Lee Mandelo is a writer, critic, and occasional editor whose fields of interest include speculative and queer fiction, especially when the two coincide. They have been a past nominee for various awards including the Nebula, Lambda, and Hugo; their work can be found in magazines such as Tor.com, Clarkesworld, and Nightmare. Aside from a brief stint overseas learning to speak Scouse, Lee has spent their life ranging across Kentucky, currently living in Lexington and pursuing a PhD at the University of Kentucky.
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Growing up in Bullitt Co., KY alongside the evolution of the internet, Lee spent their early years hunting down questionable fansubs on dial-up, reading all the gay comics they could find, and experimenting with fashion choices ranging from gender-ambiguous goth to generalized nerd to sporty femme boy. Their exploration of gender over the years has been fairly public, as they began writing a column—“Queering SFF”—for Tor.com in 2010 at the age of nineteen. More than a decade later, they now consider themselves to be a gender-nonconforming guy, using he or they pronouns in daily life, but “genderqueer” is a word that still has a warm place in their heart.
Over their career, their short fiction has been featured in multiple magazines and collections, as well as being reprinted in collections such as Transcendent 2: The Year's Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, ed. Bogi Takacs, winner of the 2018 Lambda Award for Transgender Fiction. In terms of criticism and nonfiction, Lee is a regular contributor to Tor.com as well—not just the QSFF series, but also book reviews, essay cycles like "Safe as Life: A Four-Part Essay on Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle," and more. Other nonfiction pursuits include contributions to publications such as the multiple award-winner Dear Tiptree edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce, Queers Dig Time Lords, edited by Sigrid Ellis & Michael D. Thomas, and more. Once in a blue moon, they appear as a speaker for events such as for the lecture series Out to Lunch at the University of Connecticut.
As for their academic career, Lee has pursued degrees in English and Contemporary Literature, including on a Master’s granted on fellowship to the University of Liverpool in 2014. After a five-year sting holding traditional jobs ranging from distance education to law, they recently returned to the world of scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky with research focused on queer theory and transgender masculinities. During the course of the program, they’ve also been awarded the Wimberly C. Royster Graduate Excellence Awards in Arts and Sciencesgrant.
Splitting their time between writing fiction, teaching courses on gender and power, and reading all the queer nonsense possible, their daily life in Lexington involves a fair amount of eye strain. While they enjoy visiting bigger cities like Chicago as often as possible, for the Culture, there’s something about Kentucky that always pulls them back: chosen family, or the trees and hills, or the vibrant small communities of writers and queers they always find, or all of the above. Favored hobbies include cooking, petting dogs, taking too many photos, and lifting weights—as well as attending local drag shows and LGBTQ+ community events.
[Represented by Tara Gilbert of JDLA.]
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International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts - March 2020, Orlando FL
WisCon - May 2020, Madison WI