On New Year’s Day 2021, my house flooded

On New Year’s Day 2021, my house flooded.

To clarify – it wasn’t the sort of flood you see on the news, knee-deep in muddy water, trying to reassemble the gloopy mess of a life that used to be. No, no. Luckily, it was clean water… that chuffed all over the kitchen when the internal stopcock exploded off the pipe in the early hours of the morning. Whereupon, all the water in Devon sloshed into my house.

Having enjoyed a standard New Year’s Eve, I’d gone to bed late, and awoke to the sound of my partner paddling her way through the sitting room. Having only had the stopcock fixed a couple of weeks before, I knew exactly where the external shut-off was – having marked it with a stick in the ground – and so I managed to turn the thing off.

However, when I came back into the house, I saw how much damage was done and the thought crossed my mind, ‘Maybe we should just move house.’

The water had streamed across the ceiling, over and through the wardrobe opposite the pipe, and poured through the utility, kitchen, living room, soaking all the floors, and down the stairs into the conservatory. Now, I won’t bore you with all the insurance stuff but I’ll say this: the TV adverts don’t prepare you for the reality of it.

There was no Lycra-clad superhero, all dashing smile and squeegee. There were three and a half weeks of a dehumidifier that was every bit as big as me, and the endless slog, toting funky-smelling furniture and semi-ruined books from the damp to the dry end of the house; followed, naturally enough, by three months of waiting for a bit of lino.

Although moving house during a time of Covid might seem like an overreaction to a burst pipe, I really didn’t think it would sell so fast.

The place opposite me sat on the market like a brown-brick turkey for six years before it finally sold. I’d assumed we’d have a big old wait – I’d be a good way into my forties and probably a bit wider – before we’d eventually go off to pastures new.

It sold in a week.

We’d looked at the Brecon Beacons, Gloucester, Worcester, basically the left-hand side of England and the mid-section of Wales, and then the sale fell through. It was almost a relief. Not a real one, of course, but we found ourselves with a bit of breathing room. It was nice to have a bit of breathing room. The estate agent put the house back up for sale. This time, it sold in two days.

I had been looking, with some seriousness, at Lincolnshire. It’s a beautiful part of the country. Most people think of Lincolnshire as big and flat but, having lived between four hills, surrounded by trees for twenty-five years, big and flat sounds pretty great to me.

Anyway, with all that in mind, we put an offer in on a house in Swindon and have another place in Chard, in reserve just in case. One of them will work out. Not sure which but, hopefully, it’ll all fall into place pretty soon.

Now, you might wonder why I’m telling you all this when I should surely be explaining something of my journey or the process of writing and publishing and all that important stuff. Well, here’s the thing: this, this ridiculous story of one-thing-after-another, will be a source of inspiration. One day. Not right now. I’m basically moving.

But, in a few years time, if you see a story about a woman going slowly insane while she wrings water out of the ceiling tiles and lives, for weeks at a time, in the same outfit because both the washing machine and the tumble dryer have packed up because they were both in the path of a water-based explosion, you’ll know it is based on a true story.

Making a video for the insurance company of me, jumping up and down on the carpet to show the water pooling around my shoes, making sucking noises with every half-hearted, heavy-breasted bounce, will be something I can turn into a novel, maybe even a film, once I’m settled in the new house.

In fact, this is going to make such an aggressively Fawlty-esque story that it might sound unbelievable. But we’ll all know it’s real.

Anyway, I’m Petrina. Tree, for short. Probably should have started with that.

***

Petrina Binney author photoPetrina Binney is from 1980s south London. Daughter of a nurse and a carpenter, she spent much of her childhood writing stories to bring into school for whatever the eighties English equivalent of ‘Show and Tell’ was called. She spent her teenage years avoiding all manner of naughtiness, instead writing copious amounts of self-indulgent poetry and reading multiple Brontes and Daphne Du Maurier. In 2015, she hosted her first ever dinner party and, due to a heavy stomach and a slight bout of alcohol poisoning, dreamt up the character of Fiona Weaver-King. Petrina spends the majority of her time in Devon, with her dogs, and drinking with older gentlemen. Website here.

Petrina will join us as a panelist for The Publishing Process: Trad, Self, Hybrid, Small Press (Panel B5) and will read for us during Modern Works set in Modern Times: Contemporary (Reading A3)

Why Are You Writing This Story?

Guest Blog by Christian Baines

Yes, you! Not random writer X. Why are you writing this? It’s one of the most important questions a writer has to answer, at least for themselves, all the more so if it’s their first book.

What perspective makes the book uniquely yours?

I started writing The Beast Without, the first in my Arcadia Trust series of paranormal mysteries in my mid 20s. My main character, Reylan lives on the fringes of Sydney’s gay nightlife strip, and The Beast Without sees him forced to track down a young, potentially unhinged werewolf for a series of murders. If the beast can’t be tamed, he’ll have to be put down. It’s not the kind of problem that fits with Reylan’s freewheeling ‘blood and boys’ lifestyle. But when his friends are in danger, he has little choice. Bigger battles for the people he cares about force him to grow beyond the self-centred man he’s been up to that point.

Did I mention I wrote this in my 20s?

Reylan can also be asshole in The Beast Without. He’s often funny (if you’re going to be bitchy, you must at least entertain), but also a little mean. As the story goes on, and in the two sequels that follow, he’s forced to shed that defensive layer, becoming more sympathetic character. If times of stress show our true selves, I like to think this is the real Reylan, who knows what he values and what he has to offer.

None of this is to shame our shallow, horny, party-loving, and bitchy quip-ready young selves. For many queer men, this is a vital process of self discovery that creates lasting friendships, romantic and sexual partners, and more. But eventually, the bigger fights do come, whether it’s for our individual relationships, our stories, our legal equality, or our very lives. We don’t have the privilege to ignore them. Sooner or later, queer life demands the real you step up.

I’m not saying only a 20-something could write a book like The Beast Without but maybe that’s why, coming up on 30 with such battles in mind, my take on the paranormal tropes we know and love came out the way it did.

Decide for yourself when I read from The Beast Without at IQARUS’ reading session The Queer Character Doesn’t Die at the End: Queer Horror. There’ll even be a few bitchy quips.

***

Christian Baines is an awkward nerd turned slightly less awkward author of weird and dark queer fiction. His work includes the gay paranormal series The Arcadia Trust, the novella Skin, and Puppet Boy, a finalist for the 2016 Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award. Born in Australia, he now travels the world whenever possible, living, writing, and shivering in Toronto, Canada on the occasions he can’t find his passport, or has to isolate due to a global pandemic.

Join him as one of the authors reading during ‘The Queer Character Doesn’t Die in the End: Queer Horror’ (Reading B1)

Check out the full schedule HERE.

Blue Umbrella Sky – a story of recovering from loss and finding new love

Guest blog from Rick R. Reed

Blue Umbrella Sky is about recovering from loss and finding new love—and it’s about starting over in a new place. That’s something I’ve become very familiar with. I just counted up and, in my 62 years on this earth, I’ve had twenty-five different addresses!

I grew up in eastern Ohio, in the foothills of the Appalachians, wandered west to Chicago, where I stayed for over twenty years, continued west to Seattle, where I spent a decade. In June of 2017, I traded gray, drizzly skies for sunny blue ones—swapping majestic pines and lots of green for Joshua trees, cacti, and sand. Bustle for quiet.

Blue Umbrella Sky is the first novel I’ve written inspired by the desert surroundings of my new home. Every move, whether it’s across town or across the country, is a kind of starting over, no matter who you are. It’s a headache, but there’s also hope, like at the start of a new year.

A new beginning in a new place was the simple inspiration for this story. Briefly, I saw two men, one young, one a little older, who were both in need of new beginnings, but also in search of love, whether they realized it or not right away.

I also wanted to make the desert a sort of secondary character in my story as well. The Palm Springs area is a place many, many people have come to begin again. It’s full of transplants—retirees, sunseekers, those who want great weather and a slower pace. It’s ideal for a story about recovery, redemption, and finding something new to nourish one’s soul.

The mountains all around, the arid landscapes, the endless reaches of impossibly blue skies all come together in the book—and in real life—to create a kind of spiritual home.

I hope you’ll come along on my journey to what I believe is a very special place.

***

EXCERPT: Unrequited

Billy paused to take in the panorama.

He breathed in the mountain air, savoring the relentless sun, a golden orb directly above his head, beating down, warming, loosening his muscles.

Below, all of Palm Springs spread out, an urban desert sprawl. The airport, the green spaces, the clusters of homes, the golf courses, the commercial areas. Beyond, the desert displayed its barren ocher beauty, dotted here and there with pale green vegetation strong enough to survive the harsh sun and wind. The windmills, thousands of them, towered like bright white sentinels, some of their propeller blades turning. Billy had always deemed these turbines magical, something out of a science fiction story.

His gaze swept over what now was home. He was the king of the mountain.

Despite feeling like a king, though, Billy realized it would never happen.

Milt would never return the feelings Billy had been harboring for him ever since the very first moment he’d laid eyes on him, struggling alone to move in to his trailer.

Billy had tried. He really had. But every subtle hint he’d drop, every longing glance he’d send Milt’s way, every awkward but pointed touch, Milt met by laughing off or turning away or, the very worst, with a glance that clearly said no.

And yet Milt really seemed to like him! There was a sense that they were becoming best friends.

Perhaps that was all they were destined to be. Billy could just about manage to live with that consolation prize, but in the dark hours of the night, when he’d stand outside in the desert heat with a moon casting its silvery glow over the trailer park, he’d wonder if maybe he wouldn’t be happier gently but firmly cutting Milt out of his life. After all, sometimes it seemed like their growing friendship was, instead of a consolation, a hot point of pain, a tantalizing glimpse of what could never be.

Yet he couldn’t bring himself to do it.

Milt made him smile.

Made his heart race.

Made—sometimes, when he was alone, eyes closed, muscles relaxed, fantasies firmly engaged—his dick hard.

Why oh why had this guy had such an effect? He was a good bit older. Really, he wasn’t even all that remarkable-looking. Sure, he had a sexy kind of daddy thing going on, with his salt-and-pepper buzzed hair and close-cropped beard, his gray eyes that seemed to possess unfathomable depths, but honestly, if he were in one of the gay bars on Arenas, he’d look like almost every other man present.

Why couldn’t Billy move on? Find a guy who wanted him, who was attracted to him, who wanted to be more than just buddies. The desert was full of likely and hopeful prospects.

Why was there this torture? This hope? Both things were doubly painful to Billy because he felt he had to endure them in secret.

It was almost enough to drive him to drink.

And sometimes he’d imagine dropping by Milt’s with a fifth of vodka, something good like Stoli or Grey Goose, pouring strong and steady for both of them and watching the sun go down as their brains became fuzzier and fuzzier. Imagining a hand landing on a knee, a sorry/not sorry bump of shoulders, an impulsive kiss that just missed the recipient’s mouth and then the aim would need to be rectified….

When those fantasies became too intense, Billy would find himself in need of an AA meeting, which he could almost always find, just down the road at Sunny Dunes.

***

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published
fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as
“heartrending and sensitive.”

Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…”

Find him at www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com.

Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their rescue dogs, Kodi and Joaquin.

He will be presenting both horror and contemporary fiction during the author readings (Reading B1 and Reading A3) – Check the full schedule HERE!

The Need…to Read

They say every writer needs to read. It’s easy to say, but when every moment of every day is scheduled for writing and working and eating and sleeping, it’s hard to find the time to do the thing that brought me to writing in the first place… reading good books.

And yet at some point we lose touch with what’s out there, what’s going on in the literary world. I’ve spent the last ten years basically NOT reading. I used to have my finger on the pulse of the SFF market – what folks were writing, who the shining voices were in the market, and now I feel about it like I do about the MCU – I am so far behind I will never catch up.

Still, I have to make a start. So I am finding little bits of my day – at breakfast instead of reading the paper, during my various “breaks,” and half an hour at night that Mark and I carved out of our schedule before bed to try to help me sleep better by reading first.

I’m almost through my fifth book since I started reading again and I’m loving it. I can practically feel the writing well filling up with new ideas and perspectives. And maybe I’ll never catch up. But I’ll have a hell of a lot of fun trying.

Gotta run. I have a high fantasy trilogy to finish!

***

J Scott Coatsworth: Scott lives with his husband Mark in a little yellow bungalow with two pink flamingoes in Sacramento. He inhabits the space between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t queer characters in his favourite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction reflecting their own reality. Scott is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Website here.

He will be one of the panellists on Outside the Box: Social Media (Panel B2) Check the full schedule HERE

The Trope Cake

Guest blog by Kellie Doherty

Hi there! It’s me again, Kellie Doherty. I’m quite excited to be on the panel The Trope Cake: Queer Frosting and Subverted Sprinkles this May. It’s the first panel, and I feel like the discussion will be fun, as well as informative.

But first, what even is a trope?

A “trope” is a common pattern in the stories we tell. Sometimes this can be an overarching worldbuilding idea—the powerful artifact, one that can save the world or right the wrong if only the protagonist can get their hands on it. Other times, this can be a character type—the reluctant hero, the character who has to be the hero but really doesn’t want to be. Tropes can even be plot-based—the waiting evil, the big bad who will awaken after hundreds of years of slumber and end all life, and the protagonist’s job is to stop it.

Queer characters also have tropes, and once you know about these common patterns in stories, you’ll start to see them everywhere. Bisexuals are promiscuous, all lesbians are predatory or hate men, all lesbians are masculine, all transgender women are drag queens, bury your gays…the list goes on and on.

It’s the writer’s job to know these tropes and to play with them. To flip those tropes on their heads perhaps, or subvert them, do something new. And while that sounds like a daunting job, it can also be really fun!

For example, in my adult fantasy novel Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties, I flipped the “all bisexual characters are promiscuous” by making my bisexual main character—Misti—actually quite shy. She really likes Dylori but will she actually tell her that? Oh hell no. For Curling Vines & Crimson Trades, I remove the “coming out” trope entirely by establishing Orenda and Noss are married on page one.

The best thing? I say queer writers can still use those more common tropes the way they were meant to be used—i.e. friends to lovers, the chosen one, etc.—because our stories haven’t been told enough to make them old and stale. So go ahead! Write that reluctant hero who has to get that powerful artifact in order to stave off the waiting evil…but make it queer! Or subvert that all lesbians are masculine trope; I’d love to see what you come up with. Happy writing!

***

Kellie Doherty photoKellie Doherty is a queer science fiction and fantasy author who lives in Eagle River, Alaska. When she noticed that there wasn’t much positive queer representation in the science fiction and fantasy realms, she decided to create her own!

Kellie’s work has been published in SanctuaryInnovation, ImageOutWrite 2019, and Life (as it) Happens, among others. Her adult sci-fi duology—Finding Hekate and Losing Hold—came out in April 2016 and April 2017 from Desert Palm Press. She’s currently working on a five-book fantasy series.

The first book Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties (March 2019, Desert Palm Press) won a 2019 Rainbow Award. An excerpt from the second book Curling Vines & Crimson Trades  (November 2020, Desert Palm Press) won first place in a 2020 Alaska Writers Guild Fiction contest. Website here.

She will be part of the The Trope Cake panel (Panel A1) – Check the full schedule HERE!

Greetings from Silicon Valley

Guest blog by M.D. Neu

Hello Everyone, I’m author M.D. Neu, I’m an award-winning LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. I live in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California). I grew up around technology, watching the area I live in become the birthplace of all the cool gadgets we use and take for granted today. I’ve always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically I’m drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal movies, television, and novels. I get my inspiration from the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. I know, it’s an odd combination, but a combination that has influenced all my writing.

I currently have five books out and two short stories. With two more books on the way. In my writing I want to show our diverse queer community focusing on often forgotten or marginalized characters. You will see members from the queer community in all my books, they are front and center. However, being gay isn’t the focus of the story, the focus is the adventure. I want to show our community as the heroes. Everyday people who get caught up in some fantastic adventures. In my worlds being queer isn’t the issue, and it’s never hidden. Being queer is one more part of the character, similar to hair color or eye color.

Despite that, my books are for everyone, I write books that the whole family can enjoy. A majority of my fans come from the straight community, and surprisingly a large number of hetrosexual men enjoy my books, which I think is fantastic.

I write my stories like this because when I was growing up I always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who I am. My family is very accepting, so being gay wasn’t an issue (and I count myself very blessed for that). Still, growing up I was constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, and I decided I needed to change that. So, I took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflect our diverse world.

When I’m not writing, I work for a non-profit and travel with my biggest supporter and my harshest critic, Eric, my husband of twenty plus years. Well, there you have it, a little about me and my personal story.

***

M.D. Neu (he/him) author photo of MD NeuWhen M.D. Neu and his husband aren’t off playing at Disney, Neu is an award winning inclusive queer author who writes epic Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Paranormal stories that reflect our diverse community. When not hanging with Mickey Mouse and the gang, Neu works for a non-profit trying to save the world one report at a time. Oh, and he also bakes!

Visit his Website here.

He will be reading during the sci-fi and fantasy hour (Reading A2). Check out the full IQARUS schedule HERE!

Panster or Plotter? Tell me what you are.

Guest blog by Hans Hirschi

When I wrote my first novel, I was done with my first draft in roughly ten days. Book number two was done just two weeks later. I was on a roll. First drafts, mind you. It took a lot longer to rewrite and edit, but that’s a separate blog post. People were envious of my creative rush and never having done that before, I got scared: can I ever do this again? What if I can’t?

I still remember when one of my main characters died, right in front of my eyes, as the letters appeared on the screen of my laptop. It was petrifying, and I had to take a break for a couple of days before I trusted my instincts and pressed on. Probably why book two took four days longer to write. #writershumor

Over the years, as I worked my way through the countless changes from my editor, usually focusing more on my lacking language ability than actual ‘edits’ (English is my seventh language and I suck at it), I began to change my approach to writing. Wanting to write a better book than the one before, technically, I began to question my subconscious. #NoMoreDeadMCs I began to plot more and more, keeping notes as I wrote and writing became more complex and time-consuming.

I still try to listen to my characters, follow their lead, but I’m mindful of certain aspects of the craft of writing, genre conventions (to break them, of course!), or applying recent grammar lessons from my latest oeuvre. Does it help? I hope so. I would like to think that my writing improves from story to story, but others be the judge of that. As long as I get to write the stories I want to read myself, I’m good.

This last year has been hard on me. Let’s be honest. I think the total number of pages I’ve written since the pandemic broke out can be counted by simply using the number of fingers on my two hands. My creativity has gone missing and my muses are in lockdown somewhere. I can only hope they’ll both return once we file Covid-19 to the annals of history.

Love,

Hans

***

Hans Hirschi writes character-driven stories that expose ordinary people to unexpected situations making the spectrum of queer lives visible to a wider public, hopeful tales with unconventional happy endings.

Join him during the Contemporary reading hour (Reading A3)

Check out the full schedule HERE.

Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

Guest Blog by Christian Baines

Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by, and to the Iqarus team for asking me to be part of this event. My name’s Christian Baines (he/him/his). I write dark, queer fiction for my fellow weirdos, and dear gods, I miss travel. Seriously. Not just travel to book events, where I get to meet wonderful readers and writers and share stories, but travel just for the sake of exploring a new place. A history. A culture. Anything outside… Well, anything outside would be nice right now.

Since March last year, the only travel I’ve been able to do has been on the page, whether that’s reading or writing, exploring new worlds in my head. It got me thinking (it’s been a good year for that) about different types of travellers and different types of readers. The kind that prefers to flop down at an all-inclusive or on a cruise with a meal plan and entertainment all laid out, and those who prefer to go off script on an adventure.

Combining fantasy, horror, sex, and humour, my books aren’t easy to pin down My writing heroes are an eclectic bunch too, including Anne Rice, Bret Easton Ellis, Clive Barker, Poppy Z Brite, and James Robert Baker. Mix in filmmakers like David Lynch, John Waters, Pedro Almodóvar, Gregg Araki, Tarantino, and Hitchcock, and you might spot a theme. None of them are interested in making the audience cozy. When you go inside one of their stories, you’re completely in their hands, on a spoiler-free journey through the unexpected.

In other words, forget the all-inclusive. We’re going on an adventure.

When I read or travel, I’m craving risk, yearning to be surprised and changed, or at least challenged. Whenever possible, I try to pay that experience forward through my books. That means no spoilers. Even the promise of a HEA is off the table, so when a reader asks, I say my book has ‘the right ending.’ When I read a review of my book from a reader who’s clearly had that ‘holy fuck’ moment, whether it’s from an unseen twist, or just an emotion they weren’t expecting, that’s like a standing ovation.

So, here’s my promise to my readers. If you pick up one of my books, forget the itinerary. Forget the meal plan. This isn’t that kind of vacation. We’re here for the adventure. I hope you’ll join me for one soon.

***

Christian Baines is an awkward nerd turned slightly less awkward author of weird and dark queer fiction. His work includes the gay paranormal series The Arcadia Trust, the novella Skin, and Puppet Boy, a finalist for the 2016 Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award. Born in Australia, he now travels the world whenever possible, living, writing, and shivering in Toronto, Canada on the occasions he can’t find his passport, or has to isolate due to a global pandemic.

Join him as one of the authors reading during ‘The Queer Character Doesn’t Die in the End: Queer Horror’ (Reading B1)

Check out the full schedule HERE.

That first draft

Guest blog by Kevin Klehr

At any one time, I have three works in progress in my laptop, all at various stages of development. I’ll finish a draft of one book, then set it aside for three months as I edit and rework the second. Then that one gets set aside while I revise the third. After that, I go back to the first and the cycle begins again. When a particular manuscript needs minimal correction, I know it’s ready to submit to my publisher.

At the moment, I’m completing the first draft of a contemporary story set in the 90s, while the sequel to my dystopian novel, Social Media Central, is waiting patiently in my hard drive for its next rewrite. I also have a new Urban Fantasy/Magic Realism book which will be released later this year. I began writing it three years ago and was releaved when it was finally ready for submission.

I have a decent sized back catalogue, so when I think back to the first draft of my first novel, I cringe. Back then, nothing from the initial draft was used in the second draft. Nope. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

My assessor made me aware I had too many characters, and my protagonists were not protagonists at all. They were passive observers to the drama unfolding around them.

Over the years I’ve become a hybrid plotter/panster. Earlier today I was working on my unfinished contemporary novel, and while checking my outline, I instinctively knew I had to deviate from it.

The scene involved the Sleaze Ball, a vibrant queer Sydney dance party which was held yearly back in the 1980s, 90s and noughties. Depending on the year, attendance was between 5000 to 9000 ravers. All my characters are there, but one made a decision he’s not supposed to make for another few chapters.

Through experience, I knew dragging out his decision would annoy readers. My author instinct told me so. An instinct born from over a decade of writing, and from understanding how readers perceive my work by reading my reviews. And, of course, from consuming the books of other authors thus learning from my own reader’s perspective.

So, this long winded jabber is just to tell you that I’m finally at a stage where I can create a more polished first draft.

Of course, a first draft is never perfect. It’s where your ideas are finally on paper, and when you revisit your manuscript again months later, you see all its faults. But with time, you start identifying some of those faults while still working on the initial draft. Which means there’s less to revise later.

I’m already jotting notes for additional scenes, further plot twists, and character development to include in the next rewrite of my book set in the 90s, even though I haven’t finished the first draft. It’s nearly complete, but my mind is already revising it. The story needs more conflict and more comedy.

My debut novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, gave me all the self-doubt every new author understands. The manuscript got worked and reworked eight times, and that was before my assigned editor instigated three months of rewrites. At the time I thought her changes would ruin the story, but when I read it back to myself after all changes were made, I worshipped that editor and every editor since.

So, don’t give up. Every novel you write makes you a better writer. And trust me, every first draft you churn out will be better than your last.

***

Kevin Klehr (he/him) author photo of kevin klehrpens tall tales of mystical ocean voyages, of actors and angels in the Afterlife, and of a dystopian city addicted to social media. His first novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, spawned a secondary character named Guy.

Many readers argue that Guy, the insecure gay angel, is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. His popularity surprised the author, so much so, Guy had to be added to the almost completed sequel.

The third in this series, Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes, scored a Rainbow Award for Best Gay Alternative Universe/Reality novel.

So, with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin continues to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers. Visit his Website here.

Catch Kevin reading from his contemporary works (Reading A3) and from his Romance novella (Reading A4), and will be a panellist for the ‘There’s Got to be a Better Way: The Writing Process from start to finish’ session (Panel B6)

Check out the full schedule HERE.

Hi! My name is Hans, it’s a pleasure to meet you.

Introductory blog from Hans Hirschi

It’s all about the basics: we tend to forget simple things like a proper greeting in these [insert favorite euphemism for the shit show that has been the past year] times. Gone are readers and/or writers’ conferences where you’d joke about coming home with con crud. Can you believe this was actually a thing just over a year ago? “Con Crud”, what a word. *shudders*

Alas, what was I thinking… Yeah, right. Allow me to introduce myself to you. Traditionally, we might have shaken hands, these days we’re much more likely to just bow ever so slightly with our heads, or fold our hands in a traditional Asian way. I’m no fan of the elbow touch. You never know where that elbow’s been and people don’t really wash it regularly. *shudders some more* Either way, while I miss my hugs, we probably wouldn’t have done that, unless we’d already met online. Which is kind of what we’re doing right now.

I recently participated in an online writer’s workshop about marketing, and the most concrete thing that came out of that (apart from the invoice the teacher undoubtedly sent to our writers’ center) was that which was our task before the workshop, ie. to come up with an elevator pitch. Not that you’d ride an elevator with a stranger these days, but stay with me, it’s all about the concept. So here’s what I wrote down:
“Hans M Hirschi writes hopeful character-driven stories that expose ordinary people to unexpected situations making the spectrum of queer lives visible to a wider public. There’s a reason why he’s been dubbed “The Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings.”

So there you have it. I think that’s a fairly good summary of what I do, what I write. One might add on a personal level that I’m a married man, father to an almost eight-year-old kid, and I’m also a learning and development executive living in Sweden. Boring, huh?

Still with me? Wow! I’m impressed. I usually lose people after my name: “Hanes Hershey?” Yeah, high school was hell, chocolate wedgies are overrated. When I learned about IQARUS, I begged the organizers on my knees (quite the feat at my age) to allow me to participate, and I look forward to meeting you and all the other participants, even if it’s past my bedtime.

Love,

Hans

PS: Btw, my first name is not pronounced like the underwear brand. The “a” sounds more like the “o” in mother.
PS2: My pronouns are whatever you like, as long as it’s “Your Majesty”. Xoxoxo I’m easy-going.

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Hans Hirschi writes character-driven stories that expose ordinary people to unexpected situations making the spectrum of queer lives visible to a wider public, hopeful tales with unconventional happy endings.

Join him for the Contemporary reading hour (Reading A3)

Check out the full schedule HERE.