I wrote The Gift in 1980, the summer after attending the Clarion Science Fiction Writing Workshop, but it remained unpublished for 10 years. The book bounced from publisher to publisher until 1990, when Space and Time took a risk with it.
It became a 1990 Lambda Award nominee, and received rave reviews such as this one, from Mandate magazine: “If [Anne] Rice’s recent efforts have left you out in the cold, Mr. Edelman’s book will surely light your fire. … icy fingers will tap-dance on your spinal cord.”
With the book so well-liked after publication, why was it so difficult for it to find a home?
The Gift tells the story of a gay couple who move to a small town where they unearth a vampire that had terrorized the town generations before. Editors and agents to whom I’d submitted the book generally liked it, but often said that they’d have difficulty handling a novel with gay characters. Some editors told me that they could only consider the book if I turned the gay couple into a straight one, an option I rejected. One editor for a major publisher phoned me on a Friday to tell me that she thought she could take the book with minor changes, then phoned me early the following Monday to say, to her great embarrassment, that she had been overruled by the sales department, which felt that they’d have trouble keeping the book on the shelves in the South.
Sometimes it is easier for smaller publishers such as Space and Time—which sold out of the first printing fairly quickly and had to rush back to press—to do what the larger ones cannot.