There’s a running joke among my author friends about how I never have a title. I’ve written novels before coming up with a title (I’ve even written a novel without naming a main character until the end). Titles (and names) are two things that always evade me the longest. My editors often end up titling things I’ve written, especially when they see what I eventually come up with. The gentle “Perhaps this title needs some work…” comments in edits from my first days as an author have given way to me leaving preemptive notes in submitted drafts saying “I’m aware this is a terrible title. Any ideas?”
Even putting a title on a blog post usually leaves me staring at the cursor, watching it blink.
This time? No different.
The ninth annual Bold Strokes Books bookfair in Nottingham was an absolute delight. Being surrounded by queer authors and queer readers is an all-too-rare experience, and the sheer joy of being able to just discuss without all the second-guessing, worrying, and self-censoring that happens in non-queer spaces is hard to put into words.
Festivals like these are revitalizing, even for introverts like me. Don’t get me wrong, I came home, threw a blanket over my head and cuddled my dog for a week while I waited for the jet lag to wear off, but my creative battery was fully recharged, and all those conversations and readings (and oh wow, the readings added so many books to the to-be-read pile I cannot tell you) are still bouncing around in my head.
I was lucky enough to moderate the “Author-Reader Connection” panel, and seeing the audience interact with the authors was magic. The sheer amount of laughter was of course memorable, but also there were questions from the audience that reminded me just how much queer stories matter.
As an author, it’s not like we forget that, exactly. But when readers make it so clear how much they love queer stories there’s a palpable moment reinforcing all that time spent staring at the blinking cursor. Without readers, none of this magic could happen.
Hearing readers talk about that magic? Asking questions, making suggestions, maybe even laughing a little at some general author antics?
It’s fuel. It’s inspiration for the next story.
So, to everyone who came to the festival; my fellow authors and all the people who keep the wheels turning at Bold Strokes Books, and most especially the readers, I offer thanks.
And now I’ll get back to that untitled manuscript I’m working on.