Many of us who go to Saints and Sinners leave it with a feeling of euphoria. For a few days, we get to interact with old and dear friends, listen to people talk and join in conversations about what we love passionately–writing and books, and we get to find new writers, new friends, and new restaurants (it IS New Orleans, after all). Some of us hear our fears expressed and addressed. Some of us come away with new ideas for invigorating our careers and honing our craft. We reflect and talk about it for days afterward, relive stories and jokes with one another and on our social media sites, and most of all, we remember why we love what we do even though it seldom brings us those tangible rewards by which the larger society measures success.
For me, one of the brightest points of the weekend was getting to meet an author whose works I’ve read since I first “discovered” a genre of fiction I’d known nothing about. Through the years, I’ve cherished each work from his backlist that I could get my hands on, or I eagerly purchased any new work as soon as it was published. It has been one of the greatest honors to work, alongside Timothy J. Lambert, with Andrew Holleran on some of his short fiction, and to have my name as editor on covers of anthologies that contain his stories.
I’m sure you’ll understand why my heart overflowed when I handed him one of my favorite books–a little battered and discolored by age and multiple readings, to sign:
and later read his inscription:
When I think of those early years of reading gay-themed books while some beloved friends slipped away from this world–oftentimes titles recommended by those very friends–I never, ever envisioned such a thing.
When I get disheartened–or even when my heart breaks again–I remember all of this, square my shoulders, and go forward. Sometimes the surprises the future holds are better than anything we could have dreamed.