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History Was On My Side

Janet Mason Author Interview

Loving Artemis follows the lives of women who were trying to figure out who they were at a time when being LGBTQ+ was not accepted. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

When I wrote Loving Artemis, it was more than seven years ago. I didn’t know it at the time but now when I look back, I see that I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the background that I fled from. My novel, Loving Artemis, an endearing tale of revolution, love and marriage (published in 2022 by Thorned Heart Press) was the culmination of that process.

What character did you enjoy writing for? Was there one that was more challenging to write for?

Loving Artemis is fiction, but the story is based on my own experience and that of other girls who were actual people. As I told a friend, I probably gave the girls better endings than they actually had. Because the characters were based on actual people, I don’t remember it being difficult to write any of the characters. The thing that was the most difficult was getting all the history straight, so to speak. Like most writers, I tend to be more right-brained. So I really had to make sure that all the dates and facts of history were accurate. I did live through that history. Like my main character Grace (who I identified most with even though the writing was fiction, and her character was a composite), I married my partner after we were together for more than two decades.

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

In a broad sense, I explored the idea of being yourself as a young person amid a sea of conformity and how to survive. In the process, I explored the theme of growing up as young lesbians in the era where it was still “the love that dare not speak its name,” meaning that being yourself was forbidden. Not everyone got out alive.

A historian friend commented to me that I documented an important piece of history leading up to marriage equality. That history is still with us. I was amazed in 2015 when same-sex marriage was ruled by the Supreme Court of the United States to be legal nationwide.

And I was amazed today when I learned that “The Respect For Marriage Act” (protecting the right to same-sex and interracial marriage nationwide in the U.S.) was passed by the House and is expected to be signed into law by U.S. President Joe Biden.

One of the themes that I didn’t think about until after the final edit of the book was empowerment. I had such a hard time growing up (like one of my main characters, Grace, I fled from my working-class conventional background) that I actually dreaded going back and editing the book. When I was through the editing process, I actually felt like I had been more empowered than I thought. Actually, I felt a little victorious. Like Grace, I had escaped into my life and history was on my side.

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

The novel I just finished writing and am still revising is a little different. It features a talking, pregnant whale telling her story—that of the beauty and importance of the sea which is her home and her process of working through her knowledge of history (especially, the history of humans hunting whales) and learning to trust some humans whose help she needs.

I tend to have a novel published every two years. Before Loving Artemis was published in 2022, my novel The Unicorn, The Mystery was published in 2020 by Adelaide Books. So I’m hoping my new novel will be published by 2024.

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Artemis found the love of her life when she met Linda, but their passionate relationship fizzles when Artemis lands herself on the other side of the law. Pulling the pieces of her life together, Artemis rekindles her relationship with Linda, and together they raise a daughter.

Meanwhile, Grace, running from her past, starts a life with Thalia. At a pride parade, Grace spots someone who reminds her of Artemis, who she was briefly involved with in her youth. Old feelings are rekindled. A lifetime of rejection, abandonment, and fleeing rears its head. Now she must come to terms with her past, put her relationship with Artemis to rest–or risk losing everything.

Artemis and Grace embark on a journey of revolution, love, and marriage and discover that love finds us when we least expect it.
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