Forming Community – Paula Martinac, 2019 ASC Creative Renewal Fellowship

Categories: Blog
By Michael Solender
ASC 2019 Creative Renewal Fellowship recipient Paula Martinac (literature). Photo by Nancy Pierce.

Forming connections and community is a theme that resonates deeply with LGBTQ historical fiction writer Paula Martinac, and one she likes to explore in her work.

“I think when we look back to the pre-Stonewall (1969 gay rights movement landmark riots in Greenwich Village, New York) generation, there is a lot of pity and sadness that people couldn’t be out,” Martinac said. “I think we fail to see the resilience of people as well.”

“People who formed relationships and essentially marriages, 50 or 60 years ago, when they couldn’t be out interests me. Even if you are a maligned community, even if your behavior is criminalized, people can find each other and form communities and relationships that are very resilient.”

Martinac is drawn to historical fiction and looks to make LGBTQ history more accessible by creating characters that bring the past to life.

When she moved to Charlotte in 2014, Martinac says she drew inspiration from the North Carolina landscape, particularly the old mill community of NoDa where she lives with her partner.

“I get a lot of inspiration from place,” says Martinac. “I did go to graduate school for history and like to think about and imagine how people lived at other times.”

Martinac’s novels include “The Ada Decades,” a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction and “Out of Time,” the recipient of the Lambda Literary Award, as well as “Home Movies” and “Chicken.” Her novel, “Clio Rising” is set for publication later this year.

She’s also authored three nonfiction books, most notably, “The Queerest Places: A National Guide to Gay and Lesbian Historic Sites.”

Her work as a playwright has led to productions featured at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company, Manhattan Theatre Source, the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Ganymede Arts Festival in Washington, D.C. and No Name Players in Pittsburgh.

Martinac’s short stories have appeared in Raleigh Review, Minerva Rising, Bloom, Conditions, Art & Understanding and Main Street Rag.

She is an advocate and educator, leading workshops at the North Carolina Writers’ Network Annual Conference and Charlotte Writers’ Club and teaching fiction and creative writing as a lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Her plan for her 2019 ASC Creative Renewal Fellowship is to further explore and contribute to Young Adult (YA) literature by researching and writing a YA novel set in the recent past. The fellowship provides Martinac time to take a short sabbatical from her teaching to focus on research and writing.

“In recent years, my protagonists have become younger,” said Martinac of characters in her novels. “Because of that, my books work well in college classrooms. I’m very interested in YA literature and want to branch out and write YA fiction.”

Martinac wants people who are not in the LGBTQ community to recognize the universality of her work and encourage them to access her writing.

“I think people see those initials (LGBTQ) and think, ‘Oh this is not for me,’” said Martinac. “We all connect on a universal plane. I write to speak to everybody, not simply those in my own community but a larger audience as well.”