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December 13, 2016

Book Notes - Sassafras Lowrey "A Little Queermas Carol"

A Little Queermas Carol

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Sassafras Lowrey's A Little Queermas Carol is an inventive queer and leather retelling of the classic holiday tale from one of our most imaginative storytellers.

Michael Thomas Ford wrote of the book:

"Like the best Christmas gifts, Sassafras Lowrey's fantasia of a story is delightful, heartfelt, and exactly what you were hoping for, even if you didn’t know it. Ze has created the perfect queer holiday stocking stuffer for everyone on your list, whether they’re naughty, nice, or something in between."

In her own words, here is Sassafras Lowrey's Book Notes music playlist for her novella A Little Queermas Carol:

"Carousel" (Melanie Martinez)
I've recently discovered Melanie Martinez's music. Her work, especially the Crybaby album is very dark, but also rich with ageplay (a type of leather dynamic between consenting adults) and daddy/girl themes and energy. One of the things I really wanted to do with this story was to write an ageplay romance that wasn't erotic (because there aren't a whole lot of those on bookstore shelves) but the world I live in is full of them. I also didn't want to write a sickeningly sweet story, I needed it to be compelling and complicated which is what Melanie Martinez's music does too. I actually discovered her work during the editing process, and listened to it a lot while doing final edits on the novella.

"Not Ready To Make Nice" (Dixie Chicks)
There is a lot of anger in this book from the character of Ebe who is hurt, and lost, and trying to make sense of their world and what they want. This is a pissed off, fuck you song, and it reminds me a bit of the stubborn frustration and anger that Ebe feels at the world, and at so much of their community.

"What's This?" (Nightmare Before Christmas)
Christmas is hella haunted and really complicated for lots of people. I myself used to hate Christmas, it was all trauma and family violence and upsetting memories. Over the years I've reclaimed Christmas, queered it, and now it's one of the most important times of the year for me. Nightmare is such a fun and strangely dark Christmas film, when I went to write my own dark Christmas story I thought a lot of this film. While writing I felt myself tying to invoke some similar feelings in this story — and this song which is all about Jack discovering the magic of Christmas makes me think of what might be up next for Ebe…

"Untouchable Face" (Ani Difranco)
Hard to write about characters that lived through queer/dyke community in the '90s/'00s without including one Ani song. It was hard to pick just one! I ended up with this one because it is heartbreaking and speaks to the self sabotaging nature and rage Ebe experiences, and the way they close themselves off from others and seek out heartbreak from past, present, (and maybe future) relationships.

"Two Poor Kids" (Ruth B)
Ruth B's music reminds me a lot of so many of my characters (not only because *right* after the release of my novel Lost Boi she released a song also about Peter Pan entitled "Lost Boys"). I like this song in particular because of the tender romance on the margins - which reminds me a lot of the relationship between Ebe and Marley and the world that they built for each other.

"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"
This classic Christmas song carries a couple of different meanings in the book, and is actually quoted at points. This is a book of little identified (a type of BDSM/leather role part of age play dynamics) characters working on figuring themselves out, especially Ebe as they process their panic, passion, fear, and desires. I love this Christmas carol, and it make a lot of sense to incorporate it into the novella.

"Ragdoll Princes Junkyard Queens" (Antje Duvekot)
A romantic song about the worlds we build on the margins. It's a playful song of loss, and longing and the chase that reminds me a lot of the characters in Queermas Carol. In particular it invokes so much of the magic and pleasant hurt inherent in the worlds they build, and the tangle of romance and longing.

"Little Revolution" (Amy Ray)
This queer/punk/country love song reminds me so much of the Daddy character in this novella, Freddie. Freddie is this really confident, collected and passionate character who cares deeply for hys girl Olivia and for Ebe and wanting to bring them into their family. So much of Ebe's anxiety is caught up in the ideas of not being radical enough, or constantly needing to prove how committed they are to the progressive revolution in all its iterations. This song is a great reminder of the revolutionary importance of queer love, a lesson Ebe is working on learning in this story.

"Weak In The Knees" (Serena Ryder)
Every time I hear this song it makes me think of the kind of BDSM power exchange that is central to this story. Eve wants so desperately to surrender, to be on their knees before Freddie and yet, they struggle through the book to let themselves go to that place. This song captures so much of the internal struggle that permeates the book.

"I Just Want To Hang Out With You" (Mary Lambert)
This is for sure a song for the character of Cratchet and his dog Tiny. I adore this song — the fact that it's recorded by a queer fat femme? Even better. Seriously though, this song which launched with a music video filled with adorable dogs makes me think a lot of the quiet character Cratchet whose life revolves around caring for his little dog Tiny.

"Leather" (Tori Amos)
Cheesy? Yes, obviously, but I couldn't resist adding this song to the playlist. It's a song of uncertainty, of love and fear and of course, leather. Probably every kinky person is groaning here, but one of the things I wanted to do with this story was not only write a Christmas story by/for us, but also not allow myself to take any of us too seriously.

"Island Of Misfit Toys" (Rudolph)
I don't know any Christmas celebrating person who doesn't feel some amount of solidarity with this song and the misfit toys that have been forgotten and abandoned. Abandonment and banding together to build our own communities and families is a big theme in my book-so I just had to include this song. Also evidently this song isn't on Spotify - annoying. You can watch it online here or just watch the whole movie, it's worth it.


"Estrofemme" (Tribe 8) - why isn't this on Spotify?!?? You can listen to it on YouTube. This is the kind of badass femme anthem that I can totally see Ebe and Marley having blasted while working on the free paper, and zines!

Sassafras Lowrey and A Little Queermas Carol links:

the author's website

Happy Ever After interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Lost Boi
The Passion and Soul Podcast interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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