Bywater BLUE
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November 2012
Welcome to Bywater Books

Dear Readers,

This month, we’d like you to meet Hilary Sloin, the winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction for her novel Art on Fire. It tells the story of Francesca deSilva, the painter who became a cult figure as much for her gender rebellion and refusal to play by the rules as she did for her paintings.

Meanwhile, Marianne K. Martin has picked up two more awards for The Indelible Heart, and Jesse Blackadder has been picking up great reviews for her novel The Raven’s Heart.

Bywater authors and publishers had a great time meeting readers during Women’s Week at Provincetown this October. To find out what we got up to, check out P-Town 2012.

As always, we at Bywater strive to bring you the finest in lesbian romance, mystery, and literary fiction.

Till next time!

Kelly Smith
Marianne K. Martin
Val McDermid

Author Profile

Hilary Sloin says it herself: she’s a “furniture geek.” Most mornings, she wakes around 4, excited because she gets to “work on furniture.” It’s her favorite aspect of the antiques business, bringing aged and unloved pieces back to life — work that is overseen by Pluto, her Jack Russell who accompanies her every morning to her garage and watches her strip wood and refinish it.

Later in the day (once everyone else has woken up), she heads off to the antiques store. It’s there, in “those dead hours when no one comes in,” that she does much of her writing.

Art on Fire, which has just been published, is her first novel. It’s a tale of sibling rivalry, dysfunctional families — and critics. And yes, she already knows about those. Hilary used to write plays. Her work was “flagrantly lesbian and … overtly sexual” — and “the critics were kind of merciless.”

She soon realized they often are. Working as an editor for a New York publisher, she read “the NY Review of Books religiously and the theatre and book reviews in the NY Times. I was always amazed at how swiftly and cruelly a critic would slash away at a work that had taken someone years to produce.”

In Art on Fire, the critics queue up to slash — and also to praise. As for whether the paintings they’re looking at are worth the attention, that’s up to you. Besides, that’s part of the appeal for Hilary: “I was always interested in what made art good… who knows, really?”

Since Art on Fire is a book that’s already won two awards and been shortlisted a further four times, it’s a question she can put to one side. And get on instead with her next book, Pimpin’ the Frontier — a great title that was all that came out of a “terrible” date.

She is, she says, unlucky in love. Which has made her both a “single cynic” and a “hopeless romantic.” For her blog on the subject, click here. And check out her thoughts “On Passing as Straight” (here), and what it feels like that “Even lesbians mistake me for straight.  When men come to my house to fix things, they automatically assume I am married.  It doesn’t matter that I have a rainbow flag on my car, that I live alone and wear no wedding ring.

Hilary lives in Massachusetts with Pluto and a letter from Jerry Garcia hanging on the wall: “I was a rock and roll guitarist for years . . . and saw the Grateful Dead 35 times . . . But then I grew up.”

by Caroline Curtis 


Hot Off The Press

Art on Fire
Art on Fire 

by Hilary Sloin

Art on Fire is the apparent biography of subversive painter Francesca deSilva, the founding foremother of “pseudorealism,” who lived hard and died young. But in the tradition of Vladimir Nabokov’s acclaimed novel Pale Fire, it’s a fiction from start to finish.

It opens with Francesca’s early life. We learn about her childhood love, the chess genius Lisa Sinsong, as well as her rivalry with her brilliant sister Isabella, who publishes an acclaimed volume of poetry at the age of twelve. She compensates for the failings of her less than attentive parents by turning to her grandmother who is loyal and adoring until she learns Francesca is a lesbian, when she rejects her.

Francesca flees to a ramshackle cabin in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, working weekends at the flea market. She breaks into the gloomy basement of a house, where she begins her life as a painter. Much to her confusion and even dismay, fame comes quickly.

Interspersed with Francesca’s narrative are thirteen critical “essays” on the paintings of Francesca deSilva by critics, academics, and psychologists — essays that are razor-sharp satires on art, lesbian life, and the academic world, puncturing pretentiousness with every paragraph.

Art on Fire is a darkly comic, pitch-perfect, and fearless satire on the very art of biography itself.

Art on Fire is the latest winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the Heekin Foundation Award, the Dana Awards, and the Story Oaks Prize. It was mistakenly awarded the nonfiction prize in the Amherst Book and Plow Competition. 

Lesbian Fiction  298 pages

ISBN print 978-1-61294-031-2  ISBN eBook 978-1-61294-032-8  

At fine stores everywhere
or order directly from Bywater Books.  

Bywater News

For her latest novel The Indelible Heart, Marianne K. Martin won the Gay & Lesbian Fiction category of the International Book Awards, from USA Book News

Marianne talked with Joan Opyr about alcoholism and comedy — and finding the comedy in tragedy. The Advocate listened in. To read the interview, click here

Jesse Blackadder has been earning great reviews for The Raven’s Heart. Amos Lassen describes her prose as “gorgeous.” Jerry Wheeler of Out in Print says it’s “sumptuous and expressive.” And for Lambda Literary, Sara Rauch writes that “Her prose is both sexy and chaste, ruthless and tender, bringing out these elements in all her characters.”

All the reviewers celebrate her deft handling of her research. Jerry Wheeler says, “I could almost feel the chill of coastal Scotland. But research would just be useless facts if she didn’t have the ability to meld the history with some amazing characters.” He adds that “her sense of place is marvelous — her descriptions are powerful but never overwhelm the action. And her pacing is a perfect blend of action and exposition that never drags or lags.

Writing for the Historical Novel Review, Anita Davison said, “It is not often I say this about a book, but this one grabbed and held me from the first page.” The writer and blogger Kate Forsythe said “I thought this version of the famous events of the 1560s was thoughtful, original and unusual, and I really loved the book.” As did Jerry Wheeler, who describes The Raven’s Heart as “an engrossing read . . . sure to please both history buff and fiction lover.” And Lambda reckons that “Sarah Waters’ fans are sure to enjoy this new historical fiction.”


Jesse at Polari
Jesse with Polari host Paul Burston (aka London’s
Armistead Maupin)

Jesse was in London recently, where she was invited to read from The Raven’s Heart. At Polari, which the New York Times calls “London’s most theatrical literary salon”, she joined the stage with the poet Adam Lowe, multi-award winning writer Jonathan Harvey, New York’s Penny Arcade and drag queen Lola Lypsinka. And she was invited by the Historical Novel Society to contribute to one of its regular (who knew?) Saturday night sex readings.

Jesse was also interviewed recently by Kate Forsythe. To find out how she writes, where she writes, and what she thinks of writer’s block, click here.

P-Town 2012

Bywater Books heads to P-Town every year because Women’s Week is the moment where readers, authors and their publishers get to meet each other. And it’s always a lot of fun.

Georgia Beers and Wine
Georgia prefers red wine

Readers mingled with authors — that’s Hilary, Sally, Georgia, Mari, and Marianne — and publishers — Kelly and Michele — at the Harbor Lounge. The Sage Inn hosted a new event on the Women’s Week calendar: readings by several authors, including our own. At the Fairbanks Inn, our authors treated the audience to readings from new work. And there was a full house for The Breakfast Club Readings at Napi’s Restaurant. The audience must have enjoyed themselves there: they renamed the event “Morning Glory with Bywater authors.”  

Later, there were plenty of readers joining us at Womencrafts for wine, cheese and authors signing their favorite books. Womencrafts has been hosting us for several years now, and the evening has its own reputation now — one we’re proud to keep up. 

Mari, Kate and some silver lamé

Mari quickly sold out of copies of her latest novel, Camptown Ladies. Later, she spoke to a packed house alongside Kate Clinton. At the Crown and Anchor, the two women took part in A COMICAL DISCUSSION: No Seriously — and the audience couldn’t get enough.   

 We’ll be going next year, of course. See you then!


Bywater Events
Georgia Beers
* will be a guest on the Cocktail Hour on January 26, 2013.

If there’s a comment you want to make or a question you want to ask, leave your message at (414) 367-8421.
* will be the Keynote Speaker at next year’s Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) Conference. It will take place in Dallas, TX, June 26 thru June 30, 2013.

Stella Duffy 

* is directing a new play Ordinary Darkness by Sarah Robertson, a London-based playwright and poet. November 14 thru December 1.
Hen and Chickens Theatre
109 St Paul’s Road
N1 2NA

For more information: (44) 20 7704 2001 


Hilary Sloin

will be reading from Art on Fire, her first novel which won the Bywater Prize for Fiction. She will appear at:
* Oxbox Gallery
on Thursday, November 15 at 7.
275 Pleasant Street
MA 01060

For more information: (413) 586-6300 or

* Meekins Library on Tuesday, December 4 at 7.
2 Williamsburg Street
Williamsburg, MA

For more information: (413) 268-7472
Issue: 31  
In This Issue
Author Profile
Hot Off The Press
Bywater News
P-Town 2012
Bywater Events
Get Booked!

Calling all Book Groups:


Ever wanted to know what an author thinks about her own book?


Choose a Bywater title to discuss at your Book Group, and we’ll arrange for the author to join the conversation — in person, by webcam, or over the phone.


Book Group Leaders, feel free to write us for a complimentary copy of any Bywater book for your review. 


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The Virtual World

Your favorite authors also write blogs, have their own websites, and can be found on social networking sites.


Elana Dykewomon

Click for her website.

Find her on Facebook and Red Room.  


Z Egloff

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Find her on Facebook and Red Room.


Marcia Finical

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Katherine V. Forrest 

Click for her  website.


Lisa Gitlin  

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Jill Malone

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Find her on Facebook and MySpace.


Marianne K. Martin 

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Paula Martinac

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Val McDermid

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Bett Norris

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Joan Opyr

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Mari San Giovanni

Click for her website. Find her on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter @MariSanGiovanni.   


Hilary Sloin

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Sally Bellerose

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Find her on Facebook.  


Georgia Beers

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Jesse Blackadder

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Lindy Cameron

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Cynn Chadwick

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Kate Clinton

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Stella Duffy

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Find her on LibraryThing, MySpace, and Twitter @stellduffy. 


Elana Dykewomon

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Find her on Facebook and Red Room. 


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