In 1992, I sold my first novel. It was called Fag Hag, and it was the first of a whole series of satires of gay life in the ‘90s, and other cultural targets and sacred cows.
It was a different world back then. The gay subculture was only just beginning to be “discovered" by the media, and the subjects for parody were many and hilarious. For the rest of the decade I was a gay-lit enfant terrible, with the kind of underground success that made people call me a “cult” author.
It was a blast. But it couldn’t last forever. Gay themes and characters eventually took over mainstream culture in a way we never could have foreseen in the ‘90s. At the same time, I personally grew restless for new challenges, turning my attention to genres as different as nonfiction, literary criticism, and superhero comics. And along the way, one by one, my novels fell out of print.
Then in 2010, I returned to fiction (with a series of Hitchcock-inspired suspense comedies—the latest of which was partially financed by Kickstarter, thank you very much). I was excited by the new technologies that made self-publishing not only viable, but profitable. Finally, I could reach my readers directly, and publish my books in exactly the way I thought they should be published.
That turned my attention back to my old ‘90s novels. I’d never been entirely happy with the way they’d been edited, designed, and packaged. So in 2012 I self-published the 20th Anniversary edition of Fag Hag, the way I’d always wanted to see it. And I planned to release all the others as well, one every few months, under the umbrella title “Robert Rodi Essentials” (because I’m just that shameless).
It hasn’t really worked out that way. I managed to squeeze out three books in 2012, but it took a full year after that to publish the fourth. And the final two volumes seem like they might take even longer. I'm a working writer, see, and I keep getting sidetracked by paying gigs. Which makes it harder and harder to justify spending time on the Essentials, which is purely a labor of love.
So I’m coming back to Kickstarter. If I can get my readers—old and new—to invest at least $5,000, I’ll be able devote the next few months to wrapping up the Robert Rodi Essentials. (The more you pledge beyond $5,000, the more quickly the books will appear—the more formats they will include—and the more exciting and extravagant the rewards will get. Just sayin'.)
And to make the proposition even more attractive, I’ll add in an all-new, original, never-before seen seventh volume.
The new book is called Essentially Postmillennial, and features six novellas that reveal what the characters from my early novels are up to in 2014. Ever wonder what happened to Natalie Stathis, the heroine of Fag Hag? Lionel Frank, the hero of Closet Case? Brian Parrish and Jerome Kornacker from Princess Paragon? Mitchell Sayer and Kitten Kaboodle from Drag Queen? Dennis Racine from Kept Boy? Viola Chute from Bitch Goddess?...This book is where you’ll find out. And don't think you already know. The world has changed a lot since the ‘90s—more so for gay people than anybody else—so the fates of these characters are guaranteed to be wildly different from anything they (or we) could’ve foreseen. And just to be clear...Essentially Postmillennial is only going to happen if this Kickstarter campaign is successful. If I don't fund out...well, I'll probably eventually find a way to reissue the remaining volumes in the Essentials series, somewhere down the road. But Essentially Postmillennial will never be written, much less published.
So check out the rewards to the right, including personalized copies of the new editions and other serious swag, and sign on to help me bring these novels—and these characters—back. Whether you remember them from the old days,or you’re meeting them for the first time, I’m confident you’ll end up as fond of them as I am.
Which, need I say it, is pretty goddamn fond.
Meantime, thanks to those of you who’ve been so loyal and supportive over the past two decades. With your help, we can show today’s readers what all the fun was about. And maybe start the whole crazy thing over again.
WE DID IT! And so...
Thanks to all of you who have helped me reach my funding goal. But the campaign is still running for another few weeks, so we're going to keep running with it. Starting with a brand-new T-shirt design, which will be available as a choice for any of the reward levels that include T-shirts. Hope you like it...and we'll be back soon with more!
Update - $6,500 stretch goal:
ADDITIONAL Essentially Postmillenial story
As noted above, Essentially Postmillennial is a collection of six novellas, each of which brings a character from my original novels into the year 2014. But all along I’ve had an idea for a narrative device that would connect the six narratives … and if I raise $6,500, I’ll be able to add more time to my writing schedule to include that particular idea, and resolve it in a special seventh story that brings all the characters together. Meaning that Natalie from Fag Hag, Lionel from Closet Case, Jerome from Princess Paragon, Kitten from Drag Queen, Dennis from Kept Boy and Viola from Bitch Goddess will all meet face-to-face. And I don’t even have to jump the shark to do it: the means and the motive have already been seeded throughout the original novels … almost like I was subconsciously laying the groundwork for this very thing.
So if you’d like to see that happen, spread the word and help me reach the stretch goal. And we’ll have some team-up action to cap off the series.
Update - Stretch goal met!
Thanks to all my recent backers for helping me reach this new goal; I'll be in contact with each one of you personally, soon. And special thanks to Jeffrey Ward, whose generous contribution bumped me right up to the goal—Jeffrey, anytime you like, you can request your personalized doodle of whichever of my characters you prefer.
Because the stretch goal is now met, I'll be able to add a seventh story to ESSENTIALLY POSTMILLENNIAL in which the principal characters from the other Essentials novels will all meet ... at (drumroll, please) the funeral of Jennifer Jerrold, the recurring character who was a presence in all my early works, and who has met just about everybody already.
I'm amazed and abashed by the enthusiasm and support this campaign has generated, and hope to add some new surprises and incentives in its final few weeks. Until then, bask in the glow of my unrelenting gratitude.
Update - New reward level added!
We're now in the last two weeks of the campaign—but rather than breeze casually to the end, I'd prefer to keep things as new and interesting as possible. And so: behold a new $175 reward level, which offers the bulk of everything below it plus a custom-designed phone case featuring your favorite Robert Rodi Essentials cover. Not too shabby, amiright?
Risks and challenges
The reason I have to devote so much time to republishing the Essentials is that the books are so old, there are no viable electronic copies of them anymore. They were all done in digital formats that are no longer used. Which means I have to re-keystroke every single goddamn word. And the problem is even more dramatic in Bitch Goddess, which features multiple formats, typefaces, and interior design issues.
This necessity does, however, provide an opportunity to clean up the texts—fixing some plot glitches and smoothing out some syntactic inelegancies. But it's time-consuming work (especially when you factor in the writing of the new novellas) and my goal of delivering in November reflects that. But I'll be in regular contact with you all along the way, so you'll always know where I stand—and what to expect. This is my pledge.
Peace out, ragazzi.
- (30 days)