Posts tagged “writing

Bay Area Reporter Includes GIFTS NOT YET GIVEN on “Hot Reads for Cold Months” List!

Thanks to the Bay Area Reporter for mentioning Gifts Not Yet Given on their “Hot Reads for Cold Months” list! Much appreciated!

Perfectly timed for the season, Gifts Not Yet Given (Circumspect Press, $15.99) by Kergan Edwards-Stout is a collection of 14 tales of the holidays. Among the stories, you will find a few set at Christmas, including “The Nutcracker,” “The Fourth Christmas,” “The Cape” and “A Doris Day Christmas.”

Thank you!


Kirkus Reviews on “Gifts Not Yet Given”

KirkusLogoHiResI’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

Available now in paperback and e-book at Indie Bound (Independent Book Stores), Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or at your favorite book sellers!


Thanks to Alina Oswald for the fun interview on my new book!

Alina OswaldI very much appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with photographer/author/activist Alina Oswald, whom I first met at the NYC Rainbow Book Fair in 2012.  She graciously interviewed me for her blog, which you can find here.

Here is an excerpt:

So, are any of the stories inspired by actual events? They capture everyday life with such finesse, readers may forget the tales are fiction and feel they are reading about their own lives.

Some were definitely inspired by real life.  As you know, my debut novel was loosely based on a partner who died from AIDS in 1995, and there is a story in the collection which was inspired by his final days in the hospital.  And even the stories which are completely fictional have some personal impetus, as they burst out from my creative conscience, and largely fall in line with my world views.  Many are about being respectful of each other, being authentic to who we are, showing compassion, and the importance of discovering and claiming our own unique place in the world.

What would you like readers to take from Gifts Not Yet Given?

My hope is that readers will find themselves touched by the characters…  They are a varied bunch, from young to old, gay and straight, of different religions and ethnicities, but emotionally we are all the same, driven by the same desires and needs.  I hope people connect to our shared humanity.

Check out the full interview here.  Thanks, Alina!


My Interview on GaySoulCast with Lichen Craig

FiresideI so appreciated the time author Lichen Craig took to chat with me about both my new book, Gifts Not Yet Given, and Songs for the New Depression as well. She had some great questions ready for me and the conversation flew by!

We barely got through a fraction of what she’d prepared and it sounds like I’ll be back for other chats with her in the future.  You can listen to the interview here and I look forward to our next exchange.  Lichen Craig can be found via her website, Twitter, and Facebook, and her debut novel, Gentlemen’s Game, can be found on Amazon and online booksellers everywhere!  Thanks, Lichen!


Thanks to Band of Thebes for the Shout-Out!

Band of ThebesMy sincere thanks to Stephen Bottum and his Band of Thebes website for giving my new book such a lovely mention. His is the “go to” blog for folks interested in literary fiction, particularly with an LGBT focus. His annual year-end survey of LGBT authors’ favorite reads of the year helps inform my book selection and his support of the literary field is to be admired.

You can read his mention here!  Thank you, Stephen!


Provincetown Magazine Features Excerpt from “Songs for the New Depression”

I’m so grateful that a reader emailed me, noting they’d first discovered my novel by reading an excerpt in Provincetown Magazine.  As I hadn’t seen the excerpt in print, this was a very pleasant surprise.  I’ve always loved the time I’ve spent in P-town.  It has given me both a sense of peace and community, and my vacations there have provided many memories.  In fact, one of my new short stories, The Cape, which is in my forthcoming collection, Gifts Not Yet Given, takes place in Provincetown.

This past summer, Russ and I were fortunate enough to be able to take our kids to the Cape, and that wonderful week in P-town was the highlight.  Thank you, Provincetown Magazine, and thanks to the wonderful reader who alerted me!

Excerpt from "Songs for the New Depression"

Excerpt from “Songs for the New Depression”


Groundbreaking Gay Mystery Series Finally Comes to E-Book

Michael NavaIn 1986, the United States looked very different than it does today.  Ronald Reagan was president.  It was the year of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and the blockbuster film Top Gun.  LGBT people were largely marginalized.  Latinos hadn’t yet become a surging political force.  And while AIDS had begun claiming countless in the gay community, it was only in 1985 that the larger public became more fully aware, due to the sensationalized death of star Rock Hudson.

It was in this era of the so-called “Moral Majority”, a largely white, conservative, Christian view of America, that author Michael Nava crafted one of the most unlikely of literary heroes: Henry Rios, a gay, Latino criminal attorney with a passion for justice.  Himself an outsider, Rios acted on behalf of those without a voice, often wrongly accused of crimes.  While introduced in The Little Death, Rios would go on to solve mysteries in a series of seven books, culminating with Rag and Bone in 2001.

The Rios series would win five Lambda Literary Awards, and Nava was honored by The Publishing Triangle with the Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award for Gay and Lesbian literature.

As the revolutionary Henry Rios series finally comes to e-book, Michael Nava took time to share more with me about the development of the character, his thoughts on bringing an end to the Rios series, and his forthcoming novel, The City of Palaces.

Kergan Edwards-Stout:  You first gained literary acclaim for your Henry Rios mystery series.  How did the tales originate?

Michael Nava:  I started writing the first novel almost as a lark in my last year at law school.  I was working from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. at the Palo Alto jail, where I interviewed men who had been arrested to determine if they were eligible for immediate release on their own recognizance or would have to post bail the next day.  Palo Alto didn’t have that much crime so I spent many nights just waiting around or trying to study.  At some point, I started writing what became The Little Death; indeed the very first scene has Rios walking into a jail which was the Palo Alto jail.

The Little DeathEdwards-Stout:  Your lead character, a gay Latino criminal attorney involved in solving mysteries, broke many barriers.  Were you conscious of how groundbreaking he might be? (more…)


The Best LGBTQ Literature of 2012: “Songs for the New Depression”

Best LGBTQ Books 2012I’m so grateful that my novel Songs for the New Depression has been mentioned on another Best Books of 2012 list!  Indie Reviews names their favorite reads of the year, and my book is mentioned, along with others by my pals Drake Braxton (Missing) and Arthur Wooten (Arthur Wooten’s Shorts), and many deserving others.

Add this nod to the other Best Books of 2012 mentions at Out in Print, Alfred Lives Here, and Butterfly-O-Meter Books, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Award for LGBTQ fiction, and I’m slowly realizing that 2012 was a really incredible year.

Things like this only happen when we follow our dreams!

Here’s wishing everyone a 2013 filled with love, happiness, and joy.

My best,

Kergan


Author Xavier Axelson Makes the Leap from Erotica

Following success as a writer of erotica and as columnist for Examiner.com, author Xavier Axelson has surprised readers with his debut novel, Velvet, a work of historical fiction which tells the tale of a royal tailor.  While still containing the potent mix of love & longing for which he is known, the novel format allows Axelson to explore other elements which the short story format didn’t allow.

Prior to Velvet, Axelson had cultivated a devoted following of readers for his shorter, more steamy work, leading venerable critic Amos Lassen to anoint Axelson “a master of the erotic.”  Now, however, with a new and different tale to tell, I was eager to learn more about Axelson’s journey between genres and formats, and the inspirations behind his work.

Kergan Edwards-Stout:  Xavier, you were so gracious in interviewing me for Examiner, it is great to be returning the favor!  With Velvet, you’re finally releasing your first novel.  I guess the obvious question, given your success with erotica, is what made you decide to write a work of historical fiction?

Xavier Axelson:  It was a complete surprise.  I didn’t start out with the intention to write a historically-based novel.  Then again, I never thought I would write erotica!  I just go where the story and characters tell me.  They are driving, so I simply follow behind and trust they know what to do and how to steer.

What can you tell us about Velvet?

It is the story of Virago, the royal tailor, and is set against a backdrop of decadence, privilege, and intrigue.

When you begin a new work such as this, especially when it contains historical elements, how deeply do you delve into research of the period?

Velvet is based on historical ideas, but the world and its characters within are completely fictitious.   I love research.  I find it is a great way to take the fear out of the unknown.  In this case, Velvet was a pleasure to research because I love the Elizabethan, Medieval and Shakespearean periods.  This story opened my eyes to so many unique details involving the coronation of Elizabeth I, the interior structures of castles, and even how the blind learn to sew and cut patterns.

Prior to this, most of your work has been with short stories and novellas.  What prompted this leap to the novel form?

I didn’t set out to write a novel!  I initially assumed that Velvet would be a novella, but, as the story progressed, the characters became more generous with their voices and stories.  I felt it was my duty to return the favor and ensure their voices were heard.

While other authors pick one genre to focus on, it seems that you write what you want, regardless of genre. 

It’s true.  I don’t stick with any one genre.  In between Earthly Concerns and Velvet, I wrote a short story called Cravings that was published as part of a zombie/horror collection.  I’d never thought about writing a zombie story–and that’s exactly what intrigued me.  I refuse to believe in genre imprisonment.

Where does your desire to write come from?

It comes from a need to write.  I feel compelled to do it, as writing is an extension of my physical self.  It speaks to my truest, most authentic self.

Most of your earliest literary success has been with the erotic.  What is the most common misperception of erotica writing?

That it has little literary merit.  However, I find the works of Henry Miller, Marquis de Sade, Anaïs Nin, and The Sleeping Beauty books by Anne Rice to be worthy defenders against such misconceptions.  Erotica does not automatically equal pornography.

In addition to being described as a writer of erotica, I’ve also seen you labeled as a writer of psychological horror.  Given all these different labels, how would you describe yourself?

Well, erotic, exotic, and a little psychotic!

In your work, is there a fine line between the three?

I think many people feel intimacy, whether sexual or otherwise, is terrifying.  Psychosexual elements fascinate me, and while there is a fine line between the erotic and horrific, it is this line that is the most appealing to walk along.  The idea of the beautiful grotesque and the terror found in the mundane are both subjects I enjoy exploring.  Lines were meant to be crossed, as long as you’re brave enough to face whatever it is you may encounter on the other side.

With your background, is there a concern on your part that your work might not be taken seriously?

I don’t think what I do is serious.  My writing is incredibly personal to me and while I may be attached to what I do and view it as important, I am not curing cancer or stopping global warming.  That being said, what people may or may not think is beyond my control.  My writing speaks for itself and there are many works of erotic fiction that are masterpieces.

Who would you name as the top three people that inspire you, and why?

Tennessee Williams, because his writing awes me, his ability to dig into the darkness frightens and inspires me to follow after his characters… Lars Von Trier, because his visions are startling, eye opening, and undeniable.  And Georgia O’Keefe, because I believe in the power of the natural world she conveyed in her art.

Given that list, with all of their unique viewpoints and themes, when you look at your own work, is there one overarching theme or message you want to communicate? 

Hope, and the belief in oneself to find the light in the dark.

Xavier Axelson can be found on facebook, twitter, his website, and on Examiner.com.

Cross-posted on Kergan Edwards-Stout and Huffington Post.

 


Author Spotlight: David G. Hallman

When I lost a partner to AIDS in 1995, I immediately found myself adrift in a sea of ever-changing emotions, which with I wasn’t yet equipped to deal. I didn’t have the tools needed to properly channel and process my chaotic state, until I tried writing about my experience. Author David G. Hallman suffered a similar loss when his partner of 30 years was diagnosed with cancer, only to die just two weeks later. He too used writing as a way to explore his emotional state, and that commonality helped us forge a friendship when we were fortunate enough to finally meet at the Rainbow Book Fair in New York. His memoir, August Farewell, details the death of his partner to cancer and was noted by The Advocate magazine as one of the 21 Biographies or Memoirs You Should Read Now, calling his novel Searching for Gileadan honest examination of questions about God, injustice, love, and death.” It was a pleasure to speak with him recently about his life and journey to author-hood.

Kergan Edwards-Stout: Hi David. Nice to talk to you again.

David G. Hallman: Good to connect with you too, Kergan. The last time was over martinis in New York after the Rainbow Book Fair! I remember getting fortified so I’d be in good shape for the Black Party that night.

KES: Yes, the rest of us were a bit in awe that you were heading out to dance all night after being at the book fair all day!

DGH: Well, I’m not a father of two kids like you and your partner, Russ. That takes an impressive amount of energy. I bow to you in the personal stamina department.

KES: As you mention stamina, you’ve been through quite an emotionally exhausting journey. While you’d written other books prior, you wrote your memoir, August Farewell, after the dramatic death of your partner, Bill, from cancer. When you began writing, was it as a cathartic outlet or were you intending it to be a book?

DGH: I never intended anyone else to see it. Bill was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer in August 2009 and died two weeks later. After it was over, I started panicking that I would forget the details of those excruciating, intimate, heart-wrenching, spiritual, god-awful sixteen days that were, at times, punctured by Bill’s uproarious sense of humor. So I started writing the story of those days and spontaneously began integrating vignettes from our thirty-three years together. I wrote nonstop for six weeks. But I only did it so that I could have that record to go back to and relive our time together in the years to come. Just like how we treasure photo albums.

KES: Why did you decide to publish it? (more…)


Gender of Novelists in Gay Fiction: Does It Matter?

Throughout time, artists have inverted themselves in any number of gender permutations in order to both enlighten and educate. This may have occurred due to an era’s artistic conventions, or, in other cases, of assuming different gender roles in order to comment on the broader human condition. Authors, correspondingly, have done the same, using pseudonyms either to conceal identity or in order to write in genres not specifically associated with their own gender. For example, men have long used gender neutral or female pseudonyms when writing romance, whereas women have used gender neutral or male pseudonyms to write “male genres,” such as detective or action. But with the explosion of the male/male romance genre (m/m for short), I’m seeing more and more authors not only using pseudonyms, but actually trying to pass themselves off as gay men in their media interviews and online marketing efforts. Which begs the question, “Does the gender of a novelist matter?” or, better yet, “Does the truth matter when writing fiction?”

Gay fiction, while certainly a genre, has most often been a means of self-expression, within which gay men have written tales of their search for identity and community. The sharing of such stories, both fictional and not, have helped countless others discover more about the gay community and their prospective place within it. When I think of gay literature, classic authors such as Larry Kramer, Armistead Maupin, Michael Cunningham, Stephen McCauley, Felice Picano, Paul Monette, and John Rechy, among others, come to mind. With each, being gay was integral to both their identities and their art, helping to shape the stories they chose to tell and the characters they created.

Directly informed by their personal experiences, their novels delved into the very heart of what it means to be gay: how our familial relationships may change as a result of living authentically, how the disapproval from society can shape self-esteem, how the gay male’s search for love and sex may differ from others, and how the AIDS epidemic altered the framework and communities many of us live within. These gay authors, self-identifying and using literature as their platform, encapsulate what gay fiction has largely been known for, until now. (To note, there have certainly been well-known female gay fiction authors, most prominently Patricia Nell Warren (The Front Runner) and Mary Renault (The Persian Boy). Both women are/were lesbian, and it could be assumed that they wrote gay male fiction as a way to write of same-gender affection in a way which allowed them to still remain disassociated; neither, however, cloaked their identity by pretending to be gay men.)

While a well-told story is just that, and the gender of the author typically shouldn’t matter, does it, indeed, make a difference with gay fiction? The bigger question, of course, is, “What is gay fiction?” Is it simply a matter of the lead character’s sexual orientation? Is it the sexual orientation of the author? Is it a gay author specifically telling a story with gay characters? Or is there something else, not entirely tangible, which a gay author may bring to a story that a straight author cannot? Many of the authors mentioned prior wrote in the earlier days of gay liberation. They were simply writing what they knew and what they’d experienced, without necessarily thinking of their stories as a specific genre. But, in the years since, gay fiction has splintered, with genre within sub-genre, blurring the lines, and making the categorization of “gay fiction” difficult, at best. (more…)


Literary Spotlight: Ken Harrison, Publisher of Seventh Window Publications

With fewer of the big publishing houses making a concerted effort to produce new gay fiction, I’m happy to see Seventh Window Publications, founded by Ken Harrison, focusing on that market. Authors such as Drake Braxton, Eric Arvin, Jeffrey Ballam, Xavier Axelson and G.L. Roberts , among others, have found a home at Seventh Window, and the imprint has many titles in the pipeline.  Ken Harrison graciously sat down with me recently to talk about the state of publishing, gay books, and some of Seventh Window’s upcoming titles.

Ken, I appreciate your taking the time to chat!  First, how did Seventh Window Publications come to be? 

I started out as a writer, and Seventh Window began when I realized that I didn’t want to write. That’s a strange realization, mostly because even as a child, I had always wanted to be a writer. But once I started to get published, I realized that I had to be out there, front and center, seen and heard. Which is was not what I wanted. But I could not leave the work that I love, so I began Seventh Window, which allows me to pursue my passion in a way which fits me personally.

How do you see Seventh Window fitting into the larger publishing landscape?  What role do you see Seventh Window playing?

Some of the most exciting fiction comes from the small press.  A small press will take chances, mostly because a small press is usually working for the sheer love of publishing. When a small press finds a book they like, it doesn’t try to fit it into a mold, but embraces it for what it is.

What kind of work appeals to you?

Myself, I like dark romance. You know, stories about people falling in love that you wouldn’t normally think of as typical romance. Because of this I’ve published authors such as Xavier Axelson, Drake Braxton, and GL Roberts. These authors created stories about people who have been hurt by life and somehow still find a reason to love, which I find inspiring.  There’s something about an author who is willing to show a character with very few—if any—positive influences in their lives, yet finding the positive, finding love.

Are you yourself a romantic?

(more…)


Discussion Topic? ME!

Hi everyone! Given all that has gone on recently with my novel Songs for the New Depression, now seemed an optimal time to start a discussion group on Goodreads where folks could ask me any and everything about my book (and future books), writing, activism and life. Please consider joining in and chime in with your comments, questions, and opinions!

Also, the Goodreads Giveaway of the novel ends soon, August 15th, so don’t forget to enter!


Of Mother’s Day and Misogyny

As a gay man, I’ve long been accustomed to being called names, and have developed, as a result, a rather thick skin; perhaps too thick.  Negativity tends to roll right off my back, as if my body were slathered in Vaseline, or–in my case–AstroGlide Sexual Lubricant.  Typically, I am able to greet each and every volley with a shrug, but a recent event occurred which I’ve yet been able to shake.  Someone insinuated that I hate women, and while I’d never remotely thought that to be the case, given the many terrific relationships I value, as we approach Mother’s Day, I ironically find myself pondering how I feel about the opposite sex.

To give a brief introduction to the incident, I recently released my debut novel, Songs for the New Depression, and have been happy to see it receive positive reviews from such varied sources as The Advocate, Midwest Book Review, and Kirkus Reviews, who tout themselves as “The World’s Toughest Book Critics,” just to name a few.  Today, it was even named the winner of the 2012 Indie Book Awards in the LGBTQ category, and was shortlisted in the same category for the Independent Literary Awards as well.

Given this acclaim, I was a bit disheartened to read my first negative review, which–of course–I’d fully anticipated.  I’ve long known that you can’t please everyone, and understand that not all readers will appreciate a book about a funny but cynical man facing death, trying to make amends to those he has wronged.  After all, the character has more than his share of gallows humor, and his tale of love, longing, and redemption may not resonate with everyone.  Still, it was not the reviewer’s issues with the story which gave me pause; it was that her main objection to the book seemed to be that it was, in her words, “dripping with misogyny.”  She further noted, in the comment section of her post, that “it is hard not to see the author behind the scenes choosing to write it.”  And that, in the end, is what really pissed me off.

To be clear, the character of Gabriel Travers is indeed misogynistic.  He is hateful, petty, and spiteful, even on the best of days, and a good deal of that venom is spit towards women.  But the reviewer missed the more important point, in that Gabriel hates everyone and acts similarly towards others, yet always reserves the harshest criticism for himself. He strikes out to prevent others from getting too close, only to wonder why his friends hold themselves at arm’s length. Like so many of us, he wants to grow and better himself, but hasn’t a clue as to how to do so.

Aside from this overarching character trait, what the reviewer failed to note is that the women in the book–each and every one–are working to better themselves. Gabriel’s mother makes great strides in learning how to love, another woman ultimately rejects Gabriel due to his negative nature, and a third offers him redemption, when he most needs it. They are the true heroes and heroines of the story–which is part of why Gabriel is so angry with them.  These women are doing for themselves exactly what Gabriel himself hasn’t yet been able. It is one thing to want to change; it is another to know how, and to have the tools necessary for such growth.

Far from being blessed with a nurturing and warm Leave It to Beaver maternal figure, my own mother was more like the character Mary Tyler Moore played in Ordinary People–brittle, tightly-wound, with the possibility of explosion just around the corner.  My sister, dad, and I continually walked on egg shells, highly aware that even the smallest of missteps could easily break our fragile truce of peace.  Today, happily, my mother has grown and bettered herself, becoming, if not the mother I’d always wanted, at least a mother I can live with.  I’m appreciative of her efforts towards growth, and have tried to improve my own damaged self, with varying degrees of success.

While my mom may not have been the ideal image of maternal nurturing, thankfully, there have been other women who have more than met that need.  My eldest son, Mason, was born to a wonderful woman in Tennessee, who allowed me to be in the delivery room at his birth.  She realized that she wasn’t able to tend to his parental needs, and so entrusted him to my care.  Her generosity, warmth, and spirit carry on to this day, through our continued contact.

Our youngest, Marcus, had a more difficult and challenging relationship with his mother.  When he was 6 months-old, his birth mom took him to a crack house, which was then raided, and he was placed into foster care.  Though they attempted to reconnect the two, given her inability to leave drugs behind, it proved impossible.  Still, I’m grateful to her for the gift she gave us: an amazingly resilient and loving son.

For me, my assessment of people has not been based on gender, but on deed.  And, thankfully, my list of the phenomenal includes many women, particularly our dear friends Deb and Mary Kay, who became the first legally church-wed lesbian couple in Orange County, CA; Karen, who works tirelessly in the jail system, helping to wean inmates off addictive behavior; and darling Lisa, who continually offers me  smiles, encouragement, and words of good cheer.

While this is, by necessity, a short list, my admiration for women extends far past the few mentioned.  I came of age during the AIDS epidemic, and will forever pay tribute to those brave women who stepped into vacant leadership and caregiver roles, whose many accomplishments are now largely forgotten.  But simply listing the women whom I admire is a bit akin to the old “some of my best friends are ___” argument.  The bigger question is, what makes someone a misogynist, and am I one?

When I contemplate the word “misogyny,” I think of anger, hatred, and dislike, which doesn’t remotely correspond with my feelings.  And when I think of “women,” no negative connotations arise, either.  Still, if a friend were to call me out for perceived misogyny, I would no doubt listen, for I have found that I become a better person from examining my failings.

With a creative work, however, linking artist to art can be tenuous at best.  In my novel, each and every word Gabriel utters, whether towards women or men, was carefully chosen for effect; sometimes for humor, sometimes for pathos, and other times to offend.  It is his nature to live life unfiltered, but for me, I long ago learned the perils of such behavior, and work rigorously to examine my insecurities and feelings in an ongoing attempt to better myself.

While I’m not convinced that I am, indeed, misogynistic, I’m leaving the door open to that possibility, for the best way I can think of to demonstrate my respect for women is to live authentically, treat others honorably, with my eyes open to opportunities in which I can improve myself, those around me, and the greater world at large.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Cross-posted on Huffington Post and Bilerico Project.


Interview with LL Book Review: Kergan Edwards-Stout

Thanks to the good folks over at LL Book Review for the fun interview!

An Interview With Kergan Edwards-Stout, author of Songs For The New Depression

By Shannon Yarbrough on April 1, 2012

Tell us a little about your book.

Songs for the New Depression captures that moment in the gay community during the AIDS crisis, prior to the HIV drugs we now have, with all of the love, humor, friendship, sex, and danger those days held.  Lead character Gabriel Travers knows he’s made mistakes in his life, and doesn’t want to die without making amends–but has no clue as to how to do that.  With the clock ticking, he begins to peel back the layers and face his demons, with the help of the music of the Divine Miss M (Bette Midler) and his mom’s new wife, a country music-loving priest.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had a partner, Shane, who died in 1995, as well as other friends I lost through my work at AIDS Project Los Angeles, and I wanted to find a way to honor them.  The temptation is to write about that period in sepia tones, but I really wanted to try to bring that period to life, as vividly as I could.  And one day a sentence popped into my head.  I didn’t know who it was or what it would lead to, but that eventually became the first sentence in the novel.

What are you doing to market your book?

Happily, positive reviews are helping to market the book, and my articles on Huffington Post and other publications bring new people to my website.  I’ve also done readings and signings, most recently at the Rainbow Book Fair in New York.  I also looked at this first book as an investment in myself and my future as a writer, and put money into online advertising as well.

How have sales been? Where have you had the most success?

My book is out in hardcover, paperback, and all e-book formats, but–not surprisingly–Kindle is definitely my biggest seller.  Sales are increasing, month over month, so I’m hopeful that this book will reach many people.  I’m not so interested in the financial return, as much as that I really think most folks haven’t really considered the full impact of the AIDS crisis, and I hope my book spotlights that for them.

How are readers/reviewers reacting to your book?

Terrific! The big reviewers, such as Kirkus, Midwest Book Review, and Advocate.com have been very generous.  But I’ve also been pleased with reviews on book blogs sites, and in such unexpected places as Liberty Press, which is a small paper in Kansas.  I had thought, given the location, they’d be less open to this frank urban story, but they totally embraced it.  And being short-listed for the 2011 Independent Literary Awards was a big feather in my cap as well. (more…)


Life’s Many Moments: How Our World Shapes Our Art

Author Gregory G. Allen and I, up until now, had yet to meet. Still, we’d found ourselves bumping into each other virtually on any number of occasions.  Both of our debut novels had been short-listed for the 2011 Independent Literary Awards, we’d continually run into each other on twitter, and Advocate.com asked us for a joint interview, which we were happy to do.  As we gathered together for the Rainbow Book Fair in New York City, however, where we’d both be reading and signing our books, I found myself wondering, “Who is this person?” In a way, I felt as if I knew him quite well, but our conversations thus far had all been about our work, and I was very curious as to whom he was as a person, and how his life’s moments had influenced his writing.  Today, at last, my questions were happily answered.

Kergan Edwards-Stout:  Finally!

Gregory G. Allen:  I know, right?  It seems as if we have been connected for so long–

Edwards-Stout: And yet never met!  I’m so curious, having read your novel, Well With My Soul, as to who you are, and what part of you is in the characters you created.  You write so specifically about two brothers.  What was your situation like, growing up?

Allen:  Well, for the longest time, I was the baby of the family–the youngest of five kids in our blended family.

Edwards-Stout:  Five? Wow, that must have been challenging.

Allen:  I was the peacemaker.  I was the sole offspring of both my mother and father, so my role was to try to pull the other siblings together.

Edwards-Stout: That must have really had an impact on who you’d become.

Allen:  You have no idea.  I was the performer.  I was always on stage, singing or acting–I played Elvis when I was in the 4th grade.

Edwards-Stout:  Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

Allen:  You kidding? It was great! It started an entire career of seeking that limelight on stage. By the time I was 12, my folks adopted my little brother, and I went from being the baby of the family, to an older sibling.  But I was so thrilled to be a big brother, I was more than happy to give up that title…

Edwards-Stout:  Given all of these siblings and your family dynamic, what was coming out like for you?

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Kergan Edwards-Stout and Gregory G. Allen in The Advocate!

A special thank you to the staff of The Advocate Magazine for featuring Gregory G. Allen (author of Well With My Soul) and I in an interview on our commonalities and differences. It was a lot of fun to do, and I appreciate the opportunity!

Read the full interview here!


Scandalous! Revolting! My CONFESSIONS!

Last night a friend sent out an email to a group of writers called “CONFESSIONS,” which listed 10 of his confessions, which were fun and random facts other might not know, and asked the rest of us to do the same. One of his confessions was that he knew who shot JR, as he watched Dallas during its first run. Here is what I wrote:

1. Not only do I remember watching that episode of Dallas, but I was such a Dynasty fanatic that I would lock myself in my dorm room and roll up a towel against the door to block out the light, so no one would interrupt.
2. In junior high, my “girlfriend” — who shall remain nameless —  forced me to put my hands on her breasts. I never went there again.
3. Also that year, I starred in a musical version of “Little Women”, playing Laurie Lawrence. I had a great angry scene where Amy (I think) would ask, “But where are you going?” and each night, louder and louder, I would shout as I stormed offstage, “To the Devil!” My finest acting achievement.
4. My co-star in that was Anne Runolfsson, who went on to be a semi-Broadway star. I’m sure she’s left that off her resume.
5. I went to see an out of town run of “Victor/Victoria” while visiting Minneapolis, only to find that Anne was understudying Julie Andrews (about 30 years our senior.) I sent Anne a lovely note, and am still waiting to hear back.
6. I feel like I’m on number 10 already.
7. I am semi-famous, in certain circles, for a condom ad I did in the late 80’s. Yes, I was fully clothed (Thank god.)
8. I am not famous for a commercial I did for Honda. In it, I was the brown haired son. My dad was a blonde gay man, 10 years older than me. My sister had red curly hair. And the woman who played my mom had a root canal the day prior, was all swollen, so gay dad called a friend to come in and play the part, and she was Hispanic.
9. I have identity issues.
10. If you want any more confessions from me, I either get to see you naked, or give me five bucks. Or a piece of gum.

If you enjoyed these random fun facts, check out an older post, A Facebook Guide to the Essential Kergan.


LGBT Book Review Blog: “Songs for the New Depression”

Very appreciative of the great review for Songs for the New Depression!

Shelly’s LGBT Book Review Blog

Today’s fiction review is about a novel, yes, but it’s also about the soundtrack of a life. Songs for the New Depression, the first novel for author Kergan Edwards-Stout, is set to the soundtrack of the Bette Midler album it takes its name from. The book is loosely based on the life story of his now deceased former life partner Shane Michael Sawick and an obvious passion for the music that moved a generation of gay men.

The book has garnered some rave reviews from both gay and straight outlets due to its honest and open portrayal of a death too soon from AIDS and also, no doubt, due to the fact that Mr. Edwards-Stout has been quietly making a name for himself by having works of both fiction and fact published in the magazine press and for being named by the Human Rights Campaign as one of their 2011 Father of the Year honorees. When I was contacted by his publisher about reading and reviewing this book, and when I saw those reviews, I responded to the inquiry with excitement. I wasn’t disappointed.

The lead character in this tale is Gabriel – often known as Gabe and, to his mother and an old friend or two, Gabey. Kergan wrote the book in a backwards chronological format. It opens with a prologue after Gabe has died from the scourge of AIDS. It proceeds in three parts – late life leading up to his death, the middle period where he contracted the disease, and his closeted high school years where he was trying to discover where he fit in the world, and then it ends with a short epilogue that brings the story forward in time again. It’s unusual to begin a book at the end but for Gabe’s story it works well.

At the beginning of the book, which again, portrays the end of Gabe’s life, he has some redeeming qualities. He’s found the good in life and in himself and he is prepared for death. As you as a reader go backward in time with him, you’ll almost feel yourself hating who and what he was. In the middle part of his short life he was a stereotypical sarcastic, bitchy queen with a sex fixation. As a woman, a lesbian woman, had this book been written in forward chronological order it’s very likely I would have given up on Gabe somewhere about the middle of his mid-life. While my heart broke for the young Gabe of the 3rd part, the 2nd/middle part made me want to grab 20 something Gabe and slap him silly for being such a total ass to everyone he came into contact with and, quite frankly to slap a chastity belt on him and throw away the key. I’m not a violent person but, wow, part II Gabe was a real piece of work!

Mid-life Gabe doesn’t love himself and he sets about his life to make himself unlovable by others. He always seeks “love” but he never finds it because, after the trauma of his teen years, he has blocked out any form of love but sex. When he seeks sex, he’s actual seeking real human contact, love and acceptance.

There is A LOT of gay sex in this book. Again, as a lesbian, it did absolutely nothing for me and had the book not started where it did, about the 5th time he was “intimate” (for lack of a better word) with someone in any way I would have closed the book for good. I didn’t do that because of the way the author so skillfully set the scene and built Gabe’s character. The sex is integral to the story. It is why Gabe is who and what he is.

Another thing that’s integral to the story is the soundtrack. No, there is no CD with the book. Gabe, during his life, became a fan of the Bette Midler, The Divine Ms. “M” a gay icon in the period the early and mid stories are set. Each of the three parts has a song that it flows with. Trust that you don’t have to own the album to feel the music. The references are throughout the text.

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.


Flyin’ the Freak Flag

I’ve always been creative, even as a little kid. In 2nd grade, I was the one spraying pine-scented Glade into the audience, trying to establish the proper “forest” mood for my production of Snow White. Perhaps, to some, it would’ve been wiser to have spent less time on such “non-essentials” and more time rehearsing the actors. But in my view, it was far more important that our dwarfs actually look the part, with dwarf-like shoes (i.e., slippers), than learn their dialogue. Who cares if little Billy knows his lines, if everyone looks on the stage and still sees little Billy?

For great art, you need the magic, the essence — the scent — more than anything else.

And so it goes with my writing. It may not always be grammatically correct, nor foofy high-brow lit, but if I’m communicating my thought and affecting you in the process, I’m happy.

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