Scenes from a Drag/Burlesque Show

I participated in the Books & Burlesque show in New York City on December 2, along side authors YZ Chin, Aimée Lutkin and Ricky Tucker. It was easily the most unique reading experience I’ve ever done! The authors read, and burlesque performers interpreted the excerpt. A statuesque performer named Beleza interpreted images from my cosmic horror story set in the Ballroom scene, “Spyder Threads,” using the “Theme to Mahogany” as the background.

Thanks to Fortune Cookie and Rose Tulips for inviting me to the event!

KGB Reading link for September 16

The YouTube link for my upcoming reading with Livia Llewellyn on September 16 @ 7pm EST is now up. Participating in the Fantastic Fiction at the KGB has always been a bucket list item for me. I hope to read there in the physical space sometime in the future! Thanks again to Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel for the opportunity!

Pictures from my Library Event on Feb 29

Thanks to DC Public Library Petworth Branch, Loyalty Books and David Quick for setting up this opportunity. And thanks to all who came out!

Finally, the author Liz Hand (who also has a novel about Outsider Artists out called Curious Toys) reviewed A Spectral Hue for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Biomythography in “A Spectral Hue”

The poet Audre Lorde created the word “biomythography,” and the book that bears this subtitle, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, freely mixes the memoir with the mythic in new and inventive ways. I love how the word honors the fact that we’re all made of fact and fiction, and mythic tropes sometimes intrude on our more mundane, prosaic existence.

A Spectral Hue isn’t an (auto)biography, but I see bits and pieces of my personal mythology woven throughout the text. Subconsciously, I’ve drawn from stories that my family told, and fused them with fiction. The novel is a ghost story in more than one way.

Echoes of my mother’s life in Philadelphia show up in Iris’s story; I modeled the house Iris grew up in on my grandparents’ Ridge Avenue home. My aunt, Mom’s sister, told me about her visions, which were adjacent to, if not exactly, psychic. (She could guess people’s astrological signs, and was correct all of the time without knowing their birth dates). The “gay gang” Violet Rage is a thinly veiled version of the true DC ‘gang’ of gay black kids called ‘Check It.’ Family vacations were frequently held on the Eastern Shore—we went to Ocean City as kids. The whole area influenced and inspired the fictional town of Shimmer. The botanica in one of the chapters is in my neighborhood. 

In my author talk on February 29 at the Petworth Library, I will discuss some of the other influences of the novel, focusing on the artistic parts. The DC Colorfield movement and the DC outsider artist James Hampton were all inspirations. To me, visual art is magic itself. Gazing upon it takes me to another world. It changes my mood, deranges my senses. The play of color, light and shape has an almost synesthetic affect on me. Outsider Artists, at least the ones I researched, believed that their art was a message or a portal to elsewhere. Spirits spoke to them through their chosen medium, and within their elaborate worlds they imbedded pieces of themselves. Henry Darger’s collages are filled with clues about his troubled childhood. Shards of his life are embedded in the stories of the Vivian Girls.  Hampton’s private “angelic” language is deeply informed by his Baptist upbringing.

I hope to see some of you there!

Scenes a from quasi-book tour

Here are some pictures from the whirlwind quasi-tour promoting A SPECTRAL HUE. 3 cites (DC, Baltimore, New York), a variety of venues (from the Library of Congress to a DIY performance space plus a Skyped book club visit in Dallas) and a whole lot of meeting readers and other writers. I’m open to talk to classes, book clubs and readings. Thanks to everyone who set up the events, and those who attended!

Nnedi Okorafor and me at the Baltimore Book Festival
Reading at Club Cumming in NYC
Reading at Club Cumming in NYC
Bureau of General Service-Queer Division Bookstore

Enclave Reading Poster; A Spectral Hue appears on another list!

In addition to the reading on Oct 18 at the Bureau of General Services-Queer Division reading with Trebor Healey, I will also be reading for the Enclave series held at the actor Alan Cumming’s cabaret spot on Oct 20. The event now has an official poster.

Fellow Word Horde author and noted monster expert Orrin Grey included A SPECTRAL HUE in an article called 11 Creepy Books for the Witching Season!

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