Dear Author’s Query Saturday

Dear Author have started to showcase Query Letters on a Saturday and this week they have a query regarding a m/m story based in 1919 New York. The Query Letter itself needs a little work, but I think the story could be as good as any of the m/m historicals I’ve read, given the chance.

The comments to the post are positive for the most part, which is greatly encouraging, but one or two of them made me bite my pencil in frustration. Also a few people don’t seem to know the difference between a back of the book blurb and a query letter.

I hope some of you go and comment.

16 Responses

  1. I think alot of us readers don’t know what a query is but I did think that the conversation was interesting and highlighted what most people thought the flaw was and that was too much clutter around a central conflict or perhaps failing to have a central conflict.

  2. I did not even bother to point out this little piece of fiction…

    Believing his father will try to dictate his future if he goes home, he runs to New York to live life on his own terms.

    And what would he be running to in New York right after World War 1??? Gay Bars and bathhouses were not evident in New York till the 1930′s.

    World War 2 is probably the most acceptable time period you would start seeing Gay men flock to the major urban areas.

    San Francisco had it’s gay population boosted during that time period because that is where they dropped off men who they court-martialed at Treasure Island for being Homosexual during the war with Japan.

  3. For valid information concerning New Yorks growth as a Gay Mecca read George Chauncey ~ Gay New York

  4. Oh and I love the movie Common Ground which touches on some of this.

  5. Erastes, thank you for the supportive post.
    It was a nice pat on the shoulder after getting smacked plenty over at DearAuthor (necessary and beneficial smacks though they were). :)
    I appreciate your support more than words can say.

    I agree with Teddy that George Chauncey’s Gay New York is a superb resource and one I immensely enjoyed reading, along with several other reference books and some diaries of the time period. My character flees to NYC because he can’t bring himself to go home and face his family, not because he’s heard New York is the place to cruise for cute guys. After the war, there was quite an influx of young men moving to New York for one reason or another (mainly to seek their fortunes), so I am accurate in that regard.

    If my query hadn’t been so godawful, I might’ve gotten that point across. :/ As rough as it was to read all those Dear Author comments, I really value them and hope I can revise the query to better reflect my story.

  6. I am probably not the right person for Gay Historical fiction anyway.

    I find I would much rather know the cheap, tawdry but probably very dirty but fascinating facts about Edward Carpenter and George Merrill and their life together.

    I bet you ten to one they did not “chat” away their time on that train they first met in.

    Than ever spend another second reading Maurice… that tepid, boring, over wrought, unrealistic, pale reflection of what any Gay man would ever put up with in real life.

  7. Always remember that Gay men who wrote back in the day would never show you the dirt under the carpet like most guys will do now. It just was not done.

    I like to tell of the time I met Quentin Crisp when he was giving a proper reading of his work… at a bathhouse I was working in.

    You would never have realized the man was sitting there in a bathrobe talking a room full of naked men in towels. He spoke fluent upper class the whole time. I am quite sure he would never relate an event like that in his memoirs.

    Very much a smart, fascinating, story a minute, character.

  8. “Than ever spend another second reading Maurice… that tepid, boring, over wrought, unrealistic, pale reflection of what any Gay man would ever put up with in real life.”

    Teddy Pig, you are certainly entitled to your opinion if you found Maurice to be boring. Certainly it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but as far as being unrealistic, I couldn’t disagree more. It was, after all, written contemporarily by a gay man living in Edwardian England drawing on his own life experiences. I think nearly everyone who posts on this website has the utmost respect for Maurice as the quintessential historical gay novel.

    Regarding “Jane’s” query letter for Whistling in the Dark, hell, I’d read it. It sounds just lovely to me.

  9. It was, after all, written contemporarily by a gay man living in Edwardian England drawing on his own life experiences.

    It was also a fictional account that closely matched the real life situation of Edward Carpenter and George Merrill. Both associates of E. M. Forester living in Edwardian England together as an openly Gay couple, buried next to each other after many years together.

    And not once did they run away to hide from society and become woodsmen which was the original epilogue to Maurice.

    E. M. Forester was a highly intelligent man who was also incredibly closeted and who publicly continued to deny his homosexuality. I feel his fiction reflected his personal views of his homosexuality despite the conflicting examples proven by his associates willing to come out and live openly.

    The only thing quintessential about him in my opinion is the words “self-oppression”.

  10. I think the only thing we can be sure of, when reading fiction written in another time, is that we can have no real conception of what it was actually like, no matter how good the writer. I know that having Maurice having a unlikely, free and happy ending was a deliberate choice of Forester’s – he even covered the war years by stating that he wanted them both to survive, as I understand. Again – unlikely, but a relief to lovers of the characters. I think, for my money, that this is what makes this book more “fiction” than others of the ilk because of the way it slides into unlikely territory of the men skipping off into the sunset to live happy lives.

    I’m happy to read both types of fiction, the happy and the angst, as long as it’s relatively believable. Some does, as i’ve said on here before, stray into the inconcievable with Regency bucks being very outre with open male mistresses. It is fiction, and any historical fiction has to take some liberties.

    1 small example – having sex in any era where personal hygiene and good teeth were not priorities. (and how dare you say, 21st century england!! :) )

    I can’t tell you how difficult it was writing sex in the English Civil War – or in 18th Century Newgate prison and finding devices so that I could make it as realistic as possible without dwelling too much on the rats and fleas and god knows what else.

  11. girluknow: I thought it was a decent premise (I had no idea it was your query, btw) and I’d be happy to read it. If you need any help in banging that query into shape, just yell.

    Bravo for braving the Dear Author Query post, it’s a good resource – I miss Miss Snark’s blog for that sort of thing.

  12. I think, for my money, that this is what makes this book more “fiction” than others of the ilk because of the way it slides into unlikely territory of the men skipping off into the sunset to live happy lives.

    And I know that there are examples of men being openly Gay and living their lives together at that exact same period.

    I am not saying that they were accepted by one and all, I am saying they obviously did it and were not out right stoned to death.

    I don’t buy E. M. Forester’s highly suspect POV anymore than I would buy the trashy pulp fiction 1950′s Gay men living a life of misery and eventual death.

    Just because the man had academic standing does not mean he was a healthy example of living your life as a homosexual during his particular time period.

  13. And I know that there are examples of men being openly Gay and living their lives together at that exact same period.

    That’s entirely possible. By the same token, that doesn’t invalidate Forster’s (NOT Forester’s) experience, or his perception that such a long-term homosexual relationship in 1914–for that is when Maurice was finished–was improbable, thanks to the legal penalties and the strictures of society. One point of view does not cancel out the other; the viewpoint of a Maori tribesman is no less real than that of an Eskimo’s.

    I don’t buy E. M. Forester’s highly suspect POV anymore than I would buy the trashy pulp fiction 1950’s Gay men living a life of misery and eventual death.

    Just because the man had academic standing does not mean he was a healthy example of living your life as a homosexual during his particular time period.

    You seem unwilling to accept the possibility that any gay men were unhappy, conflicted, struggling with their sexuality, or committing suicide. I don’t understand that. Some of ANY group are going to be unhappy, conflicted, struggling with sexuality and/or suicidal. “Some members” are not the same as “all members”–and yet I get the impression that you feel that any negative experiences or emotions reflect badly on male homosexuals on the whole.

    You may feel that Forster could have lived more openly without legal charges or societal censure. Well and good–that’s your opinion. But the fact that Forster chose something you would not does not make his choice wrong…only different. His experiences and choices are every bit as real as your own. They might not form the basis for stories that you want to read…but then, you can choose not to read them. Just as we can choose to do so.

    I am probably not the right person for Gay Historical fiction anyway.

    *puzzled* Well, this is a website for gay historical fiction. If that’s not what you want to read or discuss…then why are you here?

  14. that doesn’t invalidate Forster’s (NOT Forester’s) experience, or his perception that such a long-term homosexual relationship in 1914

    Right, but why do the whining, self hating, closeted, miserable intellectuals always seem to write these god awful books? I never did get that.

    Well and good–that’s your opinion.

    Gehayi did you look up the names I just gave? I think I just provided two names of a rather famous British homosexual couple who proved there were Gay couples living openly during this oppressive time period. That is not my opinion, that is fact.

    You seem unwilling to accept the possibility that any gay men were unhappy, conflicted, struggling with their sexuality, or committing suicide.

    You actually read those 1950 pulp fiction novels as factual accounts?

    You orient on what pleases you in historical myth and fictions about Gay men and I will obviously find something more interesting in uplifting in historical fact.

  15. Glad to have found this post since I’ve been fighting with my own query these past few days! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  16. [...] Review of Victor J. Banis ~ Longhorns A Discussion Of A Dear Author’s Query A Review of Marion Zimmer Bradley ~ The Catch [...]

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