Sarah Dreher

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Sarah Dreher
Occupation Novelist, Playwright, Psychologist
Period 20th century
Genres Mystery
Subjects Lesbian fiction
Literary movement LGBT Literature

Sarah Dreher (born March 26, 1937, Hanover, Pennsylvania — died April 2, 2012,[1] Amherst, Massachusetts) was an American lesbian novelist and playwright, and best known for her award-winning lesbian mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Stoner McTavish.[2]

Her themes include "the anguish of lesbian relationships beginning, ending or mending. Dreher's lesbian protagonists are modern heroes searching for integrity and identity..."[3] In the resolution of her mysteries, solutions other than resorting to traditional justice system intervention are part of the exploration of society outside the existing social paradigm.

Dreher has contributed essays and writings to a number of projects, including Off the Rag: Lesbians Writing about Menopause by Lee Lynch and Akia Woods, "Waiting for Stonewall" in Sexual Practice/Textual Theory: Lesbian Cultural Criticism,[4] and a contributed chapter to They Wrote the Book: Thirteen Women Mystery Writers Tell All.[5]

In addition to writing, Dreher was a clinical psychologist in private practice, graduating first from Wellesley College, then gaining a Ph.D. in psychology from Purdue University.[6]

Work[edit]

Books:

  • Stoner McTavish Series, (New Victoria)
    • Stoner McTavish (1985)
    • Something Shady (1986)
    • Gray Magic (1987)
    • A Captive in Time (1990)
    • Otherworld (1993)
    • Bad Company (1995)
    • Shaman's Moon (1998)
    • Love Murders (unpublished)
  • Lesbian Stages: Plays by Sarah Dreher. New Victoria. (1988),
    • Contains:
      • Alumnae News: The Doris Day Years = winner of the 1st Jane Chambers National Playwriting Award 1987 for full length play
      • Base Camp
      • Backward, Turn Backward
      • This Brooding Sky
      • Hollandia ’45
  • PLACES PLEASE! The First Anthology of Lesbian Plays Aunt Lute publishing Company (1985) included:
    • 8 x 10 Glossy by Sarah Dreher = Winner of the 1st Lesbian Playwrighting Contest, Theatre Rhinocros 1985
    • Ruby Christmas by Sarah Dreher

In mid-1984, Sarah responded to the national announcement inviting submissions for the first anthology of lesbian plays. Sarah initially submitted "Ruby Christmas" and immediately was invited to submit all of her completed plays. She sent "Base Camp", "Backward Turn Backward", and "Hollandia '45"; mentioning that "8 X 10 Glossy" was still being written. Sarah submitted "8 X 10" when it was complete.


"Alumnae News: The Doris Day Years" was incubating in her mind. After reading "8 X 10 Glossy", I immediately phoned Sarah about the 1st Lesbian Playwrighting contest at SF's Theatre Rhinoceros and advised Sarah to submit the script. Sarah asked "Why?". I responded "Because it will win!" Though Sarah thought winning was an outrageous assumption, "8 X 10 Glossy" did win the contest and was premiered at Theatre Rhinoceros soon after. It received excellent reviews in SF media.

"This Brooding Sky", an hilarious short 2-act parody of "classic gothic" novels was not submitted for the 1st Anthology because Sarah mistakenly considered it "silly, unworthy of production". When I finally got to read it in late 1986, I scolded Sarah for holding it back vav PLACES PLEASE! and I soon after directed/produced it to sold out houses and rave reviews in Santa Cruz, CA. Despite being an elegant spirit in a grounded body, Sarah never was the best evaluator of her writing.

In 1985 "'PLACES, PLEASE!' The First Anthology of Lesbian Plays" was published by Aunt Lute publishing house in San Francisco, and distributed in USA and internationally. To our astonishment, soon it was proved to be the 1st Lesbian anthology on the planet. It was the top selling play anthology in 1985-86 in USA per bookstore national statistics; and it sold very well overseas esp in Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands. Both "Ruby Christmas" and "8 X 10 Glossy" were in the anthology, along with 4 other plays by other playwrights, and according to feedback Sarahs's plays were favorites of many readers and directors.

Though Sarah and I only met twice face to face, in SF for premiere of "8 X 10 Glossy" in 1985, and for LA premiere of "Alumnae News: The Doris Day Years" in 1987, I considered her my friend through the years and kept in touch sporadically. I valued her, her talents and her subtle humor. I learned belatedly of her death today (August 27, 2013) and so I am sad as I write these memories. I am a bit lonelier without her, especially without her humor, in this world. Forgive any "tootin' of my own horn", I wanted to detail my dealings with Sarah. My words here are factual though subjective. ---Kate McDermott, editor, PLACES PLEASE!

Awards[edit]

  • 8 X 10 Glossy, 1985, 1st Lesbian Playwrighting Contest, Theatre Rhinoceros San Francisco CA winner
  • Alumnae News: The Doris Day Years, 1987, 1st Jane Chambers National Playwrighting Award—full length play winner
  • Shaman's Moon, 1998 Lambda Literary Foundation winner, Mystery
  • A Captive in Time, 1990 Lambda Literary Foundation finalist, Mystery
  • Medalist, 2005 The Alice B Readers Award

See also[edit]

  • Markowitz, Judith A, foreword by Katherine V. Forrest. The Gay Detective Novel (MacFarland)
  • Munt, Sally. Murder by the Book?: Feminism and the Crime Novel, 1990, (Routledge)
  • Zimmerman, Bonnie. Safe Sea of Women: Lesbian Literature 1969-1989, 1992 (Beacon)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sarah A. Dreher Obituary: View Sarah Dreher's Obituary by The Republican". Obits.masslive.com. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  2. ^ Griffin, Gabriele. Who's Who in Lesbian and Gay Writing, Routledge (59).
  3. ^ Zimmerman, Bonnie. Lesbian Histories and Cultures, Taylor and Francis (763).
  4. ^ Wolfe, Susan J. and Penelope, Julia. Sexual Practice/Textual Theory: Lesbian Cultural Criticism. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1993
  5. ^ Windrath, Helen (editor), They Wrote the Book: Thirteen Women Mystery Writers Tell All, 2000 Spinsters Ink
  6. ^ Pollack, Sandra and Denise D. Knight (Editors). Contemporary Lesbian Writers of the United States: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, 1993 (p. 186-191)