I’ve been spending a lot of time in airports these past few weeks. And I’ve had a lot of long layovers and delayed or canceled flights. And it got me thinking about the life of people who are professional travelers or who work for the airlines. And that, kittens, is the genesis of my current Work in Progress, The Woman in 3B.
I’ll be providing sneak previews and more specifics about the book’s plot between now and the finish date, so be sure to follow me on the various social media outlets if you’re not already doing so. The title, although referring to an airplane seat, is also an homage to a classic lesbian pulp novel, The Girls in 3B, published in 1959. The book’s author, Valerie Taylor, was one of the most prolific authors of the Golden Age of lesbian fiction in the 1950s and 60s. Her first novel, Whisper Their Love (1957), sold over 2 million copies! Consequently, she used her earnings from the first book to divorce her abusive husband and move herself and her three sons to Chicago, which became the setting for many of her subsequent works. The Girls in 3B was one of those novels.
The book features three young women who pool their resources to rent an apartment (Unit 3B) in Chicago, Illinois. The original 1959 backcover copy summarized the story like this:
“They came to the city fascinated, frightened – hungering after life with that desperate, head-long impatience of the very young…There was Annice…Bright, curious full of untried passion, she let Alan drag her into his beat-generation world of parties, jazz, booze, marijuana and sex. And Pat…she was big and blonde and built for love, but she was saving herself for marriage. Until she met her boss. Right from the beginning Pat knew she’d do anything for him – anything. And Barby…She was the most vulnerable. Men terrified her and for a good reason. When she finally fell in love it was with a woman.”
The novel follows the stories of these three very different women as they navigate their new surroundings. It follows trope after trope, particularly the belief that queer women are only “that way” because of past trauma or abuse at the hands of men. Despite its warts and shortcomings, however, much like Claire Morgan’s The Price of Salt (1952), the novel has the distinction of being one of the few to provide a neutral, if not happy ending, for the queer women in the story. They don’t marry a man, or go to prison or an asylum, or kill anyone or themselves…all ‘classic’ lesbian pulp fiction endings from this time period.
I can assure you that the characters in my upcoming novel will not marry a man, or go to prison or an asylum, or kill anyone or themselves either.