Monday, April 28, 2008

GLBT: Alex Sanchez Interview




Alex Sanchez
www.alexsanchez.com



1. Since all of your books deal with GLBT characters, did that automatically go hand in hand with being an author for you?

I write what I know and care about. I write the books I’d like to read and nobody else is writing. I write from my heart. So far all of that has led me to writing books that revolve around GLBT characters.

2. Your website states that you hope that Rainbow Boys will become a movie or be made for TV. What information, if any, do you have about this?

Nothing definite so far. Keep checking www.AlexSanchez.com

3. So many people have asked about another Rainbow Boys book and we know you said you wouldn't go back to the characters at least for a while, but do you believe that you'll ever return to them? If so, do you think it would be far in the future?

My concern is that no matter how many books I write about Jason, Kyle, and Nelson, people will always want to know: what happens next? They’ll never want the series to end. There are too many other stories I want to write.

4. What would your advice be to those who are worried about coming out or having a hard time dealing with their sexuality in general?

Coming out is a very personal decision and only that individual can decide if, how, with whom, and when to come out. On one hand, coming out can be a very freeing thing. You no longer have to hide who you are, censor what your say, and watch what you do. Being honest and open enables you to feel confident about yourself and more able to form closer relationships with people.

But because homophobia is so pervasive in our society, you never know how others will react. Some people may accept you immediately, others may take a while, and others may never accept you, even though you're the same person you were before you came out. A big part of coming out is whether you're prepared to deal with anti-gay reactions that may come from being open.

There is no rush to come out. TAKE YOUR TIME. The most important thing is that YOU love and accept yourself for who you are. Don't do anything before you feel ready. It's your life and your choice. Whatever you decide is OKAY. Only you can decide what's best in your life at any given moment. For more info, visit the “Coming Out” page on my website.

5. Your newest novel, The God Box, deals with being gay and Christian. Why did you decide to write a book dealing with this issue? What has been the response so far?

I wrote the book in response to teens struggling to reconcile their spirituality and sexuality. The response has been mostly positive, with some negative. The world is changing so quickly. With The God Box, I’ve discovered a huge network of gay and gay-friendly religious groups that have been waiting for a book to help them reach out to teenagers. Now they have that book.

6. Are you currently working on anything at the moment? If so, any information you can give out?

Yep, I’m working on a new manuscript about teens. That seems to be where my voice is. I have a very loud and expressive gay Latino “inner teenager.” You can keep track of him through my website.

GLBT: Salvatore Sapienza Interview



Salvatore Sapienza
www.70x7book.com



1.When you were younger, you attended an all-boys Catholic high school, which was run by the Marist Brothers. When you got older, you became a Marist brother yourself. Was your time in high school a starting point to wanting to become a brother yourself? What exactly appealed to you about the lifestyle?


When I toured the country promoting my book, I met many GLBTs who had attended Catholic schools and who had such horror stories to tell me about their negative treatment at the hands of unaccepting nuns and judgemental priests.

My years in Catholic high school, though, were extremely positive. The religious brothers who taught me were totally cool and very accepting, and they really lived Jesus's message of loving one another without judgement. In fact, one of the brothers was the first person I came out to when I was a senior there.

After graduation, however, I attended NYU, and I lost touch with the brothers from high school. During my college years, I became an active part of New York City's gay club scene, but there was always something missing for me. Although I was nurturing my physical, sexual and intellectual sides, I did nothing to foster an active spiritual life.

As the AIDS crisis was in full force, the Catholic Church and the gay community were at bitter odds with each other in New York, and I felt like I could be of service in helping bridge the gap. So, I decided to join the Marist Brothers, and I worked as an AIDS educator.

During those years, I took the vows poverty, chastity and obedience, although I was fully out to my religious community. I will admit that the vows were tough for me, but I'm very proud of the work I did during those years.



2.Nowadays, you are no longer a part of the religious life. What was your reasoning on leaving? How much of Seventy Times Seven is autobiographical?

I ultimately left religious life because it was not a healthy lifestyle for me. I became unhappy and depressed as I realized that the Catholic Church was unwilling to change its attitude towards the gay community despite all the good work that was being done by many of us.

I felt pulled in two directions. My church would not accept my sexuality, and the gay community did not understand my spiritual side. That's very similiar to the journey of the main character, Brother Vito, in "Seventy Times Seven."

Although Vito and I have much in common, the book is not fully autobiographical. Vito experiences things in the book that I did not. The biggest difference is that Vito falls in love while he's in religious life, and I did not.

3.What do you hope people who read Seventy Times Seven get out of it?

First and foremost, I hope readers are entertained. Despite its religious backdrop, the book is actually a very easy read with lots of funny and romantic moments. That said, I've heard from so many readers who've been able to relate their own lives to that of Vito's, especially in his struggle to integrate his sexuality with his spirituality. The fact that so many young GLBT readers have been comforted by the book has just been icing on the cake for me.

4.Are you currently working on anything at the moment? If so, is there anything you can say about it?

I am part of a brand new anthology called "Queer & Catholic," in which GLBT writers share their stories of being raised Catholic. Some are positive stories, some are negative, and some are very funny. I think it's a good mix.

Readers have been asking me for a sequel to "Seventy Times Seven," but my next book is a novel called "Hustle Muscle," which is a satire of the gay media and its obsession with youth. It'll be out next year. After that, I may write a sequel to "Seventy."

5.What are your thoughts on the GLBT community in entertainment?

Well, the gay book business tends to want "young, fabulous and sexy," which is a bit of a frustration for me. If I see one more gay novel with a naked male torso on the cover, I'm going to scream! Don't get me wrong, I like a good fluffy beach read as much as anyone, but there seems to be a predominance of that in gay literature these days.

6. Is there any GLBT literature that you are a fan of and would recommend, whether for young adults or adults?
For young adults, I love the books of Alex Sanchez and Brent Hartinger. I was a high school English teacher for many years, and I always had their books in my classroom library. Other gay writers I like are Jay Quinn and Felice Picano.

7. If you had to give advice to someone who was struggling with their sexuality and/or coming out, what would you say?

It's always important to be true to yourself and to follow your spirit. If you're living a lie, you'll never be fully at peace. That said, everyone's journey is different. Just because I came out at 17, it doesn't mean everyone can or should. If you can't find someone trustworthy to confide in, there are so many support groups out there and online. I highly recommend OASISJournals. com. Bottom line, know you're not alone.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

GLBT: Bleeding Hearts-Josh Aterovis




Bleeding Hearts
By: Josh Aterovis

Review by: Lauren
www.myspace.com/joshaterovis


Killian Kendall has always been a little on the outside, even with his group of so-called friends. But when the new kid, Seth, arrives, Killian sees just how excluded a person can become. Seth is openly gay, which makes the other students quietly shun him or even make fun of him outright. The two boys end up helping each other, with Killian becoming the only person to really befriend Seth and Seth helping Killian see who he really is, which is gay just like Seth.
Soon after Killian begins to see himself clearer and begin accepting that it’s true, Seth is killed in what is called an accidental mugging, with Killian being stabbed in the process. However, Killian doesn’t believe this is true, and neither does Seth’s father, Adam.
When Killian is kicked out of the house by his father, who doesn’t approve of him being gay, Killian goes to live with Adam and the two end up forming a close father/son bond. Killian continues his search of trying to find out exactly who killed Seth, while still trying to deal with being gay.
As the school year goes on, Killian deals with many hardships when it comes to relationships, but everything begins to fall into place. And as for the killer, before anything becomes clear on that front, more people are killed then just Seth.
Bleeding Hearts is the first book in the Killian Kendall mysteries, and I am definitely looking forward to reading more from Aterovis. Killian was a well-rounded character that I really felt I got to know as I read the book. The other characters had equal page-time and even the most minor people were greatly described, making everything that much more realistic.
Killian’s sexuality was dealt with very nicely, showing the many obstacles and problems you may face when dealing with coming out and just any relationship in general. The mystery made the book even better, allowing for this to not just be a coming-of-age tale, but also a book you can enjoy on a whole other level.

I definitely recommend this novel and I hope it receives the recognition it deserves!

GLBT: Article by Maryrose Wood



Honestly, they’re just a couple of penguins....
By Maryrose Wood



You all know what book banning is, right?

Book banning is when some person or group succeeds in getting a book taken off the shelves of schools, libraries or even bookstores because they don’t like what’s in it. Usually the objection revolves around some issue of sexuality, cursing, or references to the occult.

Book challenges are the precursors to book bannings — that’s when a person or group registers a formal complaint to a book’s content, and asks that it be removed.

And, while I’m doing definitions, here’s another one: the First Amendment is the rockin’ part of the Constitution of the United States of America that says we all have the freedom not only to speak, but to read.

It’s largely thanks to the First Amendment that book challenges don’t more often turn into book bannings. Sadly, one of the most frequent reasons for book challenges in this country is if a book contains any reference to gayness. Gay people, gay teens, gay parents. Even, I am shocked to report, gay penguins.

According to the American Library Association, And Tango Makes Three, a picture book telling the true story of two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo who worked together to hatch an adopted egg, was the most challenged book in the United States in 2006!

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, was published in 2005 and named one of the best picture books of the year by the ALA. But the thought of two boy penguins taking care of an egg together was too much for some folks to handle.

This is sort of funny, but it’s also a very clear example of how much anxiety and prejudice exists in some quarters about homosexuality. The tricky part is that many of the people who hold these negative views are taught in their churches that gayness is a sin, instead of part of the normal spectrum of human biology (which is what science has pretty much told us it is).

Which brings us back to the First Amendment, which also says that people have the freedom to practice religion as they see fit. Another basically awesome idea, and yet sometimes these freedoms collide. Then what?

Here’s how I see it: your freedom to practice your religion ENDS when it starts messing with other people’s books (or their right to choose who to date. Or marry, even!). You can read or not read what you want, but you can’t tell me or other people what to read.

And you sure can’t take away our books so we have no choice in what we read! That would really suck eggs, no offense to the penguins.

This is a big country with many beliefs, religions, and values being practiced by a hugely diverse group of citizens. In private we can lead our lives as we see fit, but when we come together in the public sphere (like in a school, or a library), our job is to accept diversity and be tolerant of differences. Not to freak out and try to make everyone think the way we do.

Deal? Glad that’s settled. Now, does anyone want to join me for a trip to the zoo?

###
Maryrose Wood’s latest YA novel, MY LIFE: THE MUSICAL, includes depictions of teens of both straight and gay sexual orientations, as well as some who are still thinking about it. But they’re all happily singing show tunes! Visit her at www.maryrosewood.com.

GLBT: Becoming Chloe-Catherine Ryan Hyde



Becoming Chloe
By: Catherine Ryan Hyde

Review by: Lauren
www.myspace.com/catherineryanhyde



Jordy, a young gay teen, is living alone, finding shelter in an abandoned building, when he comes across a girl who is being raped. Once he finds a way to scare everyone off is when he first gets to meet this young lady named Wanda. She is rechristened Chloe, a name she likes far better, and the pair forms a bond that continues well past that night. Jordy finds himself sick, so Chloe sits outside the free clinic all night until they finally give her medicine, and Jordy protects Chloe in far greater ways as well.

As the story goes on, Chloe is sent to see a psychiatrist but can’t get herself to swallow the medicine she is supposed to take. Jordy decides to use the truck he was given by an elderly man to take Chloe on a cross-country road trip to show her that the world really is a beautiful place. The two set off and it isn’t long before Chloe begins to notice the wonderful things for herself, big and small, by yelling out, “Jordy! Right there!”

Becoming Chloe was a great novel that I feel teens and adults can enjoy equally. Here are two teens thrown together by horrible circumstances, and yet they find themselves able to notice the beauty and kindness in the world. By doing this for Chloe, Jordy is helping her in unimaginable ways, but he’s also leading himself to a better life as well.

This novel is not very long, but it’s packed with a lot of heart.

Girls in Trucks: Katie Crouch



Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch
Review by: Lauren

Girls in Trucks begins with a young Sarah, who is still going through Cotillion Training School with a group of “friends” (Charlotte, Bitsy, and Annie) but for the most part are really just the people she finds herself always going back too in times of need.
As time goes on, Sarah begins to face the challenges of life that most people meet: trying to keep a guy that she can actually settle down with, finding a good job, dealing with death, and most importantly, looking for the meaning and purpose of her life.
Girls in Trucks hops along through Sarah’s life, dealing with various significant moments in each chapter. For the most part, the book is told in Sarah’s point of view, but we do have some instances when the chapters are told in third person or in another person’s point of view entirely.
I enjoyed this book immensely and I think it was a wonderful debut! The idea behind the story is not original, but the way the story is told, however, is very unique and keeps you reading along. My favorite part of the book is that it didn’t just deal with one year or even just a few years. You get to see Sarah grow up in a short amount of time, rooting for her to find her way as you go. Highly recommended for girls in their late teens and up!

Monday, April 14, 2008

GLBT: The Boy with Black Eyes(book review)

The Boy with Black Eyes
By: Brian Lucas

Review by: Lauren

Based on a true story, this book is about two men who come together unexpectedly, but the attraction sets in at once. Brian can’t turn away and finds himself wrapped up in Nathanial’s life in just a couple days. Signs are shown that things are not quite right, but the relationship still continues…until something happens that breaks their connection forever.

The Boy with Black Eyes is an intense, yet short, read about a relationship that is really anything but. Everything seems to be based on the first connection; the physical connection. As it continues, you become curious as to what exactly this is all leading too…the downfall, if you will.

I read this book in a day’s time and enjoyed it for the most part. As the book progressed, it really started to pull me in. This story is an awful one, but this book is an intriguing and shocking one.

Level: Adult

Book Review: My Pet Virus

My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel Without a Cure
By Shawn Decker

www.mypetvirus.com
www.myspace.com/mypetvirus

Shawn Decker was quite unlucky from the start, but he doesn’t really feel that way anymore. He was born with hemophilia, and because of this he got HIV, which leads to AIDS. Sounds a bit depressing, right? My Pet Virus clearly states the many obstacles Shawn had to face growing up in a world that didn’t understand his illness. He was even kicked out of school and his never-back-down mom made sure the community heard about it.

As Shawn got older and his illness progressed, he also met a ton of new friends and had a lot of opportunities come his way. He was able to meet Depeche Mode through the Make a Wish foundation, began writing an online blog, got a column in Poz magazine, and eventually met the love of his life, Gwenn. Meeting Gwenn opened up even more experiences for Shawn, allowing him to tour and share his story with others.

My Pet Virus is an interesting memoir that allows you to learn with a laugh. It’s honest, amusing, and a pretty quick read.


Review by: Lauren

GLBT Issue: Ellen Wittlinger

Ellen Wittlinger
Interview by: Lauren

Ellen Wittlinger is the author of Hard Love, Parrotfish, and more. Her next book Love and Lies comes out this summer.

Your novel Hard Love features a lesbian character and Parrotfish focuses on a transgender character. Is there a specific reason that you write books with GLBT characters? Do you think you’ll feature more in the future?

Actually, several of my other books--Razzle, What's in a Name and Heart on my Sleeve also feature gay and lesbian characters. I guess because I'm not gay some people find it strange that I use so many GLBTQ characters in my books, but it seems right to me. I lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts for a number of years and have always had gay, lesbian and (now) transgender friends. These people usually had a hard time of it when they were coming out back in the 70s and 80s. I think anyone who's felt like an outsider themselves can empathize with this and I certainly did. I hope I'm writing books that will speak not only to GLBTQ kids, but also to straight kids who sometimes don't yet "get" it, or just feel uncomfortable around their gay peers. Yes, I will probably have gay characters in books again.

Where did the first idea for Parrotfish come from? What has the feedback been like?

My daughter has a good friend who is transgender and she introduced us. After meeting Toby and liking him immensely, I asked him if he'd be willing to help me understand what his growing up and coming out had been like. The only YA book about the trans experience had been Luna by Julie Ann Peters, a terrific book, but I thought there should be more than one story told on this important subject. Feedback has been great. The book is shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award and is on many GLBTQ reading list for which I'm thrilled.

You’re included in the book Dear Author: Letters of Hope, where YA authors give replies to fan letters. What did you enjoy about being a part of this book? Were there any author letters that you particularly loved?


Yes, this is a terrific book, edited by Joan Kaywell who came up with the wonderful idea. Of course, all I did was contribute my piece, but I'm so happy to be part of the project. Although the author letters were lovely, my favorite part of the book is the letters from the kids. All them are so amazing and honest and searching for truth. That's the strength of the book, I think. I wish it were in every classroom in the country.

The companion novel to Hard Love, Love and Lies, comes out this summer. What made you decide to write the novel? Is there any information you can give us about the book?

So many fans had asked for a sequel. For years I didn't think I had a story for a sequel, but suddenly it was just there. I knew it had to be Marisol's story this time. Gio is still around and so is Birdie, but there are a bunch of new characters too.

What would your advice be for people who are struggling with their sexuality and/or coming out to family and friends?

If we're talking about teens, I would hope their school had a GSA or similar group they could join. There is a lot of advice on the Web, of course, but not all of it is great. They might start by checking out groups like GLSEN or even PFLAG which will give reliable information. And I would also say to try to find an ally first--tell someone you suspect will be approving and supportive so there will be someone to help you with the tough stuff. If your school has a good guidance counselor, you might start there.

What other GLBT novels or books featuring GLBT characters do you recommend?

There are lots of good books out these days. My new favorite is Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron. I also thought Hero by Perry Moore was lots of fun. Others I've loved are Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, The Misfits by Jim Howe and Geography Club by Brent Hartinger. Also the Rainbow Boy books by Alex Sanchez, lots of stuff by M.E. Kerr and Julie Anne Peters. It's great there are so many now!

Are you currently working on anything at the moment?

Yup. This time it's a middle-grade book though set during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I know it sounds dry, but I don't think it is--this period was actually a terrifying time for me personally, and proves to be for my main character too.

If you could wish on a real shooting star, what would you wish for?

I would wish my exuberant puppy suddenly calmed down and stopped chewing up everything in the house!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Author Interview: Jen Calonita

Jen Calonita
Interview by: Lauren


Jen Calonita is the author of Secrets of My Hollywood Life and its sequel, with the third in the series due out this month.


1. You write for magazines, but did you ever think you’d start writing books, or has this been a dream for you as well?

TO BE HONEST, I THOUGHT I WOULD WORK IN MAGAZINES FOREVER. I NEVER SAW MYSELF WRITING A BOOK, BUT THE MORE TIME I SPENT AT A TEEN MAGAZINE AND INTERVIEWED CELEBRITIES, THE MORE THE IDEAS STARTED FLOWING. I STARTED TO THINK I HAD AN IDEA FOR A TEEN BOOK INSIDE MY HEAD SOMEWHERE SO I MET WITH AN EDITOR AT A PUBLISHING HOUSE AND TOLD HER I WAS INTERESTED IN WRITING A BOOK, BUT I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT. SHE TOLD ME WHAT I NEEDED AND I GOT TO WORK. SHE ACTUALLY HIRED ME TO WRITE "SECRETS" AND SHE'S ONE OF MY EDITORS TO THIS DAY!

2. Kaitlin’s life is obviously very focused around the entertainment world, with little facts about it thrown in the books as well. Was there any specific research you did for the books? How do you know so much about the world Kaitlin is supposed to be a part of?

WORKING AT TEEN PEOPLE ALLOWED ME A WINDOW INTO THE ENTERTAINMENT WORLD. I'D SEE THESE YOUNG STARS WORK THEIR BUTTS OFF TO GET TO WHERE THEY WANTED AND IT WAS AMAZING TO SEE THEM CLIMB. SOMETIMES THE STARS WOULD TELL ME STORIES ABOUT THEIR LIVES AND I'D JUST BE FASCINATED. I COULDN'T BELIEVE SOME OF THE STUFF THAT WENT ON. WHEN I CREATED KAITLIN'S WORLD, I WANTED TO MIRROR THE REAL HOLLYWOOD I'D HEARD ABOUT SO MUCH, BUT DO IT IN A FUN WAY.

3. Had you always planned on Secrets of My Hollywood Life being a series? How many books do you plan on writing?

THE ORIGINAL PLAN WAS JUST FOR THE FIRST TWO BOOKS. THEN I FINISHED THOSE AND SAID, MAYBE THERE IS MORE WE CAN SAY ABOUT KAITLIN AND I WROTE THE THIRD BOOK, FAMILY AFFAIRS. WHEN I FINISHED THAT ONE I KNEW I HAD MORE TO TELL. I JUST FINISHED WRITING SECRETS OF MY HOLLYWOOD LIFE: PAPARAZZI PRINCESS AND SOON I'LL START WRITING SECRETS OF MY HOLLYWOOD LIFE: BROADWAY LIGHTS. PAPARAZZI DEALS WITH FALLOUT KAITLIN IS FACING FROM THE PAPARAZZI AND SOME NEW FRIENDSHIPS. BROADWAY WILL TAKE KAITLIN TO NEW YORK CITY TO DO THEATER. I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT BOTH OF THEM.

4. The third book Secrets of My Hollywood Life: Family Affairs comes out in April of this year. Is there any information about the book that you can let the fans in on?

FAMILY AFFAIRS WAS SO MUCH FUN TO WRITE BECAUSE THE MAIN STORY HAS TO DO WITH KAITLIN AND SKY MACKENZIE'S LONGTIME RIVALRY. IN THIS BOOK THEY KIND OF HAVE TO PUT ASIDE THEIR DIFFERENCES AND TEAM UP TO GET RID OF A MENACE THAT IS TEN TIMES WORSE THAN SKY. SHE'S A DELICIOUSLY MISCHIEVOUS NEW CHARACTER, ALEXIS HOLDEN, AND SHE'S 'A GUEST STAR ON FAMILY AFFAIR WHO IS DETERMINED TO GET A FULLTIME CONTRACT, WHICH THE GIRLS DON'T WANT.

5. What is your writing process like when it comes to the books? Do you get any ideas from the media?

I DEFINITELY GET IDEAS FROM THE MEDIA, TABLOID MAGAZINES, STORIES I SEE IN THE PRESS. SOMETIMES I'LL EVEN SEE AN OUTFIT SOMEONE LIKE JESSICA ALBA IS WEARING AND I'LL THINK IT'S SO GORGEOUS THAT I HAVE TO HAVE KAITLIN WEAR SOMETHING JUST LIKE IT IN THE NEXT BOOK! I LIKE TO OUTLINE THE WHOLE STORY BEFORE I START WRITING, BUT SOMETIMES THE PLOT CHANGES AS I GO.

6. A lot of authors come up with playlists for their books. What songs do you think would go along with the series?


HMM...THAT DOES SOUND LIKE A LOT OF FUN. I'M NOT SURE WHAT KAITLIN'S SOUNDTRACK WOULD BE THOUGH. I'M SURE SHE'D HAVE SOME PAPARAZZI-BASHING SONGS ON THEIR LIKE LINDSAY LOHAN'S RUMORS AND BRITNEY SPEARS' PIECE OF ME, BUT TO BE HONEST, KAITLIN IS TOO POLITE TO SAY THOSE THINGS!

7. Along with the question above, what is one song that fits Family Affairs?

DEFINITELY "NO MORE DRAMA" BY MARY J. BLIGE!

8. If Secrets of My Hollywood Life was made into a movie, who do you think would play a good Kaitlin and Sky?

FOR KAITLIN I WOULD LOVE TO SEE SOMEONE LIKE ASHLEY TISDALE PLAY HER. ASHLEY HAS SUCH GREAT COMIC TIMING AND SUCH A MOVIE STAR PRESENCE THAT I THINK SHE'D BE PERFECT. SKY IS A LITTLE HARDER TO CAST. I THINK IT WOULD BE FUN TO SEE SOMEONE PLAY AGAINST TYPE AND BE SKY. SOMEONE LIKE HAYDEN PANITTIERE.

9. Another novel you are working on, Sleepaway Girls, is due out in 2009. How did the idea for this novel come about? Are you planning on just the one book, or do you think it will have a sequel/series as well?

I'M NOT SURE IF SLEEPAWAY WILL BE ONE BOOK OR SEVERAL. FOR NOW, IT'S JUST THE ONE. I WORKED AT A DAY CAMP WHEN I WAS A TEEN AND BEING A COUNSELOR WAS ONE OF THE MOST FUN THINGS I EVER DID. I ALWAYS REGRET THAT I DIDN'T GO TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP. I FELT LIKE CAMP WAS THE PERFECT PLACE TO PLOT NEW FRIENDSHIPS AND LOVE STORIES AND THAT'S WHAT SLEEPAWAY GIRLS IS ABOUT.

10. What was the last book you read that you really enjoyed? What was the last movie?

THE LAST MOVIE IN REALLY ENJOYED WAS 27 DRESSES. THAT'S THE KIND OF MOVIE I'M DRAWN TO--ROMANTIC COMEDIES. I JUST LOVED IT. AS FOR THE LAST BOOK, I JUST FINISHED CINDY ELLA BY ROBIN PALMER. IT'S A YA BOOK AND IT'S SO MUCH FUN! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

Review: A Cursive Memory

A Cursive Memory
By: Keaton
www.myspace.com/acursivememory



I was probably one of the most excited people for A Cursive Memory's
Vagrant debut, Changes. Last week, when it came out, I popped it onto my
ipod, expecting a bunch of uppity jams perfect for the gym or a feel good
car ride with my best friends. Boy, was I wrong! The first few songs:
South, Everything, Changes, Perfect Company, and Bank fit the image of
ACM I previously had, and I literally imed a friend of mine like "THE
NEW ACM CD IS SO AMAZING." Then I hit Lions, which lyrically is a really
great song, emphasizing just how emotionally raw these 3 California boys
are, opening up with all their judgments of others, and internal
conflict. Musically, the whole almost reggae sound just slows down
Changes way too soon.

The following song, The Piano Song, just slowed down this seemingly amazing album even more, and the YET ANOTHER pop followed; Tonight Lites, and agaiiiiin came another slower, mushy song, All the Weak. Then another one, A Different Kind of Love, but finally, Believe ups the tempo, on the second to last song, and Figure
it Out is slower, but a good closer for Changes, but much like all the
other ballad-y songs, it drones on for much too long, repeating the same
choruses over and over. I hate to say it, but I was incredibly
disappointed with this release. I did not expect a jumble of slow pop
ballads clumped in the middle of amazing pop, with messages that every
teenager is faced with; being scared of time, of change, or your peers,
the opposite sex, of what you think, and life in general. If there had
simply been fewer slow songs on Changes, even if it had meant the album
would only have been 8 tracks or a 6 track EP, I would have been much
more impressed and satisfied with A Cursive Memory's debut.

Review: Mercy Mercedes

Mercy Mercedes
By: Keaton
www.myspace.com/mercymercedes


I've known of, and listened to, Mercy Mercedes every once in a while
since early 2006, and they always impressed me. Their vocals are a
little nasal, but the vocalist has a distinct, aftertaste to his
singing, that makes his voice recognizable. Their EP is titled Casio
Rodeo, and there is defiantly a rodeo-esque feel to the poppy tunes
they spit out with a hint of the trendy synth beat in the background.
I’m happy to see them succeeding, and would love to see them on a small
national tour soon.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball




Dear Everybody
By: Michael Kimball

http://deareverybody.blogspot.com/

Jacket Cover: Jonathon Bender had something to say, but the world wouldn’t listen. That’s why he writes to everybody he has ever known—including his mother and father, his brother and other relatives, his childhood friends and neighbors, the Tooth Fairy, his classmates and teachers, his psychiatrists, his ex-girlfriends and his ex-wife, the state of Michigan, a television station, and a weather satellite. Taken together, these unsent letters tell the remarkable story of Jonathon’s life.

What are people saying already?

“Dear Everybody has the page-turning urgency of a mystery and the thrilling formal inventiveness of the great epistolary novels. Jonathon Bender's magical letters to the world that never wrote to him are at once whimsical, anguished, funny, utterly engaging and, finally, unforgettable.”
Maud Casey, author of Genealogy

“In Bender’s unsent letters of apology or thanks, Michael Kimball transforms the familiar into the strange again and the simplest confessions are made moments of sublime wonder. Hold on to this book.”
Christine Schutt, author of Florida

“Michael Kimball's wise-hearted epistolary portrait of an endearingly honest, suicidal depressive is by turns hilarious and haunting--and always thrillingly deep, surprising, and pitch-perfect. Dear Everybody confirms Kimball's reputation as one of our most supremely gifted and virtuosic renderers of the human predicament. It's as moving a novel as I have read in years.”
Gary Lutz, author of Stories in the Worst Way and I Looked Alive

“I love this book, love the strangely detailed world that accumulates through letters, lists, yearbook quotes, and psychological evaluations. And I love the character of Jonathon Bender, the way he makes me so sad and also makes me laugh so hard. He will stay with me forever.”
Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties

“Dear Michael Kimball:
Thank you for this book. What Jonathon Bender writes in his unsent letters are what each of us longs to say, what all of us have been saying our whole lives, just not out loud.”
Stephen Graham Jones, author of Demon Theory and Ledfeather

“In his third novel, Kimball gives us the singular life of Jonathon Bender through a collage of different voices and sources and in beautifully rendered sentences. He mercilessly gives us a sense of the man and his trajectory, bringing us painfully close to Bender himself. This is a compassionate and compelling account of the quiet ways in which a life goes wrong.”
Brian Evenson, author of The Open Curtain

Book review: The Host-Stephenie Meyer

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Review by: Kari


The world has been invaded. The “souls” have taken control. Not little green men, but small and silver aliens implanted into the back of a human’s neck. They are here to bring peace to a world that seems to be in chaos. They believe the humans have destroyed earth with violence. But some humans have survived and they want to fight for their home.

When the humans are implanted they are erased by the “soul” inside of them. Well, that’s what is supposed to happen, but for a “soul” named Wanderer she can still hear her host, Melanie Stryder.

The Host starts off with Wanderer trying to find her host’s boyfriend, Jared. She can see Melanie’s memories, but some images Melanie won’t show her. This intrigues the “soul” and she wants to find out as much about Jared as she can. Not only can she see Melanie’s memories she also can feel her emotions.

The more you read The Host the harder it is to put down. I love to watch science-fiction movies and television programs. It is hard for me to read a book that is classified science-fiction, but I was enraptured by this book. There was enough romance and adventure to balance out the science-fiction elements of The Host. This is the book to start with if you are thinking about trying a different type of genre.

Stephenie Meyer has written a great book for both adults and teenagers, though unlike Twilight and its sequels, The Host includes a bit more violence. Her already formed fan base will love this new and exciting story. The vivid descriptions help you see a world that seems impossible to imagine.

This book has an unique story line that involves a complex love triangle and lets you feel the emotions of the characters like you are apart of the book. It will bring you on a rollercoaster of emotions involving love, betrayal, fear, and loyalty. The Host ends on a note of hope, that will make everyone smile. I can’t wait to see what this amazing young writer can come up with next.

GLBT Issue: Stray by Sheri Joseph

Stray by Sheri Joseph
Review by: Lauren

Paul left Kent. Kent got married to Maggie. Paul and Kent meet again. Kent tries to leave. Paul befriends Maggie. And trouble ensues.

By trying to get close to Kent through Maggie, Paul and Maggie end up starting their own kind of relationship. And Kent? He has no clue who or what he wants. As this three-part affair continues on, things get more mixed up and when someone is murdered, all the careful lies begin to unravel.

Stray started out slow for me, but it soon became very interesting and hard to put down. The relationships between all the characters involved felt real and well-done. Paul and Kent were a couple that never really seemed to have stability, and Kent soon found that in Mennonite Maggie. Paul, however, continued life by hooking up with random guys, even with one of his acting professors, Bernard Falk. Bernard invites Paul to move in with him, but with the passion in their relationship gone on Paul's side and Bernard dying of cancer, it's no wonder that Paul was so eager to welcome Kent back into his life.

Being the youngest out of the three (Kent, Paul, and Maggie), Paul was definitely my favorite. He wanted a family and someone to love, and feeling that way didn't allow him to just let Kent go and made him search out Maggie, the one who had Kent.

The book showed all sides of the characters, letting you in and allowing you to see what they were thinking and their various motives behind their actions. Maggie always gives back and can't say no, but what does that get her into? And how is her past affecting her future?
Kent misses Paul, who was the one that left, and still loves him, but he does love Maggie too. He isn't gay; it's just Paul.
Paul wants somewhere to go. Someone to love. He's growing up in some ways, but he can't in others.

Stray is a great story of love lost and love found and the many complications that occur when lives become intertwined.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

GLBT Issue: Catherine Ryan Hyde

Catherine Ryan Hyde
www.myspace.com/catherineryanhyde
Interview by: Lauren

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of Pay it Forward, Becoming Chloe, Chasing Windmills, and the soon-to-be released The Day I Killed James.


1.In Pay it Forward, you have gay and transgender characters. Was there any connection between having GLBT characters and the message of the book? Do you wish these characters were represented in the film version?

I had a lot of diversity in the book. I had two or three gay characters, though a couple were quite minor. One fairly major character, a viewpoint character, Gordy, was a transgender teen. I also had an interracial romance, a couple of physically large characters, and Trevor was described as being so dark-haired as to possibly be part Hispanic. And yes, I thought all of that diversity was important. My idea was to create a fictional “new world order” that was for everybody. So I was careful to portray what seemed like a fair cross-section of everybody. I have this theory as a novelist that if we can know people better through fiction, we will be less afraid of them.

Then in the movie, everybody magically turned white, blonde, straight, anglo and thin. Except the miscreants. It was disheartening. Potentially even more disheartening was that everybody screamed about the racial casting issue (as well they should have), but all the other diversity disappeared without a complaint. Everybody noticed that the teacher was not black but nobody noticed that the AA sponsor was not 315 pounds. Nobody seemed to notice or care that Gordy was gone. I think that’s a telling oversight.

2.A novel you have out under the category of YA is called Becoming Chloe and features a main character that is gay. Will you give us a brief summary of the character and his role in the novel? Was there a specific reason you decided to feature another gay character in your novels, but this time in a bigger role?

Jordy (just a coincidence that the name is so close to Gordy) is the protagonist and narrator of Becoming Chloe (which, by the way, is absolutely suitable for grown-ups). When the book begins, he’s a 17-year-old throwaway street teen illegally squatting in a Manhattan Cellar. He meets Chloe quite by accident as he rescues her from a sexual assault in the alley just above where he sleeps. She’s so completely helpless that Jordy takes her under his wing. They end up crossing the country together, and seeing the world. It’s Jordy’s attempt to convince her that the world is a beautiful place, even though he’s not entirely sure he believes it himself.

My goal was that this novel be about some other kind of bond than a romantic one. Sometimes I think that’s almost too easy. Of course if you’re sleeping with someone you will love and protect them. But there are other circumstances under which we will do this for someone, and as a novelist I find them fascinating. So one good way to have a boy and a girl together without a sexual component was for Jordy to be gay.

That said, I don’t feel I decided in advance to write a novel with a gay character in the main role. I think I begin a novel with a character. As I’m developing the novel in my head, the character tells me his or her story. And that’s when I find out if the character is gay or straight. And to one extent or another this informs the story. But I don’t force an orientation on main characters. I let them be what they are.

3.What are your thoughts on how the GLBT community is represented in the media (books, TV, movies, etc.)?


Better than it used to be yet not nearly good enough. First of all, there simply isn’t enough representation. I have this radical notion that the percentage of GLBT (and other minority) characters should approximately match their percentage in society. And we’re way behind on that. I think we are still, after all these years, suffering to some (smaller) extent from the “Leave it to Beaver syndrome.” A bizarre percentage of fictional characters are white, straight, thin, young, handsome or beautiful in predictable ways, and economically privileged.

I can’t change that in any large way, but I can do better in my own fiction.

4.Your new novel, The Day I Killed James, comes out this May. What is the novel about? You’ve been talking a lot about the differences and similarities between Adult and YA categorized books. How do you feel in regard to James?

It’s about a young woman who holds herself responsible for the suicide of a young man whose heart she carelessly (but with no premeditation or malice) broke. So it becomes a novel about the crushing effects of guilt, and about what our responsibility really is (and is not) to those close to us. Like just about everything I write, it’s a pretty weighty topic.

Like so much of my YA fiction, I actually wrote James for adults. Then I changed the age of the character, and a few resulting situations (school instead of job, etc) but not the prose itself. The first-person voice worked equally well for an eighteen-year-old as it did for a woman in her thirties. And I think that just about says it all.

5.If someone was trying to deal with their sexuality and/or coming out to family and friends, what would you want them to know?

That they are not alone. And again, that’s something I can’t personally change, but I think having potential role models in fiction is a small contribution.

6.Since you’ve dealt with GLBT characters in more then one of your books, do you feel that you will continue to do so in the future? What made you, if anything specific; decide to feature the characters that fall under the GLBT label?

I can guarantee it. The next thing I’m going to go back to working on (as soon as I finish my current adult novel-in-progress) is a YA about a girl who’s in love with the older man next door, who turns out to be FTM in transition. I thought it would be interesting to tell the story not from the transgender person’s POV (I’m not sure that’s my story to tell) but from the POV of the person who has to make the emotional adjustment to loving him, especially with a lot of her own personal and very vulnerable feelings on the line.

If there is a why, it’s what I said earlier about growing up with a TG sibling, and the idea that we are mostly frightened by people we don’t know.

7.Are there any books that you feel are great GLBT literature? Any other books under any category?

When I was a teen, there was the absolutely classic Rubyfruit Jungle. I haven’t read it in years, so I have no idea how it holds up nearly two generations later. I don’t know about great literature, but I really liked David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy. Because it was so completely non-tragic. It was about normal things, crushes and social embarrassment, and not about the devastating effects of prejudice. Which may not be 100% realistic, but it’s refreshing. And again, though perhaps not great literature (by whose standard, anyway?) Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet was a fun read.

8.If you could wish on a real shooting star, what would you wish for?


I think I would wish that we could all be less afraid. So much of our mistreatment of each other has its roots in fear. Or so I have concluded from my observations. Frightened people are so dangerous. I would ask the star if we could all feel relief from fear, especially fear of each other.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

GLBT Issue: Brian Sloan Interview

Brian Sloan
www.myspace.com/bmsloan


Brian Sloan is the author of A Really Nice Prom Mess (which we reviewed, search March) and Tale of Two Summers. He also makes films such as WTC View.

1.Since your book A Really Nice Prom Mess just came out in paperback, I have to ask about your own experiences at prom. Was it anything remotely like the craziness in the novel? How did you first come up with the idea for Prom Mess?

My senior prom was a lot of fun actually. I had a girlfriend at the time(!) and we went on a double date with a friend of mine from the Drama Dept.(!!) and we all had a really great time. I was totally into all the 80’s hits so we danced a lot that night. (Some friends of mine now say that should have been my date’s first clue, right? :) ) My idea for PROM MESS came from another dance I went to in high school where I asked this girl who I had met at a party. I didn’t know her well and, when I arrived to pick her up for the big night, she was a bit tipsy. So I sorta took that initial situation as a starting point then let my imagination run wild.

2.You have two novels out at the moment, which both feature gay characters. When you were growing up, did you read any books similar to yours or did you find a lack of novels featuring GLBT teens?

When I was a teen, I was a big fan of all the S.E. Hinton books. Even though I wasn’t out to myself at the time, I really connected with these books which often were about very close and intense male friendships. I remember particularly being obsessed with THAT WAS THEN THIS IS NOW, because it reminded me a lot of the dynamic I had with a close friend of mine during my sophomore year of school. If I knew of any gay books, I probably would have sought them out. However, there just wasn’t much available “back in the day”.

3.Nowadays, there is obviously a lot more books available. What are some that you personally enjoy or recommend, whether YA or adult?

I am a big fan of Ellen Wittlinger’s books, particularly HARD LOVE and HEART ON MY SLEEVE (which was a big inspiration when I was working on TALE OF TWO SUMMERS). I also love all of Rachel Cohn’s books as they are the first YA books I read when I embarked on my novel-writing journey a few years ago. My editor gave them to me to show me what the current YA genre was all about. Also, it turns out that Rachel and I grew up in the same town (Bethesda, MD) and have become friends since!

4.Are you currently working on any books or plan too in the near future?

I do have some ideas for new books. But right now, I’m working on my third feature film as a writer/director. It’s a high school comedy called PROM QUEENS and it will be shooting this summer in NYC. It’s a script I’ve been working on for a while, since before I started writing the books actually, and I’m thrilled that it’s finally coming to fruition. Movies take a little longer than books to pull off, as I’ve learned.

5.Are there any soon to be released books from other authors that you are eager to read?

I’m always so backed up in my reading list that new books for me tend to mean something that came out in the last year. But one book which I’m excited about (and is next on my list) is Michael Chabon’s novel THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION. He is one of my all-time favorite authors, ever since I read his first book MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH when I was just starting out.

6.Besides being an author, you make movies as well. For those that might not know, what are some of the films you’ve made about? Do you have any other projects in the works?

I’ve directed two features and a couple shorts, all of which are available on Netflix or Amazon. My first feature is I THINK I DO, a screwball wedding comedy about a gay couple attending a straight couple’s wedding. It stars Alexis Arquette…as a boy! :) My second feature is a little more serious, entitled WTC VIEW. It’s about life in lower Manhattan in the weeks after 9/11 and it stars Michael Urie, also known as the fabulous “Marc” on UGLY BETTY. The shorts I did are in the BOYS LIFE series of films; POOL DAYS, in BL1, is a coming out story set at a health club where a teen gets his first summer job, and BUMPING HEADS, in BL4, is about a complicated relationship between an older guy and a younger guy set in crazy downtown NYC.

7.What would your advice be to anyone who has yet to come out or who might be having trouble with the fact?

It’s hard to give advice to someone in that situation because everyone’s coming out is different. I can say, though, that my life got about 100% easier once I came out to my friends and family. It takes a lot of time/energy/effort to hide who you are and once you free yourself up from all that, you can do so much more with your life…like write a book or go to film school (which is what I did). Another advantage to coming out is that people will know you’re single and looking.

8. In general, do you feel that GLBT characters in various media outlets are portrayed in the right way? What do you wish would change, if anything?

It would be great to see more gay characters on TV and film integrated into the real world. Often gay men and lesbians are seen in their own ghettos, like on QUEER AS FOLK or THE L WORD. While those shows can be fun, I think that people need to see that gay people are involved in their lives too, whether they’re living in Kansas or Texas or Idaho. Gay people are everywhere and it would be great to have that reflected in the media, and not just see them living glamorous lives in NY and LA.

9. If you were to wish a REAL shooting star, what would you wish for?

I would wish for inspiration to write more books! Oh—and to find a boyfriend too.:)