In my final undergraduate year, I did an ethnographic study of a drag cabaret which ran out of a bar in the Gay Village near the university. I’ll blog about it more later, but at the moment all I want to say is that I was unusually lucky and was able to get two actual, grown-up, academic publications out of it.
Although the bar was pretty well-known, I anonymised it in the study by calling it The Fifty-Four.
Sometime later, I started seriously writing fiction. One of the types of fiction I write is a series of intermittent dark fantasy stories set in and around a Gay Village which is essentially a fictionalised version of the abovementioned Gay Village near the university.
In the first published story, “The Kindly Race,” I needed a name for a village bar that had a drag cabaret.
I called it The Fifty-Four.
Let’s just say it was my way of contributing to the debate of whether or not ethnography is just another kind of storytelling.
If you like this blog, you’re going to love this novel:
“In the not-too-distant future, intelligent Things are recognized as sentient beings–but do they have the same rights as humans? And what about the free-floating Intelligents deep within the Internet. Thompson Jennings is a man with unique problems and unique abilities–he can interface between the human and machine worlds, acting as a go-between in labour negotiations and other disputes. But when one his clients, a sentient taxicab, is murdered, his problems multiply and his abilities are stretched to the limit.”
The publisher is Bundoran Press, there will be a launch event at CanCon next month, and others in Toronto and London later on. I’ll post pre-order links when I have them.
Every time I sell a work of fiction, I buy a crystal skull. This is the one that started it.
I’d started sending out flash fiction and poetry, nervously. I’d promised myself that I’d buy something nice the first time I sold something.
I got a rejection slip from Asimov. They’re a big market, hard to crack, especially for a beginning writer. I wasn’t surprised.
Shortly afterwards, I got an e-mail from Asimov.
“Sorry, you haven’t managed to sell those poems, have you?”
I was indeed surprised.
No, I hadn’t, and yes, I was happy to sell them.
I made less than £10 out of it once I’d cashed the foreign cheque (they didn’t do Paypal at the time). I spent the money on Something Nice, namely, a skull necklace I’d had my eye on. I thought it was appropriate; skulls being the house of creativity and symbolic of the characters I’d created.
It also started a trend.
Everything in this blog is based on my real experience.
None of it is a remotely factual representation of my real experience.
You can insert your favourite argument about fiction versus objective truth, from Clifford and Marcus’ postmodern manifesto Writing Culture, to Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon, to the first chapter of Armistead Maupin’s The Night Listener. But to shorten it down: These are my real experience, but rendered into a good story.
Sometimes this means putting down my experiences exactly as I remember them—with all the subjectivity that entails.
Sometimes that means deliberate editing, for story or confidentiality reasons.
Sometimes this means I just forget things. I’ve had time to do this. It happens.
So, if you happen to be someone who find yourself here in this blog, and says, “well, I don’t remember it that way….” Then please, write a story about it.
I’ve written mine.