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    michelleMichele Karlsberg: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured in your book?

    Laura Antoniou: As a longtime member of the alt-sex communities, I decided there needed to be a book about us by one of us. Media portrayal of kinky people—BDSMers, role-players, the whole owner/owned, top/bottom, dominant/slightly-less dominant world—seems to have only two speeds. The first is exploitative; the second is erotica (which I also write).

    I wanted to show the BDSM and leather scenes as they truly are, hysterically funny. That is why The Killer Wore Leather, my first mystery, is a comedy. There are no secret clubs where everyone wears tuxedos or g-strings and feathered masks. Today’s kinksters fill entire hotels for weekends and anyone can attend. We give classes, perform in shows, and have clubs with names that fit a pre-selected kinky word. It’s like the “Women Handlers In Pensacola” or W. H. I. P. Wild and crazy, huh?

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    This is the kinky world where holding a convention means overworked, unpaid volunteers are juggling romance with making sure everyone has a wristband. For every mistress strutting by in spiky boots, there are four people asking if there are gluten-free items at the buffet. It is where contests have names like Ms. Idaho Latex or Des Moines Daddy or Leather Power Couple, 2017. These are real people: sometimes silly, weird, colorful, stupid, clever, cute, and obnoxious, like everyone else.

    Did I mention it’s funny? Read the reviews. If you dare to check into this dark and twisted world of depravity, mind your drinks. Readers have been known to spit beverages while laughing.

    Laura Antoniou is the author of the Marketplace series of erotic BDSM novels and “The Killer Wore Leather,” Rainbow Books Award for Best Mystery. Find and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.

    Rachel Gold: Yes, lots! My book ideas often start with what I’m not seeing in other young adult novels. Here are a few from my novel, My Year Zero:

    One of the major characters, Blake, has bipolar disorder. She’s inspired by my first girlfriend, who’d already been diagnosed by the time I met her when we were both sixteen. I was sick of seeing characters with bipolar disorder always being a negative, disruptive force in the story, or being “the crazy one.” Early in the novel, the protagonist, Lauren, does think of Blake as “crazy,” and is afraid of her, but quickly realizes that in her circle of friends, Blake is the one looking out for her and treating her with compassion. Blake’s struggles have made her more open and caring, plus given her tools, she can share with Lauren, who really needs to get her life working.

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    An underrepresented idea in the story is that sometimes your first relationship sucks. I know it’s been important to have lesbian/bi-girl YA novels that are romantic and light, where everything just works, but it’s also crucial to show that sometimes the first person you connect with is not right for you.

    And, lastly: geeks! In My Year Zero you’ll meet a group of kids telling a science fiction story online and frequently playing a fantasy card game. I’m a huge geek and I write about people I’d like to spend time with, so all my novels are full of geeks, nerds and gamers.

    Raised on world mythology, fantasy novels, comic books and magic, Rachel Gold is well suited for her careers in marketing and writing. She is the award-winning author of “My Year Zero,” “Just Girls,” and “Being Emily”—the first young adult novel to tell the story of a trans girl from her perspective. She has an MFA in Writing from Hamline University and is an all-around geek and avid gamer. For more info visit

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBT community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates twenty-seven years of successful book campaigns.