Whether you’re already familiar with author Erica Cameron, or you just met her here, you’re going to be seeing her name a lot in the coming years. One of those spaces is gonna be on this Entangled Teen series, kicking off on February 7, 2017, with Island of Exiles and this gorgeous cover! Here’s some info on the book:
In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.
On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.
But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.
To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.
And here’s the cover, with some words from the author!
I started writing Island of Exiles several years ago, but the book you’ll get to read in February barely resembles what I started with. Part of that is because I sold the story to Kate Brauning at Entangled on proposal – nine chapters, an outline, a synopsis, and concepts for the rest of the series. Writing the full first draft after Kate’s input gave me the chance to add what I’ve learned from years of immersing myself in the writing community and from the many discussions of diversity I’ve been privileged to see, hear, and take part in.
I once saw someone ask, “Why can’t a fantasy world be more diverse than our world? Why is it almost always less so?” No one had a good answer, because there isn’t one. So much changed when I reimagined Shiara with that in mind.
The society Khya lives in is arid, a desert far more like Arizona and Nevada than the Sahara. The people who live there are varying shades of brown, from the beige of the sand to a far deeper black. They’re also a people who accept bisexuality as the natural state of being, and they don’t blink at all at nudity, polyamory, asexuality, or gender. There are three sexes and no gender roles.
Khya, my bisexual narrator, sees all of this as normal and natural. It’s the way her world has always worked, so why shouldn’t it be natural? This is one of the beautiful things about science-fiction and fantasy, getting to idealize some aspects of society even while using others to highlight issues. It’s important for people to see, and it’s what I tried to do with The Ryogan Chronicles.
After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Erica graduated with a double major in psychology and creative writing from Florida State University and began pursuing a career as an author.
Erica is many things but most notably the following: writer, reader, editor, asexual, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse. She loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.
Hi there! I’m Ripper. Please allow me to apologize for writing way to many freakin’ books.
It’s sort of like showing up for a pot luck with a van full of food. On one hand…hi, y’all, I brought some food! On the other…um, er, I have no self control AND I HAVE MADE ALL THE FOOD.
I have no self control. I write a lot of books. And I also write a lot of short stories based on readers going, “I loved it when X happened, and it’d be so cool if Y happened after that…” Three hours later I’m bashfully presenting my Facebook group, the Irregulars, with another story.
(The Irregulars have never once complained about my habit of scrawling stories and dropping them at random, mind you. I think they like it. It’s like surprise cupcakes at odd moments: here, this one’s got raspberry icing. Enjoy!)
Just to start with broad strokes: nearly everything I write is queer, and almost all of it has some elements of kink. Because I’m…queer. And I may contain…elements of kink. Er.
Grab and Go!
In case you only have a hot second, let me start by suggesting two places to start.
Do you like kink, emotional vulnerability, and a grumpy-pants narrator? Start with Gays of Our Lives (M/M), which is the first Queers of La Vista novel. Emerson’s ornery as hell, Obie sweetly refuses to put up with his crap, and the sex is smokin’. GoOL intentionally disrupts common tropes about disabled characters in romance as frequently as possible.
Do you like intimacy, deep power dynamics, and slow-growing romance? Start with Catalysts (M/M/M), which is the first Scientific Method Universe novel. Will is young and searching and hopeful, Hugh thinks the world holds no more surprises, and Truman is just a regular dude, who had no idea he was waiting for a mercurial lover with a good friend in tow.
Let me briefly introduce you to each series. This is basically the bite-sized pizza roll version of my books. And I’m…somewhat verbose. So this should be really hilarious.
Scientific Method Universe: an exploration of love, kink, romance, and family over quite a few books. Ideal for folks who enjoy the psychological side of, well, everything, and anyone with an intimacy kink. (Pairings include M/M/M, NB/M, M/F.)
Queers of La Vista: all the queer community, a lot of romance, and a little bit of murder. Ideal for folks who enjoy getting to know a group of characters well and watching them fall in love. (Pairings include: M/M, F/F, transM/cisF, M/M/M. Also includes a trans teenager.)
New Halliday: a small town, and a lot of kinky fellas falling for other fellas. Ideal for folks who love M/M romance, and anyone who’s into food. This series will make you crave grilled onions (if you’re into that sort of thing). (M/M. Also includes a parent with a trans kid.)
The Home Series: an alternate universe exploring themes of power dynamics and politics. Ideal for anyone who’s read a master/slave fic and gone, Ewwww. Also, all about chosen family and reclaiming personal narratives. (Pairings include M/M, transM/cisF, M/F/F.)
And for dessert…
Little Red and the Big Bad: a blisteringly hot look at a kinky one-off that builds and deepens until two guys find themselves in a damn serious relationship. Ideal for folks who need a book to take back to their bunk. *hint, hint* (M/M.)
Now that we’ve feasted, I’ll wrap you up some leftovers to carry home. For something poly and playful, do feel free to enjoy my longish novella The Spinner, the Shepherd, and the Leading Man (M/M/M) from the New Halliday series, which you can download from my site. For something with a sharper edge, please take a peek at the short story “Seen” (NB/M).
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.
For those of you who feel like you’ve already read every LGBTQIAP+ book in existence, not to worry – there’s plenty still to come! Every TBRainbow Alert will have a mix of five LGBTQIAP+ titles to make sure are on your radar, along with why I think they should be on your radar. If you missed the earlier alerts, you can check out those titles here. And now, because I can’t wait to get these books on your reading lists, check out some of what awaits in 2017!
How to Make a Wish (May 2) Author: Ashley Herring Blake Genre/Category: Contemporary YA Rainbow details: bi MC, lesbian LI Why put it on your radar?
Bi MC! Great bi rep! Also a really beautiful mother-daughter story with a great romance that is definitely sex-positive.
As La Vista Turns (February 27) Author: Kris Ripper Genre/Category: Contemporary Romance Rainbow details: f/f Why put it on your radar? God, just the names of the books in this series (Queers of La Vista) make them all auto-buys for me, and I love how much varied representation is in it, too.
Looking for Group (April 25) Author: Rory Harrison Genre/Category: Contemporary YA Rainbow details: Gay MC, bi/pan trans girl LI Why put it on your radar? So much rainbow! Plus I love the POV of a main character who’s in remission. We’ve seen so much YA about teens with cancer but so, so rarely what life feels like afterward. And I’m always a sucker for romances between people who meet through gaming.
Honestly Ben (March 28) Author: Bill Konigsberg Genre/Category: Contemporary YA Rainbow details: Bi MC Why put it on your radar? Most obvious reason: if you were a fan of Openly Straight, as I was, it’s bi boy companion time!
At the End of the Universe (February 7) Author: Shaun David Hutchinson Genre/Category: Contemporary YA Rainbow details: Gay MC Why put it on your radar?
I dunno, by now shouldn’t “Shaun David Hutchinson” be enough? Especially after We Are the Ants? Just read the damn thing.
The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.
David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.
The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.
A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.
No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.
Eighteen months ago, Maria Lopez felt an unexpected spark with Jay, a hot, tattooed, motorcycle-riding bad boy who checked off every item on her fantasy list. But “too good to be true” never ends well. So when he asked for her number, she walked away.
When she runs into him again, she discovers that Jay is a different kind of trouble than she’s imagined. He’s a demanding, driven genius, and once he’s set his sights on something, he does not give up. Now that their paths have crossed once more, he’s not going to let her get away until he knows exactly what’s on her fantasy list…and he figures out how to make her embrace it.
After graduation, Kieran expected to go straight into a career of flipping burgers—only to be offered the internship of his dreams at a political campaign. But the pressure of being an out trans man in the workplace quickly sucks the joy out of things, as does Seth, the humorless campaign strategist who watches his every move.
Soon, the only upside to the job is that Seth has a painful crush on their painfully straight boss, and Kieran has a front row seat to the drama. But when Seth proves to be as respectful and supportive as he is prickly, Kieran develops an awkward crush of his own—one which Seth is far too prim and proper to ever reciprocate.
Zack never intended to become a phone sex operator, but with half a college degree and a smart mouth, his options were limited. It helps that he has a knack for thinking on his feet and a willingness to roll with whatever his clients throw at him. Sure, he gets his fair share of creeps and unconventional requests, but it pays the bills, and he’s in no danger of breaking his one rule: never fall for a client.
Until a man named “John” starts calling, and Zack finds himself interested in more than a paycheck. It’s not just that John has money, or that his rumbling baritone drives Zack wild. He’s everything Zack isn’t: educated, poised, and in total control of his life.
A twist of fate brings them face-to-face, and now that they’ve seen each other—and spent an unforgettable night together—they can’t go back to the way things were. A sex worker and a trust fund brat . . . It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but with less stabbing and slightly fewer dick jokes. Hopefully they can pull off a more successful ending
Luke Aday knew that his sister’s death was imminent—she had been under hospice care for months—but that didn’t make her death any easier on him or their family. He returns to school three days after the funeral to a changed world; his best friends welcome him back with open arms, but it isn’t the same. But when a charismatic new student, Eddie Sankawulo, tries to welcome Luke to his own school, something life-changing happens: In a moment of frustration, Luke runs into an empty classroom, hurls his backpack against the wall—and the backpack never lands. Luke Aday has just discovered that he can stop time.
The first time it happened, I thought the conversation was a fluke. I was at a backyard party, loose after hours talking, eating, and laughing with people I had known for years. I was happy and relaxed, so I told someone I was writing a book. “It’s LGBTQ YA,” I said quietly, and my voice actually shook.
I didn’t think that happened in real life.
The fear, to be clear, had nothing to do with queerness or writing for young adults; these facts remain points of unproblematic pride. I love writing queer YA for myself, for teen readers, and for the teen reader I used to be. I wasn’t freaked out about the subject matter or the audience; it was the investment in creative writing. For years, I hardly talked about what I, euphemistically, called, “my hobby.” Some of my closest friends didn’t know that I wrote outside of work until I—probably too casually—mentioned that I had a novel coming out in a matter of months. It’s not an ideal publicity model, but it’s all I have.
For a long time, I wasn’t ready to be a writer-in-public. I didn’t know how to answer well-meaning questions about my work when I could hardly push past the imposter syndrome to write it in the first place. I didn’t want to answer questions at all, and maybe that’s why I was unprepared for that first day.
When I shared, I didn’t get questions; I got answers.
More than that, I got stories.
When I told that first friend what Hold was about— grief, queer community, and identity— she lit up and told me about her three-year journey of coming to identify as a bisexual woman. This is a person I have known for more than six years. We are circle-of-trust level close and I had no idea, not because either one of us felt uncomfortable talking about sexuality, but because, as she put it, “it just didn’t come up.”
I’d like to say that we had a deep and nuanced conversation about the nature of bisexual invisibility, but we mostly spent an hour grinning at each other and flailing about all the things we didn’t know we had in common. Then we traded AO3 accounts. It was delightful and I thought of the day as a marvelous accident, until it happened again, and then again. At this point, I’ve stopped counting the number of times that a friend or acquaintance responded to learning about the book with some version of, “Oh my God, you too?” and then the inevitable, “Wait, you didn’t already know about me?”
No. I didn’t know, but writing Hold opened the door to those conversations and they were so excited to share.
Several friends in long-term relationships talked to me at length about identifying as bisexual, pansexual, or queer, and how they knew some people assumed they were gay, lesbian, or straight. They responded to bisexual characters in the book but also to me as a bi author. Readers of early drafts of Hold also talked to me about their own asexuality, PTSD, and the intersections between disability and race in their lives. For one reader, a note about pacing turned into paragraphs in the margins about the stigma around mental illness, so we dropped the book talk and traded life stories long after we should have gone to bed.
Conversations about Hold became the gift that wouldn’t stop giving, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that in most cases the lack of disclosure had nothing to do with shame or fear. Instead, I heard over and over than it had simply never “felt like the right time.” Most of the people who spoke to me were happy to talk about their identities, but that didn’t mean they knew how to start the conversation. One friend said she felt “exhausted” at the thought of fighting expectations just to exist in public.
I nodded. I’ve been there. Sometimes I’m still there.
Bringing up the book created an opportunity, nothing more and nothing less. It created a space for recognition that my friends didn’t have to make for themselves, and I love the fact that the specific book is, essentially, beside the point. I could talk about how much I love Not Your Sidekick or Radical or Labyrinth Lost. I could gush about someone else’s review of an LGBTQ book or talk about the guidelines on Disability in Kidlit, and I’d still offer one more chance for someone to be seen. As authors, bloggers, and readers, we constantly create opportunities for recognition. A book creates an opportunity for a blogger, who creates an opportunity for another author or reader, and the conversations multiply. This is our gift, our superpower. We hold up the stories we love and give someone the chance to say, “Really? Me too.”
Rachel Davidson Leigh is a teacher, a writer and an avid fan of young adult LGBTQ fiction. Her hobbies include overanalyzing television shows and playing matchmaker with book recommendations. Currently, she lives in Wisconsin with her family and two neurotic little dogs. Hold is her debut novel. Her short story “Beautiful Monsters” was featured in Summer Love, a collection of short stories published by Duet Books, the young adult imprint of Interlude Press.
Being “The Sampler” isn’t easy. As the weakest member of the Extrahuman Union, Jill is overlooked by just about everyone. After all, no one cares about an Extrahuman who possesses every possible superpower, but can barely use any of them. Jill is a nobody, on the run and out of a job, with no home and barely any friends to her name.
To make ends meet, Jill turns back to one of her favorite jobs: stealing. When her latest job goes terribly wrong, Jill is left with a mysterious alien artifact–one that starts whispers to her, unlocks impossible powers, and shows her incredible things.
Now Jill is on a quest for answers that will take her from the high mountains of Valen to the depths of interstellar space; from a bizarre prison planet where old friends and enemies are held captive, to the roots of St. Val’s mysterious letters and decade-spanning plans. The fate of her friends, her world, a vanished alien species, and the entire Confederation will rest on Jill’s shoulders.
Extrahumans is a tale of superpowers and long-forgotten mysteries, and the fourth and final book in the critically acclaimed Extrahuman Union series
“Come for the superheroes, stay for the characters and world-building.” — A Fantastical Librarian
Warning! This post totally contains spoilers for Extrahumans, so if you’re not in to that sort of thing, stay away! Otherwise, onward:
I didn’t start off this book intending for there to be a romantic relationship of any kind between the two main characters, Penny Silverwing and Jill Silver. Really! I was thinking at the very beginning that this would be a novel focusing on friendship between women.
And then the characters started bouncing off of one another in a way that suggested there was definitely more there, and, well, I decided to roll with it. The relationship grew so naturally, and seemed so right for both characters, that it wasn’t until much later that I realized I’d been writing a same-sex romance between two women who aren’t young—Jill is 38, Penny 51. And that really doesn’t happen much, anywhere.
Women over the age of 35 almost never get to be the heroes in fiction, much less have romantic lives and real character development. I love reading stories with young women as protagonists, but as I head for 40 I feel like I want to see more about women my age that isn’t pigeonholed into the usual stereotypes. I always think of Paladin of Souls and Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, both by Lois McMaster Bujold, as incredibly satisfying examples of books with older women as protagonists.
It’s also rare to see stories featuring LGBT people—bisexuals especially—who aren’t young, as well. And yet these relationships happen all the time. I remember reading a book of true stories by women about the relationships they’d entered with other women after the age of 40, often after having been married to a man for a long time.
Again, I didn’t set out to do this, though I did want to write about both of them aging. The story takes place at a certain time, and the characters are all a certain age. Jill is established as bisexual in The Spark, but it’s one of those blink-and-you-miss-it moments that doesn’t get followed up on in the rest of the novel. As for Penny, her own romantic priorities are largely subsumed between her quest to find her son and get past her relationship with Sky Ranger. By the time the story in this book begins, though, both are ready for something new.
They’re ready to find one another. And I’m so glad they do.
About the author
Susan Jane Bigelow is a fiction writer, political columnist, and librarian. She mainly writes science fiction and fantasy novels. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine’s “Queers Destroy Science Fiction” issue, and the Lambda Award-winning “The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard,” among others. She lives with her wife in northern Connecticut, and is probably currently at the bottom of a pile of cats.
Kirbi Fagan is an award-winning, Detroit based cover illustrator who specializes in YA and MG fiction, fantasy and comics. Her illustrations are known for their magic themes, nostalgic mood, bright colors, and powerful characters. She received her bachelor’s degree in Illustration from Kendall College of Art and Design. Kirbi’s work has been acknowledged by organizations such as Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, ImagineFX, Art Order and the International Writers & Illustrators of the Future.