Author TH Forest answers the call of queer fiction

TH Forest, a three-times published and Newton-born author, writes romantic, LGBTQ fiction.

She doesn’t identify as gay, but she believes in telling queer stories.

“I really feel strongly about having these voices heard,” Forest said.

Forest’s literary focus was influenced heavily by her cousin, Thomas Holdorf. He was a photographer, who shot multiple covers for Stephen King. Holdorf died of complications from AIDS in 1995.

When Forest, who moved back to Newton nearly a decade ago, started her publishing company exclusively for queer authors and authors of color, she named it after him.

“I really decided when I started Holdorf Press, that it was going to be specifically for marginalized voices, queer authors, authors of color, that that sort of thing,” Forest said. “That became my goal.”

Forest acknowledged that the combination of her straight, cis, identity and her genre may seem controversial to some. Still, Forest maintains that all love should be treated the same, even in literature.

“It’s the human experience, and you don’t have to be a gay man or a trans person to to understand human condition,” Forest said. “I feel like I treat the characters like, with the respect that they deserve.”

It began during the pandemic, when inspiration for a romance-adventure novel struck.

“I just kind of developed this idea for a story in my head and sat down and wrote it,” Forest said.

The book was about a straight couple, but as she wrote, Forest became more interested in two central sides of the characters, a gay couple named Matt and Ollie.

These two became the focus of Forest’s next many, currently unpublished, romance novels.

“I really just became drawn to them,” Forest said. “I didn’t set out to write queer fiction, but then I wrote six books about them.”

“Twinkies & Beefcake” is a book by author TH Forest that shows the dark side of a relationship entangled in drugs and pornography. (Courtesy Photo)

After drafting her first seven books at home, she decided she wanted to get serious about possibly publishing them. She began writing classes at GrubStreet, a creative writing center in Boston.

While studying “The Catcher in the Rye” in a narrative writing class, she was inspired to create her own Holden-Caulfield-esque protagonist.

“I hadn’t read that book in forever, and I was reading it and I was blown away by the style,” Forest said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I want to write a book like this.’”

In the style of J.D Salinger, Forest’s debut novel, “Twinkies and Beefcake,” explores a darker side of queer romance. It follows a teenage boy who’s drawn into drug abuse and pornography by a much older lover.

Forest said in this book, she wanted to explore why and how a person might begin selling internet pornography.

“Who are these people that, you know, film themselves in a very intimate, you know, doing very intimate things, and then just put it on the internet for people to watch,” Forest said. “I just, was just so curious about that.”

The themes of sex, drugs in the book made it difficult to promote, according to Forest.

“There were some people that didn’t even want to review it because, you know, they don’t want their name out, like their name associated,” Forest said.

Since her debut in 2022, she’s published two more queer romance stories that lean more mainstream than the first.

Her second book, “Kelly’s Folly” is a young-adult story of a teenaged, gay diver with Olympic dreams. Forest also published the first installment of Matt and Ollie’s story, “Appearances,” in April.

In homage to her late cousin, Forest used one of his photographs as the cover for the upcoming novel.

“My cousin, when he, when he passed, he left me some things,” Forest said. “I have two cases of photographs, and one of them I used for the cover of ‘Appearances’.”

She’s editing the seven books she wrote during the pandemic, and is publishing her second book with Matt and Ollie, “Foundations,” this fall.

Forest still holds her day job as a university administrator. But as her ambitions pick up in step with her success as an author, she hopes to soon focus on being an author and publisher full-time.

“I look forward to when I can do it full time, and, you know, really dedicate it to also helping others,” Forest said.

When asked if she will always include gay romance in her writing, she replied: “Why not?”

“Hetero-romance has been done to death,” Forest said. “You know, why not make it more representative?”