Today I officially launched my erotic novel, Prairie Gothic: A Tale of the Old Millennium.

A local independent bookstore, the Penny University Bookstore, in the main street in the Cathedral Neighbourhood (the “Greenwich Village” of my small prairie city) offers local authors a chance to hang out on Saturday afternoons and interact with customers, or to plan a more formal event in the evening, which carries a fee because the store owner has to pay her staff extra to work outside of normal business hours. I chose the Saturday-afternoon slot, and I was delighted when a few of my friends showed up. My loyal spouse was there too.

The bookstore owner, who previously ran a downtown coffee shop which occasionally hosted a pop-up bookstore, offered us free tea or coffee. I sat in the comfortable green armchair that I thought of as Author’s Seat, having attended someone else’s book launch several weeks ago. My friends bought copies of Prairie Gothic, I autographed them, and I read the opening scene in Chapter One, which is relatively work-safe. The owner made a video of my reading, and I hope I won’t find it cringe-worthy when I see it.

I really hope that such small, cozy independent bookstores never die out completely, although their numbers have been shrinking for a long time. The convenience of shopping for books (including digital and audio versions) on-line has almost eclipsed the pleasure of shopping for actual books on shelves in stores that host author events and book club meetings. This trend seems parallel to the gradual disappearance of the kind of community-based LGBT bars that I describe in my novel. Now, in the 2020s, people of all sexual flavours seem to find dates on-line, despite the danger involved in meeting total strangers outside a social context of shared work, shared hobbies, political causes, or friends. I’m not sure if recurring lockdowns due to the pandemic have accelerated this process, but I know that many human transactions have been moving on-line since the era of my novel (1999), when communication usually took place in-person.

I hope all you writers here can find a welcoming real-life place to share your writing with actual readers.