The Last Closet” was written by Moira Greyland. She’s the daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of “The Mists of Avalon” and Walter Breen. It is Marion Bradley’s book from which the book title is drawn. “The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon” is equal parts autobiography and true-crime thriller with a tragic sprinkling of the history of science fiction fandom mixed in.
Moira’s book includes large sections of horrifying personal stories, but she has gone to great length to document what happened. For example, her father’s repeated arrests on pedophilia charges (he died in prison) and her mother’s testimony during such trials are public record. She’s backed up everything she can from external sources.
I had the opportunity to interview Moira, and the transcript is below.
Tamara: Some of the events in the book go back forty years. What prompted you to write the book in 2017?
Moira: In 2014, a blogger named Deirdre Saoirse Moen contacted me.  She was protesting Tor book’s publication of a puff piece lauding my mother, which did not mention either my father’s conviction or her court-documented collusion with him.
I only knew Deirdre as a woman from science fiction fandom who had hired me for a harp concert, and I did not realize how famous she was.  My responses to her email consisted of a brief assent that my father had indeed done all that he was accused of and convicted for and more, but it also included the new for her information that my mother had been a great deal worse than my father.  I also included my two poems “Mother’s Hands” and “They Did Their Best.”
Deirdre was horrified, and reported that she had lost her lunch upon reading my reply.  Her blog posts about my mother and my responses were reblogged to 92 countries all over the world.  There was furious controversy, mostly consisting of everyone who tried to defend my mother getting shouted down.  Some people read my mother’s appallingly callous court testimony and pronounced her guilty from her own words.  Other people saw themselves in my poetry, in the flatness and horror so familiar to the trauma patient.  Still others recognized things in my mother’s books about incest and sexual abuse which had never quite seemed right to them.
I was astonished at the volume of response, and at the many, many, MANY letters addressed directly to me.  Most of the letters included both sympathy for me and my brother, but nearly all contained reports of the letter writer’s own abuse, many containing the words “I never told anyone this before.”
I was asked to fill in the rest of my story, and I did so, in a blog post called “The Story of Moira Greyland,” hosted on the blog of Katy Faust, another child of gays and lesbians as I am.  My blog post was nominated for a Hugo in 2015, and I was offered a book contract by Vox Day of Castalia House.
The only concern I had about writing my book was that my late brother Mark was having a very hard time with the unplanned public exposure.  He was having flashbacks about our father,  and beginning to have a lot more trouble managing his health.  The reason that was so problematic for him was that we both identified our mother as being the scary, dangerous one, where our father was comparatively gentle and loving.  Having to deal with his history meant that there was no even remotely good parent left for him, even as a matter of memory.
His distress predated the book, though, and I did not think that it would be relieved by my silence.
I was given a year to complete the book, and I beat my deadline.  It would do no good to mention the particular kind of hell it was to tell the story, and I credit my beloved late husband with sticking by my side through the entire process.  Anyone with a trauma history can imagine that all of my trauma symptoms from flashbacks to ataxia got worse.  It became very clear to me while writing exactly why it was that so few people talk about their injuries.
The editing process was a bit more dicey than writing the book.  Where there was not a lot to do to the book, because Vox intended it to be told in my rather raw, non-professional writer’s voice, the subject matter was so upsetting that more than one editor had to abandon the project.  My final editor was a champ, though, and got us across the finish line.
Tamara: Reading the book is difficult. I couldn’t decide if it was R or for mature audiences only. If you had to give the book such a rating, what would it be?
Moira: I have requested that my children and my bonus children and other immediate family members never read it.  I have had so many reviews where grown men described themselves as crying openly through several chapters that I am completely unwilling to inflict that on even my grown children.  NC-17 is probably the closest to an appropriate theatrical rating.
Tamara: You are primarily a musician as well as a music teacher. I’ve heard some of your harp music. Do you think that the controversy from the book is what led to your albums on Amazon being flagged as explicit?
Moira: I thought that was very funny at the time.  How could my album of Gaelic folk songs and harp music be explicit by any stretch of the imagination?  Yes, it is quite possible that the same few dastardly fellows who sent horrible, obscene letters and even jumped onto my YouTube videos might have told Amazon to mark my recordings as explicit.
For me, the last straw was a harp instrumental being marked as explicit.  How might one find naughty words where there were no words at all?  So I got on the phone with Amazon customer service, and requested the technician needle-drop on the instrumental track.  Sure enough, no naughty words from my harp!  I explained the lyrics of the other songs, and it became clear soon enough that anything less explicit than my lyrics would be difficult to imagine.  So for now, the explicit rating has been dropped, even though many reviews remain, laughing at the newly minted “explicit harpist!”
Tamara: Your albums and your memoir show that you consider yourself a daughter of Avalon. Have you written any fantasy yourself? Have you written any science fiction?
Moira: Well, although I am certainly my mother’s daughter, she neither invented Avalon nor wrote its definitive history.  My album was dedicated to my mother in a backhanded way.  When I recorded the music, I was still unable to say a word against my mother or father except to my closest friends, for reasons I made clear in the book.  My dedication read “To my mother, Marion Zimmer Bradley, who taught me to follow my dreams no matter what.”  And there were acres of pain in that “what.”
One thing my mother and I disagreed on, apart from the occasional felony, was that where she believed life should read like a good novel, I thought life should not be so fraught with misery.  She made it clear that if I was a Real (whatever it was that day) I would do XYZ no matter what was being done to me, no matter the adversity.  To me, this makes one’s children into lab rats, and it is vile.
Arguably, my two original songs on Avalon’s Daughter, “Guinevere’s Song” and “Sunrise Over Stonehenge” are both works of fantasy.  But my primary interest in writing is nonfiction, apart from a few more concept albums based on folk songs.
Tamara: This book was a top seller in the “abuse survivors memoirs” and related categories soon after release. Do you think the book appeals to general survivors of child abuse and sexual abuse? Who do you consider to be the audience for the “The Last Closet?”
Moira: Many trauma survivors have given my book five stars, but so have law enforcement and social workers.  They tell me they want other social workers and law enforcement to know more about the topics I talk about, because it will help them in helping families scarred by sexual abuse, specifically in understanding how the denial in a family goes far beyond “not knowing.”  The crimes in my family were not denied because they were unknown.  They were denied because “the straights wouldn’t understand.”  The mentality was that until everyone was onboard with the philosophy of all sex all the time between all people of all ages, the family’s belief in doing these things had to be hidden.
I was expected to not only be a willing participant, but to keep the family secrets.  As I discussed at some length in my book, I was vilified for wanting to stop my father from molesting boys, and threatened into silence, as well as being regarded as a pariah and a loose cannon once it was known that I was neither willing, nor especially silent.  I did not dare to tell anyone other than my friends and counselors until both my parents had been dead for many years.
Tamara: What do you hope to see happen as a result of the book’s publication?
Moira: I want the reality of gay families to become common knowledge.  Not just the astronomical statistics of sexual abuse in gay families, but the fact that only a small fraction of us even finish high school, and we are off the charts in terms of depression, fearfulness and a host of other disadvantages which are extremely unfair to drop children into.
I would also like to settle, once and for all, the asinine notion of sex between adults and children being anything other than an atrocity.  Perverted adults might call themselves “minor attracted…”and insist they were “born that way.”  Shall we call serial killers “murder attracted” and make excuses for them too? After all, sociopathy is not something which can be easily removed or treated, but I don’t see a push to legitimize the things sociopaths want to do.
Tamara: Do you have any other writing projects in the works?
Moira: Yes.  I was recently bereaved of my brother in April, and my husband in May.  Every few days, I have been writing essays about my grief, and I have been asked many times to put them in a book and publish them, ostensibly to help both the bereaved and hospice workers who believe my account will help them understand the grieving process more fully.  My working title is “Letters from Grief.”
Apart from that, I have a book on practical PTSD management which differs from other offerings in that it will not include sad stories which will trigger the reader, but it will give a road map of a great many ways that the lives and the coping skills of trauma patients can be improved.
I have three books of original music and arrangements nearly ready to go.  First, I have all the scores for Avalon’s Daughter, (which includes original music and lyrics, as well as my arrangements of folk songs, and one transcription of another arrangement.). My song cycle, Anthem for America, consists of eleven original songs about a fictional woman who lost her husband in 9-11 and copes with grief and returning hope through the course of the cycle, as well as being a steady presence to her small children.  One more book of harp music is unfinished and has the working title of “Harp Chocolates.”
I have also written most of three books of music pedagogy: a harp book called “The Box Of Shapes,” a vocal pedagogy book called “The Five Skills” and a book on practicing tentatively titled “Rep Counters.”
Tamara: Are there any other questions you want to answer? Is there anything you want to add?
Moira: Although writing my book was painful and recording the audiobook was excruciating, it has ended up being a positive result from an appalling process.  I learned a lot from writing “The Last Closet.”  Putting together the court testimony and witness statements with my recollections allowed me to make connections I had never made before.  Also, the content in a lot of the witness statements appalled me.  Much of what keeps a trauma survivor going is denial, the notion that “it really wasn’t that bad.”  Allowing reality to dry out that murky mess has meant I could own my own life instead of living in terror of the next round of flashbacks.  The phrase “taking one’s power back” may seem like a cliché, but it is a much-needed reality in the life of a survivor.  Having to cope with the things that happened AND live with the smug denials or open crimes or rationalizations of the family felons adds insult to injury.  Having to pretend that nothing is wrong kept me imprisoned long after it made any sense.  I kept my silence partly to not upset my parents, and partly to not upset my mother’s fans, who had, I thought, gained value from my mother’s books.
However, discovering that my mother’s fans included a great many sexual abuse survivors let me understand, finally, that they would be better off knowing the truth, and perhaps even being able to confront the truth of their own lives.  They set me free, and now I hope to return the favor.
Conclusion: If you have the stomach for it, I recommend reading “The Last Closet” by Moira Greyland Peat.