Maori author Rebecca K Reilly’s GRETA AND VALDIN, a humorous slice-of-life family saga that follows the titular siblings as they navigate queerness, multiracial identity, and their eccentric Maori-Russian-Catalonian family, all while flailing their way to love in contemporary Auckland, to Amy Guay in her first acquisition for Avid Reader Press, for publication in spring 2024, by Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency on behalf of Martha Perotto-Wills (NA).
Author of FERAL CITY and VANISHING NEW YORK under the pen name Jeremiah Moss Griffin Hansbury‘s SOME STRANGE MUSIC DRAWS ME IN, exploring the 1980s friendship between a young trans woman and a teen who will grow into a trans man, as he looks back on his youth from 2019, where he grapples with middle-age, the death of his mother, and the troubles of his right-wing sister amidst his own gender-related scandal, to Tom Mayer at Norton, by Douglas Stewart at Sterling Lord Literistic (NA).
Kate Young‘s EXPERIENCED, about a 30-year-old woman whose blissful happiness is shattered when her first girlfriend insists she go explore the queer dating scene she missed out on before recently coming out, leading her to awkward dating mishaps, a few memorable nights, a found family, and unexpected love along the way, to Marie Michels at Pamela Dorman Books, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Zoe Ross at United Agents (NA).
Author duo Kit Rocha‘s THE HIGH COURT OF DREAMERS, the first book in an epic fantasy romance series, in which a princess and her assassin handmaid are sent to kill an ancient dragon god, plunging all three into a darkly sensual world of secrets, power, and love, to Lauren Plude at Montlake, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2023, by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency (world English).
Karmen Lee‘s THE 7-10 SPLIT, pitched as a Black sapphic, second chance romance between two high school teachers forced together to coach the school’s bowling team to victory amidst their long-standing rivalry, a group of meddling kids rooting for their HEA, and memories of that searing-hot kiss they shared as teens, to Errin Toma at an unnamed new imprint at Harlequin, in a three-book deal, for publication in February 2024, by Taj McCoy at Rees Literary Agency.
Courtney Smyth’s THE UNDETECTABLES, a queer fantasy murder mystery in which three witches and a ghost form a supernatural detective agency to track down the magical serial killer who is stalking their town, to George Sandison at Titan Books, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2023, by Zoe Plant at The Bent Agency (world English).
Winner of the 2021 Sewanee Review Fiction Prize Allen Bratton‘s HENRY HENRY, pitched as a queer, contemporary reimagining of Shakespeare’s Henriad that transposes the legend of Henry V’s wayward youth into 21st-century Britain, following the troubled relationship between 22-year-old English Catholic aristocrat Hal Lancaster and the father whose dukedom he will inherit, to Brandon Taylor in his first acquisition at Unnamed Press, by Martha Wydysh at Trident Media Group (NA).
Oisin McKenna‘s EVENINGS AND WEEKENDS, set over the course of one transformative weekend during a heatwave in London when a whale is beached on the banks of the Thames, following a group of friends coming to terms with the sexual, political, and economic challenges they must endure to exist in a 21st-century city, exploring issues of community, polyamory, environmental ruin, and housing instability, pitched for readers of Sally Rooney, Raven Leilani, and Torrey Peters, to Jessica Vestuto at Mariner, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Olivia Maidment at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency (NA).
Adib Khorram‘s Wine Pairing series, pitched as a modern, BIPOC-and queer-centered Sex and the City, following the fierce friendships and many bottles of wine that sustain three gay, Iranian American millennial men as they navigate misguided meet-cutes and steamy second-chance romances, career-altering crushes, serious choices about commitment, and high-heat hookups gone terribly wrong…and occasionally exactly right, to Sam Brody at Forever, in a significant deal, at auction, in a three-book deal, for publication in fall 2024, fall 2025, and 2026, by Molly O’Neill at Root Literary (NA).
A.J. Sass‘s JUST SHY OF ORDINARY, in which a 13-year-old nonbinary homeschooler attempts to find a “new normal” post-pandemic as they start public school, struggle to control their anxiety, meet new friends, and learn about their Jewish identity, to Lisa Yoskowitz at Little, Brown Children’s, with Caitlyn Averett editing, for publication in winter 2024, by Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary & Media (world English).
James Laughlin Award-winning poet and lecturer at Stanford University Sam Sax‘s YR DEAD, a queer Jewish diasporic bildungsroman told through the eyes of a young person as their life flashes in lyric fragments across time and geography during their final act of protest, exploring how historical memory shapes our political and emotional present, to Amanda Uhle at McSweeney’s, with Rita Bullwinkel editing, for publication in spring of 2024, by Rob McQuilkin at Massie & McQuilkin (NA).
Meka James‘s LOVE AND SPORTSBALL, a Black sapphic romance in which an athletic trainer who doesn’t like sports has an accidental one-night stand with the point guard of the women’s basketball team she’s about to work for, to John Jacobson at an unnamed new imprint at Harlequin, in a two-book deal.
Young Adult Fiction
Auburn Marrow’s debut 30 DAY TRIAL PERIOD, an LGBTQIA+ YA romance about two polar opposites who are challenged to date for 30 days to fix their bad dating habits, to Rebecca Sands at Wattpad, for publication in summer 2024 (world).
Matthew Hubbard‘s debut LAST BOYFRIENDS, a coming-of-age novel pitched as Heartstopper meets THE FIRST WIVES CLUB, featuring three queer teenage boys in small-town Alabama who set out to get revenge on their ex-boyfriends and end up fighting their school’s anti-LGBTQ+ initiatives, to Alison Romig at Delacorte, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2024 and summer 2025, by Katie Shea Boutillier at Donald Maass Literary Agency (world English).
Bessie Flores Zaldivar‘s LIBERTAD, set in Honduras, where the protagonist must come into her queerness and to terms with her country’s history of violence, heading into an unprecedented presidential election, to Rosie Ahmed at Dial, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2024, by Beth Phelan at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency (NA).
Author of WHAT ARE YOUR WORDS: A BOOK ABOUT PRONOUNS Katherine Locke’s GENDER REBELS, an illustrated history of important trans/nonbinary/gender nonconforming trailblazers for a Middle Grade audience, illustrated by Shanee Benjamin, to Julie Matysik at Running Press Kids, in an exclusive submission, for publication in 2023, by Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency for the author (world).
Cultural worker and stem cell transplant survivor Walela Nehanda‘s BLESS THE BLOOD, a poetry collection exploring what it means to be a young, queer, Black nonbinary medical patient facing racism and abuse within and outside of the hospital, meditating on traumas both physical and unseen, and celebrating the courage to grieve and the strength it takes to go on, to Sydnee Monday at Kokila, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, for publication in spring 2024, by Katherine Latshaw at Folio Literary Management (world).
In this modern graphic novel retelling of Anne of Green Gables from graphic novelist Kathleen Gros, foster kid Anne Shirley finally lands in a loving home and befriends a girl who she may have more-than-friends feelings for.
Anne Shirley has been in foster care her whole life. So when the Cuthberts take her in, she hopes it’s for good. They seem to be hitting it off, but how will they react to the trouble that Anne can sometimes find herself in . . . like accidentally dyeing her hair green or taking a dangerous dare that leaves her in a cast?
Then Anne meets Diana Barry, a girl who lives in her apartment building, the Avon-Lea. The two become fast friends, as Anne finds she can share anything with Diana. As time goes on, though, Anne starts to develop more-than-friends feelings for Diana.
A new foster home, a new school, and a first-time crush—it’s a lot all at once. But if anyone can handle life’s twists and turns, it’s the irrepressible Anne Shirley.
It’s been a wild year for Sideways Pike. After forming a coven with the three most popular girls in school and developing a huge crush on a mysterious stranger named Madeline, Sideways’ Halloween was ruined by finding out that Madeline wasn’t trying to make out with her, but to steal Sideways’ specter, the force that gives witches the ability to cast magic spells. From Madeline’s perspective, it’s not her fault: after a doomed relationship with one of the creepy near-identical Chantry Boys turned into a witch hunt, they took her specter, so, really, she’s only borrowing Sideways’ until she can recover her own and punish the Chantrys.
The specter-less Sideways is in a horrid, distracted mood, unable to do magic and with part of her consciousness tied to Madeline’s, on the lam as she uses Sideways’ specter to hunt Chantrys. The other Scapegracers are much jollier, heading into the winter holidays having set up shop as curse crafters for girls in their school who’ve been done wrong by guys. When Sideways—through Madeline—gets a flash of how to track down both her foes at once, she asks the Scapegracers to help entrap them, only to be told her plan is unsafe and unwise. So if she’s going to find Madeline, her only ally is Mr. Scratch, the inky book demon currently inhabiting her as life support until she gets her spectre back.
Sideways is used to being an outcast loner, and is desperate to do magic again, so she’s not going to let little barriers like facing an betraying crush and a family of six demented witch hunters practically alone stop her. But she and her trusty stolen bike are in for a bumpy ride…
This is the third book in the Singing Hills Cycle.
Wandering cleric Chih of the Singing Hills travels to the riverlands to record tales of the notorious near-immortal martial artists who haunt the region. On the road to Betony Docks, they fall in with a pair of young women far from home, and an older couple who are more than they seem. As Chih runs headlong into an ancient feud, they find themselves far more entangled in the history of the riverlands than they ever expected to be.
Accompanied by Almost Brilliant, a talking bird with an indelible memory, Chih confronts old legends and new dangers alike as they learn that every story―beautiful, ugly, kind, or cruel―bears more than one face.
Six magicians were presented with the opportunity of a lifetime.
Five are now members of the Society.
Two paths lay before them.
All must pick a side.
Alliances will be tested, hearts will be broken, and The Society of Alexandrians will be revealed for what it is: a secret society with raw, world-changing power, headed by a man whose plans to change life as we know it are already under way.
Chen Tien-Hong, the only and desperately yearned for son of a traditional Taiwanese family with seven daughters, runs away from the oppression of his village to Berlin in the hope of finding acceptance as a young gay man.
The novel begins a decade later, when Chen has just been released from prison for killing his boyfriend. He is about to return to his family’s village, a poor and desolate place. With his parents gone, his sisters married, mad, or dead, there is nothing left for him there. As the story unfurls, we learn what tore this family apart and, more importantly, the truth behind the murder of Chen’s boyfriend.
Jeanna Kadlec was a devout Evangelical and the wife of a pastor’s son before she came to the double realization that she was queer and that she had to leave the church in order to survive. This is a memoir of growing up Evangelical–of indoctrination, family, and working poor middle America–and a sharp critique of how the tenets of conservative Christianity have built our power structures and political systems, in addition to how they’ve shaped our culture and our daily interactions with each other.
From writing about Lilith and celebrity purity rings, to coming out and discovering F/F fanfiction, finding community outside of Christianity in the face of millennial loneliness, to interrogating the liberal and academic stigma against faith, this memoir traces the damage Evangelicalism, with its demands for unquestioning obedience, has caused in individuals, communities, and our country, past to present–and also imagines how could we radically leave it behind: new methods of building community, finding meaning, and reintegrating concepts of fellowship and love into our everyday discourse.
It’s a good thing Allison Farley isn’t in love with her best friend.
They may both be star students in their costume design program, but when it comes to relationships, Allison and Kate are as different as their fashion senses.
Kate marches through life in combat boots and crop tops, breaking hearts as fast as she steals them and insisting anything more than an emotionless hook-up is a waste of time.
Allison knits her own sweaters, wears socks with tiny strawberries on them, and has spent her first two years of college utterly failing at her goal of getting a girlfriend before graduation.
Until the day it hits her: she’s got a master flirting coach right at her fingertips.
Kate, meanwhile, has vowed herself to a semester of solitude while she tries to figure out why heading home with strangers isn’t as fun as it used to be. Teaching her best friend the art of seduction seems like the perfect distraction from some of the inconvenient truths she’d rather not face.
Like maybe she doesn’t hate relationships.
Maybe she’s just afraid of them—too afraid to reach out and grab one when it’s staring her in the face.
So it’s a good thing Kate Davidson isn’t in love with her best friend either.
It’s a good thing Kate and Allison are just taking part in some purely platonic flirting lessons and are absolutely, totally, definitely not falling in love.
Happy Asexual Awareness Week! I’m thrilled to be celebrating it with some great ace authors, who’ve gathered together for a roundtable moderated by author Rosiee Thor! I’ll let them take it away!
Happy asexual awareness week! I love this week every year–not only is it an affirming celebration of people who share my identity, it’s also a great time to take a look at the growth we’ve seen in ace representation across media. This year has been an amazing year for ace books, so I sat down with a few of my favorite authors writing ace stories to talk about the state of asexual representation and what it means to them as storytellers.
Rosiee: Thank you so much for joining me today for this asexual-spectrum roundtable! I’m excited to chat with you all about ace representation, writing while ace-spec, and the future of asexual fiction. To start us off, could you each introduce yourselves and tell us a little about what you write?
Naseem: I’m psyched to be here; thanks for having us! I’m Naseem Jamnia (they/them), a nonbinary trans gray-ace Persian-Chicagoan currently living in Reno, NV. I write fantasy across the ages, but my debut novella, The Bruising of Qilwa, is adult. It’s about an aroace nonbinary refugee healer who is trying to cure a magical plague in their new home while hiding their blood magic. Heavily inspired by Dragon Age 2, Qilwa introduces my queernormative, Persian-inspired secondary world!
RoAnna: Hi y’all! Really happy and excited to be here, thank you Rosiee! So I’m RoAnna Sylver, a nonbinary gender-weird chronically ill writer/artist/musician/heathen. I write really weird queer SFF books (Chameleon Moon, Stake Sauce), and interactive fiction (Dawnfall from Choice of Games, The Great Batsby upcoming from Tales Fiction). I also have a soft spot for horror, so my next projects lean that way too. Also Naseem, your book sounds legit awesome and I want to check it out for sure. (For many reasons but also ahhh, more love for Dragon Age 2!)
Finn: So happy to have the chance to join in with this! Hi, I’m Finn (they/them), a queer disabled author and medievalist currently living in Cambridge, UK. I write all sorts of genreweird stuff, but my debut, The Butterfly Assassin, is a YA thriller about a traumatised teenage assassin trying and failing to live a normal life in a fictional closed city. And by failing, I mean she kills someone in chapter one. So, you know, doing a great job there.
Carly: Hi everyone! I’m Carly Heath (she/they) a writer, teacher, Libra and horse girl from the San Francisco Bay Area, currently living on the West Coast of the US. My debut YA novel is The Reckless Kind out now from Soho Teen and out in paperback November 1. Like me, the main character in The Reckless Kind, Asta, is hard of hearing, ace, and wants pigs not babies. I write (mostly historically-set) novels about characters who push back against the restrictions placed on them by society and I hope to inspire teens and young people to question and resist authority in all its forms.
AdriAnne: Hi all! So happy to be here. I’m a queer (panromantic gray-ace demigirl) author (she/they) of queer dark fantasy about monstrous or perceived-to-be-monstrous teens just trying to get by. I live in both Alaska and Spain (I just got back to Spain and am super jetlagged so pardon me if I make no sense), and my books are Beyond the Black Door (with a biromantic ace main character, ace love interest), In The Ravenous Dark (pansexual MC, ace side character), and the forthcoming Court of the Undying Seasons (demigirl pansexual MC, ace SCs), all published with Macmillan.
Rosiee: Yay! I’m so glad you’re all here to chat with me. Let’s jump right into it. Most of us were readers before we became writers, so I’m curious to know about your first experience was with asexual characters. Where did you first see an ace character in fiction? What was it like to see your experience reflected in a book?
RoAnna: Hmm… I believe the first ace character I ever read was either Henry from Viral Airwaves, or Hasryan in City of Strife – both by Claudie Arseneault! And highly recommended for fans of hopeful-dystopian/”solarpunk,” and sweeping fantasy, respectively. And the feeling I got was a sense of combined excitement and relief, if that makes sense? Like “oh wow thank God, someone else gets it/this is real… OH WOW THIS IS REAL!” So, really validating for myself as well. Online community is so important, but there’s also something about seeing yourself on a page, in a story, that’s just so wonderful.
Carly: I did not have anything ace-spec when I was growing up, so I think the any time I was first introduced to an ace character was when I was learning about Greek/Roman mythology and encountered Diana/Artemis who I was obsessed with for quite a while because she was not only a “virgin” goddess, but the goddess of wild animals—which I totally identify with (as someone who regularly befriends the neighborhood raccoons and possums). I was also drawn to horse girl books when I was younger—The Saddle Club and Thoroughbred series—I think because they focused more on the relationships between the characters and their horses rather than on romance.
AdriAnne: I didn’t find any ace-spec books as a kid or teen either, so the first time I came across an ace character was as an adult when I read Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. Not only is the book an amazingly unique take on portal fantasy, but the main character is explicitly ace. I’d only recently discovered my own labels through internet research and AVEN (the Asexual Visibility and Education Network) and it made me feel so seen and not so alone. I can only imagine what it would have felt like to read this book as a teen, which is one of the reasons I wrote Beyond the Black Door–a book basically for teen-me.
Finn: I think the first book I ever read that used the word asexual on page was Quicksilver by RJ Anderson. Although the character’s experiences weren’t particularly similar to mine, since they were fairly specific to her circumstances, it was really validating to see the word in print, when before that I’d only ever seen it on Tumblr and in other online communities. Like, okay, this is a real thing, this is something that people know about. After that one, it would’ve been Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, which has a demisexual character. As someone who really struggled at university, I found that book Extremely Relatable in a lot of ways, possibly more even than Loveless, Oseman’s more recent book that deals much more directly with ace/aro experiences.
Naseem: I actually didn’t realize I was ace-spec (I’m somewhere on the demi/gray side of things) until a few years ago because of the conflation between aromanticism and asexuality. So I don’t honestly know when I first encountered ace characters, since often due to that conflation I didn’t recognize myself in those characters, if that makes sense.
Earlier this year I read We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu. Besides it being utterly beautiful, one of the main characters is a sex-repulsed ace (not aro), and while I’m sex-neutral, I really loved how Cole grappled with the character’s relationship with sex. Noemi really tries to get over her aversion to sex in order to please her partner, because she cares about her partner, and I thought that was handled with such tenderness and care, especially because these are teens who don’t necessarily have the language of healthy relationships and boundaries yet.
I also really love Kylee in the Skybound trilogy by Alex London. I was especially drawn to her because for her, it at first feels like a matter of priority rather than identity. Kylee isn’t thinking about romantic or sexual relationships because her brother is, and she needs to make sure they have enough money to put food on the table. It’s not until we get into her relationships with others that we see it’s not just a matter of responsibility but a matter of who she is, but I appreciate someone for whom such relationships just… aren’t on her radar because she has so much on her plate. Honestly, as someone who was constantly crushing on someone while being torn about all the other things I needed to do, it’s really nice to read someone who pieces together this part of herself in the midst of a war and all the other stuff going on.
Rosiee: Phew! My TBR always grows so much during these conversations! Can’t wait to read some of those. AdriAnne, you talked a bit about this, but what about the rest of you–what inspired you to write about ace characters? What has it been like to write ace-affirming books as an ace-spec author?
RoAnna: Really natural, actually – after a while, I realized that I basically write all of my characters (or at least the POV ones) as some flavor of neurodivergent, and many of them a-spec just automatically. Like that’s my brain’s default setting apparently, and it takes a bit of effort to turn it off and go “wait, how do you write sexual attraction again?” (I think a lot of ace writers are actually very good at writing sexual stuff though, because… we often have spent a lot of time pondering it from a unique perspective, ha!) So it’s partly super natural and freeing for me personally, but also the response from ace readers is always incredible, so I’m also very much writing for y’all too. I want everyone to have the feeling I mentioned last question, the “holy crap, I’m in a book!” rush of joy and relief. I obviously can’t speak for/give that to everyone, but I still want them to have it from somewhere.
Finn: I feel that about automatically writing ace characters, RoAnna… I sometimes joke that The Butterfly Assassin is not a queernorm world so much as a singlenorm world, because I accidentally forgot that people, like, have partners, and so almost every character throughout the trilogy is single. Whoops?
I didn’t really sit down to write An Asexual Assassin Novel, but that element of the book really arose from my frustration with other media, which at the time was full of sexy assassins who (a) never seemed to actually kill anybody and (b) could be distracted from their deadly missions by somebody being a bit hot. I was also frustrated that in order to get dark, complex upper YA stories, it felt like you had to have romance/sex as a major plot element, and if you wanted friendship-focused stories, well, then, back to MG for you. Not that there’s anything wrong with MG, but when I was seventeen or eighteen, I wanted a generous helping of murder and swearing, hold the sex, thanks. So I decided to write an assassin book that was “all murder, no sex”, where platonic relationships were prioritised and not treated as less important or less mature. And where the “emotionless” character wasn’t “humanised” by sexual attraction because… ew. I read too many of those; they always made me feel like an alien or a monster.
I do worry sometimes that my book is less marketable because of the lack of romance/sex (let’s be real, in marketing terms those are often treated as interchangeable!), but I’ve seen a couple of reviews where people have said they don’t normally like books without romance but didn’t feel like anything was missing from mine because they found the platonic relationships just as fulfilling. So I’m very glad that those people are giving it a chance, and that it’s speaking to them.
Naseem: Okay, I’m screaming, Finn—I need your book yesterday!!! Like RoAnna and Finn, a lot of my characters nowadays definitely sort of naturally fall under the ace spec. I started writing at a young age, and I look back on those stories and I see the ways in which things were ace but also how I tried so hard for them not to be—there were romantic partners in my stories, but I didn’t know how to grapple with sexual desire because I didn’t understand how that was separate from romantic desire.
Nowadays, I have to choose to write a main character who experiences sexual attraction and hope that they… come off as realistic?? The novel I’m about to turn into my agent has three POV characters—a demisexual lesbian who suddenly finds herself in love with a boy; an asexual aro-questioning/demi-aro anxious bean (aka the boy) who’s been in love with his best friend but has denied it and Suddenly Now Has A Crush On Someone Else, aka the demisexual lesbian; and aforementioned best friend, an allosexual enby who doesn’t understand the difference between romantic and platonic attraction but doesn’t think they experience romantic attraction, but does want to sleep with the people they care about. (Love triangle that resolves in polyamory, anyone??) Anyway, it’s been a TIME trying to get the aromantic and allosexual components down. Since all of my secondary worlds are queernormative, these conversations in the story happen differently than they do in real life, because the surrounding context is different. But I hope they still hit home.
AdriAnne: First off, WHEW, I also need The Butterfly Assassin! Anyway, writing an ace character didn’t come naturally to me at first because when I first began to write, I assumed everyone wanted characters who experienced sexual attraction. Realizing who I was and the breadth of possibility out there was eye-opening. (I, too, despite being married, have been baffled by the relationship between attraction and sex for a long while, but just figured I was “weird” and sexual attraction was “normal”–you can see that therapy also helped me.) So while there are many more ace books around now (YAY!), what first inspired me to write ace characters is that I didn’t often see myself reflected on the page. It felt very affirming to write Beyond the Black Door especially, where the MC Kamai is a sex-repulsed ace but also biromantic and interested in romance like I was as a teen. It’s confusing for her, and her journey from confusion and doubt and into wholeness and confidence in herself healed something within me. It was very cathartic. (And YAY for relationship resolutions that involve polyamory and ace folks! I did this in In the Ravenous Dark.)
Carly:The Reckless Kind was a book where I was just learning how to write, so I think it was also a book where I was figuring out my identity through Asta. The first draft was like—I want this girl to have very meaningful, close non-sexual relationships with these boys she loves… and then in later drafts I was realizing “oh, she’s ace” and then now I’m starting to realize “oh, she’s aro.” Like, I think society puts so much pressure on people to believe any type of closeness is sexual or romantic, and in writing and rewriting the book I sort of unpacked a lot of that baggage both in my characters and in myself. The followup books I’ve been writing do feature romances and allo main characters, but I also wanted them to be ace-positive so in many cases they have important relationships with ace characters and their interactions are very affirming. Like I have one character who’s in a romantic relationship with an ace boy and he pushes back against those “it’s not a real relationship if you’re not having sex” sorts of statements. And in the adult romance I’m writing, the main character has a relationship with a woman who’s aro and curious about some types of sex but repulsed by nudity and other types of sex and the conversations they have around those topics and consent are super important. I’d really like to see more characters in media and literature who reflect the reality of the spectrum of human sexuality and nuances of different types of relationships.
Rosiee: I love how much common ground you all have here! That’s the cool thing about the ace community and identity. But the asexual experience isn’t just one thing–we all experience this identity in different ways. So, what are some ace experiences you’d like to see more of in fiction?
Naseem: A lot of people conflate being aromantic with being ace, so I’d definitely like to see characters with all kinds of nuanced ace (and other!) identities. Not all asexual people are sex-repulsed, and some asexual people have sexual partners, and I imagine the same can be for aromantic-spec people—so let’s see the range!
RoAnna: Oh wow definitely seconding Naseem here. I want to see all the intersections and interactions between identities – trans aces, aro and allo aces, sex positive and negative and neutral aces, aces of color, disabled and neurodivergent aces – all of them! I also have a special soft spot for polyamorous narratives, and love to see navigation and negotiations there, between both people and identities. This is something I really got into in Stake Sauce Book 2, which is largely about Jude (our gray-ace, demi-aro and disabled/autistic trans guy MC) figuring out his feelings for several partners. Amid the Vampire Drama, he’s also sorting out which attractions are sexual, or romantic, or neither, and how it’s all rolled together with neurodivergence… it was a complicated, cathartic, fascinating, and deeply personal story to write. And also has queerplatonic witchy girlfriends, and cute chubby punk vampire boys, if y’all are into that.
Finn: I’d echo what the others have said about the range of ace attitudes towards romantic and sexual relationships. And I’d definitely like to see more books that explore the overlap between ace, trans, and disabled identities. Like, for me, so many of my feelings about my body are bound up in all of those things, and they can never be fully separated. On a related note, I think it’s also important to explore how things like trauma can impact on our sense of identity and self (and how that doesn’t negate the identity) – this is something I’m exploring a bit in the sequel to The Butterfly Assassin, but there are infinite angles somebody could take on this, looking at how we’re shaped by our experiences.
I think I’d like to see somebody explore faith and asexuality, too, though it’s not a topic I think I personally could do justice. I’ve left my childhood church behind, but having grown up in an evangelical Christian environment where things like sex were wreathed in shame and guilt, there was a lot I had to process and work through before I could separate my asexuality from that shame and work out how I actually felt, all while also having a gender crisis (which I also felt guilty about). I imagine it would feel quite healing and cathartic to read a book that grappled with that – as long as it did it well!
Naseem: I’m once again screaming that I haven’t read all of your books already, because I need them desperately!! And severely want to echo what Finn said about the intersection of these identities and also trauma—the way I feel about my body is directly tied to both my gender as a nonbinary trans person and the way I inhabit my body as a fat person and someone with a history of eating disorders, among other things.
One thing that’s been frustrating for me is how many fellow aces conflate ace and aro identities. I mean, you identify how you identify, but just within the last few weeks I’ve talked to several people who have ID’d as ace, and when I’m like oh I’m ace too, we talk some more and I realize while they may also be ace, they really are talking about being aro. (Which is 10000% valid!) So more representation that dives into the nuances of these identities can only be a good thing for all of us! People who object to labels don’t, I think, understand the power they can have when we choose those labels for ourselves. It’s partially about finding other like-minded individuals but more about how we learn to describe ourselves.
Carly: I share what you’ve all said about just wanting more diverse representation. The world is full of a multitude of identities and experiences, but for centuries in Western literature only the heteronormative identities got amplified. We need to bring reality back into fiction and the reality is that the heteronormative experience is just one small part of humanity. I’d also just love to see more allos affirming and respecting their ace/aro partners, especially in mainstream media.
AdriAnne: Echoing what others have said, as well! Even within myself I’ve experienced being ace differently. I’ve run the gamut from sex-repulsed as a teen to sex-neutral and sex-positive as an adult, after learning much more about myself and what I find appealing. (I’m one of those aces with a sexual partner.) My gender-feels can also impact how I see sex–and yes, so can trauma, which I’ve experienced as a child and as an adult. So I too would love to see all the ace intersections because no one iteration is “correct” or any one “wrong.” While I’ve written the more common ace/aro combination, I wrote Beyond the Black Door for my teen self when I was sex-repulsed and yet romantic, and have also written a nonbinary, poly, and ace character in In the Ravenous Dark. I would love to see more alloromantic and/or sex-neurtral and sex-positive aces out there, as well as how asexuality intersects with everything from gender to race to trauma to kink to neurodivergent identities and to all other forms of queerness.
Rosiee: Yes to all of that! Here’s to more varied ace experiences in literature going forward–and what about the books that do exist right now? What is a recent read, an upcoming book, or even an old favorite with asexual representation that you wish more people knew about?
RoAnna: An old fave (and auto-rec) is the Mangoverse series by Shira Glassman (starting with The Second Mango) – Rivka is a hetero-romantic demisexual and super-hot masked swordswoman, who gets to protect adorable princesses and also her bf is a dragon (and also super hot in human form). Is the book-crush coming through? Because wow. <3 Also may I say Tarnished Are the Stars? 😀 Because I just… really love Nathaniel still! On the more steamy/erotica side, I will still always rec Nine of Swords, Reversed and Eight Kinky Nights by my dear, always-beloved Corey (as Xan West), for many reasons but primarily their just mindblowingly-inclusive/positive/warm rep for kinky aces, as well as Jewish trans, disabled, fat, queer, so many kinds of people, they’re all welcome here. And an upcoming release that I’m a bit obsessed with is The Story of the Hundred Promises by Neil Cochrane. Lush, wonderful fantasy with so much a-spec, trans, and polyam rep, so much!
Naseem: RoAnna, you keep mentioning books that grow my TBR, and I already have so many books on that pile, so… thanks I think?? At least Tarnished Are The Stars has been on my shelf for a while, since I always try to buy my friends’ books. I want to again point to the books I mentioned above, We Were Restless Things and the Skybound saga, and also The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong, whose main character is a queer ace.
AdriAnne: I will always shout about the aforementioned Every Heart a Doorway and Tarnished are the Stars <3 but a recent read I really loved was What We Devour by Linsey Miller for the ace protag and the deliciously dark relationship therein.
Carly: Seconding what everyone has said about Tarnished Are The Stars. Get it if you want great YA, steampunk style SFF and awesome on-the-page ace discussion. Another favorite which I feel like not enough people know about is The Rat-Catcher’s Daughter by KJ Charles which is just the sweetest, most-endearing and delightful ace romance between trans music hall singer and a man who’s a fence for notorious criminals. They’re both ace and absolutely adorable to each other. It’s probably my favorite ace romance of all time.
Finn: Doing this roundtable has made me really want to reread Quicksilver and see if it holds up after all these years, because it’s ages since I read it, and it’s not a very well-known one. (It’s a sequel – book one is called Ultraviolet – but I actually read it first, and that was mostly fine.) Unfortunately, my copy is at my parents’ house, and I am not, so I can only rec this with the caveat of me not having read it since about 2013 and I take no responsibility for anything I might have forgotten about it that would make me hesitate if I remembered it. I love VE Schwab’s Vicious and Vengeful, which have ace-spec characters, but I would say those are probably not under the radar these days, since V’s work has taken off so much. I’m super behind on recent releases generally, so I’m excited to add lots more books to my TBR after this!
Rosiee: Aww thanks for the shoutouts, everyone! Now it’s your turn–you’re all amazing authors writing important stories. Tell us one or two things about one of your books that makes your ace heart happy! Plug your work
Carly: If you’ve ever wanted to escape to the mountains with your two best friends and a bunch of adorable animals, The Reckless Kind is the book for you.
AdriAnne: Since Kamai in Beyond the Black Door is my only ace MC thus far, I’ll plug that book even though it’s the oldest! It’s a dark fantasy with a darkly romantic relationship at the center. Kamai is a soulwalker, someone who can explore other people’s souls, and while doing so she discovers a deadly force trying to break into her world–a someone she might be more fascinated with than horrified, and she has to decide where her heart lies. My other books only have ace side characters, but I adore them: Japha in In The Ravenous Dark is nonbinary (they/them), ace, and also poly; and Claudia in my forthcoming Court of the Undying Seasons is aro/ace (and a vampire).
RoAnna: Oh boy, self-promo, everyone’s favorite! (/Big Sarcasm) I’m still trying to get better at this – and it’s important, because I DO have a really cool thing coming up! Chameleon Moon was my first published book, and it features Regan, a very soft and anxious dragon boy (but always green and scaly, not shapeshifting), who has to navigate a dystopian, permanently-burning city full of super-people (all very queer/disabled/polyam), and also his own traumatized brain. In the process he figures out that he’s asexual (and PTSD, and definitely ND too, but I wasn’t consciously writing that yet), and finds healing and strength through found family/queer community – it’s a weird book, but still very important to me, and probably my best-known.
And, FURTHER SELF PLUG – it’ll soon be an audiobook! (With the best narrator ever, Kyle Rocco East, though I’m definitely biased lol). I’m running a Kickstarter that features not only the audiobook, but special edition hardcovers, exclusive art/merch, actual original songs, and So Much More! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/roannasylver/chameleon-moon-the-audiobook I’m ridiculously excited about this, and hope it sounds cool to y’all too! THANK YOU so much again!
Finn:The Butterfly Assassin is always a weird one to plug for queer rep of any kind, because it’s… it’s subtle. Isabel spends most of the book trying very hard not to die, she has got trauma coming out of her ears, and she is absolutely not in a position to be analysing her own sexuality, which means there’s not a lot of on-page discussion of it. Instead, the book’s ace/aro heart comes from the fact that I had dozens of opportunities for the plot to develop in romantic/sexual directions, and decided not to take them, instead foregrounding the various kinds of platonic relationships that Isabel forms. Thus, it is the All Murder, No Sex assassin book that teen me wanted. In the sequel, which comes out in the UK next May, Isabel’s in a much more stable position and she’s safe enough to start exploring her sense of self a bit more. She also finally has people her own age around her, and the result is that we get to see a lot more on-page queerness, which I’m really excited about.
Naseem:The Bruising of Qilwa has been out for about a month (it’s available in World English territories), and the audiobook comes out November 8! The world is queernormative (which also means transnormative), and I’ve got a list of both content notes and rep notes on my website, but the main character is explicitly aroace and nonbinary trans. While it’s a standalone, I’m writing more in this world (the novel I mentioned above is set 40 years after the events of Qilwa), so more to come! Any love for my little book, whether you can afford to pick it up or get it from your local library, is much appreciated!!
Carly Heath (she/they) earned her BA from San Francisco State University and her MFA from Chapman University. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Carly teaches design, art, theater, and writing for various colleges and universities. Her debut, The Reckless Kind (Soho Teen) is winner of the 2021-2022 Whippoorwhill Award and has garnered enthusiastic reviews (including a starred review from BCCB) for its nuanced depiction of queer and disabled identities.
Naseem Jamnia is a Persian-Chicagoan, former scientist, and the author of The Bruising of Qilwa (Tachyon Publications). Their work has appeared in The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, The Rumpus, and other venues, and they’ve received fellowships from Bitch Media, Lambda Literary, and Otherwise. Named the inaugural Samuel R. Delany Fellow, Naseem lives in Reno, NV, with their husband, dog, and two cats. Find out more at www.naseemjamnia.com or @jamsternazzy on social media.
Finn Longman is a queer disabled writer and medievalist, originally from London. With a degree in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic and an MA in Early and Medieval Irish, they spend most of their time having extremely niche opinions on the internet. They write YA and Adult novels, and have a particular interest in genre-bending fiction that explores identity and tests moral boundaries.
A.M. Strickland was a bibliophile who wanted to be an author before she knew what either of those words meant. She shares a home base in Alaska with her spouse, her pugs, and her piles and piles of books. She loves traveling, dancing, tattoos, and writing about monstrous teens. Her books include Beyond the Black Door, In the Ravenous Dark and Court of the Undying Seasons. She uses both she/her and they/them pronouns, and you can find her on Twitter and Instagram.
RoAnna Sylver is the author of the Chameleon Moon and Stake Sauce series, as well as interactive fiction like Dawnfall and The Great Batsby – and passionate about stories that give hope, healing and even fun for LGBQTIA+, disabled and other marginalized people, and thinks we need a lot more. RoAnna is a member of the SFWA as well as a founding member of Kraken Collective Books, and highly recommends you check them out.
Rosiee Thor began their career as a storyteller by demanding to tell their mother bedtime stories instead of the other way around. They spent their childhood reading by flashlight in the closet until they came out as queer. They live in Oregon with a dog, two cats, and an abundance of plants. They are the author of Young Adult novels Tarnished Are The Stars and Fire Becomes Her and the picture book The Meaning of Pride.
In this funny, feminist, and queer middle grade debut, seventh-grader Hazel Hill is too busy for friends. No, really. She needs to focus on winning the school-wide speech competition over her nemesis, the popular and smart Ella Quinn, after last year’s embarrassing Hyperbole/Hyperbowl mishap that cost her first place. But when Hazel discovers Ella is being harassed by golden boy Tyler Harris, she has to choose between winning and doing the right thing. No one would believe that a nice boy like Tyler would harass and intimidate a nice girl like Ella, but Hazel knows the truth—and she’s determined to prove it.
It is the summer before World War II begins, but Charlotte Kraus doesn’t know it yet. All she knows is the zing of electricity she feels every time her best friend, Angelika Haas, grabs her hand. Charlie would follow Geli anywhere—which is how she finds herself at an underground club one Friday night, dancing to contraband American jazz and swing music, suddenly feeling that anything might be possible.
Under the oppressive shadow of the Nazi regime, returning to the club is a risk. But Charlie does, unable to resist the allure of sharing a secret with the girl she can’t stop thinking about, or the thrill of disobeying the Party’s rules. Soon the Swingjugend movement becomes more than a simple escape. It’s a place where Charlie and her friends find acceptance, freedom, and camaraderie among others who are determined not to sit on the sidelines of history.
Increasingly terrified by the tightening vise of Hitler’s power, Charlie is drawn to larger and larger acts of resistance—even as Geli, the daughter of a senior Party officer, begins to pull away. But resisting the Nazis is a dangerous proposition, and the war will test what Charlie is willing to risk at the expense of her family, her friends, and the girl she loves.
Adam Binder has lost what matters most to him. Having finally learned the true identity of the warlock preying on his family, what was supposed to be a final confrontation with the fiend instead became a trap that sent Vic into the realm of the dead, where none living are meant to be. Bound by debt, oath, and love, Adam blazes his own trail into the underworld to get Vic back and to end the threat of the warlock once and for all.
But the road to hell is paved with more than good intentions. Demons are hungry and ghosts are relentless. What awaits Adam in the underworld is nothing he is prepared to face. If that weren’t enough, Adam has one more thing he must do if he and Vic are to return to world of the living: find the lost heart of Death herself.
The Singh sisters grew up helping their father navigate the bustle of the Songbird Inn. Nestled on dreamy and drizzly Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest, the inn’s always been warm and cozy and filled with interesting guests―the perfect home. But things are about to heat up now that the Songbird has been named the Most Romantic Inn in America.
Nidhi has everything planned out―until a storm brings a wayward tree crashing into her life one autumn . . . and along with it, an intriguing construction worker and a yearning for her motherland. Suddenly, she’s questioning everything she thought she wanted.
Avani can’t sit still. If she does, her grief for Pop, their dad’s late husband, will overwhelm her. So she keeps moving as much as she can, planning an elaborate Winter Ball in Pop’s memory. Until a blizzard traps her in a barn with the boy she accidentally stood up and has been actively avoiding ever since.
Sirisha loves seeing the world through her camera, but her shyness prevents her from stepping out from behind the lens. Talking to girls is such a struggle! When a pretty actress comes to the Songbird with her theater troupe, spring has sprung for Sirisha―if only she can find the words.
Rani is a hopeless romantic through and through. After gently nudging her sisters to open their hearts, she is convinced it’s finally her turn to find love. When two potential suitors float in on a summer breeze, Rani is swept up in grandeur to match her wildest Bollywood dreams. But which boy is the one she’s meant to be with?
Ultimately, the magic of the Songbird Inn leads the tight-knit Singh sisters to new passions and breathtaking kisses―and to unearth the truest versions of themselves.
Uriel the angel and Little Ash (short for Ashmedai) are the only two supernatural creatures in their shtetl (which is so tiny, it doesn’t have a name other than Shtetl). The angel and the demon have been studying together for centuries, but pogroms and the search for a new life have drawn all the young people from their village to America. When one of those young emigrants goes missing, Uriel and Little Ash set off to find her.
Along the way the angel and demon encounter humans in need of their help, including Rose Cohen, whose best friend (and the love of her life) has abandoned her to marry a man, and Malke Shulman, whose father died mysteriously on his way to America.
But there are obstacles ahead of them as difficult as what they’ve left behind. Medical exams (and demons) at Ellis Island. Corrupt officials, cruel mob bosses, murderers, poverty. The streets are far from paved with gold.
With cinematic sweep and tender observation, Sacha Lamb presents a totally original drama about individual purpose, the fluid nature of identity, and the power of love to change and endure.
Henry Hamlet doesn’t know what he wants after school ends. It’s his last semester of high school, and all he’s sure of is his uncanny ability to make situations awkward. Luckily, he can always hide behind his enigmatic best friend, Len. They’ve been friends since forever, but Len is mysterious and Henry is clumsy, and Len is a heartthrob and Henry is a neurotic mess. Somehow it’s always worked.
That is, until Henry falls in love. Hard. How do you date your best friend?
When you’re a cop in 1952 and your colleagues bust you in a raid on a gay bar, your career options become extremely limited. Former San Francisco Police Inspector Evander Mills’ retirement plan is to drink until his money is gone, then pitch himself into the bay. Until a widow sits down next to Andy at the bar and offers him a private gig―find out what happened to her wife.
Persuaded to take the case, Andy accompanies the widow to Lavender House, the family seat of recently deceased Irene Lamontaine, head of the Lamontaine Soap empire. At this secluded estate, where none of the residents, or the staff, need to hide their identities, Andy finds a bewitching freedom.
He also immediately finds himself a pawn in a family game of old money, subterfuge, and jealousy―and Irene’s death was only the beginning. The gates of Lavender House can’t lock out the real world, and it turns out that not even a soap empire can keep everyone clean.
In this heartrending, lyrical debut work of fiction, Fatimah Asghar traces the intense bond of three orphaned siblings who, after their parents die, are left to raise one another. The youngest, Kausar, grapples with the incomprehensible loss of her parents as she also charts out her own understanding of gender; Aisha, the middle sister, spars with her “crybaby” younger sibling as she desperately tries to hold on to her sense of family in an impossible situation; and Noreen, the eldest, does her best in the role of sister-mother while also trying to create a life for herself, on her own terms.
As Kausar grows up, she must contend with the collision of her private and public worlds, and choose whether to remain in the life of love, sorrow, and codependency she’s known or carve out a new path for herself. When We Were Sisters tenderly examines the bonds and fractures of sisterhood, names the perils of being three Muslim American girls alone against the world, and ultimately illustrates how those who’ve lost everything might still make homes in each other.
“Her immediate concern was money.” So begins the first story in Manuel Muñoz’s dazzling new collection. In it, Delfina has moved from Texas to California’s Central Valley with her husband and small son, and her isolation and desperation force her to take a risk that ends in profound betrayal.
These exquisite stories are mostly set in the 1980s in the small towns that surround Fresno. With an unflinching hand, Muñoz depicts the Mexican and Mexican American farmworkers who put food on our tables but are regularly and ruthlessly rounded up by the migra, as well as the quotidian struggles and immense challenges faced by their families. The messy and sometimes violent realities navigated by his characters―straight and gay, immigrant and American-born, young and old―are tempered by moments of surprising, tender care: Two young women meet on a bus to Los Angeles to retrieve husbands who must find their way back from the border after being deported; a gay couple plans a housewarming party that reveals buried class tensions; a teenage mother slips out to a carnival where she encounters the father of her child; the foreman of a crew of fruit pickers finds a dead body and is subsequently―perhaps literally―haunted.
In The Consequences, obligation can shape, support, and sometimes derail us.
For Zoe Tyler, adulting sucks. First big job, student loan payments, and an apartment to maintain with little help from her often-absent boyfriend, Jake. Throw in a half-sister of Jake’s that she never knew about and it’s a wonder she’s holding it together.
When Paige Newbanks shows up unannounced at her half-brother’s apartment, she’s not only desperate for a place to stay, but desperate to get to know the brother she hasn’t seen since she was five.
Zoe sets aside her frustrations with Jake, inviting Paige to stay with them for as long as she needs. But when Jake misses yet another night out with Zoe and he suggests she take Paige instead, Zoe and Paige are drawn toward each other in an unexpected way.
Will Zoe and Paige jeopardize their respective relationships with Jake in order to see what a relationship with each other could be?
Botanist Fisch’s life in Clover Hill is small. Getting physical distance from her tense relationship with her mother was supposed to give her room to breathe. Instead, she’s created a new cage for herself, spending most of her time isolated and working on other people’s projects instead of her own dreams. Admitting she’s lonely is the first step. Doing something about it seems much harder.
When traveling photojournalist Jaeeun Kupperman comes to town, it’s a wake-up call like no other. Jaeeun’s hot, talented, sweet, and the proud cat parent of one perfect angel named Dan. Faster than Dan can take down a dandelion, the two butch women are mutually smitten. But the sun is setting as both of them search for their next assignments and Fisch realizes it’s past time to branch out just as Jaeeun considers planting roots.
They might both be eager to sow the seeds of love, but will they be brave enough to keep it growing? Or will Jaeeun leave Fisch in her rearview mirror when the golden hour is over?
Paris Daillencourt is a recipe for disaster. Despite his passion for baking, his cat, and his classics degree, constant self-doubt and second-guessing have left him a curdled, directionless mess. So when his roommate enters him in Bake Expectations, the nation’s favourite baking show, Paris is sure he’ll be the first one sent home.
But not only does he win week one’s challenge—he meets fellow contestant Tariq Hassan. Sure, he’s the competition, but he’s also cute and kind, with more confidence than Paris could ever hope to have. Still, neither his growing romance with Tariq nor his own impressive bakes can keep Paris’s fear of failure from spoiling his happiness. And when the show’s vicious fanbase confirms his worst anxieties, Paris’s confidence is torn apart quicker than tear-and-share bread.
But if Paris can find the strength to face his past, his future, and the chorus of hecklers that live in his brain, he’ll realize it’s the sweet things in life that he really deserves.
Right before meeting her girlfriend Amber’s parents for the first time, the unnamed narrator of Helen House learns that she and her partner share a similar trauma: both of their sisters are dead. As the narrator wonders what else Amber has been hiding, she struggles with her own secret–using sex as a coping mechanism–as well as confusion and guilt over whether she really cares about Amber, or if she’s only using her for sex. When they arrive at the parents’ rural upstate home, a quaint but awkward first meeting unravels into a nightmare in which the narrator finds herself stranded in a family’s decades-long mourning ritual.
This ground-breaking anthology features the searingly honest and moving memoirs of eighteen queer Arab writers – some internationally bestselling, others using pseudonyms. Here, we find heart-warming connections and moments of celebration, alongside essays exploring the challenges of being LGBTQ+ and Arab.
From a military base in the Gulf to whispers between lovers caught between the bedsheets; and from a concert in Cairo where the rainbow flag was raised to a crowd of thousands, to making it hap-pen as a drag queen in exile, this collection celebrates the true colours of a rich, vibrant Arab queer experience.
Born in 1891 in Stockholm, Ester Blenda Nordström defied stereotypes from an early age. She wore trousers, smoked a pipe, and rode motorbikes, much to the chagrin of her esteemed family. As a young woman, she captivated the public as Sweden’s first investigative journalist.
Ester’s real passion was uncovering the truth, which she did by inhabiting the lives of others. Under an assumed identity, she toiled as a Swedish milkmaid on a farm, lived for six months with the indigenous Scandinavian Sami people, and journeyed to America alongside poor emigrants aspiring to a better life. She saved villages from starvation during the Finnish Civil War and joined an expedition to study volcanoes in Siberia. Her groundbreaking reports were received by a spellbound audience and would change journalism forever.
But just as Ester’s star was rising, her forbidden love affair with a woman ended in heartbreak—and her powerful voice was silenced. Her spectacular adventures and untamed spirit belied an inner turmoil that came to define the later years of her life—until, at the very end, when she was reunited with the great love of her life and died by her side.
I’m so thrilled to be welcoming TJ Alexander back to the site today to reveal another glorious new trans foodie romance cover, this time for t4t m/f romance called Chef’s Choice that releases May 30, 2023 from Atria Books! Here’s the story:
A fake dating arrangement turns to real love in this deliciously delightfulqueer rom-com from the author of the sweetly satisfying Chef’s Kiss.
When Luna O’Shea is unceremoniously fired from her frustrating office job, she tries to count her blessings: she’s a proud trans woman who has plenty of friends, a wonderful roommate, and a good life in New York City. But blessings don’t pay the bills.
Enter Jean-Pierre, a laissez-faire trans man and the heir to a huge culinary empire—which he’ll only inherit if he can jump through all the hoops his celebrity chef grandfather has placed in his path. First hoop: he needs a girlfriend, a role that Luna is happy to play…for the right price. She’s got rent to pay, after all! Second hoop: they both need to learn how to cook a series of elaborate, world-renowned family recipes to prove that Jean-Pierre is a worthy heir. Admittedly, Luna doesn’t even know how to crack an egg, but she’s not going to let that—or any pesky feelings for Jean-Pierre—stop her.
Another swoon-worthy and heartwarming queer love story from a charming new voice in romance.
And here’s the sugar-sweet cover, designed and illustrated by Colleen Reinhart!
TJ Alexander, the critically acclaimed author of Chef’s Kiss and forthcoming Chef’s Choice, is an amateur baker and author who writes about queer love. Originally from Florida, they received their MA in writing and publishing from Emerson College in Boston. They live in New York City with their wife and various houseplants.
No, the “Z” in the title isn’t a typo; Cynthia So’s 2022 bi contemp UK YA, If You Still Recognize Me, is coming stateside via HarperTeen on May 23, 2023, and we’ve got your first look at the brand-new cover! But first, here’s the story:
This summer, Elsie is finally going to confess her feelings to her longtime—and long-distance—crush. Ada’s fanfics are to die for, and she just gets Elsie like no one else. That is, until Joan, Elsie’s childhood best friend, literally walks back into her life and slots in like she had never moved away to Hong Kong and never ignored Elsie’s dozens of emails and letters.
Then Ada mentions her grandmother’s own long-lost pen pal (and maybe love?), a woman who once lived only a train ride away from Elsie’s Oxford home, and Elsie gets the idea for the perfect grand gesture. But as her plan to reunite the two older women ignites a summer of repairing broken bonds, Elsie starts to wonder if she, too, can recover the things she’s lost…
With a beautifully earnest teen voice, a light epistolary element, and a dash of fandom, this wistful and delightful debut is a love letter to queer coming-of-age, finding community, and finding yourself.
And here’s the dreamy cover, designed by Julia Tyler with art by Karyn Lee!
Alt text: Cover image for If You Still Recognize Me by Cynthia So. Two East Asian girls are standing against a background of the sky at sunset. The girl in the foreground, with short hair and a bomber jacket, is looking toward the viewer, while in the background a second girl with long hair and a yellow sundress is looking at her.
Cynthia So was born in Hong Kong and lives in London. Their work has been published in speculative fiction magazines such as Uncanny, Strange Horizons, and Anathema. When they’re not writing, they can often be found at the theatre, entranced by a play or a musical. They’re also extremely enthusiastic about board games and tabletop role-playing. If You Still Recognize Me is their first novel.