Read This Year's Best Debut LGBT Fiction
BY Nik Nicholson
June 18 2014 7:30 AM ET
Nik Nicholson's first book, Descendants of Hagar, won this year's Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBT Debut Fiction. The highly anticipated historical fiction novel is the first of two in a series that will see the release of Daughters of Zion, a book about a woman coming to terms with her masculinity, releasing this September. On her website, Nicholson, who works as a writer, painter, poet, and performer, describes her unique writing process of surverying a wide variety of masculine women to form the foundation for the book's main character, Linny.
"I didn't want Linny to be a combination of all my assumptions about masculine women. I don't know of any other book where such a process was used. ... I interviewed more than sixty women who I presumed were lesbians because I'd posted requests for interviews on lesbian sites, but surprisingly the majority were bisexual. This was a constant reminder that gender expression does not denote sexuality."
Though Nicholson interviewed contemporary women, Descendants of Hagar is actually set in 1914. Its synopsis reads: [It's] Zion Georgia, during the Black Codes, when Negroes were lynched for one wrong glance. A time when marriage was an agreement between a woman's father and the man he chose for her. Most women had no romantic interest in their future husbands. In the worst case, they were promised to complete strangers. Madelyn "Linny" Remington is the great-great granddaughter of strong-spirited ex-slave, Miemay, who oversees her rearing. While other women were raised to be broken, Linny was reared to build and repair. ... A secret has Linny slated as her father's favorite son. Until Linny makes a promise that frees her from a conventional woman's role, but the promise also brings shame on her family. Will Linny, threatened with alienation, honor her promise? Or bow to her father's will and go back on her word?"
After winning this latest honor bestowed by the authors and editors who make up Lambda Literary's voting members, Nicholson agreed to provide The Advocate with an exclusive excerpt from Descendants of Hagar. Read it below.