Matthew Lang’s clearly not afraid to venture where few writers have been before.

His new fantasy novel, The Secret of Talmor Manor, is the story of Jake Yoshimoto, who struggles to uncover the secret of a forgotten Victorian manor.

But the character is also facing some very difficult questions, including what he should do about the attraction between him and a turn-of-the-20th-century ghost of the same sex.

“It’s first and foremost a really good mystery story which likes to undercut itself every now and again,” Lang said.

“I’m really excited to be able to bring queer Australian writing and a story set in Australia to the national and international community.”

The book has been picked up by American publisher MLR Press, which publishes gay fiction ranging from historical settings to futuristic ones, including multiple award-winning and Lambda-nominated books such as the Donald Strachey Mystery Series by Richard Stevenson (recently adapted by Here! TV Films).

“What’s really interesting about a niche gay-oriented publishing house like ManLoveRomance [MLR] is that there is nothing that states what sort of relationship should be written, how much or how little sex there is on the page, when it occurs or even what archetypes the main characters should fall into,” Lang said.

“That gives you an incredible amount of freedom to write the stories you want to write.”

Lang is a Melbourne native who honed his writing skills while performing in student musical theatre during his commerce and arts degree at the University of Melbourne.

His writing career began with his short story, Mr Perfect, which placed equal second in the Hares & Hyenas/ VAC Sex Write Off competition. He was also recently published in banQuet Press’ banQuet Men 2011 anthology.

“I guess I started writing because I wanted to have stories that were different,” Lang said.

“I wanted people like me — like us — to be able to pick up a really good fantasy story and see themselves reflected on the page.”

Having grown up loving fantasy novels, Lang credits Terry Pratchett and J.R.R. Tolkien as major influences, but also a few in some different media.

“Funnily enough, a lot of my inspiration comes from TV and video games, especially those that focus on telling fantastic stories. So Joss Whedon and Stephen Moffat, for example, are also inspirations,” he said.

info: The Secret of Talmor Manor is available from MLR Press and Amazon. The Australian launch will be at Hares & Hyenas on Friday, May 20 at 7pm. For more on Lang, visit www.matthew-lang.com or www.mlrbooks.com

Matthew Lang writes fantasy from a queer perspective.

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