1) How did you first discover your genre?
— Back in 1990, I went up to Edinburgh to start my degree and came across an ad for West and Wilde (formerly Lavender Menace: http://www.gayinthe80s.com/2013/09/1982-bookshop-lavender-menace/): a whole shop dedicated to LGBT (though with less emphasis back then on the T) books. It was on the opposite side of the city centre from where I was living and studying, but there was always the option of stopping off at the Blue Moon Cafe in the LGBT Centre on the way there or back. Of course, the return journey was uphill: just what you don’t want when loaded down with exciting new purchases, free newspapers, and fliers for upcoming events. One author from then that I’m still reading now is the lovely Lee Lynch, who blogs on Women and Words (https://womenwords.org/) with me and the rest of the gang.
2) UK Meet began in 2010 with a dozen writers in a library in Ely. How do you think the genre’s changed since then?
— In some respects, the genre’s gone more mainstream: some of the big romance publishers are publishing LGBT stories — sometimes as part of series that have started, or include, het romances — and some of the smaller publishers that have always published lesbian and/or gay romances are branching out into wider areas of the whole QUILTBAG spectrum. I think we’re seeing more diversity across the board to be honest: race, (dis)ability, class, and so on. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, and I try to do my part by reviewing as widely as I can on a blog (http://goodbadandunread.com/) that mostly reviewed het romances before I was invited to join.
3) What one thing would you change about your genre?
— I still want to see books that show polyamoury in all its complexities: characters juggling multiple relationships on different levels and with varying degrees of interaction between the different partners. Too many authors assume that threesomes and moresomes are the standard, rather than only one possible way to connect — and not the commonest one in my experience.
How did you first discover your genre?
I always say that I don’t write m/m romance per se, but sci-fi and steampunk with LGBT protagonists. I’ve always loved sci-fi. My dad’s influence, since he was a devotee all his life—finding birthday and Christmas presents for him always involved delightful hours spent in bookshops trying to decide which sci-fi novel he’d like best, and buying him several instead of being forced to choose. That wasn’t generosity, by the way, because guess who also got to read them?
I discovered the m/m aspect through slash fanfic. There is some marvellous fanfic out there that’s often way better than the source material. It’s often less constrained, more creative, transformative. I still read it for the sheer enjoyment of something written not for any commercial reason, but for pure love of the source.
What do you like best about your genre?
I write science fiction. Space opera, really, and I love the potential for not only writing action and adventure with spaceships and laser pistols and humanity fighting for its survival against unknowable, unfathomable aliens but also exploring how much humanity’s own worst traits creates half of the problems it faces. Great fun!
I also adore history, Egyptology in particular. I’ve managed to mix that into both my Taking Shield series and into the steampunk Lancaster’s Luck series.
Seriously, there is nothing better than being an author. Not when I can get to play in both my sandboxes at once.
What one thing would you change about your genre?
I do find some of the ‘romance’ expectations to be constricting. Writing about LGBT characters is a broad church open to every kind of story and genre, but because of the prominence of m/m romance, books tend to be viewed through that romance lens. I’ll admit to being rather irritated when reviewers complain about the lack of romance in my Shield books, for example, when it’s not a romance to start with! I think it does colour reader expectations and makes it harder to get out of narrow niches.
This is the first of a series of interviews with UK Meet’s delegates asking them questions about the event. We hope this helps you get to know delegates before meeting them in person.
Love and light, Liam xx
LM Somerton Interview
What are you most looking forward to at UK Meet 2018? Meeting up with old friends and making some new ones.
Describe the books you write in three words. Contemporary BDSM light. (I know I’m cheating with the abbreviation!)
How did you first discover your genre? Through friends in the lifestyle lamenting the lack of good fiction featuring their world positively.
Hi, Liam Livings here, welcoming you to your first UK Meet blog since the event in Southampton.
Remember those feedback forms you completed? Well, thanks to Cathy’s whiz-bang Excel skills, I’m pleased to bring you the highlights and lowlights of your feedback.
We received 56 responses which is a great rate for a self-completion survey like this. To show how we take on board delegate feedback to improve the event we wanted to summarise the main themes to share with everyone.
Panels workshops and key notes
All panels and workshops received an average score between 7.4 and 9.2 except one panel which received 5.9. When we looked into this via the comments received, it was specifically related to delegates being disappointed that the content did not match what had been advertised.
Delegates liked the long breaks between panels as it allowed networking and decompressing from what had been learned at the sessions.
Apart from a few minor audio issues with one, the two keynote speakers evaluated well and almost without exception delegates found their personal stories inspiration and moving.
The main learning from this is:
- having panel organisers submit an outline to their sessions prevents panelists winging it on the day and led to better quality professional sessions
- having a moderator on every panel helps keep things on track on the day itself
any last minute changes must be agreed by the committee, otherwise it’s better to cancel the panel
- keep breaks between panels
- keynote speakers go down well with personal stories inspirational and moving
- we will have panelists’ names posted at the event so delegates know who is leading each session. It wasn’t possible to include this information in the programme because there were so many changes right up until the event itself.
The ukuleles went down brilliantly. I described them to the band on the night as ‘the most fun I’ve had with all my clothes on’ which they promptly posted on their Facebook group! The rainbow dinner was great fun with delegates enjoying a dance but some wishing there was more space to mingle. Good mixer on the Friday night for those who attended.
Delegates who didn’t attend the entertainment explained they didn’t like crowds or liked to organise their own entertainment with others at the event. There is always going to be a balance to strike with the entertainment because some will never attend it because it’s not their thing, and we’re trying to cater for a broad variety of tastes with those who do attend.
Generally there was negative feedback about the hotel’s food – we hear you – food matters! Or as my friend always says, ‘Good food is an everyday luxury.’ If we decide to return to the Grand Harbour we’ll make sure we have more control over the food offered. The rooms and quality of the hotel evaluated well at 7.7 as well as transport to the hotel which came out at 8.6.
The split book fair was generally well received but we hear that some authors weren’t able to buy from their favourite authors as they were in the same half as themselves. We’ll look into other ways of managing this and it may include suggesting that tables set up an informal buddying system so authors can circulate around the book fair while someone else minds their books for sale. Suggestions welcome!
The printed programme, goody bags (content and the bags themselves) and sponsors’ feedback was generally very positive.
And finally, most importantly, delegates felt the atmosphere was inclusive and respectful and allowed them to be themselves, while retaining their privacy if that was their wish. Both rating 9.3 or above.
Is it 2018 yet?
Thanks, from the UK Meet committee – Cathy, Charlie, Clare, Elin, Jamie and Liam 🙂
We are still selling tickets for the Friday night meet and mingle at UK Meet. If you’re new to the event and want a chance to chat to people you’ve met online, or meet up with people you already know, or if you don’t know anyone and would like to meet some new friends, then the meet and mingle at the Stein Garden is the place for you.
It’s a short walk from the venue of UK Meet and includes authenticate German beer and wine in a friendly happy atmosphere. For an attendee special-rate payment of £22, a finger buffet will be provided to suit all menus, plus a free welcome drink (soft or alcoholic). We will also provide a handy wristband for every attendee which qualifies you for a discount on all your subsequent drinks. EVERYONE’S welcome, including people travelling with you who may not be attending the UK Meet! You can book your place here before tickets sell out!
The restaurant’s vision was to create the ultimate atmosphere of fantastic traditional Bavarian food and high quality German beers, and thus Stein Garten was born. Read more about the news story when it opened.
With an average rating of 4/5 from 72 reviews on Tripadvisor, read what some of its happy customers have to say about Stein Garten: (All reviews from Tripadvisor copied as they appear)
Platter for 4 was awesome and beer is best in Southampton . I recommend it to anyone. I’ll be back all the time
What can I say, it’s nice to have at least one place in Southampton with authentic Bavarian Beer and Food. Very happy!
Love this place – beer is authentic, food is authentic, staff are really good. Love the Weiss-beir and their selection of Wurst
Completely enjoyed my trip here. A Stein of the house ale from Munich teamed with a Bavarian combo platter is a superb dining experience. Friendly and knowledgeable staff make this a wonderful place to visit. Highly recommended.
Been to the Stein Garten three times since January 2016 and always had good food and beer with friendly service.
The place has recreated some of the atmosphere of a Bavarian bar with the wooden bench table and seats and not over done the central heating like some – not cold but not stuffily hot like some places in town and this is the UK so it wasn’t the minus seventeen I had last time I was in Munich!
The like the Erdinger on tap, other beers are available, and the food is pretty simple stuff well done – plenty of sausage options and the roast beef is really well done. The portions are good and at reasonable prices. The waiting staff have all been friendly, attentive and efficient without overdoing it – so well done.
The roast pork shank is huge and so well cooked and one of our party had a spicy sausage option – beware it’s seriously spicy!
Great place and we’ll be back
I always look forward to returning to the Stein Garten. The house pils has become one of my favourite lagers and can’t be beaten when you have it served in an ice cold two pint stein. The atmosphere is great and the seating layout means you can be be super social with a big bunch of mates or get some privacy on one of the smaller tables in the corners.
The food/snacks are unfussy yet delicious and are served quickly. Finally, the staff are always really friendly and attentive. Great place!
Have had the best night ever! Two waitresses Esther and Nicola were the best hostesses, they catered for every need! ❤️ they were very efficient and extremely friendly!
Stein is the best place to be!
Popped in for a quick drink and ended up buying food after reading the menu! Great prices and a good choice of German foods on offer, definitely recommend the sausage platter to sample various sausages and bratwurst. Drinks are also a resonable price with plenty of German beers to choose from. Staff were happy and friendly. We will be visiting again!
Hope to see you there,
Book your place here before we sell out. We have a set number of tickets and once they’re gone, they’re gone. That is all!
Liam Livings xx
We wanted to let you know that our Sunday keynote speaker, Liam Klenk has some fabulous informative and interesting interviews published which you may like to read before seeing him at UK Meet on Sunday 4 September.
At 1.50pm on Sunday 4 September, Liam will be talking to us about how, ‘So many stories are being told, and like mine aspects of those stories are often traumatising and far from easy. Still, we have this one life we’ve been given, and no matter who we are, for me it is all about being human, kind and compassionate.’
There is an interview with the Mirror, in which Liam talks about how although he was born a girl, he always knew he was meant to be a man.
In another great interview, this time with The Woolf, Liam talks about the process of penning his autobiography, the use of crowdfunding site Indiegogo, and a search for home.
Liam is looking forward to meeting and talking to UK Meet’s delegates where you’ll be able to ask him questions and have the opportunity to buy a copy of his autobiography, Paralian.
What a treat we have in store for you all!