The Beast Without by Christian Baines (Glass House Books)

I'd never seen True Blood or read a vampire novel. Never wanted to. Not out of snobbishness, but simply lack of desire. The only vampire film I ever enjoyed was Andy Warhol's Dracula (which is actually Paul Morrisey's Andy Warhol's Dracula, but I won't belabour that.)

After a recent Pride reading, however, I was approached by an attractive young man. He complimented me (I like being complimented by attractive young men) and said he'd just published his first novel, a supernatural fiction story. I said I would read it. (Yup, that's all it takes, Sorry.) Happily, surprisingly, I enjoyed it. In the hands of a born storyteller like Christian Baines--especially one with such a wickedly subversive wit--I suspect any story would come alive.

Baines' book gives credence to my theory that genre is the new playground of the literary imagination. (Nothing truly new, of course: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a great novel and was so long before we knew there were genres.) Likewise, The Beast Without is sexy, sassy and fun. The story never flags as we follow Reylan, an "out" Blood Shade, as he roams Sydney's gay community.

Ironically, Reylan unintentionally finds himself attracted to a closeted, homophobic werewolf named Jurgas whom he has vowed to kill. What's a boy to do, even if he's 153 years old? The tension and intrigue just keep ratcheting up. Kudos to a new writer who will leave his marks on the publishing world, if not on your neck. If genre fiction is in the hands of writers like this then long live the new genre. No stake through the heart can put an end to it.


This year's Pride was one of my most enjoyable ever. I watched Sunday's parade with Susan G Cole of NOW Magazine, and my young friend James, who I met through Supporting Our Youth (SOY), an LGBT youth mentoring program run by the Sherbourne Health Centre. Both Susan and I recalled the first Toronto Pride in 1981 (I still have the orange souvenir invitation), while James enjoyed his first ever this year. (He really scored big on the souvenirs tossed from the various floats.)

Earlier, I read at the Proud Voices Program hosted by Glad Day Bookshop, the worlds oldest--and best!--LGBT bookstore, alongside Liz Bugg, Cathi Bond and JP Laroque. Some terrific readers, let me tell you! The event was hosted by the charming Michael Erickson, one of the store's new owners. I read from my Lambda Award winning novel, Lake On The Mountain (Dundurn), and followed it with a snippet from the sequel, Pumpkin Eater, due next spring.

Please -- if you're a fan of LGBT writing -- remember to support the store. They deserve it and need it now more than ever.

Here's to next year's World Pride! Cheers, Queers!


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