Tag Archives: Ashley Poston

Good News Roundup of LGBTQ Reads, 2018 Edition

After so many years of LGBTQIAP+ lit struggling for recognition, it’s been pretty killer to watch literary news this year, and to watch it get more mainstream multimedia recognition than ever. And since I think at any given time, we could all use some good news about the progress of LGBTQIAP+ books in publishing, here’s to highlighting some (but not even all!) of this year’s biggest successes in mainstream media:

Picture Books

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love was named one of Amazon’s best Children’s Books of the year for ages 3-5 and one of the Best Children’s Books of 2018 by New York Public Library, Time, and School Library Journal, as well as a Notable Children’s Book by The New York Times

Middle Grade

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender was named one of Booklist‘s Top 10 First Novels for Youth: 2018, a Malka Penn Award Honor Book,  and a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake was a recommended title for the 2019 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children and was named one of the Best Children’s Books of 2018 by New York Public Library and Chicago  Public Library, and a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal and NPR

Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell was named one of the Best Children’s Books of 2018 by New York Public Library and a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal

Young Adult

*Graphic novels listed separately below

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour was awarded the Printz

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller won The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert won the Stonewall Award

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee received a Stonewall Honor and made the 2018 Top Ten Best Fiction list by YALSA

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera was a finalist for the Carnegie Medal

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James was a finalist for the Carnegie Medal

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron was a finalist for the Carnegie Medal and was named among the Best YA of 2018 for Feeding Imaginations by Kirkus

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp hit the New York Times bestseller list and was named a Best YA of 2018 by Seventeen

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli hit the New York Times bestseller list, was named Best Young Adult Fiction by Goodreads voters, and was named among the Best YA Romances of 2018 by Kirkus

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee hit the New York Times bestseller list and was named among the Best Historical YA of 2018 by Kirkus

What If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera was optioned for film, hit the New York Times bestseller list, and was named a Best YA of 2018 by Seventeen, Amazon, Bustle, Paste, B&N Teen Blog, and New York Public Library, and a Best Audiobook of 2018 by Audible

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan hit the New York Times bestseller list and was named to the Kids’ Indie Next List Top Ten for Winter 2018-19

Sadie by Courtney Summers hit the New York Times bestseller list and was named a Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2018, one of Booklist’s 10 Best YAs of 2018 for Adults, a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal and NPR, a Best Teen Fiction of 2018 by Chicago Public Library, a Best YA Mystery and Thriller of 2018 by Kirkus, a Best Audiobook of 2018 by Google Play, and a Best YA of 2018 by B&N Teen BlogPaste, Amazon, and The Boston Globe

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland hit the New York Times bestseller list and was named a Best YA of 2018 by SeventeenAmazonSchool Library Journal, New York Public Library, B&N Teen Blog, and one of Booklist‘s 10 Best YAs of 2018 for Adults, as well as the Best YA of the Year by Paste

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram was a finalist for the Morris Award and named a Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2018, a Best YA of 2018 by The Boston Globe, New York Public Library, Time, Amazon, and B&N Teen Blog, and among the Best YA Books of 2018 that Explore on Family and Self by Kirkus

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli released as a feature film called Love, Simon

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth released as a feature film

Black Wings Beating by Alex London was named a Best YA of 2018 by Seventeen and Paste and a Best YA Fantasy of 2018 by Kirkus

People Like Us by Dana Mele was named a Best YA of 2018 by Seventeen

The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk was named a Best YA of 2018 by Seventeen and Bustle, and the Best YA Debut of 2018 by Paste

Ship It by Britta Lundin was named a Best YA of 2018 by Seventeen

Camryn Garrett, author of 2019’s Full Disclosure, was named one of Teen Vogue‘s 21 Under 21 Class of 2018

Pulp by Robin Talley was named to the Kids’ Indie Next List Top Ten for Winter 2018-19 and included among the Best Teen Fiction of 2018 by Chicago Public Library and the Best YAs of 2018 by Paste

The Disasters by MK England was named to the Kids’ Indie Next List Top Ten for Winter 2018-19

Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon was named to the Kids’ Indie Next List for Winter 2018-19

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan was named to the Kids’ Indie Next List for Winter 2018-19

This is What it Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow was named to the Kids’ Indie Next List for Winter 2018-19

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore was named one of Tor.com Reviewers’ Best Books of 2018, a Best YA Fantasy of 2018 by Kirkus, a Best YA of 2018 by The Boston Globe, and a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman was named one of Booklist’s 10 Best YAs of 2018 for Adults, among the Best YA Books of 2018 About Speaking Your Truth by Kirkus, and a Best YA of 2018 by New York Public Library, B&N Teen Blog, and Paste

Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner was named a Best YA of 2018 by New York Public Library

Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert was named a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal and among the Best Teen Fiction of 2018 by Chicago Public Library, Best YA Books of 2018 that Explore Family and Self by Kirkus, and Best YAs of 2018 by B&N Teen Blog

A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma was named a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal and NPR and a Best YA of 2018 by Bustle and Paste 

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake was named among the Best Teen Fiction of 2018 by Chicago Public Library and Best YAs of 2018 by B&N Teen Blog

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson was named among the Best Teen Fiction of 2018 by Chicago Public Library and a Best YA of 2018 by The Boston Globe

Odd One Out by Nic Stone was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR and among the Best YAs of 2018 by The Boston Globe and Paste

The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in LA) by Amy Spalding was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR, a Best YA Romance of 2018 by Kirkus, and among the Best YAs of 2018 by The Boston Globe and Paste

The Spy With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by Paste and B&N Teen Blog and among the Best Jewish Children’s Books of 2018 by Tablet

A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by Paste

Home and Away by Candice Montgomery was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by B&N Teen Blog and Paste and among the Best YA Mysteries and Thrillers of 2018 by Kirkus

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by Paste

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by Paste

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by B&N Teen Blog and Paste and among the Best YA Books of 2018 About Speaking Your Truth by Kirkus

Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by The Boston Globe and Paste

This is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by Bustle and B&N Teen Blog and a Best YA Romance of 2018 by Kirkus

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by Bustle

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by B&N Teen Blog

Final Draft by Riley Redgate was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by B&N Teen Blog and the Best YA Romances of 2018 by Kirkus

Running With Lions by Julian Winters was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by B&N Teen Blog

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by B&N Teen Blog and a Best YA Romance of 2018 by Kirkus

Jack of Hearts (and other parts) was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by B&N Teen Blog

Unbroken ed. by Marieke Nijkamp was named among the Best YAs of 2018 that Feed Imaginations by Kirkus

Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones was named among the Best YA Books of 2018 that Explore on Family and Self by Kirkus

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia is a Junior Library Guild selection

Romance

Rend by Roan Parrish was named a Best Romance of the Year by Amazon

Time Was by Ian McDonald was named a Best Book of 2018 by New York Public Library

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR

Contemporary and Historical Adult Fiction

Less by Andrew Sean Greer won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

John Rechy received the 2017 Robert Kirsch Award

White Houses by Amy Bloom was named a Best Book of 2018 by New York Public Library

Who is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara was named one of the Best Debuts of 2018 by Entertainment Weekly

Sugar Run by Mesha Maren was named to the January 2019 Indie Next List

SFF

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novel

The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novella

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey was nominated for a a Nebula Award for Best Novella

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado was a finalist for the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado is being developed into an FX series

The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez is being developed into a TV series

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller was named a Publishers Weekly Best SF/Fantasy/Horror of 2018 and a Kirkus Best Sci Fi and Fantasy of 2018

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg was named a Best Historical Fiction of 2018 , a Best Debut Fiction of 2018 by Kirkus, and among “10 More Great Debuts” by Entertainment Weekly, a supplement to their list of the 10 Best Debuts of the 2018

The Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard was named one of Tor.com Reviewers’ Best Books of 2018

The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson was named one of Tor.com Reviewers’ Best Books of 2018

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab was named Best Science Fiction by Goodreads voters

Nonfiction

Garrard Conley’s memoir, Boy Erased, was released as a feature film and hit the New York Times bestseller list

I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya was named among the Best YA Books of 2018 About Speaking Your Truth by Kirkus

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee was named a Best Book by TIME, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Wired, Esquire, Buzzfeed, New York Public Library, The A.V. Club, Book Riot, PopSugar, The Rumpus, My Republica, Paste, Bitch,Library Journal,Bustle, Christian Science Monitor,Shelf Awareness, Tor.com, Chicago Public Library, Entropy Magazine,The Chicago Review of Books, The Coil, iBooks, and Washington Independent Review of Books, and was longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

Poetry

Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by New York Public Library

Graphic Novels

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR

My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame, translated by Anne Ishii, was named among the Best YA Books of 2018 that Explore on Family and Self by Kirkus

Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu was a finalist for the Morris Award and named one of Booklist’s 10 Best YAs of 2018 for Adults, a Best YA of 2018 by New York Public Library and The Boston Globe, and among the Best YA Books of 2018 that Explore on Family and Self by Kirkus

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang was named a Best YA of 2018 by Publishers Weekly, Amazon, New York Public Library, School Library Journal, NPR, and The Boston Globe

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden was named a Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2018 and a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal

For lists of the best queer books of 2018, check out these on BookRiot and Autostraddle!

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Spec Shelf: Nicole Brinkley Takes You Inside Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston!

Excited to introduce a brand new monthly feature on LGBTQReads today called Spec Shelf, where Nicole Brinkley of the former Queership blog chats with authors about their queer SFF titles! Take it away, Nicole!

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Welcome to Spec Shelf, the little corner of LGBTQ Reads where I talk to authors about their queer science-fiction and fantasy books. Today, we’re peeking into Ashley Poston’s Heart of Iron, one of my favorite books to release so far this year.

Described as “Anastasia in space,” Heart of Iron follows a ragtag group aboard the spaceship the Dossier: Ana, found floating in space as a child; Di, the glitching android found with her; Jax, the pilot from an unknown planet; and Robb, a royal who needs their help.

Together, they’re crossing the galaxy to try to find a spaceship that might not exist—Robb to find his long-lost father and Ana to save Di from his glitches. Ashley’s writing reads like a movie script, as fast-paced and clear as your favorite sci-fi flick. And much like your favorite sci-fi flick, there is undoubtedly a character you will fall in love with. Favorites as a whole seem to be Jax and Di, but the character that earned my heart? The indomitable Captain Siege, pirate leader of the Dossier.

Learn a little bit about Captain Siege and her wife Talle in the excerpt below—and keep reading for an interview between Ashley and me, where we chat about Heart of Iron, asexual representation, queer pirate girls and Hogwarts houses.

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At the head of the table, beside the captain, Talle—short and thin, with black hair in a pixie cut and hands so steady she could slit a throat clean while navigating the skyways of Nevaeh—sliced a piece of bread in half with one of the dozen knives from her belt, and buttered it. Siege leaned forward and ate it out of her hand. “Sunshine! That was mine.”

“Ours,” Siege replied, kissing her, and played her hand— three twos. No one called Wicked against the captain. No one ever did. Except Talle.

Talle and Siege had been married longer than Ana had been part of the Dossier. She always wondered how they’d met, but it was a secret—like Siege’s last name.

Di once said that it seemed surprising that two people who were so opposite could fall in love, but he didn’t see that while Siege was the flame, Talle was the shadow. One could not exist without the other.

Ana wished she could explain it. She wondered, often, if he would feel the same about her if he was programmed to have emotions.

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Now here’s the interview!

Nicole: Let’s skip the whole shebang about “what is your book about” and “tell me about your characters” and dive straight into the fun stuff.

Ashley: Ugh, do I have to?

Nicole: You knew what you signed up for.

Ashley: Fine, fine, LET’S SKIP ALL THE GOOD PARTS AND GO STRAIGHT TO THE SPOILERS. SO, THE FIRST PERSON TO DIE IS—

Nicole: If you touch my favorite can-opener robot E0S, I’ll never forgive you.

Ashley: I can live with that.

Nicole: There are many incredible characters in Heart of Iron—though our resident tiny robot is likely my favorite—and many incredible character dynamics. Watching relationships shift and grow as the book goes on was one of my favorite bits, especially between Jax and Robb. I know Jax wasn’t even supposed to be a POV character, originally. What was creating their dynamic like?

Ashley: I love character interactions. I think I love writing it because of fanfiction, to be honest. Character studies and all. And I knew going into Heart of Iron, a good chunk of the story would be unremarkable (it’s a “lost royal” trope—we all know how those go), so I wanted to make the characters the story, not the trope itself. And to do that I wanted to make engaging characters. Robb was one of those characters who was an antagonist in one draft, and then a martyr in the next, but he never quite fit very well in any of those roles. He didn’t really come into himself until he met this snarky starship pilot, and then I kind of realized—oh, he’s not any of those things. He’d been screaming at me for so long that I kind of tuned him out, and then when I finally let him go he became this multifaceted character who had lost his father, and who was unsure of his future, and who wanted to do good, but he always seemed to do it wrong.

Nicole: I feel like a lot of modern media—even with all of the steps we’ve made in positive queer representation—still tend to box queer characters into this corner if being That One Thing and not a multifaceted character, especially when written by straight authors. It’s one of the things I love about reading queer SFF—and, of course, fanfiction, which fixes many of the limitations of traditional media.

Ashley: That is really true—and even as a queer woman myself I started to box my characters into one archetype or another. I think, to be honest, it’s a lazy way to earn cookie points. You can have queer rep! But they’re only ONE thing! And it’s fine. I mean, it’s fine. But there came a point in writing Heart of Iron where it wasn’t fine anymore for me. I’ve been writing this book for six years, and during those six years I grew as a person and came into myself, and you can see that through the drafts. Also, I have to add that while I’m a queer woman, I don’t assume to know the trials and tribulations of gay male characters. I had sensitivity readers on Robb and Jax, and their story isn’t about their gayness. That isn’t my story to write. They’re characters who are gay in Heart of Iron—and definitely not the only ones—but their story isn’t about their gayness.

Nicole: And the world of Heart of Iron isn’t one that fixates on their gayness, either. It’s populated by queer characters. Which brings me to my non-robotic favorite character. You know her. You love her. Captain Siege.

Ashley: THE CAPTAIN’S IN THE HOUSSSEEE. I love Captain Siege. And her wife.

Nicole: And her wife Talle! They both play hugely important roles in Heart of Iron, both as Ana’s family unit and as rational heads in a time where all of our POV characters are under extreme emotional duress. How much can you talk about them without completely spoiling your (just-announced!) second book?

Ashley: Well, I can definitely say they’ve seen their fair share of OH MY GODDESS THE WORLD IS ENDING moments, so nothing really surprises them anymore. There will be a lot more about Siege and Talle’s past, how they met, and how that factors into some of the bigger revelations in Heart of Iron.

Nicole: I love nothing more than queer pirate girls.

Ashley: Me, too. I love stories with kickass queer female role models for the main characters. I think that’s important—especially in YA where parents are either dead, MIA, or just not written on the page.

Nicole: That age-old trope—in both anime and YA—really open up the opportunity for teens to explore. It’s much easier without formal adult supervision around. Though Siege does try to reign Ana’s overzealous nature in where she can.

Ashley: Note: she tries. Ana’s like a bottle rocket—she’s going to fly off somewhere, it’s just a matter of where, and there’s no stopping her. I did an event the other day where I had to sort Ana into a Hogwarts House, and I instantly said Gryffindor, but then a friend shouted Slytherin and I was like… OH. She kind of embodies both? She turns, really, from one to the other.

Nicole: Her loyalty to Di could be argued as either a Gryffindor or Slytherin trait—though I think she reveals her true colors as to which House she would belong to as Heart of Iron comes to a close.

Ashley: Yeah, she goes full Hufflepuff—JUST KIDDING. Di’s the only Hufflepuff. Bless him.

Nicole: You mentioned at your launch party that Di is the character you found easiest to write, and I know you put a bit of yourself in Ana as well, though it’s not officially canon in Heart of Iron, in terms of your own queer identity.

Ashley: Well, if we’re talking about things not “officially being canon” then neither Siege nor Talle nor Robb nor Jax are “canon” because they don’t officially state, “HEY, I’M GAY!”

Nicole: Though I would love to see a rainbow flag flown outside the spaceship.

Ashley: HA! Jax would be in charge of the glitter because he’d just like to ruin everyone else’s day. But yeah, the terms for gay/straight/ace don’t exist in the world of Heart of Iron, because there was never a need to put a word to it. I wanted to imagine a world where that was never an issue, where religious reasons didn’t dictate whether you could marry or love someone of the same sex. I guess that’s wish fulfillment on my end, but I think that’s why I love fiction. You can always write the what-ifs, and impossible things are no longer really that impossible.

Nicole: I think that, when using labels in speculative fiction, it can become complicated. You don’t want sexualities to be erased, which is one of my biggest fears when it comes to aces in fantasy—it’s so easy to ignore a character coded as ace as a “shy straight person,” whatever that means—but that wish fulfillment can be incredibly satisfying and allow further headcanons to be developed, especially when you’re like me and think romantic identity is just a series of question marks because gender and sexuality have no impact on who I fall for.

Ashley: Exactly, and one thing I had to wrestle with in writing Heart of Iron. If you don’t say it, or explicitly talk about it, does it exist in speculative fiction? And then there is author intention vs. execution, and I think this is a good place to segue back to Ana’s identity. I, for the most part, fall somewhere on the asexual spectrum. And I wrote Ana to fall somewhere on there, too. (“But Ashley!” someone is bound to say—and this isn’t a spoiler—“There’s kissing!” to which I want to remind everyone that just because you identify as asexual doesn’t mean you are banned from kissing people.)

Nicole: I’m on the ace spectrum and I love kissing and cuddling.

Ashley: Same! I love kissing, and I love holding hands, and being close to someone, and Ana does that a lot. And for me, that was the only way I knew how to put a little of myself into Ana. How I could show her sexuality like I did for Robb and Jax, Siege and Talle. For me, at least, just to see a character love someone so deeply, without some of the more sexual attractions, was important. That was really, really important to me.

Nicole: All of these relationships—Ana and Di, Jax and Robb, Siege and Talle, me and resident can-opener robot E0S—shape the world of Heart of Iron. What fictional relationships shaped your own writing? Oh, yes. We’re talking ships.

Ashley: THERE ARE A LOT OF SHIPS. I am from the land of fandom and fanfics. I love characters with interesting dynamics—I think they make the strongest OTPs, to be honest. And most of my strongest OTPs are not sexually-charged in nature, but come from a place of snarky quips and electric conversation. (Oh hi baby queer Ash, here’s your clue.) Artemis Fowl and Holly Short, for instance, and Howl and Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle. I also really love some non-canon OTPs, too. Yuugi and Yami Yuugi from Yu-Gi-Oh!; Hermione and her own ambition, because we know she wouldn’t settle; Rei and Makoto in Sailor Moon

Nicole: Oh, Artemis and Holly! One of our first bonding moments as friends was our mutual love of those two—and you and I have similar preferences with romantic non-sexually-charged ships. Let’s wrap this interview up before we write an entire essay: is there anything else you want folks to know about Heart of Iron?

Ashley: Ha! Hmmm, well, let’s see. Heart of Iron is a story about a lost royal princess—yes, that’s true. There’s no disguising that, really (ha!). I never went into Heart of Iron hoping to rewrite the trope. Some people will like it, and some people won’t, and that’s with anything you read, you know? I guess what I’m saying is, I wrote Heart of Iron to explore the characters within the story—Ana and Di and Robb and Jax—and how they interact. I wanted to tell a story of characters coming together, of their complex relationships, of being the good you wish to see in the world, and of being frightened to be that good sometimes. I wanted to write a story about home—about the people that make it, and the people you have to leave behind to find it, and I hope you find your home, too, in the Iron Kingdom.

Heart of Iron is available now. Buy the book from Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Book Depository. To learn more about the book, visit Ashley’s website or follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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Nicole Brinkley has short hair and loves dragons. The rest changes without notice. She is an independent bookseller and blogger found most often at YA Interrobang and the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog. Like what she does? Follow her on Twitter or Instagram and support her on Patreon.