Best reads of 2019

This year, I set another goal of 40 books (same as for 2018) which I beat with a little more integrity than last year (I didn’t add in any comics…) so I’ll give you a scattering of books that I found moving or spectacular or just plain good.

A note, I tend to read mostly science fiction, literary and queer fiction/non-fiction, but have branched a little into young adult and fantasy this year as well as returning to horror, a favourite when I was a teen.

In no particular order, my top ten (or top whatever number it ends up being) books I read so far for 2019 are:

  1. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
  2. China Mountain Zhang – Maureen F. McHugh
  3. The Troop – Nick Cutter
  4. Black Leopard, Red Wolf – Marlon James
  5. Perdido Street Station – China Mieville
  6. The Testaments – Margaret Atwood
  7. A Head Full of Ghosts – Paul Tremblay
  8. A Taste of Honey – Kai Ashante Wilson
  9. Rosewater – Tade Thompson

A new flash fiction – “Starfall” with Queer Sci Fi

Migration Queer Sci Fi Adrik Kemp

This flash fiction piece is very clearly and almost too literally inspired by the phenomena of the bilateral gynandromorph butterfly. I am fascinated by and adore this natural occurrence in the wild, and so transplanted it into the world of butterfae.

For those not in the know, butterfae are fairies with butterfly wings. My story follow one such fae as they hesitantly join the migration, aided by two young friends. It’s a light, hopefully beautiful moment in a fantastical time.

You can get the ebook of “Migration” from Queer Sci Fi (with a whopping 120 stories in it) here.

A new short story “The Cult of the Hyalad”

Adrik Kemp The Cult of the HyaladMy new short story, The Cult of the Hyalad is coming soon from Transmundane Press in the anthology, IN THE AIR. I have previously published work with Transmundane, in the form of another short story, Mischa and the Mermaid, which you can find out more about here.

The Cult of the Hyalad is a different beast, although shares a coastal theme. To quote myself from this interview with Alisha Costanzo over on her website:

This is a story set in Victorian times, in a remote island on the high seas. Five women – witches – arrive together with the aim of summoning the rarest of elemental spirits, the hyalad. Born of thunderstorms, in chance occurrences of lightning hitting sand forming nymphs of glass, each of the witches will try their hand at creating godlike hyalads to lead them into a new world.

You can also find out the convoluted way I finally settled on the term ‘hyalad’ to describe a glass elemental being in my follow-up piece, An Explanatory Note on Hyalads.

Get this book on Amazon here.

“The Beautiful and the Macabre” – new non-fiction in NonBinary Review #20

Beautiful and the Macabre by Adrik Kemp in NonBinary Review #20I couldn’t resist when a call to write a personal non-fiction about Clive Barker’s Books of Blood came up. I have loved his work since I can remember and Books of Blood was the first book of his I read.

My piece, “The Beautiful and the Macabre” is about one of the stories contained within, and how it contributed to shaping me into the out, proud gay person I am today.

It’s out now in Issue #20 of the NonBinary Review from Zoetic Press.

Announcing a new story, “The Second Coming of Age” in “Lightning Flash”

Lightning Flash ebook featuring Adrik KempMy absolute joy is being a part of the LGBTIQA community and while some of this means support for my community in the way of rallies, protests and more, during Mardi Gras, it also means being able to attend joyous events like films, art exhibitions and book launches.

The launch of the new ebook, Lightning Flash (out now on Amazon) from the OutStanding LGBTQI Short Story Competition featured readings from four of the six stories contained within.

I read from my story, The Second Coming of Age. I’ve spoken briefly about this before, but this story is set in a world exactly like our own, however if you are part of the LGBTIQA community, you go through a second puberty which imbues you with a superpower related to whichever letter you identify with. It follows Lex as they navigate the somewhat unexpected changes that fall upon them on a night out with their lover and friends. On the heavier side, it is about the difficulty of self-identification when it collides with biological and societal demands. But on the light side, there are drag shows and superpowers.

Hope you like it, and if you buy it, please don’t forget to leave a review!

Mardi Gras book launch of “Lightning Flash”

Lightning Flash book launch

I’m very happy to have been asked to write a story for this sure-to-be incredible anthology of work from previous winners of the OutStanding LGBTQI Short Story Competition. I received first prize in 2015 for my short story, A Jellyfish Daydream.

The story I have written for this book is a speculative fiction piece, but grounded firmly in reality and set in Melbourne. I won’t give away more than that for now.

The ebook of Lightning Flash is being launched on Sunday 17 Feb at Diva Bar at Stonewall Hotel on Oxford St, Darlinghurst. I will be reading from my story and would love to see you there.

Top picks for Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival 2019

45707284_10156195528438495_4552455906859679744_nNow that the program has been launched for Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival 2019, I have had a good long look at it and picked a few choice films I’m going to see.

First up, I can’t stay away from horror and there’s nothing better than a queer sub-genre, so Queer Scream is going to be a must. Also, The Quiet Room is part of this starring Alaska and Katya (out of drag) from Rupaul’s Drag Race.

I am in love with what I have seen so far of the lighting and cinematography of Postcards From London, so I’m going to see this based solely on that, although the plot also looks pretty good.

Director Steve McLean uses a high camp style to tell of Jim’s increasing obsession with and sensitivity to Italian master Caravaggio. When he encounters his work, fantasy kicks into gear and Jim is transported into an alternate realm where he recreates Caravaggio’s most famous scenes.

The lost and now found Buddies from 1985 looks heartbreaking but so important. Stories from this time are still being told and remembered, and the more we can educate ourselves, the more sides of it we see, the better.

I’m also keen to see the documentary Man Made, following four men as they prepare for America’s only bodybuilding competition for men of trans experience, TransFitCon.

And for a laugh, and a walk down memory lane (sans the murder) of my time in the Philippines, I’ll be going along to Chedeng and Apple, a film about two women on the run after one comes out and the other murders her husband.

And finally, in the grand tradition of things I like to watch, including Kiki, Paris is Burning, Rupaul’s Drag Race, Pose, Check It and so on, I am very excited for When the Beat Drops:

In the 1990s, black gay men in the South began mimicking the routines of J-setting female majorettes (think Beyoncé’s music video for Single Ladies) that they saw at college football games. As they took these thrusting, high energy moves onto the dance floors of gay clubs, they built a dynamic queer community that bucked society’s narrow definition of masculinity.

What are you going to see?