Paula Martinac

Award-winning Author · Editor · Educator

About Paula

Paula Martinac writes American historical fiction set in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is the author of the novel Dear Miss Cushman and six others, including Testimony; Clio Rising, Gold Medalist, Northeast Region, 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards; The Ada Decades, a finalist for the 2018 Ferro-Grumley Award; and Out of Time, a Lambda Literary Award winner. She has also authored three nonfiction books.

Her work-in-progress and first mystery, A Death on the Mezzanine, received the 2023 William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Mystery Writers. She has received fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council and the Arts and Science Council. In addition to teaching fiction writing at UNC Charlotte and working as the Community Coordinator for Charlotte Center for Literary Arts, she does developmental editing and reviews books for Foreword Reviews and Historical Novels Review. 

Editorial Services

Over the past three decades, I’ve been involved in the publishing industry from two sides—first as a publishing professional and later as an author of fiction and nonfiction books. During that time, I accumulated experience with large mainstream publishers, small presses, and university presses. In addition, I have almost 10 years of experience teaching fiction writing at the university level. Under my guidance, authors of fiction and memoir develop their drafts into polished manuscripts ready for querying publishers and agents. My particular areas of expertise are historical, women’s, and LGBTQ+ fiction.

Selected Books

Dear Miss Cushman

Bywater Books, 2021

260 pages
Historical, LGBTQ+, coming of age, theater, New York City

In 1850s Manhattan, a gender-bending role on stage helps a young actress find the courage to reject an arranged marriage and find love on her own terms.

Buy the book: Bywater Books, Amazon


Bywater Books, 2021

275 pages
Historical, LGBTQ+, academic, feminist, Southern

At a women’s college in rural Virginia in 1960, a history professor who has hidden her sexuality suddenly faces an investigation into her private life that threatens her career.

Buy the book: Bywater Books, Amazon

Clio Rising

Bywater Books, 2019

310 pages
Historical, LGBTQ+, feminist, New York City

In 1980s New York, a young woman from North Carolina embarks on a job as companion to a literary giant of the Paris expatriate generation—an octogenarian recluse who accomplished just one great novel.

Buy the book: Bywater Books, Amazon

The Ada Decades

Bywater Books, 2017

160 pages
Historical, LGBTQ+, racial justice, Southern

Over the course of seven decades, one woman reaches her own form of Southern womanhood—compassionate, resilient, principled, lesbian. Finalist for the Ferro-Grumley Award.

Buy the book: Bywater Books, Amazon

Out of Time

Bywater Books reprint, 2012

252 pages
LGBTQ+, supernatural, historical, New York City

Out of Time is a delightful and thoughtful novel about history, love, and the persistence of passion. Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction.

Buy the book: Bywater Books, Amazon

Praise for Paula Martinac’s Novels

Grounded in the nitty-gritties of 19th-century theatrical life, Dear Miss Cushman is a sparkling coming-of-age story about the roles free spirits shape for themselves, both on and off stage. Credible, engrossing, entertaining stuff.

Emma Donoghue, award-winning author of Room, The Wonder, and The Pull of the Stars

Paula Martinac’s Testimony, vividly imagined and remarkably researched, shines a light on queer lives that have been forgotten by history. The prose is vivid and intelligent, and the characters are rich and complex. A deeply compelling novel that I couldn’t put down.

Carter Sickels, author of The Prettiest Star

In Testimony, “Gen and Fenton are sympathetic characters; the setting also evokes the pleasures of academic life that attracted two such intelligent people to it despite its restrictions. Ultimately, this novel celebrates the bravery not only of the pre-Stonewall generation of LGBTQ people but also of the allies who were willing to risk their own careers and relationships to stand up for them.”

Historical Novels Review

Inventive and imaginative, Martinac’s Clio Rising draws upon two compelling eras in gay history—the expat Parisian world of Gertrude Stein and the burgeoning gay scene of 1980s New York City…. Clio Rising is a solid and pleasing addition to Martinac’s oeuvre.

Foreword Reviews (5-star review)

In The Ada Decades, “Martinac has given us a work reading so much like a memoir we have to remind ourselves that this is a work of fiction. The writing is tight, precise, imparting imagery and metaphor with skill, sprinkling the tale with microscopic descriptions that make it delightfully interesting and never boring. There are no unnecessary words in this masterful work.”

Lambda Literary Review

Martinac’s style [in The Ada Decades] made me feel that less is more, that leaving some parts out made the story more powerful. Cam and Ada are well-drawn characters, easy to identify with. This novel will make readers appreciate the difficulties today’s gay and lesbian senior citizens had to go through when they were young. Strongly recommended.

Historical Novels Review (Editor’s Pick of the Month)

Out of Time is a great read, wonderfully and compellingly written…. Martinac’s evocation of the early years of the century and the special friendships of the women in the period is satisfying and fascinating.

Bay Area Reporter