A special thanks to Dana Miller for including mention of Gifts Not Yet Given in his entertaining “Out & About” column in Los Angeles’ Frontiers Magazine. In it, he writes:
“Also on my must list is… Kergan Edwards-Stout’s new collection of tales of holidays, Gifts Not Yet Given. I loved Kergan’s first novel, Songs for the New Depression, and once again he delivers compassion, sincerity and a warm honesty in his writing that I just treasure. Plus, hell, one excellent piece is called ‘Festive Beaver.’ Kergan was honored as one of HRC’s Dads of the Year in 2011. He and his partner Russ are raising two beautiful boys. Gifts is a stunning compilation from a smart and skilled author.”
Thank you, Dana, for the kind words!
I’m grateful for the review of my new book, Gifts Not Yet Given, by Kirkus Reviews (“The World’s Toughest Book Critics).
“In 14 stories, Edwards-Stout assumes an impressive range of voices… This willingness to step inside the minds of such disparate, often nonmainstream characters hints at Edwards-Stout’s confidence as a writer and his broad life experiences. Edwards-Stout’s stories are original and important… provocative stories with a clear, vital message.” Kirkus Reviews
Very grateful for a new review in Arts & Understanding, a magazine devoted to HIV/AIDS, on Songs for the New Depression. The review (found on page 48) notes “the laughs make the book deceptively breezy. SONGS shines with psychological truth and historical accuracy.” Love it when folks “get it!”
I’m so grateful for Out in Print Reviews including Songs for the New Depression in their wrap up of the top books of the year; it is a career highlight for me. Not only does it affirm my instinct to write, but it also means that others may eventually discover my tale, and hopefully it will inspire and resonate.
Out in Print wrote, in part: “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.”
My Christmas gift came early this year!
I’ve long admired the talented artist Steven Fales. He’s a writer and performer who is also an advocate, never afraid to share his life, loves, and struggles through his artistry. Audiences worldwide have loved his performances, especially his well-known play, Confessions of a Mormon Boy, which he is currently performing in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Confessions is part of The Mormon Boy Trilogy, which he recently performed in repertory in Los Angeles.
I was thrilled to learn that Steven recently read my novel, Songs for the New Depression, and even offered me a lovely quote, which I’m proud to share.
“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
Thank you, Steven!
Songs for the New Depression, by Top 2 Bottom Reviews (D.H. Starr, Reviewer)
Songs for the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout was 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.
Written in the first person from the perspective of Gabe Travis, the story is broken into three sections. The first section focuses on his later years as he is dying from AIDS. The next section focuses on his twenties at a juncture when he had lost his youthful idealism, but still had hope for a happier future. The third section depicts his high school years and the awakening of his physical sexuality and first love.
Part of what made the story so touching was this backwards design. As we moved forward in the book, we learned about Gabe’s past, but we learned about it already knowing where he’d end up. References and dreams take on a new meaning because we know, ultimately, where the desires of the younger Gabe will lead him.
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.
I love discovering fresh literary talent, particularly in the genre of gay fiction, and was pleased when Seventh Window Publications introduced me to one of their new authors, Drake Braxton. His debut novel, MISSING, is a fun and sexy read, detailing what happens when a happily married man journeys to the Deep South for a 20 year high school reunion, only to find that his husband has mysteriously disappeared. Part romance, part suspense, MISSING takes readers on a fast paced ride, with twists you never see coming.
Drake Braxton took the time to engage in an interview via email, sharing more about his inspiration, gay literature, and his debut novel, MISSING.
Thanks for taking the time to “chat”, Drake! Tell me about MISSING. How did the story originate?
Most stories have a strange place where they start and this one, as cliché as it sounds, was a real dream. I awoke in a panic, full of fear and sadness, as I’d dreamt that I had attended a reunion with my other half and he disappeared. My goal was to recreate that horrible feeling in the early part of this book.
Your lead character, Blain Harrington, has many issues he is dealing with, which I won’t go into, as I don’t want to ruin any surprises. But how did he come into being? What was your impetus for his character?
Blain is someone so different from me and yet, I’m sure there are parts of me in all of my characters. He wants desperately to be the good guy in the relationship, but he is deeply flawed and has done things in his past that haunt his current relationship. I also wanted to show a character that gets on a soapbox about how people are so judgmental towards gays and yet he has judgments of others based on their education, intelligence, background…a little Shakespearean book snob.
While MISSING isn’t strictly a romance, it also isn’t strictly a suspense novel, either. It straddles the two genres quite well. Were you aware, when you began the book, that it wasn’t quite one or the other?
I love reading books that are not afraid to mix genres–that have sensual moments that propel the story, but also other moments of great romance or suspense. I needed to unravel the past romance of these two men and that led to twists and turns I did not expect. Interestingly enough, a few years ago, an LGBT publisher really wanted to publish the book, but only if I changed it to be a “true mystery.” I couldn’t do it. And in hindsight, I’m glad I waited and that Seventh Window has took the chance with the book.
Given the genre-bending, who is your reader? To what kind of person would MISSING appeal?