My short story “Another Saturn Monday” will be released February 24 as part of Dreamspinner Press’s Simmer anthology. All of the stories in this anthology revolve around food–although don’t be fooled by the banner as my story does not feature chocolate-covered strawberries but cabbage.
Cabbage forms the basis of the Hirculian cuisine, so when Interstellar Parking Authority employee Theo is forced to have breakfast at a Hirculian stall in the Saturn space station food court, he knows he’ll be having cabbage. But after one look at the stall’s shy but sexy proprietor, Ekain, Theo thinks he should have started eating cabbage for breakfast a long time ago.
Yes, this story is a departure from my usual historical fiction genre into the realm of sci-fi fantasy. The call for submissions asked for every author to include a recipe along with the story, and the first recipe that popped into my mind was my grandmother’s coleslaw recipe. This left me with a dilemma because cabbage did not seem like the sort of food that a story, let alone a romance, could revolve around. But then I came up with the idea of an alien culture that only eats cabbage, and soon poor Theo was stumbling around the Saturn space station on a Monday morning and discovering the delights of Hirculian cabbage cuisine…and Ekain who does sport horns but is still pretty adorable, fondness for cabbage and all.
The Simmer anthology can be preordered on the Dreamspinner Press website here:
This looks like a good book: Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America by Rachel Hope Cleeves. It tells the story of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake who lived in Vermont in the early 1800s. Their community recognized them as a couple but accepted them because the women were modest and active members in the community’s social and religious life. Charity and Sylvia lived during the Second Great Awakening and both experienced a spiritual rebirth. They often struggled with the sexual nature of their attachment because it was considered a sin but viewed the struggle itself as the way of earning God’s love. At age 54, Sylvia wrote in her diary: “31 years since I left my mother’s house and commenc’d serving in company with Dear Miss B. Sin mars all earthly bliss, and no common sinner have I been.”
Interesting WWII propaganda film produced by the US Army Air Forces that has footage of many of the things described in Untethered such as the P-51, P-47, pilots on airbases in Britain, and combat footage.
On Wednesday, April 8, I will be doing a blog release party on the Dreamspinner Press blog to celebrate the release of Untethered. It will start at 12 PM EDT and continue through the afternoon. I’ll be posting excerpts, more about the historical setting of the novel, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of my writing process. I’ll also be giving away two free ebooks to participants, so come join the fun!
I think one of the most challenging aspects of writing historical fiction is finding out all the mundane details of daily life. It is also one of the most fun. A little detail from the 1920s and 1930s that I find particularly charming is that instead of using watts to describe the power of an electric light bulb as we do today, people used the term “candle power.” So in 1931 you could buy a 3-candle floor lamp for $7.75, for example. Although “watt” as a unit of measurement existed, the use of “candle power” demonstrates that the transition to electricity was still under way, and people continued to look to an older system of lighting as reference in understanding and speaking about the new one.
Just finished an interesting article, “‘What, Another Female Husband?’: The Prehistory of Same-Sex Marriage in America” by Rachel Hope Cleaves (full citation below). Cleaves provides an overview of the many examples of same-sex marriages in American history, which disprove the recent assertions that same-sex marriage represents “a radical break from the past.” Cleaves argues that the history of these unions has been erased by what she terms the “logic of impossibility.” Whenever contemporaries described these marriages, they always used language that made the marriage sound both unique and impossible–“queer,” “extraordinary,” “truth is stranger than fiction,” or by putting ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ in quotation marks. This had the effect of both denying the marriage legitimacy and also erasing past examples of such relationships by making it seem like this was the first time it had occurred.
Interestingly, the legal status of same-sex marriages was also up for debate. In 1923 in Chicago a male cross-dresser, Fred Thompson/Frances Carrick was arrested in a murder investigation. When his/her husband, Frank Carrick, was called to testify, “the state objected that he could not give testimony on behalf of his spouse.” The judge ruled in favor of the state, saying that “‘the fact that Thompson was a man did not affect his status as a wife, insofar as interpretation of the law is concerned.'” But when the New York Times reported the decision, they still put ‘husband’ in quotes.
Rachel Hope Cleaves, “‘What, Another Female Husband?’: The Prehistory of Same-Sex Marriage in America,” The Journal of American History 101, no. 4 (March 2015): 1055-1081
Untethered will be released on April 6 by Dreamspinner Press. You can read the full synopsis here. It’s about Frankie Norris, a young pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Besides telling the love story of Frankie and his crew chief, Jim Morrow, I wanted to show how WWII enabled gay men and lesbians to form a community of unprecedented scope and influence. The Armed Forces brought millions of men and women from all parts of the country together, providing countless opportunities to form same-sex relationships. It was a watershed moment in queer history.
What I found particularly striking as I did research for this novel was how the environment within the Armed Forces could be amazingly tolerant at times for queer men. Drag shows, surprisingly open sexual and romantic relationships, acceptance of gay men within units–you can find evidence for all of this. But at the same time, there was repression and homophobia and violence and the threat of discharge and/or prison. It was so dependent on the individuals involved and the place you happened to be. Because I’m a historian, I can’t help citing a source! I found Allan Berube’s Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II particularly useful in conceptualizing what gay men and lesbians encountered in the Armed Forces.
Hopefully I captured some of this sense of community coupled with the uncertainty and danger in Frankie’s story. It is available for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press.