Q&A with Allison Moon
The out author talks about her novel Lunatic Fringe, a queer, feminist, paranormal coming-of-age story.
Allison Moon, an entrepreneur, writer and sex educator has recently released her first novel, Lunatic Fringe, a queer, feminist, coming-of-age story about a college girl coming into her sexuality and herself in a paranormal world.
You created a video blog, 90 Days of Self-Publishing, to share your publishing journey of Lunatic Fringe. What was it like being involved in every aspect of creating and releasing your book?
I’m not a control freak, so on one hand, I was eager to work with designers and editors at a traditional publishing house. But choosing to go it on my own was far more enriching. The book feels more “mine” than it likely would have if there were a committee in charge of the cover, the editing, the marketing schedule, and the overall vision. I feel like I have a bigger investment than I would have otherwise and more knowledge of the publishing industry now, because no one is holding my hand through this process or cutting me a paycheck. I am simultaneously an artist and entrepreneur, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How does it feel to finally have your book finished and in reader's hands?
Terrifying. Exhilarating. It’s a strange thing, inviting people you respect to get excited about a work they haven’t actually read yet. Publishing is a long slog. This book is the product of years of work, and for most of that time it’s been begging to get out into the world. I’ve had to exercise patience and temperance. Now that Lunatic Fringe finally has what it wants — a life outside of me — my main goal is to make sure I give it the reach and life it deserves. Plus, having people I respect tell me how much they loved the book is such a thrill!
Lunatic Fringe is described as a queer, feminist werewolf story. Can you tell us more about the book and its protagonist, Lexie Clarion?
Lexie Clarion is a working class girl from the sticks who goes off to college and immediately meets a group of highly-political, highly-educated women who introduce her to radical ideas that she had never before encountered. Much of her journey comes from figuring out where she fits in with the politics of identity and gender, while dealing with some serious outside pressure in the form of werewolves. Lexie is both empowered and trepidatious as she falls in love, explores sex, tries to find acceptance among a group of friends, and learns about her own shady family history. She’s no shrinking violet, but she also has a lot to contend with. That is to say, she’s a normal girl in a paranormal environment.
How similar is Clarion's college coming-of-age story to yours?
It was essential to me that Lexie come into her sexuality with curiosity, but not the angst we so often see in coming out stories. Sure, there are many kids who are horrified by their emerging queer identities or come out in unwelcoming spaces, but there are plenty for whom it’s just another aspect of their personalities. I wanted people to read that kind of story, where the drama comes from the outward threat more than a place of self-loathing. In this way, Lexie and I have a lot in common. When I realized that I was different than my friends, it wasn’t some ghastly epiphany. It was more a “huh, guess I’m gay” thing. That attitude helped keep me healthy as I navigated the politics of a very radical college. I got my ass handed to me intellectually by some very smart activists who put me in my place because I came from a rather sheltered rural upbringing. There are a couple of painfully naive anecdotes from my own life I recreate in Lunatic Fringe, but I’m not going to tell you which ones!
You are also a sex educator and teach classes like "Girl Sex 101." Does your background as a sex educator play into Clarion's story?
My love of sexual politics is one of the biggest inspirations for Lunatic Fringe. Sexual self-expression and sexual health play a direct role in the happiness and emotional stability of a person. The fact that most women live beyond the gender binary of sex and love inspires me as a teacher to speak to the universal experience of female-identification beyond what we have in our pants or who we take to bed. We have the patriarchy to thank for the labels we foist upon each other, and I’d prefer to do away with as much of that as possible. We all have our own sexual journeys that should be honored, and these stories inform much of our lives. Plus, I love talking about sex and I love writing sex scenes!
In your video blog, 90 Days of Self-Publishing, you talked about connecting with sex toy manufacturers to create werewolf sex toys. Is this something that will be offered in your online store soon?
I’ve had some fun promos so far, including a Lunatic Fringe specialty cocktail (you can find the recipe here) and some very sexy tail buttplugs from Crystal Delights. I’ve not yet put my muscle behind getting werewolf sex toys manufactured, but it’s on my list.
At the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer's Retreat this past August you worked on developing your second novel. How many novels can we expect in the Lunatic Fringe series?
My plan is for four books: Lunatic Fringe will carry on into two more books to complete a trilogy, plus a prequel that will dive deeper into Archer’s backstory. I’m a huge comic book fan, so I’d love to see the story continue on in other media like comics, web fiction, and fan fic. (talesofthepack.com)