Around the Blogosqueer: Free Short Stories and Flash Fiction

Queer lit by great authors for zero dollars in easily devourable slices? Totally accessible whether you’ve got funds and/or a credit card or not? Helllll yes. Please enjoy the authors providing the goods for free, and consider checking out what else they’ve got where applicable!

Alison Evans, author of Long Macchiatos and Monsters, Ida, and more (scroll down for links and brief descriptions)

Brandon Taylor, Assistant Editor at Electric Lit, as posted on Catapult

“They Called Us” and “Little Shop of Superstitions” by Natalie Parker, via The Hanging Gardens

“Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live” by Sacha Lamb, via Book Smugglers

In the Company of Shadows“: an original LGBT+ series by Santino Hassell and Ais

“The Cure” by Malinda Lo, via Interfictions

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Why I Wrote the Nameless Series, a Guest Post by Matthew

Today on the site, please welcome Matthew Rossi, author of the Nameless series. As I’m sure so many writers and readers of LGBTQIAP+ lit are familiar with, putting and/or seeing your sexuality on the page can be both a cathartic and terrifying process, and it also is, for many of us, a necessary one. To that end, I love this post about taking that plunge and the surprises me find along the way. And now, without further ado: Matthew!

***

There are a lot of reasons to write. When I started working on Nameless, I was trying to deal with a lot of issues in my life – my going blind, the dark place politics seemed to be going, my personal identity crisis – and the cast of characters in the books evolved out of that. In some ways I’ve grown up extremely privileged. I’m white, cis (more or less) and I can pass for straight.

But I’m not straight.

It’s taken me a very long time to realize that about myself. It’s taken even longer to get anything like comfortable with it. In fact, I’m still not. And one of the reasons for that is there simply aren’t a ton of bisexuals who are anything like I am in the fiction I grew up reading. When bisexuals exist, they’re often portrayed as utterly indiscriminate, people who flirt with anything that moves, and of course the old canard that bisexuality is simply a lie, that it’s gay men and straight women experimenting only or that it’s people who can’t commit. None of this was helpful to me growing up, and it wasn’t until much, much later that I understood that I wasn’t closeted or in denial – I was simply attracted to a range of humans that included men and women. (Since discovering non-binary and genderqueer people, I’ve realized even those categories are flexible for me.)

Writing Nameless, I wanted to depict bisexual characters who weren’t forced into the ‘will have sex with anything’ box or the ‘really gay/straight’ box or any other box. I also didn’t want to erase sex positivity just because the characters weren’t completely defined by their sexuality. Being bisexual doesn’t mean I’m constantly wandering around having sex with anyone that moves, but neither does it mean I don’t enjoy sexual contact (and just plain contact) with people. I’ve been married for eleven years to a wonderful woman (also bisexual) and I’m fortunate to have met her and have her in my life.

So when I started working on the book, the first thing I did was make sure there would be a variety of relationships – Thea and Thomas, the main characters, are a bisexual woman and a man who could best be described as genderfluid, in a very literal sense. He can and does change between a man and a woman several times in the series, starting in the second book, Heartless. Their relationship is frankly sexual, but it doesn’t erase who Thea was with before Thomas, nor what she finds attractive now. Their sexuality is part of who they are, not all of it.

The character of Bishop is a bisexual man in a relationship with Thea’s cousin Joe, who is gay (not bisexual) and the two of them were helpful to me in taking conversations I’d had with friends on the topic of whether or not bisexuality was real and helping me work through them. I’ve had friends insist that it isn’t, that I’m just gay and in denial, and it hampered me. Bishop helped me finally reject that idea once and for all – he knows who he is, who he has loved in the past and who he loves now, and he is nether settling now nor was then. One of the most pernicious myths I find when trying to come to terms with it all is this idea that you’re only bisexual if you’re in a same sex relationship. That doesn’t even make sense to me. There’s a reason it’s bisexuality, after all. Gender doesn’t even boil down into two easily defined options anyway, so this idea that I have to be with X or Y to be a ‘real’ bisexual has always felt destructive to me. I didn’t create Bishop to explore these issues, I just ended up having to explore them because Bishop loves Joe.

Thea’s cousin Seri is a different case because when I started writing the books, she was dating a long term boyfriend named David, and in the course of the first novel she met a woman named Evvie and it became obvious to me quickly that Evvie was so impressed by Seri that there was an attraction there. I decided to get out of my own way as writer, abandon my original outline and see where the two of them ended up, and they’ve since settled into a relationship that has its ups and downs and faults, and in many ways is less intense and committed than either Thomas and Thea or Joe and Bishop. And in a large part that’s because sometimes, people are complicated and just because you love someone, and are sexual with someone, that doesn’t spackle over the personality conflicts. Seri is extremely strong willed and Evvie has baggage and them being committed to each other takes effort and work, because that’s the cast for a lot of us whatever we are.

Writing these characters has let me look under the hood of my own thoughts, although that’s not and never was the goal. Mostly, I wrote a book with a cast that’s mostly bisexual or gay because that’s what I wanted to see. The books are about magic and monsters and epic, over the top action but anyone can be the hero, even people who are just people, and I wanted there to be a bi woman, a gay man and a woman who doesn’t know for sure what she is right at the forefront of all that.

But the character I’ve been most consistently surprised by is Bry.

Bry wasn’t even supposed to exist. Nameless had a trio of antagonists working for the main villain, two brothers named Morgan and Jimmy. Their younger brother Byron had been warped by the main villain into a monstrosity, a 9 foot tall mockery of a human being. Said monster was supposed to die in a confrontation with Thomas on Thanksgiving while Thea fought a Hound of Tindalos and saved the rest of her family. And absolutely nothing happened the way I wanted it to.

Tom wouldn’t kill Byron. Instead he managed to undo what had been done, and the child inside the monster was free for the first time in years. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise. The biggest surprise was that Byron wasn’t Byron. The little boy wasn’t a boy. The scene where that came out was absolutely a shock to me – I was writing a scene where Joe and Bishop were watching Byron and the child, still relearning how to talk, explained in halting terms who she was. How her wicked grandmother (the villain of the book, and in her way a victim too) had simply refused to accept that Bry was a girl and not a boy, and had used magic to punish her for not being what she actually was all along.

Since then Bry’s grown a bit (she’s fourteen as of Faceless, the last novel in the series) and learned magic herself, which she’s used to heal others and even aggressively in fighting off monsters and protecting her family of cousins. Bry’s journey and transition isn’t typical (the same magic Thomas uses to switch genders was originally created for Bry to transition) but she’s aware of that, and is still dealing with who she can trust and what she really wants out of life. And writing both Tom and Bry helped me deal with my own dysphoria and dysmorphia (I still identify as cis, but I have issues I struggle with) and what it means to be accepted for what you are.

I hope that the characters help other people – that getting to see a bi woman or a trans girl kicking monsters in their tentacles can help someone who is in that same questioning place I was. But the fact is, I didn’t write them so that their representation would help someone else. I wrote them so that their representation of bisexuality, gender and identity would help me. When I was growing up, I needed to see these kinds of characters and I never did. Everyone was straight, by default. If a man ended up with a woman, he was straight. If he ended up with a man, he was gay. The idea that you could be something else – an identity that was different than either, with its own challenges and consequences – never even occurred to me until I was in my thirties.

I don’t want that for anyone. I hope as more and more writers realize they can deviate from the script, people growing up will see themselves in more characters. I don’t know if my books will help with that, but I would dearly love to discover they have. If I’ve even partially succeeded in representing people, I have many others who took time to talk to me about their lives. Where I’ve failed, I’ve done so hoping to do better.

Buy the books:

Nameless * Heartless * Faceless

***

Matthew Rossi writes things. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and has lived in Boston, London (the one in England), Chicago, Washington DC, Blacksburg VA, San Francisco, Seattle and now Edmonton, Alberta. He lives with his wife Julian, their three cats, their manic little puppy and more reptiles than could easily be listed. His first book, Things That Never Were, was published by Monkeybrain Books in 2003. He’s since written two collections of essays (Bottled Demon, At Last Atlantis) and three novels – Nameless, Heartless and Faceless.

Backlist Book of the Month: Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans

Greetings! Are you in a desperate search for a completely delightful romance between a genderqueer main character and a trans guy love interest, both of whom have limb-related disabilities? Would you like to alternately smile your face off and clutch your heart for an hour or two? Well then, lemme introduce you to your next backlist read!

Jalen, lover of B-grade sci-fi movies, meets the far-too-handsome P in a cafe while deciding whether or not to skip uni again. When P invites them along to a double feature of Robot Monster and Cat Women of the Moon, Jalen can hardly believe that hot boys like bad sci-fi, too. But as their relationship progresses, Jalen realizes P leaves him wondering if they’re on the same page about what dating means, and if that’s what they’re doing.

Amazon * B&N * Less Than Three

 

On Being Out in the Trump Era: a Guest Post by Alysia Constantine

When I was writing the first draft of my novel Olympia Knife, the 2016 U.S. Presidential election was looming. I, like most folks (with the possible exception of election hackers and those who hired them) did not know what the outcome would be. I finished that first draft in September 2016, well before the November 9 morning on which I burst into tears in front of a fellow professor. (I’m not normally a public weeper, but I’d stayed up late watching election results, and was exhausted and devastated.)

I sent the draft of the novel to the publisher for editing, and, after months and months of daily hacking away at it, I gratefully took the reprieve. When it came time to edit, I had to read the manuscript for the first time I’d read it since sending it off, the first time since the election, and I’d forgotten much of it. Luckily, I’ve got the memory of a goldfish, so I could read with a clean slate and murder, as they say, my darlings.

Olympia Knife is the story of a turn-of-the-century travelling circus filled with cultural outsiders who, one by one, disappear. The queer woman at its center and the woman she loves must fight to stay solid (literally) as everyone around them vanishes under some insidious and pervasive force. Reading it anew, I was struck by how easily the novel can be understood as an allegory about being Other in the Trump era. I mean, Otherness was totally on my mind as I wrote, but Trump certainly was not, unless I was, for some reason, musing over Celebrity Apprentice, or thinking about orange things. As I finished work on the initial draft of the manuscript, the specter of Trump loomed, and one saw a distinct rise in America of what looked like Fascism and more anti-LGBTQ and racist violence because of his supporters, and that necessarily made its way into the manuscript. Now that he’s been installed into office, reading the book in this light is a more urgent reading.

LGBTQ folks like me in much of the US have gotten somewhat comfortable. I’m not saying it’s easy for everyone, but I am saying that it’s easier now for many of us than it was, say, in the 1980s. One has the option to be out in many places, one can have straight friends and be accepted into straight communities. When I attended college in the late 1980s, I hid in any closet I could find. Now as a professor, I’ve offered classes in queer theory that rapidly fill beyond capacity every time. Many of my students have been openly queer, and I’ve been able to be candid about my own queerness without being ascribed some nefarious motive.

Things have changed in most of America, to say the least. It’s easier for many of us to find love, get legally married, have children and settle happily into a gayborhood where we are not outcast, and thus it’s also easy to forget all the other folks (in the US and beyond) who are gay or bi or trans or otherwise Other who are still under dire threat because of that very Otherness.

Being out used to mean accepting a duty to work, to educate and agitate, fighting to stick around and helping others do likewise. People wrote and demonstrated and risked their very lives in order simply to live them. I’m not romanticizing; I’m not saying that’s a great state of affairs, but I am saying many of us have gotten comfortable enough that it’s easy to forget that we must still work, and that there are others (in the US and outside of it) who have no choice but to fight because otherwise they will die.

Olympia Knife now takes on new relevance for me in the US’s current Trump era. The novel is about a time when Othered folks—the queers, the outsiders—are being insidiously disappeared (made irrelevant, made powerless, made invisible, made gone), and the force that’s doing it is so pervasive it’s hard to predict or protect against it.

In the US, after all the apparent political gains of the last decade, we’re forced again to fight just to stay, to make our own families and cling to relevance, so that we are not disappeared, and we can’t even clearly see the monster against which we’re fighting. There is the imminence of a horrible thing—a more horrible thing than has already come—all the deaths of queer folk (both individual and massacre), the riots at certain political rallies, beatings by cops, denial of our rights to public space and safety, the swell of neo-fascism—this is all ramping up to something, and I, for one, am scared. I feel more powerless than I ever have (and I vividly remember the Reagan years).

Olympia Knife is a rallying cry, then, to all us queers and POC, crips and resisters and Others of all types: we must stick together, and we must resist. Making our own enclaves is no longer enough, because the awful thing that wants us gone is seeping in and getting us, even in our own spaces. We must fight fiercely and tirelessly simply to persist.

BIO

Alysia Constantine is a novelist and former literary and cultural studies professor. Her second novel, Olympia Knife, is a magical-realist adventure that takes place in a turn-of-the- century travelling circus and traces the struggles of Olympia and her lover Diamond in the face of the disappearance of one circus performer after another. You can find more at http://www.alysiaconstantine.com.

Exclusive Excerpt from Walking on Water by Matthew J. Metzger

Today on the site, we’ve got an exclusive excerpt from Matthew J. Metzger‘s upcoming Fantasy Romance, Walking On Water, which releases on November 13! Here’s some info on the book, which contains both bisexual and transgender represenation:

When a cloud falls to earth, Calla sets out to find what lies beyond the sky. Father says there’s nothing, but Calla knows better. Something killed that cloud; someone brought it down.

Raised on legends of fabled skymen, Calla never expected them to be real, much less save one from drowning—and lose her heart to him. Who are the men who walk on water? And how can such strange creatures be so beautiful?

Infatuated and intrigued, Calla rises out of her world in pursuit of a skyman who doesn’t even speak her language. Above the waves lies more than princes and politics. Above the sky awaits the discovery of who Calla was always meant to be. But what if it also means never going home again?

Buy it

And now, the excerpt!

***

In the smoke and sunlight, both ricocheting off each other in a blinding darkness, heaving the battered Vogel around the enemy’s bow and up her pockmarked port side was a dangerous game. They collided once, the guns bouncing inwards. A boy fell, screaming, into the void between the two ships, and the sound cut off with a sharp crunch as the wooden hulls kissed once more. Janez slid towards the broken railings and caught at the ropes to steady himself.

And braced.

The almighty crash as they collided once more coincided with a terrible howl from the enemy guns. Two simply exploded, the gunpowder and ball caught between wood and metal, and the smell of burning flesh, the cry of death, rose over the chaos like a reminder. Janez flinched, even in his newfound deafness, like a newly launched loblolly boy without the faintest idea of sailing. Focus!

“Now!”

His sword swept down; the hooks flung outwards and clattered into the torn deck and shattered railings, some catching and some not. The heave of ship to ship was immense—in his bones and under his feet, Janez could feel an answering pull. The Ente had seized her from the other side. The rush of men to cut the ropes was confused.

They had her. They could have her.

“Board!”

The soldiers swarmed. Musket fire answered, and Janez leapt the gap with a roar that came from some primal place deep inside, fuelled not by king and country, but by brotherhood. His sword crashed with that of some faceless, nameless man fuelled likely by the urge to protect his own family, yet Janez fiercely did not care. They meant to sink him. And he would not be sunk!

But even with the Ente and her men, this was no sure thing. The guns boomed and rocked below them, the enemy frigate determined to sink her captors while their men ravaged her decks, and Janez ploughed amongst the guns, slashing at their masters.

Something caught.

One of the Ente’s guns roared, and a ball ploughed through the railing past him. Janez howled as a splinter—two inches thick and seven long—was driven into his thigh. He wrenched it free with a gasp, and bitterly ground down the urge to fall. That meant death. They would cut him down, and Alarik would never forgive him.

The caught thing was around his boot.

And too late, he realised.

As the great gun slipped, strangely silent, through the ragged maw gouged into the ship’s side, its rope coiled around Janez’s ankle and dragged him with it.

For a moment, he simply hung.

Hung in the smoke between two great walls.

He could hear—very faintly, through a distant memory, and very long ago—a woman’s humming. It sounded like Mother’s, yet he knew it to be Sofia. Sofia, humming to his newborn nephew. The only heir left to Alarik’s throne.

Janez sent up a brief prayer, a brief apology, some desperate hope that his childhood priests and tutors had been right, and he had some soul that could ascend and wait to meet his family again, for some reunion, for some forgiveness.

He had not even kissed little Ingrid goodbye.

***

Matthew J. Metzger is an asexual, transgender author dragged up in the wet and windy British Isles. He writes queer characters living all manner of lives, but especially likes to write the stories from the pub, the beautiful game, and the terraces where he lives and works today. Although mainly a contemporary romance writer, Matthew has recently been found straying out of his zone and playing in other genres’ sandboxes.

When not writing, Matthew is usually at his day job, working out, or asleep. He is owned by an enormous black cat, so should generally be approached with either extreme caution, or treats.

He can be primarily found on Twitter and Facebook or over at his website, and is always happy to hear from readers.

New Release Spotlight: Runebinder by Alex R. Kahler

Magic! Fantasy! Queer boys! Intrigue! THAT COVER! This is the first book in a brand-new series, but if Kahler is a new-to-you author, good news! He’s got a healthy backlist under both this name and A.R. Kahler. Check it out! 

When magic returned to the world, it could have saved humanity, but greed and thirst for power caused mankind’s downfall instead. Now once-human monsters called Howls prowl abandoned streets, their hunger guided by corrupt necromancers and the all-powerful Kin. Only Hunters have the power to fight back in the unending war, using the same magic that ended civilization in the first place.

But they are losing.

Tenn is a Hunter, resigned to fight even though hope is nearly lost. When he is singled out by a seductive Kin named Tomás and the enigmatic Hunter Jarrett, Tenn realizes he’s become a pawn in a bigger game. One that could turn the tides of war. But if his mutinous magic and wayward heart get in the way, his power might not be used in favor of mankind.

If Tenn fails to play his part, it could cost him his friends, his life…and the entire world.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

New Releases: November 2017

 Olympia Knife, by Alysia Constantine (2nd)

Born into a family of flying trapeze artists, Olympia Knife has one small problem: When her emotions rise, she becomes invisible. Everyone in the traveling circus has learned to live with this quirk; they banded together to raise Olympia in a loving environment when her parents vanished midair during their act, never to return. But the same fate befalls Arnold, the world’s shortest man, followed by one act after another, until the show is a crumbling mess of tattered tents and terrified troupers. Into this chaos walks Diamond the Danger Eater. Olympia and Diamond forge a friendship, then fall in love, and, together, resolve to stand the test of time, even as the world around them falls apart.

Buy it: Amazon * Interlude

Citywide by Santino Hassell (13th)

This is a novella collection in the Five Boroughs series

In Rerouted, Chris Mendez is trying to live a drama-free life. That doesn’t include another threesome with Jace and Aiden Fairbairn. But then a citywide blackout leaves them trapped together, and Chris is forced to re-examine everything he thought he knew about relationships and his own heart.

In Gridlocked, former Marine Tonya Maldonado is keeping real estate heiress Meredith Stone on permanent ignore. Mere isn’t Tonya’s type. Not even close. Who cares if she kisses like a dream and has the filthiest mouth this side of the East River? But then a security detail at a summer party ends with her saving Mere’s life and discovering they have more chemistry than she’d ever imagined.

In Derailed, Stephanie Quinones escapes the heat and her complicated love life by going on a company retreat. Trouble is, it’s a couples’ retreat, and she lied about having a boyfriend. Unfortunately, the only person willing to play pretend is her on-again/off-again fling, Angel León. They’re currently “off again,” but after a week in the woods, Stephanie realizes she wouldn’t mind them being permanently on.

Buy it: Riptide

Walking on Water by Matthew J. Metzger (13th)

WalkingonWater-f500When a cloud falls to earth, Calla sets out to find what lies beyond the sky. Father says there’s nothing, but Calla knows better. Something killed that cloud; someone brought it down.

Raised on legends of fabled skymen, Calla never expected them to be real, much less save one from drowning—and lose her heart to him. Who are the men who walk on water? And how can such strange creatures be so beautiful?

Infatuated and intrigued, Calla rises out of her world in pursuit of a skyman who doesn’t even speak her language. Above the waves lies more than princes and politics. Above the sky awaits the discovery of who Calla was always meant to be. But what if it also means never going home again?

Add to your TBR

Runebinder by Alex R. Kahler (14th)

When magic returned to the world, it could have saved humanity, but greed and thirst for power caused mankind’s downfall instead. Now once-human monsters called Howls prowl abandoned streets, their hunger guided by corrupt necromancers and the all-powerful Kin. Only Hunters have the power to fight back in the unending war, using the same magic that ended civilization in the first place.

But they are losing.

Tenn is a Hunter, resigned to fight even though hope is nearly lost. When he is singled out by a seductive Kin named Tomás and the enigmatic Hunter Jarrett, Tenn realizes he’s become a pawn in a bigger game. One that could turn the tides of war. But if his mutinous magic and wayward heart get in the way, his power might not be used in favor of mankind.

If Tenn fails to play his part, it could cost him his friends, his life…and the entire world.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Being Fishkill by Ruth Lehrer (14th)

Born in the backseat of a moving car, Carmel Fishkill was unceremoniously pushed into a world that refuses to offer her security, stability, love. At age thirteen, she begins to fight back. Carmel Fishkill becomes Fishkill Carmel, who deflects her tormenters with a strong left hook and conceals her secrets from teachers and social workers. But Fishkill’s fierce defenses falter when she meets eccentric optimist Duck-Duck Farina, and soon they, along with Duck-Duck’s mother, Molly, form a tentative family, even as Fishkill struggles to understand her place in it.

This fragile new beginning is threatened by the reappearance of Fishkill’s unstable mother — and by unfathomable tragedy. Poet Ruth Lehrer’s young adult debut is a stunning, revelatory look at what defines and sustains “family.” And, just as it does for Fishkill, meeting Duck-Duck Farina and her mother will leave readers forever changed.

Buy it: Indiebound | Barnes&Noble | BAM | Amazon

Beulah Land, by Nancy Stewart (16th)

Seventeen-year-old Vi Sinclair’s roots run deep in the Missouri Ozarks, where, in some areas, it can still be plenty dangerous to be a girl who likes girls. Her greatest wish is to become a veterinarian like her boss, Claire Campbell. Fitting in at school wouldn’t be so bad, either. Only one obstacle stands in the way: She may not live long enough to see her wishes fulfilled.

With help from her only friend, Junior, Vi unravels a mystery that puts her in conflict with a vicious tormentor, a dog fight syndicate, and her own mother. Vi’s experience galvanizes her strength and veracity as she overcomes the paradox of mountain life, in which, even today, customs and mores seem timeless, and where a person can wake up dead simply because of being who she is.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Better Know an Author: Malinda Lo

Pretty sure this month’s author needs no introduction to anyone who’s been reading queer lit in the past decade! I’m delighted to welcome Malinda Lo to the site as this month’s featured author, and to discuss her work past and present! Of course, she’s also familiar to many as one of YA’s biggest diversity advocates, and just published a new installment in her famous examination of LGBTQ publishing statistics (looking at 2015-16) that I encourage you to view if you haven’t yet. Now, let’s get to the books! 

Let’s jump right to your new book, A Line in the Dark, which I think has probably pleasantly stunned a whole lot of your fans who might’ve thought they knew what to expect from a Malinda Lo book and now realize they have no clue. What about that story still really felt like You even though it’s outside of SFF?

Maybe the lesbians? 🙂 For me, crime fiction is my first love. I started devouring Nancy Drews when I was six years old and I’ve never looked back. This sounds evil, but murder mysteries are my go-to escape and relaxation reads. So even though I hadn’t written a mystery before A Line in the Dark, I knew how it was supposed to go from everything I’ve read over the years.

You’re definitely one of YA’s most prolific genre jumpers, debuting in fantasy and then moving on to sci-fi, then to a psychological thriller, and next up with historical! What genre(s) do you most see yourself continuing to write in, and why?

Lesbians. Is that a genre? Because I want to see queer women in every single genre there is.

It’s been a few years since your last YA novel, but some YA fans might not realize you’ve also been writing for Tremontaine. For those who aren’t familiar with the serial, what can you share about it and your role in it?

I actually only wrote for Season 1 of Tremontaine. It’s the prequel to Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint novels, which are set in a very bisexual place that feels Dangerous Liaisons meets The Three Musketeers. I was a staff writer, working with a bunch of other wonderful writers, and we plotted out the whole season together and then wrote our episodes (we called them episodes but they’re basically novelettes) individually.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that you’re basically the godmother of queer YA SFF, which I imagine is wild considering you debuted less than a decade ago. What was it like to be The Only One for the stretch that you were? What did you recommend to readers who asked, “I read and loved all your books; now what?” 

Wow, yes that is wild. I did not enjoy being the only one! I kept (and still keep) a list of books I’ve read and loved that are about queer women, and that list includes plenty of stuff beyond SFF or YA. In fact, you can see it here: https://www.malindalo.com/recommended-reads/

What would you recommend for your fans now that there are some more options out there?

Audrey Coulthurst’s Of Fire and Stars! I’m biased, but she was in my Lambda Emerging Writers Workshop in 2013 and that’s the book we workshopped. I love it and can’t wait for the follow-up, Inkmistress. Also, C. B. Lee’s Not Your Sidekick and its follow-up, Not Your Villain, which I haven’t read yet but have heard such great things about. C. B. Lee was in my 2017 Lambda workshop and I know she’s a kickass writer so I have no doubt her books also kick ass.

In addition to your novels and the serial, you’ve also got contributions coming up in a bunch of anthologies. What can you share about your stories in All Out and Lift Off?

The short story in All Out was actually the basis for the novel I’m currently writing, which is a historical novel set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1950s. The story is about the moment a girl sees a queer woman and recognizes her as queer — and begins to recognize her own queerness, too. The story for Lift Off is titled “Meet Cute” (and has no relation to the anthology of the same name) and is a light romance about two girls who meet at a comic con.

Of all the work you’ve had in other venues and volumes, what’s your favorite that you wish reached more of your fans?

Oh, good question! I have a very soft spot for my story “The Twelfth Girl,” which is a retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” in the anthology Grim (Harlequin Teen). I got an email from a reader recently who read it completely unsuspecting that the story was queer, and she was so excited to discover that I’ve written more things. So I think people are reading it, but maybe not my typical audience. I want my typical readers to know I wrote them another queer fairy tale. And it’s urban fantasy!

In additional to writing, you’ve also been a faculty member at the Lambda Literary Foundation. What’s the experience of working there like, and what should anyone aspiring to be a student there know about it?

It’s a really intense week because you’re spending it living in a dorm with dozens of queer writers. For many writers it might be the first time they’ve been in this kind of environment, so it can be overwhelming, but also very supportive. It’s so rewarding for me to give back to the queer community, and I love to work with queer writers. If you’re a queer writing thinking of applying, I suggest you polish up your best piece of writing and go for it. Don’t self-reject!

Your next book, Last Night at the Telegraph Club, is historical YA set in 1950s San Francisco, and releases in 2019. Anything you can tease us with about it until then? 

Everybody can get a sneak peek at it when All Out is published in 2018!

With all the accomplishments you have under your belt, what at this moment is your proudest? 

Surviving! So many writers from my debut year aren’t publishing anymore. This is a difficult industry, and I’m proud of myself for still being here and still writing. I hope people will enjoy my psychological thriller, and will stick around for all the genres I intend to write in.

***

Malinda Lo is the author of several young adult novels, including A Line in the Dark. Her novel Ash, a lesbian retelling of Cinderella, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and was a Kirkus Best Book for Children and Teens. She has been a three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.
Malinda’s nonfiction has been published by The New York Times Book Review, NPR, The Huffington Post, The Toast, The Horn Book, and AfterEllen. She lives in Massachusetts with her partner and their dog. Her website is http://www.malindalo.com.
Twitter: @malindalo
Facebook: facebook.com/malindalo
Tumblr: malindalo.tumblr.com
Instagram: @malindalo

Finally Writing a Boy Like Me: a Guest Post by Devin Harnois

Today on the site, please welcome Devin Harnois, author of Rainbow Islands! Is that not the most utterly delightfully queer book title you have heard? Oh, and behold the cover and blurb…

In the Christian Republic, homosexual people are given two choices—a camp to “fix” them, or exile to the distant islands populated by lesbians and gay men.

Sixteen-year-old Jason chooses exile and expects a hardscrabble life but instead finds a thriving, supportive community. While exploring his identity as a transgender boy he also discovers adventure: kraken attacks, naval battles, a flying island built by asexual people, and a daring escape involving glow-in-the-dark paint. He also has a desperate crush on Sky, a spirited buccaneer girl, but fear keeps him from expressing his feelings.

When Jason and his companions discover the Republicans are planning a war of extermination, they rally the people of the Rainbow Islands to fight back.

Shy, bookish Jason will have to find his inner courage or everything and everyone he loves will be lost forever.

*happy sigh* Here’s the link to get it: Amazon

And now, a post from Devin!

*****

After I began transition I sometimes felt a little guilty about not writing trans characters. There were so few trans stories, even fewer written by trans people. At the same time, I didn’t want to push myself into it just because I felt like I “should”.

The main characters in my novels are cis men, or a cis man and cis woman in my m/f romances. Growing up I always identified with cis male characters, because that was my fantasy: to be a cis man. When I was younger I didn’t have the words or even the understanding of what transgender was, I only knew a desperate desire to be a boy. I wrote a few poems and abandoned a handful of vague story starts that touched on my dysphoria and being trans, but otherwise I inhabited the fantasy, the escape, of being cis.

Then I saw a Tumblr post and the long string of replies that built an amazing story, a queer YA dystopian adventure with people fighting back against oppression. You can find it here: http://bequilles.tumblr.com/post/133505733119/lynati-lectorel-hazel-the-space-ace. And I thought—what if this story starred a trans boy? He’d get sent to the lesbian island, of course, because the oppressive government wouldn’t understand trans people.

That was how Rainbow Islands was born. For once I wanted to write trans male character. It finally felt right.

I wrote the first draft in November of 2016. Yes, during that election. The fear and anger lit a fire under me and through a haze of caffeine and anxiety, I somehow finished. Even under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have been easy to write. It touches on some dark stuff and some very personal stuff. Add to that our current political climate where trans people and other queer folk are being demonized. While writing some scenes I had to stop and walk away because they hit so close to home.

But Rainbow Islands also full of joy, about finding yourself, finding your people and holding onto that with everything you’ve got. It’s a story of queer triumph over oppression.

Jason, the main character, isn’t exactly me, but he’s sort of a love letter to my younger self. He’s the kind of character I desperately needed growing up and never saw. A boy like me, with a body like mine, and he gets to be the hero. He gets the hot pirate girl.

So many trans narratives are about the struggle and the misery. I wanted to show the other side of that, acceptance and happiness. Jason’s life isn’t perfect—he still deals with dysphoria and there’s a war looming, but he’s surrounded by people who support him. A whole society built by queer people, where being transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, or a myriad of other identities is just normal. It’s the opposite of the world Jason came from, where people tried to force him to be something he’s not.

My hope is that trans boys find this book and recognize themselves in it. That they see boys like them can be heroes too, not just victims or lessons for cis people. We deserve the kinds of stories that center us and lift us up, that show us a world where we get happy endings.

And a hot pirate girlfriend.

*****

Devin Harnois writes YA and Romance of the fantastical sort. Somehow his books keep getting more queer. When he isn’t writing he spends too much time on Twitter and plays a lot of Dragon Age. Follow him on Twitter @devinharnois.

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!