Myths, folklore and fairy tales have a big influence on my writing. This is my first foray into non-fiction on Medium: “Why Telling Queer Myths, Folklore and Fairy Tales is an Act of Healing”. It’s a mixture of personal experience, writing about writing, and reflections on the impact of queer representation (or lack of) in the stories we grow up with. You can read it for free, it’s not behind a paywall. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences, too.
I’ve posted all four parts of my new short story, “Falling,” on Medium. Here’s a short excerpt from the beginning and a friend link to all parts below, so you can read them for free if you’re not a Medium member.
His body stretches across the Cour Napoleon, surrounded by the rubble his fall has made, the cracked stone and concrete. If he moves a leg, his foot will crash through the glass pyramid, but he’s still. He must move. He must shrink his vast body to fit the proportions of the mortal world. But he can’t find the will required. A light breeze ruffles the feathers of his wings.
Few in the crowds of tourists can bear it. Some have fallen to their knees and are openly weeping in the street. Most turn away, gather up their loved ones and return home, or the closest haven they can find. One or two hardened souls point their iPhones at him. He sheds tears for them, for their lost awe and wonder, these maimed souls. His tears puddle beneath his face.
A hand touches his arm. A small hand, but he knows it doesn’t belong to a human.
Check out the hosting publication, The Mad River, for stories and poems of magic and madness. They have a Dark and Holy Writing Challenge coming up.
Gabriel has fallen to Earth and God has left his throne. Read Part 1 of Falling.
I’ve just had the first two parts of my short story, Falling, published in The Mad River on Medium. It’s four parts in total and will all be published in the next few days. I’ll stick links to the whole thing up here when it’s finished. (Medium have created new friend links to get past the paywall, so I can now share those here, but the first part is free, anyway.)
Falling is a story of queer angels, old gods, syncretism, identity and social media tribalism. Some sort of hybrid mythic sci-fi mix. (I’m not very good at sticking in one genre, but I’ve really blown the envelope up here.) I hope you enjoy it. Most of my short stories have been coming out pretty long this year, so this is a bit of experiment in posting a longer work in parts, to see how it goes.
Here’s some horror for the month of October. Infernal Ink Magazine has published my flash fiction, “Doll Parts”, in the Fall/Winter issue. It’s a little erotic horror story about a rubber doll.
Here’s the blurb for the magazine. Please be aware that this is an adult magazine of erotic horror and contains some extreme content. The stories and poems are mostly not queer. (My story is gender-bendy.) My poet friend, Kristin Garth, who I interviewed on this blog a little while ago, has one of her sonnets in this edition too.
Infernal Ink Magazine Fall/Winter 2018
Infernal Ink Magazine is a literary magazine with a focus on publishing extremely dark and violent adult fiction and poetry. Consider your triggers warned.In this issue we have our interview with musician and vocalist David Ingram, who discusses with us music, life, and Dr. Who. In the “The Author Bordello” we have Rajeev Singh, author of The Erotic Muse. In addition to this we have fiction and poetry from Thomas R. Skidmore, Sean Mulroy, Kristin Garth, Sidney Williams, Michael David, Matt Scott, Douglas Ford, Wendy A Rohn, Victor H. Rodriguez, Ashley Dioses, Jaap Boekestein, Ambrose Hall, J.B. Toner, and an anonymous poet.This magazine contains adult content and themes and is not meant for readers under eighteen years of age.Facebook: www.facebook.com/infernalinkmagazine
What Belongs to You is (adult) gay contemporary fiction. It’s taken me a little while to review this one as I needed to let it settle. It’s a tough read, not because of the style or the length—it’s a fairly short novel and elegantly written—but because watching the main character manhandle their emotions and cycle through their self-loathing is difficult to witness. If those don’t sound like things you want to read about, this isn’t the book for you.
The story is about an American teacher living in Sofia, who starts an on-off relationship with a young sex worker, Mitko. The narrator (who I don’t think is ever named) becomes fixated with Mitko, but their relationship is always an uneasy one, complicated by the narrator’s self-loathing and their uneven economic status. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that the narrator is far from easy with himself, that likely every decision he’s made in adulthood has been complicated by feelings left over from his childhood and his father’s rejection of his sexuality. I thought the emotional layering was well done. The way the narrator constantly fails to make the best choices for himself creeps up on you with slow frustration and then begins to make sense when more of his past is revealed.
The only thing I didn’t get on with, and this is more a visual discomfort thing for me, is that there are no paragraphs in the middle section of the novel. It’s a retrospective section about the narrator’s adolescence and his complicated relationship both with his own sexuality and with his father. Whilst perhaps the format reflects that mire of emotions, it made my eyes hurt and I’m not grateful for that.
Overall, this is a fairly heavy read, but it’s worth it for Greenwell’s handling of the ways our past shapes our present. I like the unreliable narrator and I’m interested in the ways we lie to ourselves about our own emotions. I also like a book that pulls the reader into the atmosphere and emotion, even if it is uncomfortable. It’s a book that leaves readers the space to do some working out for themselves and I think it’s worth the effort.
An actual book review from me, for a change. I’m rather late to the party with these ones, as they were published in the 90s, and the first one has since been made into a film, but I enjoyed them so much I thought I’d dust off my reviewing hat and recommend them here. I’ll cover the whole trilogy in one review, as I read them back to back in a frenzy of enthusiasm, and would now probably fail to separate them very well. The trilogy is adult historical fiction, comprised of: Regeneration, The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road.
The trilogy is set during WW1 and begins in the Craiglockheart Hospital, where Dr W.H.R. Rivers is treating soldiers experiencing battlefield trauma. The characters are a mixture of historical figures, including Rivers, and the poets Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves, as well as fictional characters, such as Billy Prior, who becomes the focus of the second and third novels in the trilogy. The trilogy doesn’t shirk from featuring the sexuality of the characters, particularly as the trilogy progresses.
What I liked most about this trilogy is the way Barker tackles the subject matter with compassion, but not sentimentality. The characters are complex, often difficult, and morally conflicted. There are no easy answers served up for any of them, and their understanding, both of themselves and the world around them is always a hard-won thing. Billy is a brilliantly drawn character—acutely aware of the class divide he awkwardly straddles, as an officer from a working class background, at peace with his bisexuality, but troubled by his sadistic desires, wryly self-aware of his own limitations in some ways, whilst self-deluding in other ways. Whilst the portrayals of the historical figures were interesting and well done, it was Billy that really made the trilogy for me.
This is human nature, in all its messy complexity. These books have gone straight onto my list of favourites. I can’t recommend them enough.
More queer fiction reviews coming up in the near future, as I have some on my reading pile.
I’ve just posted a new piece of flash fiction on Medium, The Heart Sings Its Own Song. It’s a magic realism story about remembering a loved one.
(Locked to members, but non-members can read three free a month.)
I’m still deep in the editing mines (over half way there now), but I knocked my canary guard out and escaped for a little fairy tale microfiction, Red Sky. On Medium (members locked, but you can see three a month for free).
I’ve just had my flash fiction, Changeling, published on Medium, in the publication The Mad River. They specialise in tales of fairies and madness, so check them out if that’s your sort of thing.
Changeling is a story from the point of view of the changeling boy from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a what happens next about love and desire. LGBTQ content. I guess you could call it Shakespeare fan fic.