In an event billed as Queer Love Stories Rowan Hisayo Buchanan and Yelena Moskovich discuss their latest novels at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The event is chaired by author Helen McClory and begins in typical Book Festival fashion with a reading from both authors. Hisayo Buchanan begins by reading three short sections from her latest book Starling Days. Here we set the scene and discover that mental health and sexuality are two of the major themes that she covers. During the third section we see how a platonic relationship can sometimes transform into something else and the words and language used fully display the nuance and subtlety that goes into these difficult situations.
Yelena Moskovich reads two sections from her new novel Virtuoso. The second section features a lesbian online chat room where an American mid-west teenager is texting with an older Slovakian housewife. Later in the event we learn that Moskovich has a background in playwriting and this is evident in the reading. The voices of the characters are distinct and clear. They speak in bold tones and authentically capture the differences in language and culture of the people she writes about.
When asked if her work is autobiographical Hisayo Buchanan states that “sometimes something happens in my life and I put this in a novel, but my work is definitely fiction.” She does go on say that sexuality and mental health is part of everyday life for most people, so it is of no surprise that Starling Days covers both these topics. Bisexual representation is also discussed. Hisayo Buchanan is well aware of bi-erasure and how bisexual people can be misrepresented as greedy or indecisive. The author is more concerned about showing proud bisexual characters who own their identity and express this through language and attitude.
The event has a relaxed tone where both writers are open about discussing sexuality and representation. Moskovich states that she writes “stories about queer women who do not necessarily fit into the society that they are born into.” The author describes her book as having a ‘surrealist’ format and this has allowed her to open up the storytelling to new possibilities and showcase these subversive characters. With both books the authors have created two exciting queer novels that take atypical perspectives on love and identity underlining why these stories need to be written and read.