HISTORY OF PUBLISHING PRIDE:
By Lisa C. Moore
Publications is the leading, largestand oldestpublisher
devoted to books by, for, and about lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and
transgendered people. Their audience is comprised of all ages, from
children to adults. There are three Alyson imprints: Alyson Books,
Advocate Books and Alyson Wonderland. Advocate Books, which publishes
about two titles a year, also has a series called Advocate Life Stories.
Recent titles were Hero of Flight 93 (about Mark Binghams
Sept. 11, 2001 attempt to disarm the hijackers of that Pennsylvania
flight) and Outlaw, about gay fiction pioneer John
Rechy. Upcoming is Center Square, a biography of Paul Lynde.
Publications was started in 1980 in Boston by Sasha Alyson. Alyson,
who also founded Bay Windows (a Boston LGBT newspaper) and
Alyson Adventures (which coordinates LGBT vacations), wrote childrens
books as well. He started Alyson Wonderland, Alysons childrens
book imprint, in 1990 and published five books under his nom de
plume, Johnny Valentine. (You can read more at www.johnnyvalentine.com.)
of the notable teen and childrens Alyson books in the 1980s
were Reflections of a Rock Lobster, One Teenager in Ten,
and the controversial (to the mainstream, at least) Daddys
Roommate and Heather Has Two Mommies. In 1995 Alyson
sold Alyson Publications to Liberation Publications Inc., which
owns the Advocate, Out and HIV+ magazines.
recently spoke with Alyson editor in chief Angela Brown, age 33.
She joined Alysons staff in 1998 as associate editor and became
senior editor in October 2002. Brown edited the series Best Lesbian
Love Stories 2003 and 2004, and the upcoming Mensch: On Being
Jewish and Queer (Spring 2004).
Does being affiliated with LPI help with what you select?
Brown: Since were so connected with Advocate and
Out, its changed a lot of what weve published.
Were really in tune with whats going on in the gay community....
We have our finger on the pulse. We have an inside edge of whats
going on through the magazines.
LBR:Whats Alysons best selling title?
B-Boy Blues by James Earl Hardy.
LBR:What do you think has been the most successful title?
Well, Alysons most important title is The Men With the
Pink Triangle by Heinz Hegger. Its the story of gay men
in Nazi death camps. Its been in print since 1980. Its
an important book, and so little is writtten on the topic. How many
gay books have been in print for 25 years? Another important book
was Keep Singing. It was not an overwhelming financial success,
but it was the story of two women in North Carolina who fought Jesse
Helms. I got so much feedback on that book. It wasnt written
by a gay person, and it affected so many straight readers. It crossed
over a little more than some of our books do.
LBR: What is the best part of your job?
Forging connections with different people. Another thing thats
so great is discovering a really great talent and nurturing that
talent; really seeing a writer grow over his or her career and become
a better writer with each book. Its really amazing to have
a hand in that process. Two that come immediately to mind are Jane
Summers The Silk Road and Ann Wadsworths Light,
Coming Back. My new favorite is Steven Cooper, whose With
You in Spirit is just coming out, followed by Saving Valencia,
in spring 2004. Steven is really a writer to watch out for. Saving
Valencia is a book thats hard to categorize; mystery and
comedy in a sort of Kurt Vonnegutian way. He astounds you with these
beautiful passages out of nowhere. One minute you have chills running
up your spine, the next youre peeing in your pants, youre
laughing so hard!
LBR: What else are you looking forward to?
We have some young adult books coming: Clays Way by
Blair Mastbaum; Young, Gay and Proud, an Alyson classic,
how-to coming out book for teens,which Ive edited for fall
2004, and Not the Only One (short fiction for gay/lesbian
teens) revised and updated by Jane Summer.
LBR: What is your biggest regret?
I wish I had more time to read manuscripts! When I go home I dont
want to read anything! I probably have thirty unread books at home,
but I dont have time.
Moore is the editor of Lambda Book Report.