Bristol Gay Men’s Book Club


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I wonder if it’s true that gay men are (on average) not the most avid readers around. I also wonder if, in a virtual world, where books, music, love (well… you know what I mean) have gone digital, what we really need os face-to-face interaction to really promote books. Isn’t it better to meet with like-minded people for an chat and maybe a drink while exploring the beauty of gay-themed books? Maybe what we really need is not so much online driven initiatives, not avatars that tell us what they like, not yet another app, but the experience of meeting real people in the flesh.

When I moved to the capital from Wales many years ago, I used to get suggestions on what to read by a lady who used to keep a box of LGBT books under her stall (those were different times), and still some of the best LGBT literature I have read comes from that hidden box…

Bristol Gay Men’s Book Group started off about ten years ago and has members from a mixture of ages and backgrounds. The turnout varies between six and fourteen people, though we have about forty people on the list of members. The books we read vary from ‘light’ to ‘heavy’, usually written either by or about gay men. Anyone is free to choose a book but they don’t necessarily have to introduce it themselves. Discussions are quite lively: we have one member (me) who loves virtually every book fairly uncritically and one who virtually savages every book (but he is quite gentle really!).
We meet monthly, usually Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, at 7.30 for 8 in a member’s flat on Bristol’s harbourside or at two members’ house in Birshopston and chat over a glass of wine, beer or cup of coffee.
Some people turn up to every meeting; others choose which meetings to attend according to whichever book is being discussed at any given time.

Visit the Bristol Gay Men’s Reading Club:


What members say: 

“It’s a good crowd, with some excellent, intelligent and often witty debates — and lots of essential laughs too (perhaps the wine helps here).”
“That’s what I find interesting. You get to read books you’d never have read otherwise.”
“My favourite evening each month. Always look forward to it.”
“I enjoyed last night. I tend to be a bit shy and tongue-tied most of the time, so I was pleased it was a small, comfortable group for my first meeting.”
Thank You so very much for the welcome at last night’s meeting of the Book Club. I usually feel quite intimidated by going to a new session with people whom I do not know. Last night was relaxed and welcoming and I felt completely at ease with the group.
“I had a lovely time, thank you”
“a lovely home and an attentive host”
“a great list of books”
“Enjoyed last night, good venue, views and lovely to see the wine flowing”
“a much nicer atmosphere than any bar and no distractions from it being a book club rather than any other type of social gathering”
a really pleasant, sociable evening. the book club members are a good crowd.
From someone who moved away: “I’ve enjoyed (some of!) the books we’ve read and the insights offered (into the book group members themselves as much as the books).”
“From someone who became ill with dementia and who persevered with our group despite leaving to other book groups: I love this group – it’s a safe space where I don’t feel scared.”
“I couldn’t have found a more loving, supportive bunch of friends in Bristol if I’d tried.”
“A very nice and convivial evening.”

If you live near Bristol, do contact them; do make your reading experience less lonely… If you live far, why don’t you create your own local group? I’d be happy to give you a space on this site.


Where is Gay Fiction Going?


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I have been wondering about this question for quite some time and I don’t pretend to have an answer.

Looking at the history of gay fiction in the last century, we cannot say that it has not received praise and accolades: among us, we have the Nobel Laureate Andre’ Gide, whose The Immoralist may be seen as satrting a still-very-much-alive tendency of male gay fiction to ‘say it as it is’ when it comes to sex, even indulge in a bit of healthy provocation. This reflects in many ways the honest and open attitude many, I think the great majority, of gay men have towards their sexuality, maybe because being gay was for many years also synonymous with not being part of a moralist, well-to-do society which imposed artificial and prudish values on one’s sexual activities.

But this freedom and openness does come at a price in many cases: maybe I am speaking as an older generation man as I am now in my fourties, but that all-imposrtant conquest of freedom and self-acceptance has come, for many of us, after years of struggles, of anxiety and in many cases of bullying. This path has become a staple of gay fiction, in fact, looking at some of the most significant texts in male gay literature, coming out features as a main theme. In most cases, this is linked with social values, sometimes very hostile to homosexuality, which has created a leitmotif that follows the path to self-acceptance as an identity mark, a path of self-exploration that maybe is deeper or more challenging in the LGBT community than in many straight people, who can recognise themselves in many models around them from a very early age, to a very unabashed recognition of one’s sexual nature. A recognition that dan become a defensive weapon, and has for many of us who, unlike others, are identified by the majority by what we do between the sheets, not by our jobs, cultural interests, eye-colour or height. This path is however very significant, often poignant, psychologically interesting.

There was then the time when HIV dominated ay fiction: for younger people in the West, it may not be easy to convey the sense of doom that the epidemic had on our community not so long ago. Our friends were decimated by the virus, they died fast, they died in great numbers. The television was haunted by ads that told us our end was coming soon, that sex could be lethal. That love could kill. Nowadays, in the Western world, most HIV positive gay men can live to a ripe old age, we don’t see apoclyptic adverts on TV any more and fiction books that deal with this plight (which is still very much a killer outside the west, let’s remember), have become ‘less palatable’.

While gay fiction still seems to be driven by a Western agenda and cultural environment, it is also true that it has lost some if its ‘scandalous’ flavour: ever since the ‘sexual liberation of books’, sexually explicit, provocative scenes have become the norm in a great number of books, LGBT or straight. What once would be XXX rated is now almost expected in the books we read.

So, what’s left to male gay fiction that distinguishes it substantially from straight fiction, now coming out is less of dramatic experience, being sexually honest is the norm, and the HIV apocalypse is a non-Western concern?

This is where we are at… And yet, despite all the converging points between straight and gay male fiction, the latter remains a ‘niche’. However, I have had the pleasure of reading books by and talking to authors who are now re-shaping the very matrix of what we can call gay fiction and have felt a lot of optimism. I don’t know if there is a clear idea of where it is going, but I have felt that these authors feel more free to be idiosyncratic, individual, not to have to follow an expected pattern. I believe spring is in the air; I can’t see its full glory yet, but I can clearly smell it!

For information on some interesting contemporary gay authors:

To read texts by leading contemporary gay authors:

Amos Lassen vs Amazon


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How sad! I won’t apologise for expressing my opinion here.

Amos Lassen, one of Amazon’s top reviewers, has had thousands of his reviews removed by Amazon. The accusation? To ‘plagiarise’ the plots… er… most reviews report the plot of the film or book they are reviewing.

Amazon, known for their fair play (with such careful attention for what they ‘distribute’, because remember, even if one publishes through them, they won’t take the responsibilities of a publisher, only the proceeds, that you can literally misspel a few hundred words on why we should be murdering the Dalai Lama, and class it as ‘poetry’ and I’m a few hours it will be available as kindle worldwide, and forget protecting the inncocence of children), never check anything, and function ‘by complaint’. A very clever move, that means that if no one complains, everything is available, but just get enough complaints and everything gets censored.

The problem: apart from what I said before, that reviews do paraphrase the plot, a complaint must be dealt as such. At decent company would report the complaint to the person it is levelled against, carry out a fair, thorough and impartial investigation, then take action. At least in this case, it looks like Amazon have simply counted the complaints and taken action (much cheaper, especially as it can be done by an automatic calculator). They never replied to Amos, who, of course disagreed with it. So, it only takes a few homophobes to complain about a reviewer who has been promoting LGBT films and books for years to silence him on Amazon.

Amos has taken action via Lambada’s legal team. If there is no fair investigation, no complaint can be upheld. The investigation was clearly unfair as it totally ignored one side of the story.

Interesting, because the other day, I ad a review saying, ‘I didn’t like this book because it was poetry, so I didn’t read it,’ followed by a lovely one star! The word ‘poems’ on the title should have given it away, but no one has complained, so nothing’s happened.

There is a difference between paraphrasing the plot and admitting to rating and reviewing a book while not having read it.

Fine, let’s concede that Amazon does not publish books, but do the reviews get published on Amazon? Of course, so they have an obligation to have a fair review policy, and an obligation to monitor it, they cannot leave that task to the casual reader, as they publish them, not the readers.

In my little world, before I publish comments, I check that there are no swear words and are not deliberate offensive. If someone finds a comment published on this site offensive, I’ll take the responsibility for it, why? Because I published it… How many of you have read the Amazon notice that ‘reviews will be checked’? Are they? Or do they simply keep them waiting for a few hours then publish them? If so they are, as Amazon say, then how is it possible that two thousand reviews by Amos were first approved by Amazon then taken down at the first complaint? And who the **** checked that review that admitted to not reading even the cover of the book and… of course approve it!

I have read Amos’s reviews; they do report the plot, and that’s what the majority of readers want, that’s what the majority of reviewers do. So why target only Amos? If Amazon have a fair review policy, then they must also have a procedure; a policy with no procedure is not acceptable, and they should apply it across the board, not just to one reviewer who, it so happens, may have annoyed many homophobes by supporting LGBT books and films.

LGBT Poetry – Submissions


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I have been in touch with an extraordinary author and poet and he has been nagging me to promote poetry. I concur with him that poetry has become very popular all over the Internet, but almost extinct in bookshops. He points out that Byron was a superstar, selling around 100,000 copies a week! Now living on poetry is unthinkable… It’s a sad state of affairs, as poetry is meant to be the most intense expression of ourselves in literature.

So, mumble, mumble, I came up with the idea of having a poetry corner for LGBT poets and poetry which has any relevance (please read this as loosely as you wish) to the LGBT community.

What I am asking poets to do is to contact me with the following:

1- A poem
2- A paragraph about how the poem relates (loosely or not)
3- A link to the poetry collection if you have one.
4- Any artwork you wish included.

You can send everything as a comment to this thread; I’ll do all the rest.

Becoming Julie


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I am reading Becoming Julie a beautiful story about transgender life, and the author, Julie Clarke, has kindly agreed to do an interview for Gay Literature; this won’t come out all in one go, but a few questions at a time, so… Watch this space!

Julie Clarke‘s extraordinary journey started in a small town in Scotland, where she grew up, anatomically, as a boy in the post-war years. The path to self-awareness has been a long and tortuous one; the full realisation that her experience was unlike that of everybody around her didn’t come light lightning from the sky, but slowly and painfully. Reading her book, I find it interesting how prejudiced people started singling her out as ‘different’ even before she realised who she really was…

Along the way, she has become a drum player, worked as a firefighter and met situations that we can all identify with.

Hello Julie, thanks for agreeing to this interview. For those who don’t understand what it really means to be transgender, could you explain how it felt to be a woman trapped in a man’s body for so many years of your life? How’s growing up feeling you were ‘allotted’ the wrong sex?

As a child and then as a young adult, I knew there was something wrong with how I felt with my body, but didn’t really have a grasp as to what it was, but I just knew I was a girl. As I got older I began to realize what it might be, but didn’t know what to do and that’s when my inner turmoil really started in a big way. This became a battle that lasted for over 40 years and it nearly destroyed me on quite a few occasions, I thought that only my demise would be the only way to escape.

When younger, you fought against your nature and tried to be ‘like other men’, even becoming a firefighter to try to forget, how hard was it, and what made you finally decide to become a woman?

Firstly, I didn’t decide to become a woman, that had already been decided for me. I did all these stereotypically male things as part of a denial, as well as to try to conform to what society said I should be doing. I eventually gave in to my female side after misguidedly trying to show everyone that I was a man, because that was what was expected of me.

You say your book, Becoming Julie, is not about transsexualism, but a story about you going through life; could you give some more detail about this distinction please?

Indeed, Becoming Julie is not a book on the subject of transsexualism, far from it in that sense. As I don’t go into the nitty gritty politics of it or try to analyse what it is, how and why. What Becoming Julie does is tell what it’s like to be on the face of it be a “normal” person, but struggling with the overwhelming anguish it brings, while all the time trying to conceal it through fear of what the consequences of being discovered would be. I really do feel that this makes the book quite unique in that sense, and is something that not just the LGBT community can glean something from, but the wider public will be enlightened to the plight of those of us, who through no fault of our own have taken an alternative path in life.

Looking at the cover of your book, I see the clear blue of the sky and see, the wake of a boat, you looking into the horizon photographed from the back and a lifebuoy. Do I detect symbolism?

I’m glad you’ve asked this question. You are absolutely right, the book cover says something very important. A lot of people have commented on it, saying, they got it too! A lot of thought and discussion went into it between me, my publisher and their graphics and arts department. We all agreed the cover had to be powerful, it had to say something, make a statement, symbolise something about my journey, and its outcome.

Much of my long and arduous journey through life was dark and negative, but over many years I fought that off. I turned a corner and came out the other end full of life and bristling with enthusiasm and positivity, ready to take on anything life could throw at me.

The cover of Becoming Julie depicts all of that. It shows me watching my past disappearing in the wake of the ship and over the horizon forever. The clear blue sky along with the bright, bright sun heraldsvexactly what I now feel, which is an amazing feeling of positivity, optimism and contentment, and looking enthusiastically to the future, and the two seagulls are very important, flying high and free in the wind. The lifebuoy was thrown to me in 2004 when I first stepped out of my front door, reborn as Miss Julie Clarke.

When you wrote Becoming Julie, did you have a reader in mind, and who do you think would enjoy your book now it’s out?

Writing the book has been an amazing experience, but when I started it I didn’t have anything in mind as far as who would read it was concerned. However as it developed and became something that I thought might be credible and even important I began to wonder who might be interested in it. All I wanted to do was tell my story candidly and honestly. Yes I want those in the LGBT community to relate to it, but I feel I can do them and me a greater service by enlightening those who have no knowledge of the life of a transgender person. So the book is aimed at the general public, young and old, and I feel I have already made some progress in enlightening them. The book was launched in three big Waterstones shops in Oban, Edinburgh and London, with me giving talks, readings and book signings. All were a big success and well attended, with one being filmed for BBC news, which went out on two consecutive nights on BBC Scotland news programs. I’ve also done two radio shows, both of which were in-depth interviews. I’ve also featured in six newspapers and magazines. The response so far has been all positive with great reviews with people saying they had learnt something from my story. The book can be found on the autobiography shelves in bookshops and is even sold by many Sainsbury’s stores around Scotland. So the answer to your question is, I feel my book will have wide appeal to many from many walks of life. I do think that Becoming Julie is the book that people can relate to as its not heavy going, but it tells of the trials and tribulations of a transgender life in a very clear and honest way.

In Becoming Julie, in my opinion, you focus more on the people who have been supportive to you. How would you suggest to someone earlier down a similar path to yours should approach people about their real identity? Do you have any tips, for example, people to avoid and how to ‘break the news’ to friends etc?

Yes, you’re right Martin, in this book, I do focus more on those who were there for me, but before I answer your question I’ll explain why. Becoming Julie is fundamentally a positive story with a positive outcome, and although I cover some very dark and difficult times in the book it is ultimately a success story. I wanted to show that even against overwhelming odds, it really can be done, so that is why I focus more on those who were brave enough to stand up for me, even at the risk of being alienated themselves. However, I’ll cover the darker and more controversial side of my life in my next book and I’ll, em let’s say, expose those who abused me as a youngster or tried to corrupt and take advantage of me. In short, I wanted Becoming Julie to be a book that everyone could read and take some understanding from, somebody said to me recently “It’s a trans book your granny could read”.
Okay, to answer your question now. To anyone who’s read Becoming Julie it’s probably very obvious that the people I confided in where predominantly females. Now, I don’t want to get too controversial and I mean no disrespect to the men in our lives, but in my case I always found women more understanding, more sympathetic and easier to talk too. Men on the other hand, I felt were more worried about what others would say about them “siding” with someone like me, they thought that others would see them as being soft or that they’d be seen as having transgender tendencies themselves, this was a situation that I encountered throughout my life.
The other and main reason that I found it easier to talk to females is that I saw myself as being one of them anyway, so these are the main reasons that my confidants were females.
However, all of that is really just my own experience. So, the main thing I would say to others at the early stages of their journey is; try and work out who in your family or a friend has maybe worked out your situation, but hasn’t changed their attitude towards you, they may have been asking you probing questions about stuff you’ve been doing, and you’ve been evasive, maybe it’s time to put them in the picture, before they put 2 and 2 together and have come up with 5, give them the true story. It is hard but it does clear the air, and it will be a huge wait off your shoulders. The most difficult thing of all is if no one has an inkling as to what you are going through, then you have to decide who to approach and that can be daunting to say the least. Before I found my confidants, I racked my brains for years trying to pluck up the courage to approach the right person, but in my case they presented themselves at the right time in my life. I’m really sorry if that’s not a lot of help, but you’ll know the right person or persons when you’re confronted with the right opportunity at the right time.

You have received quite a lot of interest in the media; did you expect it or has it come as a surprise?

Yes, you’re right, I’ve received an amazing amount of media interest in my story so far, 7 newspaper/magazine features 2 live radio shows and 2 BBC news programme interviews/features, absolutely amazing, and that’s not over yet as I’ve just been booked to do another live radio show with Dublin City FM, on 18th January. They also want to do a radio documentary on my story, yes amazing indeed.
The sheer amount of media interest I’ve received so far has come as a bit of a surprise, but I’ve embraced it wholeheartedly, and if it brings the plight of us transgender people to the attention of the general public that is really great, I really do think that Becoming Julie has the potential to reach the mainstream public in a way that other trans books have not done so far, so we must find a way to publicise it to its full potential.

Have you left out anything in the story, or have you tried to be as truthful to your life as possible?

Yes, I’ve left a lot out, but I have much more to say and will cover the more controversial and darker and upsetting side of my story in my next book, the title of which has been more or less decided, but I’m sworn to secrecy for now. I have already told my story truthfully and given away more about my life than most folk would want too about there lives. I have to say I’m really happy and contented with that though.

Stay tuned for more…


One Star Review

I am reblogging this post because I think using one’s bigotry to ‘rate down’ a book is symptomatic of how we are still facing discrimination.

powerpuffgeezer blogs


Today Paulyanna International Rent-boy got it’s first ONE STAR review. Now I’m saying nothing *cough cough* PHOBIC, each to their own I suppose and I’m sure Paulyanna doesn’t suit everyone.

I could be bitter BUT I’m not, I’m quite chuffed really. I was in good company, William Shakespeare & Stephen Fry.

My book was included in a list of around 250… (I’m still NOT moaning)

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom

Gay Men, Lesbians and the Law

Were also on the list…

There is consistent theme to all these 1 star ratings this (?erm?) added to their Goodreads account. I did have a good chuckle checking out the list… Why Homosexual marriage is wrong: got five stars. 😉

Anyway I decided to switch it around… Any…

View original post 42 more words

David Pratt


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I am honoured to have a guest post by author David Pratt


In my last blog post ( ), I said that the fact that I write fiction makes me a romantic. Anyone who writes, paints, composes, etc. is a romantic. This time, though, it is urgent that I address plain ol’ sexual romance, because a story is circulating that young gay do not believe in love anymore. Even with DOMA crumbling and state after state issuing marriage licenses. When I came out in 1981 we were years away from same-sex marriage, and we lived in (actually near the end of, though we didn’t know it) the most sexually debauched era in American history. Yet our assumed goal was always to find husbands, even as we could not imagine ever using that word literally.

So why, now, with rainbows everywhere and gay characters on TV and marriage licenses being issued in South freakin’ Carolina and lumberjacks exchanging rings in Idaho, do young people not believe in love?

Possibly because none of us believes in true anything anymore.

Possibly because we are overcome by images and choices.

In 1981, I didn’t know any better than to believe that I would find a husband. I was not drowning in a sea of disappointing facts, figures, lists, stories and videos. I was not overwhelmed by wave upon wave of too-beautiful guys and images of too-beautiful guys and Buzzfeed lists of too-beautiful guys. Guys drinking champagne. With movie stars. Gay porn meets privilege porn. A recent Buzzfeed list says that the existence of certain pairs of twin male models is proof that God exists.

So if you’re a little short or soft or a little bald or skinny, what do you prove? That the devil exists? Even in the 80s, it took me a while to figure out that the fetishizing of hard bodies was just that—fetishizing—and not a demand that I myself should be like that—or give up. A hard body with a big dick is entertainment. Take a look; get on with your life. Work out if you like. But be clear about why. And remember, to get a spouse, you only have to impress one person. “Impress” is not even the word. You just have to click with one person. You can be a little short or soft or a little bald or skinny or a lot of all those things and still click. Still impress. Still be essential to that person. I remember the first gay couple I saw interact: two young guys with whom I worked NYC’s Gay Switchboard in 1982. They were plain. Homely. And in love. In the way they touched and spoke and signaled to one another, you say they were in it for the long haul.

I say pictures of well-hung hunks are entertainment. But they are tricky, even dangerous entertainment. The danger is suggested by the use of the word “porn” now to describe any image meant to trigger desire: “food porn,” “real estate porn”—images that, if assumed to set a standard, set it impossibly high. You can want, but you can’t have. So learn to take what you want and leave the rest. Twelve-steppers say that about their substance-abuse programs, and you can apply it to the substances themselves. Want the hunk’s haircut? You can have it. Want to be the hunk? Not happening. Oh, but you say you don’t want to be the hunk! Are you sure? Doesn’t some magical-thinking part of you kinda wanna possess his essence? So save him—to your hard drive—and in moments of distress he will save you. Right? Don’t hold your breath. The best you can do is find your own soft, short, bald, skinny way to embody what he represents to you. Which is possible. In your own soft, short, bald, skinny way, you might end up doing better.

And one last thing before I move on: a word about penises. Mostly they are little nubs of flesh that grow to a about five-and-a-half inches and dispense 10-15 ml of semen to a distance of seven to ten inches. Anything more is—you got it—entertainment.

So what are the predictors of relationship success? What should we be looking at through the clutter? By an absolutely remarkable coincidence, this question allows me to discuss my new novel, Looking After Joey (Wilde City Press)!


Looking After Joey is about the hunk. That one you downloaded, whose essence you want. Calvin, the hero of the book, wants Joey’s essence. Fortyish, single and mildly depressed, he craves it night after night. Oh, did I mention that Joey is a porn character? Calvin accesses Joey’s essence by hitting the “play” button. Until the day Joey, responding to Calvin’s desire, steps through the TV screen into Calvin’s life.

Keep in mind, Joey is not a porn actor. He is a character from a porn video. All he knows is sex, beer and pizza, and for various reasons (like because I, the author, say so) he gets stuck here. So he must be looked after, in a world far scarier than the sun-drenched paradise whence he came. He must be taught. That might be the first condition—actually two conditions—of relationship success: you must be willing to teach, and you must be willing to learn. Both take patience, and both take humility. It ain’t all gonna be fun, like English class. Some of it’s gonna be algebra. But ultimately, teaching and learning are sexy. Far sexier than longing.


Calvin becomes more dad than boyfriend to Joey. For a boyfriend, Joey finds Doug. So who is Doug? Another hung hunk in a tank top with a great set of…? Nope. Doug works for a small nonprofit, attends church, and has a slight spare tire, unruly hair and a penchant for plaid. And yet—his reaction when Joey tells him where he came from? “That’s cool. Hey, I know a place that has awesome burgers. Let’s go.” Unconditional acceptance. Condition number three. Not that there aren’t conflicts. Not that Doug doesn’t doubt Joey and himself and even storm out at one point. How does all that get resolved? Well, I can’t tell you everything. You have to find out some things for yourself. I will just say that I think you will close the book at the end believing in love.

And don’t worry. I have also made sure that you close the book believing in entertainment, too!

Thank you all for reading!


David Pratt is the author of the Lambda Award-winning novel Bob the Book (Chelsea Station Editions) and a new novel, Looking After Joey, from Wilde City Press. His short stories have been collected in My Movie, also from Chelsea Station. He has published in several periodicals and anthologies. He has presented work for the theater in New York at HERE, Dixon Place, the Cornelia Street Cafe, the Flea Theater and the NY International Fringe Festival.

Polari Book Prize 2014: Short List Announced


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The Polari Book Prize announced the 2014 Short List; here it is!

You can follow this exciting prize here:

Come and Join Me at The Cult of Me


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Guest post by author and blogger Michael Brooks

I started my blog in the summer of 2012 when I released my first novel (also called The Cult of Me). Initially I used the blog solely for promoting my writing and a large part of the blog remains dedicated to that purpose. However I soon discovered what friendly and helpful community the indie authors and readers are. They all helped me get started on that journey of becoming an author and I haven’t looked back since.

Having learned about this new community (well new to me at any rate!) I wanted to give something back, so I started hosting guest author interviews on my blog, a feature that continues every Monday and Friday with a new interview with a fiction author. You can see the full list of interviews here and as you can see I welcome authors from all genres:

Since then I’ve started other features to showcase other authors, in the Tuesday Tease an excerpt from a selected book is posted along with a bio of the author, you can see the latest tease here:

Last year I started a monthly short fiction contest open to everyone. Each month I pick a picture that is then used as inspiration for the stories entered into the competition. The story should be no longer than 500 words and unlike many competitions of this type there is no entry fee. The winner wins a £50 Amazon gift card, there’s also prizes for second and third place.

The latest author spotlight feature on the blog is the Friday Poem. Each week I feature a new poem, you can read the latest here:

As well as writing novels, I’m also a keen drabblist, a drabblist is someone who writes drabbles. Drabbles are stories that are exactly 100 words. I also enjoy writing short stories, you can find many of these on the blog as well as details for my books.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll join me on my blog, comments on posts are always welcome.

Goodreads Profile of Michael Brookes:

Polari Literary Salon


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Ok, I know, this site is primarily dedicated to gay literature… But we are in a bigger family, the LGBT literary world, so, it is with great joy and honour that I present to you the most important and exciting LGBT literary salon: Polari.

Taking its name by the British gay slang which mixes English, Italianate words (‘Polari’ itself comes from the Italian ‘parlare’, to speak), Romany and rhyming slang, and brought to the little screen, with all its (and his) theatrical might by gay icon Kenneth Williams, Polari is a London-based salon created and run by Paul Burston, himself an author, to promote LGBT, queer and gay literature.

Described by The Huffington Post as ‘the most exciting literary movement in London’, Polari is here to show the world that literature can be great fun, through lively performances authors, and that LGBT literature is a force to be reckoned with.

Just have a look at the salon’s gallery… No sad, long, grey faces of authors killing their own work through monotone readings… None of that! On the contrary, a celebration of colours, of intense smiles and, you may expect it, a touch of camp…

The big news? Polari are going national and starting a tour around the UK, a tour no LGBT person with even a small interest in literature should miss. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll go global?

So, put your glossies down, a touch of slap and go vada bold Polari… it’s better than trade!


London’s award-winning LGBT literary salon Polari has been awarded a grant from Grants for the Arts, supported by the Arts Council of England and the National Lottery.

The grant will fund a national tour in the Autumn, beginning in September and ending at the Southbank Centre in November, which marks the literary salon’s seventh birthday.

The tour will include Polari events at the Marlborough Theatre in Brighton, Homotopia in Liverpool, shOUT in Birmingham and the Manchester Literature Festival and will feature the best in established and emerging LGBT literary talent. It will also help to promote The Polari First Book Prize, which is now in its fourth year.

Paul Burston, founder and host of Polari said, “After several successful, sell-out years at the Southbank Centre, it’s been a dream of mine to take Polari on tour. I’m very grateful to the Arts Council of England and the National Lottery for making this possible.”


4 Prince’s St, Brighton, BN2 1R. 7.30pm. £8.50 (£6.50 conc) / 0800 411 8881
With Neil Bartlett, VG Lee, John McCullough, VA Fearon and Jill Gardiner

21 Dean St, W1D 3NE. 8pm. £9 / 020 7478 0100
With Will Davis, VA Fearon, Justin David and VG Lee

The Maltings, AL1 3JQ
7.15pm. £5 (£2.50 conc) includes wine and nibbles / 0300 123 4049
With Sophia Blackwell, VG Lee, Nick Field and Barbara Brownskirt

Oxford Rd, M15 6JA
7.30-9.30pm. £6 (£5 conc)
0161 274 0600 /
With Jonathan Harvey, Neil Bartlett, VG Lee and Rosie Garland

Afflecks Arcade, 35-39 Oldham Street, M1 1JG
7.30pm. £7 (£5 conc) / 0161 834 4517
With Jack Wolf, Tara Ali Din, Adam Lowe, VG Lee and Michael Atkins (finalist, Barbara Burford Prize 2014)

1 Hope Place, L1 9BG
9pm. £7 (£5 conc) / 0844 873 2888
With Jonathan Harvey, VG Lee, Gerry Potter and Clare Campbell

Cannon Hill Park, B12 9QH
7.30pm. £5 (£2.50 conc) / 0121 446 3232
With VG Lee, Keith Jarrett, Fanny Gapper, Clare Ashton and Kiki Archer

Southgate, SG1 1HD
7.15pm £5 (£2.50 conc) includes wine and nibbles / 0300 123 4049
With Sophie Ward, Alexis Gregory, Sarah Westwood, VG Lee and Alex Hopkins.

23 Westgate Road, NE1 1SE
7pm. Free / 0191 232 0192
With Mari Hannah (winner of The Polari First Book Prize 2013), Sophia Blackwell, Debbie Taylor, Stephen Shieber and VG Lee

RFH, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX / 0844 847 9910
7.45-10pm. £5 (£2.50 conc)
With Neil Bartlett, Ben Ferguson, Alex Marwood, Sarah Bramley and Niven Govinden



Paul Burston

Paul Burton