Skip to main content

Concordia grad infuses novels with queer stories from his personal life

Christopher DiRaddo gives readers entertaining, thought-provoking narratives
October 13, 2023
By David Silverberg

Image of a man with short dark hair and beard sitting in front of an open window in a room with walls covered in photographs and art Christopher DiRaddo is one of two individuals — both Concordians — who were selected for the Dentro La Terra residency in Arielli in Abruzzo, Italy. | Photo: Marlon Kuhnreich

Queering the newsroom. That’s how Christopher DiRaddo, BA 98, describes his aspiration when he was halfway through his Concordia communications and journalism major.

For an assignment, he was asked to shadow someone interesting for a day and profile them. DiRaddo, who had come out as queer, decided to follow a Montreal drag queen.

“I don’t remember the mark I got, but to me it was a political statement, at the time, to write about a drag queen,” he recalls, noting how he enjoyed another assignment for which he wrote about the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots that rallied the gay community in New York City.

Coming out during his Concordia years was a kind of “soft activism,” as DiRaddo describes it, that empowered him to land jobs, write books and run literary events with an eye towards giving queer stories their spotlight.

His fiction work is often influenced by his own experience. His recently published second novel, The Family Way (Véhicule Press/Esplanade Books) introduces us to Paul, who becomes a sperm donor to a lesbian couple looking to start a family. DiRaddo did the same thing, in fact, and kept a journal as he went through the process of helping his friends.

“It wasn’t right for a memoir but perfect for a novel,” he says, “and I wanted to write about relationships, friendships and what it means to have a chosen family.”

DiRaddo’s new novel, The Family Way, was inspired by his own experience becoming a sperm donor for a lesbian couple.

His first book, The Geography of Pluto (Véhicule Press/Esplanade Books, 2021), riffed off DiRaddo’s own heartbreak as he sought to recover from an intense breakup with his first boyfriend. Set in Montreal in the 1990s, the book received strong reviews, including from Daily Xtra (now Xtra Magazine) which surmised, “It’s one of those books that gets better as you keep reading, a rare combination of thoughtful writing that’s also hugely entertaining.”

‘My only job there is to write and I can’t wait to do that’

Fiction, journalism and communications have all been central to DiRaddo’s career. He hosted the radio show Queercorps on CKUT 90.3FM, produced public talks with queer authors for the non-profit organization Never Apart, wrote for and helped produce EnRoute magazine, and programmed roundtables and readings for the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival from 2016 to 2021.

DiRaddo has also been busy running his own reading series in Montreal, the first of its kind at the time when it launched. Violet Hour has been hosting book launches, readings and book clubs since 2014, often partnering with other organizations such as Fierté Montréal and Blue Metropolis. More than 250 writers have graced the Violet Hour stage.

“I realized I wanted to create a space to offer opportunities to queer authors and their fans,” DiRaddo says of his motivation to launch Violet Hour.

Raised in an Italian-Canadian home, DiRaddo has frequently returned to Italy on vacation and recently headed overseas for a more literary purpose. He was one of two writers selected to participate in in the Dentro La Terra residency, in the small town of Arielli in Abruzzo for September. Fellow Concordia grad Maryline Chery, BFA 17, joined him. 

“It was exciting to be able to focus on my next project there,” DiRaddo says, “which was inspired by my Italian cultural heritage. My only job there was to write and it was incredible to be able to do that.”

Back to top

© Concordia University