Instead of heading straight to my sister's loft, once I got to New York, I took a cab to Strand. I never miss Strand. I also never miss their racks of dollar books that stretch around the building. I found M. Christian's The Very Bloody Marys and one of my favorite authors - Shirley Jackson's Just An Ordinary Day. M. Christian's didn't have a dollar sticker on it, but I convinced the boy behind the counter to give it to me for a dollar because I love a bargain and I'm willing to fight for one. (No offense to M. Christian. The cost of the book doesn't equal the cost of his talent. I'm just cheap - that's all.)I just hope that Jolie gets more than a buck's worth of entertainment out of my little novel.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
To give you an idea of this person's chutzpah, here's a draft of the book's back cover copy where he copies my style, goes so far as to use my biography as his own, credits me with a blurb and further insults me by saying I'm not a writer!
He looks just like you. He acts exactly like you. He takes away your job. He steals your friends. He seduces your lover.
Every day he becomes more and more like you, pushing you out of your own life, taking away that was yours … until there’s nothing left. Where did he come from? What does he want? Robot? Alien? Clone? Doppelganger? Evil twin? Long lost brother?
You’ve never read a novel like Me2. You may think you have, but you haven’t. You may think it’s like every other wild, witty, sexy, twisted, strange, scary, creepy, funny, bizarre, and haunting suspense, comedy, horror, novel about identity and existence but you haven’t. You may think you know what’s going on, but you don’t – not until the final page.
A new view of queer identity, Me2 is a groundbreaking and wildly twisted novel full of surprises, shocks, and delightfully quirky writing. A book you’ll remember for a long time – no matter who you are, or who you think you may be.
For the last decade M.Christian has proven himself to be a true literary chameleon, establishing himself as a master of multi-orientation erotica with stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, and so on and so forth as well as with the collections Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, and Filthy. Recently he has also shown himself to be a master of humor and suspense with such novels as Running Dry, and The Very Bloody Marys.
Some, however, suspect that M.Christian may be more than one person. The other “M.Christian” adamantly denies this rumor.
“One of the best novels I’ve ever read. Full of strange humor, thoroughly warped horror, and a unique ending that will leave you sleepless for days. Highly recommended.”
- M.Christian (not the writer: the other one)
Please help me with this outrageous situation by keeping an eye out for this impostor and keeping me informed of any further attempts by him to steal my identity.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
"The shock of September 11 is subsiding. Each day adds distance. Distance diminishes fear. Cautiously our lives are returning to normal. But "normal" will never be the same again. We have seen the enemy and the enemy is among us .... the publishers, producers, peddlers and purveyors of pornography."
It didn't take me long to find that quote, just a few minutes of searching. It came from an LDS Web site, Meridian Magazine, but I could have picked fifty others. Maybe it's because of the election, or because of a few horror stories that have recently come my way, but I think it's time to have a chat about what it can mean to ... well, do what we do.
We write pornography. Say it with me: por-nog-ra-phy. Not 'erotica' -- a word too many writers use to distance themselves, or even elevate themselves, from the down and dirty stuff on most adult bookstore shelves -- but smut, filth ... and so forth.
I've mentioned before how it's dangerous to draw a line in the sand, putting fellow writers on the side of 'smut' and others in 'erotica.' The Supreme Court couldn't decide where to scrawl that mark -- what chance do we have?
What good are our petty semantics when too many people would love to see us out of business, thrown in jail, or much, much worse? They don't see a bit of difference between what I write and what you write. We can sit and argue all we like over who's innocent and who's guilty until our last meals arrive, but we'll still hang together.
I think it's time to face some serious facts about what we do. 'Swinging from a rope' hyperbole aside, we face some serious risks for putting pen to paper or file to disk. I know far too many people who have been fired, stalked, threatened, had their writing used against them in divorces and child custody cases, and much worse.
People hate us. Not everyone, certainly, but even in oases like San Francisco people who write about sex can suffer tremendous difficulties. Even the most -- supposedly -- tolerant companies have a hard time with an employee who writes smut. A liberal court will still look down on a defendant who's published stories in Naughty Nurses. The religious fanatic will most certainly throw the first, second, third stone -- or as many as it takes -- at a filth peddler.
This is what we have to accept. Sure, things are better than they have been before and, if we're lucky, they will slowly progress despite the fundamentalism of the current government, but we all have to open our eyes to the ugly truths that can accompany a decision to write pornography.
What can we do? Well, aside from joining the ACLU (www.aclu.org) there isn't a lot to we can directly do to protect ourselves if the law, or Bible-wielding fanatics, break down our doors, but there are a few relatively simple techniques we can employ to be safe. Take these as you will, and keep in mind that I'm not an expert in the law, but most importantly, try to accept that what you are doing is dangerous.
Assess your risks. If you have kids, if you have a sensitive job, if you own a house, if you have touchy parents, if you live in a conservative city or state, you should be extra careful about your identity and what you are writing. Even if you think you have nothing to lose, you do -- your freedom. Many cities and states have very loose pornography laws, and all it would take is a cop, a sheriff, or a district attorney to decide you needed to be behind bars to put you there.
Hide. Yes, I think we should all be proud of what we do, what we create, but use some common sense about how easily you can be identified or found. If you have anything to lose, use a pseudonym, a post office box, never post your picture, and so forth. Women, especially, should be extra careful. I know far too many female writers who have been stalked or Internet-attacked because of what they do.
Keep your yap shut. Don't tell your bank, your boss, your accountant, your plumber, or anyone at all, what you do -- unless you know them very well. When someone asks, I say I'm a writer. If I know them better, I say I write all kinds of things -- including smut. If I know them very, very, very well then maybe I'll show them my newest book. People, it shouldn't have to be said, are very weird. Just because you like someone doesn't mean you should divulge that you just sold a story to Truckstop Transsexuals.
Remember that line we drew between 'pornography' and 'erotica'? Well, here's another. You might be straight, you might be bi, but in the eyes of those who despise pornography you are just as damned and perverted as a filthy sodomite. It makes me furious to meet a homophobic pornographer. Every strike against gay rights is another blow to your civil liberties and is a step closer to you being censored, out of a job, out of your house, or in jail. You can argue this all you want, but I've yet to see a hysterical homophobe who isn't anti-smut. For you to be anti-gay isn't just an idiotic prejudice, it's giving the forces of puritanical righteousness even more ammunition for their war -- on all of us.
I could go on, but I think I've given you enough to chew on. I believe that writing about sex is something that no one should be ashamed of, but I also think that we all need to recognize and accept that there are many out there who do not share those feelings. Write what you want, say what you believe, but do it with your eyes open. Understand the risks, accept the risks and be smart about what you do -- so you can keep working and growing as a writer for many years to come.
The neighborhood kids are playing songball again. I don’t mind - except when that poor hydrocephalic kid from down at the Corporate Dormitories plays. His voice just grates on me -- and three times now he’s hit just the right frequency, causing my precious candyglass trinkets from that wonderful Summer at Bronze Beach to explode like kitsch-shrapnel hand grenades.
Last time I thought I’d escaped unscathed, that his screeching rendition of Baldwin’s new hit “Peacocks on my Mind” had somehow bypassed those mnemonic souvenirs of firm breasts and multicolored pubic hairs against a backdrop of pure, blue sands and a crashing champagne sea -- but after one drop, then two of blood on the manuscript pages I was laboring over, I reached up to find a sliver of cheaply spun crystal at the end of a wicked slice of skin.
I have to admit that when I heard their tunes drift up from the alley, I jerked my head to my little shelf of erotic brick-a-brack, waiting for one to detonate -- mentally running my apartment full of crap for something suitably heavy, but not too weighty, to drop on the poor little spud’s head.
Luckily for him and for my criminal record -- the Magistrates being tightly wound that Summer as the League of Handsome Prostitutes had decided to attend their Convention of Postures in unusual droves -- my kitsch stayed intact on my little shelf, the swollen-headed fry obviously having something better to do that screech and therefore inflict minor flesh wounds on lowly writers.
A writer lives for distractions. Anything will do. Messages suddenly crying to be composed, a stubborn pillow under the ass that cries to be fluffed and then fluffed again, a speck of grit on a window, a cup that simply looks out of place, a candletip that needs trimming, a fingernail just a shade too long -- or, in my case that afternoon, the local spawn playing songball in the alley.
I’m not a fan. Oh, sure, I like swingtag like most good Franciscans, but frankly I just don’t have the pitch or pipes to do anything but get teammates and adversaries to gag on their laughter or fall over backwards. So a lot of nuances of the game are lost on me.
But ... writers and their distractions, so I took my favorite cup, full of deepest black and wondered over to sip and stare -- anything but face that damned blank page.
Songball? Really? I had no idea what I was looking at. Oh, sure, I saw the alley, a battered couple of charcoal bins, a few flutters of litter, and the half-dozen or so scruffy (and sometimes not) local kids standing there on the soiled pavement, marked the usual cubic patterns of places and HOME, cheering, jeering, and chanting. I thought I knew the basics of the game, but either somehow I lost what little knowledge I’d had or the game had evolved on the street into something totally unique. The pitch was the same, that’s what I’d first heard, but the delivery, the spin, was strange and new.
I kept looking, listening, trying to figure out the play but just when I thought I had a grip on the rules, the behavior, it slipped away. Songs seemed to change and evolve totally at random as one child skipped forward and another skipped back. An outstanding performance -- like when a copper-headed sprite in Naval Greens belted out what I thought to be a perfect rendition of Carol’s “Death of Summer” -- brought catcalls and squeals of disappointment, and then when one of the little urchins tore up the air with what seemed to be just random squawks and squeals they got applause, cheers and to progress up five, and even seven squares
Fear started to niggle at the back of my mind, as if the world has suddenly twisted out of whack. Had I set down to my work in one world, with one version of songball only to look up somewhere else where the rules were completely different?
I thought about yelling down at the insufferable brats, either to get then to stop playing their game with my mind -- or at least key me in with the damned rules. I also thought about grabbing my shawl and rollers and just getting out of there -- maybe to the library where the books would hopefully still be books and the clerks as rude as ever.
I felt a shiver of panic, imaging a trip out my door -- down suddenly unfamiliar roads, past unfamiliar buildings, neighborhood commonalties having shifted into not-quite right, and what-the-hell? Would menus be nothing but puzzling heliographics and impenetrable encryptions? Would signs become a dance of squiggles and stylish ciphers? Was the city outside the city I remembered?
Just then, right when I was really starting to worry, one of my trinkets blasted away into a rainbow cascade of cheap materials -- and I knew, much to my satisfaction -- that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Friday, August 10, 2007
On August 11th at 3:00PM you’ll have the rare opportunity to meet and greet me, a reclusive author who shuns sunlight, at a special *daytime* event at Borderlands Books:Borderlands Books
866 Valencia St.
San Francisco CA 94110
Toll-Free Phone Number: (888) 893.4008
Come for the reading, stay for basking in my literary glow (caution: only visible at night)!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Valentino is a 200-year-old gay vampire cop who drinks his blood with vodka. He's inept, clumsy, but can see himself in a mirror. Told in first person, Valentino takes three tries to get the story started--in three different, but amusing, styles. He does this now and again as he tries to filter certain events through his mind, as he tries to make sense of the world and life around him.
Valentino has trained with his mentor, Pogue, in martial arts and law enforcement for years, enough to call himself a cop. But we don't find out exactly for whom until the end of the story, although we suspect. His job is enforcing the law of the San Franciscan "vampire underground". But then Pogue disappears and Valentino must remember what little he thinks he recalls of his training while relying upon his limited sources for help.
The title of the book comes from a Vespa-riding gang of rogue vampires who kill with so little discrimination as to threaten to local vampires' food supply and also threaten outing vampires worldwide. But after encountering the gang and being locked on a roof to burn in the morning sunlight, Valentino begins to suspect the whereabouts of Pogue.
M. Christian is the author of the novel Running Dry, and the critically acclaimed and best selling collections Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, and Filthy. He is the editor of The Burning Pen, Guilty Pleasures, the Best S/M Erotica series, The Mammoth Book of Future Cops and The Mammoth Book of Tales of the Road (with Maxim Jakubowski), Trans Figures: Transgender Erotica, and Love Under Foot and several other anthologies. His short fiction has appeared in over 200 books including Best American Erotica and Best Gay Erotica. He lives in San Francisco and maintains a blog at www.mchristian.com.
As I've said often enough, I don't generally care for first person point of view. However, if the story is told well, handled properly, and holds my attention like The Very Bloody Marys, then I'm in favor. A narrator as self-deprecating and humorous as Valentino goes a long way. M. Christian's style is unique and new. I just wish the story had been longer. We don't really see enough of The Very Bloody Marys, although the gang is mentioned often enough. The fight scenes, while well-detailed, aren't quite long enough; they seem resolved too soon. Then again, all stories are as long and as detailed as they need to be, and this one accomplished that quite well. Too, Valentino's discovery of his true potential and how he handles himself and his duties from that point forward is well-written.
The Very Bloody Marys isn't so much a vampire novel--the vampires are far and away from Bram Stoker, and I'm glad for that--as it is a good, old-fashioned mystery. I hate be cliché and say "This book is a classic page-turner," but it is! The plot is quick-paced, and Valentino is as sexy as he is funny. The story is packed with a full, colorful cast of characters ranging from vampires, ghouls, and faeries. Oh, and a zombie or two. If you're hungry for a different kind of vampire book, don't miss this one!
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
It's Not Easy Being Undead
M. Christian creates quirky, imaginative yet realistic worlds in which palpable danger threatens to instantaneously whisk one off dark streets. The Very Bloody Marys humorously and deftly blends vampires, demons, faeries, a police force of the undead . . . capturing a complex daily reality in gay vampire cop Valentino --- as Valentino searches for his missing boss. Energetic, erotic, atmospheric . . . a unique read!
A couple of folks (people read this blog? I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell ya!) have written that the link below to Ann Regentin's review of The Very Bloody Marys is busted. Not one to disappoint my fans - both of them - I've fixed the link. Enjoy!