Today. I have so much to say, and I don't know how to make the words. So. I'm going with factual, probably a little bit rambling, and heavily edited to leave out the ranting.
Last Monday evening saw the 28th Lambda Literary Awards ceremony take place in NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Seeing as it was in NY and I am in the UK, for me, it was the early hours of Tuesday morning when the awards were announced. I watched them via the @LambdaLiterary Twitter feed.
I actually shook Nige awake to tell him. I won!
My historical romance, When Skies Have Fallen, won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Romance, which IS exciting. I'm still in a daze, but it's sinking in. I think. I added the medal to my cover, and my lovely author friends pestered me to brag, because I'm not good at that. And my award is on its way...
When I received the finalist medal, Beth and I had much fun trying to place it on the cover (for a while, it was 'Arty's' nose, and then 'Jim's'), but in the end, I opted for placing it pretty much where they did for the awards ceremony.
Yeah, I won a Lammy. :)
If my delivery of the news is...a little tame, I hope you'll forgive me. You see, on the same day I won a Lammy, it was also my dad's funeral. He was 80, 'had a good innings', and his passing was fairly quick and, we think, painless. All good things, because we've all gotta go sometime. My dad taught me to read - when I was only three! Admittedly, it was a side effect of me pestering him for bedtime stories, but all this writing, reading and editing malarkey? It's safe to say he's at least partly to blame.
So, Tuesday was something of an emotional overload (especially for a stoic introvert who 'doesn't do crying'), and things are settling down. Or they were...
Today, I intended, as advised by Nige, to post my 'acceptance speech'. This is not what I planned to write, but it's the closest I can get to what I need to say.
Thank you for this prestigious award. I accept both it and the responsibility that goes with it as an author of LGBTQ fiction and a member of the LGBTQ community.
Yesterday, a gunman killed 49 and injured many more at Pulse - a gay club in Orlando, Florida. It was a hate crime against LGBTQ people.
When I first began writing When Skies Have Fallen, I had a very clear vision of what the story needed to be. The story's prompter set up a beautiful starting point - two men who fall in love in wartime - but she requested that the story focus on what happened to them after the war. She had taken as her inspiration a quotation from DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover:
Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.It was the many interpretations of 'skies have fallen' that, for the first time in all my years of writing and however many novels I've cast out into the world, just kind of dumped the story, wholesale, in my head. The beginning, the ending, the key events - they were all there. And there was a clear historical context, real events, massive social upheaval, the fight for LGBTQ rights and equality, all happening through the window of my story...
Which made it the hardest story I've ever written. Arty and Jim are true representations of life for gay men in the postwar UK. It was never my intention to write a rip-roaring wartime story. It was a story about love, and the right to love. I believe fiction has the power to change hearts and minds, but I also feel strongly that it should leave readers in a positive state of mind. So Arty and Jim got their happy ending. Many did not.
It was also more than 'writing a love story'. I wanted it to be an accurate depiction of a time in history when people were persecuted for no other reason than for whom they loved.
A time in history...
I am at a loss.
It's hard to remember sometimes that one hate-fuelled lunatic does not reflect a majority (and by that I mean the world, not just the particular culture/religion the gunman belonged to). It's even harder to hold on to my no-violence/educate-the-ignorant philosophy when I read or see the dismissiveness or downright disgusting approval of politicians, TV presenters, and so on.
But the next person who tells me LGBTQ pride is unnecessary...well, just don't.
Now that the state has decreed us innocent, we can finally come out into the open, but there is still so much more to be done. We are not sick. We are not predators. We were not “turned this way” by inadequate mothers, or perverts who took our innocence. We were born this way, and the love we share is as sacred and real as your love for each other.
(When Skies Have Fallen - epilogue)
Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Sonnet to Orlando' (Tony Awards)Thanks for reading,
My wife's the reason anything gets done,
She nudges me toward promise by degrees.
She is a perfect symphony of one,
Our son is her most beautiful reprise.
We chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they're finished songs and start to play
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger.
We rise and fall and light from dying embers
Remembrances that hope and love last longer.
And love is love is love is love is love
is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story
Now fill the world with music, love and pride.