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    Two Entertaining New LGBT Books to Gift to Yourself and Others This Holiday Season

    By Michele Karlsberg–

    Michele Karlsberg: Laury A. Egan, author of Fabulous! An Opera Buffa, and Hilary Zaid, author of Paper is White, are featured in this issue of the San Francisco Bay Times. I asked these talented authors to discuss their main characters, inspirations and more.

    Laury A. Egan: I wrote my first poem at age seven, a novel at thirteen and short stories in high school. During these early days, writing was a way to explore who I was and to entertain myself during a lonely childhood. In the last twenty years, the compulsion to create has intensified and is now a full-time occupation. Quite simply, I write because I must write.

    My newest book Fabulous! is a divertissement that shares an aesthetic with Joe Keenan and Stephen McCauley’s novels. The hero, Gilbert Eugene Rose, is a gay tenor and his sidekick, Gal Friday, is a lesbian. One afternoon while I was sitting on my deck, Gil arrived, or rather his voice/persona wafted in and insisted that I rush to my computer, which thankfully I did.

    He’s a wonderful guy: funny, sweet and determined to succeed on the opera stage and find romance. Gil is hired to sing soprano in a Mozart opera and tenor in Rigoletto, plus perform Handel for a dangerous mobsterette who is the arch-enemy of one of the producers. In order to survive, Gil invents multiple identities and disguises, and is often aflutter in heels, dresses and wigs. His comic adventures are a welcome antidote to our depressing times.

    Laury A. Egan is the author of “The Outcast Oracle,” “Fog and Other Stories,” “Jenny Kidd” and four limited-edition poetry collections. For more information: www.lauryaegan.com

    Hilary Zaid: I’ve always experienced writing as a congenital affair, a desire of the brain to create and find solace in the creation of language. Like being queer, it’s essential to who I am. And possibly the two aren’t unrelated: growing up queer meant, for me, growing up with secrets, and the quiet darkness of silence is fertile ground for stories to grow.

    Paper is White is a story about silences; when my narrator Ellen Margolis and her girlfriend Francine decide to get married in 1997, Ellen finds herself pulled toward an assimilationist Jewish immigrant tradition at odds with her kiss-in/protest-marching, Queer Nation-alumna identity.

    Ellen’s a funny character, addicted to baking cookies and willing to trail old ladies through the supermarket, in search of a blessing she often trips over herself to receive. It’s ultimately through her clandestine relationship with a deeply secretive Holocaust survivor named Anya that Ellen navigates her dilemma.

    Along the way, Ellen becomes not just a historian of the Holocaust, but also a historian of our own times, a chronicler of the days just before marriage equality. When it’s still quite rare to see a lesbian protagonist in a work of literary fiction, Ellen tells a story about the 1990s here in the Bay Area, sparkling with humor and with a determination that our lives will not be erased. I wrote this novel for readers like her.

    Hilary Zaid is the author of “Paper is White,” which has been named “One of the 9 Best LGBT Novels to Look Out for” by the U.K. “Independent.” Her short fiction has appeared in publications including “Lilith Magazine,” “The Southwest Review,” “The Santa Monica Review” and “The Utne Reader.” She lives in the Bay Area with her family. www.paperiswhite.com

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBTQI community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates thirty years of successful book campaigns.