The LGBTQ Fiction project on Crossin(G)enres is focusing on fine art for the next two weeks. What does it mean to create works of art and to write about works of art?

I’m featuring Artemis Shishir today, a young transgender man who’s polishing his short-story skills as a member of our project. Artemis consistently delivers quality fiction that gives us all a peek into what it’s like to grow up LGBTQ in India. His strong suite is children’s fiction, but be warned; this story is not suitable for children or for anyone struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. It’s a raw and searing plunge into the soul of a teenager giving in to despair.

But you know what, Ma? I can’t pretend to be what I am not anymore. It hurts. It hurts so much I want to throw up out of sadness. I’m looking at the easel standing by the window, the picture of a colourful bird flying up into aquamarine sky to tear through the silver clouds. I always wanted to fly like that.

Artemis’s story counts as a work of art for me, but it’s not part of our “Work of Art” short fiction challenge. We have two submissions there so far, starting with my own (James Finn). I’ve penned a sensual tale of artistic obsession — about the creation of sublime and powerful beauty. Can human love survive artistic hubris?

Timothy clutched Fred under the blankets, folding him into a hot embrace, breathing him in, a tendril of sickness corkscrewing up his nostrils. He always knew when it was getting bad. He could always smell it before Fred admitted anything.

Esther Spurrill-Jones penned her own veritable work of art for the “Work of Art” challenge, an evocative blend of poetry and prose that demands to be read aloud. In some ways, her story acts as counterpoint to my own, incarnating pure art that enables love rather than spoiling it.

A rhythm, a pulse within the blood, hearts keeping time with a primal beat. Bodies moving as one, dancing to a music old as time. Breath and voice join together, singing a deep chant of rapturous bliss.

Alex David Bevan is back! He’s restarting a novel project that gives us all a hard, close look at the lives of LGBTQ young people in the American heartland. Literary fashion today demands that we tell stories that treat gay men and lesbians as largely equal and ordinary. That’s not how many of us experience our lives, though. Alex is telling our story. For us.

The house felt like a convention of cows wearing black suits and dresses. They feigned mooed condolences for Matt and the rest of the Raene family. Matt was remembering why he’d left. He quickly swam through the sea of cheap polyester and made his way to the back porch.

Gloria Bates has another chapter for us! Square and Shug are back, and things are looking pretty difficult for them. Separation is the title of this chapter. I’m worried for them, though I’m not sure if I need to be. If you haven’t read any of this gritty piece yet, now’s a great time to start. Take a look at this short chapter and then hit the links at the bottom to start from the beginning!

Hours later, just as the night receded, Square brought her bike down the hill, her eyes hanging heavy, her fists white-knuckled on the handlebars. She’d promised to keep Shug safe. She wheeled the bike at a limping pace into another strange man’s driveway. Shug got off, took a look at Square. Opened her mouth as if to say something, then seemed to decide better.

Speaking of gritty, David Wade Chambers and his writing partner just published chapter 6 of an illustrated novel of small city life in middle America. Each chapter is its own rich work and can be read on its own, but through the collection runs a vein of a larger, connected tale — one of gay men, S&M, serial killers, and the police who may or may not care to investigate.

On this occasion something in the back of his mind niggled on a small detail in the Nathan murder case: Nathan’s friend Toehring’s insistence on the possibility of a serial killer stalking the gay community. It was of course a ludicrous suggestion on the face of it. And yet there had indeed been three unsolved murders in recent years.

My novel of love, romance, mystery, and adventure in Cold War Berlin is hitting an exciting place. A young American Air Force intelligence officer is about to smuggle the son of a senior Soviet general out of Germany. Why? They happen to be in love, not they’ve admitted it to each other; but much, much more is going on than that. Check this chapter out! No spoilers. If you like it, it’s easy to start at the beginning and speed right through.

Ian jumped out of bed the morning after his conference with his friends, pumped with energy knowing they were with him and ready to help. He smiled remembering Dima’s drunken affection on the phone. Even if it had been vodka fueling his sexy declarations, well, in vino veritas.

That’s what we’ve got for you this week. I hope you enjoy your weekend and set a little of it aside for reading. We’ll be busy all week thinking and writing about art. Keep your eyes open for more of our stories!

See you next Friday,

— Jim