Swanky English hotels, saucy French prostitutes, knife-wielding head chefs and lusty breakfast waiters -“ welcome to the twisted world of transgender writer Teri Louise Kelly and her first book, Sex, Knives & Bouillabaisse.

The no-holds-barred auto-biographical account marks Kelly’s first published work, though Adelaide’s Feast Festival patrons will be familiar with her input in the literature program.

Her transgender short story, Anatomy Girl And Her Love Of Bits won the Feast Short Story competition in 2007.

Interestingly, in Sex, Knives & Bouillabaisse Kelly writes from the perspective of the headstrong male that she used to be. The process of writing the book, she says, has been one of gender reconciliation.

It’s an interesting thing for me because when you first start the transgender process you’re so euphoric for having done it and had the courage to do it you tend to shut out a whole part of your life, she said.

But then when I started writing this I thought, I quite liked that boy -“ he’d been through a lot of things, it’s the same person, it’s me not a split personality -“ but we’ve both somehow got to the stage where we are in life and, without him, I couldn’t have been who I am today.

Teri Louise Kelly was born Terence Malcolm Luiz Rodriguez in Sussex, England. Following a run-in with the juvenile courts he trained as a chef from 1975 and was awarded Britain’s Young Chef of the Year in 1981.

The chef apprenticeship became a springboard into travel and kitchen work in other countries. Some of the funniest passages in the book are recollections of a stint in a hotel kitchen in Paris. And there is some real insight into the differing cultural approach of the French and English to food.

The kitchen is not regimented as it is in England, Kelly writes. All share equally in the work, and this way they deal with food as an experience rather than a product.

But Sex, Knives & Bouillabaisse‘s principal focus is not so much on the preparation of food as the characters that toil to put it on the plate.

I’m a people person, admits Kelly. I like people and the way they intermesh -“ they way people just come and go it’s such a fleeting thing.

Kelly began the process of gender reassignment in 1999 and, while an active commentator on gender issues, has to date limited writing about transgender issues in her short stories.

Her next book, titled The Last Bed on Earth, blows the whistle on a backpackers’ hostel in New Zealand and is due out this time next year. But that’s not to say a transgender book is not on the cards.

If I write about my transgenderism -¦ it will be very honest and open in terms of how you go through it and approach it and how people react to it, Kelly said. It will be my experience of it.

From www bnews.net.au

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