And beyond just telling us the who, where, what and how of her life, she's extremely revealing about her process. Not just some of the deepest parts of her personality (as Kate says in the book, "Life's better without secrets,"), like her diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, but also the internal process of what it was like to be here. She cracks open her heart and shows us the internal realities of growing-up and adulthood prior to transitioning, many ongoing touchstones of what it was like knowing she was "girl," how she related to it and how she either leaned into it or away from it with facial hair, women, weight and clothing. Her lifelong battle with anorexia, how she learned to starve herself and then how she learned to think she could be pretty while being voluptuous. What it is like as a cutter, the pain and relief and how she used it to get through. Vivid plans for suicide attempts.
Sam Rosenthal asked me to take a look at his new, self-published genderqueer erotica novel called Rye. It is a really awesome method to love your body and reclaim your sexuality by consuming porn, erotica and images that reflect your body, gender and sexuality. Rye features a genderqueer main character as well as a polyamorous relationship, both things that aren’t depicted in mainstream sexuality.
I did a Q and A with Sam about the process of bringing Rye to life! Enjoy!
This is the book cover!
BEVIN: What was your inspiration to write the book?
SAM: I’ve been the songwriter for 10 albums with my band, Black tape for a blue girl. I write lyrics, which are short stories. I went to a reading of erotica, and thought, “Hey, I could do that, let me give it a go.” So I started writing. I liked the process. I found that I wasn’t just writing sex, I was creating characters that I cared for, and situations I found intriguing, funny, sexy. So It became a lot more than erotica. There’s a lot about labels and identity, fitting in and finding ourselves.
BEVIN: What made you decide to pursue self-publishing? Was it to preserve the content? Were publishers unwilling to embrace genderqueer sexual heroes?
SAM: I never seriously considered trying to find a publisher. I’ve always self-released my music (I run my own record label, Projekt), so it’s natural for me to do it this way. But yeah, really, I didn’t want to submit RYE to publishers, to wait a year for their rejections, or their attempts to tell me how to rewrite my book as they imagine it. The hell with that. Rye is my story. After I finished working with my editor, I had the novel I wanted. I didn’t need input from a publisher.
This is Sam.
BEVIN: Which character is most relatable?
SAM: Well, I guess it depends one who is doing the relating, right? If it’s those of us who know queer people, than it’s all of them. If you’re asking somebody totally mainstream, than maybe it’s none of them. I had some straight (but Kinky) people say, “Um, I don’t know if I’d want to read that, I don’t like stories about gay people.” What? Gay people? Straight people? Queer people? We all have the same kinds of emotions, and conflicts… It’s a story about people who are falling in love, worrying about their boundaries, and uncovering themselves.
BEVIN: Is a lot of your book based on real life experience or is it all purely your imagination?
SAM: I think that any novel has real life experience weaved into it. Some of it definitely happened, some of it sort of happened, but not exactly the way I describe it. Writing is sort of taking little bits of reality and poeticizing it, and making it more focused and intriguing. So at some point, I kind of lost track of the real events that might have kicked off a scene, as I worked it into the story-line. I also have to admit that a lot of what happens is life as I’d love it to happen, ya know? A lot of things spontaneously happen to Matt and Rye and Rain, things that would take way more planning and luck, in real life.
BEVIN: Give one piece of advice to folks who want to learn to get in touch with their genderqueer/trans/fat/dis/abled bodies and have better sex.
SAM: Let go of your ego. Stop listening to everything you tell yourself about who you are and how you do things. Your ego wants to keep in control and keep things stable. While your heart and your inner self wants to play and explore and discover.