When the World Turned Rainbow for Karin Kallmaker: Celebrating 25 years of “Painted Moon”

Everyone — or nearly — knows the moment in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps out of the dusty, grey cabin into that radiant, exquisite, eye-popping full-color landscape that goes on and on forever. Then the very first people she meets are gloriously different, completely at home with who they are, and a little bit scary.

Which exactly explains how I felt during the long process of coming out. A door swung open very slowly and the world outside developed into a rainbow of people, music, books, politics, history, and love.

Oh my yes, there were strange people. Some of them scared me because I wasn’t ready to use their words, wear their badges, or follow their example of facing the world with an unapologetic sense of self. For a long time They were They, and I was not.

Along the way there were so many baby steps. Hilarious, ironic, and empowering. One visit to the Castro I was wide-eyed at the L.A.B.I.A. label on a woman’s leather jacket. What was left of my little Puritan heart fainted. Then I got closer and saw the explanation: Lesbians Against Bigots In Authority. Cool!

Once I got used to seeing this world in all its rainbow glory, everywhere I looked AHA! light bulbs popped in my head. In the rainbow world “dyke” and “queer” became endearments to me. “Lesbian” was an empowerment charm. I also learned resistance language when ignorant people said hateful things. My personal short version that still works all these years later: “That’s Ms. Dyke to You.”

I don’t think any book of mine captures the process that I went through – in the fabulous Gay Nineties – as well as Painted Moon. Jackie Frakes’ journey was a mirror of my own living and working in the Bay Area. This really was a case of writing what I knew (whereas the life of artist and widow Leah Beck was all research). To my shock and joy, it resonated with a lot of women.

For some it was a book that moved them to open the door and peek outside. For others it was a way to look back at that door and honor their own journey into Technicolor Selves. Amazing, isn’t it, the way books can be bridges into the past and future at the same time.

I’m so thrilled to have Painted Moon out in the world again in a new edition with a brand new short story. I had such fun catching up on the lives of two women who opened the door to their own rainbow worlds and found themselves and each other.

It all begins on a dark and stormy night…

Cursing the familial obligation that sent her into the path of a blizzard, Jackie Frakes is deeply grateful for rescue on a snow-choked mountain road, even if her rescuer’s reception is as cold as the landscape.

Leah Beck spends her days in a twilight of grief, actively avoiding all reminders of her former life as an artist whose work was exhibited nationwide. A houseguest for Thanksgiving is disruptive and painful, and the very last thing she wanted.

The snowbound weekend leaves them with an unforgettable, undeniable attraction that challenges both of their personal and professional commitments. Leah turns to her art with renewed inspiration while Jackie seizes control of her future. But will these new paths lead back to each other? Or will that stunning weekend together be their last?

One of Karin Kallmaker’s most enduring, popular novels, this Painted Moon 25th Anniversary Edition features a new foreword by the author and additional next chapters for Jackie and Leah with a previously unpublished story. Painted Moon 25th Anniversary Edition is available October 15, and for pre-oder now.

About Karin Kallmaker

Karin Kallmaker has always written about lesbians and love and isn’t likely to change. When she’s not writing books she’s thinking about books, enjoying life in the San Francisco Bay Area, or embarking on new adventures by plane, train, or automobile. Her thirty+ novels include Because I Said So, Captain of Industry, and Maybe Next Time. She has won three Lambda Literary Awards and is a Golden Crown Literary Society Trailblazer. Learn more at kallmaker.com or search social media or favorite book sites for “Kallmaker” – there’s only one. Everything you wanted to know about any of her stories is right here.

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