Queer Lit Q&A: ‘Nathan Burgoine

Popping up first, because I’m fairly shamelessly stealing this format from him… ‘Nathan Burgoine! You might know him as that guy with the apostrophe in an unexpected place. I know him as the guy who always writes the best story in anthologies I’m also in. Somehow that isn’t annoying though, because – as I’m sure plenty of others will attest – he’s also the Nicest Man In Queer Lit (TM).  Seriously: I’m an enormous fan. I loved his Lammy-finalist debut novel, Light, and I’ve yet to read a story of his that I haven’t fallen a little bit in love with. (My favourite, for the record, is ‘Psychometry of Snow’, which you can read for free on the Lethe blog.) He also pops up in my Threesome anthology with a story involving chocolate and hot sex. Do I need to say more? Probably  most importantly, this week is also release week for his new novel, Triad Blood, which you should go nosy around right. this. minute.


1. Tell me about a novel/short story of yours that you think didn’t get the attention it deserved…
In between Light and Triad Blood (or, as I like to call them, “But I don’t write novels!” exception numbers one and two, Jerry L. Wheeler invited me to write a novella for a four-novella collection loosely themed around the chase. Someone who had run away from someone else? Someone hunting someone else down? I’d just come off writing Light and was so ready to head back to short fiction land, but I’d never tried to write a novella, and the story length—under 18,000 words, in my case—wasn’t anywhere near as daunting as the terrifying world of novels.

“In Memoriam” sprang up from two places. One is my love of the “do-over” and second chances. Be that via time-travel (the television show Being Erica was something I devoured in a few sittings) or something less mystical, I love writing stories where someone gets one more chance to say what they always wanted to say. So, I knew I wanted my story to be about “the one that got away” and giving my main character a chance to track him down again.

Then, a friend of mine posted about a serious illness striking, and someone thoughtlessly followed up with that tooth-grindingly awful phrase “Everything happens for a reason,” and the story started to spark. The main character became James, an editor, and begins with him hearing the worst.

“In Memoriam” is about a man who is literally running out of time. James is dying, and having taken stock of his life, he realizes that though he’s not unhappy overall, there are things he wishes he’d done differently, and one major regret: Andy. Andy was that guy who got away, and James decides that he wants to make it right. And while cancer starts to take parts of his brain—and James starts to have trouble with his memories, his understanding of the time, and even starts to lose his ability to read—something strange happens: as James loses his grip on time, time might just be losing its grip on James.

Flung around to times he finds in his journals, James ends up faced with the biggest editing job of all: his own life.

“In Memoriam” is available alongside novellas by Hank Edwards, Jeff Mann and Dale Chase in the collection On the Run: Tales of Gay Pursuit and Passion, edited by Jerry L. Wheeler, via Wilde City Press.

2. Recommend me a novel/short story by someone else that you think everyone should be reading… 

Now, speaking of lost loves, I recently read Carol Rosenfeld’s The One That Got Away, and I have to say it was freaking fabulous. It had instant nostalgia – the moment I was done, I wanted tdo read it again for the first time. Narratively, Rosenfeld brings us Bambi Devine (known as B.D. to most): bridal consultant, recently out femme, and totally besotted with Bridget McKnight.

But Bridget is in a relationship with Natalie. So no go, right? Well, Natalie’s odd friendship with Maxine leaves B.D. to wonder if there’s still hope.

If that sounds too simple, don’t worry – it’s far from it. Rosenfeld’s characterization had me smitten with nearly everyone (And also ruthlessly enjoy not being smitten with those I disliked). You cheer on B.D. even as she struggles. You want B.D. to realize just how freaking awesome she is. It’s sly. It’s witty. It’s a sneaky sort of humor – not dry, and not quite sarcastic. Frankly, unique. The One that Got Away isn’t long but packs a complete punch. Rosenfeld is a poet, and I had to think she drew on that gift to say so much with fewer words than most of us would use.
I can’t wait for more from her. In the meanwhile, this book earned its place on the very small pile of books I will reread again.

534733_416284761746455_116562844_n‘Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first novel, Light, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. A cat lover, ‘Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. Their ongoing “cat or dog” détente ended with the rescue of a six year old husky named Coach. They live in Ottawa, Canada, where socialized health care and gay marriage have yet to cause the sky to cave in.

(And if you fancy hearing a bit more from ‘Nathan, he popped up being interviewed by Steve Berman at SF Signal’s Galaxy Q this week.)


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