Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir MitchellKatrina "Kitty" Strauss is one of the nicest authors I know, and one that has my same lover for pretty cover art, I suppose: first time I noticed one of her books it was for the cover of P.L. Nunn, a cover artist I was already following. But the book, the first in the Blue Ruin series, was up to the cover. And Katrina always create very nice postcards from that covers, so that, I believe, there is a black market for now then ;-) Katrina Strauss is also one of those authors who can live in the middle between Gay and Het romances, she didn't turn to the Gay genre for the money, but since she liked it, without forgetting that she is also able to write het romances, maybe both of them with an edge, but indeed always good.
Katrina Strauss's Inside Reader List
1) Family Album by Danielle Steel. I´m sure a few people will be surprised to see Danielle Steele topping this list, but Family Album was the first book I read that presented a gay character in a positive light. The character of Lionel is simply looking for love like the rest of his siblings; he just happens to be gay. Ms. Steele treats his struggle to come to terms with his sexuality, followed by the challenges of coming out to his family, with open-minded sensitivity. (Although I must mention - Lionel´s first sexual encounter is one of the hottest love scenes I´ve read to date, yet Ms. Steele handles it without being overtly graphic.) Having read this book on the heel of a few others that appear farther down the list, I was primed for a shift in my adolescent thinking. Thanks to Lionel´s storyline, I walked away from Family Album with the conviction that everything my homophobic mother and church had taught me about sexuality was wrong. Who knew Danielle Steele would be the one to light my way?
Mass Market Paperback: 438 pages
Publisher: Dell; First Thus Edition edition (July 10, 1989)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780440124344
Amazon: Family Album
Through forty years—from Hollywood's golden days in World War II to the present—Faye Price would create first a career as a legendary actress, then a family, and finally she would realize her dream of becoming one of Hollywood's first woman directors. But nothing was more precious to Faye than her five children. In a changing world, a milieu where family values are constantly challenged from without and within, the Thayers would face the greatest challenges and harshest test a family can endure, to emerge stronger, bound forever by loyalty and love. It is only when Faye is gone that they can each assess how far they have come, and how important their family album is.
2) Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. I´ve seen this title turn up in quite a few of Elise´s Inside Reader posts, and with good reason. For many of us, the relationship between Louis and Lestat was our first gleaning in fiction of a long-term relationship between two men, while the vampires´ inability to have sex somehow made it all the more sensual. Then again, this book opened quite a few worlds to me after my father (perhaps seeking to counterbalance my mother´s influence) loaned it to me when I was in the eighth grade, giving me a headstart on Anne Rice before my goth set peers would discover her work a few years later. Looking back, Interview was a defining, pivotal influence in my life that sticks with me to this day, from my superficial love of gothic fashion and pretty men, to my deeper views on sexuality and my approach to writing.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (March 18, 1997)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780345409645
Amazon: Interview with the Vampire
Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force--a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.... "Magnificent, compulsively readable." --CHICAGO TRIBUNE
3) Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg. I´m a fan of the Southern gothic genre, as you will learn by the end of this post. Fannie Flagg captures the genre beautifully with a tale that centers on an "alternative family" in Depression-era Alabama. Whether you interpret tomboy Idgie and her best friend Ruth´s relationship as that of closet lesbians or nonsexual life partners, the unarguable fact remains that in raising a son and running a business together, these two women share a bond over several years that transcends both platonic and romantic love. I cry every time I read the book or watch the movie, yet I also laugh out loud throughout. This whimsical tale not only holds a place in my top ten GLBT reads, but in my top five favorite books, period.
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Random House; Reprint edition (April 5, 2005)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400064625
Amazon: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café
The remarkable novel of two Southern friendships--the basis of the hit film--available for the first time in large print.
4) Le Livre Blanc (The White Book) by Jean Cocteau. I read this work during one of my more literary phases, back when I fancied myself as a neo-Surrealist, and found it to be absolutely breathtaking. Considered by scholars to be part autobiography, Jean Cocteau´s tale traces the narrator´s sexual journey in 1920s Europe. Only Cocteau could present the plight of homosexuals and bisexuals in the days before gay rights so eloquently and poetically. A must-read on a few levels.
Paperback: 104 pages
Publisher: City Lights Publishers; 1st City Light Ed edition (January 1, 2001)
Amazon: The White Book
5) Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite. Poppy Z. Brite wrote this M/M horror/romance a decade before erotic romance e-publishers sought to fill the cross-genre gap. Of course, Ms. Brite was just writing a horror novel that happened to feature two hot gay men, and it just so happened she chose not to close the door on the love scenes. While the horror and gore aspects of this tale aren´t for the faint of heart, the love scenes between Zach and Trevor are handled beautifully. Fellow old school GenX misfits who grew up in the South will also recognize and identify with Ms. Brite´s themes and characters. (Which leads me to my next listing...).
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Dell; 6th THUS edition (October 1, 1994)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780440214922
Amazon: Drawing Blood
Escaping from his North Carolina home after his father murders their family and commits suicide, Trevor McGee returns to confront the past, and finds himself haunted by the same demons that drove his father to insanity.
6) Liquor: A Novel by Poppy Z. Brite. Somewhere along the way, Ms. Brite switched her focus from horror to plain old contemporary, but fans of her older work will recognize certain themes like the New Orleans setting, misfit rebels, and yes, gay romance! What I love about this book, and subsequent series, is seeing Rickey and G-man deal with everyday challenges that any couple might face, from starting a business together to, *gasp*, finding time for sex when daily life interferes with extra-curricular activities. In other words, Ms. Brite presents Rickey and G-man as a *couple*, first and foremost. The fact that they are both men is secondary to their relationship.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1 edition (March 16, 2004)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400050079
New Orleans natives Rickey and G-man are lifetime friends and down-and-out line cooks desperate to make a quick buck. When Rickey concocts the idea of opening a restaurant in their alcohol-loving hometown where every dish packs a spirited punch, they know they’re on their way to the bank. With some wheeling and dealing, a slew of great recipes, and a few lucky breaks, Rickey and G-man are soon on their way to opening Liquor, their very own restaurant. But ?rst they need to pacify a local crank who doesn’t want to see his neighborhood disturbed, sidestep Rickey’s deranged ex-boss, rein in their big-mouth silent partner before he runs amok, and stay afloat in a stew of corruption in a town well known for its bottom feeders. A manic, spicy romp through the kitchens, back alleys, dive bars, and drug deals of the country’s most sublimely ridiculous city, author Poppy Z. Brite masterfully shakes equal parts ambition, scandal, ?lé powder, cocaine, and murder, and serves Liquor straight up, with a twist.
7) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Another Southern gothic delicacy that offers a semi-fictionalized take on true-life events. During the 1980s, writer John Berendt lived part-time in Savannah, Georgia to escape the big city pressures of New York. He began chronicling the lives of the quirky townsfolk he encountered on a daily basis, capturing the true essence of the saying that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Various happenings are tied together by the case of gay antiques dealer Jim Williams who shot and killed his troubled lover during a heated argument. Some readers may feel this isn´t the most positive representation of the gay community, but I was initially struck by how Berendt approached the story like he would of any lover´s quarrel/murder mystery. The shining jewel of the story is transgendered drag performer The Lady Chablis who, for all her ribald antics, offers illuminating insights on gender and sexuality. The movie rocks, too, with Chablis starring as her own bad self alongside heavy hitters John Cusack, Kevin Spacey, and a young Jude Law. Kitty Bob says to check it out.
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Vintage (June 28, 1999)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780679751526
Amazon: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case. It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.
8) Don´t Bite the Sun by Tanith Lee. If you read Tanith Lee, you know she´s been playing with pansexual themes for a few decades now. Don´t Bite the Sun is one of her earlier works and amazes on a few levels, from intricate world building complete with original slang, to themes of gender fluidity. In a dystopian future where one can die only to be resurrected in any body of their choosing, young people commit suicide out of boredom, then change gender and sexual orientation like a pair of socks. As much social satire as this 1976 piece contains (not to mention its eerie prediction of extreme-edged GenX ennui to come), Lee presents ambiguous sexuality with sensitivity and understanding. The same souls reunite again and again in spite of the ever-changing status of their relationship from gay to straight to bisexual, showing that love truly comes from within.
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: DAW; First Edition edition (August 7, 1979)
Amazon: Don´t Bite the Sun
9) Fiend by Jemiah Jefferson. Another horror novelist who incorporates what some would consider M/M into her work, Ms. Jefferson dares to "go there" with her vampires in ways Anne Rice never would. I will tell you now that Ms. Jefferson´s work is NOT for everyone. I´m listing this title anyway, because Ms. Jefferson writes some of the most explicit gay love scenes I´ve come across. (It doesn´t hurt that she admits vampires Ricari and Daniel are based, respectively, on gothfather hotties Peter Murphy and Daniel Ash. Oh my.) Just be warned, it´s not always pretty! No dabbing up blood with silk handkerchiefs here. These vampires get down, dirty, and messy, while the sequels contain outright snuff scenes. What can I say -- I admire Ms. Jefferson for having the balls to do it.
Mass Market Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: Leisure Books (April 5, 2005)
Publisher Link: http://www.dorchesterpub.com/Dorch/productdetail.cfm?Product_ID=1256&L1=1&L2=0
In nineteenth-century Italy, young Orfeo Ricari teeters on the brink of adulthood. His new tutor instructs him in literature and poetry during the day and guides him in the world of sensual pleasure at night. But a journey to Paris will teach young Orfeo much more. For in Paris he will become a vampire. Told in his own words, this is the story of the life, death, rebirth and education of a vampire. No one else could properly describe the shadowy existence, the endless hunger, the heightened senses or the amazing power of the undead. No one else could recount the passing of the years and the slow realization of what it means to grasp immortality, to live on innocent blood, to be a…Fiend.
10) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. Southern-born author Carson McCullers was purportedly bisexual and married to a man who may have been gay. This need to conceal her sexuality in a time and place that weren´t exactly open to her lifestyle was often reflected in stories that celebrated the misfit loner. Nowhere is this theme of the isolated outsider more prevalent than in McCullers´s Southern gothic masterpiece The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. It is hinted that a few characters may be gay or bisexual, while they each embody some difference or eccentricity that sets them apart from the "normal" denizens of their small town. The story includes a shocking, abrupt plot twist that has haunted me since I first read it back in high school. (It was assigned reading my sophomore year, and I was one of the few students in class who actually liked it, perhaps because I identified so readily with the themes presented.) Depressing but poignant, this book isn´t exactly light reading. I recommend it on a day when you´re less in the mood to be entertained and more so to think.
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Mariner; 1st Mariner Books Ed edition (April 21, 2004)
Publisher Link: http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/catalog/titledetail.cfm?titleNumber=689508
Amazon: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
With the publication of her first novel, THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, Carson McCullers, all of twenty-three, became a literary sensation. With its profound sense of moral isolation and its compassionate glimpses into its characters' inner lives, the novel is considered McCullers' finest work, an enduring masterpiece first published by Houghton Mifflin in 1940. At its center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small town life. When Singer's mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the book's heroine (and loosely based on McCullers), finds solace in her music. Wonderfully attuned to the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition, and with a deft sense for racial tensions in the South, McCullers spins a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated -- and, through Mick Kelly, gives voice to the quiet, intensely personal search for beauty. Richard Wright praised Carson McCullers for her ability "to rise above the pressures of her environment and embrace white and black humanity in one sweep of apprehension and tenderness." She writes "with a sweep and certainty that are overwhelming," said the NEW YORK TIMES. McCullers became an overnight literary sensation, but her novel has endured, just as timely and powerful today as when it was first published. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER is Carson McCullers at her most compassionate, endearing best.
About Katrina Strauss: Greetings from Katrina Strauss, author of dark romance, erotica & yaoi!
I discovered my love of romance novels with childhood peeks at my grandmother's paperbacks. As an author, I pay homage to the timeless genre of romance with my own modern, spicy twist. Be it homoerotic, heterosexual, or "menage", from steamy romance to BDSM kink, my stories are all about finding that special someone. I embrace paranormal, historical, and contemporary themes, while my male/male stories are heavily influenced by yaoi, a special brand of homoerotica with roots in Japanese manga.
A Texan by birthright with the accent to prove it, I currently reside with my family near St. Louis, Missouri. When not writing, I enjoy reading, cooking, music, and entirely too much anime. Thanks for coming to my site, and I hope my selection of books whets your appetite”
Blue Ruin 4: Need You Tonight by Katrina Strauss
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher Link: http://www.loose-id.com/Blue-Ruin-4-Need-You-Tonight.aspx
Amazon: Blue Ruin 4: Need You Tonight
Blue’s summer is heating up in more ways than one. When he befriends Dusty Sterling, he sees the opportunity to give his master Derek their first true threesome. But first, Blue must meet a requirement issued by Derek.
Derek is content with Blue as his exclusive lover, but when offered the chance to bring the beautiful Dusty into their bedroom, Derek's definitely tempted. He agrees to Blue’s idea under one condition—it’s Blue who must seduce Dusty.
Blind since birth, Dusty is proud, independent, and knows what—and who—he wants. In need of temporary shelter, he accepts an offer to stay with Derek and Blue. The fact that he finds them both attractive doesn’t hurt, but Dusty must let his hosts in on a secret—his unique and sometimes frightening way of “seeing.”
When Dusty’s nightmares reflect a pair of real-life murders, Blue uses his connections with the police to bring Dusty in on the case. The friends grow closer both in and out of the bedroom, but their bond will truly be tested by the evil that lurks in plain sight.