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“When We Die” forthcoming in Descant

Story tackles gay history during Nazi era

I found out recently that my story “When We Die” will be published in Descant magazine’s upcoming special issue on Berlin. “When We Die” is one of several stories I wrote while living in Berlin last spring during a fairly intense creative period. It’s one of the longer stories I’ve written, coming in at just under 8000 words, and weaves together the narratives of a Canadian in Berlin, his partner (a historian researching Nazi atrocities against gay men before and during the Holocaust), and a mysterious German researcher.

This was a difficult story to write–not only because the research involved extensive reading of often horrific testimonies of torture, abuse and murder at the hands of Nazi officials–but because it explores the darker side of what it is to be human. Guilt, loyalty, betrayal, fear, desire, the possibility of redemption and forgiveness–all of these themes find themselves in the story.

It’s also an exploration of the wild, exhilarating, in-your-face history and creative energy of contemporary Berlin, one of the truly great cities of the world. I’m thrilled that this story will be part of a larger literary conversation about Berlin, and am grateful to the editors at Descant for selecting the work. Look for the Berlin issue of Descant sometime later this year.