Karen X Tulchinsky, the editor of Hot & Bothered 4, an anthology of lesbian desire from Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press, is happy with her five Ottawa contributors.
“This might be the highest percentage of Ottawa contributors that I’ve ever had in Hot & Bothered,” Tulchinsky says in a telephone interview from Toronto. “I’m very pleased.”
“I’ve had a couple from Ottawa in the past. Maybe they’ve been spreading the word amongst other women there.”
The Ottawa writers are Capital Xtra columnist Suki Lee, Elaina Martin, Wendy Atkin, Joy Parks and Sybil Plank. Their stories describe past relationship angst, hot reunions, a sultry black dress and the pitfalls of casual sex. Tulchinsky enjoys publishing new writers, such as Martin, whose steamy story, Homecoming, is the first she’s written.
“Getting your first story published is always the hardest,” Tulchinsky says. “I always make sure that there is a certain percentage of newer authors.”
While she also publishes well-known authors such as Carol Queen and Leslie Newman, Tulchinsky likes seeing writers progress in their careers.
“There are several that I’ve seen starting off with just getting one story and, a few years later, having their own book out,” says Tulchinsky. “It’s great. Suki Lee, for example, has been having stuff published all over the place. She has her own book now.”
Conundrum Press will publish Lee’s short story collection, Sapphic Traffic, in late January.
The idea for the Hot and Bothered series was pure timing. James C Johnstone and Tulchinsky co-edited Arsenal’s Queer View Mirror 1 and 2, anthologies of queer and lesbian short-short fiction. A mutual friend suggested doing separate books for lesbians and gay men. As result, Johnstone edited Quickies and Tulchinsky edited Hot & Bothered, two anthologies on lesbian and gay desire, which Arsenal published in 1998.
“When we did the first Hot & Bothered and Quickies,” Tulchinsky says, “we figured it was only a one-time thing. You just never know when you start.”
Readers responded eagerly. The first Hot & Bothered was so popular that Arsenal wanted to do it again. Tulchinsky immediately leapt into editing a sequel.
“We did Hot & Bothered 2, 3 and now 4 because there seems to be an audience for it, says Tulchinsky. “It’s still doing well – there quite possibly will be a Hot & Bothered 5.”
From the beginning, Tulchinsky wanted more than simply erotica. Readers love the variety. The Hot & Bothered series is always at least 50 percent Canadian, and contains international stories from American, British and Australian authors.
“It’s not just erotica – it’s a broad range,” Tulchinsky says. “Each story has to be about desire between women. Some stories are very graphic and have a sex scene. Some are about a first time or one-night stand. Some don’t even have sex – being a teenager and coming out or being in a long-term relationship and not having sex.”
The editor of Hot & Bothered 4 is no stranger to the publishing world, having edited eight anthologies, including the Lambda Literary Award finalist, To Be Continued, and published four novels. One novel, In Her Nature, won the 1996 VanCity Book Prize.
Tulchinsky will be in Ottawa in January to read from her recently published novel, The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky (Raincoast Books), at Wilde About Sappho. She looks forward to returning to Ottawa after hosting the late November launch of Hot & Bothered 4 in the nation’s capital. Quickies 3 also hit bookshelves in November.
In the meantime, the popularity of being hot and bothered shows no signs of cooling off.
“If there isn’t one for a couple of years, Tulchinsky said, “people start asking for it. Now I joke with my publisher that we’ll be old – and doing Hot & Bothered 57.”