Authors Do Make Stuff Up

Brooke Skipstone Author Interview

The Queering follows a seventy-year-old woman who shares her life story about being a lesbian through her writing and the prejudice she endures for it. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story? 

I’m a pantser, so when I start to write a book, I’m not entirely sure where the story will lead. And not entirely sure where the germ of a story originates. My last book (The Moonstone Girls) portrayed a beautiful, loving relationship between a brother and sister. In The Queering, I wanted to explore the opposite. In this case, Taylor’s brother, rather than being gay, struggles with his own loathing for gays. In other words, struggles with his own homosexual inclinations. Taylor and her best friend graduate with theatre degrees and hope to continue to live together, not as lovers, but as friends. However, her brother’s murder of a drag queen and insistence on accompanying the girls as they drive across the West forces Taylor and Brooke to worry that they will lose each other before they can express their true feelings. The idea of a post-college trip in a VW van with two girls and a man would seem full of fun and laughter. So twisting this trope into a harrowing, intensely dangerous event was key to the book. 

Additionally, the book’s first line came to me in a flash: NO ONE in the world is actually named Brooke Skipstone. What fun? Adding my own name to the mix intensified the intrigue. What if a young woman lost her girlfriend and because of the times felt she couldn’t pursue another lesbian relationship? How many women have married and had children because they were afraid to face their true identity? Taylor did the same but found herself lonely and purposeless late in life until she decided to write lesbian romances. At least her secret life could be significant even as her real life with a cheating, possessive husband devolved into lonely indifference. But when her brother is released from prison, seeking revenge, Taylor must make a choice whether to fight back and expose herself or hide until she is killed.

Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into your character’s life?

Yes, there are, but I am wary of questions like these. Too often readers jump to conclusions, especially family members who try to find themselves in my characters. Authors do make stuff up. They do not write secret codes about their personal lives.

That being said, I did major in theatre and played harpsichord while my girlfriend played Viola in 12th Night. Many individuals in the theatre department (as well as music and dance) were gay and were often thought of as other by the straight group. There wasn’t blatant discrimination, but there wasn’t total acceptance either. And outside these departments, members of the LGBTQ+ community had to be very cautious.

I did travel through the West after college (though alone) and currently struggle with my family’s acceptance of my books, so I am thoroughly familiar with Taylor’s conflicts.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The overwhelming dominance of the patriarchy in our lives, even today. Living as your true self, no matter the cost. Love is possible even late in life. Alaska girls kick ass, literally. Trauma early in life affects everything afterward, but sometimes we find a way to cope. Young lesbians rock when they’re free to be themselves. And like my epigraph says: Those who hate queers are a threat to everyone.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I honestly do not know. I am waiting for an idea to hit me so hard I can not live without writing about it. I imagine I will have something ready by late summer.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Instagram

Editor’s Pick Booklife Reviews: A fast-paced yet thoughtful romance of coming out and finding love in later life in Alaska
5 Star Clarion Reviews: A riveting novel . . . about love, courage, and solidarity
Trapped between a homicidal brother and a homophobic podcaster eager to reveal her lesbian romance novels, a seventy-year-old grandmother seeks help in Clear, Alaska.

Suffocating in a loveless marriage and lonely existence, Taylor MacKenzie lives only through her writing, using the pen name Brooke Skipstone, her best friend in college and lover before her death in 1974.

Afraid of being murdered before anyone in her family or community knows her life story, Taylor writes an autobiography about her time with Brooke and shares it with those closest to her, hoping for understanding and acceptance.

Accused of promoting the queering and debasement of America by a local podcaster, Taylor embroils the conservative community in controversy but fights back with the help of a new, surprising friend.

Can she endure the attacks from haters and gaslighters? Can she champion the queering she represents?

And will she survive?

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on December 29, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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