Soon after my first poems and short stories were published, I was forced to face the perceived gender transgression in my narrative voice. “You are a woman,” a young lady who sat across from me at the Union’s cafeteria exclaimed. She held in her hands a copy of a university publication in which my work had been featured. My first thought: How dare you? Her assertion conjured up all the demons a young, closeted, gay Mormon man could harbor. I felt vulnerable, naked, reading too much into an utterance that was intended as a compliment. “You experience love like a woman,” she completed her analysis, easing my anxiety, and, I’m sure, that of my girlfriend, sitting next to me.
A few years later, as my first novel was shopped around different publishing houses in the United States, an acquisitions editor at Random House commented, “If only this story had been written by a female author.” It was the early 2000s and the publishing industry had discovered the selling power of novelists like Laura Esquivel, Sandra Cisneros, and Isabel Allende. Yes, my literature fit nicely into this group because like them, I was writing powerful heroines within a Magical Realism aesthetic, a trend mainstreamed by Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate. Sadly, I was a male, so Random House passed on the novel that their Spanish subsidiary was about to release in Spain and Latin America. Read more »