Mad Cats and English Women – The Story of the UKLesFic Blog’s Birth
by Clare Ashton
(The UKLesFic blog is edited by writers Cari Hunter – Snowbound, Desolation Point – and Clare Ashton – Pennance, After Mrs Hamilton)
I’ve never met Cari Hunter, but I know we have several things in common. We both write suspenseful romances, although the heroines in Cari’s novels come in for a lot more maiming than mine – a worrying tendency, I thought, until I found out that she was a paramedic and this was just normal daily business for her. Our lives are also enriched and frustrated by small creatures: a two-year-old son and two-month-old daughter in my case and cats in Cari’s, although the cats display more accidental homicidal tendencies than my children, being the bleach- and gas cooker-loving felines that they are. As a result of night shifts and small creatures that refuse to sleep, we’re both horribly sleep-deprived at times and can be found on Facebook at odd hours of the day.
We also shared a complaint that it was bloody difficult finding news about UK lesbian writers and novels. During a random, odd-houred Facebook chat we suddenly decided we would do something about it, and UKLesFic was given its rapid birth at the beginning of 2013. I think we both expected it to be a fairly quiet blog, with a handful of authors and a post every so often. Once we’d listed the high-profile literary authors like Sarah Waters, Cari’s Bold Strokes colleagues such as Andrea Bramhall and then the growing list of indie authors such as Kiki Archer and Rachel Dax, however, we were surprised just how healthy the state of UK lesbian fiction is.
We got off to a flying start with an article from the popular VG Lee about her experience of being published in the UK. VG (funny novelist, comedian and all-round good egg) had a mixed and interesting time bringing her books to market, with some smaller publishers struggling to manage their finances. I think this is why we assumed UK lesfic was in poor shape: though mainstream presses in the UK have an impressive roster of literary LGB authors, there is very little in the way of lesbian genre publishing here, certainly nothing like the healthy US list which includes Bold Strokes, Bella and Bywater. Two weeks into running UKLesFic, though, we found that we had enough news and features to post a blog almost every day. For our own sanity, we try to keep posts to a comprehensive news roundup and perhaps a feature per week now, but it is heartening that there is so much for us to report. Here’s a flavour of what’s been going on with our current list of 47 UK authors (http://uklesfic.wordpress.com/authors/):
– Historical fiction, crime and science fiction writer Nicola Griffith has just won the Lambda Mid-Career Novelist Prize. We have a short feature on the award and her work (http://uklesfic.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/nicola-griffith-wins-outstanding-mid-career-novelist-prize/).
– Manda Scott’s work spans gritty Scottish crime to historical Rome. She did a fascinating Q&A session with UKLesFic (http://uklesfic.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/q-and-a-with-manda-scott/).
– Lesley Davis’ paranormal romance, Dark Wings Descending, is a Lambda finalist, and she talked to us about this interesting novel (http://uklesfic.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/dark-wings/).
– Actress, commentator, novelist and good sport Stella Duffy answered questions from us and our readers (http://uklesfic.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/stelladuffy/).
– And several UK authors answered some Valentine’s literary questions (http://uklesfic.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/valentine/).
Come and check out the UKLesFic blog (http://uklesfic.wordpress.com/) and keep up to date via Twitter (https://twitter.com/uklesfic) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/uklesfic). You might be surprised at what UK authors are up to.