AJAX BELL

Author of the Queen City Boys books


Leave a comment

Resources for Just like Honey

In the author’s note of Just Like Honey I say that writing outside my own experience puts the burden on me to be mindful and respectful of the real life experiences of who I choose to write about. This is an incomplete list of research materials I read trying to understand enough of the Japanese-American experience to be able to believably write a 30-something, queer, yonsei man in the 1990s. I’ve included links where possible, mostly Amazon links, but I encourage you to make use of your libraries too.  (Library Extension is a great Chrome add-on to find books in your library.) I’ve listed these by type and then alphabetically.  Not ideal, but it’s a lot of info and sometimes the basic ways are best.

I also mention in my author’s note a group curated list, for self-teaching Asian American studies. Here is that link again. It was an excellent jumping off point for me, and includes other mediums (like film) that I don’t include here (though I did watch many of those movies as ‘research’).

Websites, Blogs, and Articles:

100 Must-Read Books by Asian Authors

27 Asian Leading Men Who Deserve More Airtime

A Chronicle of Lesbian and Gay Magazines A Timeline: 1897 – 2008

A Clockwork Trauma

After Internment Japanese American’s Right to Return

America’s Concentration Camps Resources

Ansel Adams’ internment camp photos

Art – Words To Use

Art History Resources: Japanese Art

Asian American Voices in Poetry

Asian in America with Jon Tsuei

Asian-American Men Are Sexy in Magic Mike Parody

Asian-Americans Respond

“Asian men in media are so desexualized”: Rising star Jake Choi fights the Hollywood odds against Asian American actors

At Home with Themselves: Sage Sohier’s Moving Portraits of Same-Sex Couples in the 1980s

BuzzFeed’s Eugene Lee Yang On Authenticity and Embracing Your Asian-ness

Children of the 90s: Fashion Fads

CHS Re:Take | The 10 on Pine and other forgotten buses of Capitol Hill

Claiming Space, Seattle’s Lesbian & Gay Historical Geography, 2004 :: Seattle Maps and Atlases

Densho Encyclopedia

Documentaries about Japanese American Incarceration you can Watch Online for Free Right Now

Hidden gay photo archive surfaces in new exhibit

Hiroshi Nagai Paintings

History of Japanese Americans – Wikipedia

History of the Japanese in Seattle – Wikipedia

HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History

How Asian-Americans Became Democrats

How Diversity Shapes Multiracial Experiences

How the Model Minority Myth Hurts Asian-American Elders

I always find the topic of Asian American culture fascinating when speaking to other AsAms.

I Used to Reject My Chinese Heritage, What Do I Do Now?

Immigration Act of 1924

Isn’t it time we thought beyond monogamy as the ideal, and normalised open relationships?

Larry Matsuda

LGBTQ Seattle Activism Project

NJAHS – National Japanese American Historical Society

November 24, 1985: The Colman School Occupation

Oregon Nikkei Endowment

QZAP – Queer Zine Archive

Roger Shimomura

Should I Open Up My Relationship?

The Best of Liquid Television Part 1

The Challenges and Joys of a Three-Way Relationship

The Gay Rights Movement and the City of Seattle during the 1970s

The Girls’ Bathroom in Honor of Codie Leone and the Art School Girls of Doom

The Immigrant’s Fate Is Everyone’s

The Lost Generation: From ‘The Joy Luck Club’ To ‘Crazy Rich Asians’

The Not-Quite-American Feeling of Being a 1.5 Generation Immigrant

The Visibility Project – A national portrait and oral story collection of Queer Asian American & Pacific Islander Women and Trans* community.

Top Ten Asian Pacific American Comics Characters

Vloggers Discuss What It’s Like To Be An Asian Man On Grindr

What’s Going On In There?

When Asian America was a Movement

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

Books and Journals:

A History of Japanese Art: From Prehistory to the Taisho Period, Tsuda, Noritake; Ph.D, Patricia Graham, North Clarendon, VT, Tuttle Publishing, 2009.

A view from the bottom: Asian American masculinity and sexual representation, Nguyen, Tan Hoang, Durham, Duke University Press, 2014.

American Born Chinese, Yang, Gene Luen, New York, Square Fish, 2008.

Asian American Artists in the Northwest, International Examiner, No. 18 (Sept 17, 1997).

Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, Zia, Helen, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.

Beacon Hill Boys, Mochizuki, Ken, New York, Scholastic Paperbacks, 2004.

Being Japanese American: A JA Sourcebook for Nikkei, Hapa & Their Friends, Asakawa, Gil, New York, United States, Stone Bridge Press, 2015.

But I Don’t See You as Asian: Curating Conversations about Race, Reyes-Chow, Bruce; Kemp-Pappan, Ryan , BRC Publications, 2013.

Charlie Chan Is Dead 2: at Home in the World, Kim, Elaine, New York, Penguin Books, 2004.

Claiming the Oriental Gateway: Prewar Seattle and Japanese America, Lee, Shelley Sang-Hee, Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 2012.

Creators on Creating: Awakening and Cultivating the Imaginative Mind, Barron, Frank; Montuori, Alfonso; Barron, Anthea, New York, TarcherPerigee, 1997.

Cruising the Movies: A Sexual Guide to Oldies on TV, McDonald, Boyd; Jones, William E., South Pasadena, CA, Semiotext, 2015.

Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility, Bronski, Michael, Boston, MA, South End Press, 1999.

Divided Destiny: A History of Japanese Americans in Seattle, Takami, David A., Seattle, Univ of Washington Pr, 1999.

Fearless Creating: A Step-by-Step Guide To Starting and Completing Your Work of Art, Maisel, Eric, New York, TarcherPerigee, 1995.

From Our Side of the Fence: Growing Up in America’s Concentration Camps, California, Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern, San Francisco, CA, Kearney St Workshop Pr, 2001.

Gay Seattle, Atkins, Gary, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2003.

Geisha of a Different Kind: Race and Sexuality In Gaysian America, Han, C. Winter, New York, New York University Press, 2015.

Hal Fischer: Gay Semiotics: A Photographic Study of Visual Coding Among Homosexual Men, Fischer, Hal, Los Angeles, Cherry and Martin, 2015.

How to Look At Japanese Art, Addiss, Stephen, New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1996.

‘I’m American, not Japanese!’: the struggle for racial citizenship among later-generation Japanese Americans, Tsuda, Takeyuki , Ethnic and Racial Studies, February 2014, Vol.37(3), pp.405-424 .

Invisible Asian Americans: the intersection of sexuality, race, and education among gay Asian Americans, Ocampo, Anthony C.; Soodjinda, Daniel , Race Ethnicity and Education Volume 19, 2016 – Issue 3, 2016.

Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps, Gruenewald, Mary Matsuda, Troutdale, Or, NewSage Press, 2005.

Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds, Sakamoto, Pamela Rotner , Harper, 2016.

Mongrel: Essays, Diatribes, + Pranks, Chin, Justin , St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011.

Monstress Vol. 1, Liu, Marjorie; Takeda, Sana , Image, 2016.

Nikkei in the Pacific Northwest: Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians in the Twentieth Century, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2005.

Nisei Sansei, Takahashi, Jere , Temple University Press, 1998.

No-No Boy, Okada, John; Inada, Lawson Fusao; Ozeki, Ruth, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2014.

Q & A: queer in Asian America, Eng , David L.; Hom, Alice Y., Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1998.

Queering contemporary Asian American art, Kina, Laura; Bernabe, Jan Christian; Min, Susette; Lee, Kyoo, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2017.

Same Difference, Kim, Derek Kirk, New York, First Second, 2011.

Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties, Ishizuka, Karen; Chang, Jeff, London, Verso, 2016.

Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology, Yang, Jeff; Shen, Parry; Chow, Keith; Ma, Jerry, New York, The New Press, 2012.

Skim, Tamaki, Mariko; Tamaki, Jillian, Toronto ; Berkeley, Groundwood Books, 2010.

Social Solidarity Among the Japanese in Seattle, Miyamoto, Shotaro Frank, Seattle, Univ of Washington Pr, 1984.

Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family, Kessler, Lauren, Portland : Seattle, Oregon Historical Society Press, 2006.

Stuck Rubber Baby, Cruse, Howard, New York, DC Comics, 2000.

Take out: queer writing from Asian Pacific America, Bao, Quang, New York, NY, Asian American Writers’ Workshop : Distributed by Temple University Press, 2000.

The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker, Liu, Eric, New York, Vintage, 1999.

The great unknown: Japanese American sketches, Robinson, Greg, Boulder, University Press of Colorado, 2016.

The Making of Asian America: A History, Lee, Erika, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2015.

The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting: A Facsimile of the 1887-1888 Shanghai Edition, Hiscox, Michael J. , Princeton University Press, 2015.

The Right Side of History: 100 Years of LGBTQ Activism, Brooks, Adrian; Katz, Jonathan , Cleis Press, 2015.

The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture, Harris, Daniel, New York, Ballantine Books, 1999.

Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, Wu, Frank, Princeton, N.J., Basic Books, 2003.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

What stories smell like

Scent memory is so much stronger for me than anything else and association is equally important. I have a few colognes I wear when writing certain characters. There are scents that can drive me completely away from a story or emotion. I’ve had a lot of life changes in recent years, personal growth left a new me who was never completely comfortable smelling like old me.

I spent a good nine months shopping for new cologne. Lots of samples, lots of fails. I’ve mostly resorted to CK One and CK Be because I enjoy smelling like 1996 and they are easy unisex scents.

But after so much trial and error I think I found two. Commodity’s ‘Book’ which looked interesting, obviously from the name, but also someone described it as smelling exactly like their grandparents’ house in the Pacific Northwest (shelves of books, evergreen forests, and a little marine air). And holy smoke does it ever. It smells like a hippie farm where I spent some of my childhood. Simultaneously greenly crisp and woodsy, and also like old books and worn wood (in a good way).

1280px-WestCoastTrailCost2

The second one is TokyoMilk Curiositie No 68 ‘Tomorrow.’ Described as “marine salt and cypress” it smells exactly like a trip to the north Pacific coast: salt air, damp old trees, and sweet moss.

Now I smell both strange and delicious, genderless, and very much like home. These scents make me feel settled and comfortable, much more like myself than years of lavender and grapefruit (also good, but never quite perfect). I’ll keep the CKs for when I need to be less exotic, but what a delight it is to smell like a room full of old books in a Pacific coast rainforest.

img_7378-stack-of-books-q75-445x734

‘Book’ is a fantastic scent entrance into my next task of finishing the next Queen City Boys book, Bad Reputation. The main character, Shane, comes to Seattle from a small coastal town, more used to woods than concrete. To sit and write this story smelling of home, of coastal forests, and feeling a wistful sense of a missed home feels exactly perfect, the scent memory I needed to connect to my own words.


Leave a comment

It’s finally here!

My new novella, Star Quality is for sale on Amazon!  In September 2015 it’ll be available at all online retailers, but isn’t it great you can read it now? I mean, you know, if it’s your sort of thing.  It’s got a lot going for it though!  I mean who doesn’t want an m/m/m threesome, featuring an open marriage, a gfy/ofy character, and a brief bisexual interlude with a female character? Okay, definitely not for everyone, but at least two people like it so far:

“Boy oh boy you better be ready for some major hotness friends, because when these men come together, watch out!” -Bec, Bike Book Reviews

“A really enjoyable, sexy read and a very different follow-up to This Charming Man. Loved it!” -Leta Blake, author

And hey, it hasn’t even been out for 24 hours and already it’s #15 in bestsellers in its category! Wheee!

 

So I’m feeling pretty good!  Maybe you will too, if you go read it. And then you can come back and talk to me about it! Or not if you’re shy. That’s okay too.


Leave a comment

Fear the Kalends, let slide the Ides

The-Immortal-Ides-of-March-Denarius-Coin

“Ides” comes from the earliest Roman calendar, which is said to have been devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome. Whether it was Romulus or not, the inventor of this calendar had a penchant for complexity. The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days:

Kalends (1st day of the month)
Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)
Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)
The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be Five Nones—5 days before the Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words, the Nones would be counted as one of the 5 days).

Used in the first Roman calendar as well as in the Julian calendar (established by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C.E.) the confusing system of Kalends, Nones, and Ides continued to be used to varying degrees throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.

So, the Ides of March is just one of a dozen Ides that occur every month of the year, it was only Shakespeare’s words that give it meaning, made it a threat. Kalends, the word from which calendar is derived, is more threatening to our current existence. Kalendrium means account book in Latin: Kalend, the first of the month, was in Roman times as it is now, the date on which bills are due.

"Sousse mosaic calendar March" by Ad Meskens - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


1 Comment

Can you tell what it is just by looking?

The defining factor of so many books is Genre. It’s an excellent way to find the stories you want to read, to find community who shares your literary wishes. You know how it is, you’re talking to a co-worker and discover you both love reading. Giddy with the connection you ask what they are reading, and then it’s crashing disappointment when you discover their deep love is True Crime and you’re all about hard Sci-fi. Sure your Aunt May reads constantly, but it’s all Mysteries and you’re not interested in those so much, even if you’ve read a few you like.

3004

Genre matters, even when we read in multiples genres it still defines the kind of stories you’re getting, what you expect from the book. There’s a framework to every genre, a structure, bones it’s built upon. Plenty of authors play with these rules, bend them, flex them, but books are generally all categorized, so at the end of the day, even the bendiest of books have the bones of their genre underneath.

But not always, some books fall between the cracks. I’ve written a book that lives between those cracks (heh, I said it was in the crack). M/M Romance is a very specific but tricky to define genre. It is built on the bones of Romance and at its core it is about two people meeting and finding love together, and the trials they go through to win/earn that love, to end with a romantic happily ever after. There’s bleed over with Gay Lit. M/M Romance is, after all, love stories about two men so the gay is built right in. But Gay Lit is its own genre. Sure love stories can appear, but it spans more than relationships. It is nebulous, and I’m not sure I can define it exactly. A literary umbrella that includes centuries of stories, classics and pulp fiction alike. Coming-of-age stories, coming out stories, thrillers, and literary fiction. Someone who loves M/M Romance may well love Gay Lit too, but someone looking for M/M Romance (the Romance part anyway) may find themselves disappointed in much of Gay Lit. Marshall Thornton, Jeff Erno, and many others have written about this distinction with more clarity than I’m giving here.

My book, This Charming Man, straddles the line. It contains a love story, but it is not a Romance. It has a coming-of-age story, but it is perhaps too close to erotica in it’s explicitness to be considered literary by any stretch. A no man’s land of marketing for this book. Sold as M/M Romance it’ll surely disappoint some readers looking to focus on that connection between characters. But is it too sexy, too explicit to be “Lit”? Does the love story element in it mean readers avoiding Romance will dismiss it, not realizing it might have what they are looking for? It is, I suppose, a bisexual book, claimed and disdained by both sides. I wonder though, if there’s any clearer way to tell readers what they are in for when they open it?

TCM-inner


Leave a comment

Last time I saw you we had just split in two

Hedwig01

John Cameron Mitchell is returning to the stage as Hedwig. I’d heard rumors but nearly peed my pants when I saw the announcement yesterday. Yes, I already spent this year’s discretionary income to go to NYC and see Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig, but I’ve bought tickets to go again February 2015. I can’t miss this. And I can’t explain it easily, but seeing JCM in the role, live, finally, feels incredibly important to me.

In 2001 when the movie came out I was aware of the theatrical production, but not really aware of JCM yet, as I lived on the other side of the country and just the idea of going to NYC was barely realized. I was 28, already married to a man, divorced from him, and dating women. Through high school I had mostly dated men, not entirely, but close, I didn’t really come out until I was getting divorced. But Hedwig and the Angry Inch was something different for me, it was literally the first time I can remember sexualizing male bodies. Having sex with men is one thing (expected of you if you’re born female and presumed straight, really), sexualizing men is entirely different. Ironic, really, that it was John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig that really turned my eye to men. Hedwig is important to me for a lot of reason, as it is, I’m certain, to hundreds of thousands of people the world over, but more than just the show, the take away from it, what it represents, is this feeling of recognizing something in myself, about myself. This weird part of my brain always whispers that my sexuality is John Cameron Mitchell. Not gay, or bi, or queer (how I usually identify) but just JCM. I know, it sounds crazy, but back to New York I go, regardless of expense, of whatever I have to sacrifice to get there.

Hedwig02

I was entirely emotionally overwhelmed watching Neil Patrick Harris perform as Hedwig last summer. If my companion, Punny, had tried to speak to me during the show I probably would have burst into tears. I had so many emotions simmering so close to the surface. For days afterwards I felt like my heart was swollen with joy, like falling in love. I don’t know what to expect from JCM. I do know I have to be there. Friends are flying to NYC from all over the country to see it with me that day, because Hedwig is as important to them as it is to me. Hedwig has changed my life twice already. Hopefully the third time is even more charmed.

Hedwig3


Leave a comment

Vale, Leslie Feinberg

(An open letter to Leslie Feinberg on the occasion of hir death.)

lesliefeinbergprotestThank you for teaching us to live by our convictions and be who we are. Thank you for being a true revolutionary. Thank you for being. Thank you for loving. Thank you for sharing.

With all my gratitude and love I will pay this kindness you’ve given the world back in turn, by being better, by doing better, by living by my convictions and trying to change the world.

 

(I was going to add a book link to Stone Butch Blues, where my journey with Leslie started and discovered this fucking bullshit, so instead visit hir site. I get that the book is out of print and in demand, but what the ever-loving fuck.)