DeAnna C. Zankich
After receiving countless rejection letters from agents on my first novel, I decided to retreat and polish up my skills a bit. This was nearly twenty years ago when fan fiction was still in its infancy, but I found a very special community of readers and writers who were kind enough to take me in. This generous, supportive fandom was for the original British television show, Queer as Folk.
My very first story was called 'No Thinking Allowed'. I remember posting it that afternoon and sitting there trembling knowing all those strangers were reading it. Would they hate it? Would they bash me and run me off their board? Would they be like all those agents and tell me I sucked as a writer? It was a truly terrifying several hours before the first reply came. To my utter shock, it was a glowing review that ended with a heartfelt welcome to their fandom.
By the end of that day, I had over fifty lovely, positive responses, many of them asking where I'd been hiding. These were the most intelligent, astute readers any writer could ever dream to have. They gave me excellent critique, well explained reasons why some things worked and others didn't. It was a beautiful, strengthening, intensely helpful workshop for this writer--and for many others contributing to that board. I remain forever grateful for the vast depth of their support.
I made several lifelong friends from that fandom, a few of whom I still have. But one of them--a man who deeply influenced me as an artist and a person--was taken several years ago after a long battle with a terminal illness. His name was Michael Mele. Anyone who was there in the early days of QAF knew him and his energetic, intelligent presence. He took me under his wing and taught me what it was really like to be a gay man. He taught me a million things--so many, that I gave him the nickname of Professor. When it was just him and me talking, Michael would call me his princess.
I wish he was here to read Arabesque and to help me make it perfect. I think he's seeing it somehow because I feel his influence often when I'm tapping away on the keyboard. I hope so much that he's proud of me and of these books.
I ended up writing an epic series in QAF that included a crossover with the American version of the show. The overall title was Tenant of My Heart, a line taken from one of the best film scripts ever--Playing by Heart. If you'd like to take a look, please click the button to the left and visit the site of another incredibly kind soul from the early QAF days who has been keeping each story housed in reading order ever since I finished it in 2002.
The lovely QAF readers once gave me a gift of a bound book filled with all their thoughts and comments on Tenant. There are no words for how moved I was by that gift. To this day, it remains among my most prized posessions. It's in the small stack of belongings I would grab if my home were burning down.
I don't have a photo of Michael, but in that bound book his remarks were offered first. His page had a beautiful background of red roses. So, for my Professor, I leave this rose on the left, and my eternal gratitude for your love.
And Judith and Woody who have been with me since the beginning and have both contributed massively to Arabesque, bless you. Thank you. You will be the ones I celebrate with when the world finally meets Elijah and Reid in print.