Presenting Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall's first book, "Blind Curves (Bold Strokes, $15.95), a mystery set in the Bay Area. The jacket blurb states the story's fictional facts: A lesbian publisher is found murdered on a hiking trail in Woodside, and police suspect investigative reporter Velvet Erickson did the deed. So Velvet, who has 48 hours to clear her name before she's arrested, rushes to her former lover and private eye friend, Yoshi Yakamota whose Blind Eye Detective Agency reflects the detective's own failing eyesight.
The gay whodunnit is the first of an upcoming series published by Bold Strokes Books, which focuses on lesbian-themed general and genre fiction.
The Hayward couple who wrote it, Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall, aren't unfamiliar with mysteries. Jacob's brother-in-law was murdered in Idaho in 2000, and the case has not been solved.
Nor is the couple unfamiliar with the lesbian community. The Idaho natives met at a gay pride parade 17 years ago in Boise, Idaho, where Diane Anderson-Minshall grew up. Jacob Anderson-Minshall, then named Susannah, grew up about five hours away, in Pocatello. At that time, and until about four years ago, when Jacob Anderson-Minshall began undergoing the process to become a male, he was physically female.
Now, five marriage ceremonies later (they never divorced, but they needed to remarry to be considered domestic partners in various states and cities where they lived), the two share their lives in Hayward as transgender man and lesbian wife. They also share writing, not only in the mystery
they wrote together, but also on other books for the series and a memoir of their relationship. In their non-writing hours, they are watching "CSI," "Psyched" the BBC program "Wire in the Blood" or they're reading mystery novels.
His former days as a park ranger left Jacob (then Susannah) with a back injury. He walks with a cane and cannot sit for long periods. He does his writing stretched out on the living room floor. This may explain the disabled private eye character in "Blind Curves." He also writes a weekly column, "TransNation," that appears in several lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender publications.
Her days are spent in San Francisco, where she is editor of the lesbian magazine, "Curve." She loves that job as much as she loves writing books with her husband.
"We're really, really lucky," she says when asked if they argue over their writing. "We've worked on a construction crew together, we started a magazine together. We're the definition of co-dependent."
Diane says she has always done the bookkeeping duties and says there has been a big change in how she is treated in transactions since Susannah changed his name to Jacob.
"I would say Susannah was my wife, and they'd tell me she would have to contact them," Diane says. "Now I say Jacob is my husband and it's immediately accepted."
Jacob says when he was a little girl, he thought he was a boy. As he got older, he felt like a misfit. He was attracted to girls, but he continued to like doing "boy" things. Eventually he channeled the confusion into becoming a lesbian, but a few years ago, he realized he could become the male he had always felt he was. Though, he does make the distinction that he is not a 'straight' man, but a transgender man who feels he fits in more comfortably in the LGBT community.
The couple says people tend to get stuck on the details of the transgender process, on the specifics of surgeries and medications, but that it's more about a lifetime process of change and adjustment.
"I used to be an old-school lesbian," Diane Anderson-Minshall laughs. "I've stopped saying some of the things I used to say, like, 'Why would you do that to your body? I don't say those things anymore.'"
The adjustment also extended beyond the couple; it was difficult for Jacob's parents, particularly his father, to accept his decision to physically become a male. Jacob was raised on a small, family-run farm. There was no TV, but a lot of reading, and in winters, only the room with the stove was warm enough to sit, so the family gathered there. Such a "Little House on the Prairie" life seems incongruous with the Susannah-turned-Jacob story.
After he made the announcement to his family, there were difficult months with little communication with his father, but by the time the couple had planned their wedding this time as Jacob and Diane Anderson-Minshall both families came from Idaho to Foster City for the event. For a while Jacob's father steered clear of much conversation at all.
"But finally, before he left, he said to me, 'I've got some tools in the truck if you need them,' and I took that as a message."
The message must have been of acceptance, because it still makes Jacob Anderson-Minshall smile.
You can e-mail Lucinda Ryan at
email@example.com or call her at (925) 416-4757.