Tuesday, February 24, 2015

'Tear Me Apart', and the closing of Egmont USA

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I love three things: retold fairy tales, young adult fiction, and raving about favourite authors.

Two years ago, I wrote a review of 'Kill Me Softly', by Sarah Cross. There was no doubt in my mind then--and still no doubt now, truth to tell--that Sarah Cross was one of the new up and coming authors combining young adult fiction and fairy tales into happy little packages.

Kill Me Softly, published in 2012, is a Sleeping Beauty story set in the fictional town of Beau Rivage. The wonderful thing about this story, though, is that it's not just a Sleeping Beauty story. The whole town of Beau Rivage is filled with fairy tales coming to life. Other main characters include Snow White, Beauty and her Beast and, of course, Bluebeard.

It was like reading something in the world of Disney, only with a deliciously dark undertow after the Grimms' own hearts.

“Birthdays were wretched, delicious things when you lived in Beau Rivage. The clock stuck midnight, and presents gave way to magic.

Curses bloomed.

Girls bit into sharp apples instead of birthday cake, chocked on the ruby-and-white slivers, and collapsed into enchanted sleep. Unconscious beneath cobweb canopies, frozen in coffins of glass, they waited for their princes to come. Or they tricked ogres, traded their voices for love, danced until their glass slippers cracked.

A prince would awaken, roused by the promise of true love, and find he had a witch to destroy. A heart to steal. To tear from the rib cage, where it was cushioned by bloody velvet, and deliver it to the queen who demanded the princess's death. 

Girls became victims and heroines.

Boys became lovers and murderers.

And sometimes... they became both.” 
(Kill Me Softly, page 1) 

Now imagine my delight when, three years later, I hear about the release of Book 2 in this series: Tear You Apart, a Snow White story starring Viv from Kill Me Softly.

Viv knows there’s no escaping her fairy-tale curse. One day her beautiful stepmother will feed her a poison apple or convince her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Henley, to hunt her down and cut out her heart before she breaks his. In the city of Beau Rivage, some princesses are destined to be prey.

But then Viv receives an invitation to the exclusive club where the Twelve Dancing Princesses twirl away their nights. There she meets Jasper, an underworld prince who seems to have everything—but what he really wants is her. He vows to save her from her dark fate if she’ll join him and be his queen.

All Viv has to do is tear herself away from the huntsman boy who still holds her heart.

The whole thing would have been much more exciting had it not been paired with the information that Egmont--the publisher of both Kill Me Softly and Tear You Apart was closing its doors, less than a month since the latter title was released. 

Attempts to sell Egmont USA since October 2014 have not resulted in any final agreements. As a consequence, Egmont has decided to close the office, effective from January 31st 2015.  
The spring 2015 list will be published and books will continue to be available via Random House. (Source: egmont.com)

In conjunction with Cuddlebuggery Book Blog, I and 54 other book blogs are launching the Last List Blog Hop for the authors and books that have been hit hardest by this closure. As per the above press release, authors like Sarah Cross will still have their titles available via Random House, but without the publicity backing of their publishing house.

So spread the word! I can personally attest that these books are 100% amazing and cannot wait to add Tear You Apart to my personal--OMG and constantly growing--library. Please feel free to reblog, repost, retweet, re-anything this post to anyone you think will be interested.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Me too."

It's been a while since I wrote in this little safe space of mine, and I've been looking for a way of getting back into it since it ended up in the, 'It's all a bit too hard' pile around the middle of last year.

It's February, so it's a little bit too late for New Year's Resolutions, too late for best moments of 2014 reflexion-style posts.

It's February, so it's definitely more of a looking forward time of a year than looking backward.

The thing that finally got my out of my shell and caused me to re-open the dialogue in this blog is a post called "Coming out again why more queer folks with mental illnesses need to speak out." It spoke of the truths of how many people in the queer community take their own lives, and some of the reasons for it.

Our voices could save someone’s life.
So where do we start? [...] It can be as simple as saying “me too” when someone in your community talks about their depression instead of just nodding; it can be as simple as saying “I know what that’s like” or “I have that too” or, most importantly, affirming that they are not alone.

I realised, when I started writing up this post, that I didn't yet have a tag for LGBTQIA, or even LGBT. I just had one for bisexuality. Which made me think that I've been doing my share of keeping my stories to myself, or sharing them only with a very limited audience, often within my own home.

So here is my voice. Here's my story:

My name is Nicole. I am a cis-gendered woman living in Melbourne, Australia with my two cats, my partner (man), and my fiancee (gender questioning). Towards the end of last year, my partner and I had a not!wedding--which suppose makes him my not!husband as well as my partner--because the laws of our country won't acknowledge legal ceremonies involving multiple relationships or gay ones. I should probably make a photo post of that beautiful day to post on here. Maybe now I actually will.

Outside of my home, I have a second house where my girlfriend lives. She is a beautiful young woman who is hesitant to walk down the street holding hands or kissing me because of the reactions we get from people in cars driving by.

As a bisexual woman in multiple relationships, I notice the differences in the way that other people view my relationships. I notice the way that I feel more "safe" walking down the street or in the shopping centre at night with one of my boys by my side. And, like my girlfriend, I notice the looks that we get from other people when we forget ourselves and hold hands, or stop to kiss because one of us has said something unbearably sweet.

I notice the pause, the hesitation in my voice when I go to my therapist or psychologist. So often, the topics that come up will intersect with the loves in my life. I find myself using gender neutral terms for all of them, or else casually dropping in the word "girlfriend" like it's the 1980s and "girlfriend" is a term used between women of a certain age group. I tell myself then that I'm not exactly lying if it's their misconception that leads to my obfuscation.

But who am I really hurting there? If I get a bad response from a non-LGBT friendly psychologist, I can just go out and find another one. Yes, the inconvenience and upset of needing to do that will be mentally taxing, but surely it's better than invisibility. Invisibility that I myself am perpetrating deliberately.

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

I regularly see psychologists because, as well as being part of the queer community, I also suffer depression. Depression that, last month, culminated in my having to quit my full time job of 8 months due to said depression. I was lucky because I managed to leave that job on good terms and with references intact. I was unlucky because I couldn't quite manage to make myself hold on until I had something else to go to.

Depression is something that I have suffered with, according to this blog, about two and a half years. Although I'd had episodes of depression before that, the period between September and December 2012 was the darkest spell I'd had up till that point.

For a long, long time, I saw the treatment of antidepressants to be as bad as the condition. There were storms of weeping and anxiety as I feared that I would be irrevocably changed by taking that kind of medication that would then addict me so I could never come back off it again. It led me onto other types of medication such as St John's Wort which, sadly, was a stopper at the very best and seems an alternative from a long time ago now. It did not work for me in the long term.

As anti-antidepressants I am, I ended up on them between April 2014 and January 2015. The condition came to a head when I realised I could not imagine that any side effects from the antidepressants could possibly be worse than the depression itself. I had hit rock bottom, and I didn't care. Not for myself, anyway. It was my loved ones that, I'm glad to say, gave me the strength to ultimately make this decision.

In January, I had an appointment with my doctor that my fiancee attended with me. Together, we articulated how the antidepressants were keeping my lows at a reasonable level, however the highs were nearly uncontrollable so as to be almost manic. I speak fast and loudly anyway, but when my boys were having trouble telling where one word / sentence ended and the next began after half a dozen or so years together, we knew we had a problem.

I am currently surviving without medication. I"m not sure if this will continue to be the way, but I do know that I'm not up to going back to full time work. I have been lucky enough to happen to fall into a position with perfect part time hours for me that is not too far away from home. I have a nifty little car to get me there and back and audiobooks to keep me company. And, of course, the reward of a bath once I get home, with the cats making sure not to be too far away.

This story is far from over, but I am still here to tell it, and will have the strength to continue to tell it.