Friday, May 20, 2016

Black Light: Loren Rhoads, David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust.

I didn’t begin this story alone. In 1983, Loren Rhoads was my best friend. She still is, though we’re separated now by the width of the country. But back then our world was MTV. It was Adam Ant and the Police. It was used records from Saturday trips to Ann Arbor. And most of all it was David Bowie. It was the year of “Let’s Dance.”

With his bleached white hair, asymmetrical smile and deceptively bouncy pop music, this was a vastly different Bowie than I’d met years before in the middle of the night. That shrill and jagged Bowie that had been there no one else was. Still, since I was aspiring punk rocker, I might have given Let’s Dance a pass. But it was inescapable, spilling out of every car window that passed my open bedroom window that summer. And what it did for both Loren and I was lead us to the past. I remember that Loren bought albums. She bought all the Bowie she could.  We listened to Diamond Dogs on her stereo in her bedroom, puzzled over the lyrics, let the imagery color our imaginations. For Loren, Diamond Dogs was a starting point for short stories. For me, it was farther back. For me it was Ziggy. “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”. Trace, Asia, Weird and Tommy were all born from that album. But the story, Trace and Asia’s story, began with one song.

In the words of “Lady Stardust," I saw Asia, standing in that sweaty, hungry crowd, listening. I watched him feel what he could never say aloud, and I felt him lose the chance to ever speak up. Asia became the unnamed character in Bowie’s story for me. And then it became a different story. The membes of Black Light are from Michigan, because we were from Michigan, they are from the ‘80’s because so were we. Asia became a place to hold all my feelings of Midwestern repression. Ziggy became Trace; beautiful, and human, but completely unattainable. Even now when I listen to the Ziggy Stardust album it's full of energy and bravado, still a candle against the night.

Eventually, Loren's writing and mine took different paths. She has gone on to write more than anyone I know, and you can check out her blog here: httpp//  
In fact, go look at her newest novel, Lost Angels, co-written with Brian Thomas:  It's an amazing book, and you need a copy, believe me. 
She's still the only person in the world who I can spend five hour in the same room with, just writing....with occasional tea breaks. And I don't think I'll ever be able to thank her enough for that first copy of Ziggy..... 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Building My Own House

It took me years to sort out my own sexuality.  I could tell you that was because I didn’t have Google when I was a kid, but I feel like that’s too flip an explanation. I’m glad that there is so much to see and hear these days. There are so many more safe places to go in the real world and online now. Don't get me wrong, I know it's not a perfect world. Way too many of us still can't marry who we love, and  I used to think that the closet had just gotten bigger.  Now I think that’s not the case. I work with twenty and thirty-somethings now, and I am amazed at the combinations and relationships that I see.  A woman my age at work, even told me that her child had told her “in an email” that they were pan sexual. That “no Mom, that doesn’t mean I’m attracted to pots and pans….” This woman didn’t tell me this because she was angry or ashamed. She was proud of her child, and working actively to get the pronoun of choice down.
But, what was I talking about? Yes. This. I spent my twenties and thirties, desperately trying to fit somewhere. I wasn’t comfortable with most men, and I did love women, but I felt out of place as a lesbian, like it wasn’t quite the right skin.  I didn’t want to be alone, needed intimacy, and sex was something that seemed necessary to get that.  But I wasn’t ever really much for it, you know? In my head I’ve always heard a well-meaning ex of mine saying to me, in what I’m sure she didn’t intend to be a condescending tone, “It’s okay if you’re asexual.” When it was very clear it was not okay.
I couldn’t have been asexual, I thought because clearly it’s not okay.
That was thirty years ago, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes over that time. It’s taken decades to come to the place I am now. It took a long time for me to be comfortable straddling the line, instead of trying to fit myself into one box. 
I completely understand that there are always reasons you make the choices you make. That sexual preference is just that, and it's fluid.  Now? Now I know that I'm bi-asexual. Did I just make that up? Maybe. and I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I have a book coming out!!! It's called Black Light)

I don't know if you have noticed or not, but..... I have a book coming out!! Black Light is coming out in May, which is terrifyingly close. To say I'm excited is just a huge understatement. I'm in shock, that the day is almost here.  I have lived with these characters for so long in my head that they've seeped into my bones. Once the book was finished, I missed not spending every waking second with them, but now they're front in center again. And the best part is that I can share them with you. I can't wait for you to meet Trace and Asia, and the rest of the members of the band.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Cover Reveal:Black Light!

Hey look! Here is the beautiful cover for my book, coming in May, from Automatism press. I can't wait till I can hold it in my hands-and get it into all of your hands too! re
Isn'tit beautiful and mysterious? Bioblossom Creative did the art. And below is the blurb, so you can be even more intrigued.
It’s 1983, Los Angles, and Trace Dellon, lead singer, knows exactly what he wants; the white heat of the spotlight. When his band, Black Light is offered a record deal, Trace grabs for it, eager to move up from their club gigs. He will do anything it takes to make it.
Asia Heyes, bass player knows what he wants too. It’s not the fame or the adoration of fans and groupies. It’s Trace. It’s always been Trace.  Though it’s been unspoken between them- his other lovers-his audience-push Asia aside. 
With the contract, comes Albrecht Christian into their lives. He is a man with everything but what he needs to live: the energy that runs just under Trace’s skin. But even Trace isn’t enough, and Albrecht finds himself starving.
When everything crashes with a bullet, they all learn the truth. Rock and roll, like magic requires both love and sacrifice. Then Black Light’s fragile trajectory to greatness really begins.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

First lines in the dying days of January

So my friend Loren Rhoads tagged me. She recently wrote a blog that included the first lines of everything she is working on now. Whoa, she is way amore ambitious than me!  Go take a look. But anyway, she tagged the rest of us to do that same. So, here goes my stuff:

The book I'm revising about a rock and roll band in 1983 and a psychic vampire is called The Black Light: Trace stands in the wings backstage at the Refugee Club, a narrow shadow.

So, then there's the short story about same psychic vampire's youth, called Knives: I light a fresh cigarette off the butt of the dying one before crushing it into the tray set in the door of the car.

And of course there's The Night Was Not, which is the NeoVictorian third gender romance that I'm stuck in the middle of: Kerry Hazard slid into the pilot's seat of the Starshine as he toggled the print switch on the com console. 
Yep. There you have it. Or at least there you have some of it. I'm not a very fast writer, and some of these things I've  been working on for quite a while. I'm trying to write more every day, and faster too. I'll never be one of those writers who can write ten thousand words a day. But  I think I'm ready to get to the ends of at least these things. Wish me luck.

So, I'll ask the question of the other writers I know: What are your first lines? 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

In Which I Fail to Explain What a Crappy Day Monday Was

I'm not sorry that David Bowie is dead. I mean, I've seen enough people suffer to the end of their lives. I don't wish it on anyone. Certainly not on a man that I owe so much. I do feel for his children. I just lost a father, and I didn't even want to be the one to call the family. I can't imagine how hard it was for his son to tell the world.

 Now, this is the place where I tell you that I'm not crazy. I didn't know the man. Yet, I got the news at three a.m. the next day--the very same time that I got the news of my father's death. Soul's Midnight, Bradbury called it in "Something Wicked This Way Comes". When my Dad died, I knew it was coming. I got up, put my pants on and went over to his house.

 No tears. But for Bowie, I cried. And my phone continued to go off until it went dead at about ten that morning. At first it was, "Are you okay?" and "I thought of you when I heard." I heard from people I hadn't seen in a decade. It was all very sweet. But with each text or call, I realized, no, I'm not okay. Not today. There's a hole in the world. Not just mine, Bowie left a hole in people's lives that don't even know that he affected them. He was part of the bones of this century, with his influences in everything from men's fashion to gender politics to children's cartoons. And what wrecks me now that all's said and done is he left us in the gentlest way he could. "It's not that I don't love you," he said. "It's that I can't stay." And he made it as strange and beautiful as everything else he did.

 I'm not sad for Bowie. I'm sad for me. Most of the important things I know about myself, I came to know through his filter. When I was thirteen years old, an insomniac in a small town, I found him, long before MTV, on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. It was I Am a DJ, and it answered so many questions that I hadn't even begun to ask yet. It was a shrill piece of desperation that I could hang onto in the middle of the night. I wasn't alone, suddenly.

 Nothing I could ever say would explain how grateful I am for that. His influences on my writing are obvious, and, again, I'm so grateful that words fail. For everything, really. Thank you for being there to save me in the middle of the night.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The things I (would have) left behind

My best friend and I have always written. We've known each other and have shared our stories for over thirty years. We have lived on opposite sides of the country for almost two thirds of that time, and of course become different people than we were as kids. We've had different lives, but writing has always been the constant.
She asked me, a while ago if she could use a character of mine in a new story she was writing. She would change his name, and the setting, of course, but she wanted to know if it was alright with me if he made an appearance.
I didn't know what to say. I was more than happy to let her have him. I wasn't doing anything with him, that was for sure.  When she began to talk about what role he would play in this new story of hers, I was hit with a wave of uncertainty, as though I was falling back into who I was all those years ago. I was jealous of her new idea, of the writer she was. I felt awful. She had improved her writing so much since then, why was I still struggling with every word?
I wanted to protect what was mine, but I also wanted to let him go. I wanted to see what she did with him. Of the two of us, I had more faith in her than I did in me, to complete the story.
So I gave up my seventeen year old self who felt inferior, and angry about being inferior. That was the first thing, and it wasn't easy. Then I decided to try to be as much help as I could. Not only because she is my best friend, but because I knew I would learn things along the way.
She did finish the book, and my character, who is a relatively minor one, is also one of the heroes. He comes across as a guy who is just doing the best he can while trying to stay as deceit as he can. He's perfect, but he's also not mine anymore. He's one facet of my character, as seen through her eyes, so reading him was so much more fun than I ever expected.
There was another unexpected bonus. She got me thinking about those stories we wrote back then. I decided it might be time for me to start telling my version. I could write that character from the present, with all the things I've learned since we were kids added in. I haven't stayed in the same place, I've moved forward, I've just moved differently. I wanted a story that reflected that, even if only to myself.

The result is the novel I'm working on now, called “The Night Was Not.” It's a neo-Victorian story. This incarnation of the character is called Kerry Hazard. He flies an airship, and is called back to the city of his childhood by an ominous message from a friend. It's a very different story from my friend's novel, which is a space opera (yay!), but the character came from the same place. He was born in the back of a notebook, scribbled in while lying on either of our bedroom floors in the middle of the night. It's where he would have stayed if she hadn't picked him up again.