by: Janet Stickney
Emmie Dee's writing career, starting with her first story,
Ronnie and Ruthie, (1999) jumped off to a wonderful start with a tale of loan sharks and
hiding. Her style, while stilted at first, using very long paragraphs and a sentence
structure that was at times awkward, did not diminish the telling of the story, yet I knew
that she had not matured into the writer we know today. Emmie does not post often, taking
the time to craft her ideas into a coherent plot line, and although she does it well, she
quite often does not adequately define who is speaking, or set the stage with enough
description to let us envision the total scene. However, in Blue Nails Emmie blossomed
into a first class storyteller.
The introduction to the premise was lacking, and once the story jumped off I found
myself re-reading several portions trying to make sense of what was happening. I see this
as a major fault, since having to read the first three pages twice, does not portend well
for a story. Yet this story did unfold in magnificent ways that used heart rather than sex
to enhance the drama. Again, long paragraphs and a lack of participant identification
became an issue for me, even as improvement was clearly evident.
Drawing a reader into the story is a trait that I see developing, although I would have
preferred the draw closer to the beginning in all of Emmie's stories. The slow rise to the
central plot can be deceiving if a reader wants to know what's happening fairly quickly,
and it takes confidence in the author to stay the course, and discover the gems within the
The naming of characters, central to every story, is up to the author, but having a
character with not two names, but three, is confusing, especially if the plot develops
slowly, as in Blue Nails. Heart-rending injuries and the interaction of the characters are
difficult when there is no forward to relate how a character arrived in the situation,
which is what happened. Mark, or Julie, or Annie, all one person, yet how and why did she
end up in a dress? We can infer it, but we are not told of the interaction previous to the
beginning of the story.
Perfect Harmony is written in an interview or transcript style which, while easy to
write, does not allow the same level of character interaction shown in previous works she
has posted. While on the whole I enjoyed her work, there is much more to come, and the
gems I mentioned previously will certainly be a part of her future works. Emmie seems to
take the time to let her stories mature into more than just a few paragraphs that lead
into a quick transformation, which I find delightfully refreshing. This is true in all of
her works, and shows that she has the talent for writing, and I'm betting that her talents
will grow and she will become a widely popular author.
by: Debbie Cybill
Before 1998 I had never read any TG fiction, even though I am a TV
who can pass quite well in public. Then in January of that year I was knocked over by a
pickup truck that veered onto the sidewalk. For the next two and half years I was in and
out of hospital. In my brief periods at home I started surfing the web looking for TG
fiction, just to pass the time while I recuperated. Most of what I found seemed to me to
have little in common with the TG experience or even fantasy. Instead many of the stories
seemed to be simply wet dreams of gay men, while lots of others relied on magic to put a
closure to an impossible situation. A few gems of stories shone out like brilliant stars
in a firmament of dross.
And then I found Crystals site. The stories seemed to me of much higher quality
and far more apposite to the TG community. Early on in exploring Crystals site I
downloaded Emmie Dees story Blue Nails. In preparing this review it was a
pleasure to reread this story, which has become a favourite of mine. Here was a writer who
could write a complete sentence and who knew what a paragraph was all about, a writer who
could develop her characters and round out her plot with real, individualized people. I
found it a story with real tension and above all full of compassion. The characters had
lives to lead apart from cross dressing and interesting things to do, things that engaged
the reader in their lives.
I consider this story one of the triumphs of TG literature, one of the three or four
stories that deserve that encomium, fit to be placed alongside Elaines The
Importance of being Juliette or Ellen Hayes Tuck Saga. This story is the
culmination of a steady process of improvement in Emmies writing skills. Her
earliest story Ronni and Ruthie was way above average but did not reach the
excellence she attained later.
The sequels to Blue Nails, while charming and well-developed inevitably lacked
the tension to be found in the prototype, though their sequence is important to follow the
young people through their senior year in High School in Adventures of Annie and
their marriage and the start of their college years in Something borrowed. I am
dying to read the next installment of the latter, for it is not yet finished. Emmie is a
careful writer who polishes her thoughts as well as her sentences and another episode has
yet to emerge.
Emmie has not stagnated in one category of TG literature, but has produced an SRU
story, Harry Harriet and another magical one (in more than one sense of that term)
in Aw Come on. Her story Perfect Harmony takes the unusual form of an
interview between a reporter and a jazz musician. Other stories that deserve mention are Forgetful
Francie and Fashion Disaster, both enjoyable stories.
As anyone knows who has tried to write TG stories there are a limited number of plot
lines and the genre confines its devotees closely. In Blue Nails and in Bald
Truth Emmie has expanded the possible themes in unexpected directions and done so with
charm. One expects little violence and no bondage in her stories; a friend of mine who
likes extreme bondage has decried them as nilla, but that is what I like. If, like
me, you enjoy realistic stories then Emmies tales are for you, with their well
rounded characters and their dramatic tension.
The overall impression of Emmie Dees stories is one of compassion, the compassion
she shows for all her characters, black, white or inter-racial, sick or well, stressed out
or flying high. You need not expect detailed descriptions of intercourse in her stories,
nor homosexual encounters, no bondage, nor sado-masochism. If you seek these in your
stories look elsewhere. For myself, I find Emmies stories among my favourites,
especially the incomparable Blue Nails.