Good morning everyone and a warm welcome to you all. First of all, I want to thank SW Andersen and all who read the review I posted for ‘Switchback’. Today I have a real treat for you. Author Darla Baker has stopped by to chat. You are going to love this woman and all that she’s done for the LGBTQ community. Feel free to ask her questions in the comments.
“At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assist you.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Tell us about yourself. (Official Bio)
Darla Baker’s career encompasses a diverse list of roles including best-selling author, publisher, podcast host, and software engineer. As founder and president of the nonprofit publishing house, Stone Soup Community Press, Baker is an advocate and mentor for writers of lesbian fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Her book series, Thalia Chase: Sex Therapist, was an Amazon best-seller. Baker’s Thalia Chase and fellow author Annette Mori’s Juliet Lewis, host lesbian fiction authors in character and help them with dating and relationships in a monthly podcast, Therapy Café. Baker attended Georgetown College and Wright State University, where she completed her B.S.B. in Finance.
Outside of the literary world, Baker has dedicated more than thirty years to serving government, nonprofit, corporate, and Fortune 100 firms as a management consultant and software engineer – both independently and with notable organizations like DataStax and Hobsons, Inc. Prior to her corporate career, she spent nearly a decade with the Montgomery County Courts completing her tenure there as the Chief Deputy Clerk. In her rich personal life, Baker splits her time between Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, and Dayton, Ohio with her wife of twenty years and their two well-behaved pit bulls.
What is your sequel to ‘Eagle Cove’, ‘Seventy Six Falls’ about?
Seventy Six Falls (no hyphen) picks up about five months after Eagle Cove ended. In Eagle Cove we were immersed into Thalia’s life where we too grew to love her chosen family and the community in which both her practice and her life thrives.
Thalia is settling into a new life which now includes Amara, her pregnant lover, and her large and accepting Greek family. Nothing can interfere with their newfound happiness.
Or can it?
The Supreme Court’s recent decision has legalized marriage for same-sex couples nationwide and LGBT couples everywhere are beginning to discuss their future just as straight couples have done for years.
The Supreme Court’s decision wasn’t happy news for everyone, particularly for radical fundamentalist Christians in the bible belt. One such person is Karen Dolt, County Clerk for Williams County, Kentucky.
Her refusal to honor the oath of office and issue licenses to same-sex couples has resulted in a media frenzy and an annoyance for several couples in the county.
But when one of Karen’s refusals results in a tragedy that shakes Thalia to the core, will she be permanently damaged or will the power of love heal her wounded soul?
Where can we find ‘Stone Soup Community Press’?
What is the cutest thing your pit bulls do?
That’s a tough one. It’d be easier to answer what they do that isn’t cute. But I’d have to say my favorite thing they do is what I call, “The changing of the guards.” My wife, Carol, and I usually chill for a bit in front of the tv after dinner. Raven and Delilah jockey for the shotgun position on the sofa next to Carol. Typically, Raven wins and Delilah gets stuck riding shotgun with me on the love seat.
At some point Delilah decides Raven has had the sweet position long enough. She hops off the love seat and starts “mooing” at Raven. You have to hear it to believe it. I’ve posted videos on Facebook. Raven responds with a low growl. This continues for about a minute when Raven relinquishes the spot. Delilah climbs up and gets cozy. And then Raven jumps back up and they all snuggle together. It’s a nightly ritual they’ve been performing now for 10 years. It’s one of the things I miss most when I travel.
Tell us all about your podcast ‘The Therapy Café’. What do you tell couples about the key to a successful long-term relationship?
Fellow author, KA Moll and I were introduced to each other and the concept for a podcast by Sheena of thelesbianreview.com. We didn’t know each other at the time. But we decided to give it a shot. We knew we wanted to do the show in character. So we put our heads together and came up with the idea of meeting at a bar/coffee shop called the Therapy Café where we dole out relationship advice to our listeners. Thalia and Zane turned out to be a fantastic pairing. Unfortunately, KA and I both got busy and KA wanted to retire Zane as a character. So we decided to take a break from doing the show this past Spring.
Before you get too sad, Annette Mori as Juliet Lewis from Captivated, has decided to co-host with Thalia and we’re going to bring the show back again on a monthly basis with our wildly popular author guest episodes. We recorded our debut episode while at LCLC this past October with Renee MacKenzie as Jordy Chapman from Pausing. Look for this episode to be released in December.
Me: You can see my reviews for KA Moll and Renee MacKenzie below:
How did Ask Thalia come about?
When I was developing the character Thalia Chase, I thought it would be an interesting marketing concept to have Thalia step out of the pages of the book and come to life in an accessible way as a sex therapist columnist. Bringing the advice column to life in the series as well as real life just seemed like a genius idea. I’ve not been as faithful at writing the column. However, it is the Ask Thalia blog that gave rise to The Therapy Café podcast. So, it’s all good.
What is the last lesfic book you read? Did you like it and why?
Olivia: A Novel by Dorothy Strachey.
Considered one of the most-subtle and beautifully written lesbian novels of the century, this 1949 classic returns to print in a Cleis Press edition.
Dorothy Strachey’s classic Olivia captures the awakening passions of an English adolescent sent away for a year to a small finishing school outside Paris. The innocent but watchful Olivia develops an infatuation for her headmistress, Mlle. Julie, and through this screen of love observes the tense romance between Mlle. Julie and the other head of the school, Mlle. Cara, in its final months.
Although not strictly autobiographical, Olivia draws on the author’s experiences at finishing schools run by the charismatic Mlle. Marie Souvestre, whose influence lived on through former students like Natalie Barney and Eleanor Roosevelt. Olivia was dedicated to the memory of Strachey’s friend Virginia Woolf and published to acclaim in 1949. Colette wrote the screenplay for the 1951 film adaptation of the novel. In 1999, Olivia was included on the Publishing Triangle’s widely publicized list of the 100 Best Gay and Lesbian Novels of the 20th Century.
I loved it! I love historical fiction. But Olivia is even better because it was contemporary to the time. The language is beautiful and challenged my ear. And the story is classic, timeless, and very well told. I can see why it’s in the top 100. Perhaps I should put it on my bucket list to read all 100. Hmm…
Tell us about your article in the Dayton Daily News. How did it feel to connect with your local readers? Congrats.
Thank you! I must say I’m a little bit of an attention whore. So, seeing my picture on the front page of arguably the most read section of the paper on the most popular day was very exciting. I get so much out of connecting with local readers and local authors. I cannot believe how much richer my life is now than it was before writing Eagle Cove.
Tell us about your participation in the 2017 Dayton Book Expo.
When I saw the event advertised I didn’t think twice about signing up. But when the day arrived, it was sandwiched between two work trips and I barely had time to prepare. Thankfully, my wife helped me get ready. She threw my table items, books, etc. into a suitcase and when I woke up the morning of the event, we loaded up the car, grabbed some breakfast and headed out.
In some ways Dayton is a pretty good city for LGBTQ acceptance. Even so, I had no idea what to expect. As we were setting up for the event I looked around at the other participants. Of course, I didn’t know anyone else. I went to a few panel discussions and discovered that the majority of participants were Evangelical Christians of color. The sign on my table clearly called out Stone Soup Community Press as an organization supporting the LGBTQ community. So I was a bit concerned that I would not be welcome in such an overtly evangelical environment. What I found was completely the opposite. The occupants of the table to my left and directly in front were absolutely amazing. We traded signed copies of our books and had some amazing discussions. As I walked around and talked to other participants, I was met with warmth and genuine support. Yes, there were a few attendees who snubbed me when they realized my book was lesbian genre fiction. But that was rare. I got the opportunity to meet new people, even a Bold Strokes Books author who lives locally. The panels I attended were more inspirational than typical writer/reader conference panels. I left each panel with at least one useful nugget.
I bravely took the microphone to pimp my book, holding nothing back as I proudly described Eagle Cove as a lesbian erotic romance series. I must confess, however, that I did try to get out of doing this. But, my wife wouldn’t let me. I love my wife! 🙂 I will definitely participate in the event again.
Who was the last live musical performance you saw?
I typically go to several concerts and musicals/plays throughout the year. But this past year, I’ve been traveling so much, I’ve not gotten much of an opportunity to indulge. I had tickets to see John Legend and had to give them away due to a last minute site visit with a customer. I had to think on this one and consult my social secretary (aka Carol).
I attended my first Lammys this past June as a new member on the Board. It was a marvelous experience. I got to meet so many incredible people and I was such a shameless fan girl. Justin Vivian Bond hosted the Lammys and also performed a few numbers. She is hilarious and talented and very entertaining. If you get a chance to see her perform, I highly recommend it.
Where is the most exotic place you’ve visited?
In 2007 I joined a higher education marketing company, Hobsons. I was one of handful of fortunate souls who received an all-expense-paid week at the Dromoland Castle in Ireland. The west coast of Ireland is breathtakingly beautiful and I would love to go back sometime. Perhaps another item for that bucket list?
If someone were to create a movie based on your life, who would you cast for yourself?
Winona Ryder (a la Girl, Interrupted) for the “straight” years. And Janeane Garofalo (a la The Truth About Cats And Dogs) for the “lesbian” years.
Bit of trivia, Garofalo, barely five feet tall, sometimes had to stand on a box just to be in the same frame with 6-foot co-star Uma Thurman in The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996). Carol is 5’10”. So, I can relate.
Have you ever wanted to write a biography for another author?
Hmm. That’s a good question. I like to read biographies and autobiographies. I recall having a conversation on Facebook with fellow authors about writing a biography of a fictional character. I can see myself writing that type of biography. But I think the research required to write a good biography of a real person/author would deter me from pursuing the project.
What other ways do you give back to the LGBTQ community?
I joined the board of the Lambda Literary Foundation a year ago as their Treasurer. I cannot begin to express how proud I am to be part of such a prestigious organization and support the work we do.
I also joined the board of the Golden Crown Literary Society this past Summer. Lambda Literary and Golden Crown are very different organizations with decidedly different missions. However, both organizations provide valuable service to our community.
This past January I founded the 501c3 corporation Stone Soup Community Press to provide direct support to emerging and existing lesbian authors through publishing, a writers in-residence program, and the Therapy Café podcast marketing program. Donations to Stone Soup Community Press provide access to professional publishing resources to authors who could not otherwise afford those resources. Proceeds from our programs are donated to the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Golden Crown Literary Society, the It Gets Better Project, and The Trevor Project.
If you had one wish, what would it be?
I can’t help but think of Miss Congeniality and say, “I really do want world peace.” But I suppose I’d have to back that train up a bit and wish for something that would address a significant root cause to a lack of world peace—intolerance. I would love the opportunity to live in a world where intolerance for diversity doesn’t exist.
I want to thank Darla for stopping by today. It was a real pleasure having you. Darla’s work is remarkable so be sure to check out the links in this interview. She is one amazing woman. Be sure to check out her links below:
Stay tuned for next week when I’ll have a review by author KA Moll.
Until Next Time,
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