marcia Burrows.
We're in a peculiar genre, gay-bi-trans writers. Many of us feel a responsibility not only to our art, but to our cause. What's our cause? I guess the cause of gaining more respect and legitimacy from our fellow citizens, from the straight world, and gaining civil rights.
I'm glad to see that, more and more, we are giving up identifying ourselves as victims by definition.
Because when we identify ourselves as victims, we're saying, "We can't look out for ourselves. It has to be done for us." That is the best way to ensure subordinate status.
It's also past time for us to be preachy in our writing. And I'm seeing less and less of THAT. Trying to manipulate readers into seeing things our way is always transparent, and always diminishes our power as writers. The truth, as best we can get at it, is plenty good enough.
As writers we do have a responsibility. It's to writing. Let us bear that responsibility lightly and honestly and with good cheer. Thank you very much.
Other newsy notes from my publicity department:
1) My next novel in the Lillian Byrd crime series, Lucky Stiff, is due out in September. More Lillian, more Todd, more Detroit, more danger, more everything.
2) I'm told by Michelle Kort, author of the forthcoming book Dinah! Three Decades of Sex, Golf, and Rock 'n' Roll, that she's mentioning Damn Straight in it, since it's set mostly at the tournament and features the golf in the plot. Best wishes to Michelle on the book, can't wait to get my hands on it. Her publisher is Alyson.
3) I was interviewed by Judith Markowitz for her forthcoming book, The Gay Detective Novel: Lesbian and Gay Main Characters and Themes in Mystery Fiction, which is due out this fall from McFarland & Co. and promises to be an interesting survey and analysis of the genre.
4) Since it's a tough go making a living from the niche I've been published in so far, even with a handsome lucite trophy to show for it, I'm working on a mainstream thriller that I hope will find its way to a wider reading audience. The working title is Elnice of Hollywood and it's set in Los Angeles, featuring a retired schoolteacher who decides that she's being way too polite about this whole golden years thing. In befriending her illiterate housecleaner, she finds her way to the heart of a dangerous puzzle, and moreover finds her way to a richer life than she's known before. It's all about living in the moment.
Am planning to have the book done in 1-2 months and will keep you posted.
Thanks for not deleting this message on sight.