Jane Fynes- Clinton, Courier-Mail columnist
The blurring of gender lines and exploration of sexual identity issues seem to have attracted more than their share of public attention in recent times. First, there was the media hoohaa over Alex, a 13-year-old girl whom the Family Court gave permission to grow up as a boy. Then reality TV tapped the public’s interest and introduced Miriam, a Mexican female model who grew up as a boy. Even ABC-TV’s Play School has weighed in, with a story about a little girl going on an outing with her two mothers. Author C.C Saint-Clair explores the tetchy notions of transgender and gender identity to the nth degree in Morgan in the Mirror. She puts meat on the bones and a face to the name and gives us a central character so multi-layered, so deep and so real that Saint-Clair succeeds in challenging her audience to rethink, re-evaluate and discover a new level of compassion for those caught in a gender conflict, and those who love them. Saint-Clair’s previous half a dozen novels revolve around lesbian themes. And in exploring transgenderism in this offering, she has retained her brutal, poetic style and integrates compassion for the characters with honest observation. Morgan is a 23-year-old female-to-male transgender engineering student at The University of Queensland. His struggle to explore his gender, discover himself and become the person feels he truly believes he is, is painstakingly described and his relationships profoundly explored. Saint- Clair explores the notion that sexuality is not a fixed state and people are not either/or. Instead, she asserts, genders have “always existed as mere stations along a rich and gloriously multicoloured continuum”. And Morgan in the Mirror makes a compelling argument for this notion. Saint-Clair does not preach or justify and at times the way her storytelling is uncomfortably brutal. The dialogue between the characters of this novel is often confronting and even obscene. Parts of the text are peppered with the F and the C words. This book is not largely for readers who chose to live, eat, breathe and read in the mainstream, but for those who dare to explore. Morgan in the Mirror is certainly erotic, but rather than staying merely with the homosexual activities that so fascinate the heterosexual community, Saint-Clair explores the agony and ecstasy of a character tormented and conflicted by social expectations. The gut-wrenching grief of a family’s love lost plagues Morgan, as does being the constant subject of social revulsion and curiosity. Beyond a pure exploration of the sexuality theme, Saint-Clair also pens a strong storyline, one that stands alone as interesting, well told and well constructed. While the topics tackled in Morgan in the Mirror mean its readership will be largely restricted to those in the gender twilight zone, that would be a pity because Saint-Clair’s treatment of Morgan is so compassionate and complete that this is a book that should be read by parents and friends of anyone questioning their gender identity. Reading this book will certainly bring a deeper understanding of their loved one’s circumstances. You just have to get past the foul language and erotica.
Lisa Lees
The story of Morgan, a young (20’s) trans-man, is told from a number of points of view, including Morgan’s memories. In the present, at the start of the story, Morgan is living stealth, known and accepted as a young man to friends and co-workers. He’s been on T for a while and has recently had top surgery. Set in Australia. I think Morgan is a very believable character. I say that as a trans and genderqueer person who is not FTM. I have known a number of FTM people. I have read many words written by FTM people and heard a number of FTM people speak about their experiences. So, when I say that Morgan is a believable character, it’s in that context. Some people in an online forum have disagreed, but I don’t think any of them had actually read the book. Saint-Clair is an experienced writer of what is called “hot lesbian romance,” but what she writes is very solid novels with well-developed characters that grab your heart and don’t let go. Morgan in the Mirror builds from a previous novel, Far From Maddy, in which the characters of Maddy, Jo and Christen are introduced.
Josie Henley- Einion
C.C. Saint-Clair is known as The Thinking Woman’s Lesbian Romance Writer. However, it would be untruthful to describe this book as a ‘lesbian romance’, not just because the main romance is not lesbian (although there are lesbian characters), but because the style and content of the book does not adhere to the low expectations of the genre. It could best be described as a transman’s coming of age. I’m happy to say that I fail to spot the soft-focus, unrealistic plotlines and lengthy melodramatic speeches so common in trashy romances. The opening scenes are somewhat off-putting, and had I read the first pages in a bookshop I may have decided not to buy, but this is an online only purchase for which a reader takes a risk. I also initially found the style and language difficult but soon acclimatised to Aussie-speak. I’m glad I continued to read as it very quickly draws the reader into the world of Morgan, Christen, Maddy and Jo. This is due to the realism of dialogue, gripping scenes and pure energy in writing. There are times when a self-conscious ‘gritty raw emotion’ style can be just as irritating as the soft-focus type. I think that C.C. manages to keep an edge without going overboard. Like a rare wine, this is one of those books for which it’s worth looking a little bit harder and paying a little bit more.
akibara13
Post subject: All the Book reviews! Its nice to see all the book reviews on Morgan. At least the book is reaching others and gaining the love and respect it deserves. As I am an FtM myself its been my pleasure and joy to help C.C. promote this little gem of a book. All Best Niq
holdquitestill
Post subject: Review of Morgan for your consideration G’day everyone! Here’s another review of Morgan in the Mirror for you to check out. While I didn’t like Morgan as much as North & Left From Here (Take II) (which is a great book ) it still had all the elements of C.C.’s writing that make her so special. I guess what I really appreciated about the book was how Morgan himself was written as a genuine character with faults and foibles just like anyone else, as opposed to the usual method of portraying the ‘different’ character as near- perfect and somehow ‘above’ those who are yet to understand their personal issue, whether that be gender dysphoria or cancer or whatever the subject may be. Morgan is just a regular guy and this really helps to ‘normalise’ the issue of transgenderism and help make him a much more accessible character, which I feel makes the book very successful at both helping to promote understanding and also just making it a better, more believable story. Anyway… here’s a review I wrote for local Australian queer street press, QP (Queensland Pride). Morgan in the Mirror (Originally published in QP: October 2004) C.C.’s previous works focused on lesbian themes and featured intelligent and sensual writing with female characters that are as genuine and real as any you’ll come across in lesbian fiction. But now with Morgan, C.C. is venturing into new territories and dragging a few old friends along for the ride. While still a stand-alone volume, Morgan does feature familiar characters, but this time focusing on Morgan, a 23yo female-to-male transgender. Already firmly identified as a man and well on the way to achieving what he can of the physical transformations, having just undergone a chest reconstruction to remove his breasts, Morgan’s story isn’t so much about initial self-realisation but his coming to terms with being a man and finding where he fits in a world that loves to categorise. Although a work of fiction, C.C. has carefully researched her topic and thus presents to us in the narrative, a lot of information about transgender people. While C.C.’s usually flowing style sometimes does struggle a little with the dialogue of youth, her trademark use of memory and heated sensuality are still apparent and make this novel a very easy introduction into the world of transgender people and also a good read.
Werulegender
I’ve just finished Morgan and, girls, I can tell you that there’s plenty of hot sexual references. The only problem is that they’re all about a straight FTM and a straight lady cop. The good news is that this lady cop is very sexy, and Morgan, as a dyke, early in transition – a flashback moment in the novel – is very cute. And by the time he is 23, we know plenty about him and Christen, we get quite wrapped up in the plot. But, lesbian romance, this novel is not. Now, I read somewhere that CC wrote Morgan as a bridge she intended between the lesbian community and the FTM community because, we, on the whole, don’t know much on the topic of female gender dysphoria and female transgenders. And she’s darn right. I, for one, certainly would never have picked up a documentary or a bio about an FTM. Couldn’t care less, really. But, gee, I really got stuck into C.C’s Morgan story. It pulled me right in and, yet, Morgan comes across as so *male* and so credible and a real good guy. So what I can say is that I don’t think I have any transgender ftms in ‘my’ group of friends and pals back at the local queer pool hall, but if I ever came across one, I’m pretty sure I’d like to be very supportive of that person’s walk in life and that would be mostly thanks to Saint-Clair’s novel. Then again, knowing my luck, it’ll probably be one of these hardcore TGs, like those who don’t want any empathy from a dyke, and who’ll tell me to F off. Still, I’ll take my chances. What really matters is that Saint-Clair’s Morgan is not just a very readable book for us, lesbians, who should often be a lot more aware of the world around us, it’s a very respectful and empowering book that has ‘balls’. I would love to count Morgan among my friends!
By J. Dougherty (PHD)
MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL – WHO IS THE SANEST OF US ALL? Transgender is the fourth component of the LGBTI community and, although it has been brought under this umbrella, the concept – let alone the experience – still triggers fear and intolerance towards transgender people: female to male (FTM) and male to female (MTF). Given the discrimination, and sometimes violence, that many lesbians and gays have experienced, it is ironic and sad that we ourselves display varying degrees of prejudice against bisexual, transgender and intersex people. Saint-Clair, in her latest novel Morgan in the mirror, tackles the important issue of transgenderism. It is an important issue for the health and survival not only of our own community but also of humankind, because transgenderism is part of the global issue of discrimination against ‘the other’, and our survival is based on our ability to become compassionate, accepting human beings capable of caring for each other and, in turn, our planet. I believe Saint-Clair’s novel contributes towards our understanding of ‘the other’, and any knowledge and experience we gain of those who differ from us diminishes our ignorance and its concomitant fear. We have all witnessed recently in Iraq the horrific human, cultural and environmental destruction which has occurred as a consequence of this ‘innate’ fear being fanned into all-consuming violence. Although there is a plethora of information on this subject on the internet, there is little, if any, fictional or imaginative explorations. In Morgan in the mirror, Saint-Clair imagines the mind and psyche of Morgan, an FTM, and her exploration engaged this reader’s interest and compassion. In the prologue, the author sets up an intriguing mystery, which is partly solved for the reader in the first chapter, where the main protagonists are brought together, and their inter-relationships deftly uncovered. Then, in a series of flashbacks interweaved with present moments, Saint-Clair develops the credible character of Morgan the transman – from the little girl who ‘had blurred even before she was old enough to know what she was doing’, to the young man who comes to terms with the question: what is a man? Saint-Clair’s skill in interweaving the personal pronouns ‘she’ and ‘he’, without confusing the reader, is epitomized in this one sentence: ‘Though Jo and Maddy’s cavorting is, indeed, a hilarious sight, their antics have triggered a memory that Morgan thought he had forgotten – that of Dan, his father, bouncing her on his shoulders until, podgy little hands buried in his hair, she’d squeal with delight’. The sensual language (whether describing the delights of flesh, food, flora or fauna) that the reader has come to expect from Saint-Clair’s earlier novels permeates this one also. While all her previous novels have explored erotic, passionate connections between women, Morgan in the mirror expands this sensuality to imagine, not only sexually but also emotionally, what it is like for a woman to become involved in a relationship with a transman. Bringing one or two characters from a previous novel into a current novel is a leitmotif of this author, and I feel I am meeting old friends again. It is also a good technique by which to introduce a new character; for example, Jo and Maddy, the main protagonists in Far from Maddy, now come into Morgan in the mirror as minor characters, while Christen, a minor character in Far from Maddy, now is one of the two main protagonists in Morgan in the mirror. One of the consequences of this continuity is that, as a reader of all of Saint-Clair’s novels and therefore being familiar with the characters, it is somewhat difficult to evaluate whether certain characters are sufficiently developed for a first-time reader to gain a feel for them. However, Jo and Maddy are minor characters in this novel and do not require the same in-depth development which the main characters receive. Saint-Clair has developed a fully-fleshed character in Morgan, building him layer by layer by means of flashbacks to childhood and adolescence, depictions of his current experiences as a young man working on a building site, and expositions of others’ perceptions of him. The character of Christen was introduced in Saint-Clair’s previous novel Far from Maddy, as the heterosexual police officer who searched for the missing Jo, became involved with Maddy, and consequently questioned her sexuality. Christen is well developed in this novel as she struggles with the tension between her feelings for Morgan, and her confusion and prejudice. No matter what subject Saint-Clair chooses in which to envelop her characters – domestic violence, homelessness, ageing, transgenderism – she creates credible lesbian characters and describes them and their passionate connections in sensual, evocative language and imagery. The author explores some of the issues which arise when Morgan and Christen begin to act on their attraction for each other; for example, Morgan’s refusal to allow Christen to touch his cunt while they make love triggers issues of reciprocity and power. How will this affect their relationship in the longer term, if Morgan remains as he is physically, with no breasts and no penis? I found it difficult, initially, to understand Morgan’s revulsion for his female genitalia – he is convinced that his female genitals are ‘one of those horrible mistakes Nature makes occasionally’ – the paradox (or is it?) being that Morgan finds women’s female genitalia attractive. However, after talking with a friend who is post-op MTF, and who had found her male genitalia repulsive, I began to understand – a little. This sensitive exploration of a male psyche within a transitioning female-to-male body will appeal to a wide audience, although some lesbian readers may be put off. However, by not reading this novel, they will miss a very moving story of one person’s journey to self-acceptance, and acceptance by friends and lover. While those who do not have to labour under any of society’s ‘abnormal’ labels still find life extremely painful at times, it is beyond the imaginations of most of us to conceive of the pain and struggles endured by those who differ so much from the ‘norm’. Saint-Clair’s overall positive treatment of Morgan’s journey does not avoid the difficult issues. There is enormous potential here for a further novel to explore the physical, social and legal issues which would arise as Morgan and Christen develop their relationship. I hope there is a sequel to Morgan in the mirror – I can’t wait to read it.
diane wilde
Morgan in the Mirror — Bringing understanding about what it’s like to be more than a butch lesbian, not a lesbian at all, really-instead, a boy stuck inside a girl’s body, longing to pee like a boy, have a penis, get an erection, climax like a man-this book let’s you in the world of becoming a transman-a transgender woman to man-going through the incredible journey from one sex to another, regardless of the emotional and financial costs or the overwhelming medical procedures. The story is told through the eyes of Morgan, a transman living as a man in Australia, Morgan’s best friends, lesbian lovers Jo and Maddy, and Christen, a bi-curious police detective who falls for Morgan. The love and the acceptance that allowed a supposed guy into the closely guarded world of the lesbian couple transcends into even more love and acceptance than before. This book is definitely the read-even if you think you’re not directly connected to the subject, “our survival as a community is based on our ability to become compassionate, accepting human beings capable of caring for each other, even in the absence of understanding.”
Nancy Nangeroni & Gordene O. MacKenzie
Once again we visit with the non-trans author of a book about a novel about a transgender person. This time, the novelist is Australian C.C. Saint-Clair, who is well known for her strong lesbian romance novels ‘for the thinking woman’. Recently, she has become fascinated with female-to-male transsexualism, and her latest work, Morgan in the Mirror, deals with just such a character. It has been well received in FTM circles, and we suspect there may be more to CC’s interest than meets the eye!
scarlet
hey folksyeah, morgan in the mirror was interesting, very interesting. rang some unexpected bells for me. not sure i want to divulge them here ! but suffice to say that the book was very thought provoking. favourite moments: when christen goes round to morgan’s for the first time (v. intense) when morgan loses a personal item on the mountain (v. funny and poignant) worst moment: the build up to morgan’s trouble at work (nightmarish) hope i haven’t given too much away ! scarlet xxxx
houseofmuses
If our survival as a community is based on our ability to become accepting, compassionate human beings capable of caring for each other — even in the absence of understanding — then Saint- Clair tests our readiness by giving us Morgan and the challenge his personal circumstances present to the world. Already a highly recommended book for those interested in Gender Studies and promoted as a must-read on FTM and SOFFA-friendly resources (Significant Others Family and Allies – Australia’s P-FLAG equivalent), Morgan in the Mirror offers an insightful look into the heart and mind of Morgan, a transgender male struggling to define himself as a man and win the heart of Christen, the woman he loves. Gender and sexuality have never been frozen in binary oppositions of each other, but they have always existed as mere stations along a rich and gloriously multicoloured continuum. Christen discovered this truism after her own surprising heart-connection with Maddy, but can she now accept Morgan, her new love interest, as he stands before her at the mid-point of his transgender journey from female to male? Even more poignant and heart-wrenching than Morgan’s personal struggle is the insight into the secret, hidden world of transgender society. The dangers of being revealed as a transgender and harmed by unthinking fools who hate and fear what they do not understand lend an element of fear and survival at all cost to Morgan’s struggles. Paradoxically, a great many fears, hatreds and prejudices about the transgender issue continue to persist even in the gay and lesbian community. This is addressed in my interview this week with C.C. Saint-Clair. While the book made me cry several times, It also has many of the juicy love scenes for which C.C. Saint-Clair is well known. One thing that made it a more personal read is the friendship I share with my childhood friend, Cheryl, who grew up with me in rural western Kentucky. My long brown hair endlessly fascinated her, known then as Charlie. I, the budding lesbian, mistook this for a crush. We laugh at these stories now, many years later. Neither of us realized then, at the tender age of 12, what secrets the other was hiding. Morgan in the Mirror now makes clearer the struggles that all transgenders face. I enjoyed this book and recommend that everyone read it, because all of us could use a little more love, understanding and compassion in our lives.
akibara13
Today I finally finished reading ‘Morgan in the Mirror’. I am so glad that I finally took the time to sit down and read it. From talking to C.C. by mail about the issue of transitionaing, I knew that she was a talented author with a lot to offer the issue at hand that was addressed in this wonderful book. It turned out I only knew a portion of that talent. In this wonderfully realistic story about a young transsexual, or as the character himself puts it a ‘transman’, you follow 23-year-old Morgan. He’s just trying to fit into life and live his life. Naturally there are some hang ups along the way as there usually is in this controversial issue of gender and sex. Some of these hang ups are very familiar for any one who is homosexual or transsexual/transgender. Things as scary and nerve racking as coming out to family, friends, and prospective lovers; being ‘outed’ in the most humiliating way possible; and more. C.C. did a wonderful job at catching the emotions of what it is like to be a ‘transman’. Moreover, she was able to give Morgan such depth and realism that even I, who knew it was fiction, would find myself forgetting he was only a character in a book. I would definitely suggest this book to anyone who looking for realistic novels about transsexuals or anyone who simply would like a good read. I do however feel the need to warn any who may wish to pick this book up to take a read, that it does have adult content in it. Strong language and sexual content are both in here so do be careful. Personally it added to the realism of the book but I know some people don’t go for that sort of thing so I thought I’d warn people just in case. All Best Niq
Trinity
I had heard many forum users talking about a book called Morgan in the Mirror by an author named C.C. Saint-Clair. I heard that the book had to do with FTM (female to male) transgendering and the struggles of it. I just knew i had to read the book due to the feelings i have had throughout life. Due to lack of money and location i was not able to get ahold of the book. My gf provided the book for me and i opened it up immediately after it arrived in the mail. I started reading and got lost (in a good way) in the characters of the book. I had never seen writing that displayed so well how i had felt. Morgan went through so many struggles with FTM and C.C. Saint- Clair did a wonderful job with showing the realistic side of it. She also had three other characters in the book. Jo, Maddy, and Christen. As i read more into the book, i just couldn’t put it down. I read it in one sitting. As Morgan was hurting, i began to feel that hurt, and when Morgan felt triumphant, i felt that way. You see, the character Morgan is so much like me. I felt as if i knew Morgan. C.C.’s writing is fantastic. The way she as a lesbian put so much into that book is truely touching and amazing! She is a great writer and i have continued to read her books. If you haven’t heard of her or read Morgan in the Mirror, you should definitely get the book. It might be fiction and it might also be life changing.Trinity
Jane Fynes- Clinton
Richly Layered Romance that’s Socially Relevant to You and to the Queer Culture. C.C. Saint-Clair asserts genders have “always existed as mere stations along a rich and gloriously multicoloured continuum” and Morgan in the Mirror makes a compelling argument for this notion. Saint-Clair does not preach or justify and at times along the way her storytelling is uncomfortably brutal. The dialogue between the characters of this novel is often confronting. This book is not largely for readers who choose to live, eat, breathe and read in the mainstream, but for those who dare to explore
Pam Harrison
Featured in Out In America English teacher by day, writer of lesbian romance with a definite penchant for social realism by night, C.C. Saint-Clair was born of French parents in Casablanca, Morocco. Saint-Clair is a native French speaker, although she completed her formal education in the United States at The University of Texas, majoring in English literature. She currently lives in Brisbane, Australia, the setting of her second series that kicks off with Risking-me. Saint-Clair loves rollerblading on the bank of the Brisbane River at sunset. She has had seven novels published since 2001. Unlike her character Alex, whose feelings of loss, regret, anger and loneliness have been folding her inwards since separating from her younger lover, Tamara, Saint-Clair is happily settled with her partner of many years. Just returned from a challenging trek inside the jungles of Malaysia, Saint-Clair is currently looking for a producer to take the screenplay adaptation of Morgan in the Mirror to the big screen and in a big way. I have to let you know that I found Morgan in the Mirror very poignant and thought-provoking. All my characters are really close to my heart. Though they are only figments of my imagination, I know that the pain they undergo is a real-life pain and that many thousands of strangers I will never meet are going through a similar sort of pain – be it the agony of an in-love, in-lust pain that Emilie feels in Risking-me, the agony of teenage survivors of incest like Marielle in Jagged Dreams, the pain of an emotionally damaged 22-year-old who ends up blowing a fuse in a major way, or the agony of Morgan’s circumstances. Having said that, Morgan being my latest “baby,” I have had to be much more protective of him than of my other characters, particularly because his personal circumstances often fail to attract sympathy, let alone empathy. You’ve already been dubbed in the course of your career as The Thinking Woman’s Lesbian Romance Novelist, so I felt compelled to create a Thinking Woman’s Interview. Why do you think you have been given this esteemed title? I’d say it might be because of the introspective nature of my main characters. The tag is probably, too, in reference to the fact that, particularly so in the four novels of the Risking-me series, each sensually-charged plot is embedded within an urban tale of emotional survival, providing food for thought along with “food” for the senses. Besides, I find that sensuality, desire, lust, and sometimes even eroticism blend well with plots that are realistic and gritty even if at times confronting. It’s been said you are as passionate about the sensuality of your writing as much as about exposing readers to the emotionally harsh landscape that you believe is the real-life backdrop against which many women have to struggle. For those of us now discovering your books, give us an idea of what types of stories and characters you like to write about, and why? When a reader of romance picks up a novel, she is not in the mood, not at that particular moment, to be exposed to hardcore docu-drama material. But my aim simply being to entertain in a thought-provoking way, I assume that the reader will latch on to the core issue if the plot is honey-coated with moments of vibrant sensuality. For the woman who has suffered in her flesh and mind any aspect of the issues flagged in a particular novel, it is my hope that, as she reads on, she not only relates to my characters’ struggles, but feels that her circumstances have been recognized, and that she turns the last page feeling empowered and perhaps even vindicated. My “heroines,” unlike traditional characters of romance, always rescue themselves. Their quest is emotional fulfilment within their ordinary lives and the irony is that within this simplicity lies the complexity of life and love’s role in defining it. With your most recent book, Morgan in the Mirror, you step out of your comfortable pattern of writing lesbian novels with a common thread to introduce Morgan, a transgender female-to-male struggling with his desire to define himself as a man. What was the inspiration for bringing Morgan into this established series of books to tell his story? It all happened quite accidentally during a dinner conversation with a couple of my friends. At some stage, one of them mentioned a friend of a friend who identified as an FTM. “As a what?” was my immediate question. Ready to embark on another “woman’s” journey, I began research on my new character’s circumstances that same night. As an avowed lesbian who loves women and has no gender dysphoria yourself, writing this book must have been an enormous reach for you. What was the extent of your research required to make Morgan a believable and sympathetic character? The research was necessary for factual information in regards to gender dysphoria, hormone therapy and chest reconstruction. But what I tried to inject into Morgan is empathy born out of an understanding for all “women” who share his station on the gender continuum. For the anecdote: as an avowed lesbian, as you say, one who has only ever loved women from the tender age of 17, raped some three years later, and who has no understanding for the subtleties of heterosexual sex, imagining Morgan’s male, post-transition, sexual moments with Christen in a sexy, sensual way (some have since said erotic) provided me with an unforeseen challenge of ‘lateral’ thinking, to say the least. One lesbian reader wondered why you’d write such a story, and wrote, “A freak is a freak is a freak. A chick who’s not happy even being butch and who wants her bazookas chopped off is a freak.” How would you answer this reader? I was angry, almost spitting chips. On the other hand, I was totally dismayed by this woman’s narrow-mindedness. I actually found it scary. In most of the communities in which we live and work, many of us, lesbians, are still considered freaks. Yes, even if the media talk about same-sex marriage, even if mainstream TV plays Tipping The Velvet and the L Word and even if the once seriously horrifying dildo has become a sex toy. I think it’s safe to say that in our big cities, our towns, big and small, homophobia is alive and well. The term “gay bashing” has not yet become obsolete. And I suspect that anyone’s homophobic actions stem, if not from a streak of stupidity, then from the much-documented, ingrained fear of the unfamiliar. The French say, “One shouldn’t die stupid.” It clearly suggests that what you don’t know about, you can always find out, and be a better person for it. I think it’s a great saying. More kindly, I would also have said that I wrote Morgan mostly for women like her, dykes who make life difficult, some times extremely so, for the FTMs within our queer community – who would, for the most part, simply welcome an ounce of our understanding and a pinch of our friendship. As my mother used to remind me in regards to people I didn’t immediately take to: “You don’t have to marry them, darling, you just have to be nice to them.” If you could sum your message into one sentence, what would that message be? Perhaps simply what I remind myself every morning – that my life has for the most part been safe and comfortable, but how different a person might I have turned out to be if my karma, this time around, had placed me in Jo’s, Jill’s or even Marielle’s moccasins? Even in Morgan’s? Would I have had the strength of character even to want to survive any of their ordeals?” I understand you have already released a second edition of North and Left From Here (Take II). What do you want your readers to know about this latest book? North and Left from Here is where it all began. In a sense, I could say that by now, I am miles away, north and left, from that night early home from The Cage and that (Take II), released only last year, is about having the rare luxury of a second chance to improve on things. I began writing the manuscript here, in Australia, some 10 years ago but left it dormant during the years I lived in Paris. North is a tad autobiographic. Like Alex, at thirty-five and a half, feeling old and ‘past it’, I found myself not just alone, but terribly lonely and terribly … stuck. Flitting back to memorable past relationships only exacerbated my longing for a real-time connection. But there came the day when like Alex I promised myself that I would not succumb to the old habit of relying on quick-fix Band-Aid affair to dig me out of my desert of the heart, emotional rut.