Y'all! I'd like to introduce Shira Glassman to you. :D
Hey there! Tell us a little about yourself — why did you start writing? What do you love to read?
I'm a violinist, and I'm a woman who loves stories. I adore vintage whodunits with outlandish solutions and intellectual detectives who are slightly detached from the mystery itself -- I own nearly everything Dame Agatha Christie ever wrote, and I also love Doyle, Asimov's little short-story mysteries, and was blown away by Sayers' Gaudy Night. (Whodunit and feminist romance in the same place? YES, PLEASE.) But I also love the richness of Watership Down, the suspense, Nazi-fighting, scheming, and twists of The Odessa File, and principles and older man-younger woman dynamic of Jane Eyre.
I write because I love to make up new things. When I love something, I want to roll around in it, and writing is the best way I can think of to do that. When I hate something, I want to soothe myself, so sometimes I can think of a way to "fix it" in my writing. I also write because there are stories I wish existed, but they don't already. I want to see same-sex couples getting to be dignified and beautiful in fantasy stories or historical settings like opposite-sex couples do, with a BBC piano soundtrack in the background or a Rogers and Hammerstein score. I want to see the older, fatter, bearded man get the girl because I'm tired of feeling even gayer than I already am when I read or watch heterosexual love stories--the man is inevitably never my type.
What was the inspiration for The Second Mango? Why did you choose that title?
Driving in my car one day, Michael Kamen's main title music for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves came on the stereo. I immediately pictured a blonde woman on a horse, riding a galloping horse toward another woman, who was tied up in a tent and needed rescuing. I didn't know who they were, other that initially, they were supposed to be into each other. It was only years later, when I was thinking about the way straight women often cross-dress in historical fiction or fantasy for reasons other than gender identity, that I realized that it would be really interesting to show someone like that interacting with a real live lesbian, as opposed to the "oh, whoops, I didn't realize you weren't a boy!" romances they sometimes wind up in. Having them not be a couple meant that I needed to go in search of another lesbian or bisexual woman for the gay one to snuggle with--so that meant, so did they!
Also, I grew up feeling very protective of dragons because of being inundated with fairy-tales where they were the very maligned bad-guys. My dragon is the dragon I've loved all my life.
The title refers to a scene in Chapter Three where the queen gives her new bodyguard one of the mangoes she had initially bought for herself at the market. It's a symbol of both of them opening up to each other--these two very different women who both badly need friends they can feel are family.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I used to want to write film scores. Writing these Mango novels seems to scratch that itch, though.
What's up next for you? What are you writing now?
I finished the first two books in the Mangoverse series before making my initial pitch, so I need to get book two, Climbing the Date Palm, cleaned up for my official submission. It's a rescue story, where Queen Shulamit And Crew help a male/male couple who have gotten embroiled in a labor rights nightmare--workers not being properly paid, etc. I've also started a third book in the series, so that's what I'm working on right now. It's a whodunit about a series of thefts, with the queen as detective.
I'm not really into dessert in general, but I do want to give a gigantic shout-out to Gville Sweets, a local baker who's got lovely gluten-free raspberry cheesecake bites (they're shaped kind of like cupcakes or tarts, and that's just about as much sweet-at-once as I can handle.) I'm notorious for turning up my nose at sweets -- usually preferring something along the lines of lambchops or raw arugula -- but from the first moment I sank my teeth into the sweet, tangy, rich little morsel I longed to give one to my protagonist, who can't eat wheat. We'd bought them for my spouse, on whom my protagonist's digestive problem is based, but I loved them so much that I went back to the store the next day and bought myself a package just for myself, so I wouldn't feel like I was stealing her sweets! I contacted the man behind the magic and let him know he has the endorsement of a fictional character, and I'm going to see if I can finagle our tables to be close together at Pride (although that's unlikely, because the food is usually all in the same place.)
How can we find you?
http://shiraglassman.wordpress.com author blog - so far it's been all Mangoverse content without filler
http://shiraglassman.tumblr.com - Mangoverse content plus intersectional feminism, dragons, LGBTQ rights, and the occasional "delicious older man alert, woo!" post.
Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she's also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she's the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody think she's faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.
Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that's okay -- Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior's willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.