Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pride Month: Interview with STEVE BERMAN

For my lil' ol' Pride Month, I knew that I wanted to have an interview with someone that was a prominent figure in the gay literary scene and that wrote the kind of fiction that I, as a gay man, love to read and try to help promote here on my humble blog.  And as my reading continued, the same name kept popping up, via either his own marvelous fiction or through helping others get their voices heard.  So without further ado, may I present Mr Steve Berman!

Tell us about yourself:   
Hmm, not sure what secrets to reveal. Actually, I'm a rather mundane, average fellow. Well, perhaps if you saw my apartment with its collection of plush monsters, Halloween artwork, and mad scientist lab-style decor you might not think that. But I rarely have guests. I wonder why?

Your contribution to GHOSTS IN GASLIGHT, MONSTERS IN STEAM was my favorite in the book; where did the idea for "Feeding Desire" come from?  It's definitely a darker, more graphic story...  
Actually, I had intended the story for the 2011 Bear-themed anthology Tales from the Den (ed. by R. Jackson). But I could not finish the tale by the deadline. This often happens to me. I am a slow writer. And I did not have a good grasp of the protagonist or what he would encounter at the sinister restaurant. Other than the Gourmands. I had come up with them as villains some years earlier and just needed the right story to feature cannibalism.

You are a great champion of Speculative and Young Adult fiction; have you always felt a connection to these genres?  
Oh, yes. My favorite books have always been the strange and spooky. And I often feel like a hapless adolescent trapped in an aging body. Both genres champion the Outsider. As does some of the best gay literature. I am about as interested in the stereotypical twink party boy as I am catching bubonic plague from a prairie dog. Now the quiet, buck-toothed 15 yr old that happens to be gay and believes that the abandoned wishing well in the park is the key to his finding a date for the prom? That starts my imagination. Especially when the silver dollar he throws in is pitched right back at him. By something...

You wear more than one hat, Steve; besides an acclaimed writer, you are also owner/publisher of Lethe Press, arguably one of the most prolific gay presses today AND you've been an award finalist many times!  How do you juggle all that?! 
Well, it's not easy. I think whenever a writer starts a press and takes on additional roles their creative energy is channeled away from fiction or poetry or whatever. I never intended (back in 2001) that Lethe would be the behemoth it is. I think we're the second or third largest LGBT press in the nation. I do not regret enabling authors to share their voices, though. And I have made many new and vital friends through my work with Lethe.

I've noticed that your're also having success with two new imprints, Tinture and BrazenHead.  First, congratulations and second, what made you feel the need to create two new imprints versus publishing these works under the Lethe banner?
 Tincture was needed to address the paucity of quality books written by and for LGBT people of color. The publishing world is still a very white-washed field and if I can help remedy that, then I am doing some good. BrazenHead was truly the brainchild of author and graphic designer Alex Jeffers. There are few markets for novellas, let alone gay spec fic novellas. He's pretty damn particular in accepting manuscripts, which explains why his release of Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone won us our third Lammy Award.

I've enjoyed many, many of your anthologies; as a matter of fact, a favorite of mine SO FEY: QUEER FAIRY FICTION was one of the first Lethe books I ever reviewed.  How can you tell when a story is going to be a perfect fit? 
I am flattered you enjoyed that anthology. All I can say is that every editor has a vision for their book's needs. I hope to fill an anthology with fiction that is not only entertaining but also evocative. I remember at least two stories from So Fey that I thought so beautiful, so moving, that I cried when I read the manuscripts. That has happened since, and it is a wonderful feeling.

And finally, what is coming up for Steve Berman?  What can we be looking forward to?  Will we be seeing more of your own fiction out there? 
Well, this is the year when I have a lot of anthologies releasing. From Lethe Press there is Best Gay Stories 2013 and Wilde Stories 2013 in June. July is Where They Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe (BC: Yes!). August is Heiresses of Russ 2013 with co-editor Tenea D. Johnson. And in October is Suffered from the Night: Queering Bram Stoker's Dracula (BC: YES!!). And I have edited horror anthologies for Prime Books:  Bad Seeds in July, Zombies: Shambling through the Ages in August, and Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War in September. Whew. I think in October the Strange Horizons website will feature a new gay YA tale from me. Other than all that...I'd like to sleep. Alas, I sleep alone.

Steve, thanks again for taking the time to chat with me!  I'm looking forward to plenty of hours of amazing reading this year, thanks to you!

You can find out more about Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam due out in July here and here.

For all things Lethe Press, Tincture, White Crane, Bear Bones Books, BrazenHead and Icarus here.

And help yourself to Steve Berman's writing here.

Happy reading!

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