A Beautiful Crime by Christopher Bollen
The Savage Kind by John Copenhaver (Historical)
Cottonmouths by Kelly J. Ford
The Rabbi Who Prayed with Fire by Rachel Sharona Lewis
Sugar Run by Mesha Maren
Psychotherapist SUCH PRETTY FLOWERS, a Southern gothic suspense with horror and queer elements about a woman’s investigation into her brother’s unlikely suicide—his last words being “get it out of me”—and subsequently, her obsession with his fiancee, a magnetic, black-eyed florist with a penchant for carnivorous plants; and a second book about a coven operating under the guise of the wedding industry whose plans to save women from wife- and motherhood have sinister implications, to Jenny Chen at Bantam Dell, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Chelsey Emmelhainz at Copps Literary Services (world).‘s
SORRY, BRO, a queer rom-com about a twenty-something newly single Armenian woman whose mother insists she find a proper new suitor at a series of local Armenian cultural events—only the woman she meets is the last person her very traditional family had in mind, to Cindy Hwang and Angela Kim at Berkley, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2023, by Katelyn Detweiler at Jill Grinberg Literary Management (NA).‘s
THE SIGNS WE MISSED, in which a young gay man who emancipated from his mother battles addiction, an eating disorder, and being in love with his best while trying to graduate high school and survive, to Kisstopher Musick at Cinnabar Moth, in a nice deal, for publication in summer 2022.‘s
UNDER HER SKIN, a showcase of body horror-inspired poetry from women (cis and trans) and nonbinary femmes in horror, including Bram Stoker Award-winning and nominated poets Lee Murray, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Sara Tantlinger, and Jessica McHugh, with a foreword by Linda D. Addison, to Black Spot, for publication in April 2022 (world English).and ‘s eds.’s
Kate Brook’s NOT EXACTLY WHAT I HAD IN MIND, following four 20-somethings—two roommates navigating the awkward aftermath of a one night stand, and a lesbian couple looking to start a family—as their lives collide and all four learn that sometimes you find family, and love, in the place you would least expect, pitched as for readers of Emma Straub or J. Courtney Sullivan, to Lindsey Rose at Dutton, by Rebecca Wearmouth at PFD (NA). Rights to Sarah Hodgson at Corvus, by Philippa Sitters at David Godwin Associates (UK/Commonwealth, excl. Canada); to Suma de Letras (Spain); and to Diana (Germany), at auction, by Rebecca Wearmouth at PFD.
Author of the forthcoming MY MECHANICAL ROMANCE Alexene Farol Follmuth writing as Olivie Blake’s THE ATLAS SIX TRILOGY, pitched as Kingsman/X-Men meets THE SECRET HISTORY with a diverse cast and strong queer representation, following six uniquely talented magicians from around the world who are invited to compete for an elite academic fellowship where elimination holds deadly consequences, the first book of which was previously self-published and popular on TikTok, to Molly McGhee at Tor, in a major deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, for publication in March 2022, by Amelia Appel at TriadaUS Literary Agency (world).
Winner of the 2018 VQR Emily Clark Balch Prize for Fiction and UT Austin MFA Celia Bell’s THE DISENCHANTMENT, which follows a baroness who falls in love with another woman, and the chaos that ensues when her husband discovers their secret, set against the backdrop of Versailles and Parisian society, to Shelley Wanger at Pantheon, for publication in 2023, by Anna Stein at ICM (NA). Rights to Serpent’s Tail (UK), by Lucy Morris and Sabhbh Curry at Curtis Brown UK.
MOLLY’S TUXEDO, about a girl who has big plans to wear a dashing tuxedo for her school picture day, but her mom has picked out a dress, so with her friends’ support, the girl proves the way to look your best is to be yourself, illustrated by , to Charlie Ilgunas at Little Bee Books, for publication in summer 2023, by Zoe Sandler at ICM for the author, and by Christy Tugeau Ewers at The CAT Agency for the illustrator (world).‘s picture book
BEETLE AND THE CHIMERA CARNIVAL, a sequel to the Stonewall Honor Book BEETLE AND THE HOLLOWBONES, which follows Beetle and her friends as they face new and sinister complications when the dragons set to arrive for a community celebration never appear, illustrated by , to Julia McCarthy at Atheneum, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2024 and fall 2025, by Susan Graham at Einstein Literary Management (world English).‘s
Author-illustrator FOXES, FIRE, & OTHER MAGIC, in which a curious young fox spirit who stumbled into the human world during the annual Obon festival and became trapped, and a nonbinary noodle maker struggling to keep their parents’ legacy alive, must learn to trust each other to save the udon shop and get the fox spirit home before the spirit gate closes for good, to Emily Settle and Erin Siu at Feiwel and Friends, in a very nice deal, for publication in spring 2024, by Jennifer Azantian at Azantian Literary Agency (world).‘s
Coauthor of RENEGADE RULE ELLE CAMPBELL SAVES THEIR SATURDAY, in which a nonbinary seventh grader wants to meet their celebrity hero at a local signing, so they and their two best friends will have to stage a daring escape from weekend detention, and avoid bullies and parents as they trek across town to save their Saturday, to Mallory Kass at Scholastic, in an exclusive submission, for publication in 2023, by Moe Ferrara at BookEnds (world).‘s
Dresden Douglas’s GIRLS GIVE ME BUTTERFLIES, a debut middle grade graphic novel pitched as a sapphic Lizzie McGuire, about a young girl who begins to feel flustered and tongue-tied around other girls while struggling to tune out the voice of an excitable little figment who manifests all her innermost thoughts, to Mekisha Telfer at Roaring Brook Press, at auction, for publication in 2023, by Claire Draper at The Bent Agency (world).
LOVE LIGHT, set in a world where a beacon of light connects each person’s heart to their soulmate’s; a girl’s parents are light fanatics, so she is shocked when she falls for a girl who is not her soulmate, and when she meets her actual soulmate, she must choose between her faith and her first love, to Dana Chidiac at Holt Children’s, for publication in winter 2025, by Chelsea Eberly at Greenhouse Literary Agency (world).‘s debut
HERE FOR IT author KINGS OF B’MORE, a celebration of queer Black friendship as two boys plan a day of fun and facing their fears, pitched as inspired by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, to Joanna Cardenas at Kokila, for publication in summer 2022, by Anna Sproul-Latimer at Neon Literary (world).‘s debut
Freja Nicole Woolf’s NEVER TRUST A GEMINI, pitched as a LGBTQ+ ANGUS, THONGS AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING, in which a zodiac-obsessed 15-year-old struggling with a desperate crush on her best friend must scramble through a fake boyfriend, a house fire, and an unexpected Christmas romance to find her happy ending, to Denise Johnstone-Burt and Non Pratt at Walker UK, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2023, by Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency (world).
NYT-bestselling author of CEMETERY BOYS JUST MAX, in which a stealth transgender college student faces the usual stress of freshman year—making new friends and trying to fit in—all while managing testosterone shots, navigating the perils of communal bathrooms, and falling in love with the handsome soccer player down the hall, to Holly West at Feiwel and Friends, in a good deal, in an exclusive submission, for publication in winter 2024, by Jennifer March Soloway at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (world).‘s
MAJOR DETOURS author SO YOU WANNA BE A POPSTAR?, an interactive novel following five diverse and queer teen solo artists who are forced into a pop group that goes viral overnight, and where the reader chooses the paths forward to guide the characters on their journey to stardom, to Britny Brooks at Running Press Kids, for publication in winter 2023, by Lucy Carson at Friedrich Agency (world).‘s
FULL DISCLOSURE author Camryn Garrett’s FRIDAY I’M IN LOVE, about a queer teen determined to throw a lavish coming out party in place of a sweet sixteen, but when her mother is laid off, she’s forced to balance saving for the party with keeping her household afloat, all the while navigating her growing feelings for a new girl at school, to Katherine Harrison at Knopf Children’s, in a six-figure deal, for publication in spring 2023, by Beth Phelan at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency (NA). Rights also to Emma Jones at Random House UK Children’s, by Ellen Greenberg, on behalf of Beth Phelan.
K.M. Watts’s BORN ANDROMEDA, a debut in which a moon princess is kidnapped by galactic pirates, and joins the world of piracy in order to get home—if she doesn’t fall for one first, to Annie Harper at Duet, in a nice deal, in an exclusive submission, for publication in fall 2022 (world). Rights: Mary Jo Courchesne at Gryphon Publishing Consulting
WHAT ARE YOUR WORDS? illustrator GENDER IDENTITY FOR KIDS, a chapter book guide breaking down what gender is and isn’t, what your feelings around gender might mean, and how to let the world know who you are and help others do the same, to Regan Winter at Little, Brown Children’s, with Andrea Colvin and Aria Balraj editing, for publication in summer 2023, by Alexandra Gehringer at The Bright Group (world).‘s
Chicana writer, activist, poet, essayist, and playwright LOVING IN THE WAR YEARS and THE LAST GENERATION, combined in a single 40th anniversary volume; and WAITING IN THE WINGS: PORTRAIT OF A QUEER MOTHERHOOD, to be published on its 25th anniversary, both with new forewords by the author, to Julie Fain at Haymarket, in a two-book deal, by Stuart Bernstein at Stuart Bernstein Representation.‘s
Olympic champion and elite runner Caster Semenya’s SILENCE ALL THE NOISE, a story of courage, resilience, and hope about her childhood in rural South Africa, her running career, and her experience as an intersex woman in professional sports, to Norton, at auction, with a young readers edition.
Ashley “Ash” Bishop has always known who he is: a guy who loves soccer, has a crush on his friend Michelle, and is fascinated by the gruesome history of his hometown―Salem, Massachusetts. He’s also always known that he’s intersex, born with both male and female genitalia. But it’s never felt like a big deal until his junior year of high school, when Ash gets his first period in front of the entire boys’ soccer team. Now his friends and teachers see him differently, and his own mother thinks he should “try being a girl.”
As tensions mount with his parents and Ash feels more and more like an outcast, he can’t help feeling a deeper kinship with his ancestor Bridget Bishop, who was executed for witchcraft. She didn’t conform to her community’s expectations either; she was different, and her neighbors felt threatened by her. And she paid the ultimate price. Ash is haunted by her last recorded words: You will keep silent.
Ash realizes that he needs to find a way to stand up for who he really is, or the cost of his silence might destroy his life, too.
Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.
In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible—she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father—their nation’s greatest traitor—once tried to destroy the automatons.
Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.
Caiden’s planet is destroyed. His family gone. And, his only hope for survival is a crew of misfit aliens and a mysterious ship that seems to have a soul and a universe of its own. Together they will show him that the universe is much bigger, much more advanced, and much more mysterious than Caiden had ever imagined. But the universe hides dangers as well, and soon Caiden has his own plans.
He vows to do anything it takes to get revenge on the slavers who murdered his people and took away his home. To destroy their regime, he must infiltrate and dismantle them from the inside, or die trying.
Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.
Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.
As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.
A poetry collection about the mythic life of Artemis, Greek Goddess of the hunt. Told through the perspective of Artemis herself with the contributions of a few other Greek Goddesses. This collection reimagines and follows Artemis navigating her lifelong vow of chastity and, rather than suffering through it, owning it as a facet of her aromanticism and asexuality. Immerse yourself in a cultivated tempest of poems illustrating Artemis as a warrior, whose shoulders have known an excessive weight of responsibility, and who always fights to remain her authentic self among people who would change her.
Buy it: Amazon
Dexter meets This Savage Song in this dark fantasy about a girl who sells magical body parts on the black market — until she’s betrayed.
Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet–her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” Until her mom brings home a live specimen and Nita decides she wants out; dissecting a scared teenage boy is a step too far. But when she decides to save her mother’s victim, she ends up sold in his place–because Nita herself isn’t exactly “human.” She has the ability to alter her biology, a talent that is priceless on the black market. Now on the other side of the bars, if she wants to escape, Nita must ask herself if she’s willing to become the worst kind of monster.
“It’s not every day you get to put the fear of Medusa into a god.”
Emma Stone, medusa, is the groundskeeper for Olson College of Extensive Education, a place where everyone is welcome, from the mythical to the magical. When her selkie best friend loses her skin in Fresher’s week, the race is on to find it before someone uses it against her.
The search brings Emma face to face with her oldest enemy – and forces her to confront the worst nightmares of her past.
Like everyone else she knows, Mallory is an orphan of the corporate war. As a child, she lost her parents, her home, and her entire building in an airstrike. As an adult, she lives in a cramped hotel room with eight other people, all of them working multiple jobs to try to afford water and make ends meet. And the job she’s best at is streaming a popular VR war game. The best part of the game isn’t killing enemy combatants, though—it’s catching in-game glimpses of SpecOps operatives, celebrity supersoldiers grown and owned by Stellaxis, the corporation that runs the America she lives in.
Until a chance encounter with a SpecOps operative in the game leads Mal to a horrifying discovery: the real-life operatives weren’t created by Stellaxis. They were kids, just like her, who lost everything in the war, and were stolen and augmented and tortured into becoming supersoldiers. The world worships them, but the world believes a lie.
The company controls every part of their lives, and defying them puts everything at risk—her water ration, her livelihood, her connectivity, her friends, her life—but she can’t just sit on the knowledge. She has to do something—even if doing something will bring the wrath of the most powerful company in the world down upon her.
The Descendants meets Pretty Little Liars in this story of four reimagined fairytale heroines who must uncover connections to their ancient curses and forge their own paths… before it’s too late.
After the mysterious death of their best friend, Ella, Yuki, and Rory are the talk of their elite school, Grimrose Académie. The police ruled Ariane’s death as a suicide, but the trio are determined to find out what really happened.
When Nani Eszes arrives as their newest roommate, it sets into motion a series of events that no one could have predicted. As the girls retrace their friend’s final days, they discover a dark secret about Grimrose—Ariane wasn’t the first dead girl.
They soon learn that all the past murders are connected to ancient fairytale curses…and that their own fates are tied to the stories, dooming the girls to brutal and gruesome endings unless they can break the cycle for good.
When Jay starts eighth grade with a few pimples he doesn’t think much of it at first…except to wonder if the embarrassing acne will disappear as quickly as it arrived. But when his acne goes from bad to worse, Jay’s prescribed a powerful medication that comes with some serious side effects. Regardless, he’s convinced it’ll all be worth it if clear skin is on the horizon!
Meanwhile, school isn’t going exactly as planned. All of Jay’s friends are in different classes; he has no one to sit with at lunch; his best friend, Brace, is avoiding him; and–to top it off–Jay doesn’t understand why he doesn’t share the same feelings two of his fellow classmates, a boy named Mark and a girl named Amy, have for him.
Eighth grade can be tough, but Jay has to believe everything’s going to be a-okay…right?
It’s 1904 on an island just west of Norway, and Asta Hedstrom doesn’t want to marry her odious betrothed, Nils. But her mother believes she should be grateful for the possibility of any domestic future, given her single-sided deafness, unconventional appearance, and even stranger notions. Asta would rather spend her life performing in the village theater with her fellow outcasts: her best friend Gunnar Fuglestad and his secret boyfriend, wealthy Erlend Fournier.
But the situation takes a dire turn when Nils lashes out in jealousy—gravely injuring Gunnar. Shunning marriage for good, Asta moves with Gunnar and Erlend to their secluded cabin above town. With few ties left to their families, they have one shot at gaining enough kroner to secure their way of life: win the village’s annual horse race.
Despite Gunnar’s increasing misgivings, Asta and Erlend intend to prove this unheard-of arrangement will succeed. Asta trains as a blacksmith; Erlend cares for recovering Gunnar. But as race day approaches, the villagers’ hateful ignorance only grows stronger. With this year’s competition proving dangerous for the trio, Asta and Erlend soon find they face another equally deadly peril: the possibility of losing Gunnar, and their found family, forever.
Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She’s always felt there was something more out there. She still believes in the old stories.
Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. Like all cottonmouths, he’s been cast from home. He’s found a new one on the banks of the bottomless lake.
Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a strange sickness that befalls Oli’s best friend, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven’t been in centuries.
And there are some who will kill to keep them apart.
Darcie Little Badger introduced herself to the world with Elatsoe. In A Snake Falls to Earth, she draws on traditional Lipan Apache storytelling structure to weave another unforgettable tale of monsters, magic, and family. It is not to be missed.
The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is ironically named. No one has hope for the delinquent teenagers who have been exiled there; the world barely acknowledges that they exist.
Then the guards at Hope start acting strange. And one day…they don’t show up. But when the teens band together to make a break from the facility, they encounter soldiers outside the gates. There’s a rapidly spreading infectious disease outside, and no one can leave their houses or travel without a permit. Which means that they’re stuck at Hope. And this time, no one is watching out for them at all.
As supplies quickly dwindle and a deadly plague tears through their ranks, the group has to decide whom among them they can trust and figure out how they can survive in a world that has never wanted them in the first place.
All Harper McKinley wants is for her dad’s presidential campaign to not interfere with her senior marching band season.
But Harper’s world gets upended when the drumline’s punk-rock section leader, Margot Blanchard, tries to reject her one day after practice. Someone pretending to be Harper on Tinder catfished Margot for a month and now she’s determined to get to know the real Harper.
But the real Harper has a homophobic mother who’s the dean and a father who is running for president on the Republican ticket. With the election at stake, neither of them are happy about Harper’s new friendship with out-and-proud Margot.
As the election draws closer, Harper is forced to figure out if she even likes girls, if she might be asexual, and if it’s worth coming out at all.
Hunted by those who want to study his gravity powers, Jes makes his way to the best place for a mixed-species fugitive to blend in: the pleasure moon where everyone just wants to be lost in the party. It doesn’t take long for him to catch the attention of the crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job, and when the boss gets wind of the bounty on Jes’ head, he makes an offer: do anything and everything asked of him or face vivisection.
With no other options, Jes fulfills the requests: espionage, torture, demolition. But when the boss sets the circus up to take the fall for his about-to-get-busted narcotics operation, Jes and his friends decide to bring the mobster down. And if Jes can also avoid going back to being the prize subject of a scientist who can’t wait to dissect him? Even better.
Thirty, flirty, and asexual Joy is secretly in love with her best friend Malcolm, but she’s never been brave enough to say so. When he unexpectedly announces that he’s met the love of his life—and no, it’s not Joy—she’s heartbroken. Malcolm invites her on a weekend getaway, and Joy decides it’s her last chance to show him exactly what he’s overlooking. But maybe Joy is the one missing something…or someone…and his name is Fox.
Fox sees a kindred spirit in Joy—and decides to help her. He proposes they pretend to fall for each other on the weekend trip to make Malcolm jealous. But spending time with Fox shows Joy what it’s like to not be the third wheel, and there’s no mistaking the way he makes her feel. Could Fox be the romantic partner she’s always deserved?
Sixteen-year-old Arden Grey is struggling. Her mother has left their family, her father and her younger brother won’t talk about it, and a classmate, Tanner, keeps harassing her about her sexuality—which isn’t even public. (She knows she likes girls romantically, but she thinks she might be asexual.) At least she’s got her love of film photography and her best and only friend, Jamie, to help her cope. Then Jamie, who is trans, starts dating Caroline, and suddenly he isn’t so reliable. Arden’s insecurity about their friendship grows. She starts to wonder if she’s jealous or if Jamie’s relationship with Caroline is somehow unhealthy—and it makes her reconsider how much of her relationship with her absent mom wasn’t okay, too.
(Lou is demisexual.)
Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word.
But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists.
While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.
(Firuz is aroace.)
Firuz-e Jafari is one of the fortunate ones who have emigrated to the Democratic Free State of Qilwa. Firuz has escaped the slaughter of other traditional Sassanid blood-magic practitioners. They have a good job at a free healing clinic in Qilwa; a kindly new employer, Kofi; and a gifted new student, Afsoneh, a troubled orphan refugee.
But Firuz and Kofi have discovered a terrible new disease which leaves mysterious bruises on its victims. The illness is spreading quickly through Qilwa, and there are dangerous accusations of ineptly-performed blood magic.
In order to survive, Firuz must break a deadly cycle of prejudice while finding a fresh start for their both their blood and found family.
Foodie romances are one of my absolute favorite subgenres, so I’m extra delighted to be revealing the cover today of Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander, an f/nb rom-com releasing from Atria/Emily Bestler Books on May 3, 2022! Here’s the story:
Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. All she wants to do is create the perfect loaf of sourdough and develop recipes, but when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.
To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone’s water. When Ray accidentally becomes a viral YouTube sensation with a series of homebrewing videos, their eccentric editor in chief forces Simone to work alongside the chipper upstart or else risk her beloved job. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray. Things get even more complicated when Ray comes out at work as nonbinary to mixed reactions—and Simone must choose between the career she fought so hard for and the person who just might take the cake (and her heart).
And here’s the delicious cover, illustrated and designed by Colleen Reinhart!
Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley
Edie in Between by Laura Sibson
Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer
These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Today is International Pronouns Day, and to celebrate, we’re highlighting a new picture book that’s all about them: What Are Your Words?:a Book About Pronouns written by Katherine Locke, illustrated by Anne Passchier, and published by Little, Brown!
Whenever Ari’s Uncle Lior comes to visit, they ask Ari one question: “What are your words?” Some days Ari uses she/her. Other days Ari uses he/him. But on the day of the neighborhood’s big summer bash, Ari doesn’t know what words to use. On the way to the party, Ari and Lior meet lots of neighbors and learn the words each of them use to describe themselves, including pronouns like she/her, he/him, they/them, ey/em, and ze/zir. As Ari tries on different pronouns, they discover that it’s okay to not know your words right away–sometimes you have to wait for your words to find you.
Filled with bright, graphic illustrations, this simple and poignant story about finding yourself is the perfect introduction to gender-inclusive pronouns for readers of all ages.
For further reading, check out this interview by We Need Diverse Books!
Today on the site, please welcome Lianyu Tan, who’s revealing the cover of her steamy f/f gothic horror vampire romance, The Wicked and the Willing, which has a bi femme Chinese protagonist and releases May 13, 2022! (Note: the book has a love triangle, but there is a choice of mutually exclusive endings and no cliffhangers. Due to the mature content and dark themes, it is intended for adult readers only. It contains potentially disturbing scenes and an abusive romantic relationship between two women. Further content information is available from the author’s website.) Here’s the story:
An orphan with a shameful secret must choose whom to love: her vampire mistress or the woman trying to save her life. A provocative tale of seduction, violence, and despair from dark lesbian romance author Lianyu Tan.
1927, colonial Singapore
Monsters don’t scare Gean Choo. And there are monsters aplenty among the Europeans on sultry Singapore island, all of them running away from something—or someone.
When she starts her new job as a lady’s companion, she can’t imagine falling for the impassioned, demanding mistress of Ambrosia Hall, nor the gruff, brooding woman who serves as her lady’s majordomo.
The latter holds her heart; the former, her body, blood, and loyalty.
Both want her.
Both need her.
And one of them will die for her.
Here’s the chilling cover with art and design by MiblArt!
Lianyu Tan has always been fascinated by the darker side of love: obsessive yearning and monstrous desires. She usually writes dark romance with a fantastical twist, but has recently found a home in gothic horror. Her debut novel Captive in the Underworld is an F/F dark lesbian romance retelling of the Hades/Persephone myth.
Lianyu is a queer Malaysian Chinese Australian and lives with her wife in Australia. She loves to hear from readers and you can find her as @LianyuTan on most social media platforms. Subscribe to her newsletter for free bonus content and short stories: https://go.lianyutan.
Please welcome Courtney Lanning to the site today, to discuss writing queer casts for queer stories, including in her recent release, Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl! Here’s a little more about the book:
Roxie is a sweet trans girl who just wants to spend the rest of her summer vacation playing music with her friends in their band. Living in a southern college town like Fayetteville has its challenges. Dan is a shop wizard who would give anything to escape the store he’s been trapped in for a century under the watchful eyes of a witch and a talking fox.
Their paths converge when Roxie is given the ability to travel into dreams and tasked with fighting off nightmares.
Unbeknownst to Dan and Roxie, other dream walkers are searching for an enchanted key, and if they find it, they’ll plunge the entire city into a living nightmare. The shop wizard and pixie dream girl will have to team up to stop them, facing their own nightmares along the way.
Buy it: Amazon
And here’s the post!
It does my heart good to see so many queer stories being published this year. LGBTQ+ literature is going strong, and I hope it’ll just continue to snowball into 2022 and beyond.
Some of my favorite titles I’ve pounced on this year include The River Has Teeth and The Lost Girls (big sucker for ya lesbian fantasy novels). And while I can’t speak for authors like Erica Waters and Sonia Hartl, I can speak for myself as a queer author in terms of what’s driving my own LGBTQ+ writing.
My debut fantasy novel, Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl, released on the last day of Pride Month, and it follows the adventures of a trans girl who is given the ability to travel into dreams.
When I was writing the book, all I could think to myself was I just don’t see enough transgender representation in the fantasy genre. Fortunately, Riverdale Avenue Books gave me an opportunity to help address that.
As I wrote chapter after chapter of Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl, I found myself reaching into a cauldron of queer material that inspired me, not only growing up, but over the last decade of my writing.
Anime is something I’ve enjoyed watching ever since I was a little girl, and Sailor Moon was the first one I saw. I spent several years wanting to grow up to be a magical girl like Usagi and the other Sailor Scouts. But this anime also had a queer twist, introducing Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus as gay lovers in the third season.
It’s no secret that I took a bit of influence from Sailor Moon when I created the character of Roxie. I wanted to accomplish a few different things with Roxie’s character, primarily establishing her as a magical girl of my making and giving transgender readers a hero of their own to cheer for and reflect on.
When it came to overall themes of Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl, I also found myself borrowing a bit from the cartoon Steven Universe, both in moments of levity and silliness with my characters and placing an importance on mental health care, which is something the show brings up repeatedly for most of its characters.
In chapter two, where Roxie first appears, she goes to see her therapist. It’s one of the first things she does, and I wanted to establish that as a normal part of her life. Given the discrimination and mistreatment transgender women face externally and the dysphoria that can eat away at them on the inside, I knew it was important to show Roxie taking steps to deal with her trauma and normalize addressing it.
Of course, I also had literature to pull out of my queer cauldron and mix into Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl. My favorite author is Holly Black, and not long after coming out, my wife suggested I read her Tithe trilogy. So, I did, and quickly fell in love with those stories. To this day, they sit very first in line on the top level of my bookshelf.
Black showed me how important it was to have other queer characters throughout your novels, and throughout her books about faeries, she establishes not just queer characters but a magical world of Faerie where beings just are what they are with regards to gender and sexual identity. Nobody is treated badly for having an identity outside of the cis-het “norm.” In Black’s world of faerie, characters are treated horribly for other reasons, but that’s a different essay entirely.
So I knew I couldn’t just have a transgender protagonist and assume that was all the representation my story needed. So in Roxie’s tight friend group I introduced Tessa, a queer girl who plays guitar and drives a beat up old van she uses to transport all the band equipment.
In book two, The Ozarks Druid (coming out next year), I include other LGBTQ+ characters, like the protagonist, Aoife, a bisexual girl in a relationship with a drama student named Abigail. And there are more in books three and four. I intend to include a plurality of LGBTQ+ characters throughout my Boston Mountain Magic series. Black’s subsequent works like The Darkest Part of the Forest and the Folk of the Air series helped show me how important that is.
But I suspect most queer authors have their own rainbow cauldrons and brews they use to craft queer stories like I do. It’s my hope publishers will continue to seek out those authors and their queer cauldrons because the world needs all of it.
Courtney Lanning is a journalist in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She’s earned a master’s degree in multimedia journalism. When she’s not writing, Lanning is probably watching a movie, playing video games, reading or out running. Her debut novel, Funky Dan and the Pixie Dream Girl, released at the end of June 2021. She can be found on Twitter under @SapphicCourtney or on Facebook under Courtney Lanning – Author.