A Literary Legacy: Lee Lynch and Michael Nava Announce Bequests of Literary Rights
Author: KG MacGregor
January 18, 2017
We write to be remembered. Perhaps not deliberately, but rare is the author who doesn’t contemplate what posterity will make of his or her work.
“Our literature attests to our very diverse existence, to the fact that we survive despite all efforts to suppress us, and that we live happy and fulfilled lives,” says Lee Lynch (pictured above with Jane Rule circa 1986), whose 1985 iconic novel, The Swashbuckler, chronicled lesbian liberation through the eyes of butch heroine Frenchy Tonneau. “That the novel was published and has survived is a wonder. As for history—there were very few of us then who strung those words together: history of lesbian fiction.”
Michael Nava launched his celebrated writing career in the 1980s also, albeit on a lark while preparing for the bar exam. He never imagined his archetypal attorney Henry Rios would strike such a nerve with readers. “My books are taught now at the university level in both gay studies and Latino/a studies departments, and in English departments in noir fiction courses. I think the attraction is how one gay man negotiated his way through an era of rampant homophobia while retaining his humanity.”
Classic books, classic characters. They document our history and help define our shared culture. As readers, we take for granted such works will always be there—a careless assumption that potentially carries bleak consequences for future generations. Indeed, there is no guarantee the stories of today will always be accessible. Upon an author’s death, their works could fall to indifferent heirs who allow books to languish. They could vanish under a publisher that closes its doors or slashes its resources for all but its mainstream bestsellers. Works already out of print might simply go dormant for 50 years until the copyrights expire.
Future readers need not mourn Frenchy Tonneau and Henry Rios, as Lee and Michael understand what’s at stake. That’s why they’ve chosen, via their own private legal trusts, to safeguard their respective legacies by naming Lambda Literary as literary executor of their works, and by generously bequeathing their future royalties. “There will always be a need for Lambda Literary, long after I’m gone,” says Michael (pictured with fellow authors at an Outwrite Conference in the early 1990s). “I want to do what I can to assure its continued survival.”
Securing the future of your literary works means designating someone who will advocate for contract renewals, reprints, rights of translation, movie options, and reissue in new media. Who better to do that than the organization whose stated mission is to ensure that queer stories are written, published and read?
Lee advises us to “write for our lives. The sheer volume of our words insures that those who wish to erase us can’t burn all our books. Lambda Literary has the vision and expertise to make certain the bridge of our words crosses to the future.”
To all LGBTQ authors, this question: What plans have you made for your works to live on after you’re gone? Consider joining Lee Lynch, Michael Nava, and me, KG MacGregor, in a pledge to bequeath your literary rights and royalties to Lambda Literary.
Click here to see how to make Lambda Literary your literary executor.
Email any questions to [email protected].