About the Novel
Available in print at: Amazon.com
Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody think she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.
Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay — Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.
About the Author
Q: Please describe your series in any 5 words!
Fluffy queer Jewish fairy tales.
Q: Where do you come up with the inspiration for your novels/short stories?
A lot of my plots, scenes, and relationships are inspired by things I’ve either experienced or witnessed in real life. I basically take my own adventures and put a “dragons and princesses” filter on top of them.
For example, a spouse with a gluten problem and a good friend allergic to chicken became a princess who didn’t understand why her ability to digest food began to erode as she neared adulthood. Local activists fighting wage theft (employers breaking the law to keep people’s paychecks or overtime) became a foreman standing up to the king when his workers were underpaid.
I’ve been playing the violin for nearly thirty years, so writing about music and musicians — and the relationships between musicians — was a natural extension of this principle for me. That’s where my latest release, A Harvest of Ripe Figs, came from. Even the flirting in the book’s new hetero romance is done via music.
Q: Do you tend to plot your work or do you figure it out as you go along?
I definitely plot. In fact, without having a definite idea of where I’m going and how I’m going to get there, I can’t get started with the actual writing. I need a stick figure to exist before I can start putting clothing and earrings on it.
Details, of course, can change throughout the project, and entire scenes have even been added as late as during the professional editing process, once the book is already contracted.
Q: How do address intersectionality in your novels? (Intersectionality is defined as the concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.)
I’m a Jewish wlw (woman loving woman) writing about Jewish wlw (I’m bi/in a same-sex marriage, and I write both lesbian and bi characters), so that’s my default position. Most Jewish literature is about straight people and most LGBT literature is about Gentiles, so naturally I’m eager to create spaces where the two biggest reasons I’m “different” don’t compete with each other. Queer Jewishness is very important to me; I feel a special sense of pride and family when I’m playing in an orchestra that’s performing music by Aaron Copland or Leonard Bernstein, for example.
Including trans characters and characters with various disabilities (Shulamit’s digestive issues, Isaac’s war injury) is important to me as well because people with disabilities and trans people are a part of my family, my friends, and my world. Any world I create must include them as well. And sometimes I’ve had friends ask to be represented–Tzuriel, the biracial character in A Harvest of Ripe Figs, has a Black father because a former client named Kofi asked, “Hey, can you put The Islands in your books?” (Hence, Tzuriel ben Kofi.) An Iranian friend named all my Persian-coded characters in Climbing the Date Palm. And Esther in Figs is a “beautiful fat girl” (and not my only fat character) who not only has no weight-loss or dieting narrative but is also shown as worthy of romantic attention. There are too many wonderful, beautiful fat girls in my own life and they need WAY more books and movies that don’t make them feel like shit for existing.
Intersectionality is also about how one form of marginalization can affect another. There’s a scene in Date Palm in which the two bi characters are discussing the differences in how biphobia manifests in their lives — Kaveh, as a bi man, feels hated, whereas Aviva, as a bi woman, feels “liked for the wrong reasons.”
Q: If you don’t mind me asking, why do you write diverse books?
Diversity exists in the world. Take our orchestra: we have people who are ethnically Korean, Chinese, Ethiopian, Russian, Japanese, African-American, Latino, Ashkenazi Jewish… there are queer people in the orchestra, there are most likely people with invisible disabilities. We have Mormons. We have people whose children are adopted. We have people of all body sizes.
If you’re writing a world that doesn’t look as diverse as the real one, why?
As for the specific diversity in which I specialize: I write Jewish stories because I’m tired of things
-in romance we Jewish women get paired, if we’re lucky, with a nice gentile and the conflict is about the interfaith thing, and if we’re not lucky, WITH AN ACTUAL NAZI (and no, I’m not even talking about that one book because if it was just one book, so what? Nah, there are at least three or four of these out there and I found one once literally by accident wandering the stacks.) What about pairing us with our own men, if you’re writing het? It’s not like they’re not romance novel fodder. After all, slash fanfiction was born because two Ashkenazi men were too hot to handle!
I want to celebrate us. I want places where what WE are is normal and the “default”, not the “oooh, other” characters. I want to be more than Thorin’s dwarves, I want people like us to be the hero like Bard or the wizard like Gandalf or the beautiful queen like Galadriel. I got tired of fantasy where nobody in the entire story is a practicing Christian but vampires still react badly to crosses.
Q: What are you working on now?
The fourth book in the Mangoverse series, The Olive Conspiracy, comes out next year, and on October 14, Torquere will release my short story “Wet Nails”, a f/f paranormal erotic short in which a bi Jewish grad student gets to spend the night with the ghost of her favorite 1950’s Hollywood actress. In the meantime, I’m writing more short stories — all Jewish so far, mostly SFF, but I’m currently dipping my toes into lesbian contemporary adult for the first time. Let’s see where it goes!