All posts by Dahlia Adler

New Releases: October 18-20, 2016

*waves from where she’s offline for yet another Jewish holiday and wishes these authors a very happy book birthday week in absentia!* *yes, it’s a day early to be posting this, but that’s because we’ve got great guest posts for a couple of these books going up over the next two days!*

Tattoo Atlas, by Tim Floreen (18th)

28954166A year ago, Rem Braithwaite watched his classmate Franklin Kettle commit a horrific crime.

Now, apart from the nightmares, life has gone back to normal for Rem. Franklin was caught, convicted, and put away in juvenile detention for what he did. The ordeal seems to be over.

Until Rem’s mother selects Franklin as a test subject for an experimental brain procedure intended to “cure” him of his cruel and violent impulses. Suddenly Rem’s memories of that day start coming back to the surface. His nightmares become worse than ever. Plus he has serious doubts about whether his mother’s procedure will even work. Can evil really just be turned off?

Then, as part of Franklin’s follow-up testing, he and Rem are brought face to face, and Rem discovers…Franklin does seem different. Despite everything, Rem finds himself becoming friends with Franklin. Maybe even something more than friends.

But when another of their classmates turns up dead, Rem’s world turns upside-down yet again. Franklin insists that he’s innocent, that he’s cured, but Rem doesn’t know what to believe. Is someone else responsible for this new murder, or is Franklin fated to stay a monster forever? And can Rem find out the answer to this question before the killer, whoever it is, comes after him too?

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Extrahumans, by Susan Jane Bigelow

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Being “The Sampler” isn’t easy. As the weakest member of the Extrahuman Union, Jill is overlooked by just about everyone. After all, no one cares about an Extrahuman who possesses every possible superpower, but can barely use any of them. Jill is a nobody, on the run and out of a job, with no home and barely any friends to her name.

To make ends meet, Jill turns back to one of her favorite jobs: stealing. When her latest job goes terribly wrong, Jill is left with a mysterious alien artifact–one that starts whispers to her, unlocks impossible powers, and shows her incredible things.

Now Jill is on a quest for answers that will take her from the high mountains of Valen to the depths of interstellar space; from a bizarre prison planet where old friends and enemies are held captive, to the roots of St. Val’s mysterious letters and decade-spanning plans. The fate of her friends, her world, a vanished alien species, and the entire Confederation will rest on Jill’s shoulders.

Extrahumans is a tale of superpowers and long-forgotten mysteries, and the fourth and final book in the critically acclaimed Extrahuman Union series

Buy it: Amazon US * Amazon UK * Smashwords

Here’s the Thing, by Emily O’Beirne (19th)

heres-the-thingIt’s only for a year. That’s what sixteen-year-old Zel keeps telling herself after moving to Sydney for her dad’s work. She’ll just wait it out until she gets back to New York and Prim, her epic crush/best friend, and the unfinished subway project. Even if Prim hasn’t spoken to her since that day on Coney Island.

But Zel soon finds life in Sydney won’t let her hide. There’s her art teacher, who keeps forcing her to dig deeper. There’s the band of sweet, strange misfits her cousin has forced her to join for a Drama project. And then there’s the curiosity that is the always-late Stella.

As she waits for Prim to explain her radio silence and she begins to forge new friendships, Zel feels strung between two worlds. Finally, she must figure out how to move on while leaving no one behind.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Hold, by Rachel Davidson Leigh (20th)

31211256Luke Aday knew that his sister’s death was imminent—she had been under hospice care for months—but that didn’t make her death any easier on him or their family. He returns to school three days after the funeral to a changed world; his best friends welcome him back with open arms, but it isn’t the same. But when a charismatic new student, Eddie Sankawulo, tries to welcome Luke to his own school, something life-changing happens: In a moment of frustration, Luke runs into an empty classroom, hurls his backpack against the wall—and the backpack never lands.

Luke Aday has just discovered that he can stop time.

 Buy it: Amazon * Interlude * B&N * iBooks * Kobo

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Fave Five: Contemporary f/f YA with Sex on the Page

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Style by Chelsea M. Cameron

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

Cherry by Lindsey Rosin

Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen

Bonus: Coming in 2017, Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley and How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

New Releases: October 11, 2016

Normally I don’t do a New Releases post when there are this few books releasing that day, but hello, it’s NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY, so how can I possibly let the blog go dark?

My Boyfriend’s Back, by Elliot Cooper

31929255After losing both of his parents, Academy of Magecraft student Steven Durant doesn’t want to see anyone else lose a loved one before their time. Traditional resurrection methods, however, only create mindless, flesh-hungry zombies; they’re no cure for death. He’s certain his unique brand of necromancy—using alchemy and blood magic—is the only answer.

When his boyfriend, Dax Everhart, has a fatal accident, Steven sees no choice but to use his experimental Lazarus Elixir. Dax comes back wrong, but the more humans he consumes, the more human he becomes.

With the help of his best friends, his ghostly aunt, and her living doll homunculus, Steven fights to regain normalcy and repair his shattered relationship with Dax. But with Dax openly embracing his monstrous nature, Steven shoulders the guilt of assisting in a murder spree that could lead the mundane and magical police right to their door.

Buy it: Nine Star Press

Beast, by Brie Spangler

25167846Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Backlist Book of the Month: George by Alex Gino

The truth is, I kind of take for granted that everyone’s read this fabulous Stonewall Award-winning MG about a trans girl named Melissa, by the wonderful Alex Gino, but I have to make sure just in case you haven’t, right? And we all want to put our support toward LGBTQIAP+ MG to make sure we get more of it, right? So, if you haven’t fallen in love with this one yet, make this month the month you do! (And yes I realize this isn’t technically a backlist book for the author, but the feature just means a book is more than a year old, so!)

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BE WHO YOU ARE.

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

To quote from the author’s website on where to buy:

Laurel Bookstore is your most reliable source for signed  copies of GEORGE. GEORGE can also be bought at your favorite book retailer. Independent bookstores like Powell’s, Books Inc, Oblong Books & Music would be glad to help you out or use Indie Bound to find an independent bookstore near you. GEORGE is also available at iBooks, Google Play, or Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Amazon!

Books with Trans MCs for Five Bucks or Less

Continuing on with the theme of helping you find solid LGBTQIAP+ lit on a budget, check out these ten books with trans MCs that are under five bucks:

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Endless Forever by E.M. Lindsey ($0.99)

Eitan’s Chord by Shira Glassman ($0.99)

Portside by Elyan Smith ($0.99)

Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans ($1.99)

A Matter of Disagreement by E.E. Ottoman ($2.99)

Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde ($2.99)

Roller Girl by Vanessa North ($3.99)

Coffee Boy by Austin Chant ($3.99)*

Bumbling into Body Hair: Tales of an Accident-Prone Transsexual by Everett Maroon ($4.00)

Documenting Light by E.E. Ottoman ($4.99)

The Queer and the Restless by Kris Ripper ($4.99)*

Finding Your Feet by Cass Lennox ($4.99)*

The Unintentional Time Traveler by Everett Maroon ($5.00)

Bonus (Trans LI): The City War by Sam Starbuck ($2.99)

Bonus (LGBT and Two-Spirit Anthology): Love Beyond, Body, Space, and Time ed. by Hope Nicholson ($5.00)

*Priced for preorder; links are to publisher’s site

New Releases: October 4, 2016

Big YA Release Day! Two of these are among my favorite reads of the year (that’s not shade re: the third; I just haven’t read it yet!) and I’m not online to enthuse about them allllll day because it’s Rosh Hashana, so I need other people to buy and read them immediately so we can gush about them for the rest of the week!

When the Moon Was Ours, by Anna-Marie McLemore

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When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Buy it: AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-a-MillionIndieBoundPowell’s

Last Seen Leaving, by Caleb Roehrig

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Flynn’s girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Look Past, by Eric Devine

Someone brutally murdered Mary Mathison, daughter of a prominent and very conservative local pastor. Whoever it was is now taunting Avery, a transgender boy, with disturbing messages, claiming that Mary’s murder was revenge for her relationship with Avery. The killer’s demands are simple and horrific: Avery must repent for changing his gender identity, or he will be the next one killed.

Can Avery deny who he is to catch Mary’s killer? Or will sacrificing himself be the ultimate betrayal?

Buy it: Amazon * IndieBound

The Colorful Catalog of…Shira Glassman!

Hello and welcome to The Colorful Catalog, which focuses on authors who’ve got at least five published LGBTQIAP+ books (including novellas) and gives you an overview of everything they’ve got, as provided by the authors themselves! Hopefully you can find at least one book that screams “I NEED THAT!” from any given catalog, and from there, if you love it, ta da! Instant access to info on where to go next.

I’m delighted to showcase the colorful catalog of Shira Glassman, queer indie rec-er extraordinaire and seriously prolific authoress of all things LGBTQAP. As a bonus, you get to stock up on a whole bunch of Jewish queer lit right before Rosh Hashana! Everybody wins!

Hi! I’m Shira Glassman, and today I’m going to play for you the first movement of the sonata for unaccompanied violin by Arthur Honegger—

Wait, sorry, wrong opening line! I’m sure most of you know me, if you know me at all, from my fantasy series, but since this is a backlist guide: did you know I’ve written two contemporary romance novellas, too? The theme of both is borrowed from my orchestral life. Fearless is about a band mom who falls for an orchestra teacher while everyone is snowed in at All-State, a cute butch lady who might just get her to pick up the violin again after a twenty-year lapse. Lioness in Blue is about the bi girl who sits second oboe, whose flirtation with the hot, beardy older man who sits first oboe finally leads to affirming, mildly femdom-y sex.

Now that I’ve satisfied the people who aren’t interested in SFF: on to The Mangoverse! My series originally started as a combination of three needs: a way to cope with the unexpected loss of my father, a lifelong hunger for f/f princess fairytales (when I was A Tiny we didn’t have K.S. Trenten’s Fairest or Audrey Colthurst’s Of Fire and Stars), and wanting to see love instead of conflict between The Hero and The Dragon—which is relatively easy to find nowadays, but not so much in the 80’s. Every book in the series was written to stand alone, and just be separate but sequential adventures about the same characters, but I have no idea if I succeeded at that so you may want to read reviews.

Another important note is that the main character has problems digesting gluten and some of the proteins found in poultry, and her chief romance is with a palace cook who becomes her personal chef as well as her partner.

The first in the series is The Second Mango (hey, kids, never put the word “second” in the first book in a series. Whoops!) in which a nerdy lesbian named Shulamit inherits her father’s throne suddenly at a far too young and sheltered age to know How to Queen. By the end of the book she’s started to figure her shit out, and has acquired a nice solid Found Family to cherish, including a bi girlfriend. The focus of the book is on solidifying her friendship with her new hetero demi bodyguard Rivka while they ride around having adventures. Rivka’s got a significant romantic arc in the book, too, if you’re looking for demi m/f.

Climbing the Date Palm picks up three years later, where Kaveh, a “bi prince from next door” begs Queen Shulamit for help rescuing his labor activist boyfriend Farzin from a trumped-up treason charge. Apparently King Jahandar didn’t like it when his son fell in love with the guy who stood up to him about wage theft. Oops! Shulamit is determined to find a way to help that won’t involve war, even though Rivka is chomping at the bit. This one includes a poly aromantic cat-shifter and is based on real local events in my home county, in which activist friends of mine fought to establish an ordinance that since its inception (around the time I wrote the book) has recovered around 45 thousand dollars in stolen wages from employers.

A Harvest of Ripe Figs shows Shulamit solving mysteries in her capital city as part of her royal obligation toward justice, while she and her partner Aviva raise the baby princess. A celebrity violinist’s instrument is stolen just after her performance, and it quickly turns into a more general security problem as Shulamit comes to realize illegal magic may have been used to disguise the theft.

The Olive Conspiracy just came out this summer. Shulamit uncovers an international plot to tank her country’s economy by sabotaging their agriculture, their main source of strength. What’s worse, the beautiful straight foreign princess she crushed on as a teenager might be behind it. This one features a new lesbian couple—some farmers she helps when they’re about to lose everything—and a heroic elderly trans woman. I had a good time contrasting Shulamit’s healthy, loving relationship with her partner as an adult with the intensity and one-sided torture of her crush at sixteen. The book has adventure, lots of dragon screen-time, three bi characters, three lesbians, and a rescue kitten.

There are also short stories! If you buy Figs and Olives in paperback, you’ll get all the short stories included, but if you buy the eBooks, the short stories are included separately in a volume called Tales from Perach. There are seven of them all together, and they give some of the supporting characters (like the lesbian farmers or the trans woman chef) an opportunity to take center stage, or recount one of Rivka’s adventures on the road with only her dragon companion before Shulamit hired her. (Rivka’s story features her rescuing an aro ace “damsel in distress”, so if that’s special to you, don’t miss “Rivka in Port Saltspray.”)

As a final note at the end, veering away from Mangoverse again, I do have some erotic shorts available online. “Eitan’s Chord” is a Chanukah fairy threesome, about magic to bless a young, impoverished trans m/cis f couple one winter. “Wet Nails“—ignore the cover; it was part of an anthology and I can’t control that for now—is paranormal sex between two bi women, a lonely grad student and the ghost of her favorite glamorous 1950’s Hollywood actress. “Treasure Hunt” is about two guards who get sent into a dragon’s cave to steal treasure. They doubt the dragon’s existence and use the opportunity to eat lunch and fool around, but the dragon…. is watching.

All of the above focus on Jewish characters and often have holidays and other rituals woven into the text. Mine are worlds where religion and the queer soul are completely compatible—with a note to my non-religious readers that with the exception of some of the Tales from Perach shorts, the Jewishness is more focused on the secular culture than the religion itself. My warrior woman Rivka’s native language is Yiddish, for example.

My one published work so far that doesn’t include anything Jewish is my anti-biphobia short “The Artist and the Devil,” about an art teacher who becomes increasingly suspicious that his businessman crush is actually Satan. I’ll leave it up to you to read and figure out if it counts as contemporary romance or paranormal, because categorizing it under those conditions would be a spoiler! 😉

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Shira Glassman is a violinist living in Florida with a very good human and a very bad cat. She is best known for writing fluffy queer fantasy that draws inspiration from her tropical upbringing, Jewish heritage and present life, and French and German operas. She believes that we need infinite princess, dragon, and superhero stories for all the demographics who never got to play those roles when she was little; some of the ones she’s written have made it to the finals of the Bi Book Awards and Golden Crown Literary Society awards. Her latest is The Olive Conspiracy, about a queen and her found-family saving their country’s agriculture from a foreign plot.

TBRainbow Alert #5

For those of you who feel like you’ve already read every LGBTQIAP+ book in existence, not to worry – there’s plenty still to come! Every TBRainbow Alert will have a mix of five LGBTQIAP+ titles to make sure are on your radar, along with three reasons why you should know them. If you missed the earlier alerts, you can check out those titles here. And now, because I can’t wait to get these books on your reading lists, check out some of what awaits in 2017!

Title: History is All You Left Me (January 17)
Author: Adam Silvera
Genre/Category: YA Contemporary
Rainbow details: gaaaaay (and a bi LI)
Why put it on your radar?
1. I mean, you read More Happy Than Not, right?
2. Not only is this a lovely, soul-crushing grief novel, but the exploration of mental illness as the MC wrestles with his OCD is excellent.
3. If you’ve ever wondered how quickly a book will shatter your heart, enjoy!

Title: Our Own Private Universe (January 31)
Author: Robin Talley
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: f/f with a bi MC
Why put it on your radar?
1. Robin Talley’s the most consistently publishing author of mainstream LGBTQ YA right now (this is book number 4, plus she’s got a queer short story in The Tyranny of Petticoats), so you’ll wanna stay on top of whatever she does!
2. If you’ve read books like Judy Blume’s Forever or Daria Snadowsky’s Anatomy of a Boyfriend that walk through both the emotional and physical complexities of a first sexual relationship in great detail and have thought “Maaaan, queer girls could really use that,” WELL. You are in luck!
3. No, seriously, this is the first YA I’ve ever read that discusses dental dams.

Title: Born Both: An Intersex Life (March 14)
Author: Hida Viloria
Genre/Category: Adult memoir
Rainbow details: Intersex
Why put it on your radar?
1. I don’t know if you’ve read any #ownvoices Intersex lit but I sure as hell haven’t.
2. In addition to being intersex, Viloria is also genderfluid and Latinx.
3. Viloria also has videos and an active blog on he/r site, so there’s already plenty of bonus content!

Title: The Cursed Queen (January 3)
Author: 
Sarah Fine
Genre/Category: 
YA Fantasy
Rainbow details: B
i female MC, f/f
Why put it on your radar?
1.
Book one in this series, The Impostor Queen, was one of my fave fantasies of last year, so I’m dying for the next one!
2. This book positive screams “badass MC,” which is my crack.
3. Magic and torn loyalties and a romance with a chieftain’s daughter?? I MEAN.

Title: Star Crossed (March 14)
Author: Barbara Dee
Genre/Category: Contemporary MG
Rainbow details: Bi female MC
Why put it on your radar?
1. DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW LITTLE LGBTQ MG THERE IS?
2. Look how freaking adorable that cover is. LOOK.
3. I…actually don’t think I’ve ever seen a bi MC this young. The blurb alone pretty much makes my heart explode.

Ways to fill a gap: LGBTQIA representation in Australian YA, a Guest Post by Emily O’Beirne

what-are-ya-coverEvery time I’m crouched in front of my bookshelf, and my eye wanders over that gloriously Aussie eighties title, What are Ya?, I wonder how many queer teen reading lives Jenny Pausacker saved. I unearthed this book in a second-hand bookshop sometime in the late nineties. I’ll admit I bought it more for the fabulously kitsch value of its cover art than anything. And after finishing it, I had to agree with the reviewer on Goodreads who claims it reads like an episode of Heartbreak High (a nineties Aussie teen drama). But it’s not the book’s literary merit that makes this book important. It’s the fact that a YA book featuring a lesbian as one of the main characters existed at all in 1987. A prolific author and YA stalwart, Pausacker claims to be Australia’s first openly gay YA writer. And she was certainly one of only a tiny handful of Australian writers bringing queer YA characters to life through the eighties and early nineties.

A dearth of LGBTQIA YA in Australia thirty years ago is unsurprising in itself. Especially in a country that’s still dithering on marriage equality. What’s more surprising is the fact that it’s really only begun to get better very recently.

If I wanted to pinpoint the moment when I think the tide first started to (very) slowly turn for Aussie LGBTQIA YA, it was the second half of the nineties. Because any archeo-literary dig for signs of guilt about a lack of diverse literary representation in Australia almost always end with a good old-fashioned short story anthology. It’s almost as if publishers suddenly realise, “We don’t have enough [insert minority here] voices! How socially irresponsible. Quick—an anthology!” Then they flood the gap with short stories. In the late nineties not one but two LGBTQIA collections featuring short stories for young adult readers appeared. This was accompanied by about 9 or 10 novels (a bunch of them written by Pausacker) published in the period. Slowly LGBTQIA teens were being allowed to see themselves in printed existence.

Young adult fiction is popular in Australia. New titles are released every week by major publishing houses. The LoveOzYA movement, a community of aficionados, bloggers and industry folk, vigorously supports emerging and established YA writers. Entire panels and afternoons are dedicated to the demographic at major literary festivals. And good LGBTQIA YA books appear to enjoy the same enthusiasm as the rest.

But until recently there haven’t been that many to celebrate. The creator of the AUSQueerYA list on Goodreads has unearthed at total of 91 LGBTQ YA books published in Australia between 1975 and 2016. While 91 is not an awful number, only a proportion of these book feature LGBTQ main characters. Others simply offer a queer minor cast member or those nebulous LGTBQIA “themes.” Of those 91 books, roughly two thirds were published in the last decade.

the-flywheelIt’s really only the last few years that could be described as banner years for LGBTQIA content. Not just in terms of abundance (okay, abundance is erring towards hyperbole), but for visibility, too. Eli Glasman’s 2014 A Boy’s Own Manual to being a Proper Jew was widely reviewed in Australian publications, celebrated for its storyline centering on issues of faith and sexuality. Erin Gough’s The Flywheel, about a young lesbian trying to save her father’s café, won the the 2013 Ampersand prize for emerging writers. Will Kostakis’ highly successful 2016 novel, The Sidekicks, has recently been sold in the United States.

So what’s taken so long?

It’s hard to say, exactly. Whenever there’s a lack of representation of minorities in fiction, the first fingers tend to be pointed at publishers. For they are that tricky intersection where creativity meets economic imperative meets social responsibility. It’s like the good old ‘good, fast cheap—pick two’ project management triangle. Only with representation at stake. But is the notion that publishers are not progressive or willing to risk money on minority voices a reality? Or is it just a leftover from a recent, less liberal, past? It’s hard to know. But that apprehension does exist. For example, despite its eventual success The Flywheel author, Erin Gough, was doubtful about the future of her novel even while she was writing it.

The Flywheel was for many years a fun personal project that I worked on without any real intention of publishing. I didn’t think it was the type of book anyone would publish, partly because of the main character’s sexuality,” she says.

Instead, Gough would be awarded an Australian Council emerging writer’s grant while working on the book. Then she would go on to win the publisher’s prize that would land her a book deal and place her vivid novel into the limelight.

Award-winning YA author, Fiona Wood believes she has seen evidence of a shift in publishing attitudes over the span of her career. “I have noticed things are much better in terms of representation, even compared to seven years ago, when I was looking for a publisher for Six Impossible Things,” she says. “I got a reader’s report back then, not from my eventual publisher, but from someone else I was talking to, and it actually said that Dan’s father being gay would affect school sales in Queensland, were the book ever to be published. I don’t think you’d hear anything like [that] these days.”

But the slow growth in this country may not just be about publishers. Gough suggests there a number of other, complex factors might have potentially inhibited an increase in Australian LGBTQIA YA, such as LGBTQIA writers’ initial need to be comfortable with their own sexuality (something she claims to have struggled with), the desire not to be pigeonholed as an LGBTQIA writer, gatekeeping by parents and librarians apprehensive to expose young readers to LGBTQIA voices, and a possible reluctance of straight writers to write from an LGBTQIA perspective, feeling they don’t have an authority to do so.

songs-that-sound-like-bloodOne Australian author who has experienced this last apprehension, but who also felt compelled for both personal and political reasons to plough on, is Jared Thomas. Thomas recently brought one of a few recent, sorely-needed, LGBTQIA YA novels featuring Indigenous main characters to the Australian YA landscape. Songs that Sound like Blood traces a year in the life of a young musician, Roxy May Redding. The novel, published by Magabala Books, an Indigenous publishing company, is a tumultuous and affirming coming-of-age story about being young, ambitious, Indigenous and queer.

“I was apprehensive about writing this story as a 40-year-old man,” Thomas admits. And to ensure he was doing his character and story justice, Thomas sought critique and support from LGBTQIA friends, family and colleagues. But despite these doubts, Thomas was compelled by a need to address what he sees as a very particular and “huge” gap in LGBTQIA YA fiction about Indigenous lives (as well as one in YA in general), one that had become far too crucial to ignore.

Thomas cites his concerns about the cuts in funding to services and programs, and high suicide rates among Indigenous youth as imperatives for him to provide rich, positive representation for (and of) young Aboriginal people.

“I started to think more about what it means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are also same-sex attracted and dealing with stigma associated with this on top of the more general racism and bigotry directed toward Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

This sense of a kind of double stigma is constructed as an inevitable part of Roxie’s life in Songs, when she says her support worker at uni, “I was paid out for being Aboriginal, and that was bad enough. I didn’t even realise I was gay.”

Both Woods and Gough have also had issue of the nature of LGBTQIA representation on their minds as they write. Woods books are purposefully peppered with a spectrum of queer characters, in a way that mirrors the contemporary cosmopolitan society her characters exist in. There are inner-suburban two-mum families. There are dads who come out late in life. There is the best friend who designates herself a “lesbian-in-waiting” because she can’t come out while living under the same roof as her strict, Vietnamese parents. In Woods’ novels LGBTQIA characters range from being the subject of a character’s passing thoughts to solid, finely-drawn characters. Either way, they are always there. This ubiquity is part of a conscious project on Woods’ part to promote the idea of “inclusive normality”. Something she says is done “very much in the spirit of ‘diversity = life’, as opposed to ‘diversity = issues’.”

For Erin Gough, the desire to increase LGBTQIA representation in Australian YA started first from personal experience. “I thought about how much I had needed to read such a story as an undergrad, and how I hadn’t been able to find one to read.” But Gough is not just seeking to fill a gap. She is also hoping to broaden the spectrum of representation in LGBTQIA storytelling, starting with a decision to make her main character aware and comfortable with her sexuality from the start of the book.

“I’m hopeful that we’re getting to the point where we can tell stories about LGBTQ characters that are not just ‘coming out’ stories,” she says. “The LGBTQ experience is far richer than that.”

There is certainly something reassuring in the way that these writers all consciously share an awareness of the need for LGBTQIA representation in Australian YA, but see different needs to be filled. It’s hard to know which project has more urgency: representing minority queer voices, normalising LGBTQIA through constant, no-big-deal representation, or broadening the scope of stories told about young LGBTQIA people.

That’s because the answer is all of the above.

Australian YA fiction needs lots of no-big-deal gay characters. We also need big-deal coming out stories. We need LGBTQIA representation for all minorities. We also need to up the representation of trans, queer, intersex and asexual experiences. Because from here on, diversity is not just about Australian YA needing more LGBTQIA content. That’s clearly starting to happen. Now young Australian readers need a rich palette of experiences from which to draw recognition and affirmation. An array of stories to find themselves in. And these books need to keep coming until there is a story that resonates for every single one of them.

heres-the-thingEmily O’Beirne is an Australian writer of LGBTQIA young adult fiction. Here recent novels include Points of Departure and Here’s the Thing. Thirteen-year-old Emily woke up one morning with a sudden itch to write her first novel. All day, she sat through her classes, feverishly scribbling away (her silence probably a cherished respite for her teachers). By the time the last bell rang, she had penned fifteen handwritten pages of angsty drivel, replete with blood-red sunsets, moody saxophone music playing somewhere far off in the night, and abandoned whiskey bottles rolling across tables. Nowadays she (hopefully) writes better stories.

***Some recent Australian LGBTQIA YA Fiction***

 

Cover Reveal (+Excerpt): Perfect Ten by L. Philips !

This whole thing is so freaking cute I am not even gonna talk about it because I can’t do it a fraction of the justice the cover/blurb/excerpt can, so without further ado, here’s a little more info on gay YA Perfect Ten by L. Philips, coming June 6, 2017!

Who is Sam Raines’s Perfect Ten?

It’s been two years since Sam broke up with the only other eligible gay guy in his high school, so to say he’s been going through a romantic drought is the understatement of the decade. But when Meg, his ex-Catholic-turned-Wiccan best friend, suggests performing a love spell, Sam is just desperate enough to try. He crafts a list of ten traits he wants in a boyfriend and burns it in a cemetery at midnight on Friday the 13th.

Enter three seemingly perfect guys, all in pursuit of Sam. There’s Gus, the suave French exchange student; Jamie, the sweet and shy artist; and Travis, the guitar-playing tattooed enigma. Even Sam’s ex-boyfriend Landon might want another chance.

But does a Perfect Ten even exist? Find out in this delectable coming-of-age romcom with just a touch of magic.

And now…the afreakingdorable cover!

Perfect_Ten_ CVR

But wait, there’s more! Excerpt FTW!

“Come on, Sam,” Meg prods. “What’s so bad about Michael?”

“You mean besides the smoking and the horrible cliché of losing your virginity in a hotel?”

“I’ve already owned up to the cliché, Samson . . .”

“You just caught him texting another girl a few weeks ago.”

She pouts prettily. “He explained that. It was nothing.”

“And the time before?” She opens her mouth to protest, but I go on before she can. “I’m just saying, why would you want to with him?”

She unlinks her arm from mine and gives me a shove that has a little more force than I expect. “I don’t know. Why did you want to with Landon?”

At the mention of my ex-boyfriend–slash–other best friend, I feel myself tense. “I was in love with Landon.”

“And I love Michael.”

“But Landon and I were different.”

She crosses her arms over her chest and kicks hard at an innocent pebble in her path. “Oh yes, and you and Landon were the exception to every rule. Michael and I couldn’t possibly be that perfect. No one can live up to the Sam and Landon standard of epic and tragic romance.”

“That’s not what I’m saying. And we weren’t that tragic.”

“Darling, you two were practically Brontë characters. You broke his heart and now here you are, two years later, and you haven’t even had a crush on someone since, have you, Sam?” I don’t answer, and there’s a tense pause between us before she adds, “Exactly two years, actually.”

“You know, I could have gone through the whole day without thinking of it, but thanks for that reminder,” I say acidly.

“I’m sorry,” she says, and I know she means it. “He brought it up to me at lunch. He’s the one who remembered. Not me.”

I don’t know how any of us could have forgotten it, least of all me. October tenth, two years ago, I ended my relationship with Landon. He didn’t speak to me for almost six months. Meg didn’t speak to me for three days, the longest we’d gone without talking since I accidentally decapitated one of her Barbies when we were seven. Hell, I wouldn’t have spoken to myself if I could have gotten away with it. I absolutely loathed Samson Raines for a long time afterward. But now Landon is my friend again. We worked everything out. He and I are fine. All three of us are fine.

Fine, fine, fine.

“I wish he didn’t remember,” I say, and Meg shifts our arms so she can squeeze my hand. I sigh. “Bygones. Anyway, we were talking about you and Michael, and not my love life, which is totally unfair to bring up by the way, because I don’t exactly have any options, do I?”

“There’s always Archie,” she says, smirking. Archie Meyers is the only other gay boy besides Landon and me at Athens High, but he’s not even a blip on my radar. It’s not that I’m shallow, but there is absolutely nothing attractive about Archie. Between the buck teeth, the acne, and the IQ that must top out in the double digits, I would have to be drunk out of my mind to even consider it. Even then it would be a stretch.

But then her smirk droops thoughtfully. “No. Wait. I heard the other day that Archie’s dating some guy he met at a Dungeons and Dragons meeting over the summer . . .”

I turn my head slowly to Meg. “Seriously? Even Archie Meyers has a boyfriend?”

Meg makes a clicking sound with her tongue. “There’s a whole big world of boys out there, Sam. Someone perfect for everyone, I think, even the D and D playing sort with buck teeth.”

“Then I’m sure there’s someone out there for you who isn’t a total douche like Michael.”

***

L. Philips went to Ohio University for a degree in Music Education, decided that job was entirely too noisy, and became a librarian instead. When she’s not working, she enjoys belting show tunes when she thinks no one is listening and watching the same episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine over and over (or at least that’s what she tells her toddler son). She lives in Ohio.

***

Love this cover and excerpt as much as I do? You can add Perfect Ten on Goodreads now, and, even better, preorder it at B&N and Amazon!