Posts tagged “indie

Seven Years Ago Today…

Seven years ago today, my debut novel came out. I was floored by the response. It had taken me 12 years of writing, on/off, to finally complete my labor of love, inspired by a partner, Shane Sawick, who died of AIDS in 1995. At some point following, a sentence popped into my head. I didn’t know what it meant, who was speaking it, or where it would lead, but that one line fueled a journey and became the opening line in my novel.

Just a few of the accolades it received:
Starred Review – Library Journal
2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award – LGBTQ
Independent Literary Awards – LGBTQ Shortlist
Best Books of 2012 – Out in Print Reviews
Best LGBTQ Literature of 2012 – Indie Reviews
Top 5 Books of 2012 – Alfred Lives Here
Top 10 Books of 2012 – Butterfly-O-Meter Books

Advocate.com raves that “Kergan Edwards-Stout has crafted a work of fiction reminiscent of some classic tales in Songs for the New Depression. Even better, Edwards-Stout’s debut boasts the kind of dark humor that made Augusten Burroughs (Running With Scissors, Dry) a household name.”

Kirkus Reviews (“The World’s Toughest Book Critics”) calls it an “engaging debut… Edwards-Stout infuses reality and hopefulness into a bittersweet story about compassion and personal growth. A distinctively entertaining novel written with moxie and bolstered by pitch-perfect perspectives.”

Five-time Lambda Literary award-winning author Michael Nava says, “”Songs for the New Depression is an affecting novel, written with great literary flair. I recommend it.”

What’s It About?
Gabriel Travers knows he’s dying; he just can’t prove it. Despite his doctor’s proclamations to the contrary and rumors of a promising new HIV drug cocktail, all it takes is one glance into the mirror to tell Gabe everything he needs to know. His ass, once the talk of West Hollywood, now looks suspiciously like a Shar-Pei, prompting even more talk around town. Now almost 40, and with the clock ticking, Gabe begins to finally peel back the layers and tackle his demons — with a little help from the music of the Divine Miss M and his mom’s new wife, a country music-loving priest.

Praise for Songs for the New Depression
“Edwards-Stout’s satiric wit belies a smoothly written, circumspect story.” Library Journal

“Simply stunning… This tale of love and life constantly brought me to both laughter and tears. To those of us who loved and lost this is an important read to assist your reconciliation. It has mine. To those who have heard the stories, this love letter should be required reading. The characters are nicely carved and as they come to terms with moral decisions, it ultimately to me was all about getting through ones life awake and alive.” Dana Miller, Frontiers Magazine/Los Angeles

“Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written… You’ll read this once for its emotional impact and again to see how the author achieves it. But no matter how many times you dive in, you’ll be impressed.” Out in Print Reviews

“Songs for the New Depression is a thoughtful read that should speak to many.” Midwest Book Review

“I highly recommend this very well-written work, but have the box of tissues handy with you.” Five Star Review – Sirius, Gay Book Review

“Compelling, beautifully written debut novel… The author’s darkly comic, brutally honest prose reads like poetry and has a melodic flow that is equally funny and heartbreaking. Gabe’s story is bittersweet, heartfelt and profound… A quintessential page-turner and the product of a truly gifted author.” Edge on the Net

“From LA to Palm Springs to Paris, over the course of 20 years, Kergan Edwards-Stout takes us on a beautiful journey. The characters are dynamic, interesting, and real, and the relationships are painful and funny and romantic and sexy and sad all at once.” Q Magazine

“Songs for the New Depression is an affecting novel, written with great literary flair. I particularly enjoyed its portrait of Los Angeles in the 80’s and 90’s, as well as the author’s brave willingness to write about the AIDS epidemic at a time when so many of us seem to want to forget that terrifying era. At times laugh aloud funny, and at other times intensely moving, it is the first of what I hope will be many books to come from Kergan Edwards-Stout. I recommend it.” Michael Nava, author (Five Lambda Literary Awards, winner of The Publishing Triangle’s Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award for Gay and Lesbian literature)

“Many tout this book as an important piece of fiction that should be read by all because of it’s portrayal of AIDS. I’ll give them that. I would add that it’s not only an important piece of fiction because of the message, but it’s a great piece of fiction writing regardless of the message.” LGBT Book Review Blog

“The laughs make the book deceptively breezy. Songs shines with psychological truth and historical accuracy.” A&U magazine

“Edwards-Stout has written a wonderful book in which he takes on AIDS and depression from a personal point of view and he does so with great style and wit.” Amos Lassen, Reviews by Amos

“This is a work that will make you both laugh and cry, and fair warning: it is difficult to get through certain portions of the text because Edwards-Stout is quite explicit in detail, which is testament to the fact that he is such a brilliant writer. This is not one to miss.” Liberty Press

“Five Stars.” Bob Lind, ECHO Magazine/Our Bookshelf

“If a roller-coaster ride of sadness and humor sounds right up your alley, then look for Songs for the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout. This is the story of a man who knows he’s dying, knows he’s made a lot of mistakes in his life, and knows that he needs to fix things before the end. I won’t tell you the end. Read the book.” Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez syndicated column

“Involving, emotional read… Songs For The New Depression touched me and stayed with me.” Alfred Lives Here

“Songs for the New Depression is an enjoyable and addictive read. In fact, don’t be surprised if you find yourself not answering texts and neglecting your Facebook updates as you finish the book in one read. I did.” Q Vegas Magazine

“The NY Times ought to be reviewing Songs for the New Depression, not the likes of me. It is a beautiful book, and, I think, an important one.” Ulysses Grant Dietz, author

“One of the most emotional, touching, heart-wrenching, and intelligent stories I’ve read in a very long time. With a dark wit reminding me of David Sedaris, this story examines the life of a man who’s made many mistakes and, at the end, has managed to learn a few lessons… The language is sophisticated and elegant, each word precise, depicting clear images and evoking specific emotions. The description, whether of location, food, clothing, people, or emotions draws the reader into the moment as if it were actually happening. As a result, we experience Gabe’s highs and lows on a powerful level, truly understanding Gabe, his limitations, and his dreams.Wrapped up in a sad story, illustrated with disappointments and heart-break, is a story of hope and understanding.” Top2Bottom Reviews

“Kergan Edwards-Stout’s Songs for the New Depression is a bold reminder that life, especially in its most difficult moments, is worth living. His characters are real and poignant, his writing is magical, and his message is timeless. Life is at its most precious when we are faced with our own mortality. It is an important book.” Charles Perez, author of Confessions of a Gay Anchorman and founder of the No Shame Project.

“This is an incredibly important book.” Chapters and Chats

“Songs for the New Depression is an impressive, innovative, and dynamic love story. Rich, witty, and vivid, this is a heart-wrenching, hilarious and sometimes shocking journey of an everyman-narcissist who finally finds redemption in embracing his humanity and ultimately reunites with the hero he was always looking for between the lines of Paris, Bette Midler, and all things fabulous. I found myself singing along until I was able to shout, ‘Amen!’” Steven Fales, Confessions of a Mormon Boy

“This book touched me at the core of my being! It is a story of love and devotion, and a self examination of a dying man… I read this book in just a couple of days because I could not stop once I started reading.” Book Talk With Charla

“Kergan Edwards-Stout has written a masterpiece. A bravura debut novel, its heartfelt message is ultimately timeless. It is easily one of the top ten books I’ve enjoyed in the past decade. Once you start this one, you won’t be able to stop.” Carey Parrish, author of Marengo and Big Business

“Songs for the New Depression carries you away on waves of humor and sadness as we follow the protagonist as he deals with his search for love, acceptance and his battle with AIDS. Far from being maudlin, it is extremely sensitive and ennobling. A fine work that will leave you wanting more.” Robert Michael Morris, star of TV’s The Comeback and author of An American Scrapbook

 


The Award-Winning LGBT Book Missing Becomes the Indie Movie He Is Gone

Greg_LoisHaving read and enjoyed the LGBT novel Missing, by Drake Braxton, which I found to be a fun and unique romance/mystery, I wasn’t surprised when the book went on to win several awards, including Best Gay Fiction for the New England Book Festival. Now, two years later, I’ve learned not only that the book is getting the feature film treatment (as He Is Gone), but that my dear friend Gregory G. Allen has written the screenplay.  I had the pleasure of speaking with him and director/producer Lois Munoz Merka to learn more about the project and its journey from page to screen.

Kergan Edwards-Stout: Thanks for joining me!  I’m very excited to see how you’ve taken this from book to movie…

Lois Munoz Merka: Thanks for sharing the project with your readers.

Edwards-Stout: For those who haven’t yet read the book, tell us a little about it.

Gregory G. Allen: The simple answer is that a gay couple goes from Boston to Alabama for a high school reunion and when one turns around — the other is gone. He Is Gone becomes a pulsating ride to unravel the mystery of his disappearance.

Edwards-Stout: Funny enough, when I reviewed the book, I called it ‘a challenging, sexy, and worthwhile ride’! (more…)


Out Indie Artist Matt Gold Learns He Must “Drown” Before He Can “Swim”

Matt GoldIn the not-so-distant past, gay musicians hid in the closet or played coy about their sexuality, but today’s artists are an entirely different breed.  For up and coming singer-songwriter Matt Gold, being gay may be a given, but is simply one more piece to his overall puzzle.  For Gold, inspiration is found in key moments from his life’s journey; they tell of growing up in a small town as an only child, of being adopted, the search for identity, and the experience of being abandoned, due to being gay.

Such themes and more are explored in Gold’s debut album, Drown Before You Swim.  Tellingly, in its CD format, the album is broken into two discs, “Drown” and “Swim,” balancing his darker and lighter elements within.  Gold recently took time to share more about his life, art, and the passions that fuel him.

Kergan Edwards-Stout:  Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Matt.  To begin, as your songwriting is so tied to your piano, how did you first come to play it?

Matt Gold:  Originally, I wanted to play the saxophone, but my mother was concerned that it could affect my mouth, especially as I needed braces.  So instruments in your mouth were out!  I tried the bass drum, bells, xylophone, and finally settled on the piano–but only took a month’s worth of lessons before I quit.

What made you quit?

I was really frustrated at my inability to learn it as quickly as I wanted, but, more importantly, I realized that improvisation was really my style.  I love taking music out of the expected and making it my own.  I played piano in church for a long time, and those are very structured, by nature.  But with hymns and ballads, particularly, you can do so much more than what is written on the page.

Was religion important to you, or was playing in church just what was expected? (more…)


New Review Calls “Songs for the New Depression” a “Gem”

I’m so grateful for the wonderful review of Songs for the New Depression in the Examiner by noted author Alan H. Chin, calling it “a gem.”  Under any circumstances, that alone would  be high praise, but what most people don’t realize, though, as I normally don’t discuss it, is that–from beginning to end–I published the novel largely by myself, making the accolades even more meaningful.

In December 2010, after 12 long years of on-again, off-again writing, I finally finished the novel in order to be able to give it to my partner, Russ, as his 50th birthday gift.  After meeting my deadline, I then began trying to sell the book in the traditional manner.  I approached over 250 literary agents, and was rejected or did not receive a response (which is the same thing as a “no”–just less polite) by every single one.  I sent the manuscript to publishing houses, large and small, and was again rejected.  I took every route possible, and was told “no,” time and again.  It was incredibly demoralizing, to have written something which I felt so passionately about, only to have my baby repeatedly deemed ugly.

Finally, I received two rejections which sent me off on an entirely different path than anticipated.  One was from the agent who represents Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham (The Hours.)  She’d read the novel, enjoyed it, and had shared with other agents in her office, calling the writing “contemporary, fresh, funny,” only to then let me know that she couldn’t “sell it.”  There was a glut of literary fiction on the marketplace, she noted, and marketing a book such as this would be difficult, at best.  While that should have been disappointing, it really wasn’t.  Neither was the next rejection letter I got.

An esteemed editor and publisher, Don Weise, who used to run Alyson Books and now heads the LGBT press, Magnus Books, also read the novel.  Again, I got the same response, which essentially said,”I love your book, but literary fiction just ain’t selling!”

While no one likes rejection, to have been told by two well-respected sources such as these just how great they thought the book was proved a huge boost to me, launching my “make-it-happen” instincts into overdrive.  My feeling was, if these amazing folks love it, but there just isn’t a marketplace for it, why not create my own marketplace?

Thus began a huge leap into the world of indie publishing.  I had no money, so leaned on friends to help me edit the novel.  I learned how to make videos, in order to create my own promotional tools.  I learned code to be able to build my website.  I wrote my own press releases, contacted reviewers, acted as my own shipper, and more, in order to both publish and promote my book.

While the novel may never make me rich, that was never the intent.  I wrote a cautionary tale of love, loss, and redemption, and for those folks who’ve read and “gotten it,” my hope is that the novel will feed and nourish their souls.  Happily, most of the letters I’ve received tell me that it has.  Others won’t like it, and that’s okay, too.  I’d rather have written something which is polarizing than to have written something bland.

This particular reviewer, however, “got it,” and I feel so grateful.

Songs for the New Depression isn’t the story of my partner, Shane, though he inspired it.  This is really my emotional journey, entirely fictionalized, of going from self-serving to self-loving.  Of going from a person I hated into one in whom I now see value.  Going from someone scared of taking leaps into one for whom leaping has become mandatory.

Each and every person who reads and appreciates the journey means that my learning and efforts have not been in vain.

For those of us who choose the lonely road, it is a hard one, but the rewards at the end are also ours to savor…

Please check out the full review here, but following are a few lovely quotes:

“This is a sad story brushed onto the canvas with insightful, dark humor and touching flourishes…

Gabe is not a likable character, yet the author skillfully presents his protagonist in such a way that the reader understands why Gabe chooses to push people away, even people he loves. Also, the three snapshots are told in reverse-chronological order, so the reader builds up sympathy for the character while he struggles with AIDS, and then in the end, reveals the sexual incident that derailed Gabe’s life, to finally bring understanding. Reversing the order was a stroke of genius.

The author presents a story that is heartfelt and authentic, and told with great skill.

If you are looking for a gushing mm romance with a happy ending, keep looking. If you are looking, however, for a well-written, intelligent, bittersweet tale of love and overcoming a troubled past, then I can highly recommend this gem of a book.”


Blade California Covers “Songs for the New Depression”!

My sincere thanks to the great folks over at Blade California for including Songs for the New Depression in their June gay pride issue!  Our family did a photo shoot for them many years ago which was lots of fun, and it is terrific to be included now with my book. The magazine is on their website in flash format, so the screenshot is difficult to read, but if you head over to their site, the article is on page 31.  Thank you, Blade!