May 3, 2022

Dharma Kelleher Offers an Exclusive, Talks about her new Shea Stevens Novel, & a New Series on it's way.

Dharma Kelleher Offers an Exclusive, Talks about her new Shea Stevens Novel, & a New Series on it's way.

Ep: 117 Dharma Kelleher converses with Brad about books 1 - 4 in her Shea Stevens Series. The 4th book "Road Rash" is coming soon. They also talk about marginalized people, primarily transgender, representation in the media and especially in books. plus, the novel idea that maybe we should all be kind to one another.

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Dharma Kelleher writes gritty crime thrillers about queer women who kick ass, including the Jinx Ballou Bounty Hunter series and the Shea Stevens Outlaw Biker series.

 Dharma is one of the only openly transgender authors in the crime fiction genre. Her action-driven thrillers explore the complexities of social and criminal justice in a world where the legal system favors the privileged. 

 She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She lives in Arizona with her wife and a black cat named Mouse.

Brad's Website: bradshreve.com

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Transcript
Brad Shreve:

In February the Shae Stevens outlaw biker books one through three became available as a collection and right now is a great time to buy it. Because what comes out June 14 Dharma

Dharma Kelleher:

That would be book Four Road Rash.

Brad Shreve:

Book ford Road Rash and I love the name. We're going to talk about Road Rash and lots of other stuff right after this.

Announcer:

It's time to put on your sleuthing cap, feel nailbiting dread and face heart racing fear. This is Queer Writers of Crime, where you'll get book recommendations and hear interviews with LGBTQ authors of mystery, suspense and thriller novels. Here's your host, Brad Shreve.

Brad Shreve:

Hi, I'm Brad Dharma. Kelleher is one of the only openly transgender authors in the crime fiction genre, and I'm happy to call her a friend. You may know her from her gritty crime thrillers about queer women who kick ass, including the Jinx Ballou Bounty Hunter series, and the Shae Stevens outlaw biker series. And dharma. I was thinking this was your second time on the show. But it's actually your third because back two years ago, you were part of a roundtable discussion we had with RE Bradshaw, Greg heron, and John Copenhaver. We were talking truly Yeah,

Dharma Kelleher:

do or Yeah, we were talking about them. I'm a three timer. Yeah. So

Brad Shreve:

we were talking about the state of the queer crime industry today. And maybe we should have one another one. I don't know if it's changed much in two years or not. Hmm, I don't know. I'll have to give it some thought. So let's talk about Shae, the last interview we did or one of the previous ones we did talk about the difference between Shae Stevens and your other series Jinx Ballou. We may go there if we have time. Otherwise, people come back and listen the original, I want you to stick with Shay Stevens since that is the next book, Road Rash road. Before we talk about Road Rash, kind of give a background of the history not going into too much detail but but Shae's life through books one through three and who say is,

Dharma Kelleher:

she is she's a motorcycle builder. She is an ex con. When she was younger, when she was a teen she grew up around an outlaw biker family. If you seen Sons of Anarchy, imagine being a teenage girl growing up in that environment with your dad as the president of this racist outlaw biker club, you know, I mean, and yet, because she grew up in this environment, initially, she just thought the world revolved around her dad, she was like, he's like this amazing guy. And her world came crumbling down around her when her mother was killed and all of her delusions were shattered. And she ended up out as a runaway teenager on around and doing what she had learned from her father in order to survive, which in this case, was stealing cars, ended up getting busted, spent a few years in prison, and then eventually became a when she got out she became a custom motorcycle builder. And so that's where Iron Goddess picks up Iron Goddess is actually the name of the boater motorcycle shop where she works. And it takes place in a fictional Arizona County, north of Phoenix.

Brad Shreve:

So in Road Rash, Shae has a motorcycle accident. Not too severe, despite being a experienced biker, and I will say yeah, I love motorcycles. But every biker friend I used to have one I did. Mostly dirt riding. Every friend I have that has a motorcycle has been in an accident or another myself included. Yeah. So I hear them say Well, I'm a safe, safe rider. Well, you may be saved but cars don't see you. I'm sorry. They don't Oh, yeah, motorcycle. I live

Dharma Kelleher:

in a retirement community where turning left from the right hand lane is considered going with the flow of traffic. I mean, they don't see motorcycles, and they do crazy stupid stuff. And yet despite that, the one real accident though that I was in where I was seriously injured, was entirely my fault. The motorcycle I had had a manual clutch and it hadn't warmed up and I wobbled the clutch It fell over on my ankle and so like, shattered it in several places, sideline me for several months, but I turned that pain and it was a lot of physical pain into creativity. And so that was in partially the inspiration behind Road Rash.

Brad Shreve:

Well, you got more than a Road Rash that deal. Oh, yeah. One of my very closest friends and we were roommates at the time, was in a motorcycle accident and he had train rail. You get stuck in that groove. In it oh yeah, so it threw him off the road and he hit a billboard and or the post of the billboard. And so he calls me from the hospital even okay. And he said, Could you go get my bike for me? I said, Okay, so I don't remember how I got there. But I got his bike and I road it home. No problems. As soon as I pulled into part pocket parts fell off. I said, Thank God, I made it home before that.

Dharma Kelleher:

The Iron Goddess was watching out for you that day.

Brad Shreve:

So other than getting into a bit of a spill, what else happens with Shae in Road Rash,

Dharma Kelleher:

she is asked by some dear friends of hers to rescue their daughter from a cult. And this was kind of inspired I had seen in a newspaper or knowing, well, a news article about the Nexium cult, and about the leaders of this call that I had never heard of prior to this point, being on trial, and all some of the horrible things that they had done. And I just thought, Hmm, that might be an interesting subject to explore for a novel. And so the more I dug into it, the more I found is really, really fascinating. Because, you know, you think, okay, rescuing someone from a cult, you just go in, grab them and then deprogram them, you know, I was like, no problem. But it doesn't work that way. First of all, the deprogramming doesn't really work. The brainwashing that they've been through with the cult is really deeply sad. And it takes time to wheedle through that, and so 48 hours with Some so called Deep programmer doesn't really work. Second of all, it's illegal. If the if the person in question is a legal adult, take the taking them away by force against their will, is considered kidnapping. And there's considerable case law since the 1980s. On that sound like, wow, so how would she handle this? So that that kind of became an exploration because, you know, she's always been about brute force, you know, going guns blazing, defeat the bad guys, like she can't do that here. So it forces her to be a fish out of water situation. So it was a lot of fun to write that.

Brad Shreve:

What about Shae's prison background?

Dharma Kelleher:

Well, you know, she served several years for Grand Theft Auto. So it's something that that haunts her. And it she over the period of the books, she has run ins with the police and ends up having to make deals that she would otherwise not want to make.

Brad Shreve:

And is that part of her background regarding solving crimes?

Dharma Kelleher:

Yeah, um, her approach, having grown up in, you know, around an outlaw biker club. She has a strong distrust of law enforcement. And I mean, I don't I don't have a criminal background, just just in case people are wondering. So a lot of that is a lot of research. Not to say that I haven't committed my own share of crimes, survival crime. But when push comes to shove her she she tends to go the outlaw route. She's, you know, her instincts are to go in guns blazing and to use to rely on her own skills, rather than to rely on the local law enforcement.

Brad Shreve:

And one thing I suggest readers do because it's kind of fun on dharmas website. She interviews Shae Stevens, yes. Which I thought was very clever, and I really liked it. It was a good conversation the two of you had, uh huh.

Dharma Kelleher:

She's she's an interesting person. I mean, certainly she's, we have our similarities because I created her. But she's she's a lot, a lot tougher, a lot darker. And she says a lot grittier than I am. There's a little bit of wishful fulfillment there. I draw a lot of AI especially these days I look at and I see how the system, Big S, the system favors the privileged. It favors white cishet, men. And even those that claim to enforce the law. The law is written primarily by white cishet men. And we've seen a lot of new laws in the past few months that target trans people especially and target women. And this only reinforces the fact that the system is designed to put Protect the white sis hit patriarchy and I know that sounds like paranoid conspiracy theory. But the fact is that you just have to look at the laws that are being passed their districts election district cuddling districting laws are being passed to disenfranchise voters of color. Voting, new voting rights laws are being passed to disenfranchise people of color, to disenfranchise to disabled, to disenfranchise anyone that dares to speak out against the white patriarchy, laws against trans kids and trans families. And I mean, it's not paranoia, it's simply a recognition of what is simply going on. And so when I write the stories that I write, whether it's che, or with Jinx blue, or even my new series, Avery Byrne, I write it from that perspective. Because I write about justice and justice isn't about the legal system. Too often, the legal system favors the system, the man,

Brad Shreve:

and I agree with you, I don't think it's well, you said you don't mean? You said you didn't want to sound like it was a conspiracy theory. And I don't think it is, You're 100%, right. It's all about white males. They're losing their place, and they're desperately desperately trying to hold on to it. And I just think it's it's men, mostly men with the same fear that are just reacting together. Right? There probably is amongst impact. I'm sure there is amongst the upper echelon is I hate to say that our ex president is smart enough to be part of the upper echelon, but he certainly was used by those I do think could be considered part of a conspiracy going on. And it's it's is well mapped out. But I think for the general public, it's a gut reaction, out of fear. And I, I tell I say all the time, it's Obama's fault. And mother, my mother in law, who is black, she's first time she's like, what? I said, it's his fault. He was black. We had a black president, and oh, my God, they couldn't believe it. What is happening to this country? So it's only his fault in the fact that they didn't want him there. Right. And that really scared them that right and marriage equality and and everything else. They just see. They see their world running through their fingers, their control their content, wishing

Dharma Kelleher:

Yes. And so they have decided that the rules no longer apply to them. And so they are willing to cheat, fight, do whatever what by any means necessary. It's very, very Machiavellian. Truth no longer matters. Integrity no longer matters. Hurting people and maintaining power for the patriarchy is all that matters by any means necessary. And I hate that that is the truth. But it is. And the problem isn't. I see the media so often trying to do a both sides kind of argument. Well, this is what this side is saying. And this is what that side is saying. Only one side is telling the truth, and one side is obviously lying. It's not they're not even pretending to hide it. It's obvious lies. And so too often, I still see this both sides kind of thing. And at one point, you just have to say, this is no longer the truth. And you have to decide what matters to you. Does integrity matter to you? compassion, kindness, or does power, all that matters. As you mentioned, it's not just the men, there are women who are empowered by the patriarchy. I see this with Caitlyn Jenner. She is empowered by the patriarchy, she has turned her back on the transgender community in order to maintain her own power to cling on to that white male privilege. And I say that not to miss gender her, but to simply recognize the dynamic of what she's doing. She's a trans woman, but she's a trans woman working for the white male patriarchy. And there's, it's obvious you just have to look at it and, and to say otherwise, is to simply close your eyes to the truth.

Brad Shreve:

And with Caitlyn, it's been I don't know how long it's been quite some time since she came out. Right? And yet, despite that length of time, when she says something, and does something I'm still a deer in the headlights and I'm like, what the Fuck,

Dharma Kelleher:

despite the community's desperate attempts to try to educate her, I mean, because I remember when when she had her show, and we were already many of us in the community are panning the show. And there were some that were had ties to her. They're saying, Well, we're trying to educate her. Well, how did that turn out? Didn't turn out? Well, because she doesn't want to listen. Yeah, she doesn't care in truth, integrity, accountability, none of that matters to her, because she just prefers just to hold on to her celebrity status. And kindness, compassion doesn't play a part in it anymore. She part of the whole Kardashian Empire, which the only reason they're famous is because they were famous. It started with a sex tape. I mean, what have they contributed to the world,

Brad Shreve:

not a narrative and that good.

Dharma Kelleher:

It's just like, this just, it's just media for media sake celebrity for, and I don't hate them. But it breaks my heart to see the harm that they're the very real harm that they're doing. Because I see families, Amber biggle, brutal. I forgive me, Amber for screwing up your name. She is the mother of a trans kid in Texas, and fighting to keep custody of her own child just for allowing her child to transition for loving her child enough to respect his identity. And it breaks my heart that so many people are willing to toe the line for in the name of cruelty and power.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah, I've over the past few years, I think I'd have at least three friends who had a child that came out as trans. And it was handled so beautifully. And it makes me it makes it easy for me to forget, we got a long way to go.

Dharma Kelleher:

We still do. Yeah, I mean, I came out 30 years ago, 30 years ago, you were and for for a while up until like the past couple of years, I was thinking wow, things have gotten so much better. And then they set their sights on us. And now it's war. And honestly, it's what drives me as an author. I don't care about the money, I don't make a profit. I spend more on advertising and marketing and software and everything else I don't make, I might in black. But I don't care because I'm connecting with people and giving people hope. Just a little bit of hope. I'm I'm showing trans people that they can be heroes, at least on the page. And there are a lot of real trans heroes that are worthy of applause. I mean, I give absolute kudos to Elliott page for coming out and risking his career as an AI. I hope I'm using the right pronouns. Elliot, if I'm, if I'm using the wrong pronouns, if it's day there, please forgive me. I'm doing my best to sometimes it's hard to remember different people's pronouns. Sometimes I can't remember my own name. And I

Brad Shreve:

want to speak to that. Because yeah, I got chewed out for referring to an admin on a Facebook group who had what is considered a traditional female name, and in a comment to thank her for allowing me to do something in the group I referred to as her. And I was viciously attacked by Nyer by group members. Right to that, she goes by, they go by they them, right. And I'm like, I respect that. Not that I know that I understand. But how, you know, it's very hard to keep. Now,

Dharma Kelleher:

sometimes, sometimes it's hard to keep track of what people's pronouns are, and we do the best we can. And sometimes some people can be a little bit over vigilant their hearts in the right places, but sometimes we have to say, to be polite in how we correct people. Yes. Hey, I know you're trying to be respectful. Because of that, I recognize that their pronouns are they them or his program pronouns? Are he him? And, you know, I do the best I can, you know, I guess I came out when I came out as trans 30 years ago, there were non binary people. I did not know that it wasn't discussed even in the trans community, at least the one that I was a part of, and when I started learning, and meeting non binary people It took me an old timer a little time to realize, okay, I can by that I can make room in my worldview. For people that are different than me that whose experiences are different than mine, who is pronouns are different from mine. And yet I still, my brain, my old brain is still very set in binary. And I have to correct myself sometimes, to not use the wrong pronouns when I know them.

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Dharma Kelleher:

And it's not a microaggression it is actually just humanity. And when we know better, we will do better. And we'll try better. And we will get it wrong. Sometimes we do what we do the best we can we we have to give people a little bit of latitude. It's important to respect people's pronouns and identities. But also understand, we're all human too. And we're, we're doing the best they can. So I mean, it's one thing dealing with trolls that are intentionally trying to hurt us and cause harm and disrespect us is a different thing when allies screw up. And how we approach that can make a big difference. Yeah, and

Brad Shreve:

when I send out a sheet information sheet asking for guests to give me their BI biography, low bio and some background, as you know, I have what pronouns do you use, right? Because I respect that. And I'm glad that people that aren't come comfortable with he or her whatever, have an option today. But this is new, it was a very short time ago where that would never even dawned on me to put that on a questionnaire. So again, it's getting better, but we're gonna have to take a look at it, we're gonna have to take a little time to get adjusted to it. And so glad you said, so please be

Dharma Kelleher:

patient with us old timers.

Brad Shreve:

Exactly.

Dharma Kelleher:

We respect you, we honor you, we respect who you are, and your identity, that these are your pronouns are not your chosen pronouns. They are your pronouns. But sometimes, those of us are so far older, our old folk we forget. And and it's sometimes it's hard to keep track of who's pronouns or what. And it's just, it's a new paradigm that we're we're working through. And so

Brad Shreve:

well, it's to quote from the opening theme song from all in the family. Back in my day, girls were girls and men were men. Think God does change too. Anyway, back to the white male. I'm an older white male, and I don't have power, and I certainly don't have money, but I am continually reminded of my privilege. Yes, as you know, my, my husband is a black man. And my family is scattered all over the country. He has a very large family here. So I see them much more than my own family. And I've been lovingly embraced by them all. But I know never really understand. For example, as I mentioned, I've recently moved to a new town. And the other day, I'm not excusing myself, I was speeding through a school zone, because it's quite honestly an ugly building. And I, I forget that it's even the school, but that's beside the point. I got pulled over for speeding in a school zone. Oh, and the officer came up to the window was very friendly. You know, he asked for my ID and the registration and he asked for proof of insurance. And he went back to his car because I gave him my ID and registration. And he went back to his car. And I was tearing the car apart. And he came back to the door and laughed and he said, I see you scrambling trying to find the insurance information and I just want to let you know it's it's paperclip to what you gave me. And it was a joke. And he said, I let you off without I'm letting you off with a warning. I do not believe for a second. That would have been the same experience for my husband and Oh, no, I know, when he is driving to work. I worry. We're, I don't think twice about,

Dharma Kelleher:

right. Yeah, Privilege is is a complex thing, because privilege is very intersectional I certainly have privilege as a white person. I have privilege as a college educated person, I have privilege in having a house that I own. At the same time, I am a woman. I am a lesbian. I am a transgender woman. I, I just, I mean, it's it's very intersectional. And the thing about privileges is not simply that someone is treated better or worse. The thing is that, with privilege comes a blindness. We're simply not aware we have difficulty conceiving how someone with less privileged than us in various ways, experiences the world differently until we're there to witness it. It's just kind of one of the faults of our human brains, that we tend to normalize our privilege. And, and that's Yeah, especially if like, well, life's I've, I've had a hard life too. Yes, but it hasn't because have been because of a lack of privilege. When I came out, 30 years ago, I lost everything, I lost my job, my family, my friends, my church, my home, I lost everything. Absolutely everything. I was homeless for a while. And it was that really teaches you, when all of that is stripped away, you you then you become aware of what you are you had and now you don't. It made me more empathetic to other people who lacked the privilege that I do have as a person of color or the privilege that I have as a white person, as a college educated person, as a relatively able bodied person. And so it has made me a better person, being aware of that and to becoming an ally for others who are who are less fortunate than I am.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah, and not to belabor the subject, because there's other things I want to talk about I did. I was talking to my mother in law last week, and I said, the closest I can come to understanding the situation is my former job, I traveled a lot. And very frequently, I flew into a city the night before or the morning of a meeting, and then quickly turned around and jumped back on the plane. I loved it. When I had time to run into the restroom and change into comfortable clothes, take off my suit and getting to come close. A lot of times I didn't have that time, I had to rush to the plane. And I can tell you the way I was treated on the plane, when I was wearing my suit was dramatically dramatically different than the way I guess I would almost say mistreated when I wear street clothes. And the thing is, I don't think those flight attendants even realize that was going on. I'm certain of that. Yeah.

Dharma Kelleher:

the blindness of privilege. You don't realize it until you experience a lack of it. Yeah. And so bottom line, just be kind to people.

Brad Shreve:

That's a good rule. And I can tell you almost almost every major religion in the world don't necessarily follow it, that's for sure. Has their version of the golden rule. Yeah, if you read their text, whatever that may be, it's always in there. Right? And it's a very simple rule. So kind of along the same lines, let's talk about representation in literature and media in general. Okay, transgender individuals. You know, the, just say the very earliest I recall and actually I was I will say because it was offensive to me when I look back now is back on the TV show soap, which I absolutely love. Oh, yeah, I loved Billy Crystal. Billy Christal's character was was gay and it was a big deal. He was probably the first major character openly gay on a TV show. Right? And it was funny, but there were several episodes where he put on a dress and was admiring how he looked. But it was. It was a presented as a gay man who liked to dress Stop, and this is what gay men do. And I'm not transgender. So I've worn a dress in a couple of shows. But that's all I've been really interested in. It was funny. Yeah. And, and I'll be honest with you, I actually, until I made some transgender friends. I resented not just trench gender people, but pride parades, because I would look, I'm like, that is not me. And that's what people are seeing. And that is not me. Yeah.

Dharma Kelleher:

The flamboyant gay, skinny man and the Speedo. Yes.

Brad Shreve:

And I'm like, that's what people see. And when I came out my ex wife's family. They didn't believe it. They said, he's just telling you that so you can get a divorce? Well, first of all, that would be a really odd thing to do. But it's amazing because I didn't fit that stereotype. Right. So anyway, back to my question. Do you think it's gotten any better?

Dharma Kelleher:

Representation? Absolutely. Well, I mean, in terms of literature, there is certainly more trans representation. Unfortunately, still, so many of us have to go the indie route, if we want to be published. Yeah. Robin Gigl, who is a friend and a new author, a relatively new teacher just came out with her second second book survivor's guilt, as he writes legal thriller. So if you like John Grisham stuff, you want to check out Robin Gigl's books by way of sorrow and survivor's guilt. She's a lawyer herself, and so she knows the law. But she also knows how to write a gripping legal thriller. So she was published, I think it was by Kensington, forgive me, Robin, if I'm getting that, right. I think it was Kensington books, I think you're which is? Yeah, they're, they're not one of the big five or four or whatever it is these days. But they are major, independent, major press. They're big. And so kudos to them for taking a chance on her. And so I hope she's doing really well with that. I mentioned that the photograph of my books in the Scottish Scottish bookstore, Her books are right next to it. So that's awesome. Yes. So she's, she's a great person, and she's a great writer. So, but right now, there's only three of us in the crime fiction community that are openly trans. And all three of us are older, white, trans women. So and now in, in romance, there's a little bit more diversity in science fiction and speculative fiction and everything. There are certainly a little bit more representation, more diverse representation. So non binary authors, trans guys, and I think authors, trans authors of color, I hope. But again, so many of us have to go the indie route because of that. So because at the end of the day, traditional publishers are business. And they would rather choose a safe bet, like someone like a celebrity to put their marketing money behind, then take a chance on a new voice, particularly from a very marginalized community. So it's gotten a little bit better, but we still have a long ways to go in terms of television and movies. Representation is improved dramatically. We mentioned Elliot, Paige earlier, Laverne Cox, Alexandra billings, more more trans authors are getting trans roles. And even trans actors are print on trans actors getting trans roles, and even transactions getting cisgender roles, which is, is amazing. It's like wow, that's, that's fantastic. So, you know, we're able to push a little bit beyond the pigeon holding the token character, and the roles that they're getting, at least from my perspective as a non actor, not inside the industry, as at least the roles are a little bit less pigeon holed less stereotype less the sex worker, comic relief, murder victim kind of thing.

Brad Shreve:

And I do want to say regarding Robyn I would never pick up a legal thriller and not because I like or dislike it just probably wouldn't be the first book I picked up. Really enjoyed by way of sorrow. I haven't read this book.

Dharma Kelleher:

survivor's guilt is is really great. Really great.

Brad Shreve:

And one thing I love about my podcast is I get to know a so many authors and and Robin and I buds but we certainly keep in touch. She was on one time and she is coming back later in the year. I'm very excited to have her back again. But yeah, it's it's a shame that she's a bit deal, because she was able to get a big publisher. Right? That I wish that was yes.

Dharma Kelleher:

It's good that she got the big publisher. It's it's a shame that she's an anomaly an exception to the rule.

Brad Shreve:

Well, let's actually I want to talk about when flawless with Seymour Hoffman and Robert De Niro. Yeah. I don't know what your thought of with that movie was.

Dharma Kelleher:

I? I'm trying to remember. I think I saw it. It's been a long time. I think I started to watch it. And then I stopped just because it just kind of brought up a lot of trauma for me. It was

Brad Shreve:

dark. Yeah. For those that haven't seen the movie, Robert DeNiro is is a tough cop, who is I think shot or has a stroke or whatever and needs voice lessons to learn to speak. Right? That's right. See more J often is a trans individual who is trying to save money for transition change, or transition surgery, and is a speech therapist, and a neighbor. So you have this gruff, closed minded cop and the Transnet neighbor having to work together. I thought it was beautifully done. But I haven't seen anything like it since then. And that was right. Oh, when was that? That was back. A long time ago.

Dharma Kelleher:

It was a long, long time ago.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah. And so are there any that I'm missing that? Oh,

Dharma Kelleher:

yeah. I wasn't expecting this question. I mean, if there's a documentary, I think it's on HBO called disclosure. And it explores the representation of trans people through over a century basically, from the early days of film to modern day, and it has gotten better. Occasionally I'll see a character on the screen and something will trigger my, my, what I call my T DARS, like gaydar, but it's true. Like, I wonder if that person is trans? It just something about him? And I'm wrong half the time, by the way. Yeah. For the longest time, I suspected Ken Burns was trans and he's not. I don't know something about his voice or something. I'm wrong afterwards. So you can't trust this. Okay. Yeah. But everyone's always like, oh, wait a minute, it's that person's hand and turned out they are and their role may or may not have anything to do with their character may or may not be trans or it may not be disclosed, whether they are or not. So, in that aspect, I think it has gotten better. And at the same time, as we mentioned earlier, making those inroads has also resulted in a lot of push, push back claim that Oh, indoctrination. What are what can I tell my kids? They're turning like kids trans. Like, no, we're not. If your kid comes out as trans, they were already trans. Believe me. i I'm trans. And despite all the straight media that I endured for 50 years, didn't make me cisgender.

Brad Shreve:

Yes, yes. Yeah. I haven't heard it brought up from anyone I know. Well, in a long time, but you know, when I've heard people mention, trying to turn kids, gay, gay, and I said, Okay, can you imagine Can you picture yourself sucking dick? No. So why do you think it's so easy to manipulate somebody that they like it? I don't, oh, my God. What about cisgender authors and their representation of

Dharma Kelleher:

I think it's gotten better. Are they doing it? Well, some are, some are not. Yeah. I wasn't allowed to bring this up on Joanne's podcast, and this is not a slight against her. But JK Rowling has caused irreparable harm to our community. Despite her protestations that she's not transgender or not, she's not transphobic. She is. She's a turf, and her stories where she's using the pen name, Robert Galbraith, have continued to reinforce the stereotypes that trans women are our men that are looking to prey on cisgender women, which couldn't be further from the truth. Trans women. We are women, we see ourselves as women. And the last thing that we want to do is harm other women. And so, in her case, she she is causing a lot of harm. At the same time, I do read authors who do a better job and really, I don't have a pro Along with cisgender authors writing trans characters. But when you do that, I strongly recommend you having hiring what's called a sensitivity reader. And all that is, is someone with lived experience that can point out potentially troublesome areas in a story that you might want to reconsider in how you represent just as well. If you're writing about characters using guns, it's a good idea. If you're not really well versed with weaponry, it's a good idea to get input from someone that's an expert on guns. So you don't end up writing about the safety on a Glock or on a revolver. If, if the guns in question do not have safeties, at least not safeties on the side, a Glock has a trigger safety, which I want you to get into. Not really a safety in the conventional sense. But if you want to have an expert with experience, I'm just, I'm currently writing a new book with a protagonist who is a tattoo artist. And I'm planning on getting some input from actual tattoo artists, so that I don't end up looking stupid to people that are familiar with because there's like a lot of health protocols and everything. And I was like, okay, you know, I don't I don't want to end up making a faux PA and doing something writing something stupid that's factually inaccurate. We don't want cisgender authors writing things that are harmful that cause harm, or that are factually inaccurate. And it's not so much don't do that. But here's another way that you could do that. That's a little bit better representation that's more authentic to the transgender experience. And so that's all we're asking is, do it respectfully don't cause harm, because we're, we're fighting for our lives here. We're, we're fighting for basic human civil rights. The right for a trans kid not to get yanked from his loving family, or her family or their family. We're fighting I'm, I recently had to talk a trans person down from committing suicide, because the trauma that we're experiencing now is, is it ungodly levels, and suicide rates among our community are horrific, or they're like many times more than the general population, murderers of trans people are at an all time high, the violence that we're experiencing, as at an all time high, and so we're fighting for our lives. And anything that you can do as a cisgender. Author, not to cause further harm is much appreciated.

Brad Shreve:

The Trevor Project is my favorite charity. Yes. And right now, it's actually the only charity I give to and it For those not familiar with them, look them up. But I will tell you, when they are rated, they rate so high when it comes to feasibility, low cost in managing their organization. Yes, across the board. They're above and beyond other charitable organizations, and they're doing a great job. And God knows we need them today. Yes, absolutely. But I, back to the research that you're talking about. I've left most I'm not gonna go into detail, but they drive me crazy. I've left most Facebook writer groups, especially that were queer related. Because I would see people, that's how they did their research, like, ask the question, and then people would respond. And that was and they didn't always agree. But that's how that was the research. Now, in my first novel, my protagonist, actually my first and second, which because I only have the two, my protagonist has PTSD. Did I go to Facebook? Absolutely. I posted if you or someone you know, served in Iraq, or Afghanistan, please let me know. I want to talk to them. Right. And I talked a lot to folks to make sure I got it right. And it wasn't even like, I just it was second nature to me. I couldn't imagine doing otherwise.

Dharma Kelleher:

Right? Yeah. When I was writing the Shae Steven series, I actually did a phone interview with the international president of an actual outlaw motorcycle club. One one percenter motorcycle climate, I'm not going to name names. And there were a lot of things that I could not ask, because of reasons. Club secrets and such. So this person was very strict about following that, but I was able to at least learn a little bit more about authentic outlaw biker culture. And you gotta if you're, if you're riding outside your experience, you got to do your research. Should one to not look like an idiot, and to not to cause harm when you're dealing with people in a marginalized community.

Brad Shreve:

Absolutely, absolutely. I agree. I did fail to mention and really should have brought this up earlier. Road Rash comes out in June. But yes, there's a link to it in the show notes, and you can preorder it right now. And actually, if you click on the link, it'll open up a new window, and you can continue to listen to this wonderful conversation with Dharma and AI. And so click that purchase button. So I think Dharma would like it if you did that. Yes. You also have another book on preorder. And I don't know if you want to bring that up at all. Yes. Because if nothing else, I love your idea with the titles. Yes. So let's talk about that is coming out later in the fall, I believe.

Dharma Kelleher:

Yeah, it comes out in October, unintended. And for now, I'm kind of going with the Avery Byrne tattoo vigilante series. Avery Byrne. She's a transgender woman. She's a professional tattoo artist, very well respected in the industry. And she basically finds herself on the run, following with a bag full of mobster money. And I just kind of say, it's like, oh, you know, you hear those scenarios. Like, you find a bag full of money on the street, like a lot of money like $2 billion with a worth of money in a bag. That's not yours. What do you do? I'm like, Huh? And so I played with him, like, what would my character do? And so I just started imagining this character who is this character? She's really into the gospel Billy scene. And if you're not familiar with Gotha, Billy culture or Gotha, Billy music, it kind of dates a little bit back to I mean, it's kind of a combination of rock, rockabilly and goth, and be horror movie. It's just a wonderful mishmash of comedy and music and rock and just as an it's with a kind of a throwback to 50s styles. So polka dot dresses kind of pin up. And then the bikers with a pompadour hairdos. So kind of think of Streets of Fire meets. I don't know what. It's just a lot of fun and Streets of Fire Meets Godzilla. But it's not a sci fi series or anything like that is straight crime thriller. But it's a lot of fun. And Avery is a really interesting character. She's young, she's 22. And the name of the first book that series is a conspiracy of ravens. And all of the books in the series that I have planned. They're all group names of birds in Arizona. So we've got a conspiracy of ravens, A Murder of Crows, which is one that a lot of people are familiar with a parliament of owls. And there's I've got a whole list of them that I've come up with, you know, when you're when you're bored, and your brain doesn't want to work. He just like brains terms, like what are some cool titles and I just kind of played around with it. And, and there's some really cool a cauldron of of hawks, I think is one of them. Which is colder ages. Like, these are fun names, you know? Yeah. I

Brad Shreve:

wonder who makes the decision. Okay, what do I call a group girraffes? No,

Dharma Kelleher:

I know. But whoever is, I want that job. And it is amazing. I mean, you'd be surprised at what kind of birds are actually in Arizona because we have pelicans in Arizona. We have we're, we're totally in the desert, you know, but we actually have I've seen them. I was surprised like, wow, there are white pink, white pelicans here in the middle of the desert. Like what? I thought they were shorebirds not and so it's amazing. And so I am looking forward to like, How can I play off this this idea and so the the first book comes out in October, but I am going to be serializing this novel, this novel on Patreon. And so if for my Patreon patrons or subscribers or whatever you want to call it, they get to read this book in installments. Just for just $1 a month for four months for $4. You get to read the entire book in installments. plus a bonus seen that won't be available anywhere else. Come down now sound like a used car salesman. But no. It'll be available in installments. Weekly installments probably err to its official release. And people that are subscribed at higher levels, I'll get a signed paperback or you can be named as a character and a future novel are mentioned in the acknowledgments. So I've got, I've got this whole, it's an experiment. I've never done anything like this before, and is really pushing my boundaries. Like, what I can do, but I'm really trying to build a tribe of people circling around to the whole tribe building your tribe. And that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to connect with people that for whom crime thrillers featuring trans protagonist is meaningful to them. And so that's what I'm, I'm looking to do. And I haven't mentioned this publicly before. So this is exclusive, but Road Rash is going to be the last book in the Shae Steven series. know, I know I know, I've got a lot of my stepson who I love dearly, he he's a diehard Schastye fan. And I, I haven't told him yet, and he's going to be very heartbroken to learn this. But yes, I it's a difficult decision. But I really want to focus my work on writing trans characters. And Shae is a beautiful person, and there are trans characters in the series. But and I'm not saying that this is the last we'll see if Shae, Shae has a tendency to pop up in other series, she popped up in a jinx balloon novel. And so I and I may circle around but right for now, I want to focus on trans characters and representing my community there. So, but I'm starting this this new series. I'm really excited about it.

Brad Shreve:

Well, I'm very honored to have the scoop. Unfortunately, I think you just gave a lot of people in your heart attack.

Dharma Kelleher:

I know. I'm sorry. I love Shay, she's, she's a tough, tough as nails. Vigilante biker chick with a heart of gold and I love her and I think this is not the last we'll see of her. But it will be the last official book in the series. So

Brad Shreve:

remind everybody once again the neck. Shae Stevens book is Road Rash comes out in June. But you can click that preorder button right now and make Dharma happy person. Yes, thank you. Thank you for coming back.

Dharma Kelleher:

Dharma. Thank you so much for having me. Thanks a lot.