Spring Blogfest: J.L. Douglas

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It might seem like summer camp has nothing to do with spring. Summer camp is about being sent away after school ends—in your parents’ car, or a bus, or maybe your car if you’re a counselor—to a magical place where there are trees and fake names and a lake. Maybe a beach if you’re lucky.

But spring makes all the magic possible.

Spring is the time where campers dream about what their camp name will be this year; counselors plan what outside stuff they can smuggle into the camp for another summer; parents plan their vacations without children; and the camp staff figures out what new camp they can add at the last minute to pull in bored tourist parents who are staying near the camp.

(Popular choices include Fashion Camp, Survivor Camp, and CSI Camp—and yes, I have experienced all three personally).

Lunaside is a lesbian summer camp romance, because it’s just as much about the summer camp in the story (also called Lunaside) as it is about Moira, the main character, and her awkward love triangle.

For Moira, the spring before her second year as art counselor at Lunaside isn’t about figuring out smuggling stuff into camp or camp names or anything.

In fact, camp isn’t really on her mind yet at all.

When Madeline called in April to ask me back to Lunaside, I bought a new sketchbook. It felt like the kind of thing a self-assured art counselor who is worth hiring back would do.

And I’ve been using it. Just…not to plan for camp.

But it’s only the second-last week of May. There’s still lots of time to plan. Besides, spring only really starts around now here on Trundle Island; I can’t really be expected to pay attention to stuff like a job that I won’t even be doing for another month.

I’m too busy sketching the waves down at the shore that no longer has ice on it and hanging out with Andrea, my girlfriend who won’t let me draw her.

Mom says I’m so wrapped up in having a girlfriend that I don’t care about my future, but I don’t really see her point. Right now, Andrea and I are walking along the recently-opened touristy little boardwalk near Andrea’s house and all I can think is how I’d love to draw this moment, if she’d let me.

Well, I would be thinking that if other people weren’t looking at us like all they want is to tell Mom what an industrious camp counselor I’m turning out to be in the planning season.

I pull my hand away. “I’m sorry.”

Andrea frowns. “It’s okay. I understand.”

“You shouldn’t have to,” I insist. “I’m just being weird. Everyone’s cool with us here, I just—”

She raises an eyebrow. “Maybe, Moira. But are you?”

Not wanting to answer that question, I kiss her on the forehead, grab her hand, and start pulling her along to the gourmet ice cream stand along the boardwalk. “Hey Andrea! How about an ice cream date?”

“You’re vegan!” she shouts, her short legs trotting along behind my considerably longer ones.

“But you’re not!” I yell, as we reach the little ice cream stand. Its unpainted wood shingles make it look like some kind of repurposed fishing shanty.

The girl behind the counter stares at us blankly, as if she’s seen this exact thing happen a hundred times today. “Hello, can I help you?”

I just stand there silently while Andrea catches up. When she does, she wraps her arm around my waist in a way that suggests she’s not all that interested in ice cream right now.

“Hey,” she breathes, looking up at me.

“Um, hi?” I gulp, knowing what’s coming.

The ice cream stand girl doesn’t look away as my tiny girlfriend pulls me down to her eye level and kisses me deeply for like a minute—until I pull away.

“Hey, maybe I should go work on camp stuff now,” I say.

Andrea exhales loudly. “Maybe.”

And then I just take off, running distractedly toward home. It’s like a thirty-minute walk, but whatever. I’m fuelled by anxiety and guilt—I’m basically flying.

lunaside_coverMoira Connell just wants to drink tea, draw pictures, and hang out with Andrea, her girlfriend. But that’s before her mother accuses her of wanting to spend her time making out with girls, rather than planning which universities to court in senior year.

A job as an art counselor at Lunaside, the summer camp down the road from Moira’s house, is supposed to help Moira prove she isn’t procrastinating, and that she isn’t ‘girl-crazy’ either. Then the eccentric owner of Lunaside ropes her into starring in the camp’s new web series before she can say ‘on-screen panic attack.’ But it’s exactly the kind of huge responsibility Moira’s mother thinks Moira is allergic to, so she jumps in anyway.

Of course, the fact that Andrea is directing the web series, combined with Moira’s sudden, mutual attraction to new counselor Millie, might not help her case. And the way her best friend keeps trying to set her up with Millie certainly isn’t helping, well, anything.

And amidst all of this, she’s still got an art camp to run. On her own. But how hard could that be?

One summer can change everything. Moira’s hoping hers doesn’t end in a worst-case-scenario disaster.

About the Author:J.L.’s two favorite things are summer camp and queer fiction, which is why she wrote a book that was both. She wasn’t an art counselor like Moira, but she did teach little kids how to dance and how to stage scream. She misses those screaming classes the most.

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Comments

  1. CSI Camp! So jealous … my summer camp experiences as a kid were nothing like that. Just sleeping bags, tents and pasta necklaces…

  2. This sounds amazing! I want to read this so badly, my gay little heart is aching.

  3. I was the stereotypical baby butch at summer camp, especially in Girl Scout camp. I followed some of those female counselors around like an imprinted duckling. I was in love with the girl in the tent next to mine, although she would never give me the time of day. When a bear wandered into camp, we had to sleep in the lodge for the night, and I remember trying to subtly wiggle my way over to my sinewy-armed Artemis. I should have said something then, but I was so scared someone might overhear. She went back to her hometown and troop and I never saw her again.

    • Aw, well, camp romances can be messy anyway! 🙂

      (I was the opposite of a baby butch; I even eventually got asked to be a counselor for Fashion Camp, if that says anything!).

  4. Oh man. I live for summer camp. I spent 11 summers spending a week at the same camp – Camp Sunshine, a Georgia camp for kids with cancer. It was an absolutely life-changing experience. I made some of my very best friends at camp, people I still am close to today. I met my one of my first loves at that same camp. Ah young queer romance. Now I’m a volunteer counselor for Camp Sunshine. I’m now a cabin mom for the same two counselors who were MY cabin counselors when I was 10-12. My girlfriend even goes with me now to volunteer, bringing a new activity, paper making. I couldn’t ask for a better camp family.

    A queer fiction story about summer camp is pretty much my dream book, to be honest. I am excited to read this one.

    • That sounds like an amazing experience! And yes, I live for summer camp too. I had to leave my camp to go to school…which is basically why I wrote a book about summer camp!

      You said it perfectly. Our camp families never stop being our camp families, which is one reason why I love summer camp so much!

    • “A queer fiction story about summer camp is pretty much my dream book, to be honest. I am excited to read this one.”

      Well, you’ll get your chance to read it for free because you won the comment contest!

      Let me know what would be the best way to contact you to give you details/get your address!

  5. I’ve been meaning to read this for a bit cause I keep hearing good buzz about it!

  6. I’ve never been to a real summer camp (they’re not such a big thing in Australia), but man, I have such great memories of weekend camps with Girl Guides. The last time I went as a camper rather than a leader was when I was fifteen, and there was a Hawaii theme. We ate pineapple pizza and decorated everything with flowers and danced by the campfire. There was this one girl I’d always had a huge crush on, and years later I realised that, what with us slowdancing together at the campfire and begging the leaders to let us share a tent, it might not have been as one-sided as I thought. Damn missed opportunities!

    The book sounds lovely, I’ve heard only good things about it 🙂

  7. I heard there’s an asexual character in Lunaside, which makes me so excited! I’m on the ace spectrum and have been going out of my way to collect books with ace characters. As for summer camp, I never really got the opportunity, though I did do a summer recreation program at my elementary school when I was little. My girl scout troop tried to go camping multiple times, but every time we got rained out. So the closest I’ve come to real camping is staying in a tent at an RV park once, putting a tent up in my back yard, and going on a dorm trip to Yosemite. And there was a week long girls robotics “camp” I did when I was 13 (which I LOVED), but that was indoors and just a few hours each day. I wish I could have had a real summer camp experience. I even applied to a camp counselor job once, but I didn’t get it.

  8. Leah K. says:

    I never went to an overnight summer camp, but I did go to a camp during the day one summer through Girl Scouts. All I really remember are lots of treks through the woods.

  9. I’m very interested. Never went to summer camp…
    Andrea is my girlfriends name <3

  10. I never got to go to summer camp- at least not to sleep away camp. I wish I did- and got to meet a cute girl there. I always thought Hayley and tie dye girl from the parent trap had something going on… 😉

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