Author Archives: Natasha Holme

I have just published a new book—a Q&A collaboration with Helena Whitbread, author of The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister. Anne was a wealthy lesbian diarist who lived two centuries before our time.

Helena and I investigate Anne’s and my obsession with keeping detailed encoded diaries about every aspects of our lives, including our lesbian sexuality. The book is illustrated with photographs of Anne’s and my diaries. Section headings include:

  • Early sexuality
  • Keeping a diary in the age of technology
  • The mentality behind keeping a detailed diary
  • Encoding
  • Similarities and differences in Anne’s and Natasha’s diaries
  • Obsessiveness
  • How Anne managed her lesbian sexuality
  • Adult sexuality
  • Christianity
  • Helena’s reaction to Anne’s and Natasha’s diaries

PAPERBACK (£4.99)
UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1539873366
US: www.amazon.com/dp/1539873366

EBOOK (£1.99)
UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N78B99Q
US: www.amazon.com/dp/B01N78B99Q

“When I first heard that you have been keeping a diary from a young age and, furthermore, that you had used an esoteric code, I was immediately interested. I was further intrigued by the fact that you are a lesbian and wrote about your sexual life. It seemed to me that a modern parallel could be drawn with Anne Lister, the early 19th century lesbian diarist who had written a great deal about her lesbian sexuality in her journals, couched in a secret code of her own devising. I thought it would be interesting to see how far this hypothesis could be taken and wondered if you would be willing to join me in an exploration of the similarities and differences, as diarists and as lesbians, between yourself and a woman who lived some two hundred years before your time.”

Helena Whitbread

Lesbian Crushes in France: A Diary on Screwing Up my Year Abroad (1990-1991) is now available, in both paperback and ebook versions. This is the sequel to Lesbian Crushes and Bulimia.

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In 1990 twenty-year-old Natasha finds herself in France on her university year abroad. She is ANGRY. Everyone should be a lesbian, or she will punish them for their oversight (particularly her bemused fellow English assistant friend, Ange).

The frites and the pâtisseries are not helping Natasha recover from her bulimia. And the door-to-door Mormon missionaries are bedevilling her reluctant search for God.

Natasha does not respond well to the frosty demands of the headmaster of the school where she is teaching.

She passes her time befriending a pair of thieving drop-outs on the run from the law, skinning up grilled banana skins, dodging flashers, and hitch-hiking around Europe.

You couldn’t do it if you tried. But twenty-four years ago, at the age of twenty, I managed to make myself bulimic. I would consume nothing but water for seven days at a time, or eat to the point of crippling pain, begging myself to stop … yet would carry on. I’d like to take a look at how I accomplished such an incredible feat. What are the lessons here? How could you make yourself bulimic?
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Lesbian Crushes at School: A Diary on Growing Up Gay in the Eighties (1983-1989) is now available, in both paperback and ebook versions. This is the *prequel* to Lesbian Crushes and Bulimia.

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In 1983 thirteen-year-old Natasha is in love with her French teacher, Miss Williams. When Natasha is cruelly banished from Miss Williams’s class forever, the love develops into obsession … stalking … unhealthy behaviour … and painfully misguided cries for attention.

This uncomfortable yet light-hearted memoir in diary form is primarily a record of obsession.

Natasha is a love-sick lesbian teenager in an all-girls school in the eighties, juggling her Latin homework, Bible study, a crush on Elaine Paige, and her suppressed sexuality. How can she make sense of it all?

But more importantly … tormented by unrequited love … how can Natasha make Miss Williams love her back?

I have just launched my new Lesbian Crush Diaries website. My next two books will be out summer 2014 and winter 2014. Discover what happened BEFORE … and what happened AFTER … www.lesbiancrushdiaries.com

Do you speak French?

The sequel to Lesbian Crushes and Bulimia (1989-1990) will be Lesbian Crushes in France (1990-1991). More dysfunctional behaviour, different country.

Could you give me ANY amount of help correcting the phrases below? They are numbered for easy reference.

Thank you so much,
Natasha x
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To read a preview of my book, use the dark grey arrow on the lighter grey background to the right of the book’s title page below. To enlarge the preview, click on the link just below.

As a queer person suffering from bulimia from the age of 8 (so 12 years now), I really related to big chunks of this book. My first real lesbian relationship ended at the start of February too, just a few months before I started reading Lesbian Crushes and Bulimia, so the heartache Natasha talks about was not only relatable (who DOESN’T find heartache relatable?) but still fresh. This book tore me down when I was incredibly vulnerable, it was a very hard read, but also one that I wanted to continue forever. And then it helped me to put things back together again, but in a different, slightly healthier way. I came out as queer rather than lesbian (the book made me realise how different the two can be and that both were valid and it was okay for me to ID in whatever way feels right) and after a quick dip into WORSE eating disordered behaviours, I finally confronted my need to recover.

I don’t know when I finished the book… August? What I do know is that it’s November and I haven’t purged for two and a half months. I’m finally getting specialist treatment for my ED and of course that’s a big help in recovery, but there were days, particularly at the start of treatment, where I’d leave my session thinking I’d nip into the toilets and purge before my train arrived. Instead I would sit down and read this book and I would be sucked in. I’ve never identified with a protagonist so much before. Natasha is so honest and maybe this is just my interpretation (which would say more about me than the book!) but I think she makes it very clear how bizarre the logic of an eating disorder is – it’s as if you want something (food, normalcy, love) so much that you decide you need to not want it anymore. Of course it then takes an even bigger hold of you. I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who hadn’t suffered with an eating disorder. It’s the best account of one that I’ve seen (which is funny, because often the ED parts of the book are pushed aside to make room for the feelings, but I think that’s why it’s so powerful – the ED is a symptom of something much bigger) but I couldn’t recommend it to someone who wouldn’t “get” that mindset. The book doesn’t walk you through what an eating disorder is and it doesn’t sugarcoat the ending and leave you thinking “that’s okay then, everything was fine in the end, she snapped out of it” the way a lot of eating disorder memoirs do. It’s honest. It’s a dose of tough love, a reminder about accountability and it has the potential to knock you off your feet and leave you there or pick up right up afterwards and bandage you up. It’s closest to Marya Hornbacher’s Wasted, I’d say, with a little sprinkle of The Bell Jar. That’s a push though, because it’s unlike anything else out there. So often in the queer community, there’s talk about the intersection between female partners’ bodies and eating disorders. It’s something a lot of us struggle with, but nobody wants to formally address it. Reading about it made me finally feel like my feelings were okay and that I could finally overcome them.

I am so thankful for this book. I want to keep on going with recovery so that ten years from now I’ll be alive and I’ll be able to say that this book saved my life. I feel like it already did more for me than years of therapy, medication and hospitalisation did though – when I feel like dipping deep into my ED again, I think back to how bleak this book got and how bleak my LIFE has been. Natasha’s honesty will blow you away, even if it does occasionally hit a nerve.

I will never, ever forget it, and I think writing this has made me convince myself to read it again. Third time! I’m so greatful to Natasha for writing this and I’ll sing its/her praises every chance I get.

lesbrary.com/2013/02/03/lena-reviews-lesbian-crushes-and-bulimia-by-natasha-holme

Lesbian Crushes and Bulimia is a year’s worth of diary entries that chronicle with terrifying frankness the author, Natasha Holme’s, first lesbian crushes and her descent into disordered eating. The stark candor of the account paints a fascinating portrait of a person and a specific time in recent history.

The book, set in 1989, begins with Natasha’s summer experience in Germany. While it’s not specified, it seems that she’s doing some kind of service work with a group of other internationals. She gets along with the rest of her team, and especially Alex, the other British girl in the group. The two bond over their shared experience of intense crushes on former teachers. As the summer goes on the two develop a very close friendship built partially on sexual subtext. They both return home and attempt to continue their close relationship while also trying to define their sexualities.

When Natasha returns to school she explores the gay community while also attempting to figure out her sexual preferences through trial and error. At the same time, her bond with Alex reaches obsessive proportions and when the two start to grow apart, Natasha’s obsession turns to her body and physical appearance.

I flew through this book in almost one sitting, an experience I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, but at a certain point, it’s almost impossible to turn away. There are entries almost every day and as things progress, the author’s obsessions become painfully apparent. Her descriptions of interactions with others are usually characterized by interrogation-like questioning about sexuality, physical appearance and judgments of character. They’re uncomfortable questions, the gathering of evidence and reassurance. And as things got worse and worse, I read to find out if anyone in this person’s world would find a way to break through to her, if anyone would be able to help her. It was almost as if I read to keep her alive.

In 2013, the age of internet journals and pop culture obsessions, and a radically different understanding of eating disorders, homosexuality and adolescence, this is a fascinating book to read. The parallels between this private diary and blogs as confessionals were very apparent and very uncomfortable. I found lots of it really frightening and difficult and for some it’s probably very triggering, but at the same time it’s an important story. It’s a record, both for the author and the rest of us, of how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go in creating safe and accepting environments.

All your dirty laundry i love it!!

I loved how raw and truthful this book was it tickled me in parts it was brilliant. […] definitely purchase this book its so funny, sad and real. Made me feel like a weird little teenager all over again.