Author Catherine Lundoff returns to the podcast to share some of her favorite lesbian historical fiction. I hope this series of segments will help people find new (or old) titles that may strike their fancy.
Now with transcript!
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Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 31c - Book Appreciation with Catherine Lundoff - transcript
(Originally aired 2017/08/17 - listen here)
(Transcript commissioned from Jen Zink @Loopdilouwho is available for professional podcast transcription work. I am working on adding transcripts of the existing interview shows.)
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Heather Rose Jones: Last week, we had Catherine Lundoff on to talk about her own writing. This week she comes back to participate in our historic book appreciation feature, where she squees about her favorite books with queer female characters in historic settings.
Catherine Lundoff: Well, there’s a number of different things I like. I can think of a number of books that are by lesbian, bi, trans women, but they have male protagonists. I was thinking of, in particular, Melissa Scott’s and Lisa Barnett’s Armor of Light, which is an alternate history about Christopher Marlowe and Sir Phillip Sydney and Christopher Marlowe doesn’t get assassinated in Deptford and wacky hijinks ensue. It’s a great book, I keep hoping that Melissa will do a sequel to it. But in terms of books with queer characters, one of the ones that I would like to recommend that I think isn’t as well known for the les-fic readership in particular, is a trilogy called Tomoe Gozen.
H: Oh, yes!
C: I’m probably mispronouncing it but that’s another Jessica Amanda Salmonson work and it’s based on the life of a woman who was a… She was a Japanese historical figure who was an actual fighter, she fought with a naginata and it’s kind of a scythe-like spear. It has a sort of curved blade on the end of it. She was, at various times in her life, both a nun and a fighter who was involved in all of these different political things that were going on in the time period. In the course of the three books, she is revealed to be bisexual by contemporary standards. Again, I can’t remember if she’s a lesbian or not, I’m thinking that she’s bi, because I think she does have one romance with a man. They’re very, very rich books. They’re very interesting. They’ve been out of print for a while, which is unfortunate, but they may be available in ebooks. A lot of things are coming back in ebook. That’s probably one of my favorites of the historical end of things that I can think of off the bat. I, of course, enjoy your books as well because Ruritanian romances are just fun. They’re just great books. Presumably, the people listening to this are already reading your books, I hope.
H: Yah, I’m trying to avoid having the book squee part of the podcast be just an appreciation of my books, because that looks bad.
C: I can see that. I can see that. Emma Donoghue, you know, has got to be one of my favorite authors. Slammerkin, I think I cried all the way through the last third of Slammerkin and I am not somebody who weeps much.
H: Can you tell a little about what the book’s about?
C: Slammerkin is about a young British woman, who was a real person, who worked as a prostitute in London and ended up, through a variety of circumstances, going to work for this prosperous rural family. Somewhere along the line, things went hideously awry and she ended up being accused of murdering her mistress and hanging for it. ‘Slammerkin’ is a slang term from the time period, I believe it’s mid-seventeenth century, for a prostitute. It’s a very intense book because it’s written entirely from her perspective. Donoghue’s very sympathetic towards all the different things that this woman would have had to mesh together to make it work. To go from a reasonably prosperous career as a prostitute in London to being a servant in the country and where that went wrong. It’s a very interesting book, it’s a very intense read. I find that with most of Donoghue’s stuff; she does a lot of really great historical books. She’s also got a collection of lesbian fairytales called Kissing the Witch that’s well worth tracking down. Donoghue is definitely somebody I would recommend. Sarah Waters…
H: Yes! There’s always Sarah Waters.
C: There’s always Sarah Waters. I was just recommending, on a Gothics panel that I was on at WisCon, I was recommending Affinity, which is her novel about the séance and spiritualist movements in Victorian England. It’s about a woman who is queer but is from a noble background and has to pass herself off as continually ill and always going to these séances. She gets sucked into the criminal underworld that also accompanied séances and so forth. It’s beautifully written, it’s beautifully written. It’s well worth tracking down. Fingersmith gets a lot more play of her novels of the time period, but I think Affinity is also very, very good. I think, between the two of them, they’re just amazing, amazing authors. I’m so glad I discovered them when I did.
H: Well, thank you so much for sharing some of your favorite queer female historical fiction with us!
For further information on Catherine Lundoff’s fiction, see the website for Queen of Swords Press.