Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event: Alyssa Linn Palmer and The Year of Lesbian Fiction

The year of lesbian fiction?

I don’t know if it was for everyone, but 2012 was the year I started to really focus on reading lesbian fiction. Partly inspired by last year’s Appreciation Event, and seeing the range of fiction represented, I decided to dive right in.

I read ‘Oranges are not the Only Fruit’ while I was in university, but I hadn’t really read much of Jeanette Winterson’s other work. In January, I bought several of her books, and this year I read ‘The Passion’ and her new autobiography, ‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?’. I found her story fascinating, but it was ‘The Passion’ that really blew me away. The imagery enchanted me, and was so vivid that I could almost hear the side of a gondola tapping the dock, smell the canals, feel the damp air on my skin. And Villanelle... a cross-dressing heroine with webbed feet, who can walk on water and whose lover hides her heart in a jar. The perfect blend of magic, intrigue, fantasy and history.

I branched out from Jeanette a little later in the year and picked up ‘Annie on My Mind’, by Nancy Garden. Though it was published in 1982, it seemed to make lists of GLBT fiction as a classic. I knew I had to read it. When I was growing up I never really found lesbian coming of age stories. There wasn’t an internet and I don’t know if I really could have articulated that need. So, I’m catching up on those books I missed.

I wish I could have read ‘Annie on My Mind’ when I was 12 or 13. The realistic depiction of girls becoming friends and falling in love was something that would have been good for me to read back then. I loved reading this book.

And then I read ‘Ask the Passengers’, by A.S. King. On Goodreads, I wrote: “I read the sample on Amazon and got so caught up that I had to order the book. And it was so good that I read it in one sitting tonight, then cried. I hardly have words--this book was so incredibly moving, and I loved it.” Though coming of age stories aren’t uncommon, and these days they’re common even for GLBT teens, for me they’re almost a new genre.

However, the greatest discovery for me this year is the incredible writing of Cathy Pegau. Her debut book, ‘Rulebreaker’, kept me on the edge of my seat. It’s a futuristic, sci-fi suspense novel with a delicious, tension-filled attraction between the main character, Liv, and the woman she’s deceiving. I could indulge my love of sci-fi and of lesbian romance in one book. (And now, since I’ve been introduced to the lovely Ms. Pegau, I can say that her forthcoming books are just as fantastic, and just as suspenseful.)

Though I read ten novels with lesbian characters or themes, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Which books are your favourite, and why? If you could name just one that I should read, which would it be?

Alyssa Linn Palmer is a Canadian writer and freelance editor. She splits her time between a full-time day job, and her part-time loves, writing and editing. Her novella PROHIBITED PASSION and short story BETTING THE FARM are available as ebooks. Her short story VEE is in the charity anthology FELT TIPS (released December 2012). She’s currently working on two new projects, one of which is a novel set during the gangster heyday in Chicago in 1925. You can find her online at, or on Twitter @alyslinn.

Blurb for - Prohibited Passion
Ruth wants to escape the boredom of Bandit Creek and the strict expectations of her father, the local pastor. Her life changes the day she meets CeeCee, a world-wise flapper, and an irresistible attraction develops between them. She’ll be disowned and shunned if anyone discovers their prohibited passion, but can they keep their growing affection a secret?

CeeCee is drawn to Ruth, but things become complicated when her gangster companion disapproves of their liaison. He’s in town to broker a deal with the owner of the local speakeasy, and he’s not above using them to further his own plans. Can CeeCee protect Ruth and their budding relationship?

As Ruth gets drawn further into their world, she must decide between her familiar life and a new, dangerous path with the woman she loves.

Blurb for - Betting the Farm
After her father's funeral, Elly has come back to the family farm to pack up the heirlooms and arrange for the sale of the property. What starts as a lonely night turns into something more when a thunderstorm brings a beautiful stranger to her door.

Blurb for - Vee (my story in the FELT TIPS anthology)
Before you start to think I’m some sort of pervert, let me assure you. Vee is no nymphet, for all that I wish I had the talent of Nabokov. This the story of how I met Vee.


intensesensations said...

I really enjoyed this piece and Felt Tips looks amazing. OMG. To answer your question, I can't get over Sarah Waters. If you've never read Affinity, try it!

Vanessa Wu

Harper Bliss said...

My two personal all-time favourites are Landing (Emma Donoghue) and Pages for You (Sylvia Brownrigg). So much so that I must re-read them once every year...


alysbowie said...

Thanks for the recommendations, Vanessa & Harper!

I've seen the film of Affinity, but never read the book. It's going on my list for sure (along with all of Sarah Waters' other books.) And Emma Donoghue & Sylvia Brownrigg too. :)


Roxy Boroughs said...

Well, heck, Alyssa. My favorite lesbian romance books are the ones you wrote.

Jolie du Pre said...

Looks like I'm going to have to check out "Rulebreaker." Thanks for the recommendation!

alysbowie said...

Jolie, I think you'll really like Rulebreaker. It's fantastic. And I know there's a sequel forthcoming (a f/f one, though Cathy Pegau also has one out at the end of this month that is m/f) that's lesbian sci-fi, too. :)

And Roxy--awww, thanks :)


She said...

Great column. More books for the TBR pile. Your books sound good. I'll need to pick them up. As for favorites--Sarah Waters' Tipping the Velvet was good. Lucy Felthouse has some good works. KT Grant's The Princess' Bride was a fun read. I'm always looking for new authors.