7 Minutes in Book Heaven with A.J. Bermudez and Stories No One Hopes Are About Them

Hello!

Meet A.J. Bermudez and her darkly playful (and Lambda Literary Award nominated!) story collection: Stories No One Hopes Are About Them.

These short stories explore characters who are ni de aquí, ni de allá—neither from here nor there—straddling competing worlds, disrupting paradigms, and transitioning from objects of other people’s stories to active subjects and protagonists of their own.

Big things happen in this collection. But it’s also a collection of small intimacies: misremembered names, chipped teeth, and private rituals; unexpected alliances and barely touched knees beneath uniform skirts; minutiae of the natural world; incidents that quietly, achingly, and delightfully transgress the familiar.

Buy Stories No One Hopes Are About Them

Head to our Bookshop store or buy directly: https://bookshop.org/a/82376/9781609388638

Connect with A.J. Bermudez

Twitter: @AmandaJBermudez
Instagram: @a.j.bermudez
Website: https://amandajbermudez.com

Check out this Lambda Literary Award (Lammy) finalist

We shout out Gods of Want by K-Ming Chang in the show. Here’s where you can buy it: https://bookshop.org/a/82376/9780593241585

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Credits

Host/Founder: J.P. Der Boghossian
Executive Producer: Jim Pounds
Associate Producers: Archie Arnold, Natalie Cruz, Paul Kaefer, Nicole Olila, Joe Perazzo, Bill Shay, and Sean Smith
Patreon Subscribers: Awen Briem, Stephen D., Thomas Michna, and Gary Nygaard.

Transcript

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J.P. Der Boghossian:
Why hello everyone, my name is J.P. Der Boghossian, I’m an essayist, Lambda Literary Fellow, and founder of the Queer Armenian Library, and this is a podcast for folks who are asking themselves, what’s the next queer book I’m going to read? Welcome to 7 Minutes in Book Heaven, where I interview queer authors about the new books they have coming out for us to love and to cuddle up with. We’re a partner podcast of this queer book Save My Life, which has a new episode dropping next week, and today I’m joined by AJ Bermudez to discuss her new book, Stories No One Hopes Are About Them. Hello AJ.

A.J. Bermudez:
Hello, JP.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
It is so good to have you here. I have been reading through the collection. Haven’t gotten through all of it, but let me tell you, chef’s kiss.

A.J. Bermudez:
Thank you so much. Means a lot coming from you.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Oh, cheers. Well, how does our podcast work? I have seven questions for AJ, and we’re gonna spend the next seven minutes in this virtual studio talking about stories no one hopes are about them, while also getting to know more about the amazing writer who is AJ Bermudez. So AJ, are you ready?

A.J. Bermudez:
Let’s do it.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Alright, the timer is set and here we go. Question number one. Please describe stories no one hopes are about them as if you’re sharing it with your celebrity crush and telling us who that special person is, of course.

A.J. Bermudez:
Yeah, I think I’d be like, oh hey, Michelle Rodriguez, let’s go for a ride on my motorcycle and I’ll tell you about my book. It’s called Stories No One Hopes Are About Them. It’s sort of a darkly playful collection of 20 short stories, some very short, about people generally being terrible and occasionally being wonderful and how sometimes those are the same thing.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Michelle Rodriguez, if you’re listening,

A.J. Bermudez:
Right?

J.P. Der Boghossian:
definitely worth it. Question number two. What is a sentence from a novel, an essay, a poem or other book that every time you read it, it gives you all the feels?

A.J. Bermudez:
Yes, so like you, I very much love the Lammy fam. And I try to read the finalists every year. So I just started Gods of Want by K-Ming Chang. Killer title, obviously. And very early in the book, we learn that the narrator’s wife is a storm chaser. And they’re looking at one of her photographs. And there’s this line. I was suddenly jealous of that tornado, the way it tangled on the page, the way her hand ran down its length like a spine. The photo was taken from the perspective of someone who loved it, and I wanted to be captured that way, to be chased from my body.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Say the name again. I always wanted to be a Storm Chaser, so say that name again.

A.J. Bermudez:
Yes.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
I’m gonna link to that.

A.J. Bermudez:
K-Ming Chang. Gods of Want.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Okay, all right. [laughs] Question number three. What do you feel is the best sentence you’ve ever written?

A.J. Bermudez:
Yeah, this is a tough question. I actually have one story in my collection that is a single sentence. It’s called Insertion. It is kind of a longish sentence and I respect the fact that this is seven minutes in book heaven and not like 12 or 13, so I’ll maybe read something else. But a sentence that I like… maybe not the best, but that I like is from the story Octopus, originally published in Story magazine. And I think all you need to know is that the narrator is celebrating the Fourth of July off the coast of West Florida. And she thinks to herself… I want to hide, to slip into the water, but all I can think of is how toxic the water must be. Of people pissing into the mouths of oysters and other people eating the oysters, and some of those people dying of Vibrio vulnificus, which we’ve heard about on the news, and of their families at the funeral saying what a tragedy it is, as though someone couldn’t have just not shat in the Atlantic.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
I like that sentence. You’ve got a lot of good sentences in your collection!

A.J. Bermudez:
Thank you.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Okay, question number four. What’s the best romantic scene you’ve ever read?

A.J. Bermudez:
The best ever’s are really hard. Basically, I’m always infatuated with a thing I’ve just read. And I just read a super, super amazing romance scene in a new story by Katie Robinson called Year of My Skin. And the protagonist is sort of reinventing herself, and she’s been pining for this tattoo artist at the place where she works as a receptionist. And they finally go home together. And Viv, the tattoo artist, basically lays her down on the floor. And she undresses, and Viv gives her this tattoo along the hip very specifically. I won’t tell you what the tattoo is, because I don’t want to ruin anything. But. Yeah, there’s just this sense of intimacy and want, and it’s beautiful.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Fanning myself over here. Okay, question number five. What are your favorite scents or smells to write about?

A.J. Bermudez:
Ah, scents in fiction are the best. I am gonna have to go with a three-way tie between fresh soil, decaying corpses, and really good wine. Ha ha ha.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Okay, the first two I can figure out how you know those. How do you know the smell of decaying corpses?

A.J. Bermudez:
Mm-hmm. I mean, I shouldn’t, but I’ve lived a rich life, JP.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Okay. All right. Um. We’ve got two minutes left approximately, so I’m not going to dive in anymore there. Maybe offline. But question

A.J. Bermudez:
Hahaha

J.P. Der Boghossian:
number six. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever got?

A.J. Bermudez:
So much to choose from. I have been told that the preeminent formula for a good story is boy meets girl.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
HMMM

A.J. Bermudez:
You guys can’t see JP right now, but he is sighing in a very eye-rolly way.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
And folks who know me know that face. So I’m just gonna

A.J. Bermudez:
Hahaha

J.P. Der Boghossian:
keep on moving on here. Question number seven, promote yourself. How do we order your book? How do we follow you on social?

A.J. Bermudez:
Oh my goodness, yes, please do it. You can buy the book on the publisher website at University of Iowa Press, certainly on bookshop.org or on Amazon. If your local bookstore doesn’t have it, you can request that they order it for you. That’s always wonderful. Same with libraries. And I’m pretty bad at social, but you can connect with me on Instagram at a.j.bermudez or on Twitter at Amanda. J. Bermudez.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Perfect. Ooh, we’ve got some time left. So anything else you’d like folks to know about your collection?

A.J. Bermudez:
No, I’ve just, I’ve been so thankful to anyone who’s reading and enjoying it. And I do think that pieces of writing at their best are an invitation. So it’s always wonderful to connect with other people. And yeah, I’m just really thankful.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Well, this collection is definitely an invitation and that is all the time that we have. Thank you so much, AJ.

A.J. Bermudez:
Thanks, JP.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Well, we have come to the end of this episode, which has been executive produced by Jim Pounds. Our associate producers are Archie Arnold, Natalie Cruz, Paul Kafer, Nicole Olilla, Joe Perrazzo, Bill Shea, and Sean Smith. We keep our podcasts accessible. Find those transcripts at thisqueerbook.com. Buy all of the books we feature on our podcast in two clicks or less at prices equal to or better than Amazon at our bookshop.org store. Visit thisqueerbook.com slash bookshop. Find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We’re at This Queer Book. My name is J.P. Der Boghossian and stay tuned to this space every Tuesday for new episodes of 7 Minutes in Book Heaven or This Queer Book Saved My Life! Until then, see you queers and allies in the bookstores.

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