Good morning, all! Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Doreen Perrine, author of Clara's Story - a lesbian romance featuring a New Yorker and an Italian artist, now available from Bedazzled Ink.
Clara's Story, has recently been published through Bedazzled Ink and her novella, Phendar of the Avila, was published on Freya’s Bower. Doreen has also been published in numerous anthologies and literary e-zines including The Copperfield Review, Lacuna, Read These Lips, Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly, Queer and Catholic, Raving Dove, Sinister Wisdom, and Khimairal Ink.
Her short stories will appear in upcoming anthologies Rockets, Swords, and Rainbows and Lesbian Memoirs. Doreen’s plays have been performed at Here Arts Center, WOW, Under St. Marks Theatres, and Manhattan Theatre Source in New York City. Also an artist, she founded a writer’s opportunity where she resides in the Catskills of New York. Doreen’s website address is http://doreenperrine.tripod.com/
by Doreen Perrine
Basically, I started writing Clara's Story, along with the drafts for three other novels, to cheer myself up. I began this novel in 2005 during a soul searching period of underemployment. I had just lost my art teaching job at a time when the arts were being cut across the New York City school system. As an artist who has grown up around musicians this struck me as a wounding blow to that which I’ve devoted so much of my life--the arts. On the brighter side, I had just sold a house before the real estate market crashed. For one of the precious few times in my life, I had “a room of my own.” In other words, I had the luxury of both time and money to devote to an artistic passion I’d never fully explored--my writing.
Clara's Story is at once a lesbian romance and a story that celebrates the families our diverse community is blessed to create. Along with the main character’s coming out as a lesbian, a vital plot point is her reconnection with the gay father her mother shut out of her childhood. Claire’s relationship with her loving father George and his partner Lloyd is on a par with her budding romance with Isabelle. While I am most drawn to writing lesbian romance, love, for me, ought to be treasured in its many facets--romantic, familial, with friends, and in our love for humanity. All are equally valid and coexistent.
A New York tale, Clara's Story depicts a slice of the bustling uptown-downtown life of Manhattan-born, or “townie,” Claire Doral. Interspersed throughout the story is something of the gallery scene I’ve known as an exhibiting artist. Clara's Story also touches on the horror and aftermath of 9/11, which a dear friend, to whom the novel is dedicated in part, survived.
While this story is hardly autobiographical, there are many ties, or what Walt Whitman referred to as “bridges” of “gossamer threads,” to my own story. Both main, lesbian characters emerged out of my subconscious in deeply personal ways. As I protested the war in Iraq, the left-leaning, anti-war views expressed in the story are certainly mine. Claire’s cultural shock in Italy, where “Time seemed to collide with the swift pace of her city mindset,” was also mine.
An Italian artist, Isabelle evolved out of the half year I lived and traveled throughout Italy. I studied art in the same historical setting Isabelle describes from her student days--the studio where Michelangelo and Donatello worked behind the Medici Chapel. Italia, where just walking down the cobblestone streets is an artistic experience, taught me to savor life--as Isabelle does--in each fleeting, spontaneous moment. In keeping with my publisher’s call for stories about quirky characters, I suppose Isabelle and I have that in common, too!
For all of those “bridges,” these characters and I have some important distinctions. Most of my writing, Clara's Story included, surfaces from dreams where I step into the inner worlds of characters who are often quite different from me. Claire is a much more sophisticated urbanite. Although I’m half Italian and was raised Catholic, I have no inside experience of Isabelle’s world as an Italian lesbian. I imagined it as a life fraught with the same gutsy chutzpah with which she survived her troubled childhood. In that sense, I write from what I know about what it means it to break free from the ghosts that might otherwise haunt our happily-ever-afters.
Through my fictional characters, I strive to tell anonymous, or otherwise unspoken, tales that happen all the time with people, like Claire, Isabelle, George, and Lloyd, we might simply pass on the street, the subway, or in a transoceanic flight. Thus, the lives of strangers transform into stories I hope my readers might embrace as something of their own.
Among other things, I wrote Clara's Story to honor our ordinary, everyday moments as part of a bigger and more extraordinary, creative process.
Clara's Story by Doreen Perrine:
Claire’s passion for the New York art scene is overshadowed by her fascination with a quirky—and stunning—Italian artist, Isabelle. The only thing bolder than Isabelle’s paintings is her flirting and, try as she might, Claire can’t shake the charming girl from her mind—and heart. Like a new world explorer, Claire breaks away from a nagging, uptown mother and her nearly-estranged downtown father and journeys across an ocean and cultures in search of life and love.