Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
This is Why They Hate Us by Aaron H. Aceves
The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Continuing in the tradition that’s been happening on this blog since…last year, I’m documenting some of the many literary accolades that’ve been heaped on incredible LGBTQIAP+ works this year, partly to help you find great books but mostly just so we can bask in the joyous glory. Without further ado, check out what’s been deemed this year’s best of the best!
The Pants Project by Cat Clarke: Kirkus’s Best Middle-Grade School and Friendship Stories of 2017
The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller: NPR’s Best Books of 2017
At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library
Sovereign by April Daniels, a Kirkus Best Teen Fantasy of 2017
Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens: a Kirkus Best Contemporary Teen Reads of 2017
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway: National Book Award winner, New York Times bestseller, Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a Kirkus Best Contemporary Teen Reads of 2017, Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a B&N Best Book of 2017, B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017, NPR’s Best Books of 2017
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee: New York Times bestseller, Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Books of 2017 with a Touch of Humor, Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, a B&N Best Book of 2017, NPR’s Best Books of 2017, New York Magazine‘s 10 best YAs of 2017
Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard: Lambda Literary Award for YA Fiction
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera: one of Time‘s best YAs of 2017
Ida by Alison Evans: shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2018
I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: Stonewall Award (YA)
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan: B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017
It’s Not Like it’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura: a Kirkus Best Teen Romances of 2017
Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, School Library Journal Best YA of 2017, B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017
Like Water by Rebecca Podos: B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017
A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a Kirkus Best Teen Mysteries and Thrillers of 2017, New York Magazine‘s 10 best YAs of 2017
Now I Rise by Kiersten White: B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017
Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community by Robin Stevenson: Stonewall Honor (YA)
Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager: a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a Kirkus Best Teen Romance of 2017
Release by Patrick Ness: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a Kirkus Best Teen Romance of 2017
Spinning by Tillie Walden: Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, a B&N Best Book of 2017, Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017 via Autostraddle,
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera: New York Times bestseller, School Library Journal Best YA of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Sci-Fi of 2017
This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp: New York Times bestseller
Unbecoming by Jenny Downham: Stonewall Honor (YA)
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour: Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, a B&N Best Book of 2017: Teens
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore: Stonewall Honor (YA)
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore: School Library Journal Best YA of 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Romance of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly: B&N Sci-Fi’s Best SFF Books of 2017
The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction
Cottonmouths by Kelly J. Ford: a Los Angeles Review‘s Best Book of the Year
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado: National Book Award finalist, a Los Angeles Review‘s Best Book of the Year, winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, Kirkus Prize finalist, #1 Indie Next Pick for October 2017, Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017 via Autostraddle, one of New York Times’ Critics’ Top Books of 2017, one of Washington Post‘s 50 Notable Works of Fiction in 2017, Los Angeles Times’ Best Books (Fiction) of 2017, Publishers Weekly Best Fiction of 2017, Chicago Tribune‘s Best Books of 2017, Kirkus’s Best Fiction of 2017, Boston Globe‘s Best Books of 2017, Elle‘s Best Books of 2017, NPR‘s Best Books of 2017, Slate‘s Best Books of 2017, Library Journal‘s Best Books (Short Stories) of 2017, Bustle‘s Best Fiction Books of 2017, Entropy Magazine‘s Best of 2017: Fiction Books, Huffington Post‘s The Best Fiction Books of 2017, one of Buzzfeed’s 24 Best Fiction Books of 2017, Commonweal‘s Top Books of 2017
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn: Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction
Into the Blue by Pene Hanson: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Romance
Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith: Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Fiction
Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg: Kirkus’s Best Fiction to Get Your Book Club Talking of 2017
Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang: Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction
Soul to Keep by Rebekah Weatherspoon: Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Erotica
Wanted, a Gentleman by KJ Charles: a B&N Best Book of 2017
Thief in the Interior by Philip B. Williams: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry
play dead by francine j. harris: Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry (tie)
The Complete Works of Pat Parker edited by Julie R. Enszer: Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry (tie)
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen: Library Journal‘s Best Books of 2017 (Poetry)
How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS, David France: Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Nonfiction
Black Dove: Mama, Mi’jo, and Me by Ana Castillo: Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction
Life Beyond My Body: A Transgender Journey to Manhood in China by Lei Ming and Lura Frazey: Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction
To My Trans Sisters, ed. by Charlie Cregg: Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017 via Autostraddle
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays by Samantha Irby: Autostraddle’s Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017, one of New York Times’ Critics’ Top Books of 2017, Chicago Tribune’s Best Books of 2017, Elle‘s Best Books of 2017, NPR’s Best Books of 2017,
OK, so the title’s a little clunky, and the books themselves mostly aren’t Under the Gaydar (*indicates cishet allosexual MC), but bear with me. While LGB are pretty frequently found in YAs these days in both primary and secondary roles (YAY!), other IDs under the rainbow umbrella…not so much. You’ll see plenty about those characters here when they get starring roles in books, but for those seeking some more representation in significant roles, here’s where you can find some:
At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson – BFF character is genderfluid, uses alternating pronouns (MC is gay)
On the Edge of Gone* by Corinne Duyvis – MC’s sister is transgender and bisexual
Lunaside by J.L. Douglas – on-page asexual secondary (MC is a lesbian)
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman – BFF is on-page demisexual in m/m relationship (MC is bi)
Honestly Ben* by Bill Konigsberg – asexuality, pansexuality, and gender fluidity are all represented in secondary characters (Note: while book is m/m, MC does not ID as queer; you can see my personal thoughts on that execution here. Tl;dr: they are positive.)
You can find love interests using the word pansexual on the page (though some are still considering their labels) in Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley (bi MC), Looking for Group by Rory Harrison (gay MC; LI is also trans), and Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (trans MC)
Coming in 2018: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake – love interest is genderqueer (MC is bi); Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp – BFF is pansexual (MC is asexual)
The great outdoors isn’t so great for Sydney It-Girl Lien Hong. It’s too dark, too quiet, and there are spiders in the toilet of the cabin she is sharing with friends on the way to a New South Wales music festival. To make matters worse, she’s been separated from her companions and taken a bad fall. With a storm approaching, her rescue comes in the form of a striking wilderness ranger named Claudia Sokolov, whose isolated cabin, soulful voice and collection of guitars bely a complicated history. While they wait out the weather, the women find an undeniable connection—one that puts them both on new trajectories that last long after the storm has cleared.
Buy it: Amazon
Tommy and Ozzie have been best friends since second grade, and boyfriends since eighth. They spent countless days dreaming of escaping their small town—and then Tommy vanished.
More accurately, he ceased to exist, erased from the minds and memories of everyone who knew him. Everyone except Ozzie.
Ozzie doesn’t know how to navigate life without Tommy, and soon suspects that something else is going on: that the universe is shrinking.
When Ozzie is paired up with new student Calvin on a physics project, he begins to wonder if Calvin could somehow be involved. But the more time they spend together, the harder it is for him to deny the feelings developing between them, even if he still loves Tommy.
But Ozzie knows there isn’t much time left to find Tommy–that once the door closes, it can’t be opened again. And he’s determined to keep it open as long as possible.
Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars. For generations, a war for control of the Legion has been waged, with no clear resolution. As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.
Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation – the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan’s new family is not the only one desperate to gain control of the prized ship. Zan finds that she must choose sides in a genocidal campaign that will take her from the edges of the Legion’s gravity well to the very belly of the world.
Zan will soon learn that she carries the seeds of the Legion’s destruction – and its possible salvation. But can she and her ragtag band of followers survive the horrors of the Legion and its people long enough to deliver it?
In the tradition of The Fall of Hyperion and Dune, The Stars are Legion is an epic and thrilling tale about tragic love, revenge, and war as imagined by one of the genre’s most celebrated new writers.
Buy it: Amazon
My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There’s a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.
But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I’ve known online for years. And he’d known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.
Now we’re back online, and he’s acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don’t plan to let him forget.
Buy it: Amazon
“You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.”
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.
On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.
But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.
To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.
Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.
But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.
Zane Jaffe has almost lost track of what conception cycle she’s in. (That’s a lie: this is cycle thirteen.) She’s fake-dating her pal Mildred to get her best friend off her back, but judging by how hot it was when they accidentally kissed, her feelings might be somewhat less platonic than she’d thought.
And she’s decided that healing the fractured local queer community can only be accomplished through a party. Or maybe it’s actually a wake. Whatever it is, it’ll take place at Club Fred’s, and there will be alcohol.
Trying to conceive is an unholy rollercoaster of emotions, and Mildred won’t let them kiss again until Zane figures out how she feels. Between the wake (exhausting as hell, and that’s just the fun stuff), the constant up-down cycle of trying to get pregnant, and saving the world in the meantime, Zane has no idea. Fall in love with Mildred isn’t on her list, but maybe it’s time to let go of that rigid future she’s been working toward, and instead embrace the accidents that can lead to something better.
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.
Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.
Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?
Fin and Betty’s close friendship survived Fin’s ninth-grade move from their coastal Maine town to Manhattan. Calls, letters, and summer visits continued to bind them together, and in the fall of their senior year, they both applied to NYU, planning to reunite for good as roommates.
Then Betty disappears. Her ex-boyfriend Calder admits to drowning her, but his confession is thrown out, and soon the entire town believes he was coerced and Betty has simply run away. Fin knows the truth, and she returns to Williston for one final summer, determined to get justice for her friend, even if it means putting her loved ones—and herself—at risk.
But Williston is a town full of secrets, where a delicate framework holds everything together, and Fin is not the only one with an agenda. How much is she willing to damage to get her revenge and learn the truth about Betty’s disappearance, which is more complicated than she ever imagined—and infinitely more devastating?
I’m thrilled to jump into the new year with an author who’s one of today’s most prolific authors of gay YA, in addition to being the mastermind of some killer collaborative projects. His We Are the Ants was a hugely lauded 2016 release, and now he’s back with another speculative fiction title in the upcoming At the Edge of the Universe. But don’t worry, he’s got a full dance card for 2018 too. Please welcome Shaun David Hutchinson to LGBTQReads to tell us all about it!
Let’s jump right into the new release: At the Edge of the Universe, which releases February 7. Something about that book feels so…cathartic. What was the experience of writing it like?
Writing At the Edge of the Universe was actually kind of a struggle. I had no idea what my follow up to We Are the Ants was going to be, so I just started writing the things that popped into my head (which is how it usually goes). I went through three or four drafts trying to figure out what this book was about, sort of throwing every weird idea I had into it to see what worked and then peeling them back. For me, the “big ideas” are never really what books are about. They’re always about the emotions, and that was what I struggled with most to understand. What was the emotional core of this book? What was it really about?
It wasn’t until earlier this year when my partner and I split up that I realized I’d been subconsciously writing about relationships in various stages of ending. Ozzie’s parents are divorcing, he and all of his friends are graduating high school and moving to the next phases of their lives, his brother is joining the army, his boyfriend, Tommy, has disappeared. And on top of that, the universe is shrinking, forcing Ozzie to figure out how to move on from all of that. Where does he fit in? Where does his life go from here? How does he make it through life without all of the people he’s counted on for support? It’s funny that you mentioned catharsis, because coming to the realization concerning the true emotional center of this book was cathartic for me as well. 2016 has been a great year for me professionally, but a pretty crappy one for me personally, and finishing Ozzie’s story helped me move on from those bad things in a positive way.
I’ve come to think of your books as sharing the theme of “the light at the very end of the loooong, spiky tunnel,” which feels particularly relevant at present. What feeds that theme for you, and what kinds of things work as your “light” at the end of a long writing day of tough stuff?
It’s funny. I never really thought of myself as an optimist. I’m not really a glass-is-half-full kind of guy. Or a glass-is-half-empty one. I’m more “OMG! The glass is full of acid!” I don’t know if it’s a side-effect of my struggles with depression or with the way I deal with it, but for me personally, life feels like 90% struggling through the mud to reach the 10% of stuff that’s awesome. And holding on for that 10% is what keeps me going. It’s what helps me get through the day. I like the “it gets better” sentiment, but the truth is that sometimes it gets better, and sometimes it gets worse. Sometimes it gets better and then it gets worse before it gets better again. I’m not sure there’s actually a light at the end of the tunnel, but I do believe that life is one long tunnel and there are definitely lights along the way, and we have to take the time to breathe and appreciate them when we find them. For me, those lights can be something big like going to visit my brother and his husband in Seattle or something small like slipping into a great book. It’s less about what that light is than about recognizing it’s a light and allowing myself to enjoy it. Though, I did buy one of those virtual reality headsets recently, and OMG is it fun.
Similarly, the universe and its potential growth or end are obviously recurring elements for you as well. Is this a lifelong love of science bleeding into your books, or a recent fascination? If the latter, can you pin where it came from?
I can trace my love of science fiction all the way back to my father, who got me into Star Wars and Star Trek and all things sci-fi. I’m not sure if my love of science is an outgrowth of that or just the way my brain is wired. On one hand, I’ve got all the hallmarks of an artistic person, while on the other I’m obsessed with logic and how things work. I love with science and math that you can take all of this data and calculate it and come up with the same answer every time. There’s something soothing about that. It’s like, there’s so much about the universe we don’t know, there are some many bits unexplained and unexplored, but the things we do know, we know with a frightening certainty.
When we predict wrongly the way the universe works, it’s not because we did the math wrong, it’s simple because we lacked some key piece of knowledge necessary for the equation. For characters like Drew, Henry, and Ozzie (and probably for me as well), the solidity that science and logic offer are a necessary counterbalance to the emotional turmoil they experience. Depression doesn’t play by any rules. Neither does life. Depression hits when you least expect it. People die or drift away. Friendships and relationships end unexpectedly. The day-to-day of life can be frustratingly random in a way science isn’t. The sun will rise tomorrow. And the day after. You can do the math and determine exactly when then sun is going to rise from any position on the planet to a frighteningly accurate degree because of science and math. It’s comforting to know that.
You’re kind of the king of anthologies right now, with Violent Ends behind you and Feral Youth coming up in 2018. What’s the process of putting together a lineup for those like, and how on earth did you get the idea for a modern Canterbury Tales antho??
Well thank you! It’s not something I thought I’d wind up doing, but I really love everything about it. Gathering the right authors is a really methodical process. It’s not just about liking someone’s body of work, they have to be a fit for the tone of the anthology. I had a couple of people question including Beth Revis, who was known for writing science fiction, in Violent Ends, but I knew Beth would be a perfect fit because while her Across the Universe series was indeed sci-fi, her characters and their relationships were always the core of those books. So every author I work with is one whose works I’m very familiar with. Once I have a list, it’s all about begging them to be a part of what I hope to do. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have assembled two stellar groups of talented writers so far. They’ve been enthusiastic and supportive and have been immensely wonderful to work with. And even though I thought I knew what to expect from each of them, they all managed to surprise me in the very best ways.
As for Canterbury Tales…I’ve actually been a fan since college. I took a medieval literature class with a professor who inspired in me a lifelong love and study of medieval and renaissance literature. The following semester she taught a course devoted exclusively to Chaucer, and it was the best class I ever took. Since then I’ve been looking for a way to bring my own spin to it, and after my experience with Violent Ends, I thought another atypical anthology was the perfect fit. The thing that’s so brilliant about Canterbury Tales is that it’s not about the tales themselves, but rather what those stories reveal about the storytellers. If you want to really know and understand a person and how they view the world, listen to the stories they tell you.
One of the really fun things about watching your career is seeing how you’ve really grown in audience, especially as your books have gotten gayer. What are the best/most memorable things you’ve heard in response to your more recent work?
Ha! I’d actually given up when I decided to move forward with The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley. Before that, I was terrified of how a gay character whose sexuality didn’t have a narrative purpose would be received. Queer characters in movie, books, and television always seem to have to justify their existence. They’re either there to provide an after-school-special lesson or to die so that the real main character can experience some type of emotional moment. But Drew was just gay. None of his many problems revolved around his sexuality. And I wasn’t exactly sure how readers would respond. I was happily surprised by the reactions. Since then, there’s been a wonderful explosion of queerness in YA lit. We’re definitely still lagging behind in many areas, and I’d like to see us moving away from the queer experience as seen through the eyes of gay cisgender white boys, but we’re pushing forward. I’m a glass-is-full-of-acid guy, remember? So the things that stand out to me are always the “this would have been better without the gays” reviews. But, honestly, I’ve gotten so many emails from young people who read Five Stages or We Are the Ants and wanted to share their own stories and how Henry helped them cope. To me, that’s everything. That something I wrote helped a kid in a way I wish a book had been able to help me as a teen is the very best part of all of this.
What’s something you’ve seen in LGBTQIAP+ lit that’s really stuck with you, for better or for worse?
I wouldn’t call it LGBTQIAP+ lit, but Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey was the first time I saw a queer character in a book that I can remember. It was such a lightbulb moment for me seeing someone who sort of represented me in a genre work by a prominent author. I wasn’t particularly keen on all the aspects of those books (especially the idea of sex with sentient horses), but even all the way back in the late 90s when I read it, I remember it giving me hope that I could write stories filled with characters who represented me and the people I knew.
What are your favorite LGBTQIAP+ reads, and which ones are you most looking forward to?
My favorites tend to fluctuate. I’m always a fan of everything Hannah Moskowitz writes. Her book Not Otherwise Specified is criminally underrated. I’m loving everything by Tim Floreen (his most recent is Tattoo Atlas, and it’s SO GOOD), and Simon Curtis’s Boy Robot is the gay sci-fi of my dreams. Delilah Dawson’s (writing as Lila Bowen) series The Shadow, which starts with the book A Wake of Vultures, is a definite standout for me. Robin Talley’s books continue to amaze me. And, of course, I love everything Patrick Ness writes (including his BBC show Class).
I’m really looking forward to both of Adam Silvera’s new books, as well as Becky Albertalli’s latest. I don’t know what they’ve got coming out next, but I’m also eagerly awaiting Alex Gino’s followup to George. And I can’t wait for Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. But mostly I’m looking forward to where LGBTQIAP+ books go next as we move beyond the typical queer narratives into the wider world of storytelling. I can’t wait for that gritty sci-fi space pirate series that features a transgender character or the epic fantasy with an asexual character. I can’t wait to see books that feature intersectionality in a non-issue-book way. I can’t wait for the readers who fell in love with George or More Happy Than Not to start writing and publishing their own books. LGBTQIAP+ has such a bright future, and I’m beyond excited to see everything that’s coming.
I’m ending the world. Again! So I had this idea about a character who was born of a virgin and starts the apocalypse. And then I had no idea where to go from there. Luckily, Elena started speaking to me (as most characters do) and I discovered this really flawed and strong and fragile character with a story to tell about struggling to control the world around her. The premise is that Elena Mendoza is the first child to be scientifically proven as born of a virgin. Which, obviously, pisses people off. When she’s sixteen, she begins hearing voices and learns she has the ability to heal people when her mother is shot in the parking lot of a Target. A side-effect of her ability is that it causes holes to open in the sky and lights to “rapture” people, taking them to somewhere unknown, and it kickstarts the end of the world. And though the world actually does end this time (I promise!), the story is really about how Elena navigates a world she wants to control when everything seems so out of control. Her ex-boyfriend is a jerk who keeps trying to prove he’s a “good guy;” she and her best friend, Winifred, are taking their first steps into a romantic relationship; Elena’s mother is battling mental illness; and the voices, which speak to her through stuffed animals and Lego figures, keep trying to force Elena to walk a path she isn’t sure she wants to go down. And all of this is happening while the world tears itself apart, and Elena might be the only person who can save it.
I would say that this book is really a tribute to my mother. She’s disabled and has been since I was very young, but she’s the strongest person in my life. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how badly she’d struggled raising me and my brothers. Knowing that only reinforced my belief in her strength. She kept on when most people would have given up. Even when everything else was falling apart around her, she kept going and did what needed to be done. And I wanted to bring that to Elena’s story. If there’s any book I want to make my mother proud, it’s this one.
Got questions or comments for Shaun? Leave them below or check out his website at ShaunDavidHutchinson.com!