Episode 57: Stray City by Chelsey Johnson
Portland, Oregon, 1999. It's a city of strays, the place where people who are outsiders everywhere else come to find belonging. Andrea came, she tells us, at seventeen,"from rural western Nebraska, where adulthood came hard and fast and narrow, and queers kept quiet or met violence." She thinks she's found her people, the Lesbian Mafia: they have family dinner and play music together and date each other, break up, and date each other in new configurations. But it's not that simple. Things get complicated when Andrea starts a secret affair with a man, Ryan -- a move, she tells us, that at that time, for the Lesbian Mafia, was as good as treason. And things get more complicated when Andrea gets pregnant and a relationship that was supposed to be all about space suddenly isn't anymore. Shifting perspective between Andrea, Ryan, and their eventual daughter, Lucia, this is a novel about identity and community, about the family we're given and the family we choose, about the ways we try to protect the people we love, the ways we hurt them anyway, and the ways we keep on trying.
Host Cyd Oppenheimer talks with author Chelsey Johnson about being a rock'n'roll flutist, learning to love plot, and how to write an ending.