Interview with Genta Sebastian and her new brand spankin’ novel When Butches Cry!

Hey Genta! Welcome! So happy to have you here, and so excited for your new book, When Butches Cry! Congrats!! Can you tell us a little about you?

Hi Jessie! Thanks for the welcome. Well, I’ve chased the Earth around the sun quite a few times now, and hopefully learned a thing or two along the way. One of my pleasures is telling people stories that somehow improve their lives. It’s what I live for, actually.

Tell us a little about your checkered past!

I’m an award-winning novelist with a, yes, checkered past that includes taking a year off to drive an RV around the United States, performing as a storyteller for places like the Majestic Yosemite Lodge, and public speaking in places as varied as Disneyland and the Foxwoods Resort & Casino. Nowadays I’m content to sit at home in the Twin Cities with my wife, and write.

In light of writing, what brought you to noveling? Which, as we know, is entirely different!

That is it. I wrote my first novel while in middle school. It was maudlin, full of teenage angst, parental disapproval, and a fatally flawed romance. It was terrible, but my girlfriends loved hearing a new chapter every day at lunch. Soon I was sitting on top of the lunch table as the seats and tables nearby filled up with kids listening to me read my story. The gathering grew larger and larger. It kept me writing every day for the better part of the year.

Wow! That’s one way to get the story out there. Then life intruded, as it tends to do. I understand you’re helping to raise your great grandson! How do you manage to find time to write while chasing the little one around?

I have the most amazing wife in the world. She is in charge of the three-year-old pretty much 95% of the time, and those moments when I’m ‘on duty’ all I do is play with him. She takes care of him, and pretty much everything else at our house, to give me time to write.

You’re one lucky lady! As I was perusing your website, I learned you’ve dipped your writing toes into a number of literary ponds, from young adult to erotica to romance. Maybe even more than that! Can you tell us a little about your journey through genres and why you gravitated to the ones you have?

My granddaughter was in elementary school and I was worried about what sort of trouble she’d face for living with two grandmothers, so I started writing YA books about kids living with gay parents. I wrote Riding the Rainbow, followed by A Man’s Man. I bought a big book of publisher’s addresses and started sending out carefully crafted query letters. After a hundred and fifty rejection notices, I began to question my skills. Maybe I was fooling myself into thinking I could write?

That’s rough stuff, isn’t it? What happened next?

Yes! To see if what I wrote was saleable, I started submitting erotica short stories to lesbian anthologies. Under the pen name Aunt Fanny, I sold nine stories in eighteen months. Reassured, I turned away from the romance/erotica anthologies to return to YA literature. I knew I had one more story about growing up gay.

That’s one way to break into publishing! Tell me more!

The Boxer Shorts Rebellion was my answer to a nearby school district’s Don’t Say Gay policy in response to an avalanche of student suicides. Most of the kids who died or attempted to kill themselves had been bullied at school and online. I wrote what’s basically a horror story/coming of age in a rage novel. My heart was sore from so many young people choosing death and I held back no punches with that book, describing real scenes of bullying with the disturbing language that always accompanies such acts. It’s a hard book to read because it’s a hard thing to live through.

I think sometimes that’s exactly what needs to be written. It had to be really difficult for you. 

I was wrung out. I’d written three books for kids ranging from middle-grade, young adult, and mature YA readers. Each had dealt with fear, discrimination, and bullying. I needed a change of pace.

Sure, I’d written the occasional spec-fiction short story for inclusion in other anthologies, and I have a space mystery half-written. But my attention returned to a project I’d begun a decade ago, based on the life of the remarkable woman I married, and some of her adventures.

That’s your new book, When Butches Cry. Congrats! Can you give us a quick rundown of what the book is about?

when-butches-cry

It’s a novel about a mischievous young butch, Traf, and her band of merry lesbians facing the challenges of the 1950s and 60s on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll snort with surprise, and that’s all on the first page. No, but really, it’s a book about people, most of whom you’ll recognize. We all know Troublemakers and may even be one ourselves.

Tell us a little about the Troublemakers, who as you so eloquently put it, “create a thriving subculture in a hostile world.”

Traf, mischievous and unruly, is in trouble all the time. She likes to do the things boys and men do, which puts her at odds with pretty much everybody. Luckily, she has friends a lot like her and they make a club to share their good times and bad. Other, more traditional girls and women join them and they won’t be driven away.

Who are the Troublemakers? There’s Ana, a sweet femme. Manuela, Traf’s best friend, is her favorite partner in crime. Big-boned Odette and her star-crossed lover Lucia will break your heart. Scrappy little Berta will make you smile, and Ines and Isabella will have you in stitches. They’re a varied group, but together they form a family. The story takes place on the island of Terceira, a place I’ve never heard of before, in the mid-20th century. Why did you decide to set your novel here and why choose that time period?

My wife was born and raised on that island, during the time in which my story is set. So…simple coincidence!

Terceira has a very distinct culture. How did you go about researching it?

I’ve drawn a lot of stories from her memories, and explore the island as much as possible whenever we visit her family. I love the people and culture of Terceira. There’s over five hundred years of history there, and they love to remember the past.

What moved you to write a period piece?

John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. When I was a very little girl, my parents drove us through Cannery Row in Monterey. That was long before the tourism began, and the row was filled with empty buildings and vacant fields, but with a view to forever. By the time I read Cannery Row in college, it was already bristling with storefronts and restaurants, but in my mind’s eye I remembered the way it was shortly after Steinbeck wrote the novel. To him, it was modern times. To me, his reader of the future, he made it living history. I wanted to do that with When Butches Cry. The island and its people are vastly different now than they were more than a half-century ago. I wanted to remember those people and their times.

What else would you like everyone to know about When Butches Cry?

Dorothy Allison said about When Butches Cry, “The world needs more butch novels!” I totally agree with her, and not just because I self-identify as a femme. I’ve always respected the way butches fly in the face of the status-quo, demanding the world take them on their own terms. My wife is one of the bravest, most self-assured butch women I’ve ever met, and I want the world to know it.

Thank you for taking the time to sit down and answer my questions!

Thanks for this wonderful opportunity. I’m also looking for advance reviews and will offer a free ebook copy to anyone who commits to writing a review on Goodreads, and when it’s published, Amazon.

Genta thanks so much for swinging by and enduring my queries! If you’re interested in reviewing When Butches Cry on Goodreads or Amazon, leave a comment and I’ll get your info to Genta!

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Politics and lesbian fiction

Women and Words

Here we are on the eve of the most contentious election of our lifetime. Many of you cringe at the mere mention of politics. I get it. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll all be glad to see this dark and ugly campaign finally come to an end. Our good friend and lesbian icon Lee Lynch recently wrote a great blog about the increasing ugliness of our political discourse and the ways it affects our interactions. R.E. Bradshaw penned a passionate piece about the bigotry on full display during this campaign, and the very real consequences for the LGBT community if one party prevails. Neither of these popular authors has shied away from political topics at a time of fever pitch not seen since the days of Lincoln. I grew up in a political household, full of loud and fierce debate, but today’s super-charged social media climate multiplies…

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Evolution of an Art Thief and the Law Game Blog Hop

Hey! I’m Jessie Chandler, and welcome to the fourth installment of The Law Game Blog Hop. Previously you heard from Gill McKnight and her novella, the Daughter of Baal. If you didn’t catch her installment on The Law Game Blog Hop, go here!

So maybe a year and a half ago, Jove Belle approached me about being part of a crime novella collection with her and some awesomely delightful folk. I thought, hey, why not?  Could be fun, and the company was terrific! Sharing space with Lee Winter, Jove herself, Gill McKnight, and Andi Marquette? Hell, yeah I was in.

I’d been chewing on a series idea for quite some time, and by quite some time I mean yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaars. The idea involved a woman with a tragic past who was out for justice and revenge. Along the way, for reasons not immediately revealed, she would hunt looted or stolen art and return it to the rightful owners. For a fair price, of course. I came to think of this as my Art Thief series. After a long brainstorming session with the inimitable Lori L. Lake, I roughed out basic ideas for six or seven books.

After I agreed to hop on The Law Game coaster, I stewed about what on earth I was going to write. Natch, I thought about the Art Thief. But how would I work that into a novella? Well, how’s about a prequel? Something that would set the stage, tell a little of the backstory that set Mikala Flynn on her life’s path? Yeah, that just might work. Thus, Evolution of an Art Thief was born.

I admit it was refreshing to write about characters I’d never met, in a location (New York City) that I’d never visited in my fiction. I hadn’t really written teenagers before and that was an adventure. I’m really excited to buckle down and start outlining the first novel in the series, which brings Flynn into present day. Soon. Very, very soon!

You can check out The Law Game here, and Evolution of an Art Thief here. Next up on The Law Game Blog Hop: on August 31st, the amazing Andi Marquette will talk about her novella If Looks Could Kill, which I think will be on Andi’s The Situation Room blog. You can hop hop hop to here!

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Clones, Identicals, and Sestra!

Women and Words

Holy crap! It’s that time again…the second Monday of the month means it’s my turn to blog on W&W! Sometimes I feel like I just posted something and then WHAM! It’s already the next month. How does that happen? Yup, this month caught me flat-footed and pretty much tapped of entertaining material. So I thought maybe I’d desperately peruse AfterEllen for some kind of fodder to use for this. And hot damn, you’ll be very happy to know I found something! What is it, you ask? ORPHAN BLACK is back! Season 4 of the freaking amazing Canadian show starts April 14th and I cannot wait!

OB Header

Never seen it? Check out the deets here! You want strong female characters? Check. You want an amazing actor to portray at least twelve different clones—genetic identicals? Check. You really have to see it to believe Tatiana Maslany is capable of intensely different incarnations…

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Rosie the Riveter and a New Perspective

Women and Words

I was recently in San Francisco with my pals Angel, Monte, and their two kids. Oh yeah, my wife Betty was there too 🙂

Angel has a thing for National Parks, and for the last few spring vacations we’ve taken with them, we’ve been dragged to twelve or fifteen different ones. On this trip alone we hit four. One of them was the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. That name’s a mouthful, but it was a-freaking-mazing! And not for the reasons you might think.

R Rosie building

I thought it would be cool to learn about the women behind Rosie—actually an Agnes—who, as of 2013 I think, was still kicking at 95. Of course, the visitor’s center had awesome displays and interesting videos and information boards galore. When we first arrived, sopping wet from the monsoon-like downpour outside, we were met by an awesome young Ranger who took the time to explain…

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A Little Bit of Cake

Women and Words

Cake1600x2560During the past month or so, I’ve talked about Cake, my latest release, pretty much non-stop. So much so, in fact, that I came thisclose to not blogging about it here at Women and Words. But then I decided it was fair to do a recap post of sorts to let you know what’s up with it.

The Facts

  • It’s available from Ylva Publishing and a bunch of other booksellers,  including Amazon. Since it’s a novella, it’s available for $2.99. I Love that price!
  • Ten percent of the royalties will be donated to the United Nations World Food Programme.
  • It’s getting kick-ass reviews.

Fun Promo Stuff

  • Marion Dries interviewed me for her Voices of Lesbian Literature series. 
  • The fabulous folks over at Cocktail Hour hosted me for a Conversation at the Bar. You can check that out HERE.
  • I did a blog tour of sorts (that means I asked a bunch…

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Isn’t that Romantic?

Women and Words

This year for Valentine’s Day, we here at Women and Words invited some of our friends to tell us about a romantic moment in their lives. And, just for fun, we answered the question as well.

Missouri Vaun

Like my character Royal Duval in Whiskey Sunrise, I’m catastrophically optimistic. Even still, I don’t think I really believed in love at first sight until it happened to me.

It was at a museum event where I first met Evelyn. The encounter was very brief and we only exchanged a few words, but when we shook hands, I had this flash forward moment where I sensed we would be together. I dismissed the feeling as wishful thinking, but then a few weeks later we did meet again. We had the longest first date in history that, among other things, included a drive out to the Pacific coast. I remember standing at…

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YIKES! Today is here already!! Challenging the glass ceiling…after I master the challenge of getting out of bed!

Women and Words

Well, well, well. Hello second Monday of the month! How did you arrive without me noticing? Better late than later, right?

So I’ve had a whirlwind weekend, with a two day, one night trip to Chicago for Printers Row! If you’ve never heard of it, check it out: HERE! It’s one of the, if not the largest literary festival in the nation. I was lucky enough to be on a panel, and the room was packed!

Mystery: Breaking the Deadly Glass Ceiling: Libby Fischer Hellmann, Jessie Chandler, Susanna Calkins, Raymond Benson moderated by Jeffrey Marks

Panel,
Mystery
  • Saturday 2:15 pm — 3:00 pm
Jones College Prep/Classroom #5010
Libby Fischer Hellmann, author of “Nobody’s Child”, Jessie Chandler, author of “Operation Stop Hate”, Susanna Calkins, author of “The Masque of a Murderer”, Raymond Benson, author of “The Black Stiletto: Endings & Beginnings”, moderated by Jeffrey Marks, author of “The Afterlife Interviews”.
Libby…

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Book Blitzin’ with Lesbians on the Loose!

Lesbians on the Loose and Blitzin’ the book!

Andi Marquette

Lesbians on the loose book blitz

Hey, peeps! So I have a longish short story published in the BRAND NEW ANTHOLOGY Lesbians on the Loose: Crime Writers on the Lam. My story is called “The Falcone Maltese,” and it’s the first YA piece I’ve published. In the story, our intrepid high school sleuth Nattie Brew sets out to solve a dog-napping of a prize Maltese show dog from the Falcone household. It helps, of course, that Jo Falcone is a classmate of Nattie’s. And Nattie’s current crush. Join Nattie as she tries to solve the dastardly deed and maybe catch Jo’s eye in the process. See below for an excerpt.

So go have a look at the goodies!

Book Blitz

51pxSz1jhZLBook Title: Lesbians on the Loose: Crime Writers on the Lam
Editors: Lori L. Lake and Jessie Chandler
Genre: Lesbian Mystery Anthology
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Goodreads Button with Shadow

Book Blurb

These tales of murder, mayhem, and suspense will keep you…

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Panels at GCLS

K’Anne, great post and you’ll be terrific!

K'Anne Meinel

Conversation-Pic-2-NO-HAIRThis year I’m proud to announce that I will be on a panel called:  “Living and Laughing Ain’t a Crime:  Balancing Romance and Humor with Crime”

With the following authors:
Ali Vali
Carsen Tate
Connie Ward
Carol Rosenfield

Jessie Chandler will be moderating this panel!

This looks to be an exciting and fun time and I’m on with authors I highly respect (and I’ll admit, intimidate me a little)…so it should be a good time!

So if you happen to be in the New Orleans area or you want to come to the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) event, please stop in and we will be happy to take your questions and probably give you some humorous answers!

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