A fantastic radio interview with Nicole Disney

To listen to the interview and to hear Nicole’s lovely voice, as well as to hear about her debut novel, follow this link.

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In Thanks by ‘Nathan Burgoine

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.

New Friends, New Family by Nicole Disney

My first Bold Strokes Books UK Festival also happened to be my first trip to the UK. I was blown away by the kindness we encountered as my wife and I bumbled our way through the airports, train stations, and eventually made our way to Nottingham. It was a truly magical trip that no amount of missed trains, jet lag, or fear of public speaking could dampen. Nottingham is so beautiful and interesting. It’s the type of place where a wrong turn simply becomes a charming side adventure.

I was struck and touched by the warmth of the entire weekend. It was a special feeling to combine the excitement of getting readers, authors, and general word lovers together with the safety and comfort I find is unique to LGBTQ gatherings. I can’t recall a time I so instantly felt like family with everyone around me. I made so many memories and friendships I will cherish.

It was a beautiful experience to meet some of the authors I’ve read and loved for so long in person. Reading someone’s novel is like getting to sneak a look into that person’s heart, and it can sometimes feel a bit out of order to connect with someone on that level, and then meet them in person. Being on the other side of that as an author is beyond humbling.

I can’t wait to participate in many more BSB events and meet many more amazing people.

Post UK Take-Aways by Renee Roman

The amount of history I’ve learned about the UK was eye-opening, though it will take me a long scan of the many pictures to remember bits of it. The anecdotal stuff is funny, and while I don’t want to bore you, I’m compelled to share some (in no particular order).

They have way too many coins. What they call roads, we call alleys. It took me three days to stop cringing at oncoming traffic. The top sheet is missing from bedding. (I wonder who stole them?) What’s up with the down comforters? Without the option of a sheet, it’s either freeze or sweat. Wash cloths are hard to come by. Food, even in restaurants, is inexpensive compared to the US. No less than five people told us the last three days of sunshine and warm temps was most likely their entire summer. The country is very green. Daffodils and sheep should be national symbols. There’s a lot of castles. The cobblestone walks and roads will trip you when you are least prepared to take a tumble, although I guess you can’t really be prepared. I wasn’t. Butter on a sandwich is common. Not all fish and chips are equal. Stepping through doors that might appear at first questionable, lead to wonderful discoveries. Bangers and mash are good. Mushy peas not so much. Beans at breakfast is no way to start the day.

I’m getting too old to schlepp around a thirty-pound backpack. I pack too much. I was picked for a random second security screen (I’m grateful for the vigilance.) When I returned from said screening, I proudly announced “I passed.” My tolerance had improved. My stamina may be below the curve. I sleep worse when away than I do at home.Kindness abounds, and the people are polite and welcoming. I’ve found a home away from home, not only in the UK, but in my chosen home in Bold Strokes Books. In turn, I’m eternally grateful Rad chose to welcome me.

Thank you, Rad, for the vision and making it real for so many us. And to our faithful readers—I’m more than grateful you took a chance on me, and a joy to meet you. Every word of encouragement keeps us writing. Without you, we would not exist.Until the next time…Renee

Not So Alone After All by Brey Willows

Gun Brooke, Amy Dunne, Jeffrey Ricker, Brey Willows

I’m an introvert. A full on, writing in a cave kind of girl. Socialising is a lot like over-cooking eggs in a microwave; not pretty, sometimes explosive, and often messy.

But this weekend reminded me of something important; we’re not alone. Us writers who need space and time to create, who feel like we know our fictional families better than any actual humans, are part of something bigger.

Bold Strokes has worked hard to create a community of authors who support one another, who cheer each other on, and who help each other grow. And when we get together, we have the chance to see that we’re not loners alone in the world; we’re loners that are part of a fantastic group of loners (and the occasional extrovert) and that’s beyond awesome.

Truthfully, I was overwhelmed by people’s absolute kindness. People who took the time to tell me they liked my books, who said they were looking forward to the next one, who laughed at my feeble attempts at humour. It’s an amazing feeling to have someone compliment your words. And I got to meet some of the reviewers who have taken the time to read and review my books, too, which is always a pleasure.

So I’ll keep attending events like this one. It’s an invaluable way to meet other authors, other readers, and to know that this socially awkward loner isn’t actually…alone.

Brey Willows will be at ELLCon and at Manchester Pride in August.

Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows

My Heart Will Surely Burst by Anna Larner

highland-fling-300-dpi.jpg

Honestly, I’m not sure when I was last this excited as I am so looking forward to the upcoming BSB festival in Nottingham 5th & 6th May that I worry that my heart will surely burst.

These three words perhaps best explain why I am so excited: kinship, inspiration, and joy.

I’m thrilled by the thought that I will be spending time with people who might just say “Yeah you’re not the only one I feel that way too,” about writing, about reading, about life. The consolation I might feel when realising my writerly quirks are not quirky at all, and that I might not carry alone those worries I feel on dispirited days. The opportunity I might have to share an understanding of those moments of joy that keep us going, as we chat and laugh over a coffee or maybe a pint or I don’t know a bottle (or two) of wine.

I’m in awe with the thought that I will be spending time with people who are properly inspiring; those with the talent to combine blue sky thinking with a care and attention to the detail of things. To have the company of people who dare to dream and who have the courage to be open and to write from their hearts.  To hang out with those who support writers to write, who understand that writing is a shared endeavour, a magical union of publisher, editor, author, and reader.

But most of all perhaps, I can’t wait to say a heartfelt thank you, to my colleagues, to readers, and for the opportunity to make history together as we participate in such a landmark event.

So see you in a couple of weeks and if you see me bursting with wonder and delight you’ll know why.