Oh hey, I was on NPR Illinois today.

Wild to have grown up listening to NPR, and then today I got to turn on the radio and hear my voice right after NPR News from Washington!!

It was a pleasure to join Community Voices, a show produced by NPR Illinois WUIS 91.9FM out of Springfield, to talk about the work I do for the Kirkland Fine Arts Center, the College of Fine Arts at Millikin University, my upcoming book (STILL ALIVE, Feb 2024) from Malarkey Books, and how much I love living in Decatur. I even wedged in a mention of Frank’s, purveyors of the best Italian Beef in Central Illinois.

You can listen to the whole conversation right here.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Now read THANATOS, my creepy short story at Malarkey Books.

Malarkey Books published Hellarkey, just in time for Halloween (as a fundraiser for the press), and it sold out in mere hours. But even if you missed the chance to get your own copy, you can now read my story online!!!

Read Thanatos here.

A happy samhain to you and yours,

LJ

New Short Story: Jesus Melted Before I Could Say I’m Sorry at FREAKING BAFFLER MAGAZINE

It is with no amount of calm that I announce my latest story is live and kicking today at BAFFLER MAGAZINE.

It’s my first Southern story in nearly 12 years, tbh, and the only thing that I let guide me while writing it was my sense of delight. This compass, of course, led me to the sinner-est and yet, in some ways, the holiest places.

So if an AA meeting is your church and the realm of kitsch is your sanctuary, settle in because this tale’s for you: “Jesus Melted Before I Could Say I’m Sorry.”

Hollatchagurl.

With big love and the comforting hum of cicadas,

LJ

STILL ALIVE, my debut novel, to be published by MALARKEY BOOKS in February 2024

!!!!! I am thrilled to share that STILL ALIVE (formerly STARBOI), which was long listed by [PANK] for their book contest in 2020, will be published by MALARKEY BOOKS in February 2024 !!!!!!!!

An excerpt of the novel already appeared as a preview on MALARKEY’S website and you can read it here: STILL ALIVE (Excerpt) by LJ Pemberton.

Another excerpt is forthcoming from Cosmonauts Avenue, and I will of course share that when it goes live.

Here’s the neato graphic announcement that MALARKEY made to share the news:

If you're excited about my book, and you love good writing, I highly recommend joining the MALARKEY BOOK CLUB at their Patreon. For $20 a month, you'll get one outstanding book of fiction or non-fiction or poetry EVERY MONTH (12 a year!) from this doing-the-good-work indie press. Proceeds directly support the operations of the press AND THE AUTHORS THEMSELVES. Which, as you know, I really believe in. 

No doubt there will be more to share in the future, but I wanted you to know what’s up. I’m 100% nervous and excited to share this book I’ve been working on for literal years of my life. It’s a doozy.

sending big love,

LJ

EXCERPT from STILL ALIVE, a novel: Currently available at MALARKEY BOOKS

It is with extreme delight (and a touch of trepidation) that I share with you today’s hot, fresh off the press, excerpt of STILL ALIVE. STILL ALIVE (formerly STARBOI) was long listed by PANK for their Big Book contest in 2020, but it has not yet found a publisher. Not only that, but another excerpt has been accepted for publication with Cosmonauts Avenue for their relaunch.

This book is horny, and sad, and relentless, and it is the first novel I’ve written that I really, truly, am proud of. I believe, deep down, that it will find the right home someday.

Plot synopsis for the whole damn book: STILL ALIVE is an anti-coming of age story told through the fast-paced remembrances of the manic, bisexual V, as she enters a multiple-decade romantic tug-of-war with the charming and withholding LEX. Weighted by the emotional fallout from her parents’ dysfunctional marriage, mother’s addictions, and brother’s temporary escape into eastern religiosity (he’s nicknamed RICHARD GERE), V leaves the Portland, Oregon of her childhood for new roots in New York City, only to find herself further disillusioned. Her gay best friend LEROY has found happiness elsewhere and the city isn’t what it once was. After following her now wife, Lex, to Los Angeles, their relationship survives two affairs, but V ultimately realizes Lex is a person, not an answer, and chooses independence after all. STILL ALIVE is a fervent, 21st century feminist narrative with a surprisingly hopeful end. 

This section comes early in the novel, when V, the narrator (whom Leroy jokingly calls “Sophia”), runs into Lex at a club and falls slowly back into the situationship between them that neither can escape.

Read it and blush.

xo,

LJ

New Short Story: AFTER THE GAME at Words & Sports Quarterly

Cover, Words & Sports Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 3: Slobberknockers & Buttonhooks

I don’t always write about football, but when I do, I also write about the marching band.

Here’s a new little love story hot off the presses.

I posted it on social media last week – but forgot to update my site! Those who know me from way back when might recognize some details from my own life. Back in 1998, I was the smallest sousaphone player at Lassiter High School when we won the Bands of America National Championships. This story isn’t about that, but it is about young love, and growing up, and how sometimes what we are isn’t what we always will be.

Hope you like it.

LJ