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Chelsey Johnson Books In Order

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Escape and Reverse (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

Chelsey Johnson is an American author that came to fame when she wrote ‘Stray City’, a novel that was inspired by some of her own experiences as a lesbian.

Chelsey Johnson comes from northern Minnesota. She grew up in the woods of a small town. She has done work as a speaker and a translator, though her hold to fame can be imputed to her teaching and writing activities.

The author attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop where she got her MFA in fiction. She started out writing short stories and essays that appeared in resources like ‘Ploughshares Solos Omnibus’ and ‘One Story’.

Stray City, the book for which she is best known, began as a simple exercise. She had a character called Ryan in her head who she imagined had fled to some remote place to escape his life. In the process, he had abandoned his girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time.

The concept wasn’t especially original and even Johnson understood as much, which is why she was ready to craft it as a simple short story. There weren’t any particularly interesting angles that warranted further exploration.

But then Chelsey had a thought, one that changed the course of her writing career. She imagined that the pregnant girlfriend in question was a lesbian and that immediately opened the way for a longer story.

Chelsey’s parents were liberal Lutherans, so their reactions to her revelation that she was a lesbian were not quite as drastic as some people have assumed after reading ‘Stray City’.

The author has had to repeatedly assure readers that ‘Stray City’ is not an autobiography of her life. The book follows the exploits of a lady whose family abandons her when she comes out of the closet.

She learns to survive on her own, carving out a life for herself in a community that both accepts and judges her. Chelsey Johnson struggled to find her footing as a lesbian in an era that did not have the internet.

She initially explored her sexuality through her writing, which she kept secret even from her parents, afraid of the reactions she would attract if they ever caught a glimpse of the homosexual scenes she concocted.

By the time Chelsey Johnson came out to her friends, family, and community, the world had begun to undergo a shift. Her kind was no longer restricted to the fringes of society and she found that there were plenty of communities both online and offline within which she could express her desires.

While the author has reiterated the fact that ‘Stray City’ isn’t an exploration of her life, she has admitted that she drew on some aspects of her life to craft the story; in particular, the places she has visited and the stories she has encountered in the queer community.

Chelsey’s goal is to contribute to the queer fiction genre. As a much younger lady, the author remembers the struggles she encountered in her efforts to find fiction that spoke to the lesbian girl in her.

While she came across plenty of novels featuring gay characters, none of them ever struck a chord, mostly because she knew they were written by heterosexual authors who only had a mild understanding of the homosexual lifestyle and, thus, couldn’t quite capture the spirit behind the life that someone like Chelsey Johnson lived.

The author spent so much time hungering for great queer fiction and failing to get it that she finally decided she would be better off creating her own queer fiction. So that is what she did.

Chelsey spends a lot of time exploring queer literature. She wants to understand all the various aspects that exist within the queer community, even the ones with which she might unfamiliar. That way she is able to build a comprehensive picture of queer life so that her none-queer readers can better understand where she comes from.

For Chelsey Johnson, success means having a queer person see themselves or an element of themselves when they read her novels.

Chelsey is a very active individual. Her hobbies include running, hiking, and skiing. She always feels most comfortable when she’s out in nature, surrounded by trees and mountains and lakes.

When she isn’t writing or hiking, Chelsey Johnson is teaching fiction writing.

+Stray City
Andrea Morales came from a Midwestern Catholic home. She lost a lot of familial connections when she finally came out of the closet. But she succeeded in creating a life for herself in Portland, Oregon, having found a lesbian community to love and support her.

Andrea thought she knew what life had to offer. But then she got drunk and had a one night stand with a man. Already reeling from a betrayal and a breakup, babies were the last thing on her mind.

So shock was all Andrea had to offer when she got pregnant. Her gay friends were hardly amused by her decision to cross enemy lines by sleeping with a man. They were even less enthused by her decision to keep the baby.

But Andrea had made her mind up and, a decade later, she had a daughter. Now Lucia is starting to ask questions. She wants to know where she came from and what sort of man her father was.

Andrea wants to forget her past but her daughter is making it increasingly difficult.

Stray City, Chelsey Johnson’s debut novel, has been praised for being funny, smart and warm. The book tells a coming-of-age story about a woman whose life takes a difficult turn when her parents learn about her homosexuality.

They threaten to stop paying her tuition if she does not immediately come home where they can cure her homosexuality with prayer. Andrea chooses to set up shop in Portland where she learns to survive on her own.

While Andrea finds some joy in the liberal landscape of Portland, she quickly realizes that life as an openly gay woman isn’t without its challenges. Andrea begins to fall for a man, a development that draws criticism from her circle of lesbian friends.

Andrea struggles to reconcile her understanding of her sexuality with the feelings emerging within her for the one person that makes her feel special.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Chelsey Johnson

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