As my home district of Bradford goes back into lockdown, it might feel as if horizons are contracting. But thanks to the LGBTQIA community in the neighbouring city of Leeds, this last weekend mine expanded.
It was last year (in 2019, when most of us couldn't have dreamt of the devastation of COVID-19) that I received a private message on Twitter from Leeds LGBT+ Literature Festival saying someone had recommended my book Asexual Fairy Tales for inclusion in the 2020 festival. My first festival! Well, I have read twice at the Fringe of Ilkley Literature Festival, but this was a proper, invited, paid author appearance! So exciting!!
As it happened, none of the invited guests would actually get to appear in the usual way. But, like so many, the organisers of the festival put all their efforts into producing an online, virtual festival. Pre-recorded readings, zoom workshops, the lot. The benefit is, you didn't (and still don't) have to be in Leeds at a certain time to enjoy the events. Anyone from around the world can still enjoy the videos.
I did two readings, uploaded on consecutive days. One from Asexual Fairy Tales - my beloved original tale, "The Ice Queen and the Mer-King." If you want to understand my own experience of asexuality and my struggles to identify, this is the story to begin with. The second tale I read is from my forthcoming Asexual Myths & Tales. "Attis and the Priests of Cybele" is a retelling of a Phrygian myth, drawn from various (and sometimes contradictory) ancient sources. It does carry mild trigger warnings for mention of castration and unwanted sexual advances, but it is packed with symbolic representation of asexuality, sex-repulsion, third gender individuals and so much more.
I do hope you enjoy the readings from my work. And I hope that maybe I'll be asked to appear at more festivals (virtually or in person) in the future!