The Waking Engine Blog Tour & Giveaway!
Lovely readers! You may recall that I reviewed a book called The Waking Engine a month ago and it is definitely the most creative, unique and beautifully-written book I’ve read in 2014. One of the aspects that I really appreciated about The Waking Engine is that the main character is gay without that being the “message” of the book. Today I’m thrilled to have author David Edison on the blog to discuss his inclusion of gay characters in all of his writing and giveaway a copy of The Waking Engine!
Hello, OS&D! I am David Edison, author of The Waking Engine, and I am happy to be riding atop your scaly hide and/or replicating beet smoothies somewhere in the depths of your berth. But whether we’re swooping down to crush a recently-smoked ewe between your powerful draconian jaws or scanning the local cluster for unmined beryllium spheres, one of us has to pick a topic to write about for this guest post. I can’t just riff off your blog title forever, can I?
No, I probably can’t. So, if it’s okay, I’d like to talk about being a queer writer, and the synchronicities of the too-real and the make-believe.
I’ve never had a job that didn’t have “gay” in the title, somehow. Straight out of college I started working for a gay nightlife rag in NYC, transcribing the (extremely graphic) messages from a 1-900 number for the classified sections in the back of the magazine. I reviewed porn and interviewed drag queens, working my way up to restaurant and movie reviews and front-page features. Of this tiny, now-defunct, fairly-slutty gay men’s rag. An ignominious start, but also weird and queer and great anecdotal material. In other words: perfect for me.
How does this connect to my novel about death and reincarnation and cyborg faerie queens, you ask? Directly!
A gay kid like me grows up with urban fantasies, whether or not he reads them. One day, in the city, I’ll live somewhere with lots of people like me. One day, in the city, I’ll hold my boyfriend’s hand on the street and not think twice. One day, in the city, my friends and I will sit on the stoop and ogle hot men while we drink cheap coffee. One day, in the city… One day, in the city… One day, in the city…
And so it happened. So it happens, for many of us who don’t feel at home in the homes of our birth, whether we’re queer or different in some other way: we wait for the day we can leave, and find a world that fits us better. Sound familiar?
In a sweet, sad way, that’s the real truth behind the City Unspoken, the setting of The Waking Engine. In a metaverse where death merely leads you to a new life, as yourself, on some other world in some other universe, the City Unspoken is the ultimate destination. One day, we all wind our way there to find real Death – release from the cycle of reincarnation. In other words, oblivion. One day, in the city…
What happened between the hopeful pining of my youth and today? What diverted my quest for personal freedom into a tale of loss and death and the search for some kind of joy?
Not for nothing did I move from reviews to medical journalism, writing about HIV and hepatitis, about needle exchanges and harm reduction, about the unbelievable brutality visited on queer kids caught in the foster care system, queer kids of color, of size. Not for nothing did I find myself interviewing older queer people about agism in the LGBTQ communities, and of course about the holocaust they survived.
They call it that, my older gay friends. The holocaust. There’s no smile behind that word, no wink-and-nudge; there isn’t a drop of the usual trademark of gay life: gallows humor. It’s a literally correct word. We have gravestones where a generation of men should be, and their only crime was daring to live as themselves.
How can I not write about sex and death? So much of my professional and personal life has taken place at the crossroads. Death and sex. Freedom and loss. Honesty and brutality.
The photographer Thomas Alleman, in his excellent series remembering San Francisco’s gay community in the 1980s, says this about sex and death and the search for joy: “And, while that tribe convulsed with well-earned fear, heartbreak, and anger, some still found the courage and the will to celebrate the dream of life they’d come to San Francisco for, and they danced in the dragon’s jaws.”
A fellow writer once asked me why I always put gay characters into my writing. This is my answer: because I need to dance in the dragon’s jaws. If the jaws of my dragons are more literal than figurative, it’s in the hope that you will, from the safe distance of a reader, take my hand and dance along for a spell.
The Waking Engine Giveaway!
Tor has volunteered to sponsor a giveaway of The Waking Engine as well. This giveaway will have to be US and CANADA only due to Tor policy and the winner will have 48 hours to respond. Also please note that The Waking Engine contains adult content including swearing and sex.
Good luck and thank you to David and Tor!
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.