It’s been a week!
I’ve been busy prepping The Eighties for release and making tshirts for this year’s pride March in Rome. And working my actual paid job.
the tshirts became a tradition a couple of years ago when a bunch of my friends, most of whom live in the same part of Rome, decided we needed to have a bit more fun with Pride and represent our part of town which is kind of… um… edgy by Rome standards.
Rome has eased some COVID19 restrictions but whether there’s an actual march that takes place is still up in the air. If it goes ahead expect to see lots of posts on social media next weekend.
Happy pride if you’re able to celebrate it wherever you are.
Things have changed now.
More and more LGBTQI artists are breaking out of the niche and going wide.
We need only look at Lil Nas and how he’s expressing himself on his own terms (and on a pole) and clocking up the hits as he does it for proof.
But pop culture junkies of the eighties and nineties that wanted a bit more Queer in their diets often had to do a fair bit of projecting or reading between the lines to find it.
It wasn’t all Bravo channels and Queer eyes for straight eyes back then. The queer community and its allies really battled to make headway at a time when identifying as anything other than straight wasn’t cause for celebration.
It’s a shame more artists weren’t free to be themselves back then. But that is what gave me the idea to write Vinyl Tiger in the first place.
Alekzandr - the Vinyl Tiger - is one part (my) alter ego and the rest liberal dashes of the greatest artists that emerged from that era.
I thought it would be really cool to reimagine what pop could’ve looked like if Alekzandr had existed (even if he wasn’t a particularly good singer or natural musician).
Imagining all of that also meant taking a bit of a risk and writing a story that is part novel and part fake celebrity biography.
At times it mixes and merges and you have to wade through what’s PR, what’s tabloid and what’s “real”.
The Second Edition of Vinyl Tiger explores Alekzandr’s life on and off stage over three decades, and is full of pop culture references.
The Eighties (volume 1 of the Vinyl Tiger second edition) is already available for preorder on Amazon Kindle and will ship on the 21st June.
The Nineties and The Noughties will be arriving shortly.
Vinyl Tiger is pop fiction.
So go ahead and download a decade.
Back in 2015 I set out to write and publish my own #indie novel - Vinyl Tiger.
Pretty much anyone who has gone down that route will tell you the same thing about their first time self publishing. That it was exciting, nerve racking and a huge learning curve full of mistakes, I mean, milestones.
It was no different for me. I made mistake after mistake "learning on the job" but I was also quite humbled by the huge support I received for my little indie project. But even after receiving complementary reviews and reasonably good interest, something wasn't sitting right with me.
I of course just continued to write, watching as we, as a collective, grappled with huge cultural and social reckonings.
At its heart, Vinyl Tiger is principally a story about popular culture - and the lack of LGBTQ icons in the eighties and nineties. Since then of course, we've made great strides; LGBTQ artists are breaking down barriers, movements like #metoo have provoked fundamental shifts and "identity" has never been part of the conversation as much as it is today. Knowing all of this, a seed planted itself in my mind, wondering whether my little indie novel needed to somehow reflect this.
Six years on, with another novel in the can, I made another realisation; that my writing style has changed. As with any skill, the more you do something, the more you bring to it.
Writing is no exception.
When I originally wrote my novel, I knew I did all the things an #indie writer is supposed to; tap into the wisdom of BETA readers, hire a great editor, and be prepared to do revision after revision.
But now, with thousands of extra hours of practice, and thousands of hours of even more reading, I knew I was capable of doing better.
I suppose I could've let things lie and just moved onto another project, but the freedom of self publishing and my belief in the original story led me to revisit it with fresh eyes.
Ruthless editing, rewrites and new bouts of research to revisit some of the references in the book took up weeks and months of my time, forcing me to look at my work critically. The upside was that doing so also gave me the opportunity to fall in love with the story again (and to indulge in some eighties and nineties nostalgia; the perfect tonic for COVID and all its restrictions).
So, here I am again, almost six years later, with a story that I can stand behind, and the knowledge that it's now in the best shape that I'm capable of putting it in. What happens from here, I'm not sure. But that's the other great thing about self publishing. The parametres of a successful project boil down to the author. In my case, I want to know that I've written a great story that people will enjoy and that I can take some comfort in knowing that I gave it my all. Anything else is a bonus.
Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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