Author: Thea Atkinson
Genre: Literary fiction
Thea has been fortunate enough to write for money, but prefers writing for passion. She has published throughout the US, the UK, and her home country of Canada in various lit journals, but she’s a novelist at heart. Anamoly brings me to double digits in novel projects.
Tell us about your book:
The book teaser says: J isn’t your run-of-the-mill, everyday kind of troubled GenXer. He’s a recovering addict who is more concerned about his encroaching gender relapse than his meth addiction. That is, until his best friend comes to visit and gives him worse things to worry about. That just scratches the surface. Anamoly is a journey of self discovery, like many novels. It just happens to feature a character who is transgendered.
How long did it take to write the book?
A little over a year to write and a few more months to edit. It was a tough piece because I wanted to tackle far too many things and in the end had to let the story move without my forced interference. I ended up having to cut a lot of material because it ended up sounding preachy. I was worried about honoring the community I was trying to learn about and at times, it stopped my writing dead. It took a while for me to realize it was a story; it wasn’t ABOUT transgender, it was about a character who just happened to be so.
What inspired you to write the book?
I think what sparked the interest in a transgender character was a LGBT tolerance workshop I sat in on. The presenter looked like a woman and I just assumed she was. As the seminar continued and I realized things weren’t always as they seemed, I found myself wondering if she was ‘really’ a woman. This created quite an internal stir for me. I began to question why I needed to know. I wondered what difference it would make to me. Just the internal meandering opened my eyes in so many ways that I had to explore it in my fiction.
More than that, it was interesting to hear how there was bias and prejudices in the queer community just as much as in the straight community. It made me realize that bias is something that’s inescapable and that marginalization is an entrenched issue in society.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
Simple: I write something every day.
I had to research a lot for Anamoly. I had to read through blogs and forums and talk to folks who felt marginalized in some way. In some case, the research and discovery phase was enlightening in some pretty surprising ways. For example: I hadn’t thought before about how restrictive bathroom labels are or how confusing it can be to have to fill out gender on a form where gender doesn’t matter.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope they come away with a positive message: that the label is not the person. I hope they react to other people with a sense of looking for that Divine spark within rather than to the outward differences that separate us.
Where can we go to buy your book?
Any other links or info you’d like to share?
Excerpt from book:
Sometimes I think about angels, and I’m not talking about those man-made, Plaster of Paris knockoffs either. You know that kind: chubby little bastards blowing kisses from dainty palms, their equally chubby little wings spread wide as a hooker’s legs, a vapid smile curving their mouths. Nope. I don’t like to think about those kind too much. Too many of them around my parents’ house, you see; so many that I tell people they’re what drove me to the evils of the big city four years ago.
What I do think about are the real ones: the seraphim, the guardian angels, the archangels. Those who fell from Heaven when they followed that most beautiful creature of all as well as those who remained behind, stuck in paradise because they couldn’t manage out-of-the box thinking. Those ones who, all, have smooth expanses of desert where there should be moist oases of genitals. Those beings created for servitude to the glory of God. Ah, no use for genitalia to do what they do; no, indeedy not. And as you know, genitalia is a very big part of life. It rules us by its very nature of flesh and folds.
Still, do angels think about what their existence would be like with genitals: with a clitoris to raise shudders on nerve endings from sole to soul or a sensitive tip to plunge into secret areas and buckle a sac deep into its surrounding body?
It makes me wonder if God in one of his exploratory moods granted Lucifer one of these accoutrements—or both, even—as an experiment, and ended up giving the creature an understanding of joining that the rest could never imagine.
Is that why they threw theology’s greatest hissy fit?
It might reassure you to know that I do think of other things. I’m just like you; like most folks. I think about the economy and world peace. There’s also the fact that a half-breed is the newest American President, happier to identify with his African side than his Caucasian for now because it ushers in ‘a new era.’ Not that I’m against all that. I think it’s long overdue that a man of African descent could be President. An African American woman? Getting there. Better yet, what about a bi-racial, bisexual, cross dresser for president. We’d be making real strides as humanity there, now wouldn’t we?
It matters to me, you see, that you understand just how like you I am. That I’m really a regular everyday kind of Joe. Or Josephine. Like you I worry about money, about work, about family. See? All very normal for a middle class heterosexual person.
Well, there is the tiny, very tiny, issue of what gender I am, and whether that gender is the same today as it was yesterday, but that’s no big deal. Not really. Not when you remember how much crap is out there in the world to deal with. A little thing like gender relapse is so little to contend with after all.