By Mark McNease
I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Liz McMullen, whose newest publication, Through the Hourglass – Lesbian Historical Romance: A Lizzie’s Bedtime Stories Anthology has just come out and gathers together some of the best writers you’ll find, as well as voices that may be new to you.
Liz is an author, publisher and talk show host. You can find her shows on YouTube and her website: www.thelizmcmullenshow.com. Her debut novel, If I Die Before I Wake, was a Rainbow Award Finalist. She co-authored Finding Home, a paranormal novel where the foster kids have magical gifts. Liz’s first romance novel, Unspoken, will be out in spring of 2016. Below you’ll find Liz’s answers to a ‘6 Questions’ interview, where you’ll read more about Liz, her projects and her passions.
MM: Thanks for taking the time to answer ‘6 Questions.’ You’ve got a lot going on: author, publisher, editor, talk show host. Let’s start with some background for readers: Who is Liz McMullen, where are you, and how did you arrive at both?
LM: I started out as a voracious reader, then a friend of mine invited me to be a guest host on the Cocktail Hour. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to meet my favorite authors and started The Liz McMullen Show so I could continue that journey. Self-publishing has opened up a lot of doors, and after publishing my first novel, If I Die Before I Wake, I realized I wanted to continue to support my community by making a place for unique stories. I named the anthology series after Lizzie’s Bedtime Stories, my online home for extended storyteller readings. Through the Hourglass is even more special because I get to make meaningful donations to charities that serve LGBT* seniors. I love giving back to those who have given so much to our community. Lee Lynch is one of my treasured mentors, I hope to one day do a fraction of what she has for our community.
MM: You’ve just published Through the Hourglass – Lesbian Historical Romance: A Lizzie’s Bedtime Stories Anthology. I have to say, in the best way, that lesbian historical romance is a new one for me. Where did the idea for this collection come from, and how did you partner with editors Sacchi Green and Patty Henderson? What’s that story?
LM: Patty G. Henderson began as a guest on The Liz McMullen Show and I enjoyed her company so much we became friends. She’s not only a fantastic author of gothic historical fiction, she’s a book designer as well. She designed the cover for my debut novel, If I Die Before I Wake, it was so lovely to work with her that I have used her for every book cover my imprint has published. Patty came to me last December and said she wished to do an anthology of Lesbian Historical Romance, a neglected but rich genre.
I was delighted with the idea and asked my friend and fellow MHC alum Sacchi Green if she would be interested in co-editing the anthology. Sacchi agreed, then asked if it would be for charity. I hadn’t thought of that myself, but believed it to be a splendid idea. The three of us put our heads together and cooked up this Lesbian Historical Fiction anthology as well as finding the perfect charities to compliment the volume. I felt it was important to choose charities that directly provide services to seniors, rather than charities whose sole focus is advocacy. I wanted the donations to go to programs, housing and most importantly, put books in the hands of these incredible people whose hard work made the rights we now enjoy possible.
MM: How did you go about finding the authors, and what was the process like for determining who is in the anthology? Any background on authors you’d care to mention?
LM: I sent a shout out via social media, and also contacted authors that I knew personally. Patty and Sacchi did the same. We could not guarantee a placement for each person we contacted, but wanted to be sure those who have a passion for lesbian historical romance knew about this special project.
There were two particular authors that I had to bolster myself up before asking, since they are such iconic trailblazers, I figured my chances of signing them were slim. Imagine my surprise and delight when Ann Bannon, the queen of lesbian pulp fiction, and Lee Lynch—award winning author and Amazon Trail blogger—both said yes. You could have knocked me over with a feather. We were blessed again when the fourteen exceptional storytellers lent their talent, award winning authors in their own right. All I could think was, “I can’t believe these amazing women are giving my small press a chance.” I shouldn’t have been surprised, our community is that generous!
MM: You’re donating a portion of the book’s royalties to two outstanding organizations, both of which help LGBT seniors: SAGE (www.sageusa.org) and GLARP (gaylesbianretiring.org/site). How did you decide on these two, and why LGBT seniors?
LM: The theme of Lesbian Historical Romance lent itself to charities that serve those who came before us and made this world safer for LGBT* folks. Many gave their lives for the cause, and it is right to honor their sacrifice. Seniors in general are often forgotten, but this can be especially stark for LGBT elders. Many of whom were disowned by their families, or forgotten by the community they helped to build.
I was blessed to meet and become friends with Stormé DeLarverie, she was so kind, generous and unassuming. Many of us loved her, yet she too spent her final years in poverty, forgotten by most. Even when Lisa Cannistraci, Stormé’s close friend, owner of Henrietta Hudson (a place where Stormé had worked once upon a time), held benefits in her honor. Folks attended, but didn’t open their purses nearly enough.
It saddened me that someone who threw the first punch in the Stonewall Riots, and only drag king in The Jewel Box Review, could be so easily forgotten and neglected. When Patty, Sacchi and I were thinking of what charities to choose, I wanted to be sure the money went to making life better for those too special to be forgotten. We owe everything to our seniors and I am proud to do my small part in giving back to those who deserve this and more.
MM: I’d love to hear about all the other irons you have in the fire. The Liz McMullen Show comes immediately to mind. Can you tell us about it, and how people can listen?
LM: The Liz McMullen Show is such a blast. It started out with me being this trembling fan girl, agog with disbelief that theses amazing authors would talk to me. Each time, I was shocked when they said yes. As time went on, these people became my friends, and then I too joined the club, writing books of my own. I also like to make space for new and indie authors to reach readers, but it’s more than promotion, it’s a chance to get to know these amazing, creative souls. There are over 150 interviews and author reading shows on YouTube, subscribe and you will get them hot off the presses (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVg6IULfGm1FYEyuLyWdevg). I post new interviews every Saturday night, you can find them on my website and leave comments for my author guests (www.thelizmcmullenshow.com). I also encourage folks to join The Liz McMullen Show Discussion Group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/912518018830265/?ref=bookmarks). There you can chat about authors and also read along with me for future episodes.
MM: You’ve got a humor anthology in the pipeline, ‘Laughing Out Loud: A Lizzie’s Bedtime Stories Anthology.’ (The Call for Submissions is open until January 31, 2016, btw.) Let’s end with the future: How’s it going with this upcoming anthology, and what are your hopes/objectives for a humor collection?
LM: I actually got the idea for this one while interviewing Layce Gardner and Saxon Bennett, two humor authors who created Square Pegs Ink to showcase their comedic fiction. They had to create their own niche because there is no home for humor in the current list of LGBT* genres, there isn’t even an award category specifically for humor. I like making a home for fiction often left out of the mix, first with the Lesbian Historical Romance and now with humor. I also opened up this anthology to all LGBT* and Allies, so I could even more inclusive. The only requirement is that your piece makes me literally LOL (laugh out loud). I have some incredible folks already signed on and I am looking forward to making new discoveries.
More About Liz McMullen:
Liz McMullen graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Political Science, and has a Master’s degree in Education. She is an active member of the GCLS Education Team, and has a passion for supporting lesbian fiction and improving the overall quality of writing in the genre.