**TCO is excited to welcome Hans Hirschi to the blog, for the GRL Blog Tour. GRL is just a few weeks away, and we are super excited to see everyone again, and meet all the new peeps! Reading Hans’ post, it looks like he has enjoyed GRL since his first time. The countdown really has begun!**
And so it begins, the countdown to GRL…
First of all, a big thank you for hosting the GRL blog tour and for providing me with an opportunity to reach out to your readers. It’s greatly appreciated.
One of the saddest things I’ve done, every year since 2014, is the brunch on Sunday morning, heralding the end of GRL, or GayRomLit, as it spells out. I know, ridiculous, right, but taking leave of my chosen family is getting harder and harder, every time.
That Sunday in October is also when I begin to look forward to the coming year, and ever since I left Kansas City, I’ve been secretly planning for Denver. In a way, after GRL is before GRL, that’s how good it is… So what’s so special about GRL? Allow me to regress a bit, all the way back to 2014, in late July.
My Twitter friend and author Wade Kelly had just returned from Tampa and RainbowCon. I was in my second year as an LGBT author and had – very me – no clue about conventions.
I mean, why would any reader want to meet with authors, right? Words like “fan-girling” hadn’t entered my brain and at the time, I’d have waved it off as mere nonsense, a fantasy of a “twisted” author mind at best.
Alas, Wade told me about this con she’d been to and how much fun she’d had. But Wade also added that the con of cons was GRL, which was to take place in Chicago that year. GR-what?
Wade explained and added, sheepishly, that I’d miss it, because all author spots had sold out in a record 180 seconds. But that I should contact them anyway. One never knew, right? I did. Btw, I’ve since met Wade, and she is a hoot, a great friend and an amazing writer.
A thousand sponsor dollars later, I had secured a spot at my very first GRL in Chicago, which coincidentally was during the very height of the M/M craze. People were nuts and publishers were spending big bucks on sponsoring the event, more than one of them no longer among us… I’ve been sponsoring the event ever since, not because I have to, but because the organizers do such an amazing job at creating a safe and fun environment for all of us to meet and share our love of books.
Back then, I didn’t know about the Facebook group, I didn’t know about the costume party on Saturday, or anything else for that matter. I arrived in Chicago like a newborn baby, a blank slate. The first people I met were two fierce Icelandic ladies, Viking valkyries of sorts, author Erica Pike and her best friend Þóra who registered me, gave my my program & badge, and yeah, since they were fellow members of the Nordic cultural sphere, I instantly felt at ease. Later that same day, some lady from Mississippi invited me to her suite for drinks, and despite being ridiculously scared of meeting my demise at the hand of some axe carrying lunatic with every corner I took walking down the hexagonal corridors of the convention hotel, Helen turned out to be another great friend, completely sans axe, and so was her room mate, author Bru Baker. After that first night, it was smooth sailing for me, and for every year that I’ve returned to GRL, traveling from Sweden to San Diego and Kansas City, I’ve made more friends, and some I’ve really grown close to.
I can’t wait to return and see my chosen family in Denver. I may not be the typical GRL author (since I don’t write romance), but I feel welcome nonetheless. There’s plenty of room under the rainbow. I understand that many newbies are apprehensive and “scared”, particularly the so called introverts, but trust me, you needn’t be. We are a friendly crowd. And if you allow me, let me give you just a couple of tips:
- Join the Facebook group. You’ll get all the information in a timely fashion plus you’ll get to know some people way before you arrive in Denver. There’s information on room sharing, ride sharing, book pre-orders and what not.
- Consider dressing up for the Saturday night party. It is a I had no idea there was a costume party on Saturday when I got to Chicago and totally missed out. I epically made up for it the year after!
- Books: Most publishers and many authors will have pre-orders available. It’s usually cheaper to buy than on site plus you’ll be guaranteed to get the books you want. They have a tendency to sell out otherwise. If you prefer ebooks, worry not. Many will have discounts available for you. But do make space to buy at least a couple of paperbacks from your favorite authors to sign as keepsakes.
As I write this post, I’m less than a week away from my spring release of Last Winter’s Snow, a novel about recent Swedish LGBT history viewed from one couple’s perspective. It’s also a story about being a double outsider, with Nilas being Sami and his husband Casper having been raised in an evangelical congregation. How they deal with that is what this story is all about, set against the backdrop of the past thirty-odd years. I hope you’ll consider Last Winter’s Snow as one of your GRL reads.
I also try to have a fall release, in time for GRL. I’ve begun writing it, but it’s far from finished, which makes it a bit odd to talk about. But you can rest assured that whatever it will be called when finished, it will do the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings justice!
I look forward to seeing you there. I’m easy to find in the book seller room.
- The Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings making an appearance at GRL in San Diego.
- Author Hans M Hirschi