Get over yourself Oscar Wilde. Take it down a notch Gore Vidal. You’re too gloomy Yukio Mishima. A young Canadian author is about to launch his first novel, a genre-blending, fun, easy, and very gay adventure story. I caught up with Michael Lyons to talk about his debut novel, Murder at the World’s Fair.
Jeremy Willard: Can you give me a quick run-down of what your book is about?
Michael Lyons: The year is 1893, and airships cloud the sky above the bustling metropolis of Toronto. At the opening ceremonies of the world’s fair our intrepid hero Norwood Quigley, the plucky and sensitive child of an airship magnate, discovers a murder most foul! Who could the perpetrator be? The attractive boy the powers-that-be claim is a Chinese assassin? The dastardly Englishman? The ambitious brother? Murder at the World’s Fair is a steampunk murder mystery, a romp through–and sometimes above–the streets of a reimagined Toronto.
What does your book give us that other books don’t?
I was a big fan of epic adventure stories when I was a youngin’, but I always wanted the daring hero and his best friend to kiss at the end. I wanted to write that book for other young queer boys. You also don’t often get to see Canada represented in steampunk, so this is my own humble contribution to that.
What’s queer about it?
Oh boy, let me tell you. There’s romance among intrigue and danger, there’s implied lesbianism, there’s actual lesbianism, there’s a foppish airship pilot nicknamed Lady, all wrapped up in a mystery that’ll leave you guessing!
Why did you want to tell this story?
I think coming out and coming of age stories are great and necessary for young people, but I want more stories where the hero and his boyfriend can jump into an airship and take to the skies to have an adventure. At the same time Norwood’s sexual identity is integral to the plot, not incidental. It sets him apart from the rest of the society, lets him see from other points of view, makes him advocate for the underdog, lets him forge his own path. I discovered how important the idea of chosen family is to me writing this story.
What’s next for our heroes?
I don’t want to spoil too much, since the story has some twists and turns, but Murder at the World’s Fair is located around–and above–the city of Toronto. I’m already working on a sequel that takes Norwood and company to stranger skies… much, much stranger skies…
How excited are you to debut your first novel?
It still doesn’t feel real to me. I’m actually launching it at Glad Day Bookshop, the world’s oldest surviving LGBTQ bookstore, during Pride month. I keep telling people this is a Glad Day success story. I read a snippet of the story at Glad Day’s Naked Heart LGBTQ Literary Festival four years ago, and the encouragement of my fellow authors energized me to finish the first draft. I don’t think it will feel real until I’m standing in the store, holding my book, surrounded by Toronto’s gorgeous queer and trans community.
The book launches at Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto on June 8th, 6-8pm. If you can’t be there for the launch you can purchase the book through the Renaissance Press website or as an ebook.
Author: Jeremy Willard is a friend of Instinct Magazine living in Toronto, Canada that we love to stay in touch with. Thanks Jeremy!