As 2017 comes to a close, I just want to take a minute to thank everyone who’s contributed to this site, who’s shared posts, who’s purchased using the affiliate links, who’s generally done all manner of things that help keep this place going.
This site is forever a work-in-progress, and while I’m really excited about new things that’ve been added as of late, I have lots of plans for future features I think are gonna be really helpful and awesome. However, I’m one person who has a full-time job, a part-time job, and now a baby, so here’s the part where I beg everyone to please keep shopping via affiliate links as often as possible, and also to use that little “Buy me a coffee” link wherever you see it; that money will go to periodically hiring interns/assistants to help not only keep up the site and its associated social media, but work on new resources currently in progress, including Literature in Translation, a new series whose first post you can find here, and a page dedicated to historical romance organized by period/location.
Of course, I always encourage donating directly to queer people in need directly, and you still can find plenty of links to do that under Support up top; please make liberal (heh) use of them!
Aaaand that’s it! Thank you for another great year here, and looking forward to lots more reading together under the rainbow in the new year!
I’m thrilled to welcome A.E. Ross to the site today to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart: writing a character who’s questioning their identity when you happen to be questioning yours. Their book, Run in the Blood, just released on Christmas, so once you check this post out, check the book out too!
Some people have that one crystal clear moment where it hits them like a silver spoon travelling at high velocity towards the surface of a crème brule. One solid crack and they just “get it.” For me, it came in the form of seven words. “It’s okay if you don’t like it.” I had been agonizing over the why and the who and the how for so long that I hadn’t stopped to just accept that things were fine — that i was fine — the way I am.
Some people figure out their identity quickly, and experience little fluidity. Others will spend their entire lives trying to get to the bottom of who they are. These are just two extremes, with a million unique experiences in between, but I belong closer to the second group. When I wrote my fantasy novel, Run in the Blood, I was questioning pretty much every part of my identity and I was desperate to find any kind of reflection to reassure me.
In my experience, you mostly find questioning characters in coming out stories. It’s a brief stage the protagonist goes through before accepting their identity, for better or worse. In Run In The Blood, I really wanted to include a character who maybe didn’t quite figure it out over the course of the narrative. Not a romantic lead, just someone woven into the story who was realizing that maybe there were some big questions they needed to ask themselves. After all, we’re all out there, just going about our daily lives and at the same time, wondering why there are specific parts of us that just don’t make sense when held up against societal expectations.
In Run in the Blood, that character is Del. He’s a soft-spoken, humble scout with a big heart. His sexual identity isn’t even a question for him until he reaches that moment that many LGBTQ people come to over the course of our lives, where we find ourselves in a situation that just doesn’t feel the way it’s supposed to. The main representation of a long-term relationship in his life is his parents’, and it’s a deeply unhealthy one. It’s given him a certain expectation of how his own future relationships will work, and the moment reality clashes with expectation, he hears that tell-tale crack of the spoon hitting flambé’d sugar. The surface shatters and then suddenly all you can see is the pieces, and not the way they ought to go together.
The reason it’s important to me to see questioning characters in queer literature is that it normalizes the uncertainty of dealing with fluid identities. It reassures me that it’s okay to understand that there is an inherent disconnect between who we are and who we see ourselves as, and that it’s okay to investigate that chasm. Just make sure you bring a flashlight, rope, and maybe some snacks: it could take awhile. The most difficult part of questioning my identity has been asking myself “Why don’t I like this? Why isn’t this working” and coming up empty on answers. There was no representation in media where I could see my struggle reflected. All I could find was people who had figured it out, but no indication of how they got there. When we see these questions reflected in the stories of literary characters, it helps reinforce that validity.
For Del, I didn’t want to resolve his questioning over the course of the book. He wasn’t the main focus of the plot, and I didn’t think he needed a “eureka!” moment, I just wanted to leave him on a hopeful note. If I write a follow-up, he’ll get to explore what his feelings mean and what questions he may still need to find answers to.
I am a different person than I was when I wrote this book. I’m deeply grateful to know more now than I did then, but there are so many things I’m still trying to figure out. Regardless of when or how I get those answers, what I do know is that If you’re questioning your identity, that’s a positive thing. You’re asking yourself the hard questions, and trying to get a better understanding of who you are, and that’s admirable no matter how long it takes. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing your identity immediately, and there’s nothing wrong with never really being sure. Whether your identity is static or fluid, it’s valid. If you’re not sure what your identity is, and you’re still looking for answers to those questions, you are valid. The “eureka!” moment doesn’t have to be a solid and unwavering realization of your identity. For me, it was as simple as the realization that I am fine just the way I am, regardless of how long it takes to figure out who that is.
A.E. Ross lives in Vancouver, B.C. with one very grumpy raincloud of a cat. When not writing fiction, they can be found producing and story-editing children’s cartoons, as well as producing & hosting podcasts like The XX Files Podcast. Their other works have appeared on Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Netflix (and have been widely panned by 12-year-olds on 4Chan) but the projects they are most passionate about feature LGBTQIA+ characters across a variety genres.
One major access problem with LGBTQIAP+ books is that so many of them are published in English and never translated into anything else. To that end, here are great books that are (or will be; some of these are forthcoming) available in other languages. (Of course, most of these books have different titles in other languages; I’ve chosen the easiest method for myself by posting the titles in English here. If you need assistance with finding the title in its native language, please feel free to contact me or comment below.)
Please note that links were taken from a combination of Amazon and author websites, so while they may not be the right link for your location, the point is to see that the translation exists so it can be a starting point for you tracking it down. I also recognize that languages can vary by territory, and that, for example, sometimes rights are specifically purchased for Brazil and the book is not available in Portugal; I did the best I could to note such instances but feel free to leave notes/corrections in the comments.
(Caveat: I have not read any of these translations, and cannot speak to whether the queer storylines have been modified, as unfortunately certain countries are particularly wont to do.)
US = a link to that edition on American Amazon, via affiliate link, or on BN.com
This will be a regularly updated resource, so if you are an author whose book has been internationally translated, please get in touch or comment below to have your book added! (Or make any corrections as needed.)
Continuing in the tradition that’s been happening on this blog since…last year, I’m documenting some of the many literary accolades that’ve been heaped on incredible LGBTQIAP+ works this year, partly to help you find great books but mostly just so we can bask in the joyous glory. Without further ado, check out what’s been deemed this year’s best of the best!
Please welcome Tansy Rayner Roberts to LGBTQReads today! She’s the author of Girl Reporter, a bisexual f/f superhero novella, out today, and she’s here to rec some more LGBTQ superhero stories!
I’ve been thinking about LGBTQ superhero stories a lot lately, because a) I’ve been reading lots and they’re great, b) I’ve been writing one! But also c) the kids in my life have always loved superheroes and so I’ve spent a lot of their childhoods looking at how those stories are shaped, and what they offer in the way of crunchy, learning-to-human content.
I know for my daughters, some of their first introduction to queer fictional characters came through comics and other superhero narratives –and there’s a lot more of this around than when I was a teenager. I think the only LGBTQ characters I came across in comics before I was 20 was one unrequited kiss between Fire and Ice Maiden in Justice League America, and a brief passing mention from Tasmanian Devil that he was gay, dropped into the background of a comic about something else. I didn’t even learn about Blue Beetle/Booster Gold slash fiction until I was in my thirties. Talk about deprived!
Ahem. There’s some cool stuff out there now. Here are some of my favourite LGBTQ superhero stories across various media.
Young Avengers — still one of my favourite comic series, often held up as a shining example of queer representation. Volume I (2005-2012 told across several mini-series, check out this post for reading order) introduced the epic love story of Billy Kaplan and Teddy Altman, whose romance has survived superhero boot camp, space invasion, depression, and family drama (where one side of the in-laws are magical and/or supervillains and the others are intergalactic royalty from two warring alien races, holiday dinners are always awkward). The fact that they’re two boys in a romantic relationship has actually been the source of least conflict in their lives, which is refreshingly normal.
Volume 2 of Young Avengers (2013-2014) now available as three trades or a fabulous hardcover omnibus, added bisexual genius Patriot, and heroic dimension-stomper lesbian America Chavez (who also had two moms).
Which brings us to America, written by Gabby Rivera, a comic that launched in early 2017 and brought us Marvel’s first queer Latin-American character with her own series. The trade of the first story arc has just dropped and is absolutely worth grabbing!
Another Marvel comic often singled out for queer representation is Runaways (one of my daughter’s all-time favourites). The original run written and drawn by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona (2003-2004) introduced a bunch of teens who go on the run after discovering their parents are supervillains. Karolina Dean’s identity as a lesbian was brought out quite gradually through the original comic (though her awesome rainbow light “costume” was a heavy hint, and her sexuality was later made more overt. She ended up in a serious romance with Xavin, a shapeshifting and gender-shifting alien.
There’s a new Runaways comic just started this year, written by Rainbow Rowell. I’m loving this trend of giving popular superhero comics franchises to established YA authors. There’s also a TV show coming out soon (finally) which will hopefully stick to the diversity of the comics – the fact that they cast a slender actress to play Gert means I’m not getting my hopes up, but we’ll see.
In TV superhero-land, our family has recently discovered Steven Universe, which has some wonderful queer representation including an unusual family structure. Steven, the son/reincarnation of a fallen alien superhero, lives with her three female teammates/best friends the Crystal Gems who are training and raising him along with his Dad. Steven’s entire foundation story is built on the narrative of women loving women, romantically as well as platonically. Steven himself identifies strongly with female heroes, often imagines himself as a woman, and sometimes forms a female ‘fusion’ with his best friend/love interest Connie.
We’ve also been watching Season 2 of Supergirl, which has had its ups and downs but did present us with a coming out storyline around Kara’s sister Alex, including a reasonably healthy (eventually) romantic relationship with Maggie Sawyer — a character often linked romantically in comics with Batwoman, one of the rare lesbian characters of the DC superhero universe.
My favourite Batwoman portrayal is in the DC Bombshells series by Marguerite Bennett, a World War II Alternate Universe which features only female superheroes. Here, Kate Kane is a baseball player in the women’s league as well as a vigilante crimefighter.
The series is wonderful precisely because it is an AU — so openly queer characters allowed to be happy despite the historical background, as well as having superhero adventures without male characters getting in the way. Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy appear along with dozens of other beloved DC women — including Wonder Woman, depicted for the first time in a relationship with a woman in an official DC title (she has since been officially acknowledged as bisexual in the main comics continuity — here’s hoping the movies follow suit!).
But what about fiction? Superhero YA fiction is really just starting to gain traction in the market with some fantastic releases over the last few years, including Gwenda Bond’s Lois Lane YA series, Shannon Hale’s Squirrel Girl, and C.B. Lee’s Sidekick series.
I really liked the supporting character of Bells (a shapeshifting trans teenager) inNot Your Sidekick (2016), and was delighted to see that the second book in the series, Not Your Villain (2017), featured him as protagonist since he was clearly getting up to all kinds of mischief when his best friend Jess wasn’t paying attention.
That one’s high up on my to-read list, as is Sovereign (2017), the second volume of the Nemesis series by April Daniels, which has a trans girl superhero as protagonist. In the first volume, Dreadnought(2016), I was deeply affected by Danny’s painful and at-times emotionally wringing story.
My favourite recent YA superhero story is still Superior by Jessica Lack, which was published by the Book Smugglers in 2016, as part of their Year of the Superhero. This fun story is a romance between a Jamie, a superhero intern and his counterpart Tad, intern to a supervillain. The classic set up of hero/villain romance works great with this story which is just so beautifully and cleverly written.
Though really, it’s worth checking out The Book Smugglers’ entire Year of the Superhero collection of stories, with a special shout-out for Hurricane Heels, a collection of “magical girl” superhero adventures, with f/f romance as well as friendship.
Superhero stories are a great way to tell stories about difference and diversity; so many of the classic tropes in the genre are about being outsiders, transition, metamorphosis, keeping secrets, the importance of teamwork and support systems, finding a new family, and perception vs reality. For a long time, superhero stories in the comics at least were so busy trying to distance themselves from being a ‘kiddie’ platform that they missed out on some great opportunities to bring in new readers and tell stories about young, new characters facing a superhero reality. Thankfully that’s in the past and some of the most interesting and successful superhero comics of the last decade or more have been about teenagers. I hope to see some new LGBTQ characters appearing in the superhero comics universes (and just as importantly, giving ongoing series and support to the characters who already exist, as happened this year with America and Iceman). But really, when it comes to superhero stories with influence, it’s the Marvel (and now DC) movieverse that needs to step up.
Where’s our Young Avengers movie? Why is Harley Quinn being stuck in a movie franchise with the Joker instead of Poison Ivy? Can Wonder Woman get a girlfriend in the sequel?
What are your favourite LGBTQ teen superheroes, and who would you like to get their own solo comics title or movie?
Tansy Rayner Roberts is a fantasy and science fiction author who lives in southern Tasmania, somewhere between the tall mountain with snow on it, and the beach that points towards Antarctica. You can hear Tansy ranting and raving about all things science fiction feminist on the Galactic Suburbia podcast, and all things Doctor Who on the Verity! podcast. She also reads her own stories on the Sheep Might Fly podcast.
We are super lucky to have Erin Ptah on the site today, doing the first in a series of webcomic recs! You may recognize her name from this cover/excerpt reveal, and if webcomics are your thing, you’re not gonna wanna miss her posts or her work! Take it away, Erin!
Hey there, LGBTQReads, I heard you might be webcomic-curious. Let me hook you up with some recs.
The plan is to do a whole series of these, and I’m totally open to suggestions. So if there’s something you want to see more of in webcomics — whether it’s an identity thing like “f/f romance” or a trope thing like “queer stuff with robots” — just say so in a comment and I’ll give it a whirl.
Today’s theme: Webcomics with major nonbinary characters!
The story of a queer teenager who made a few bad decisions and has found themselves in a world very far from Queens.
Fantasy drama, ongoing. The main character’s birth name is Amparo, and I bring this up because it’s not a deadname that was deliberately changed, they just inadvertently lost it in a bargan with a supernatural creature. Along with the rest of their identity. (Oops.)
So now they’re stuck in a fantastical alternate dimension, Bright World, which has these lovely designs and aesthetics drawn from the artist’s Mexican heritage. Nothing in Bright World gets given for free, and our hero doesn’t have much left to bargain with. As of the most recent comic, they’ve picked up a new name (Fawn), but lost some memories and a couple of appendages (hands).
Word of God is that Fawn would specifically ID as “agender butch” if they knew the terms, although it’s not something that comes up in-universe, because, you know, they have other stuff to worry about.
Focuses on a queer relationship between A. Stiffler and K. Copeland, who create the comic! It also delves into politics, GSM issues, mental health, pop culture, cats and other randomness.
Autobio comedy, ongoing. Not nearly as much to say about this one because it’s mostly cute one-shot gags. The artist, A., is agender, and got married to K. over the course of the strip. They own an assortment of ridiculous cats. (Pet death does get addressed, when it comes up.)
This is the one comic in the list that’s grounded in actual reality, so it’ll have reactions to current events like the US’ legalization of same-sex marriage, and strip topics like Being Agender 101. Some of you may find this a useful resource…others may find it a minor annoyance to click past so you can get to the next joke. Either way, it also has a lot of good jokes.
Floraverse is a webcomic and open world project focused on making stories and music. Viewer participation and discussion is highly encouraged.
Surreal fantasy, ongoing. And when I say “surreal” I mean…look, it starts out linear enough, with a little story about a cute bird-pixie and an even cuter jelly-critter trying to make a delivery. Then it skips around to some other stories in the same universe without resolving the first one, and eventually it becomes clear they’re not in chronological order, but now there’s something to do with time loops and characters getting reversioned and maybe the whole thing is just a play Jupet is watching? Or is Jupet writing the play/story/universe?
I have no idea. What I do know is, it’s beautiful. The character/creature designs are lush and varied, the art goes through a couple different complex styles, the color palettes alone are worth reading for.
There’s no explicit discussion about how gender is treated in-universe, just multiple characters who go by they/them, without any fuss or slip-ups by the people around them. The major ones are Beleth, a cat-demon who shows up in two different incarnations (versions? re-embodiments? something like that), and Jupet, a childlike but deceptively-powerful critter who appears to be 90% fluff.
What is everyday life like for a professional summoner, their zealous assistant, and the demons who crash on their couch and help out with taxes?
Fantasy comedy, ongoing. Started out very slice-of-life, though it’s developed more drama and intrigue as it goes on. The nonbinary main characters are demon summoner Sinh Thùy — I’m not sure if they’re a demon themselves, or just a human who’s blue for some reason — and fussy assistent Lemme Laviolette, who seems to have a crush on their boss that may or may not be going anywhere.
Sidenote: Dr. Thùy uses forearm crutches, and there are scenes where you can see bars and other mobility aid architecture in the setting. I don’t remember if it’s been stated whether they’re for a chronic disease or a demon-inflicted injury or what, but either way it’s a detail that most artists wouldn’t bother to include, so it’s cool to see.
Most of it takes place in the normal world, where the general public knows that demons exist, they just mostly would rather not meet any. The trans characters get some misgendering from fellow humans, although ironically not so much from demons, which don’t seem to fit into human gender schemas anyway. Sure, they might eat you, but they can’t be bothered to figure out which pronouns would upset you.
A comic about two girlfriends who go on a roadtrip.
Bittersweet drama, complete. You have to be in the right frame of mind to read it — girlfriends Lola and Sugar are actively suicidal for most of the story, which follows them on a trip to the Grand Canyon to jump over the edge. But if you’re in the right place, it’s cathartic and amazing, with some of the best writing about ongoing depression I’ve ever seen.
It’s also an anthro comic, with a pixel-y style and handwritten text that can be hard to read, but don’t pre-judge it on any of those things. You’ll miss out.
Both characters are different varieties of intersex, which comes up in their conversations, how the conditions have affected their backstories and interacted with their emotional issues. Lola seems to be comfortably nonbinary, in contrast with Sugar, who’s nominally a woman but talks about struggling with it, in a way you almost never see — characters either have their gender already settled when the story starts, or go through a linear discovery process along the way.
The whole thing is natural, and earnest, and comes in between silly random conversations about the finer points of ninja throwing knives. The author is also a depressed intersex nonbinary person, which shows through in how everything feels deep and well-integrated, not caricatured or pasted-on.
Seriously, it’s great and you should go read it.
Erin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (featuring bigender social worker Timothy/Camellia) and Leif & Thorn (featuring agender magic knight Juniper). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.
New E.E. Ottoman book alert! And look at that cover! That blurb! That, well, everything; this book looks seriously incredible. While I haven’t had time to read anything that isn’t YA lately, and so haven’t yet gotten to devour it, you better believe I bought it ASAP!
New York City, 1831.
Passion, medicine and a plan to break the law …
When Doctor William Blackwood, a proper gentleman who prefers books to actual patients, meets retired Navy surgeon Doctor Augustus Hill, they find in each other not just companionship but the chance of pleasure–and perhaps even more. The desire between them is undeniable but their budding relationship is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious patient at New York Hospital.
Mr. Moss has been accused of being born a woman but living his life as a man, an act that will see him committed to an asylum for the rest of his life. William and Augustus are determined to mount a rescue even if it means kidnapping him instead.
Their desperate plan sets William and Augustus against the hospital authorities, and the law. Soon they find themselves embroiled in New York’s seedy underworld, mixed up with prostitutes, spies, and more than a lifetime’s worth of secrets. When nothing is as it seems can they find something real in each other?
Today on the site, we’ve got a cover and excerpt reveal for All Downhill From Here by Erin Ptah! This is a short spinoff story for the webcoming Leif & Thorn, but it’s a standalone AU; no previous knowledge of the comic is required. Here are the deets:
When a diplomatic conference gets derailed by an avalanche, native groundskeeper Leif and visiting knight Thorn end up buried together in the snow. The good news: Leif knows how to survive in the wilderness, and Thorn knows enough of the language to take directions. The bad news: a concussion, divided loyalties, malfunctioning magic, and any vampires that find them are legally allowed to eat them
Or: 13K words of fantasy survival hurt/comfort m/m, with translation difficulties, tangled loyalties, and romantic tension in between the mortal peril.
And here’s the cover!
They talk, for a little while, about safe topics. Nothing political. Nothing that has a real chance of killing either of them over the next few days.
At some point Thorn pulls out his smartcrystal, and Leif nearly melts with delight as he coos through the photos of Thorn’s cat. Some things are culturally universal.
With both of them inside the bedroll, it’s almost cozy. “I’ll take first watch,” says Leif presently, as Thorn is starting to get sleepy. “You should put your coat on back-to-front, so it’ll be open at the back, and we can put the heatpack between us while we’re spooning.”
Thorn’s mouth curves upward. “That sounds like dishes.”
“It…is. It’s the same word. Because spoons in a drawer, they’re like this….” Leif cups his gloved hands and sits them together, one inside the other. “Don’t you say that in Ceannic?”
He looks baffled when Thorn starts laughing — the first real laugh he’s had in what feels like weeks. “No, never! But maybe now I start.”
There’s a scramble as they rearrange their bodies and their clothes, so Thorn is facing the mouth of the tunnel with Leif hugging him from behind. The back-to-front coat means he can’t put his hood up, not without choking himself or at least getting a faceful of fur, so he gets to keep Leif’s scarf. Leif, meanwhile, nuzzles bare-faced against the back of his neck.
It’s…nice, okay? It’s really nice. It’s….
Look, it’s not like Thorn doesn’t know what’s going on, here. You go through a dangerous situation with another person, either you wind up stressed enough to go at each other’s throats, or worked-up enough to go at each other’s…well. Possibly also throats. Depending on what you’re into.
Especially if your companion is resourceful, and confident, and kind, and occasionally vulnerable, and unselfconscious about wrapping his arms around you to ward off the chill. Cute, too. Not that cuteness is the most pressing issue on Thorn’s mind right now…but he has noticed Leif’s snub nose and thin lips and pale, expressive skin.
He might even have said something, if not for be careful with the Sønska servants plus working up a sweat makes you more likely to freeze to death.
Best for Thorn to just keep quiet, no matter how much he likes the innocent “spooning.” (What a great word.)
“Is it only spoons?” he asks sleepily. “Can I also say that we’re forking?”
It’s his turn to be the baffled one, as Leif kinda splutters for no reason Thorn can figure out. “N-no, sir. That already means…something else.”
I’m not gonna lie, dear readers. I did tear up at this post. It’s 2017 and it has been a literal hell of a year, and I know that for so many creators, it’s really hard to answer the question “Why keep going?” I think and hope this guest post from Chase Night, celebrating the revamped re-release of his gay YA, Chicken, helps answer that for many.
Starting December 19, a self-published version of Chicken will be available with a gorgeous new cover and several deleted scenes and other bonus material. And tonight, catch an exciting dramatization of the first chapter in “Welcome to Hickory Ditch, 2012” an episode of NPR’s Arts & Letters with J. Bradley Minnick, featuring music from some amazing artists like Daniel Martin Moore and Humming House. (Podcast link here.)
For sixteen-year-old Casper Quinn, there’s only one good thing about attending a fire-and-brimstone Pentecostal church in Hickory Ditch, Arkansas, and that’s Brant Mitchell, the pot-smoking, worship-leading golden boy he’s gone and fallen in love with. But just as the sparks between them finally start to fly, a political firestorm erupts over everyone’s favorite fast food chicken chain, Wings of Glory. Caught in the middle of the cultural crossfire, Casper and Brant will do whatever it takes to protect their secret. But feelings aren’t the only thing Brant has been hiding in this magical Southern Gothic romance, and when the truth comes out, Casper’s faith in him will be put to an unimaginable test.
Fans of Jeff Zentner, John Corey Whaley, and Patrick Ness will devour this timely yet timeless tale of first love, fried chicken, and the things we give ourselves permission to believe in. Chicken will keep teens and adults alike swooning and swearing ’til the very last bite.
Buy it now with the original cover at Amazon, or revisit that link on December 19th to buy the brand-new one!
And now, the guest post:
At some point during the three very long years I spent writing Chicken, after I had finally let the editor who has agreed to publish it sight-unseen read a partial draft, he told me he was worried that it was going to be dated by the time I finished. He suggested cutting down on pop culture references from 2012 and setting the book in the vague future, “maybe 2017” instead.
I refused. For several story-related reasons, but also because the state of Arkansas, where I live and the book takes place, had just begun issuing same-sex marriage licenses in May 2014, becoming the first Bible Belt state to do so. That had seemed impossible on August 1, 2012 when I started writing Chicken after driving by a local Chick-Fil-A that required police presence to direct all the traffic our former governor Mike Huckabee had sent their way. So I told my editor that 2012 was non-negotiable because if things had already changed this much in two years then there was no telling how much better things would be by 2017.
*pause for everyone to look deadpan into the camera like Jim from The Office, another increasingly dated reference from a simpler time*
After the election, like so many others, I had a crisis of faith. Stories are the closest thing I have to a religion, but it seemed they didn’t have quite the power I’d imagined. How does one read Harry Potter and still vote for Donald Trump? How do you vote for Donald Trump and then un-ironically cry during Rogue One (and not out of crushing guilt)? If some of the most heavy-handed warnings written since WWII couldn’t reach people, why bother writing stories at all?
After eighteen months of publication, I stopped trying to promote Chicken. And when its publisher announced this summer that they were closing and all rights would be reverted, there was even a moment when I thought, “Good. I can just take it down and get out of this business entirely.”
There’s this kid. I won’t tell you how I know them, or what their gender is, because I won’t take even a tiny risk of outing them, and actually, it’s more than one kid anyway. And these kids watch the news and they hear their parents praise the President and they go to churches that blame them for everything that President hasn’t “fixed” and they sit through in-class “debates” moderated by the likes of Matt Lauer and they get shoved into lockers by teenagers already sporting Trump/Pence stickers on their bumpers and these kids are angry and they are afraid, but they wear pride buttons on their backpacks and hold hands in the hallways and there was even that time one of them punched a church girl in the stomach for saying something rude about an elderly transwoman in our town, which doesn’t make punching her okay, but you have to admit, it’s still a pretty heart-warming story.
And I’ve realized no matter how dark this thing gets, there will always be this: the first time a brush of someone’s hand turns your world upside down, the first time a friend calls you by the name you’ve picked out, the first time you kiss someone that matters, the first time they break your heart, the first time a stranger reads you with the right pronoun, or the first time someone doesn’t make you feel broken when you tell them you’re really not that interested in sex at all. I think about how many of those firsts are happening here, even in this hostile place, and I think about how many millions more are happening elsewhere, how they’re adding up, gathering strength, gaining speed, all of these kids hurtling toward that one really big first, the one that maybe matters the most.
You know the one I mean. It starts with a V.
The first time they vote in 2018.
God forbid my own despair, my own feelings of futility, convince even one of them that doesn’t matter! And so, I adjust my thinking. Let go of delusions of grandeur. Perhaps the purpose of a YA novel isn’t to win the battle for them; perhaps it’s to keep the soldiers on the front line from losing heart.
Look, here you are! Right here, pages 1 through 370. Beautiful. Brave. Beloved. Bad ass. You can do this.
Walking through a bookstore, one of these kids tells me they wish there were more books about people like them, and I say, “I know. But there’s more than you think, and I promise you a lot of people are trying to fix it.” And then I look down and spot A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I hand it to the kid, feeling like a very magical adult-type person. “Look, here’s one now!”
Chase Night is an author, editor, and bookhat model, living in Arkansas with his wife and their animals. Chicken is his first novel.
It’s December and the holidays are upon us, so what better choice for a backlist read than an f/f Christmas Romance?? Especially one that kicks off a holiday-themed series with the same couple starring throughout. Jump in for Christmas, and pick ’em back up for Valentine’s Day!
This Christmas, Tori Hammond is on a mission to find love. Her ideal present under the tree would be a shiny new girlfriend, so Tori gives herself one month to find that special lady by December 25th. Christmas spells romance and she’s going to grab some.
However, Tori’s dates bring their own complications, and when someone unexpected strolls back into her life, her Christmas girlfriend quest is turned upside down. Will Tori land on her feet and find the woman of her dreams? And if she does, will it be who she expected?