File(s) under permanent embargo
A Beautiful Place to Grow Up
My novel is a multigenerational queer narrative, one which seeks to illuminate erased and hidden queer history from the 1920s to the 1970s. Through Prohibition and war, through scientific advances and cultural setbacks, three generations of women strive tofind happiness while avoiding the encompassing grasp of America’s growing total institutions -the jail, the asylum, the military. Narrated by the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, the novel focuses half-lifes, ghosts, trauma, and what lingers after the destruction of queer families in favor of nuclear ones.
As a queer writer, I’m interested in history, archival silences, and erasure. I believe that a historical framing which insists on writing a narrative of linear social progression erases vital and vibrant queer and trans communities and struggles throughout history. Furthermore, this narrative is often used to justify abuses in our present time, under the guise even these abuses are better than the oppressive past. Research shows this is not true, thatmany places and times had bubbles of freedom, utopian spaces built in opposition to societal pressures.
As many of these spaces were built outside the law, it is impossible to talk about queer and trans history without talking about total institutions. Queer historical fiction must engage with police and prison abolition, the abuses of the asylum, and government censorship such as the Hayes Code or the chilling effects of the loyalty oaths. In this context, there is much to learn about the strategies queer and trans people used to fight, evade, and survive within or against these institutions.
As a writer whose background rests in speculative fiction, I’m interested in using speculative elements such as ghosts and nuclear waste to speak about the trauma that remains from the last 100 years of American oppression. I want to examine what and who is left behind as laws and norms change -in an age of scientific advancement, what happens to the prisoners, the institutionalized, the queer and trans people whosevery being has oscillated between legal and illegal with each decade.
I see my work in conversation with Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club, a novel about a queer Chinese-American girl who discovers a lesbian bar, set during the Red Scare. Additionally, I’m in conversation with the work of Jordy Rosenberg, specifically Confessions of the Fox, a speculative historical fiction novel about a trans folk hero in 1600s England. I’m interested in works of historical fiction which challenge popular andretrogressive views of the past with the hard, beautiful, subversive, and real lived experiences of queer and trans people