In the spring of 2014 my mother was dying, my job was shaky, and I had just released a novel called Looking After Joey, which I thought was wonderfully hilarious and touching but whose fate was, in those early weeks, uncertain. I hate Googling myself, but you sort of have to. If someone out there likes your work, you must know. It’s just business. So one afternoon that April, when I was feeling generally down and apprehensive, I thought I would add to my misery by Googling the title of my new book.

Lo and behold, a crazy and wickedly literary lady in Sydney, Australia didn’t just like my work. She was laughing her head off over it, quoting long passages in her five-star review and saying, “I wish I had David Pratt’s mind.” (That bit was what marked her as crazy.) Kazza Kay was happy to make my acquaintance. Understandably, she avoids getting too close to individual authors, but she could not resist the coincidence that my husband and I were coming to Australia that summer (i.e., winter). She and her son met us our first night, in a hotel bar in Pyrmont. We had an uproarious time, as though we had all known each other for years.

Looking After Joey, though not unromantic, was not a romance. I actually knew little of the gay romance world. Kazza had found Joey because my publisher, though a traditional romance publisher, had decided to expand in a new direction by taking me on (and, a few weeks later, by publishing the supremely talented Rafe Haze, too). But I got to know On Top Down Under and I quickly came to appreciate Kazza’s and Cindi’s rock-solid commitment to the books, authors, genres, and sub-genres they loved. Every year they promised OTDU followers that they would read even more widely than they had the year before, and they always provided, as advertised, ”book reviews with substance.” Kazza and Cindi were truly community builders. To small-press authors this means the world (from New York City to Sydney!). We need to know that people are out there cheering for us (I got several more wonderful reviews from OTDU over the years), that we have had an effect on them, and that they have led us to new worlds.

Around the time I was invited to write this essay for OTDU’s tenth blogversary, I saw a burlesque show in New York. Yes, burlesque is alive and well in 2022, delightfully creative, fun, and, of course, participatory (hands off but hoots and hollers appreciated). It may be the only performing art you just can’t make virtual, but nonetheless the burlesque community survived COVID, and late that September evening the crowd was cheering an eclectic lineup of women and men strutting onstage at the tiny, velvet-draped, crystal-hung Slipper Room on Stanton Street. I was reminded of Kazza and Cindi. They would have loved the show, of course, but more to the point, they would have recognized what a tight and supportive community it represented. The servers and the house managers were as committed as the performers, and you could tell there was an energy flowing between those onstage and those off. It was one big—though small—family. Like small press authors. And that is what we look for, isn’t it, us human beings? Whether we think of ourselves as “romantic” or not.

So, happy tenth to On Top Down Under. You represent all that us writers live for. May you do so for another ten years, and another, and….


This giveaway is for the an e-book of Looking After Joey by David Pratt. It runs from October 21st until midnight October 30th. You can enter by leaving a comment on the blog itself or via the Rafflecopter below. The winner has 72 hours to respond back to our email or the giveaway will be redrawn. Thank you for taking part in our 10th anniversary celebrations and this post.

Author Bio:

David Pratt is the author of the novel “Bob the Book” (2010, Lambda Literary Award winner,) and a collection of stories, “My Movie” (2012) one of which became the basis for his 2014 novel “Looking After Joey.” His young adult novel, “Wallaçonia,” followed in 2017. In 2018 David founded Hosta Press, which brought out his contemporary new adult satire, “Todd Sweeney: The Fiend of Fleet High” and his “Two Plays.” David has performed his work for the theater at many venues in New York City, including Dixon Place, HERE, the Duplex, the Cornelia Street Cafe and the NY International Fringe Festival. In 2020-2021 he collaborated with Michigan artist Nicholas Williams on a series of zines, “The Book of Humiliation.”





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