For appearances:
Wade Lucas at Penguin Random House:
walucas@penguinrandomhouse.com

For press Inquires:
Kris Dahl at ICM
KDahl@icmpartners.com

For information about Long Black Veil:
PR@randomhouse
rrokicki@penguinrandomhouse.com

To contact Jenny directly:
jb@jenniferboylan.net

Blog

  • JFB.com Blog

    The Two Certainties.

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Death and– uh– transgender tax collectors?

    In this video on the New York Times site today, it’s reported that Pakistan has a big problem with members of the upper class not paying their taxes. And so, to humiliate scofflaws into paying their taxes, the Pakistani government is sending in transgender tax collectors.  According to the reporter, “The theory is that people will be so embarassed, that they’ll finally pay up, just in order to make them go away.”

    Another giant step forward for my people.

    Oh well. If this whole professor of English thing doesn’t pan out, now I know I have a backup plan. Collecting taxes. In Islamabad.

    Come to think of it, there are plenty of people in America who would pay good money to have me go away.

  • JFB.com Blog

    Have dinner with Jenny and Deedie/Grace Boylan. Or 10 other Maine writers.

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    star-wars-emperor1Good! Good! Give in to your hunger!

    The Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance is having a special night in honor of its 35th birthday.  On Thursday August 12, you can join Jenny Boylan and her spouse Deedie at FORE STREET–our favorite restaurant–in Portland Maine, starting at 5:30.

    Or, if you prefer, you could dine at a different place with Richard Ford. Or Ann Beattie. Or Richard Russo.  Or a half dozen others.

    If the cover fee is too much for ya, you could join us at the SECOND special event that night about 7 PM, in the Portland Public Library, at 7 PM, for champagne.

    Or you could just hang out with us at the all-night swing dance at Space Gallery, starting at 8:30.

    If you’ve always wanted to sit down with the Boylans and ask us the question everyone MOST wants to ask us and is too polite to ask–you know, “What is Oprah Winfrey REALLY LIKE?”, we hope you’ll join us for dinnerr on 8/12.

    Space is extremely limited.  So follow this link right here to the MWPA site for more information and for reservations. Oh, I’m afraid Jenny and Deedie will be eating dinner when you arrive at this FULLY OPERATIONAL BATTLE STATION.

    See you in August!

    J

  • JFB.com Blog

    Tim Kreider in NERVE, on New York and “Home”

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    My dear friend Tim Kreider has a piece in Nerve about New York, Baltimore, and the search for home:

    I took this photo of Tim at the tomb of H.W. Woolworth, in the Bronx, in the heart of the time he writes about in this column.

    Welcome

    by Timothy Kreider • June 30, 2010

    When I left New York for Baltimore in the spring of 2007, I’d made up my mind that I wouldn’t be coming back. For years, I’d migrated between a cabin on the Chesapeake Bay and various sublets in New York City, and yet I’d never felt like the city was my home. “I can tell you’re not from here,” a barmaid once told me. “You look too nice.” She told me it took ten years to acquire a New York face.

    It also took a whole new wardrobe — Levi’s 514s, cashmere sweaters, a black overcoat — just to meet the minimum public sartorial standards and pass un-despised in the streets. Back in Baltimore, acquaintances, seeing me in my new getup, assumed I had become flamboyantly gay. Or they wondered whether I’d gotten sick, or, conversely, if I had started working out. (All that had happened was — for the first time in my life — I was wearing shirts that actually fit.) In New York, I felt drained at the end of every day by the din of all the creative, ambitious egos clamoring for attention here. I learned that loneliness can physically hurt.

    In short, living here, I felt like I was dating out of my league. New York was my gorgeous but cruel girlfriend who knew she could treat me callously because I’d always come crawling back to her. She was like: Where else you gonna go? Philadelphia? Yeah right.

    (click here for the article in its entirety)

    Note bene: the link was down for a while, but they appear to have fixed it.  If the link goes dark again, let me know.  J


  • JFB.com Blog

    from the Franklin County Bulldog: JB at DDG Bookstore 7/13

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    This piece appears in today’s Daily Bulldog. You can read it in its original context here. 6821_527778276095_15401715_31444090_6832301_n

    FARMINGTON – On July 13 national bestselling author Jennifer Finney Boylan will be coming to Farmington to share her sensational new Young Adult Fantasy, Falcon Quinn and The Black Mirror. The Falcon Quinn series mark a new chapter for the author as her prior books have been bestselling memoirs such as She’s Not There and acclaimed novels such as Getting in.

    Since on July 13 the world will be made up of two kinds of people, those who have read Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror already and those who have not, the event will be in two parts. From 6:00 to 7:00 Jennifer will participate in a reading group discussion of the book. Everyone is invited! Afterwards, at 7:00, she will read from the book and sign copies. Both events will be at the bookstore, DDG Booksellers that is. Event details arehere. To help kick things off Jennifer was gracious enough to agree to a hard hitting interview!

    KB: One of the themes of your new YA fantasy novel is the issue of fitting in, its relative merits or lack thereof in a specialized school environment. If Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror went to a school for books what are some of the books which would be in its class, and of its classmates which would be its best friend and which its worst enemy?

    Jennifer: I think that Falcon Quinn, at a School for Books, would hang out with Stuart LittleCatcher in the Rye, and the Big Friendly Giant. I am not certain that these are the books most “like” Falcon Quinn, but I think they would be good company. Falcon is about the search for identity, which is something middle schoolers undertake, whether they’re aware of it or not– well, we all undertake that journey. So, like Catcher in the Rye, its about a young man who is not sure who he is. On the other hand, like Big Friendly Giant, the story is also funny and gentle. And some of it is just plain uncanny, like Stuart Little

    Its worst enemy might be Harry Potter, because people would always be comparing the two, and in fact they don’t have all that much in common, other than that it is about a hero who is different and a school for people with differences. But Falcon is a monster– he’s not really all that thrilled about what he’s turning into, unlike Harry, who’s just crazy about being a wizard. Mostly. And Falcon is about American values and American schooling– unlike H.P., which is based around the conceit of British boarding school culture. And most importantly, Falcon is written in the spirit of comedy–even though its central conflict is quite serious. Let’s just say there’s no quidditch. But there is an angry vice-principal who is half Mr. Rogers and half The Terrible Kracken.

    KB: Speaking of Mr. Rogers, reading Falcon Quinn brought back a very old childhood memory for me, namely listening to a Mr. Roger’s song circa 1969 with the song You Can Never Go Down The Drain. The lyrics ran, in part….

    You can never go down
    Can never go down
    Can never go down the drain.

    You’re bigger than the water.
    You’re bigger than the soap.
    You’re much bigger than all the bubbles.
    And bigger than your telescope

    Now in Falcon Quinn it comes out that not only can you go down the drain, but one of the teachers at the school, Mr. Hake, considers it a good time. Did Mr. Rogers get this wrong? Did a generation of children grow up under a false pretense of bath time security?

    Jennifer: Yeah, I’m afraid Fred Rogers was wrong, bless his heart. Okay, well a child can never go down the actual drain. Because of issues of physics. But there’s a lot of perils that wait for people, including young ones. And some of the worst perils wait for you in your own heart. Fortunately, the solution to those perils tend to come from the same place.

    In fact, didn’t Stuart Little go down the drain, I mean the actual drain? More evidence. On the other hand, Fred Rogers was right about a lot of things, including the fact that it is indeed, a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Even if there are Sasquatches and ghouls and giant enchanted slugs in it.

    KB: The scales have fallen from my eyes. Your book is really fun and challenging to try and read aloud, with all its humor and snappy dialogue. Did you read it aloud while you were working on it?

    Jennifer: Yes, this book was actually written for and with my middle school age boys. Every day they’d come home from school and ask me to read that day’s work (out loud), and then they’d critique it– sometimes quite harshly. (They made me change the ending of Book 2 completely.) But yeah, the book is full of funny voices. I can do them all, of course, so this reading I’ll be doing at DDG Booksellers will feature all of those.

    KB: I was hoping you’d say that! If you happened to find Aladdin’s lamp and spent one of your wishes on making everyone in the world read one book, which would it be?

    Jennifer: Well, for kids’ books, Charlotte’s Web is pretty amazing. That was the first book that ever made me cry. I still remember that– eight years old and Charlotte dies? What kind of bloody story is that? It opened my eyes to the very real sorrows of the world. Which of course, make the joys that much richer– because of course, Wilbur does get saved by that love in the end. I mean, hello, the book begins with the line, “What’s that ax for, Daddy?” Some pig!

    KB: Very true. I feel that way about Where The Red Fern Grows too. Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror is the first book in a series. Can you tell us a bit about how many books are planned, and any interesting tidbits that wouldn’t be spoilers?

    Jennifer: We will keep this a state secret for now. I will note that Book 2, which comes out next summer, contains the song, “I Wish They All Could Be Zombie Mutants,” which begins:

    Oh the Sasquatch girls are hip, I love their fur all splotched with crud;
    And the vampire girls with the way they bite, they knock me out when they suck my blood;
    Egyptian pharaoh’s daughters’ really make you lose your head,
    And the Chupakabra chicks on the coast of Peru, they bring their boys back from the dead!

    i wish they all could be zombie mutants
    i wish they all could be zombie mutants
    i wish they all could be zombie mutant girls!

    KB: Song noted! Thanks Jennifer.

  • JFB.com Blog

    Updike: “Bring what is peculiar to the moment to glory.”

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Today’s NYT carries a fascinating advance look at the soon-to-be available Updike papers at Harvard. The link is here. The author of the article is Sam Tanenhaus.

    I was especially moved by these words:

    “We do not need men like Proust and Joyce; men like this are a luxury, an added fillip that an abundant culture can produce only after the more basic literary need has been filled,” Updike wrote to his parents in 1951, when he was 19. “This age needs rather men like Shakespeare, or Milton, or Pope; men who are filled with the strength of their cultures and do not transcend the limits of their age, but, working within the times, bring what is peculiar to the moment to glory. We need great artists who are willing to accept restrictions, and who love their environments with such vitality that they can produce an epic out of the Protestant ethic” — a prescient formulation of what he would later achieve in the Rabbit novels and his Pennsylvania short stories. “Whatever the many failings of my work,” he concluded, “let it stand as a manifesto of my love for the time in which I was born.”

  • JFB.com Blog

    The Writers’ Mise en Place

    - by Jennifer Boylan
    photo

    Belgrade Lakes, Maine, June 15, 2010. Indigo (left) and Ranger wait for the typing to stop. Note the laptop on the right hand arm-rest, the coffee cup on the left, and the blue ball-chucking device on the ground.

    Facebook friend (and New Yorker writer) Susan Orlean is up at the Macdowell Colony, I think, if I’m following the “updates” properly… Mcdowell being one of those places where writers go to be surrounded by absolute quiet and to focus on their work. This got me thinking about my own writing-space, which is funny because on one level, I already live in a place some would consider idyllic for writing– a house by a lake in rural Maine. (Although the presence of teenage boys who come in and out of the house at random, leaving a trail of pizza slices, Dunkin Munchkins and bowls of cereal does make it a somewhat different environment from, say, Macdowell, or Yaddo, and more akin to, say, a Zits cartoon.) There are plenty of times the isolation of a place like Macdowell has seemed extremely appealing to me–but the place itself feels awfully like the one I’m already in.

    I have always laughed a little bit at the idea of writers creating their work in idyllic surroundings. There used to be a TV commercial, in fact, which showed some young woman quitting her job in New York, and winding up (within the span of 60 seconds, and after buying some product), at the end of a dock in a place like Maine. The last thing we see of her is her typing the words CHAPTER ONE. As if, well! That solves THAT.

    For most of my professional life as a writer I have worked in windowless caves, by choice. The idea of sitting by a lovely lake at the end of a dock seems to me like the worst possible thing for a writer to do, because of course, then you’d be thinking about that lovely lake, instead of the story. When I give myself in to the world of the story, my surroundings disappear. Even I disappear a little bit. A sentiment which led to a recent Facebook line of my own: “When i am writing, I am nine feet tall, and blue, and living in an imaginary world. When you interrupt me, and bring me back to this world? I am back in a wheelchair, gasping for breath.”

    And so. I have tended to work in basement rooms, places without windows, places where I will be undistracted. A beautiful view, like the one I have from my desk in the 2nd floor atrium here at the summer place– that can be trouble.

    But here’s the complication. For the last few months, I’ve been using voice dictation software, owing to my ancient arms and wrists generally giving out. So I really can’t work in the heart of the summer place with the rest of my family about– because all that slow talking is guaranteed to drive anyone who has to listen to it crazy.photo

    (It drove me crazy too, when i first started; hearing my own voice speaking out loud was itself an interruption and a distraction from the work I was trying to create. Only recently have I gotten to the point where I can easily talk my novels out loud to my computer, although I continue to suspect that it’s a very different part of my brain that is doing the creating by voice right now than the part i used to use, when I wrote in silence.)

    All of which brings us to this morning, when I realized I couldn’t do the days work in my usual place, because the house (in which sound travels easily) was full of sleeping souls.

    So I took the laptop and went outside. There in the wooded space between the house and the lake was my adirondack chair. I thought– can I really sit and work here? Am I not that woman in the commercial again, typing CHAPTER ONE, and then unable to focus on the job at hand?

    Also, it was cold. So I walked further down through the woods to the dock. Where there was another Adirondack chair. In which I sat, and fired up MacSpeech, and tried to concentrate. The wind blowing against the microphone began to generate text all by itself, the program mistakenly thinking the wind on the mike was speech. And so, in a weird version of Coleridge’s Aolian harp, the computer began to write its own poetry. I think it was something like, “Hush what hey the hark hush stew.”photo

    I retreated from the dock, beginning to suspect I would never get anything done today, back up to my chair in the wood, and gave it another try. And amazingly, I managed to do some good work. The dogs came by, confused by my sitting by myself talking out loud, and they dropped the tennis ball at my feet, and so I got into this rhythm, of dictating today’s scene, and throwing the tennis ball, and drinking coffee.

    Strangely, I got deeper into the work today than I’ve gotten for a while. I don’t know if this is because of the place, but it might be. (Or it might be because I’ve been thinking about this particular scene for a while.)

    Anyway. I was thinking about all this and thought I’d blog about it. Now I’m back inside, considering a bike ride. Upon which, I assure you, I will not be typing. I hope.

    photo(Astute observers can also see in the second photo above, (the shot of the house itself), the “Twirl-a-Squirrel” from which the birdfeeder is suspended. This is the very device which has given me a temporary victory of the squirrels, and about which I have been writing (at great length) on line. And no, you can all relax. There is no Twirl-a-Squirrel in my next novel.)

  • JFB.com Blog

    Postcard from Maine

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Down at the town wharf, eatin lobstah rolls, watching the fishing boats go out. We nipped into the Harraseeket lobster shack while waiting for Seans last soccer game to start.

  • JFB.com Blog

    look, up in the sky

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    I was feeling a little blue.  Squirrels in the birdfeeder.  belgrade from the air The phone rang. My friend Jon Gawler said, well, I’m taking up the single engine plane, why don’t you come over and we’ll fly around a little.  I went over to their farm, and he was already in the cockpit, the propellor spinning around.  I got in and off we went.

    There we were, 2000 feet above the Maine forests.  Followed the Sandy River toward Madison, then south along the Kennebec, and back to Belgrade.  I had a great big goofy smile on my face.  I guess this is what they mean by “getting a little perspective.”

    Landed.  Jon’s wife Ellen (and Zach’s fiddle teacher), was in her garden. She showed me the asparagus and the potatoes and the chard. Gave me some onions.

    Now I am home again, preparing to vanquish the squirrels.

    Above: Macintyre Pond, in the Kennebec Highlands, as seen from the plane.

  • JFB.com Blog

    Boylan family update: Falcon, Fiction, & Freedom

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    jfb4 Hello, you fabulous creatures.  JB here, just checking in.  I wanted to thank everybody who’s bought and read Falcon Quinn so far.  I admit to not knowing much about how children’s books are marketed and sold; all I know is that it’s a different world from memoirs and novels, where it’s all about reviews and marketing and getting yourself on a TV show and reading pithy little excerpts in bookstores from Bangor to Carson City.  As I understand things, the trick here is to win over school librarians, which I’ve indeed been trying to do.  So far, so good, but it’s slow, which is frustrating for me, since I love FALCON and am hoping he will, in time, take over the world.

    Other notes from Belgrade Lakes:  I finished the most recent version of FALCON QUINN II, due out next spring or summer.  And I’ve been looking at some preliminary covers.  (The one I’m posting here is just a sketch, still; I don’t think Falcon’s face is quite right here yet.  Still: gorgeous, as Brandon Dorman’s work always is.)

    Uploading Falcon Quinn and the Crimson Vapor has left me free to work on my adult novel due to Random House by year’s end.  This is the second half of the two-book contract, the first book of which was I’M LOOKING THROUGH YOU.  This has meant working on an adult novel for the first time in many years– since before SHE’S NOT THERE, actually, and I am wondering, as I write this novel, how my writing in fiction has changed after about ten years of working on memoir, and then children’s books.  It’s probably not for me to say.  But I’m guessing the voice is a little less panicked, a little darker, but a little gentler and funnier too.  Who knows?  Authors are always the last to know.

    Meanwhile, the Maine summer has begun, as it always does, with fits and starts– gorgeous, perfect days one moment, rain and gloom the next.  The last week or two has found us busy closing up Zach’s sophomore year of high school and Sean’s last year of middle school.  We have been to an honors assembly (where Zach won  a prize for scholarship) and two middle school band concerts.  Tomorrow is “graduation” from 8th grade.  I could not be prouder of my sons.  Just ahead:  warm days on the lake, lobsters, summer camp, mojitos.

    At this hour, that’s the way it looks from here.

    (EDIT: 5 PM:  Harper’s asked me to take down the preliminary cover I’d posted of Falcon Quinn II, since it’s you know, preliminary.  Which seems like a fair request, and so instead I have posted up this disturbingly va-va-va voomish photo of me taken at the Falcon Quinn launch party two weeks ago.  A photo taken, in fact, by one AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS.  So how cool is that? Answer:  cool enough.)

  • JFB.com Blog

    On waffles and waffling. And the heart. And writing. And waffles.

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    This post was written for the Inside Colby blog by my student, Annelise Wiersema. It probably speaks for itself.

    Waffling and Writing

    Annelise Wiersema ’10 on November 17, 2009
    First, Jenny put down the eggs and milk on the seminar table. Our class stared at her, waiting for the analogy. Jenny Boylan’s a fairly eccentric – and, hey, bestselling! – creative writing professor, and this wasn’t the first time we’d been treated to a visual analogy of the writing process in English 378, Fiction Writing II. Our first day of class, for instance, we’d watched the YouTube video where a man juggles to a Beatles soundtrack, a video ostensibly shown to teach us about the importance of sustaining multiple story lines in fiction but more, we all suspected, because Jenny thought it was just fun to watch. (I still always think of those juggling balls when I write, though, so take from that what you will.)

    Today, our pre-class conversations tapered off as she withdrew a flour mixture from her bag next, and then a measuring cup, a mixing bowl, and a large plastic ladle. Then came maple syrup – organic and from Maine, nothing better – and a whipped cream canister. Some classmates hurried into the room, their worry about being late fading into astonishment as Jenny heaved a waffle iron out of her bag and placed it with a faint clunk on the table.

    “It’s Waffle Day,” she announced matter-of-factly, and handed me the waffle iron extension cord. “Do you mind plugging that in?”

    “So, we’re really making waffles?” asked one student. “Here? In the classroom?”

    Jenny nodded, pouring milk into the measuring cup.

    “Cool! Um…why?”

    Jenny paused for just a moment. “Because it just seemed like the right thing to do,” she said finally, beaming at us from above her glasses.

    Then, with the background accompaniment of the iron beeping at us every few minutes with a prepared waffle, and a faint column of steam swirling dangerously close to the fire alarm, we got to workshopping stories.

    “Are the waffles a distraction?” Jenny asked midway through class.

    “The good kind,” we assured her. And they were – delicious. Each waffle had been divided into five little hearts, which Jenny artistically arranged on our plastic plates in various formations, dribbling the whipped cream in the center for us.

    And it wasn’t all that distracting, actually. It just made the already friendly writing workshop cozier, like we were around a large kitchen table, our professor cracking jokes and eggs over the mixing bowl while leading discussion. “Do you think we need to know more about the narrator?” Jenny asked us seriously as she prepared the second batch of waffles, ladling the mix onto the spitting iron. A little bit of batter dripped onto the fake wood table, and she looked at it and sighed before continuing, “Or do you prefer the ambiguity?”

    As she concluded her final thoughts on one of the stories, delving into faith and character journeys and story arc, she paused. “Let’s pull back for a moment and consider another very important question,” she said, and grinned widely. “Who wants more waffles?”

    Colby College: feeding us mind, body and soul since 1813.

  • JFB.com Blog

    JB interview via online stream…

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    microphoneI appeared today (5/25/10)  on a show called Chez Laura.  I didn’t know anything about this show other than that the host, Laura Lavigne, billed herself as a “life coach,” but the resulting interview was kind of a gas, sort of a look back at the gender memoirs I wrote in the 2000s and a look ahead to Falcon Quinn and the future.    You can stream the show here; this link will take you to an archived version of the show. You can stream the show live there, or you can click on the iTunes link in the lower right hand corner of that embedded stream menu, and that will enable you to download it and listen to it in your own good time.

    Here’s what Laura’s web page said about this show before we did the interview:

    Let’s talk about … daring to Change – with a capital C!”

    May 25 2010

    Best selling author Jenny Boylan knows a thing or two about daring to CHANGE. Born James Boylan, she finally was able to face the potential loss of her career, friendships and even her marriage in order to be true to herself and become a woman.

    In her book She’s Not There – a life in two genders, Jenny says that  as professor James Boylan, “ “ I used to stand at the lectern in my coat and tie, waving my glasses around, urging students to find the courage to become themselves. Then I’d go back to the office and lock the door and put my head down on the desk.”

    We will also talk about Jenny’s brand new book “The Falcon Quinn” which – in Jenny’s own words – “is about kids turning into “monsters,” and the high price of accepting ourselves.  And the price of not accepting ourselves, which is more.”

    In my work as a life coach, I am very familiar with the – sometimes paralyzing –  voices of fear that prevent us from doing what we know we need to do and very much look forward to spending this time with Jenny.

  • JFB.com Blog

    A few photos from the FQ launch party

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    May 20, 2010. Photos by Augusten Burroughs.

    jfb.3

    The cause of all the trouble: Jennifer Finney Boylan author of Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror

    photo

    Augusten Burroughs, Kimberly Reed, and Amanda Simpson

    FQ launch party: Edward AlbeeThe amazing Edward Albee

    jfb4

    Blinking

    photoRichard Russo, Edward Albee, and Augusten Burroughs

    jfb.monkey.1Speak No Evil, See No Evil, and Evil.

  • JFB.com Blog

    JB interview with School Library Journal!

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    The amazing Betsy Bird posted this truly remarkable interview with me on the School Library Journal blog today:

    falconQuinnTitle

    SBBT Interview: The Incomparable Jenny Boylan  by Elizabeth Bird

    I don’t often host folks who’ve appeared on Oprah, Larry King, The Today Show, and a Barbara Walters Special (just to name a few).  Few of the authors I speak to in my interviews have been portrayed on Saturday Night Live by Will Forte.  And fewer still are on the judging committee of the Fulbright Scholars.  But that’s the thing about Jenny Boylan, you see.  She keeps you guessing.  You don’t know what she’s gonna do next.  Like, say, for example, write a middle grade novel about a boy who, at the onset of adolescence, discovers that he’s turning into a monster.  That’s the premise of Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirroron one level.  On another level you have a story within a story that I think a lot of kids are going to be able to identify with.  Ladies and gentlemen, it is my supreme honor to introduce to you the newest voice in the children’s literary sphere.  One, I assure you, that you have not encountered before.

    Fuse #8: You are, to the best of my knowledge, the only transwoman to successfully publish a work of children’s fiction with a major publisher in the United States under her own name.  To say that you are groundbreaking is to put it mildly, and this is but one of your many accomplishments.  You’ve written for numerous periodicals, appeared on multiple television shows, taught creative writing as a professor, and on and on it goes.  Care to give us the full background and lowdown on who exactlyJenny Boylan is?

    Jennifer Finney Boylan: Well, that makes me sound quite fabulous, I must say. But I guess I just see myself as a storyteller.  I know I’m seen as some sort of spokeswoman for civil rights but the only thing I really know how to do is tell stories.  Still, that’s a good day’s work, isn’t it?

    It’s true that being trans has given me the opportunity to tell a particular kind of story that hasn’t generally been told, at least not by someone trained as a writer, and I’m grateful for that.  It seems to me that we can break through to people with stories in a way that we can’t in any other way.  My mother has a saying, “It is impossible to hate anyone whose story you know.”  And so I have tried to tell stories of people who are…

    (click here for the rest of the interview…)

  • JFB.com Blog

    New JFB book, FALCON QUINN AND THE BLACK MIRROR. Pub date: May 15!

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    FalconQuinn_Final All eyes on Falcon Quinn, as pub date for the first book in this new YA series arrives.  There is a whole new site supporting the book, including the first chapter, a list of the characters, a “bonus” chapter, and the like.

    Falconquinn.com was designed by Betty Crow (who also designed JB.net).  There’s a lot to read over there, but here’s the opening message: WELCOME ALL MONSTERS!

    School bus 13 screeches to a halt, and you and your friends step out and onto the grounds of the Academy for Monsters.  Mrs. Redflint–the dragon lady (and Dean of Students)–tells you you’re turning into a monster, hands you the key to your dorm room, and encourages you to stop by the Wellness Center, where your exact form of monstrosity will be “diagnosed.”  If your name is Falcon Quinn, you watch as your friend Max–a huge, hairy dude who plays the triangle in middle school band–becomes a Sasquatch.  And your friend Megan Crofton–a quiet, melancholy girl still trying to get over the loss of her sisters–slowly transforms into a wind elemental.  All around you are other kids– ghouls, Frankensteins, leprachauns, were-things.  But what are you?  Are you a monster at all?

    Well, until we figure out the answer to that question, let’s get you unpacked.  Your roommates– a were-bear named Lincoln Pugh, and another guy named Jonny Frankenstein–won’t be arriving until later.  In the meantime, there’s a lot to do– ask questions of Quimby, the fortune-telling head-in-a-jar; read The Gullet, the literary magazine of the Academy for Monsters, full of stories and poems written by monsters, (including ROAD NOT TAKEN DESTROY! by young Frankenstein Timothy Sparkbolt);  investigate a list of the characters you’re likely to encounter as you stroll around the grounds; you can even take a sneak peek at Falcon Quinn II–the exact title still a secret–coming in spring of 2011.   But perhaps the best thing to do first might be to read the first chapter of Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror by clicking right here.

    Above all, you must resist your monster nature!  You don’t want to be a monster.  Do you?

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    JB this week at the University of Maine!

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Hello Black Bears.   I will be at the University of Maine this Thursday April 15, as part of the U’s Pride Week.   I’ll be speaking in Sandy Caron’s Sexuality class, which meets at 12:30 in 100 DPCorbett Hall.  This is one of those giant lecture halls, seating 500+; and the event is open to the public.  The assigned book for the class  is SHE’S NOT THERE and I’ll probably also read something from my new book, FALCON QUINN AND THE BLACK MIRROR, which will also necessitate singing “I Wish They All Could Be Zombie Mutants” (a song from that  novel) as well as reciting the poem, Monster a Person Though Monster Not Human. (“Monster like Beatles! Like Wagner! Like Schumann!”)  (etc.)  I hope anybody interested  in my work will  come up to Orono and say hello.

    imagesI’ve been doing a reading for  Sandy’s class every year, just  about, since S.No.T. was first published seven years ago, and  she has been a tireless supporter  of my work.   Sandy Caron is also a generous and enthusiastic spirit for issues  of civil rights, sexual equality, and common sense at the U. of Maine, and she is justly revered by students and faculty there.  An honor for me to be part of her  class–looking forward.  See you this week!

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    Today’s Rock Trivia: 5-year-old Courtney Love on cover of Grateful Dead Album

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    19690620_0346 It’s true– Courtney Love’s father, Hank Harrison, was the on-again, off-again manager of everyone’s favorite hippie band in the late 60s.  This photo appears on the back cover of AOXOMOXOA, and pictures Themselves on a hillside somewhere in Marin County.  That’s Pigpen in the hat, splayed out in front of course, and to the right, in the front row, is the five-year old Courtney Love.  Bob Weir is just behind her; you can probably make out poor old Jerry Garcia in the third row, left hand side of the photo, behind the girl to the left of Pigpen.  They’re all in there– Phil Lesh, Tom Constantin, Bill the Drummer, a big ol’ Dawg, somebodys’ horse. And so on.  As James Thurber used to say, You could look it up.

    It’s been said that we ought to keep gay and lesbian couples from raising children since that “lifestyle” will take, somehow, “turning” young people gay.  To these folks I can only say, behold Courtney Love.  Who grew up to be, among many, many other things, Something Other Than A Deadhead.

    Courtney Love, who said, “I’m not a woman; I’m a force of nature.”  And Jerry Garcia, who said, “Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.”

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    Bite me in St. Louis

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Everybody sing:

    Scream, scream, scream went the human;

    Ack Acka-gack went my breath,

    Rot, rot, rot, went my brainstem, as we started for the Valley of Death.

    Suck, suck, suck went the vampire;

    Kerblammo-blasto-wasto went my head,

    AAAAUGGGHHHHH! AAAAUGGGHHHHH! AAAAUGGGHHHHH! went the humans! As we glided for the Land of the Dead!

    The night was black, the air was foul
    I smelled the aroma of a teenagers towel!   I chortled and I gloated and I felt like a wreck. I bit Little Judy Garland oh, right there on the neck!

    Scream, scream, scream went the human,

    Churn, churn, churn went its guts

    Ack-acka-gack! Went his big heart attack!  As we arrived in the Valley of Nuts!

    (A song from Falcon Quinn, coming to you in one month’s time!  Monster up!)

  • JFB.com Blog

    Public Triumph/Private Torment: L.A. Times on the Life and Death of Christine Daniels

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    The L.A. Times posts this piece today about Christine Daniels, the late sportswriter at the paper whose coming-out as trans briefly energized the community, and whose de-transition back to Mike Penner served as an object lesson in the risks of public exposure for trans people.

    Public Triumph/Private Torment

    By Christopher Goffard

    March 27, 2010

    christine_danielsIn late April 2007, Mike Penner published an article unlike any of the thousands he had written for the Los Angeles Times. It was brief, just 823 words, and placed without fanfare on the second page of the Sports section that had been his home for 23 years.

    Under the headline “Old Mike, new Christine,” Penner explained that he would soon assume a female identity and byline, a decision that followed “a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy.”

    It was “heartache and unbearable discomfort” to remain a man, he explained. Being a woman promised “joy and fulfillment.” The article ended on a hopeful note: “This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.”

    Gone was quiet, circumspect Mike Penner, replaced by ebullient, outgoing — and instantly famous — Christine Daniels. Celebrity meant a megaphone, and Daniels vowed to use it as an advocate. She told her story at transsexual conferences across the country, becoming a symbol of courage to a transgender community inspired by the most visible coming-out in decades.

    A year after the essay, the Daniels byline vanished from the newspaper, and within months Penner was back at work, living as a man and writing under his male name. Once so voluble about the reasons for becoming Christine, Penner was silent about the reasons for abandoning the identity.

    This time, there was no essay, no explanation. But friends saw a person in torment. Last November, in the parking garage of the apartment complex where he lived alone, Penner killed himself. He was 52.

    The duality that defined the sportswriter’s life divided the grieving…(to read the full article, click here.)


  • JFB.com Blog

    Helen Boyd on the T’s with Knives Controversy

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    Helen Boyd, Author of MY HUSBAND BETTY and other works

    Some of you know that GLADD has called for a boycott  of the film “Ticked Off Trannies with Knives,” slated for  screening at the Tribecca Film Festival.  It’s meant to be camp, I imagine, but the trailer acknowledges the  real-life murder of a number of trans women, including Angie Zapata.   The  filmmaker is a gay man who encourages everyone to relax–it’s all a big joke! Ha! Ha!  Still, many  folks have pointed out, reasonably enough, that the same festival might be unlikely to show a film called  “Angry F—-‘s With Uzi’s”, for instance.  GLAAD–and others– call for the film to be withdrawn.

    I’ve been talking about the film–and the boycott movement–with friends recently. As a writer, it’s hard for me to get behind censorship, which is what pulling the film amounts to, I believe.  So I don’t join the movement to  pull the film– but I  do encourage folks to NOT go, to picket it (if they’re in NYC), and to generally try to call attention to the fact that trans people are kind of tired of being the punch line of  films and other works, especially ones  made by folks who don’t seem to really understand our community or its issues.

    Helen Boyd, over at en/gender,  has posted a really smart screed  on this issue, which she’s given  me permission to cross-post here.  Take it away, HB:

    ONGOING GLAAD BATTLE

    I can’t say I’m surprised, but people are upset with GLAAD for starting a petition that asks Tribeca Film Fest not to show Ticked off Trannies With Knives. There are a couple of objections being made in various corners of the comments sections of the blogosphere:

    1) The free speech argument: this is art, a film, and GLAAD shouldn’t be trying to censor it.
    2) This is a camp film, and earnest people (trans or otherwise) obviously don’t get it.
    3) Earnest trannies need to get over themselves.

    So here’s my response.
    1) Free speech goes both ways. One group has the right to make a film; the other has a right to protest it. I’m not big on censorship; in fact, I hate it. But there are days and times when the sheer violence committed against a community is enough to make you want to shut down one more bad joke calling itself art.
    2) Camp is only funny when you’re making it about your own gang.
    3) Fuck you. Honestly, does it ever work to tell someone that the real problem is their lack of a sense of humor? Um, no.

    As I said elsewhere, when you work in the trans community, it is a relief to hear that someone you know has died of cancer because they didn’t die of violent means. That is the reality of trans life.

    It’s true that not all trans people ‘get’ camp, just like all gay men don’t. It’s an acquired taste, like drag. Assuming that camp is readily understood and appreciated is a huge mistake to make. It is very apparent that the makers of this film don’t seem to know the difference between drag queens and trans women, or only know a subset who identify as both. While I agree that the title of the flick –Ticked Off Trannies With Knives – does signal camp, the trailer actually used images of actual trans people who have actually died of violent crimes. That is not camp. That’s not even bad taste. That’s exploitation – and not the cool, hipster variety – of others’ suffering. If that is only the fault of whoever made the trailer, then they need to fix that. But honestly, I doubt it’s just the trailer.

    I have been working in and with the trans community for something like 10 years now. I am beginningto understand the incredible variety of lived trans identities. So if you think you’re hip to trans identities and trans lives, you probably aren’t. That doesn’t mean you can’t be an ally. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about the trans community. But what it might mean, and often does mean, is that when you have an entire community reeling in horror from a phrase (“hot tranny mess”) or a film (like this one), then maybe, just maybeyou need to shut up & listen & not pull this patriarchal bullshit. Being gay (or a member of whatever other oppressed group) does not give a person instant knowledge of and deep compassion with other people’s suffering. What it gives you is a chance to empathize — a chance that you will waste entirely if you always think you’re right.

    It may be that people with friends who call each other tranny – and there’s plenty of trans people who do use the term tranny – doesn’t mean it’s acceptable in the public realm. It may be that your trans friends have already decided that you are so beyond the pale that there is no point in trying to explain. It may be that the trans people you know are simply exhausted from dealing with this bullshit ALL THE TIME.

    I know I am. So maybe, for once, we can let the people who the joke is about decide if it’s funny or not. In this case: that joke isn’t funny anymore. (& Neither was Dan Savage, btw, of whom I expect far better, and who posted this piece, as if penance.)

    Really, is it worth the joke? Is a movie like this really such great art that an entire community – a community that gets more than its fair share of violence, discrimination, and general shite – be reminded that even people who are their supposed allies don’t get it?

    Sign the petition. And please, STFU about how unfair it all is.

    A P.S. for my gender communities: some of the people who say transphobic shit are gay, and some of them aren’t. Some of them are cis, & some of them aren’t. Please try to avoid the sweeping generalizations about who is saying transphobic things, and instead name the actual people who are doing so, or call out actual comments that have been posted. Generalizing that “gay men / cis people are transphobic” is counter-productive and, oh, totally false.

    Back to JFB:  And yeah, I was going to link to the trailer, which is available if you fish around on youtube, but after watching  exactly 35 seconds  of it I felt my brain beginning to explode.

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    JB at Ursinus College 3/18!

    - by Jennifer Boylan

    hey you all. Hope philadelphians will join me at Ursinus College on Thursday night. Come All Ye.