Raise your rainbow umbrellas high and celebrate!
Enjoy this enchanting, entertaining and thought-provoking collection, a heartfelt expression of what it means to be queer in Britain, past and present. All these stories reflect the iconic sights and national character of the British Isles: a taste of our idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, but also an unashamed representation of the love, loyalty and laughter of our people.
Including a wide range of style and subject, this is the perfect way to sample different authors and to find both existing and new favourites. Follow the British way of life from historic villages to modern cities, from the countryside to the sea, through history and with a fantasy twist, in gardens, churches, campus and the familiar, much-loved local pub.
The stories cover universal themes of romance, desire, remembrance and reconciliation. The authors range from multi-published to up-and-coming, and they all share a passion for their characters, whether through great drama, erotic excitement, humour -- or a combination of all three!
Contributors include: Alex Beecroft, Jennie Caldwell, Stevie Carroll, Charlie Cochrane, Lucy Felthouse, Elin Gregory, Mara Ismine, Clare London, Anna Marie May, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles, Zahra Owens, Jay Rookwood, Chris Smith, Stevie Woods, Lisa Worrall, and Serena Yates. Edited by: UK MAT (UK Meet Acquisitions Team).
My two stories were What Katy Did on Holiday and The Utterly True History of Guy Alien and the Rise and Fall of His Band, X-Wing. Excerpts under the cuts:
What Katy Did on Holiday
Helena untangled one of her hands from Katy’s and brought it slowly up to rest against Katy’s cheek.
“I think we can do better than that.” She slid her hand round to the back of Katy’s neck and pulled her forward into a much longer kiss.
Katy’s lips parted. Her tongue met Helena’s. She shifted on the bench until she was straddling Helena’s lap. She followed the waistband of Helena’s shorts with her hands until they met in the small of Helena’s back.
A dog barked close by. Its bounding footfalls were getting closer.
Katy scrambled off Helena’s lap. She could feel her cheeks heating up. The big, yellow dog had turned around, and was already bounding back to his owners.
“What’s wrong?” Helena took hold of Katy’s hands. “Don’t you like having an audience?”
“I…” What if one of the children were to see her? Or their parents? Anyone she knew might have decided to come here on one last day-trip before term started. Over on the far side of the playing field, the dog was happily greeting its owners. “Can we just walk?”
“If you want.” Helena checked her watch—a fancy sports one with lots of extra dials and digital displays. “I’ll have to head back soon anyway. Aunt Viv will be wondering where I got to, and I should really find somewhere to have a shower before we hit the road. Who knows where we’ll end up parked tonight?”
“You could use my bathroom at the hotel.” Katy wasn’t usually so forward, but then she was on an adventure.
“Don’t mind if I do.” Helena got to her feet, and extended a hand towards Katy. “Shall we go?"
The Utterly True History of Guy Alien and the Rise and Fall of His Band, X-Wing
They launched into gigging after only a month or two of rehearsals. One of the guys had a friend whose sister needed a band for her party, having been let down at short notice. They played covers, mostly, which went down pretty well, and a couple of their own songs (hastily penned by Guy the night the gig was confirmed), which weren’t a complete disaster.
That gig led to others, and then to a regular slot at the Jericho Tavern. They didn’t get paid much, but the beer—if not the whiskey—was free. Guy penned more songs, using riffs and snatches of lyrics written by one or more of the other band members—but only if they made his parts look good. X-Wing would always be Guy’s band, no matter who else played in it. He was the brains behind it, the front man—lead singer and lead guitarist—and the one who drove the publicity. Guy was the one who got first pick of the groupies. Slowly but surely, the band were acquiring those as well.
“That’s not quite how I remember it.”
“Guy didn’t write all the songs for one thing.”
“And the groupies?”
“Were talked about more than seen—at least when I was hanging out with the band.”
At school Guy (known as Jonathan back then) had looked at boys a little too closely to consider himself completely straight, but before James—the skinny kid with the pointed features, the over-long fringe and the huge dark eyes—all of Guy’s groupies had been female. The other guys didn’t much mind James, so long as Guy kept up the pretence that one backstage (back room, broom cupboard, far end of the gents) blow-job was the
same as another. It wasn’t—not really—because James was better than any girl Guy had ever had. James was also a walking music encyclopaedia, which would have put him a step above the other groupies in the band’s eyes, had he not been American and male.
“They didn’t like you being American? Why ever not?”
“Half the band thought Richards and Jagger were far superior to any of their US influences, and the other half wanted to resurrect the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. So, no, I wasn’t exactly popular with them.”
“So could it have been one of them that wrote the article? All these details about Guy’s sex life seem very explicit for a promo piece.”
“It’s Queer Chord: they always liked to have a bitchy angle. The more explicitly about sex the better, from what I remember. Guy wouldn’t have liked it, but what could he have done? Complaining after publication would have just got that part of the article picked up by a proper music paper.”
There are sixteen other stories in the anthology, giving readers plenty of variety for the price, and I find it hard to pick a favourite. Clare London's Making Camp deserves a mention for making me smile far to much on a train journey; both Frozen Angel by Lisa Worrall and Sweet Temptation by Jennie Caldwell make use of churchyard settings; Charlie Cochrane brings back her Cambridge Fellows in a smaller mystery than their usual for Bloody Mathematicians. But then all the others are good too, and every reader will have different stand-out stories that speak to them personally.
All profits go towards future UK Meets, just in case you need any further incentive to get hold of a copy.
Buy as an eBook: http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=38&products_id=310
Buy in print: http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8&products_id=311
And now for a contest:
Tell me a story about an example of Great British Eccentricity (or Irish Eccentricity for that matter). All comments will go into a draw, and one will win a print copy of Tea and Crumpet. If enough people enter, then a second comment will win other Tea and Crumpet related goodies. Draw entries will stay open for a week, and are open to everyone.