by Alexander InglisIt’s not every day that you wake up one morning and say: “Why don’t I start a mystery publishing house?” It was almost like that with ReQueered Tales, an indie publisher of LGBTQ fiction started in the early spring of 2019. Three online friends – we’ve still never met in person – chatting in a Facebook gay mystery group were bemoaning the number of gay mystery novels that had slipped out of print. After some due diligence, ReQueered Tales was born.
In the 18 months since, we have published about two books a month. These include Grant Michaels’ Stan Kraychik series, set in Boston. Stan is a hairdresser at Snips Salon but he gets into the hair of more than his clients; he has a Jessica Fletcher tendency to trip over dead bodies. The adventures are zany, the dialogue snappy; the stories and writing style will keep you laughing and turning pages (or tapping screens as this series is ebook only). A Body to Dye For is the debut novel (watch for a KRL review soon). Stan’s client is found dead wearing nothing but bowties. In search of clues (and always on the lookout for love), Stan travels to Yosemite and encounters suspects on the lam. Returning to Boston, he tangles again with gruff-and-hunky Lieutenant Branco of the Boston PD Homicide Division, a recurring relationship in the series. A cozy mystery series, but a cut above. there is occasional genuine pathos and filling out of the main characters making these not only fun-filled plots but good reads in their own right. It’s no wonder every single book in the series was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Men’s Fiction.
More mysteries followed: Lev Raphael’s Nick Hoffman is a professor at State University of Michigan and, along with his life partner Stefan Borowski, also a professor on campus. Nick battles academic life and also manages to stumble over bodies, including a rival professor in the first novel, Let’s Get Criminal. The LA Times called the series, “Clever and sharp social satire,” the San-Diego Union Tribune raved “a witty and devastating backstage view of college life.” Full of quotes from movies and literature, Nick’s desire to have a nice nesting relationship with Stefan is punctured when Stefan is suspected of the murder; even Nick briefly has his doubts as family secrets leak out. These are witty, satisfying reads leaving you wanting more. Happily, The Edith Wharton Murders (find KRL’s interview and giveaway up this week on KRL News and Reviews) followed in June and The Death of a Constant Lover arrives this fall.
It was particularly gratifying to offer a contract to our first African-American lesbian author, Nikki Baker, who created the earliest black lesbian sleuth in the early 1990s. Virginia Kelly is a financial analyst in Chicago dealing with relationships, everyday life and the occasional body in the alley behind a bar or on the beach. The Lavender House Murder is set in Provincetown, at a lesbian guest house. Ginny and her friend Naomi are there to hang out, enjoy the women, sand and sun. The characters are real, the conflicts convincing and the plotting entertaining.
And then something marvelous happened: Justene, a lawyer in LA, Matt, a librarian in Grand Rapids and me, a retired telecoms exec in Toronto, realized we had a tiger by the tail. There’s a real dearth of outstanding LGBTQ fiction that deserves to be read by a new generation of readers as well as by old friends. Our project caught the attention of Felice Picano and soon a contract was signed to bring out new editions of three of his most celebrated novels from the mid-1990s. Like People in History won the Ferro-Grumley award for Best Novel; it was the author’s ninth novel. He’d had three best seller thriller mysteries before he consciously decided to write “gay” novels and hit the ground with his smash success The Lure. Set in New York, a cop is offered as bait to catch a serial killer. Like People in History, however, is a wonderful sprawling epic following two cousins from childhood in the 1950s, to the ACT UP protests against AIDS in the New York of the 1990s. Picano has a gentle style; it’s hard not to fall in love with the characters, even those who “done wrong.” Completely believable, sometimes over the top, and heart-breaking, too.
Suddenly, we had parallel tracks: genre mystery and general/literary fiction, too. That provided an opportunity to bring out some books in print, as well as expand our ebooks to more platforms such as Kobo, Nook and Apple (and Overdrive for libraries). Most of our mystery series are on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited (subscribers read for “free”). Many of our other titles in print editions are available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and indie shops, too, like Powell’s. We’ve released 30 books so far, including a couple of original works; we have a publishing schedule taking us through 2022 and have 20 authors or estates under contract.
And we’re about to step up our game again. This month, John Morgan Wilson’s series character Benjamin Justice is back in the debut novel, Simple Justice, which won the author the coveted Edgar Award presented by Mystery Writers of America. In a revised 25th Anniversary edition, a foreword is included by Christopher Rice. Pre-order now for the Sep 15 release in ebook format; a print edition from all the usual suspects is available, too.
If you’d like to learn more, please visit www.requeeredtales.com and explore our existing and forthcoming titles. A PDF catalog of both print and ebooks is available for downloading.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week!