Reader’s Guide: World AIDS Day 2022

Young Adult

Destination Unknown by Bill Konigsberg

58719132. sy475 The first thing I noticed about C.J. Gorman was his plexiglass bra.

So begins Destination Unknown — it’s 1987 in New York City, and Micah is at a dance club, trying to pretend he’s more out and outgoing than he really is. C.J. isn’t just out — he’s completely out there, and Micah can’t help but be both attracted to and afraid of someone who travels so loudly and proudly through the night.

A connection occurs. Is it friendship? Romance? Is C.J. the one with all the answers… or does Micah bring more to the relationship than it first seems? As their lives become more and more entangled in the AIDS epidemic that’s laying waste to their community, and the AIDS activism that will ultimately bring a strong voice to their demands, whatever Micah and C.J. have between them will be tested, strained, pushed, and pulled — but it will also be a lifeline in a time of death, a bond that will determine the course of their futures.

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When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw

Film fanatic Adam is seventeen and being asked out on his first date―and the guy is cute. Heart racing, Adam accepts, quickly falling in love with Callum like the movies always promised.

Fashion-obsessed Ben is eighteen and has just left his home upstate after his mother discovers his hidden stash of gay magazines. When he comes to New York City, Ben’s sexuality begins to feel less like a secret and more like a badge of honor.

Then Callum disappears, leaving Adam heartbroken, and Ben finds out his new world is more closed-minded than he thought. When Adam finally tracks Callum down, he learns the guy he loves is very ill. And in a chance meeting near the hospital where Callum is being treated, Ben and Adam meet, forever changing each other’s lives. As both begin to open their eyes to the possibilities of queer love and life, they realize sometimes the only people who can help you are the people who can really see you―in all your messy glory.

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Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart—and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

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Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

17237214New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

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Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen

23281788Mira is just beginning her senior year of high school when she discovers her father with his male lover. Her world–and everything she thought she knew about her family–is shattered instantly. Unable to comprehend the lies, betrayal, and secrets that–unbeknownst to Mira–have come to define and keep intact her family’s existence, Mira distances herself from her sister and closest friends as a means of coping. But her father’s sexual orientation isn’t all he’s kept hidden. A shocking health scare brings to light his battle with HIV. As Mira struggles to make sense of the many fractures in her family’s fabric and redefine her wavering sense of self, she must find a way to reconnect with her dad–while there is still time.

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Coming up:

Another Dimension of Us by Mike Albo (January 17, 2023)

60880792In 1986, Tommy Gaye is in love with his best friend, budding teen poet Renaldo Calabasas. But at the height of the AIDS crisis and amidst the homophobia running rampant across America, Tommy can never share his feelings. Then, one terrible night, Renaldo is struck by lightning. And he emerges from the storm a very different boy.

In 2044, Heron High student Pris Devrees jolts awake after having a strange nightmare about a boy named Tommy and a house in the neighborhood the locals affectionally call “The Murder House.” When she ventures to the house to better understand her vivid dreams, she happens upon an old self-help book that she soon realizes is a guide to trans-dimensional travel.

As bodies and minds merge across the astral plane, Pris, Tommy, and their friends race to save Renaldo from a dangerous demon, while uncovering potent realities about love, sexuality, and friendship.

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Adult Fiction

My Government Means to Kill Me by Rasheed Newson

Born into a wealthy Black Indianapolis family, Earl “Trey” Singleton III leaves his overbearing parents and their expectations behind by running away to New York City with only a few dollars in his pocket. In the City, Trey meets up with a cast of characters that change his life forever―from civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, who he meets in a Harlem bathhouse, to his landlord, Fred Trump, who he clashes with and outfoxes. He volunteers at a renegade home hospice for AIDS patients, and after being put to the test by gay rights activist Larry Kramer and civil rights leader Dorothy Cotton, becomes a founding member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Along the way Trey attempts to navigate past traumas and searches for ways to maintain familial relationships―all while seeking the meaning of life in the midst of so much death.

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The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

You find the Lambda review here.

52196685. sx318 sy475 Small-town Appalachia doesn’t have a lot going for it, but it’s where Brian is from, where his family is, and where he’s chosen to return to die.

At eighteen, Brian, like so many other promising young gay men, arrived in New York City without much more than a love for the freedom and release from his past that it promised. But within six short years, AIDS would claim his lover, his friends, and his future. With nothing left in New York but memories of death, Brian decides to write his mother a letter asking to come back to the place, and family, he was once so desperate to escape.

Set in 1986, a year after Rock Hudson’s death shifted the public consciousness of the epidemic and brought the news of AIDS into living rooms and kitchens across America, The Prettiest Star is part Dog Years by Mark Doty and part Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. But it is also an urgent story now: it a novel about the politics and fragility of the body; it is a novel about sex and shame. And it is a novel that speaks to the question of what home and family means when we try to forge a life for ourselves in a world that can be harsh and unpredictable. It is written at the far reaches of love and understanding, and zeroes in on the moments where those two forces reach for each other, and sometimes touch.

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After Francesco by Brian Malloy

55261405Two years after his partner, Francesco, died, twenty-eight-year-old Kevin Doyle is dusting off his one good suit jacket for yet another funeral, yet another loss in their close-knit group. They had all been young, beautiful, and living the best days of their lives, though they didn’t know it. That was before New York City began to feel like a war zone, its horrors somehow invisible, and ignored by the rest of the world.

Some people might insist that Francesco is in a better place now, but Kevin definitely isn’t. He spends his days in a mind-numbing job and his evenings drunk in Francesco’s old apartment, surrounded by memories. Francesco made everything look easy, and without him, Kevin struggles to keep going. And then one night, he stops trying. When Kevin awakens in a hospital, he knows it’s time to move back home to Minnesota and figure out how to start living again—without Francesco.

With the help of a surviving partners support group and old and new friends, Kevin slowly starts to do just that. But an unthinkable family betrayal, and the news that his best friend is fighting for his life in New York, will force a reckoning and a defining choice.

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Red X by David Demchuk

Red XMen are disappearing from Toronto’s gay village. They’re the marginalized, the vulnerable. One by one, stalked and vanished, they leave behind small circles of baffled, frightened friends. Against the shifting backdrop of homophobia throughout the decades, from the HIV/AIDS crisis and riots against raids to gentrification and police brutality, the survivors face inaction from the law and disinterest from society at large. But as the missing grow in number, those left behind begin to realize that whoever or whatever is taking these men has been doing so for longer than is humanly possible.

Woven into their stories is David Demchuk’s own personal history, a life lived in fear and in thrall to horror, a passion that boils over into obsession. As he tries to make sense of the relationship between queerness and horror, what it means for gay men to disappear, and how the isolation of the LGBTQ+ community has left them profoundly exposed to monsters that move easily among them, fact and fiction collide and reality begins to unravel.

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The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

35068748. sy475 It’s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ball scene, where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, new to ball culture, and has a yearning inside of her to help create family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit. But when Hector dies of AIDS-related complications, Angel must bear the responsibility of tending to their house alone.

As the mother of the house, Angel recruits Venus, a whip-fast trans girl who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her; Juanito, a quiet boy who loves fabrics and design; and Daniel, a butch queen who accidentally saves Venus’s life. The Xtravaganzas must learn to navigate sex work, addiction, and persistent abuse, leaning on each other as bulwarks against a world that resists them. All are ambitious, resilient, and determined to control their own fates, even as they hurtle toward devastating consequences.

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Lies With Man by Michael Nava

This is a new title in the Henry Rios series

55922410Los Angeles, 1986.

A group of right-wing Christians has put an initiative on the November ballot to allow health officials to force people with HIV into quarantine camps―and it looks like it’s going to pass. Rios, now living in LA, agrees to be counsel for a group of young activists who call themselves QUEER [Queers United to End Erasure and Repression]. QUEER claims to be committed to peaceful civil disobedience. But when one of its members is implicated in the bombing of an evangelical church that kills its pastor, who publicly supported the quarantine initiative, Rios finds himself with a client suddenly facing the death penalty.

As Rios delves into the case, shocking secrets emerge about the victim, Rios’s client, QUEER, the highest echelons of the Los Angeles Police Department and the young man Rios falls in love with.

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Non-Fiction

How to Survive a Plague by David France

29429295A riveting, powerful telling of the story of the grassroots movement of activists, many of them in a life-or-death struggle, who seized upon scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease. Ignored by public officials, religious leaders, and the nation at large, and confronted with shame and hatred, this small group of men and women chose to fight for their right to live by educating themselves and demanding to become full partners in the race for effective treatments. Around the globe, 16 million people are alive today thanks to their efforts.

Not since the publication of Randy Shilts’s classic And the Band Played On has a book measured the AIDS plague in such brutally human, intimate, and soaring terms.

In dramatic fashion, we witness the founding of ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), and the rise of an underground drug market in opposition to the prohibitively expensive (and sometimes toxic) AZT. We watch as these activists learn to become their own researchers, lobbyists, drug smugglers, and clinicians, establishing their own newspapers, research journals, and laboratories, and as they go on to force reform in the nation s disease-fighting agencies.

With his unparalleled access to this community David France illuminates the lives of extraordinary characters, including the closeted Wall Street trader-turned-activist, the high school dropout who found purpose battling pharmaceutical giants in New York, the South African physician who helped establish the first officially recognized buyers club at the height of the epidemic, and the public relations executive fighting to save his own life for the sake of his young daughter.

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And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts

28212By the time Rock Hudson’s death in 1985 alerted all America to the danger of the AIDS epidemic, the disease had spread across the nation, killing thousands of people and emerging as the greatest health crisis of the 20th century. America faced a troubling question: What happened? How was this epidemic allowed to spread so far before it was taken seriously? In answering these questions, Shilts weaves the disparate threads into a coherent story, pinning down every evasion and contradiction at the highest levels of the medical, political, and media establishments.

Shilts shows that the epidemic spread wildly because the federal government put budget ahead of the nation’s welfare; health authorities placed political expediency before the public health; and scientists were often more concerned with international prestige than saving lives. Against this backdrop, Shilts tells the heroic stories of individuals in science and politics, public health and the gay community, who struggled to alert the nation to the enormity of the danger it faced. And the Band Played On is both a tribute to these heroic people and a stinging indictment of the institutions that failed the nation so badly.

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Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis by Matilda Bernstein Sycamore

Every queer person lives with the trauma of AIDS, and this plays out intergenerationally. Usually we hear about two generations—the first, coming of age in the era of gay liberation, and then watching entire circles of friends die of a mysterious illness as the government did nothing to intervene. And now we hear about younger people growing up with effective treatment and prevention available, unable to comprehend the magnitude of the loss. But there is another generation between these two, one that came of age in the midst of the epidemic with the belief that desire intrinsically led to death, and internalized this trauma as part of becoming queer.

Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing up with the AIDS Crisis offers crucial stories from this missing generation in AIDS literature and cultural politics. This wide-ranging collection includes 36 personal essays on the ongoing and persistent impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis in queer lives. Here you will find an expansive range of perspectives on a specific generational story—essays that explore and explode conventional wisdom, while also providing a necessary bridge between experiences. These essays respond, with eloquence and incisiveness, to the question: How do we reckon with the trauma that continues to this day, and imagine a way out?

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Let the Record Show by Sarah Schulman

54785548In just six years, ACT UP, New York, a broad and unlikely coalition of activists from all races, genders, sexualities, and backgrounds, changed the world. Armed with rancor, desperation, intelligence, and creativity, it took on the AIDS crisis with an indefatigable, ingenious, and multifaceted attack on the corporations, institutions, governments, and individuals who stood in the way of AIDS treatment for all. They stormed the FDA and NIH in Washington, DC, and started needle exchange programs in New York; they took over Grand Central Terminal and fought to change the legal definition of AIDS to include women; they transformed the American insurance industry, weaponized art and advertising to push their agenda, and battled–and beat–The New York Times, the Catholic Church, and the pharmaceutical industry. Their activism, in its complex and intersectional power, transformed the lives of people with AIDS and the bigoted society that had abandoned them.

Based on more than two hundred interviews with ACT UP members and rich with lessons for today’s activists, Let the Record Show is a revelatory exploration–and long-overdue reassessment–of the coalition’s inner workings, conflicts, achievements, and ultimate fracture. Schulman, one of the most revered queer writers and thinkers of her generation, explores the how and the why, examining, with her characteristic rigor and bite, how a group of desperate outcasts changed America forever, and in the process created a livable future for generations of people across the world.

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Poetry

A Quilt for David by Steven Reigns

57501288The hidden history of a vulnerable gay man whose life and death were turned into tabloid fodder.

In the early 1990s, eight people living in a small conservative Florida town alleged that Dr. David Acer, their dentist, infected them with HIV. David’s gayness, along with his sickly appearance from his own AIDS-related illness, made him the perfect scapegoat and victim of mob mentality. In these early years of the AIDS epidemic, when transmission was little understood, and homophobia rampant, people like David were villainized. Accuser Kimberly Bergalis landed a People magazine cover story, while others went on talk shows and made front page news.

With a poet’s eulogistic and psychological intensity, Steven Reigns recovers the life and death of this man who also stands in for so many lives destroyed not only by HIV, but a diseased society that used stigma against the most vulnerable. It’s impossible not to make connections between this story and how the twenty-first century pandemic has also been defined by medical misinformation and cultural bias.

Inspired by years of investigative research into the lives of David and those who denounced him, Reigns has stitched together a hauntingly poetic narrative that retraces an American history, questioning the fervor of his accusers, and recuperating a gay life previously shrouded in secrecy and shame.

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Deal Announcements: November 2022

Adult Fiction

Autostraddle contributor Shelly Jay Shore‘s BODIES IN WATER, pitched as One Last Stop meets Six Feet Under, about a clairvoyant trans man drawn back to his messy Jewish family and their imploding funeral home business after a lifetime of trying to outrun both, who must confront the ghosts of his disappointed grandfather and the gone-too-soon husband of his charming new crush in order to move forward in life and love, to Jesse Shuman at Bantam Dell, in a pre-empt, by Ayla Zuraw-Friedland at Frances Goldin Literary Agency (NA).

Philip William Stover‘s THE PROBLEM WITH PERFECT, in which the executive producer of a hit LGBTQ lifestyle show finds that the handsome host goes AWOL right before the all-important live Pride broadcast and the only option is to track down the host’s estranged identical twin brother and teach him to play the part; transforming this human sasquatch into a star is no easy task, but when romance blossoms behind the scenes, perfection is about to get real, to Keshini Naidoo at Hera, for publication in summer 2023, by Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Birch Path Literary (world English).

Former bookseller and LGTBQ+ activist Alana S. Portero’s BAD HABIT, a coming-of-age novel about the journey a trans woman takes to discover herself against a world that has no space for her, with the backdrop of a working-class family in the Madrid of the ’80s and the ’90s, to Juan Mila at Harper Via, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, by Maria Cardona at Aevitas Creative Management UK (world English).

Editor-in-Chief of Electric Literature, MacDowell Fellow, and cohost of the Food 4 Thot podcast Denne Michele Norris’s WHEN THE HARVEST COMES, about a young Black gay man reckoning with the death of his reverend father, who never accepted him, exploring the effect of this loss on his marriage and how it forces him to confront his deepest desires around gender, family, and sex; pitched for readers of SHUGGIE BAIN, to Noa Shapiro at Random House, in a pre-empt, by Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord Literistic (world).

SOME GIRLS DO author Jennifer Dugan‘s LOVE AT FIRST SET, a queer rom-com about a gym employee who accidentally ruins her bosses’ daughter’s wedding, then even more accidentally falls for the runaway bride, to Sylvan Creekmore at Avon, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in May 2023, by Sara Crowe at Pippin Properties (world English).

Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellow and Publishing Coordinator at Scribner/Marysue Rucci Books Jiaming Tang‘s CINEMA LOVE, about gay men in rural China, the women who marry them, and the secret theater where their husbands cruised for love; spanning three timelines—from contemporary New York to late 80s Chinatown to post-socialist China—and examining the legacies of caregiving and assimilation in Chinese America, to Pilar Garcia-Brown at Dutton, at auction, by Kent Wolf at Neon Literary (NA).

Host and founder of the storytelling night Generation Women and author of IT HAD TO BE YOU and ISLAND TIME Georgia Clark‘s MOST WONDERFUL, a queer holiday rom-com about three adult siblings, each dealing with their own personal and romantic struggles, who reunite at their larger-than-life mother’s Catskills manor for Christmas, to Emma Caruso and Katy Nishimoto at Dial Press, in a two-book deal, by Allison Hunter at Trellis Literary Management (world English).

NYU MFA graduate Jessie Ren Marshall‘s WOMEN! IN! PERIL!, a story collection with queer and speculative elements that features a diverse cast of women, including a former ballerina with memory loss, an Asian sex-bot trying to outlast her return policy, and a pioneer traveling on a spaceship to populate a new colony; and ALOHALAND, a novel set on Hawai’i Island, following two half-sisters—one a resort’s “Aloha Ambassador” forced to cater to the guests’ every whim, the other a reality TV star—who grapple with questions of home and belonging as they face a megastorm fueled by global warming, to Grace McNamee at Bloomsbury, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in winter 2024, by Michelle Brower and Natalie Edwards at Trellis Literary Management (NA).

Screenwriter Emma R. Alban’s MISCHIEF & MATCHMAKING, a queer Victorian romance in which two debutantes distract themselves from having to seek husbands by setting up their widowed parents, and instead find their perfect match in each other, pitched as a lesbian Bridgerton/Parent Trap, the first book in a duology, to Sylvan Creekmore at Avon, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in winter 2024, by Stacy Testa at Writers House (world).

Reese Hogan‘s audiobook MY HEART IS HUMAN, a near-future SF thriller set in a world that has shut down tech to avoid an AI uprising, about a young transgender dad who, during the chaos of a robbery, activates an old bionic that uploads itself into his head, and he and the bionic must navigate the blurred lines between human and machine while uncovering the true reasons for the tech shut down, to Brian Sweany at Recorded Books, by Katie Shea Boutillier at Donald Maass Literary Agency, on behalf of Cameron McClure (world English).

Author of EMPANADA: A LESBIAN STORY IN PROBADITAS Anel Flores’s CURTAINS OF TEARS, which follows the story of a woman who escapes her small border town and arrives at the door of her gay tios on a quest to queer traditions, turn trauma into triumph, and find home, to Lisa Pegram at Jaded Ibis Press, for publication in January 2024 (world English).

Brooklyn MFA graduate and former Truman Capote fellow Zachary Solomon‘s ZELNIK, about a queer Jewish architecture student who flees his antisemitic homeland for a new life in a utopian city in the west, where, to his horror, he uncovers the same machinery of human oppression hidden beneath a veneer of civilization, an allegory for the Jewish emigre experience and a dark exploration of the interconnections between art, artifice, and the fascist urge, to Christine Neulieb at Lanternfish Press, for publication in spring of 2024, by Reeves Hamilton at Vertical Ink Agency (world English).

Ollie Hicks and Emma Oosterhous‘s second and third books in the queer, magical-girl sports romance GRAND SLAM ROMANCE series, following former rivals to lovers as they face a new league of challengers and challenges, to Charlotte Greenbaum at Abrams ComicArts, with Mariko Tamaki editing, in a very nice deal, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2024, by Britt Siess at Britt Siess Creative Management (world).

Children’s Fiction

TEAM TRASH AND THE TIME BOT cocreator Kate Wheeler’s graphic novel GOAT MAGIC, pitched for fans of Wolfwalkers and MOONCAKES, about two girls on an adventure—one a reluctant goatherd, the other a goat who happens to be an enchanted princess—and how their friendship blossoms into something more as they confront treachery against the throne, to Grace Scheipeter at Oni Press, in a nice deal, for publication in spring 2025, by Jennifer Mattson at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (NA).

Young Adult Fiction

Author of the anthology VAMPIRES NEVER GET OLD Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker, eds.’s MERMAIDS NEVER DROWN, stories by the editors and Darcie Little Badger, Kalynn Bayron, Preeti Chhibber, Rebecca Coffindaffer, Julie C. Dao, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Adriana Herrera, June Hur, Katherine Locke, Kerri Maniscalco, Julie Murphy, Gretchen Schreiber, and Julian Winters; and FAERIES NEVER LIE, including stories by the editors and Nafiza Azad, Holly Black, Dhonielle Clayton, Christine Day, Chloe Gong, Tessa Gratton, Ryan La Sala, Kwame Mbalia, L.L. McKinney, Anna-Marie McLemore, Kaitlyn Sage Patterson, Linda Raquel Nieves Perez, and Rory Power, to Foyinsi Adegbonmire and Liz Szabla at Feiwel and Friends, for publication in fall 2023 and fall 2024, respectively, by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media for Cordova and Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency for Parker (world).

Kara A. Kennedy’s debut I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU, a YA speculative thriller pitched as Kara Thomas meets THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR, about a girl being haunted by the ghost of her toxic ex-girlfriend, who gives her a chilling ultimatum—help her possess another girl or go down for her murder, to Hannah Hill at Delacorte, for publication in fall 2024, by Chloe Seager at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency (NA).

Robin Talley‘s EVERYTHING GLITTERED, a sapphic thriller set at an elite boarding school in Washington, DC circa 1927, in which three young women become involved in the investigation of the murder of their controversial young headmistress, to Erika Turner at Little, Brown Children’s, for publication in summer 2024, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world English).

Author of DANCING BEARS Rob Costello, ed.’s QUEER BEASTIES, an anthology that celebrates the monster as a positive and empowering metaphor for the otherness of being queer, with contributions from Costello, Kalynn Bayron, David Bowles, H.E. Edgmon, Michael Thomas Ford, Naomi Kanakia, Claire Kann, Sam J. Miller, and Alexandra Villasante, among others, to Britny Brooks-Perilli at Running Press Kids, for publication in May 2024, by Marie Lamba at Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency (world English).

Erin Cotter’s debut BY ANY OTHER NAME, a historical romp set in Elizabethan England, pitched as THE GENTLEMEN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE meets THE BOY IN THE RED DRESS, in which a young Shakespearean actor must partner with a dashing lord to solve the murder of his playwright friend, while trying to keep their budding romance a secret from the royal family, to Nicole Ellul at Simon & Schuster Children’s, in a nice deal, for publication in fall 2023, by Hilary Harwell at kt literary (world).

Author of GEARBREAKERS and GODSLAYERS Zoe Hana Mikuta‘s OFF WITH THEIR HEADS, where blood and betrayal meet in this sapphic, Korean-inspired book pitched as a re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland in which two girls’ (horrible, cruel, and precariously balanced on that line between love and murder) twisted past comes to light as they’re once again thrust into each other’s lives and beckoned back to the dark, monster-filled forest where it all began: Wonderland, to Rebecca Kuss at Disney-Hyperion, in a significant deal, in a pre-empt, for publication in spring 2024, by Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (world English).

Author of the forthcoming THE VERMILION EMPORIUM Jamie Pacton‘s THE ABSINTHE UNDERGROUND, a sapphic friends-to-lovers romantasy, pitched as JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL meets Holly Black, in which an artist and her best friend are pulled into the glittering world of an underground nightclub, where a green fairy enlists them to steal from a magician’s house, to Ashley Hearn at Peachtree Teen, in an exclusive submission, for publication in spring 2024, by Kate Schafer Testerman at kt literary (world).

Non-Fiction

Peloton instructor and Dancing with the Stars finalist Cody Rigsby‘s XOXO, CODY: AN OPINIONATED HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE TO SELF-LOVE, RELATIONSHIPS, AND TACTFUL PETTINESS, chronicling the author’s journey growing up gay and poor in the South with an addict mom to somehow going from broke dancer to fitness icon, with stories about learning how to handle the scary sh*t, interspersed with Q&As and his rankings on everything from fashion faux pas to celebrity breakups, to Sara Weiss at Ballantine, at auction, by David Doerrer at A3 Artists Agency.

Authors of THE GAY AGENDA and QUEER TAROT and owners of the Ash + Chess stationery store Ashley Molesso and Chess Needham’s THE BIG BOOK OF QUEER STICKERS, a compendium of their most recognizable art pieces in decal format, such as “Trans People Belong Here,” “Make America Gay Again,” “Every Body is a Good Body,” along with never-before-seen new queer art, to Shannon Connors Fabricant at Running Press, in an exclusive submission, by Meg Thompson at Thompson Literary Agency (world).

Fave Five: New Queer Holiday Romances

For some older titles, click here for m/m and here for f/f.

In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae

You’re a Mean Once, Matthew Prince by Timothy Janovsky

Season of Love by Helena Greer

Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun

The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish

Bonus: Check out Honeymoon for One by Rachel Bowdler and read her post all about queer holiday romance here.

These are all Adult novels, but for a novella, try Felix Navidad by ‘Nathan Burgoine, and in YA, check out How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow 

Cyber Monday Book Sales: Kindle US Edition (YA)

All links are Amazon affiliate. Using them earns a small percentage of income for the site.

Running with Lions by Julian Winters (m/m  romance, $.99)

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee (f/f superhero sci-fi, $.99)

Far From You by Tess Sharpe (bi thriller, $1.99)

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard (lesbian contemporary, $1.99)

The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon (trans m/m fantasy, $2.99)

Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie (Sapphic contemporary, $2.99)

A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy (m/m romance, $2.99)

These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy (f/f fantasy, $2.99)

The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes (lesbian contemporary, $2.99)

This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria (aroace fantasy, $2.99)

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore (genderqueer contemporary, $2.99)

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro (Sapphic magical realism, $2.99)

Fresh by Margot Wood (bi YA contemporary, $2.99)

Fave Five: LGBTQ Novels Inspired by Greek Mythology, Part II

For part I, click here.

Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil (YA)

Create My Own Perfection by E.H. Timms

Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry (YA)

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron (YA)

Drag Me Up by R.M. Virtues

Bonus: Coming up in 2023, The Song of Us by Kate Fussner (MG) and Lies We Sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood (YA)

 

Inside an Anthology: At Midnight ed. by Dahlia Adler

Today on the site, we’re looking inside an anthology that’s edited by none other than yours truly! At Midnight is a collection of reimagined YA fairy tales (with the original source material in the back) authored by some of the category’s best and queerest, and it released today from Flatiron Books! Check out more about the volume and some of the queer stories within it below: 

At Midnight: 15 Beloved Fairytales Reimagined ed. by Dahlia Adler (22nd)

Fairy tales have been spun for thousands of years and remain among our most treasured stories. Weaving fresh tales with unexpected reimaginings, At Midnight brings together a diverse group of acclaimed YA writers to breathe new life into a storied tradition.

Fifteen celebrated authors reclaim classic fairy tales for a new generation:

Dahlia Adler, “Rumplestiltskin”
Tracy Deonn, “The Nightingale”
H.E. Edgmon, “Snow White”
Hafsah Faizal, “Little Red Riding Hood”
Stacey Lee, “The Little Matchstick Girl”
Roselle Lim, “Hansel and Gretel”
Darcie Little Badger, “Puss in Boots”
Malinda Lo, “Frau Trude”
Alex London, “Cinderella”
Anna-Marie McLemore, “The Nutcracker”
Rebecca Podos, “The Robber Bridegroom”
Rory Power, “Sleeping Beauty”
Meredith Russo, “The Little Mermaid”
Gita Trelease, “Fitcher’s Bird”
and an all-new fairy tale by Melissa Albert

Once upon a time . . .

Buy it: Amazon | Bookshop | IndieBound

“Sugarplum” by Anna-Marie McLemore

Sugarplums. Glittering snow. Really snappy uniforms. Fabulous shoes used as weapons. It’s not like I had to make a huge leap (grand jeté?) to make The Nutcracker gay. But while my story got real gay, it also got real about what it means to have to perform for the audiences in our lives. A Latina dancer feels wound up like a music box ballerina. A soft butch girl with a chip on her shoulder and a spectacular curling throw can’t say what she really wants to say about the Christmas party going on downstairs. Two queer girls who always have the perfect insult for each other are quiet for once, leaving space for the conversations they’ve never had. And cake. Because sometimes enemies to lovers starts with cake.

“Say My Name” by Dahlia Adler

What if Rumpelstiltskin were a cruel Sapphic coding genius in love with her best friend? That’s the heart of “Say My Name,” which is actually a semi-repurposing of an idea I had for a different anthology to which I was asked to contribute but unfortunately didn’t sell. My main character in that story was a catfish who kept the game going a little too long when she got feelings, and naturally when I think catfish I think of the ultimate identity-hider of yore! And so Rumpelstiltskin became [redacted], and this became the story of a girl who would do anything to impress the girl she loves, even if it kind of turns her into a monster.

“HEA” by Alex London

HEA is a modern m|m reimagining of Cinderella, turned on its head. Asher (as in Aschenputtel–the little ash girl of the Grimm tale) is a teen social media star, who lives in service to his brand. Constant balls and parties and opportunities to create content. He longs for one night not to be a brand, but just to be a boy. So he disguises himself in sweatpants, ditches the Met Gala, and hides out at a coffee shop. Of course, it’s there that he meets his prince, the barista, and has to flee, back to his fabulous life and the endless churn of content. But he’s left something behind, more than his heart, and his prince is going to track him down…

“Mother’s Mirror” by H.E. Edgmon

When Dahlia asked me to join a fairytale retelling anthology, it was a no-brainer. I’ve been compelled by fairytales since my earliest days—I currently own three copies of the exact same Grimm Brothers collection, with different covers. My only question was which fairytale to make my own. And when I remembered that the original Snow White featured the protagonist’s own mother, not an evil step-mother, as the villain, I had my answer.

The often-fraught nature of mother/daughter relationships is one many of us are already familiar with. But what happens when the eldest daughter, the one expected to twist herself until she becomes a reflection of the mother, comes out as trans, instead? That’s the story I explore in “Mother’s Mirror.” The contemporary retelling features a narcissistic single mom as the evil queen, a main character who’s more huntsman than Snow, and the choice to cut out one’s own heart rather than face the slow poison of living a lie.

“A Flame So Bright” by Malinda Lo

I first encountered the little-known story of “Frau Trude” in an academic book called Transgressive Tales: Queering the Grimms, which includes an essay by Kay Turner titled “Playing with Fire: Transgression as Truth in Grimms’ ‘Frau Trude.” I was inspired by Turner’s queer reading of the very short tale of “Frau Trude,” and I loved the metaphorical possibilities of fire, especially because it has been connected closely with witchcraft. I lived in Salem, MA, for about a year and a half, and I’ve been fascinated by beliefs about witches since I was very young, so retelling “Frau Trude” gave me the opportunity to over-research witchcraft in colonial America and bring some local Salem-inspired flair to my story. I also loved this chance to return to what I call “fairy tale voice,” since I haven’t written fantasy in quite a while.

Fave Five: MG with Ace-Spec MCs

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Rick by Alex Gino

The One Who Loves You Most by medina

A-Okay by Jarad Greene

The Trouble with Robots by Michelle Mohrweis

Bonus: Coming in 2023, Reel Love by Nilah Magruder and Just Lizzie by Karen Wilfrid

Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Nameless Witch by Natalie C. Parker

Today on the site I’m delighted to welcome the one and only Natalie C. Parker, w ho’s revealing the cover of The Nameless Witch, “the wickedly exciting and queer sequel” to last year’s Middle Grade fantasy adventure The Devouring WolfThe Nameless Witch is coming from Razorbill/Penguin on August 8, 2023, and here’s the story:

For fans of Soman Chainani, Anne Ursu, and stories with lots of magic, action and a big heart.

If you give your witch your name…
               …she’ll steal your magic and grind your bones…

After defeating the Devouring Wolf, Riley and her friends hoped they could leave scary legends behind and focus on being the best werewolves they can be. Nicknamed the Winter Pack because of when they turned, they’ve got a unique bond thanks to how different they are as a prime, and some of the other pups think they get special treatment. It’s all Riley and her friends can do to practice their magic skills, get all their homework done, and not let the other young wolves pick fights.

Suddenly their bond leads them to a new threat—a young witch on the run. She isn’t just any runaway, though. She’s the next in line to become the magic-hungry Nameless Witch and even being in her presence is dangerous for werewolves. They say the Nameless Witch can take anything she wants from you if she knows your name.

But this runaway doesn’t want to be Nameless, she wants to choose for herself. The Winter Pack understands better than other wolves what that feels like, and they pledge to help her. Too bad the terrible power of the Nameless Witch has already marked the runaway, and Riley and her pack have no time before their new friend will turn, steal their magic and bones, and possibly even destroy all of Clawroot…

And here’s the magical cover, illustrated by Tyler Champion and designed by Jessica Jenkins!

Alt text: Five 13-year-olds stand in the middle of a magical orb surrounded by an ominous green mist. Outside of the orb a hooded figure is just visible in the darkness, their hands hover to either side of the orb as though they are spying on the children. A candle burns on one side and a mortar and pestle sit on the other. The title at the top of the page reads The Nameless Witch.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Natalie C. Parker is an author, editor, and community organizer. She has written several award winning books for teens and young readers and has edited multiple anthologies including the Indie Bestselling anthology Vampires Never Get Old. Her work has been included on the NPR Best Books list, the Indie Next List, and the TAYSHAS Reading List, and in Junior Library Guild selections. In addition to writing, Natalie also runs Madcap Retreats, which has partnered with We Need Diverse Books and Reese’s Book Club to host the writers workshops for their new internship Lit Up. She grew up in a navy family finding home in coastal cities from Virginia to Japan and currently lives with her wife on the Kansas prairie.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Love at First Set by Jennifer Dugan

What’s that? One of your favorite queer YA novelists is now writing adult f/f romance? She sure is! Love at First Set by Jennifer Dugan releases from Avon on May 23, 2023, and we’ve got the first look! Here’s the story: 

This irresistible adult debut from beloved YA author Jennifer Dugan is a queer romcom for fans of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care and Written in the Stars, in which a woman gives a drunken bathroom pep talk to a hot stranger, only to find out it’s the bride-to-be she has convinced to leave her fiancé the night before the wedding.

The gym is Lizzie’s life—it’s her passion, her job, and the only place that’s ever felt like home. Unfortunately, her bosses consider her a glorified check-in girl at best, and the gym punching bag at worst.

When their son, Lizzie’s best friend James, begs her to be his plus one at his perfect sister Cara’s wedding, things go wrong immediately, culminating in Lizzie giving a drunken pep talk to a hot stranger in the women’s bathroom—except that stranger is actually the bride-to-be, and Lizzie has accidentally convinced her to ditch her groom.

Now, newly directionless Cara is on a quest to find herself, and Lizzie—desperate to make sure her bosses never find out her role in this disaster—gets strong-armed by James into “entertaining” her. Cara doesn’t have to know it’s a setup; it’ll just be a quick fling before she sobers up and goes back to her real life. After all, how could someone like Cara fall for someone like Lizzie, with no career and no future?

But the more Lizzie gets to know Cara, the more she likes her, and the more is on the line if any of her rapidly multiplying secrets get out. Because now it’s not just Lizzie’s job and entire future on the line, but also the girl of her dreams.

And here’s the delightfully flirty cover by Monika Roe!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | Northshire (signed)

Jennifer Dugan is the author of the young adult novels Some Girls Do, Melt With You, Verona Comics, and Hot Dog Girl, as well as the graphic novel Coven. She lives in upstate New York with her family and two beloved, yet terrible, cats. Love at First Set is her first adult novel.

 

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!