Tag Archives: Guest post

Machine Gun Legs and Aromanticism: an 8th Grade Story

So excited to welcome Brooklyn Wallace aka Wes Kennedy to the site today! Her debut novella, To Terminator, With Love, features a fat Asian asexual biromantic male main character and a Black pansexual male love interest, and releases today! In honor of its entrance into the world, I asked the author to write my a post, and voila, she wrote a fabulous one! 

29002965Growing up a bisexual aromantic black girl in a Southern Baptist family in a Texas town with a population of less than 1600 wasn’t easy. Growing up a bisexual aromantic black girl in a Southern Baptist family in a Texas town with a population of less than 1600 and being the weird kid into trading cards and theatrical Japanese heavy rock was definitely not easy.

Needless to say, my formative years were the stuff PSAs were made of.

Despite my weird interests that were out of place in my little southern hole in the wall, I was pretty okay with my differences. Being black, I had a hefty extended family that lived in town so I was never really alone. I didn’t get bullied so much as ignored or asked a ton of probing questions. I made a few white friend (“You don’t even sound black!”), and otherwise ate lunch with my cousins and kept to myself. I liked being alone. I still like being alone. Three cheers for dreading human interaction!

The one area I felt weird in was dating. Everyone was doing it, or talking about doing it, or wish they were doing it. When friends would ask I would make up some excuse, or pick a guy at random and just hope they didn’t ask me anymore questions. In reality, I had zero interest in dating. The more I thought about that, though, the more it got to me. I mean, what was wrong with me? I was a teenage girl. Teenage girls date. If Moesha taught me nothing else, it was that.

I knew I appreciated the aesthetic of boys (I still have a Orlando-Bloom-as-Legolas poster in my childhood bedroom), and I would admit to absolutely no one that I appreciated the aesthetic of girls, too (there may or may not be a Rose-McGowan-in-Planet-Terror on my childhood bedroom wall, too).


But can you blame me?Dating, though? Even the thought sounded ridiculous.

So what was wrong with me?

What got me through the hectic mess that was my middle and high school years was books. We had a tiny public library in town, and a tinier school library with a dismal young adult sections. I was one of those kids that read levels ahead of myself (which gave my parents false expectations of me that fueled my spiral into a bottomless pit of C+ college despair, but that’s a horror story for another time), so I stuck with fantasy and sci-fi for my escapism. The Bartimaeus books, Eragon, and Inkheart were stories I read and re-read. In class, at lunch, and sneakily between the pages of my bible in church. You just couldn’t tear me away from lands far, far away.


The first book I ever fell in love with was Nancy Farmer’s Sea of Trolls, the first book in the Sea of Trolls trilogy. I was thirteen and browsing in section when I grabbed it on a whim. I mean, vikings? Norse mythology? I was all in. I read the whole thing in about three days, making myself stop every now and then just to last longer. The story was amazing, and I loved everything it had to give.

What I loved most, though, was what it didn’t have: romance. There’s no romantic subplot in Sea of Trolls. The protagonist, Jack, meets up with a rude, aspiring berserker named Thorgil, but the two become reluctant friends with no hint of anything more.

I had no idea how much I needed to see that until I picked up that book.

Thorgil had no time for boys. She was a shield maiden with dreams of becoming a powerful berserker and one day going up to Valhalla.

Thorgil doesn’t want a boyfriend, I thought to myself during my second reading. She doesn’t want a boyfriend, just like me. Thorgil was strong and determined and so, so cool, and she had no interest in boys. How could I be weird for not wanting to have a boyfriend when Thorgil only had eyes for her sword?

What I found in that book was a kickass shield maiden with dubious morality (like I said, my formative years were wild). I found validation in that story. I remember picking up the second book in the trilogy, The Land of the Silver Apples, with a gnawing sense of dread. What if Jack and Thorgil started liking each other in this one? What if I was wrong?

But nope. Thorgil and Jack met elves, battled evil, and rescued Jack’s sister all without so much as brushing hands. It had felt like I’d won something, which was a big deal, because roughly 86% of my life is dedicated to losing.

Through the long, long eighteen years in my tiny town I scrounged and found pieces of my identity in books. I expanded into libraries town over, broke my mother’s heart when I discovered online shopping, and took advantage of my libraries’ interloan program. Later that year I read Freak Show by James St. James—and I still have no idea how that got through to our library, by the way—and found LGBTQIA representation. I found Sharon G. Flake and was confronted with my own internalized anti-blackness. I read books about powerful black girls and bisexual heroines and weirdos who loved themselves for being weirdos. I found me, and wondered how I ever got through not seeing me for so long.

Later, when I found words for the way I felt, I mellowed. Now I write queer romance novels (Aromantic Romance Author has a ring to it, eh?) and do my best to include a variety of identities into my stories. It’s an amazing experience to write the stories I needed when I was younger, and stories that I still need now, but not everyone has that chance. So many people are quick to call representation in books and shows pandering, but I call it realism. People are diverse, and stories that reflect our lives should be just as diverse.

Somewhere there’s a dorky 8th grader with an unhealthy Rose McGowan obsession wondering if there’s something wrong with them. The stories you tell could help them, even if it’s just one, feel a lot less alone, and isn’t that kind of power amazing?

biopicBrooklyn Wallace (aka Wes Kennedy) is a queer fiction author and starving graduate student from the great state of Texas. She loves libraries, hot wings, Pepsi, Blaxploitation, the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, and kpop. An anxious perpetual sleeper with a penchant for self-deprecating humor, Brooklyn has a soft spot for writing comedies, forbidden love, and nerdy queers.

When not writing, she enjoys touring various anime and sci-fi conventions across Texas, reading and writing fanfiction, yelling about sports, and watching TV shows religiously. Her debut novella, To Terminator, With Love, releases April 27th.
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Around the Blogosqueer: Lauren James of LGBT YA

Welcome to the very first Around the Blogosqueer guest post! In this series, you’ll learn a little more about the other sites and features on the internet that are dedicated to LGBTQIAP+ lit via guest posts by the fabulous folk who run them! I’m so excited to have Lauren James here to kick it off and tell us a little more about her review site, LGBT YA!

LGBT YA is a tumblr review blog run by author Lauren James, where she reviews LGBT+ YA titles, with occasional guest posts from authors and bloggers, and reblogs LGBT+ YA related content.

I started the blog when I was writing my own LGBT YA novel, The Last Beginning (out in October!). I was looking for YA books to read which also featured lesbian characters, and I realised there was no resource available with reviews of titles – all I could find was a few defunct blogs and scattered Goodreads lists.

As I’d binge-read about 30 LBGT YA titles, I decided to start my own. I focus mainly on books which aren’t Coming Out stories – while Coming Out stories are important, I feel like that’s been done very well already. As someone past that point in my life, I want to read about what LGBT characters do after they’ve come out – because that’s the start of your life, not the end.

I also tend to focus more on SFF to Contemporary, and more lesbian/bisexual titles than otherwise, as that’s where my personal taste lies. Luckily, guest bloggers fill in the gaps!

I would love to see:

  • More SFF books with LGBT characters like The Abyss Surrounds Us (*cough* and The Last Beginning *cough*)
  • More LGBT YA where sexuality isn’t the main focus
  • Books with whole casts of LGBT characters, instead of just the protagonist and the love interest. We tend to flock together!
  • More explicit LGBT YA sex scenes (I wrote about why that’s important here).
  • I also have an embarrassingly small selection of asexual books reviewed – I would love more of those.
  • More #ownvoices books – especially trans books by trans writers. I’m really looking forward to reading If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo.

Actually, my wishlist is endless!

Some of my favourite LGBT YA books are:

  • Everything Leads To You – Nina La Cour
  • I’ll Give You The Sun – Jandy Nelson
  • The Art Of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson
  • Grasshopper Jungle – Andrew Smith
  • A Hero At The End Of The World – Erin Claiborne
  • Clariel – Garth Nix
  • Lies We Tell Ourselves – Robin Talley

More can be found in my five star ratings section on the blog.

I’m always looking for guest bloggers – if you’re interested, you can email me at ya.lgbt@gmail.com!

Lauren James sold the rights to her first novel The Next Together, a Young Adult science fiction romance, when she was 21. It was published in September by Walker Books in the UK and Australia. Rights have sold in over six territories worldwide, including the USA. It was described by The Bookseller as ‘funny, romantic and compulsively readable’. She is an Arts Council grant recipient, and is longlisted for the 2016 Branford Boase Award. She is now 23, and lives in the West Midlands. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk.