This week’s guest blogger should be well-known to you. If you don’t know the name “Karin Kallmaker,” you’re either not a lesbian or you live in a very, very remote part of the world. (In which case, you wouldn’t be reading this blog, right?) I got to meet Karin in 2009 at my first GCLS Conference. Quite unfortunately, I was very ill – so much so that when my plane landed in Chicago, I went immediately to the hospital and stayed for 4 days. So, I didn’t get to be around Karin that much. (Being the wonderful mom she is, though, she did take the time to check on me whenever she saw me.) I did get to spend some time with her and MJ Lowe in Provincetown a few months later during Women’s Week (they love their wine) and again in early 2010 during the Bella Y-Tour (Karin took her poker playing seriously – M&Ms were at stake). I’m so pleased and proud that I can now make introductions by saying, “This is my friend, Karin…she’s a fantastic, iconic author.” (And then I chronicle all of my favorites – my comfort books – that Karin has written.)
Below, Karin tells us about the ways the GCLS Annual Conference recharges her “lesbian book geek batteries.”
Crimson and Sunshine Energy
Women wear a lot of hats, usually all in the same day, like chief cook, bottle washer, chauffeur, handywoman, car mechanic, locater of lost objects, laundry specialist and keeper of the schedule.
Imagine an event where the only hat you have to rock is that of “book geek.” Where it’s safe to admit just how many books you read last year, and no one thinks it strange that you refer to fictional characters as if they are your BFFs. If you’re a writer as well, a place where it’s safe to admit that writing is the central driving force of your existence and people understand when you admit that when the words are flowing like lava out of Kilauea you can’t remember the names of your children.
Well, maybe that last bit is just me.
I had no idea what to expect when I went to my first GCLSCon in 2005. I wasn’t there more than thirty minutes before I realized that with the closing of so many women’s bookstores I was starving for the real, live community of book women that I’d lost.
In one of the first sessions, when the room erupted into laughter, I knew I was a goner. Totally and completely hooked on the crimson and sunshine energy that the shared laughter of women creates. And they’re laughing about books and book geeks and writing and lesbians. These are a few of my favorite things!
(And it’s a place where that last sentence will have several women burst into song while others recount just how long they’ve had that Julie Andrews crush.)
Being a writer means being an observer, and when I look around GCLSCon, year after year, I see women browsing through books or plopped down in a corner to read, sharing favorites and opinions and reading aloud to each other. Women in couples holding hands, single women comparing notes with new friends and anyone who cares to dancing the Electric Slide. I see women giving fabulous whole body hugs to old friends, sharing tears over lost sisters and raising a glass in honor of the women who made it safe to be exactly who we are. All of these things are chicken soup to my lesbian soul.
There are many other aspects of GCLSCon that matter to me. Reading from and promoting my work. Listening to other writers talk about how they work their magic. Looking at my work through the eyes of others. Watching new writers find their footing. Gathering feedback from readers about what they want to read. I would go every year just for those things. As a businesswoman, GCLSCon is a great investment.
But I’m not there because I’m a businesswoman. I’m there because I am a lesbian book geek and I have to rock that hat sometimes or I get stale. I have arrived at every GCLSCon—and I haven’t missed any—with my lesbian book geek batteries drained. I leave completely recharged and ready to rock the rest of my world.
Karin Kallmaker’s nearly thirty romances and fantasy-science fiction novels include the award-winning The Kiss That Counted, Just Like That and Above Temptation along with the bestselling Substitute for Love and the perennial classic Painted Moon. Short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and collections. She began her writing career with the venerable Naiad Press and continues with Bella Books. In addition to three Lammys and seven Goldies, she was recently honored with a Golden Crown Trailblazer Award, recognizing her more than twenty years of writing for lesbian readers.
She and her partner are the mothers of two and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is descended from Lady Godiva, a fact which she’ll share with anyone who will listen, though she admits you’d have to pay her a lot to get on a horse, naked or otherwise.
All of Karin’s work can be found at Bella Books. Details about and excerpts from her work can be found at kallmaker.com.