In this episode, author Lynn Ames joins Tara to talk about the groundbreaking Beebo Brinker Chronicles by Ann Bannon. . They explore what actually made it groundbreaking, why they endure, and why everyone should read them.
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Transcript for today’s show
Please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect.
hi I’m Tara and welcome to les do books I am so excited today because I am joined by Lynn Ames author of 15 lesbian historical intrigue and romance books the latest is the historical romance secrets well kept and it’s available everywhere welcome Lynn Thank You Tara thanks for inviting me so we are here today to talk about the groundbreaking Bebo Brinker chronicles by anne Bannon and they were first written and published in the late 1950s and early 1960s and regular listeners to the show will know that Anne actually came on earlier this year and she just knocked my socks off it was truly one of the highlights of my year and I had read a girl out before that conversation but I also knew that I had to read the whole rest of the series and talk about them with someone and I just finished reading them last night so I’m very excited to talk about them thank you for coming to have this conversation because I think they’re a serious that a lot of people know about but I also think that a lot more people should know about everyone should know about this series I mean this series was the start of modern lesbian moving very fair state so when did you first read them and what did they mean to you when you read them well if I tell you when I first read them it’s going to give my age way which I’m happy to do I I first read them in the 1980s when I was first discovering lesbian fiction and I recognized that you know perhaps I should start at the beginning I had my first book ever was a Kathryn before us book it was amateur City part of her Kate Delafield series but I went back then and found Bebo Brinker I found odd girl out first actually I think I found journey to a woman first and then realized that it was part of a bigger piece and I went back and started reading the entire series and you know it’s interesting reading it in the 1980s and rereading it now I have such a different perspective than I had then but I think it was really helpful to me thank you for the opportunity to reread this you are very welcome I don’t often get time to you know the irony the great irony of being an author is you become an author because you love to read and then once you become an author it gets harder and harder to find the time to read because I don’t read when I’m writing I don’t want someone else’s voice in my head I you know can’t quite handle that unless it’s something that’s so completely different from my genre or what I’m writing at the time and then maybe I’m okay but I can’t read and write at the same time I can walk into a gun but I cannot so you know for me I don’t get to read often enough which is really hating so it was great just to go back and you know sort of relive a piece of my past you know and to think about it as I thought about it then and I well remember my first reaction when I was reading these books and then to think about it now which is quite different my perspective is different I wasn’t an author then I was just discovering you know our fiction totally engrossed in it I would read anything I could find you know I would get the old and I had catalogs and just rip through them and order everything you know so it was for me a different experience than than it was now and I think that that’s important because you know one thing that I know we’re going to talk about is this idea of the books longevity the series longevity and what it meant then as opposed to what it means now because it did mean something different in the eighties than it means now the audience will look at it differently because you have that lens of your own experience and you know for younger readers younger than me which means you know almost everybody you know they’re looking at it from a perspective and from a different generation and I think that that is part of the mystique part of the allure and part of the importance of the series is how well it’s held up over time but it will be viewed differently you want to get into that or sure you want to get there I think what I’d like to do first is just let people know this is gonna be a little different than other podcasts when we dip into books because I’m not going to expect that most people have read this one and I don’t think we need to shy away from spoilers because also these books have been out for decades sorry but I also go read them and I don’t think knowing any of this will spoil the experience because the books truly are a time capsule and even if you know what’s going to happen in a lot of them you don’t necessarily know how it’s going to happen and the tone is so distinct and so special and the characters are so special but I do want to just let people know that if they want to pick it up they have a couple of options Klee espress has released them again I think this is the third time they’ve been re-released so you can third time yeah so you can either get the them individually or you can get them in a single omnibus edition for the e-book and that is really reasonably priced that’s how I did it I think I got it for $15 it might be up to $20 now but it’s well worth it because you are getting five novels in one edition at a pretty good price there’s audiobooks now how are they yeah please put out an audiobook version a few years ago hmm actually I was unaware that you could find them as ebooks I have the big I have several copies of them but boy I have there’s a big triangle classics book that has four of the five books in this series in it it’s missing the woman which I find interesting which journey – okay so I’m gonna say flat out I have a problem with the middle three books all having the word woman in the title because now I have to think of them as okay odd girl out is the one we’re Laura and Beth are together at the school and then there’s the one where Laura’s in New York and she has a crush on her roommate and she ends up with Nemo and there’s the one where she and bebo oh my god dad that looks just like trauma in a book and and then there’s the one where Beth comes back there right I think I I think I messaged you that I needed like a cuddle and a chocolate or yeah so if other people have a hard time keeping the different books straight just based on their names you are not alone that is me as well so the order in which these books actually were written and the order in which I would read them if I were reading them for the first time I would read first odd girl out because that is the very first book that Ann wrote it is the first book in this in the series although I’m not convinced that she knew it was going to be a series when she wrote that in fact I know she didn’t so she wrote odd girl out which by the way was the second best-selling paperback listen to this the second best-selling paperback in 1957 not the second best-selling lesbian belated paperback the second best-selling paperback in 1957 it boggles the mind to think about this and it bothered her mind she didn’t even realize it he didn’t so odd burlap first the second book is I am a woman the third book is women in the shadows the fourth book is journey to a woman and the fifth book is B Bober anchor and and you know interestingly people bring her as you know and as I know there’s actually the prequel to all of it it goes back and talks about Bebo from the very beginning from her roots in Wisconsin to you know moving and to New York and finding her her butch swagger as it were do you have a favorite you know I I do I’m really partial to odd girl out I mean to me you know that story resonated the most with me when I read it the first time it still resonates them with me in terms of my own experience coming out and I mean I think it is universal in in that it tells the story of discovery the story of discovering who you are and how you are and how you feel and all of that newness happens to everybody we all figure out our sexuality at some point whatever that sexuality is and everybody I think can relate to that experience so for me personally that one held the greatest affection back then and it still does now when I really did that you know I sort of think oh well that was like my college roommate yeah so she was writing this really during that kind of golden age of the pulps what was your favorite oh my favorite okay okay so I’m kind of torn because I also loved odd girl out when I was reading it I just marveled at how it sucked me in and just like held me by the face the whole time but I’ve been reading the about Brinker this week I really love that one – it was really interesting to see because Bebo’s such a large part of the middle three books and to see where she came from and what a sweet person she was and you know I had thought that Laura was kind of a great love of her life having read the other books and I walked away from it thinking maybe she wasn’t like maybe it was actually Venus and I’m a big fan of celebrity romances and age gap romances and so the fact that it had that in one book in a way way way before way before it’s and very different obviously from say a celebrity romance that you might read by Jay or Georgia beers or anybody that’s doing it now but still really interesting and really lovely and there there were actually points in there that I thought were interesting because it gave me pause and made me wonder if bebo had been born later would be Bo have actually been a trans man because there is that kind of like I don’t I don’t I don’t fit I don’t feel like like there is that questioning gender and she ends up her own body yeah you know go to a doctor because she didn’t want a doctor to know that she was a woman yes exactly so which I thought was a little different from most other butch representation I’ve seen where you know the butch woman is very comfortable at like no I’m still a woman this is just how I present as a woman and it seems like by later in this year later in the series later in her life earlier in the series she’s confused right she’s settled where she’s most comfortable but the but the world still isn’t really comfortable with who she is and who she ends up right even or is not comfortable with who she is no no right there is so uncomfortable with who she is I mean she just wounds her to the quick doesn’t she when she talks about she has this whole long soliloquy where she says you know you’re never those pants are never going to make you into a boy mm-hmm alright and I’m Laura just absolutely in Visser eight sir they’re a hot freaking mess no no they know oh my god yeah they were just a hot mess and like so like so bad for each other and it was interesting to see because so I am a woman is this is where I’m gonna fumble you’ve already outlined which book is which I’m gonna fumble it’s okay we’ll get back on track but they they have their happy ending at the end of that and I think it’s one of the most optimistic endings of all the books and so it was really interesting to go straight into women in the shadows and see how bad things are yep so I think I want to instead skip around from I gave you a list of questions before but I wanna skip around a little bit and talk some some really controversial topics she’s amazed I mean the things that she addressed remember that these were written 1957 she actually wrote I am a woman also in 1957 although it wasn’t published until 1959 and then you know 1960 and then 1962 this was the order in which she wrote these things so think of the time in which she was writing and the time in which she was writing homosexuality was illegal you get thrown in jail for it they were raiding the bars you know the idea of going to a bar was absolutely terrifying because if you weren’t wearing the right clothing you’d get arrested you know if a woman or a bush or whatever walked into a bar and I didn’t have three articles of women’s clothing on that was the rule three articles of women’s clothing you got thrown in the paddy wagon and take him to jail we’re not very nice things happen to you that was reality back then and and in her books reflected the reality of the times but in some ways she was so far out there think of some of the themes that he addresses she addresses themes like interracial love she addresses the word queer and whether or not it’s a positive or a negative word you know there’s a lot of talk these days about you know queer are we reclaiming the word is it a bad word as a pedlar depends on the generation you ask depends on everybody’s personal experience based on where they were in their life and how the word was used in context for them you know she addresses she created in Bebo the first truly butch character the archetype that everybody else followed after that and know those Josh lesbian Parenthood she talked about article insemination in 1957 I know I think I read that inside dress hat I didn’t know that happened then I didn’t either actually yeah you know I thought well are they using a turkey baster and what’s their process but she went to a doctor and you know did and I thought wow I didn’t realize that but still that was so cutting edge you know hmm the things that she talked about the things that she addressed the subject matter was revolutionary and this is where you know when I say you read it in your own context if you’re just kidding to these books now and you’re reading it for the first time then you know you know from your own lens you’re thinking oh my god that is so outdated and so old but you can’t read these books from your own context you have to think about the times and the history and the chances that an Bannen took in writing the things that she wrote and in coming as close as she did to happy endings were truly astonishing for the time and when you hear people like Catherine DeForest say and bannon’s books saved her life Lee Lynch would tell you the same thing all of these great icons of our generation yeah we think of these people as icons their icon was an Bannen because for the first time you know she wrote books where you didn’t die at the end because you were other you didn’t slit your wrists and or in some cases he didn’t go off and married man although in some cases she did but even in the books that she wrote where you know they had unhappy and unhappy endings that way there was still an element of happiness you know Laura thought to get her ending while went to the marriage which we later find out didn’t work out that well for her right Laura goes off and decides yep I’m gonna live the lesbian because that’s who I am and so this defiant moment Anne’s defiant moment but recognize that to get to that place to be able to write that she included a lot of other stuff that wouldn’t make modern-day lesbians and trans and everybody else happy I mean they look at that and think whoa she sold us out but let me tell you to get the endings that she got in there where there was any motive calm of happiness or of being okay with being a lesbian and she really pushed the envelope really push the envelope well that was like I told her that because reading odd girl out it does feel a little bit like you’re reading a romance but also it’s not a romance and that’s okay and I think that’s the problem of reading as a reader now is that we expect if there are lesbians and it especially in our less Vic reading community if there are lesbians in it you are reading a romance you will get a happy ending and it’s not fair first of all to judge all lesbian books by that measure because they’re not all romances and in this case you know the thing that I said to her is that I felt like the ending was actually incredibly optimistic because Laura does not leave school the same girl that she came in she knows who she is she has a confidence and not only that she’s not gonna be Beth’s doormat anymore because she let Beth treat her pretty poorly and I love you she said okay if that’s what you need to do with your life you go do your thing but I need to go and be myself and I know where I need to go and do it and she does and that’s incredibly powerful yeah that is what saved lives I mean that bit of empowerment that bit of and I wouldn’t call it rebellion really it was just an understanding of who she was and understanding and acceptance of who she was and you know amidst all of the arcs in these books where these lesbians are struggling against who they are and you know that was truth back then because I mean truly you were considered depraved you were considered sick and should be the way or made to change or you know any other number of horrible things yes she included those things but she also gave you this this strong young girl who says yep you know what I’m not sick I’m not this I’m not bad I’m just a lesbian and I’m gonna go live that line mm-hmm and I’m going to do it on my own terms which she does we warned you you had 60 years only had six years to read these books right and I think as much as I joked about wanting her you know needing a cuddle after women in the shadows I also think that that was a really brave book that tackles some things that we don’t see in a lot of other lesbian fiction like actually seeing domestic violence in a lesbian couple alcoholism corrective rape well I mean I don’t want to see that in a lot of books if I’m being honest but right I know she’s been well but I mean she she did also talk about that so I mean maybe that’s a good kind of segue into like where did where did some of this come from in her life because I saw some interviews with her and read some interviews with her and also she did quite long beautiful forwards and afterwards to some of those class editions where she talked about how that was a really kind of tumultuous period in her life and she took all of her angst and stuck it in poor Bebo in that one book but it wasn’t just Bebo you know I know that and I know am as you know but I will also say that I see a fair amount of and in Laura I see it you know Bebo for an was an idealized type that she fantasized about frankly and says you know I see a fair amount of Laura in her and I see some of Beth in her as we get into the third book and this is the fourth book in the series so you got me what Ennis series which is journey to a woman you know where she’s in a massively unhappy marriage she’s made this mistake getting married and having kids with Charlie and she feels trapped by that and you know she’s yelling at the kids and she loves the kids but only from afar and you know all that kind of stuff all that angst all those arguments with her husband I mean those are pure an there’s just that was the life she was living when she her husband Ann’s husband was an engineer who traveled around quite a bit and so they traveled quite a bit she has two lovely daughters lovely were very grown daughters Anna’s in her eighties now but and granddaughter there she’s got grandkids as well but everything that Ann was feeling yet every seething thing that was going on in her internal life she poured into bebo Laura back there aspects of her all throughout these characters not one or the other but pieces of it there’s a lot of reality in these books and I’m frankly and that is often true that you’re right you know from your own experience it’s it’s where your life is at that given moment you know some of that bleeds into whatever you’re working on it does and you can’t really help it because it that’s where you are as a human being and you know Ann has said that that was cathartic for her that Bebo had you know the nervous breakdown that she would have had if she hadn’t poured it into bebo and into her character is a non I can fully understand that no aunt’s husband by the way knew that she was writing it wasn’t a secret he didn’t want anything to do with it he didn’t want to know about the books he didn’t want he took the money as an will tell you but he didn’t want to know what she was up to she stayed in that marriage 27 years but I you know you can see she talks about these trips you know to Greenwich Village one like you see that Laura Mary’s gap and then and her best gay friend you know but he wants to be normal he doesn’t want to have sex with her but he wants the appearances and the trappings of being acceptable and married and so on and so forth and so they get married and also a child he wants to met he wants me a father he wants to be a father of a little girl he’s very specific you know he’s obviously met your daughter and he wants to not have these gay Affairs any more he’s over 80 sick of it he just wants the trappings of a normal life you know she doesn’t have a normal life he wants the trappings of a normal life and yeah that’s you know and there’s this there’s a through theme in these books to some extent about hating yourself hating that you’re gay looking to try to normalize your life and to accept that and you know having this violent internal struggle about it and that was the truth of the time it was her truth but it was a lot of people’s truth at the time you know you were society made you hate yourself for who you were society Accord you know lesbians and gays and painted them as these awful hideous unnatural creatures and you know some of that bleeds over into the writing and certainly it does because that’s what you were made to feel and here’s and in fact in this marriage that she doesn’t you know it was not a good marriage and you know she’s seething with all this stuff and she actually in real life wrote to her lesbian fiction Idol who was then Packer Mary Jane Meeker in New York she writes to Mary Jane Meeker and she’s got their outlines of odd girl out she’s got this whole sheaf of papers and mary jane says yeah come see me that’s fine you know we’ll talk and you see that scene written right in the middle of Germany – well yeah with Bethan right yeah I mean she writes it right in there and the documentary hasn’t come out yet but I have seen the interview that Anne gave and I don’t know what how many other places she’s talked about it but in this interview and in the upcoming documentary 20th century you know in her words 20th century lesbian fiction and talks about Mary Jane and going to New York and Mary Jane picking her up and taking her into her apartment and she makes very clear and it’s the first time I’ve ever heard her say it anywhere that she and Mary Jane had a thing hmm who knew yeah right but but so she pours this into her fiction and you know so what you are seeing is relevant to the times it’s representative of the times everything that’s in those books as violent as they are and they are there are some things that are cringe-worthy in these books that make you think oh my god the poor yeah and then when you find out what really happened it’s like yeah but I mean these horrible things are you thinking oh my how does she help you think these things how does she write these things yeah well how does Stephen King write what he writes really yeah yeah but you know all of these things are representative and and part of parcel of the times in which they lived and so when we look at fiction we have to look at the context of it in order to appreciate it in order to understand it you know I have to put it in context so we need to put this series that Chronicles in context of the late 1950s early 1960s when self-loathing was all the rage and you know lesbianism and homosexuality in general was illegal and to be caught was be severely punished and you would do anything you know not to put yourself in that situation there was a lot of you know she also addressed self-mutilation did you notice death in the first month and I girl out she addresses the issue of self-mutilation Laura cuts herself and you know uses her nails to gouge herself yes is feeling badly she’s a cutter what we call – mm-hmm you know revolutionary for the time to talk about these kinds of these kinds of issues you’re listening to the Lisbon talk show the lesbian tortured con you have a podcast information I also thought it was interesting near the end of the book Bebo Brinker the conversations between Bebo and Leo Bogardus because Leo is Venus’s husband and he knows that Bebo’s living with them because she’s having an affair with Venus and it wasn’t this like what you’re having an affair with my wife and then soccer in the face and then throw her out of the house it wasn’t that at all it was more of like I don’t get it I don’t get what she wants with you especially but you seem to make her happy she’s a calmer person she’s a better wife she’s a better mother so ok and I thought that was surprisingly accepting also given the whole context it’s not what I expected at all I expected the like oh the husband’s coming in I got to jump out the window or something like that and then she did that also with Chris’s husband Milo right yes and and you also see it when Beth is talking to her husband Charlie when she’s saying I have to leave you know in her you see this internal dialogue or monologue in Beth’s head saying if you would just let me have this affair I’ll be a better wife a better mother and these things again are Anne’s desires what she thinks would have made her would have made it tolerable to stay in that marriage would have made it better and I mean she’s just pouring out her heart on the pages but you’re right it was very forward-thinking and very rare to paint this character who was okay with you know his wife having an affair and you know in some way I think that’s sort of wishful thinking it’s wishful thinking projecting you know what and wishes would have been the case you know for her what the reaction might have been you know again there’s personal details that filter and but it is incredibly I think revolutionary to put it in print mm-hmm you might think it but to put it in print Wow well and it’s even a controversial idea now where polyamory is sort of for some people gaining ground where people feel like they can kind of talk about it but there’s still a lot of stigma and a lot of people that think that you’re cheating no matter what and so the fact that she was diving into it so long ago and it’s still a struggle to deal with now was I think for me was a little mind-blowing yeah she was very prescient in a lot of ways way way ahead of her time and I think that’s you know why these books still have legs yes well and also the writing is so clean it’s so it’s so crisp like there’s nothing spare there’s nothing flabby that’s there you may not like what you’re reading about you may not be comfortable with what you’re reading about you might want to shake the out of some of the characters and say why are you acting like this but it’s so tight and if you pick one of the books up you’re not gonna be able to pick up anything else until you finish it yeah yeah it’s like you have to get through it yes you just write you know you just keep reading thinking I have to get through this I have to get after bear witness really is what it is you have to bear witness there’s so much pain on the page there’s so much that’s real on the page that you just feel like I can’t leave them here you know I have to see them through this and that is brilliant writing when you can do that that’s brilliant writing it is I did have to step away from the series after I read women in the shadows and I had to read some books that were really fluffy and really sweet and I’m actually I’m glad I did because while what’s the last one called again journey to a woman journey to okay I told you I’m gonna do this okay even when you get to journey to a woman and it has an optimistic ending for Beth amiibo although I’m still not actually convinced about their future even knowing that she wrote another book about them in the future that never got published and never will I’m not a hundred percent sure about that but that book has some like whoa is there ever some intense stuff with the I’m trying to remember her name the lover that Beth picks up in California yeah they got there yeah thank you I should have remembered that’s also the name of a protein yeah right I just turned 40 I’m a baby okay you are but Vega oh my god there’s so much intense stuff that happens there like major mental illness again alcoholism in that family just like there’s body shaming yeah physical scars that you know a representative of emotional scars and all that there’s some depth to it to not just even if you below the surface into some of this stuff because they’re deep meaning in there you know these books are on many many levels and the more she got into them the more levels there were because she became more mature as a writer she wrote on girl out and wrote a girl out which was 22 years old yeah well she even a mother at that point she was newly married I think she might have been a mother then I can’t swear to that I’d have to look back and see what the timing of it was but she wrote some of them when she had her girls I think oh absolutely she did yeah yeah yeah so I kind of started to ask this earlier and then we kind of went on another I’m having so much fun doing this I know right so this was like really in that Golden Age of pulps where they were just kind of coming out all the time and there were a lot of lesbian polyps and often written by men as well as women but most men yeah and you can even see now like I think on Twitter there’s an account that’s like lesbian Pulp cover generator or something and it just like spits out these covers if you want to see them but there was something obviously special about hers if our girl out was the second best-selling paperback of the year now what was it about her books that really made them stand out at that time from everything else that was going on do you think they were just they were different they were raw they were real but they weren’t titillating like some of the other books were they were you know the books that were the lesbian Pulp Fiction books that were written by men were largely meant to titillate male audiences this book was not written for a male audience this book was real and from the heart and raw and clean in the sense that every emotion was real everything was so and not just real but realized in such a way that you knew that this was someone’s story and you couldn’t and we said you couldn’t look away you couldn’t look away the other books were largely meant to titillate as I said a male audience male gaze why this is why you get those the salacious male color you know male Audley covers of women on top of women and doing this and doing that really that had nothing to do with the book or the books topic you know but was just designed to make people pick up the cover pick up the book but her books struck a chord they struck a chord with women they struck a chord with lesbians and she got a lot of nail and third of the public hear about these drugs and about Oh effective effective they were you know as in how much they affected people in many cases she got letters from women who said you saved my life from many women who said you’re talking about me you’re talking about my experience in my life and those other lesbian pulps they didn’t do that they didn’t do that and they surely didn’t dare to have a happy ish or happy like ending they sure didn’t do that and they didn’t depict lesbianism as something that was redeemable in any way her characters are incredibly flawed but they’re redeemable and they were being themselves in so many ways along the way I mean they do some horrendous heinous things I mean truly you sit there and you think how can I like this character and yet there comes a point a moment where you want to stand up and cheer because they finally realize something about themselves and they were deeming themselves in some way or at least they try to and that was unique at the time and so I think these books stand alone in in their realness I guess is what I’d say I want to say the reality because realness is what I mean it’s not a word but I just made it one so now it is mm-hmm go find that the dick so why do you think they’re still important now why should we still be reading them now well several reasons first of all because I say that’s often there I know you’ve heard me say this before and I’m going to keep saying it because it’s always going to be true we cannot understand where we are or know where we’re going until we know where we’ve been this is our history this was our reality we must pay attention to it in order not to allow it to be repeated now especially we can see this we understand this I think better than we did five years ago or four years ago when we got marriage when we got you know when it looked like we’d finally turn the corner and everything was okay and by the way I mean we live in a time now where this next generation doesn’t recognize what it took necessarily and I don’t want to paint a broad brush but many of this younger generation takes for granted that they can come out in middle school that they can talk about these things with their parents that they have friends who are questioning or other than in or can identify themselves with any number of pronouns that was not possible without getting locked away it wasn’t possible and it is vitally important to understand what that generation went through to get us to this point where we are today we can’t appreciate it if we don’t understand it this you know the rights we have now the attitudes that we can walk around freely with the idea that we can you know walk out in the middle of the street holding hands and not get our head bashed in in many places now bless no no but it was a couple years ago but none of that would have happened without brave writers like Ann Bannon stepping out and speaking truth so the books are important from a historical perspective to understand where we’ve been the books are also vitally important now because they still are relative they still as you pointed out so aptly speak to issues that we’re addressing now she had this baby being with okay do you want explain that one cuz people are not going to know what you’re talking about so I told we started that Ann is a friend of mine and as we were doing this I got to thinking about a few things and I thought I would just pop in and he now last night and asked her three questions that I had and I didn’t you know I said you please don’t feel required to answer these but I’d love it if you would I explained that I was doing this podcast with Tara she loves by the way so I will want me just to read I will read you wholly but I will read you the questions I asked and the answers and gave me which are remarkably candid and so interesting to me I said one I note that even on your website the marriage which is a book she wrote in between I think she wrote that one after odd girl out and before I am a woman so it would have been the second book she ever wrote I said I note that even on your own website the marriage isn’t mentioned as part of the Chronicles not only that but I don’t remember the marriage being picked up in either the triangle classics version of The Chronicles or in the Nyad series why is that and Ann came back to me and said the marriage was an entirely different kind of story from the five novels in the Bebo Brinker chronicles it explored the issue of incest between a brother and sister and in parentheses she says I seem to have anticipated one of the themes of games from laughs with this and she says although a few of the characters from the Bebo series appear and play a role in the marriage Jack and Laura it’s not their story it was an odd little book and never took off and since everyone had expectations for the novels in the series this just wasn’t a good fit so this is what she has to say and that accounts for the Game of Thrones reference yeah if you do want to get that book you actually have to find a used original copy which you can do if you look on websites like a books or I think Book Depository you can find it there for anywhere between like twenty-five and fifty dollars I did look at that Bo’s curious mmm-hmm but you’re not gonna find that one in eBook anywhere you’re not gonna find that wide in audiobook anywhere in fact I find it on Anne’s website either no it’s up there it’s just not there which is interesting so my second question her I said an odd girl out which is the first boy in series I said Laura’s parents have just gone through a painful divorce and I am a woman Laura’s mother and brother drowned when she was five I know you do everything with purpose so I’m wondering why you chose to reimagine that scenario because I thought it really jarring an interesting twist and I wondered what had prompted her you know it’s my author self thinking I’ve wondered what would have prompted her to make such an important and amazing shift in the dynamic yes Aaron because an odd girl out to being the daughter of divorced parents is really fundamental to who Laura is as a person and her personal growth yeah and and by the way that is yet another issue that wasn’t really prevalent at the time that she talks about she talks about divorce in 1957 she’s talking about her parents getting divorced right so she says this is the most remarkable and remarkably candid answer I think I could have imagined and said the whole episode with Laura and her parents was mishandled I can’t blame the editors they missed it too basically I was rushing to get another novel finish to piggyback on the success of odd girl out and did not go back and check the details of the original story the editors and bold metal books were certainly eager to get the next book and delighted when I plunged into I am a woman but I had lost a lot of time final few other things that didn’t work out before I committed to a series and we were moving to California where I completed I am a woman as you see I really haven’t accepted her excuse except she didn’t go back and reread her first book and and I can tell you as an author of more than one series this is a problem it’s difficult to keep track of all those details it just is you know but missing something Mincher that’s that that that was something that was something so the third question just so you know what the third question was I asked I said I know you’ve said that odd girl out was released exactly as you wrote it without any editing was that also true of the other books in this series and and answered me by and large yes I really wasn’t edited except for being told I couldn’t use four-letter annual sacks isms they would draw attention to books that were safer from the censors flying beneath the radar otherwise the editors just grabbed the manuscripts as they came in and set them in print I should her emphasis I should have been edited my books are youthful writing and could have used some reworking and rethinking but when Barbara Greer who reprinted them in my press editions in the early 80s offered me that opportunity I knew better than to accept they are what they are they’ve been loved and given a life of their own by readers through several generations and I thought best to let them continue to make their way on their own which is again remarkable you know every author I can tell you from experience oh yeah I think I speaking Aversa ly for every author every author it would take their first book back if they could and rewrite it you know because there are so many things you learn about craft along the way that you would change if you could write it today and you know what Ana is telling you is she would change it in a heartbeat if she could but they are what they are they had the impact they had because she wrote them the way she did and she doesn’t want to take that experience away from readers and you know god bless her that’s a really brave thing to do it takes a lot of courage and I’m glad as a reader and I know you are too that she left them just exactly as they were raw and real and magnificent magnificent for the time well and I’m trying to remember I think I think it was for the book journey to a woman in the afterword she talks about how these were meant to be throw away books they were expected to be ephemeral they were you know referred to as slash I just put two words together trash and sleaze and whatever and as a result she wasn’t really careful about editorializing life at the time she wasn’t trying to present an idealized version of the time it was just this is where we’re at and I think that’s part of what makes it so compelling and actually what makes it so enduring is actually that almost like a paradox this isn’t gonna stick around and because she approached it that way of course it’s going to stick around because it’s so real and gritty and personal and I think it also helps that these are not plot driven novels things happen but these are entirely character studies and so these characters hold up and I would almost be afraid to see what those revised versions would be I’m sure they would be more masterfully written but it would really be a shame to lose that grit and that rawness that’s there for for all of these characters that we love so much I agree and I I’m glad that she recognizes that and understands that and has stuck by that all this time because I do think you’re exactly right and she’s exactly right to change them in any way is to change the experience of them and if you change that experience and you know sort of tone it down or otherwise you know make it sleeker or you know pretty up the prose if you will you do you lose the grid and you would lose that no um you would just lose the urgency of it these books are urgent when you read them and they say your heart is pounding and you’re breathing faster and you’re and you know you just can’t help yourself you know you become part of it and the experience is is just unique it’s unique and any any change in it would change that and I think that would be a shame and I think she’s right to have left them just exactly as they are and that is why they stand the test of time now and are still relevant in many ways you know I mean don’t it’s why I can’t tell you how to leave the books nobody can tell you how to read a book because it is a personal experience every time you do it’s like I can’t tell people how to read my books there’s just everybody is going when I release a book just as when Ann released her books the experience is no longer mine it’s now the readers and I have no more control over it she had no more control over it but the net effect for her was amazing I think it took her more than 30 years to recognize the impact those books had on readers readers of the time and readers later because she was just busy trying to survive this life that she found herself in she didn’t get divorced until the 1980s and you know when she did and you know sort of came out of that cocoon it changed everything and they changed her relationship with readers and so on so what she was shocked to realize the effects of books ad which I find coin and I don’t think a lot of readers now like I mean I was aware that there were lesbian pulps I didn’t know what they were and I didn’t understand especially the importance of this book and I saw something in a Facebook group recently that kind of highlighted that not to pick on this individual who I cannot even remember who it was that said it but there was somebody put up a post on Facebook saying when did you start reading lesbian fiction and somebody responded since the beginning I was reading Xena fanfic oh my god I know and I thought oh dear and that was actually where the idea for this particular podcast episode began because we not have plastic without and Bannen the well a lot of the lowliness it was a part of it as well but he would have had without Vin Packer mary-jane Meeker you wouldn’t who wrote spring fire which was the book that really propelled Ann to think she could write and to write odd girl out you know we are all standing on the shoulders of those who came before us we just are and you know I get that people think that less Vic was originated in the early 2000s with fan fiction and it was a part of it it was definitely a part it was the makeup generation I mean to me it spent a long time talking about this but we can talk about the various generations and iterations of lesbian fiction over time you know you have the well of loneliness and those early books that had to end unhappily that was the requirement to get them into print you know and then you start again with an Bannon and Bebo Brinker and the first Inklings that you can have a happy ending and then you move forward you know to Nyad in the in the 80s the 70s the 80s the 90s plenty of impatience and Sarah – yep Isabel Miller you know so you have that period of time and then you jump forward to the re-emergence and the reimagine ation of lesbian fiction you know with the onset of Xena and Star Trek Voyager and people you know sort of writing uber fiction and fan fiction and slash and whatever else they’re writing and and that is the next iteration and that led to the springboard of the current crop and and I think again now you’re having yet another generational shift again we’re shifting you know I’d become an old writer what does that happen you know I don’t know but we’re now again this next iteration is next generation and I’m so thrilled to see it but you know we have to remember where we came from to understand where we are that’s why Bebo Brinker and Anne Bannon and all of those writers in that generation are so important to us you can’t understand how we got to write what we get to write today unless you go back and read what they wrote them we’re a product of our times we write what we know we write our experience you know are we shaped by society and so is what we write shaped by society and what we see in society or are we shaping Society the little boat honestly but it’s a product of the time and if you read it that way and if you read the boat record that way and you know forget about the the things that make you cringe you know but the way I must have a husband order this seven and forget about the fact that is they did because it was kind at the time everything we write as current at the time even you know sci-fi and all of that it’s current at the time they saw real worlds yeah so and do you know do you worry about things feeling dated when you read Dickens who is also writing serial fiction at the time throw away ephemeral in the newspaper and didn’t make any money on it in his lifetime really oh yeah it was not a wealthy man you know it wasn’t until they made his serialization Zinta books that you know anybody thought anything of them painting was the same way at the time van Gogh didn’t make any money in his lifetime of his paintings but this is true in art it’s true in art so when we look backward we should look backward fondly for what it allows us to do now because you know it gives us permission to write what we write now it gives us permission to be who you are and each generation of fiction is essentially a representation of the times and of the issues that are prominent at that moment and if we take the books that way you know they become instant classics then where can people find you online if they would like to connect with you they can find me at WWE FML YNN a amaz and mary es comm you can always find me on facebook as you know you can find me on Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube I have a YouTube channel I’m shooting – every that is all for this episode thank you so much Lynn for joining me my pleasure thank you for asking me and allowing me to revisit these books with you wow I I need a good cuddle now to step tough but they’re really worthwhile mm-hmm so I’m Tara and you’ve been listening to Les Deux books you can email me at Tara at the lesbian review.com with your questions or comments if you’ve enjoyed this episode please check out the show notes where you’ll find a patreon link for the lesbian talk show or visit patreon.com slash the lesbian talk show patrons get exclusive content like bonus podcasts and also interviews that no one else gets access to to find this and many other great shows all you need to do is search for the lesbian talk show on iTunes pod bean stitcher or Spotify