Sunday Shorts – “Girls on Campus” Q&A with Stevie Mikayne

girls-on-campusRecently, my awesome little LGBTQ-bookstore-that-could, Stonewall Wilde’s, had a reading with four Canuckleheads, and I had the pleasure of reading alongside today’s author. Stevie has a wide range of author voices (as you’ll see) and it was a great night, with great wine and a lot of laughter.

Also, Bold Strokes Books is having a deal right now and if you pick up any e-book this month at all, you can nab MJ Williamz’s Summer ’69 e-short for free (the deal runs until the end of October, so this’ll be my last warning to y’all). So if you still haven’t picked up a copy of Girls on Campus, don’t forget to take advantage of the deal.

College: four years when anything goes and rules are made to be broken. A time for freedom, experimentation, and guiltless pleasures. Come join the co-eds for a homecoming bash, crash a girls-only party, and enjoy study hall where the topic is Eros. From roommates with benefits to sexy sorority initiations, hot professors demanding extra credit after class and summer vacation threesomes, this collection is required reading for anyone looking to earn an A in sex-ed.


NB: “Whirlpool” tackles, right from the start, an issue I think almost every queer person has faced: being naked in the change rooms. What made you think of starting in a head-space filled with so much anxiety for so many of us?

SM: I think good writing needs to start in a universal place, and in a short story, you have a lot less room to establish a rapport with the reader, so tapping into a common anxiety is a great jumping-off point. In my youth I was a competitive swimmer, and my school had compulsory swimming as part of the gym curriculum, so I spent a LOT of time in change rooms. I don’t know if it’s because I’m gay or because I’m actually pretty conservative (despite the issues I write about) but I never got comfortable stripping off and showering in a communal setting. So I thought about subverting the typical uncomfortable situation with a rebellious act—and found that there was something really liberating about reclaiming that physical space. In my novel Illicit Artifacts, I built on this idea using a gym shower room and two women who weren’t really supposed to be together after hours…

NB: Your story has an almost dream-like quality to it, and I caught myself wondering if things were happening in reality or if we were slipping into a dream Zandra was having while she soaked. Beyond names, there’s almost no dialog—how conscious was the choice to make this story entirely told through touch and impression and emotion?

SM: I always think it’s interesting to layer a story or a novel so that the reader discovers different elements with each reading. In this case, the story line is refracted a little, which brings a fantasy element to it. By limiting the anchor points—dialog, setting—to a very tight lens, the reader has access to the more intimate head space of the character and that opens the door to the sensual aspects of storytelling that would otherwise be lost in the distraction of high action.

NB: It certainly worked. I loved the tone of “Whirlpool.” Now, I happen to know you write YA as well as adult novels, and you’ve crossed a few genres. Do you have a favourite genre or a favourite format (novel, novella, short fiction)? And do any of your characters cross over from one format to another?

SM: My one true love is full-length literary fiction. I’m currently working on my PhD and exploring how to illicit a strong connection to the reader using a starker, illusive style. I’ve ended up with a more evocative, sensual, draft than I expected—which is really pleasing to me as a writer. To balance this out, I have been playing around with shorter and interwoven fiction (novellas) which are great in a different way because they require completeness in a lot less time and fewer words. And yes, I do like to put in special details for my really loyal readers who read everything I write—so don’t be surprised to see characters sometimes crop up in each other’s worlds.

NB: Yay! I love hunting for those moments. Thank you!

SM: Thanks for having me, ‘Nathan. Great questions!!

If you’d like to catch a copy of Girls on Campus for your very own, you should head on over to the publisher page at Bold Strokes Books here (and remember, there’s a free e-short until the end of October). Or, check out your local brick-and-mortar store—it’s always a good move to check Indiebound.org here. And, of course, the book is available anywhere quality LGBT books are sold.


stevie

Stevie Mikayne is the author of four novels for adults and five books for children (writing as Steff F. Kneff). She also runs the Mikayne Editing Agency, with a focus on LGBT literature. When she’s not writing and editing books, she’s pursuing her PhD in creative writing from Lancaster University in the UK—exploring institutions for people with developmental disabilities during the Victorian era.

Her hobbies include taking her toddler to wacky travel destinations, and gleefully cataloguing the strange and wonderful differences between American and British English. Visit her at www.StevieMikayne.com.

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