(c) by Mary Griggs
A bit of a fangirl moment, as I just received my manuscript back from the editor.
A little background first–as a kid, my entry into lesbian and gay characters in books was from some mass market paperbacks I found each summer at the family beach house. There was a single bookcase of titles left by other visitors that most folks only pulled out when the rains trapped us all inside. I vividly remember the Raymond Chandler’s and Earl Stanley Gardner’s gay killers and a couple of twisted predatory lesbians from books with covers so lurid I could only pull them out after dark.
In high school, I found Jane Rule in my local public library. I was transported by her vivid imagery and descriptions but devastated by what seemed to be the inevitable agony of loneliness that surrounded the lesbians in her books.
Then, in college I took a trip to New York City and ducked out of a group trip to the museum to visit the Oscar Wilde Bookshop. I got lost twice on the way (uptown vs downtown was NOT made clear!) but was too nervous to ask anyone for directions.
Once there, I wandered the cramped store and was floored by the sheer numbers of books written by women. I was torn between wanted to just plant myself down and begin reading and my urge to flee back to safety with a couple of titles. The very lovely man at the register must have seen his fair share of fledgling dykes in his store and he came over to make a couple of recommendations and the wrote out directions to Judith’s Room, a women’s bookstore nearby.
I left that day with a copy of Katherine Forrest’s first mystery starring detective Kate Delafield, Amateur City. The book opened my eyes–there was a strength to the character and to the writing. The storyline was crisp and the build up of tension and reveal kept me riveted to the page.
We were only in New York for a week but I read the book in one evening and escaped the group another time to dash to the women’s bookstore where I found other titles by Katherine Forrest and other recommendations of who to read next.
I have always held Katherine Forrest up as a beacon who led me into the wonderful world of lesbian fiction. When I began writing my own stories, she continued to be my model of a story-teller.
I say all that to explain why I’ve been dancing around my house today. I got the initial edits back on my manuscript and my editor is none other than Katherine V. Forrest herself. When I saw her letterhead, I hyperventilated and had to put the pages down until my head stopped spinning.
She wrote that we have a lot to talk about “but that doesn’t take away from the good ingredients in your novel. Its deep south setting and the real people you portray so realistically. Also some of the wisdom that emerges in the interchanges between your female characters.”
There was more before the suggestions started but Oh, My God!