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Doug Henderson in conversation with K.M. Soehnlein

June 24, 2021 @ 6:00 pm

The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club

published by University of Iowa Press


This is a virtual event that will be hosted by City Lights on the Zoom platform. You will need access to a computer or other device that is capable of accessing the internet. If you have not used Zoom before, you may consider referencing Getting Started with Zoom.

On Thursday nights, the players assemble in the back of Readmore Comix and Games. Celeste is the dungeon master; Valerie, who works at the store, was roped in by default; Mooneyham, the banker, likes to argue; and Ben, sensitive, unemployed, and living at home, is still recovering from an unrequited love. In the real world they go about their days falling in love, coming out at work, and dealing with their family lives all with varying degrees of success. But in the world of their fantasy game, they are heroes and wizards fighting to stop an evil cult from waking a sleeping god.

But then a sexy new guy, Albert, joins the club, Ben’s character is killed, and Mooneyham’s boyfriend is accosted on the street. The connections and parallels between the real world and the fantasy one become stronger and more important than ever as Ben struggles to bring his character back to life and win Albert’s affection, and the group unites to organize a protest at a neighborhood bar. All the while the slighted and competing vampire role playing club, working secretly in the shadows, begins to make its move.

Doug Henderson is a winner of the 2019 PEN/Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers for his short story, The Manga Artist, which was also runner-up for the 2018 Iowa Review Award for Fiction. His debut novel, The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club, is forthcoming from the University of Iowa Press. Originally from Cleveland, he received his MFA from the University of San Francisco. He lives in the Castro District with his husband, their two children, and a large collection of role playing games.

K. M. Soehnlein is the author of the novels The World of Normal Boys and You Can Say You Knew Me When. He was also part of the band The Cubby Creatures.

What has been said about The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club

Henderson’s novel is sure to delight proud nerds with its story of a young man searching to belong against a backdrop of mischief and magic.”—Foreword Reviews

Henderson has created something special—part Hobbit and part Breakfast Club—a bittersweet story of love and friendship that tackles big subjects like homophobia, social anxiety, and coming out with a touch of magic. Even if you can’t tell neutral-chaotic from lawful-good, or a paladin from a druid, you’ll be swept up with Ben and his lovable band of outsiders—where the game becomes a map for real life and real life sets the course for the game.”—K. M. Soehnlein, The World of Normal Boys

“It turns out that you don’t have to be a gay gamer nerd from Ohio to love Doug Henderson’s novel The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club. You just need to be someone who likes to laugh, or likes to watch people awkwardly attempt love and friendship, or likes to read a sweet, funny story about that time the geek got the boy. Henderson is a quirky, terrific, entertaining storyteller.”—Lori Ostlund, After the Parade



June 24, 2021
6:00 pm