la_fields: (Gary from L.I.E.)
(Book Review for The Last Weekend)

- First read The Lost Weekend by Charles Jackson (or see the movie if you're just a tourist about it), and anything else you can think of written about writers and drunks (especially when they are authored by drunken writers--Hemingway, Bukowski, you know the drill), and then congratulate yourself the whole time just like the protagonist for knowing so much more than will ever be appreciated by the mind-dead zombies of the world.

- Have a good idea of just how awful men can be in an apocalyptic scenario, then compare that marauding rapist to Billy the Greek over here, and then don't even pretend you wouldn't be happy to know this drunken dork at the end of the world (the end of America, actually—the world’s probably better off after the US gets wiped out).

- Get the concept of zombies but don't be married to any preconceived notions about how they should emotionally impact the living (like there's a right way to deal with zombies? Doubt it).

- Know that government jobs without regulation or rigor will totally survive any mass-scale disaster (like roaches, bureaucracies will survive unchanged), and get that people who do the most vital jobs are often the least vital living (next step down is a reanimated corpse).

- Know anything about California demographics, stereotypes, and neighborhoods, or at least try to enjoy the breeze of jokes flying over your head (if you're like the protagonist you'll be from a flyover state anyway, and pretty used to that feeling).

- Love gender equality enough to appreciate that men and women alike will all be selfish, reckless, and bat-crap crazy if they’re the kind of outlier who can survive a sudden zombie awakening.

- Want to read a zombie book for those who are not and don't even care to be heroes, know that tools are better than guns even when neither one is likely to save you, and trust that you'll like this book if you want to.
la_fields: (L.A. Fields)
Every single one of my professors and advisors said they were sorry to hear I was leaving the program for a full-time job outside of academia--I'm not sorry at all! Getting a PhD isn't as hard as they try to make it with all the superfluous exam requirements, and the wooing of faculty members to get a committee, and the years and years of work and dedication required for exclusive entry into a wasteland of a job market...

I get more reading done on my bus to and from work than I did as a student scrounging for food stamp money and trying to learn how to teach (they chuck you into the deep end with that job--your undergrads are going into crushing debt just to watch people like me scramble and flail); I get more writing done blogging for myself, writing copy for my employer's websites and publications, and even working on my fiction during snack breaks and downtime; I made 60% of a monthly TA stipend in one week at a real job, and soon I'll have employer provided healthcare, a debt-free savings account, and marketable skills (UT Dallas couldn't promise me any of that, and it charges the highest public tuition in the whole state of Texas). I'm smarter than I've ever been for quitting teaching and dropping out of school. As my new boss said on my first day while we cleared out the remainders of the office's former tenants, and I hesitated to let something go over the trash can: "Don't be precious." Higher education is a pretty idea, and being a doctor of anything certainly sounds nice, like prestigious, and valuable, but in reality it isn't: a lot of higher education is ugly, and wasting so much time and energy for nothing but a title is foolish and vain, and the lesson contained in the mantra 'don't be precious' is the hardest one I had to learn in school (it taught me by way of bad example, like a 'scared straight' program).

So here are my official reasons for leaving, as I told every advisor I could think to email. Writing English papers isn't hard, but poverty is; there are a lot of sorry people in higher education, and I'm not one of them anymore.

Hello,

Yes, I'm comfortable letting you know my reasons for leaving over email. The reasons are largely financial. The stipend for a TA isn't enough to live on without going into personal debt, relying on public assistance like food stamps, and living in poverty. With no guarantee of summer employment, and no healthcare provided to me as a student or an employee without monthly payments I can't afford on the stipend, it's impossible to be frugal enough to be healthy while pursuing this degree, especially since even attending full time, it would take me four years to complete the coursework (let alone a dissertation).

The fact that I personally have a Master's degree (and outstanding student loan debt) from another institution doesn't mean I can complete the coursework at UTD any sooner, it just means I'm qualified to teach as an Instructor of Record. The fact that being a TA for another professor and being an instructor (responsible for my own lesson plans and grading) provides the same stipend amount is extremely hard on morale. It feels like the qualifications I've already earned aren't valued.

With the academic job market so unreliable (the MFA in Creative Writing I already have is a terminal degree I took to qualify myself for college teaching, but I was unable to find a full-time placement before arriving at UT Dallas), I cannot invest so much time and money in getting a higher degree at this institution. It would be financially ruinous to do so.

Thank you for the information you provided,
Lauren Fields
la_fields: (L.A. Fields)
Repression's author copies have arrived!

I got them in the mail a day after this review of My Dear Watson, highlight: "It's like taking a tour of a familiar city, with a guide who points out little architectural details you never noticed, while spinning a story of the secret scandals the history books omit."

Meanwhile my next book, Homo Superiors, is safely with my editor and some blurb and review people, so it's a good day for fiction.
la_fields: (Nathan Leopold)


The Leopold and Loeb book, Homo Superiors, is up for pre-order, go get it!

Coming Spring of 2016: a modern day retelling of the Leopold & Loeb story from the author of My Dear Watson, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award!

Two college seniors: Noah, frail like the hollow-boned birds he enjoys watching, caged by his intellect, and by his sense that the only boy as smart as himself is his best friend; Ray who has spent years aping leading men so that his every gesture is suave, but who has become bored with petty cheats and tricks, and now, during summer break in Chicago, needs something momentous to occupy himself.

Noah’s text says, I’ve found some candidates for murder. Ray chuckles and knows that Noah sent the message to cheer him. Both boys realize they stand apart from others their age. One lacks social graces, the other has perfected being charming. Both are too willing to embark on a true challenge of their superiority but neither realizes what such a crime will do because no matter how they see themselves, how they need one another, they still possess the same emotions of H. sapiens.
la_fields: (L.A. Fields)


Repression is available to get through the Rebel Satori website. It's my fifth book overall, third in the Disorder Series, and I'm still at work on these. Both of my short stories for class this semester are coming out of this, the fourth book is halfway done, and I'm so not even remotely over these characters.
la_fields: (Sparks)
I didn't win the Lambda Award, but I did have this trip:

Day 1 - Philadelphia
- All travel was efficient and timely.
- Cheesesteaks with [livejournal.com profile] mroctober, talked about books and boys.
- Got to hang out with an old college friend and do my favorite thing: bitch and complain. So freeing, so invigorating. We covered romantic exploits, job searches, loneliness and moving, TV shows.
- We also walked around the Philadelphia gayborhood where she lives. Gayborhood is so gay the street signs have rainbows:
2014-06-01 19.56.20


Day 2 - Lambda Awards
- I was the youngest person in every group I talked to, but I adapted. I've got parents and grandparents, you wanna talk about baby names? The '70s? I got you, I can do that. I am now under the impression that gay people never look older than 55.
- Lots of speeches about the gay community and queer spaces highlighted that I still feel a little like an interloper--I'm bisexual, but I haven't been involved with another woman since undergrad (where anyone can be bisexual, so are you really?). And of course all my gay characters are men. Suspicious.
- I don't like the designation M/M. It seems to apply only to women who write romance about gay dudes, and it rankles my feminism to know that a lot of people would include me in that category. I recognize it as a distinct category that plenty of authors are happy to participate in, I just don't think that's what I'm doing, and I don't want it applied to me. Most of my books are actually about unhappy families, addiction, and anxiety/depression. I take the perspective of gay men because it's a world I'm almost entirely excluded from, so it interests me. In my personal life I've got women all day, every day. It's a total clam festival over here.
- This is the book that beat me for the Gay Romance award: Into This River I Drown. That's okay though, because I've since decided my book is more of a Mad Men-esque contemplation of success and substance abuse and existential fatigue anyway.
- My bones only felt melting-cold for a second when I didn't win, then I went back to the hotel to assure my audio copy of My Dear Watson that, you know, such is the pursuit of fame, and that now we at least have the privilege of feeling misunderstood.
2014-06-02 19.35.37

Day 3 - Manhattan
- Everything in Manhattan was about two feet too close to me the entire time I was there. I may like other parts of New York City (I wouldn't know), but Manhattan did very little to please me.
- I spent the day in Central Park, MoMA, and in a Starbucks.
- Modern art tires me out, I waste too much mental energy wondering if each piece is just an Emperor's New Clothes trick being played on me by some ironic asshole.
- I sat down in Central Park because my feet were on fire, some guy sidled up next to me to say hey, I got right the fuck back up and kept moving (you're a shark honey, sharks must move to live).
- Spent a pleasant beginning of the day with Sacchi Green (who won a Lammy for the Wild Girls, Wild Nights anthology), but afterwards hit some bad luck: rush hour and rain meant it took more than an hour to find a cab to the airport, flight was delayed by the storm, not enough free outlets in the airport to properly do homework for the next day, etc.
- Chicago let me fly to NYC with this keychain, but New York would not let me fly back with it. I mean it is a tiny knife, and I don't want knives on planes, but *whine* and stuff. I usually remember to take it off, and I'm surprised it wasn't confiscated at O'Hare (dropping the ball, O'Hare).
2014-06-03 15.09.11

Meanwhile
- I have a month to figure out if I'm going to renew my lease. Right now it looks like probably yes, and if I get a job that demands I move, I will find a replacement for myself.
- Big giant multi-step applications for which I am making endless telescoping lists.
- All this and homework and reading at Printer's Row and blisters on my feet the whole time.
- I just got off the phone with a recruiter for teaching in Korea--feel like I totally nailed that, so it's a real option.
- I want to write chapter three of my novel but when, oh but when? I get to show Chapter Two to my Fiction Seminar class and my thesis adviser this summer, even though it's not my thesis material.
la_fields: (Sparks)
Next To Nothing by Keith Banner--I bought one, so did this prick, you should too. I'm so gay for Keith Banner's writing, his clean and loving portrayal of real, crappy, wonderful life. One of his short stories made it into the library near my house when I was sixteen and made the whole place worth building. His writing is 1/3 of the reason I'm a writer today (right up there with Poppy Z. Brite books and Harry Potter fanfiction). Part of me hopes I never meet him because I think he's so cool and I don't want to know for real that he is just some guy from Ohio that I'm allowed to talk to. A greater part of me wants to meet him so he can sign all his books that I own with XOs and hearts and inside jokes because we're besties now that I introduced him to my publisher. That's something I shouldn't have had to do since he had an agent, but he got dropped because he was clearly casting pearls before swine, but this isn't about how many people don't deserve Keith Banner's work--it's about how I wanted it, how I got it, and how you can get it too.

I also got The Midnight Disease because we read some of it in one of my classes, and I liked it, so I'm going to invest in it.

I also started reading another faculty book (assigned by a different member of the faculty). I'll do a big post about faculty books I've read as soon as they can't take back my degree.

It's cool that this exists for My Dear Watson and you are probably jealous of me (just admit it):



If someone out there really wants to give the audiobook another bitchy low-star rating, make sure you put the low stars on me and not on the voiceover performance by Melissa Hearne, which is lovely.
la_fields: (Nathan Leopold)
I had a nice long post drafted before somebody who drinks whiskey all day like a loser accidentally refreshed the page and lost it. That's okay: my mistakes only cause me to be more succinct:

- Myself and three cohort members went to Rosehill Cemetery, found the Loeb family plot, couldn't locate the Leopold family marker under all the snow, but (most importantly) found the Franks' mausoleum. It's chained shut to keep looky-loos like me out, which is well and right, because real people and their murdered child are laid to rest here (you can see the interior of the mausoleum, plus the weather outside due to the reflection of the glass door):

2013-12-17 14.06.36

- Other looky-loos have come by and left coins, candy, and toys festooned on the rusted chains that hold the doors shut. You could stand on the steps of Bobby's grave and hit the Loeb plot with a good spit. I yammered a lot to my friends about how closely tied they all were in life as well, why Leopold and Loeb aren't buried beside their families, where their remains ended up, etc.

- I've started reading the psych reports on Leopold and Loeb from the trial to unearth every last fact about their childhoods and family histories. I've already learned facts I've been wondering about for years (like what killed Leopold's mother--turns out to have been bad kidneys), but not all of those facts are very literary, so here are my thoughts arising from that:

  • I have fictionalized these two so that I can take liberties--it's more poignant to have the Loeb character move from their shared dorm to the frat house a few months before it actually happened; it's a better scene if the Leopold character doesn't go back home until after his mother is dead; etc.

  • Fiction writing is all about Truth over facts, even writing school will tell you that. You see: in writing school you have to deal with two extremes: kids who are too timid to write even the kindest, blandest fictionalized version of real people because they're pussies and/or don't realize how little it matters, and kids who are nearly sociopathic in their willingness to lie about and distort real people for "art" (also not realizing how little it matters).

  • "Journalists" have been projecting upon and lying about the Leopold/Loeb case since it happened. That's nearly 90 years of sensationalistic misinformation on them, and I am but a thread in the tapestry. Besides: it's literally my job to create fiction, so why should I be the one to care so much when no one else has really bothered?

  • The development of My Dear Watson was not like this. Yes, I fictionalized Mrs. Watson to give myself some liberty, but when working with source material that was already fiction, I felt the need to justify every shift and apologia I made. Boring to readers, perhaps (still not to me; you know I never get sick of my own fascinations), but wrong? PLEASE.

  • I mentioned John Logan's Leopold/Loeb play Never the Sinner as a shining example of a work that got the boys right to one of my (very Chicago-imbedded) professors, mentioned that he produced the play while at Northwestern, and that he makes big Hollywood movies now, then watched my professor Google him and start getting a tad catty. Chicago: kind of small town sometimes. That sort of thing is part of The Scene that I done heard about back in Florida, right? It is, isn't it?  I really expected more glitter and attention, but I won't complain; I'm just happy to be out of the swamp.

- I sure am glad I wrote this post twice instead of working on Chapter Two. That's a really good use of all this whiskey and time I have at my disposal. Sure am glad I took time for a search of 'arc' vs. 'arch' too, that's just great.

- I spent time debating whether a new LJ icon should be Nathan Leopold since he makes the same smug-ass know-it-all face I've been making my whole goddamn life, or if it should be one of Leopold and Loeb looking smitten together. Then I felt really pathetic. Then I found this tattoo of Nathan Leopold and read the comments under it and the original artwork. Then I was like, OH SELF: go ahead and grade yourself on a curve there, hon, damn.
la_fields: (L.A. Fields)
About seven months after the release of My Dear Watson, here comes Dysfunction, the second book in The Disorder Series. (That temporarily out of stock just means the books aren't there yet, but screw it it's announcement time--there will be an e-book version at some point too. When? Soon! Think of it as a coy little mystery.)

I should have two more books coming out next year at some point, a third Disorder Book and a collection full of short stories about Marley, Jesse, and company (including a gap-filler that takes place between Maladaptation and Dysfunction).

This makes three books published by age 25, and yes, I'm extremely pleased with myself.

dys. cover

Dys. Cover

Jun. 13th, 2013 08:53 pm
la_fields: (L.A. Fields)
Coming out this year, the sequel to Maladaptation in The Disorder Series: Dysfunction.

dys. cover

Description of Dysfunction, by L.A. Fields:

Recent runaway Marley Kurtz is back home in Florida after a long road trip. He and his boyfriend Jesse get jobs, move into a loft above a mechanic’s garage, and start living the good life. They don’t stay free for long however; Marley is eventually pressured into reuniting with the family that sent him away. Far from being disowned, Marley soon finds himself pulled in too many directions at once.

Along with his sister, Lindsay, and his boss’s new foster son, Tristan, Marley must figure out what kind of family he’ll choose to call his own. Will it be the parents who raised and abandoned him, or the friends and adults in his life who have proven they really care? It should be an easy decision, but letting go is never easy.
la_fields: (L.A. Fields)
- I read at Printer's Row this morning. For proof here's a picture of me and two other people who suck at being awake before 10 AM:

lit fest

- Got an agent rejection for Loopholes, but my friend has offered to read it for me, so that's a thing too.

- I'll tell you what, grad school comments are about the same as reviews: what four people will hate someone else will find the one redeeming quality of the entire book and vice versa, it's weird. Interestingly: anyone who likes how I write but can't take Mrs. Watson narrating My Dear Watson: have I got all of my other books for you!

- Got some preliminary cover art for Dysfunction. Looks like it's destined to be even hotter than Maladaptation's, congrats to us all.
la_fields: (L.A. Fields)
I have five of them, a number I'm used to--I got five for Maladaptation too; (1) went to my best friend, (3) to my three undergraduate thesis advisers, and (1) stays with me.

They're so pretty I could eat one of them (literally--blend it up and sneak it into my other food, I could do it). I've been reading random pages of the uncorrected proofs for a couple of weeks, and I'll be switching to the finalized version now, where of course any typos I can still find will fill me with a helpless rage. I would cut my own flesh once for every mistake to make it go away (also literally--this flesh is mortal, but this book is not; in fact I'd let someone else cut me, I'm that unconcerned with earthly pain).

Let's look at it one more time, knowing that the colors are richer in real life:

My Dear Watson Cover
la_fields: (L.A. Fields)
In my Short Story class I got to pick an author to do a presentation on, and I picked Keith Banner (1) because I want my fellow classmates to experience the treat that is reading "Holding Hands For Safety" and (2) because I am Facebook friends with Keith and he very kindly agreed to answer some questions, which are now posted on his blog, 2+2=5.

My first online publication ("Walls") happened because I was following Keith's work around the internet, and "Exit Signs" happened because I couldn't not imitate him, so it's been really cool to ask him about his writing.

I'll post the questions here too, so that I can look at them here too.

I looked up the anthology where I first found “Holding Hands For Safety” (in Men on Men 7) and found a review calling your story “fierce and funny,” which is not at all the impression I got (it seems very quiet and serious to me). How would you characterize this story? Or at least what is the impression you hoped to give with it?

It’s both funny and sad to me, and I don’t think you can have either in a story like that without both humor and tragedy working at the same time together to get you through. That said, I also think the class aspect of everything I write can sometimes be misinterpreted as insouciance and “black comedy,” when really it’s just the way people live, point-blank. Poor people, like rich people, have beautiful idiosyncrasies – it’s just that rich people often have more elaborate and intricate ways of hiding those idiosyncrasies, or to transform them into sweet little eccentricities. When Flannery O’Connor talked about why many of her stories featured “white-trash” people, she said something about how many of her characters are stripped of manners and decorum, and that allows the reader to look into their souls. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist. And I think in “Holding Hands for Safety,” all the characters are stripped down to their essences to the point you have access to their souls, and while those souls might be a little ugly and a little worn out, they are beautiful souls none-the-less, especially the souls of the three main characters: the teenaged gay narrator, his punk step-cousin, and the six-year-old girl the step-cousin kills.

You said in an interview with Donald Ray Pollock that you’ve written another novel since The Life I Lead—would you mind telling me what it’s about, and if it’s any closer to finding a home?

Actually it’s Holding Hands for Safety turned into a novel, funny enough. I opened up the story to include many other points of view (including Courtney and Troy), and what happens after the murder. It’s going around now to different places. No good news, yet. Or maybe ever. But I keep trying. That’s the essence of all this stuff: you can’t get deterred. I have a draft of another novel I’m working on now called Johnson City Divas. It’s a homage to James M. Cain and other noir writers. It’s kind of like Mildred Pierce spliced with Jean Genet. A middle-aged drag-queen who lives in Johnson City, Tennessee is one of the central characters. I liked the idea of going with a plot-driven gig for a change. In The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, Cain’s plots have both an artificial dexterity and a weird existential necessity. It’s the nexus between reality and phoniness where murderers live. A lovely place for a story.

Having written both novels and short stories, which do you enjoy writing best? Are there differences in how you approach long and short pieces of fiction?

I like writing short stories, but then I get sick of them because I want the terrain of a planet instead of the intimacy of a condo. But they go well together, and most of the novels I write come from the short stories. They intermingle. And some of my favorite novels, actually, read like collections of interrelated short stories. The best I’ve read recently: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.
la_fields: (L.A. Fields)
My gender studies professor has reviewed my book for the local newspaper in Sarasota!

8th Annual New College of Florida Book Guide:

"Maladaptation" (Queermojo, Rebel Sartori Press, 2009) is an impressive first novel by L.A. Fields, currently completing her B.A. at New College. It follows Marley Kurtz, who leaves Florida to enter a program for troubled youth in rural Colorado. So how does the story of the American rebel play out in the 21st century? Marley and his fellow misfits form a quirky cohort; each is scarred and trying to balance independence and the need for love. These characters keep us on edge; readers can't quite trust the no-longer-innocent teenagers. Still, Fields balances pessimistic realism and the optimism of a certain American dream. The novel offers no resolution, but we share the kids' hope for a new day. Me, I'm waiting for Fields' next novel. She has already published several short stories, including "Happiness" in "Cool Thing: The Best New Gay Fiction From Young American Writers" (Running Press, 2008).

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