Looking back at “The Drag Queen of Elfland” by Lawrence Schimel

To celebrate Circlet Press’s 25th anniversary, we’ve invited some of our authors to look back at the early days. Lawrence Schimel remembers the year 1997, when we published his short story collection THE DRAG QUEEN OF ELFLAND, and launched our [non-erotic] gay and lesbian science fiction/fantasy line The Ultra Violet Library with it. He writes:

At the time, there was a healthy independent queer press scene with local LGBT community-focused newspapers and magazines across the US and abroad–which provided attention for new books about our lives that were often passed over for review in mainstream media outlets.

Personally, the books I published in 1997 year racked up a tremendous amount of awards attention: Publishers Weekly even published a small sidebar about the fact that I was a finalist for 7 awards at the same time, all of which were announced during the same weekend at the BookExpo America Conference in Chicago: The Drag Queen of Elfland was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award (in the SF category), a finalist for the Firecracker Alternative Book Award (in fiction), and a finalist for the Small Press Book Award. PoMoSexuals: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality (co-edited with Carol Queen; Cleis) was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, twice, in the anthology and Transgender categories; also a finalist for the Firecracker Alternative Book Award (in non-fiction); and also a finalist for the Small Press Book Award.

(I’m pleased to say that I did win an award that weekend, a Lammy for PoMoSexuals. And The Drag Queen of Elfland was also a finalist for the Spectrum Award when it was created, later on.)

While those two books attracted so much award attention, in 1997 I also published a slew of other books: The Mammoth Book of Gay Erotica, Two Hearts Desire: Gay Couples on their Love (co-edited with Michael Lassell); the first two anthologies in the American Vampire series, and two fantasy anthologies from DAW Books: Tarot Fantastic and The Fortune Tellers… I’m exhausted now just typing up all those titles, but back in my mid-twenties, living in New York City, I took that kind of insane pace for granted.

And twenty years later, almost all of those books are now out of print–especially those from larger, commercial publishers. The exception is The Drag Queen of Elfland, which Circlet has kept continuously in print over all these years, and is now also available from Circlet in an e-book edition as well.

So many of the queer & feminist presses, magazines, bookstores, editors, etc. that supported me when my first collection was published have sadly since shut down. Many of the authors who were my peers & mentors back then, are no longer writing–or if they’re writing, no longer finding publishers interested in their work.

But throughout those decades, Circlet has continued to adapt and change.

To read the complete essay, visit the celebration pages over at Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ceciliatan/circlet-press-25th-anniversary-best-erotic-scifi-a/posts/1994389

The Drag Queen of Elfland, And Other Stories
by Lawrence Schimel

The Drag Queen of Elfland is a collection of fantasy stories imbued with a refreshingly queer sensibility. In these seventeen tales, Schimel shows readers the secret worlds that lurk beneath the surface of our own.

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