Leftlion and lesbians

If anybody has visited the literature section of LeftLion’s new website over the past month then they may be forgiven for thinking that I’ve been murdered by a group of lesbians. This is because I went for a coffee with a lovely lady called Victoria Oldham (Bold Strokes Books) who wanted help promoting ten lesbian authors who were giving readings at Waterstones at the end of July. Victoria is originally from America and still relatively new to the city (at least in terms of contacts and the literature scene) so I made her aware of all the usual suspects who may be able to help.

I was really eager to get an interview with each of the ten authors over the proceeding weeks to help promote the event. This was important as LeftLion has been more of a meow than a roar when it has come to discussing gay culture (barring of course the excellent ‘Gay up me duck’) so this was a chance for us to really redeem ourselves as well as widen our audience.

It was inappropriate for me to do the interviews which led to an interesting discussion as to why. As obvious as this might seem, is it any different to say interviewing a refugee from Somalia? Both identities are equally disparate to that of my own. And as I soon discovered, reading Sarah Waters doesn’t count as some lesbians feel she doesn’t go into enough sexual detail – which reminded me a little of the Larry Kramer (The Dead Heart) argument about homosexuals being defined by promiscuity.

The great thing to come from this discussion was the discovery of local author Rebecca S Buck who is now our resident expert on gay and lesbian culture who kindly did all of the interviews currently online. This is fantastic news, as along with the acquisition of Ian Douglas as our young adult fiction reviewer, and Christie Fearn as our new ‘local history’ reviewer, we are really starting to get a team of genre specialists together.

But the best laid plans of mice and men…our server went down a week before the BSB launch which meant we couldn’t feature all of the writers that Rebecca had worked so hard interviewing. There were other consequences as well. Firstly, we had to prematurely migrate to a new server which has meant we’ve had to launch our new website early –glitches and all. Secondly, I don’t have administration rights yet and so I’ve been unable to upload new content and so the home page is full of lesbian interviews that led up to the event! Talk about feast or famine. I’ve also potentially lost five years of contacts as I can’t access my old email account. But enough of that, LeftLion 42 made it out on to the streets and features an interview with Roman Nottinghamshire author Mark Patterson.

With regards to future reviews of lesbian fiction in LeftLion, these will go in ‘normally’ like any other book. I think it’s important not to make a big thing of sexuality as defining an author although obviously it needs to be mentioned if it’s essential to the narrative. I’ve never been a fan of colour coded reviews. The ‘pink press’ is as bad as calling elderly writers the ‘grey press’. But we can be more sensitive in the magazine whereas we had to be more explicit promoting the Bold Strokes Books event online as it was a specific gathering of lesbian authors.

Writing the front page intros for these interviews was fun, particularly given the LeftLion house style: Lesley Davis ‘Imagine a Gotham City full of lesbians all playing Mario and you have a little insight into the mind of this author..’ or Gill McKnight ‘Romantic lesbian fiction that features werewolves. What more do you need to know?’ Yeah, I was right not to do the interviews…