SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner Lawrence Schimel’s EARLY ONE MORNING and BEDTIME, NOT PLAYTIME, two board books that show LGBTQ families living ordinary lives, illustrated by Elina Braslina, to Ruth Linka at Orca Books, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2021 (NA).
Jeremy Whitley’s THE DOG KNIGHT, in which a non-binary kid must balance the real life troubles of middle school with the chance to face down the forces of chaos alongside a council of dog superheroes, illustrated by Bre Indigo, to Holly West at Feiwel and Friends, in a nice deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in early 2021, by Moe Ferrara at BookEnds for the author, and by Brent Taylor at TriadaUS Literary Agency for the illustrator (world).
Kate Prosswimmer at S&S/McElderry has acquired LIES LIKE POISON by Chelsea Pitcher, in which a queer teen is charged with a murder she plotted to commit—before she ultimately backed out—and now must team up with her conspirators, whom she’s not sure she can trust, to uncover the truth and clear her name in a high-stakes whodunit for fans of Riverdale and Kara Thomas’s The Cheerleaders. Publication is slated for fall 2020; Mandy Hubbard at Emerald City Literary Agency brokered the deal for world rights.
Melbourne-based professor of literary studies’ debut novel Kate Hazel Hall’s FROM DARKNESS: Ari Wyndham is looking forward to summer holidays and a new baby sister. But when a tiger-snake delivers a deathly bite, a beautiful, ghostly and strangely familiar young woman appears, summoning Ari’s soul to the underworld. Ari and her summoner decide to break the rules and stay in the land of the living, where they must battle the evils of the underworld and the laws of life and death to prove that their love is strong enough to defy the Fates and save the world from darkness, to Annie Harper at Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press. Publication is slated for November 2020.
Carolina Ortiz at HarperCollins has acquired L.L. McKinney’s ESCAPING MR. ROCHESTER, a YA reimagining of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel that asks: what if the real villain of Jane Eyre was actually Mr. Rochester? In this queer romance, Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason—Mr. Rochester’s wife, whom he’s imprisoned within the house for years—must save each other from the horrifying machinations of Mr. Rochester. Publication is planned for winter 2022; Victoria Marini at Irene Goodman Literary Agency negotiated the deal for world rights.
Orlando Dos Reis at Scholastic Press has acquired HERE THE WHOLE TIME, a contemporary YA debut by Brazilian author Vitor Martins, originally published in Portuguese in Brazil, and translated by Larissa Helena. The novel follows Felipe – who is fat and gay – as he spends 15 days with his lifelong crush, Caio, in a love story about body image, self-acceptance, and standing up to bullying. Publication is slated for Fall 2020; Taissa Reis and Gui Liaga at Pagina 7 Agency in Brazil negotiated the deal for World Rights (except Portuguese).
Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize winner and SUGAR RUN author Mesha Maren’s PERPETUAL WEST, the story of a young couple—a Mexican-American man in search of his past, and a West Virginian woman seeking a future—trying to make their home among the academics and young leftists in the Mexican border city of Juárez, pulled from one another by an affair with a Lucha Libre fighter, a troubled cartel leader, their fears of and tethers to their own bodies, and the loud cry of home, to Kathy Pories at Algonquin, by Bill Clegg at The Clegg Agency (NA).
Asian-Australian former diplomat and international development adviser Shelley Parker-Chan‘s SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN, pitched as Mulan meets the SONG OF ACHILLES, a queer, alt-history reimagining of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty as an iron-willed peasant girl who steals her brother’s identity and great fate, and, defying the bounds of gender, rises from monk to leader of the rebellion against China’s Mongol rulers, to Diana Gill at Tor, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2021, by Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (world English).
Gordy Sauer’s CHILD IN THE VALLEY, a coming-of-age story set in the harsh landscape of Gold Rush America, centering on a 17-year-old orphan’s journey to California in a wagon train of ruthless 49ers, which redefines his morality within the context of greed, his sexuality, and the still-fledgling American government, to Meg Reid at Hub City Press, for publication in April 2021, by Kirby Kim at Janklow & Nesbit (world English).
Catherine Hernandez’s CROSSHAIRS, a tale of a dystopian near-future, where a fascist regime threatens the lives of people of color, the disabled, the elderly, and all “other” communities, and four larger-than-life LGBTQ survivors band together and fight back, to Michelle Herrera Mulligan at Atria, for publication in fall 2020, by Marilyn Biderman at Transatlantic Literary Agency.
Kris Ripper’s THE LOVE STUDY, in which a commitment-phobic office temp agrees to be featured on a popular nonbinary YouTuber’s dating advice show, only to find himself falling for the host, to Stephanie Doig at Carina Press, in a three-book deal, by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary (world).
Cat Sebastian’s A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CAPITAL CRIME, a Georgian historical romance about a dashing highwayman and the disgraced aristocrat who tempts him out of retirement as they join forces to bring down a common enemy, to Elle Keck at Avon, in a nice deal, in a two-book deal, by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency (world).
Transgender comic artist and illustrator Julia Kaye‘s MY LIFE IN TRANSITION, picking up where her first book, SUPER LATE BLOOMER left off, showing what it’s like to live as a trans woman in modern society, the importance of one’s “chosen family,” navigating moments of dysphoria and misgendering, learning to lean on friends in times of need, and finding peace in a life that keeps moving forward post transition, again to Allison Adler at Andrews McMeel, in an exclusive submission, by Meg Thompson at Thompson Literary Agency (world).
Executive director of Bard Early College Initiative and education faculty member Michael Sadowski’s MEN I’VE NEVER BEEN, pitched in the tradition of BETTYVILLE and THE TENDER BAR, the coming-of-age journey of a gender non-conforming male trying to navigate the blind alleys of traditional manhood, facing the gauntlet of masculinity tests he feels destined to fail: the role models that don’t deliver, the TV tropes and archetypes that never seem to fit; about finding one’s true identity, to Nathan MacBrien at University of Wisconsin Press in the Living Out series, for publication in spring 2021, by Joelle Delbourgo at Joelle Delbourgo Associates (world).
I freaking love books that are helmed by female spies, and this brilliant historical about a queer woman working as one during the Cold War was everything I’d wanted it to be when I read it in one sitting on a flight. Who is Vera Kelly? is fun and surprising and clever and a good glimpse into a fraught era from both a political and queer perspective, so do yourself a favor and check it out!
New York City, 1962. Vera Kelly is struggling to make rent and blend into the underground gay scene in Greenwich Village. She’s working night shifts at a radio station when her quick wits, sharp tongue, and technical skills get her noticed by a recruiter for the CIA.
Next thing she knows she’s in Argentina, tasked with wiretapping a congressman and infiltrating a group of student activists in Buenos Aires. As Vera becomes more and more enmeshed with the young radicals, the fragile local government begins to split at the seams. When a betrayal leaves her stranded in the wake of a coup, Vera learns the Cold War makes for strange and unexpected bedfellows, and she’s forced to take extreme measures to save herself.
Today on the site we’re revealing the cover for Clio Rising by Paula Martinac, historical fiction about a lesbian woman who embarks on a job as companion to a literary giant of the Paris expatriate generation—an octogenarian recluse who accomplished just one great novel. We also have an excerpt, so let’s get to it! Here’s the info on the book:
In 1983, Livvie Bliss leaves western North Carolina for New York City, armed with a degree in English and a small cushion of cash from a favorite aunt. Her goal is to launch a career in publishing, but also to live openly as a lesbian. A rough start makes Livvie think she should give up and head home, but then a new friend helps her land a job at a literary agency run by the formidable Bea Winston.
Bea hopes Livvie’s Southern charm and boyish good looks will help her bond with one of the agency’s most illustrious clients–the cranky Modernist writer Clio Hartt, an octogenarian recluse who accomplished just one great novel. When Livvie becomes Clio’s girl Friday and companion, the plan looks like it’s working: The two connect around their shared western North Carolina heritage, and their rapport gives Clio support and inspiration to think about publishing again.
But something isn’t quite right with Clio’s writing. And as Livvie learns more about Clio’s romantic relationship with playwright Flora Haynes, uncomfortable parallels emerge between Livvie’s own circle of friends and the drama-filled world of expatriate artists in Paris in the 1920s. In Clio’s final days, the writer shares a secret that could upend Livvie’s life–and the literary establishment.
And here’s the cover, designed by Ann McMan of Treehouse Studio!
Clio Rising comes out April 23, 2019 from Bywater Books!
On the phone, Bea Winston had a smoky voice, and before I met her I pictured someone who sipped martinis in a sleek black cocktail dress, her hair impeccably coiffed—Marlene Dietrich maybe. In person, Bea resembled someone’s middle-aged mom, a leftover hippie-type, with shoulder-length salt-and-pepper hair falling loose over a slightly wrinkled plum silk tunic. She came only to my shoulder, but when we shook hands, her grip belonged to a much taller woman.
Bea ran her finger down the single page of my accomplishments as if she were interested. Nothing really translated to this job, aside from a BA in English from UNC Asheville and an internship at the local newspaper, where I’d basically been a go-fer. She peered at me over her wire-frame aviator glasses and across the vast expanse of her oak desk. “‘Oh, lost!’” she quoted, out of nowhere.
Another applicant might have been puzzled by the line from Look Homeward, Angel, but I jumped at the bait. “Yes, ma’am, Asheville’s claim to fame.” Native son Thomas Wolfe had immortalized Asheville and its environs in his first novel.
“And you’ve read his work.”
“In my twentieth-century lit class, yes.” I was hedging, nervous that she’d ask me specifics I couldn’t dredge up. The two years between that class and the interview in Bea’s office were a gaping hole of vanished knowledge.
“An overrated writer, if you ask me,” she said, setting my resume aside in a way that suggested our interview was over and that I’d failed the test. But then she added, “I’m from Georgia myself, home to the great Flannery O’Connor. You wouldn’t know it because I divested myself of my accent in 1950. I stood in front of a mirror every evening and forced myself to form words differently.”
Bea leaned back in her chair, farther than seemed possible without toppling over. But she knew the limits of that chair—and just about everything else. “What are you doing here?” she asked.
I stammered for a few minutes about what a giant she was in publishing, how I admired her founding the first-ever woman-run agency—facts that Gerri had fed to me.
“No, what are you doing in New York? Good girls from Asheville get married and stay put. Especially girls named Olive Bliss.”
Her question seemed vaguely illegal, but I very much wanted to be myself everywhere. In particular, I wanted my first real job to let me be me, and Gerri had said she didn’t think Bea was homophobic.
“I’m gay,” I blurted out. “My family actually lives in Weaverville, which is even more small-town than Asheville. My folks don’t know about me.” I omitted the part about leaving because I was heartbroken, too.
“Did you dress that way back home?”
I glanced down at my outfit: khaki pants, navy blazer, and light-blue button-down shirt were my idea of business attire.
“Because if you did, they all know,” she observed.
My mother didn’t like the way I dressed, but she’d given up objecting to it when I went to college. My sisters didn’t try to set me up with men anymore. If they knew what to call me, none of them would ever use the word.
“Maybe,” I allowed with a shrug. “But New York seemed like the best place for me. And no, ma’am, I can’t change my name. But just so you know, everybody calls me Livvie.”
Bea moistened her lips, and I waited for a curt “Thank you, we’ll let you know” that didn’t come. As it turned out, I was just what she needed, in ways she didn’t divulge at the time.
“Well, I can see why you’d want to move,” she said. “So, Livvie.” I’d never heard my name sound so smooth or rich, like top-shelf bourbon. Livvie on the rocks, please. “I need you to start tomorrow. The place is in chaos. The kind you get when your last two assistants have been incompetent. So, if you can start tomorrow and handle enormous stress, the job is yours.” She said it paid twelve thousand a year, a princely sum when many advertised publishing jobs started at ten-five.
From a public phone on the corner I called my mother collect and told her I’d landed a good job with benefits in a nice clean office near Washington Square. Clean was very important to my mother; Washington Square meant nothing to her, but I threw it in because it sounded ritzy. I didn’t expect the audible whoosh from the other end of the line, as if she’d been holding her breath since I’d moved away, waiting for the call about her youngest daughter being mugged, or homeless, or anything else bad that could happen to a girl in New York City.
Paula Martinac is the author of a book of short stories and five novels, including The Ada Decades, a finalist for the 2018 Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction. Her debut novel, Out of Time, won the Lambda Literary Award and was a finalist for the American Library Association’s Gay and Lesbian Book Award. Her short stories have appeared in Raleigh Review, Main Street Rag, Minerva Rising, Bloom, A&E, and many others. She has also published three nonfiction books on LGBT themes, including The Queerest Places: A Guide to Gay and Lesbian Historic Sites, and authored plays that were produced in Pittsburgh, New York, Washington, DC, and elsewhere. She is a lecturer in the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a writing coach with Charlotte Center for the Literary Arts. Read more at paulamartinac.com.
Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes, the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, holds a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.
The Duke’s remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he’ll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec’s new best friend.
But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman’s most secret desires, and soon he’s got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.
Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what’s between them…all without getting caught.
In the aftermath of The Great War, everything is changing. But not for Marian Fielding.
Marian’s life is quiet and predictable in the solitude of the English countryside, where she plans to remain and care for her parents.
But Marian’s world is turned upside down when she meets brash, confident Katherine Fuller. Katherine arrives at the Fieldings’ estate for the wedding of Marian’s sister and immediately shakes things up. Instead of keeping an eye on the ill-mannered American girl and keeping her out of trouble, Marian finds herself magnetically drawn to Katherine’s vivacious nature, and they are swept into a whirlwind romance that will change both of their lives.
But will Katherine’s unconventional behavior ruin their chance at happiness? Can Marian leave her old life behind? Will two women from different worlds find a way to be together against all odds and expectations?
Frank knows plenty about being haunted, after his brother was killed on his watch. But he has no patience for mediums. Especially not ones with silver tongues and piercing blue eyes like the Illusive Kasimir. Frank can’t understand why his boss, the head of the Brunetti crime family, is all too happy to waste his money and time trying to speak with the dead.
Until a devastating attack at one of Kasimir’s séances leaves the Brunettis in shambles, and Kasimir and Frank on the run.
Frank needs to hunt down whoever ordered the hit on his boss. What he doesn’t need is another doomed love affair with someone he can’t trust—like the con artist Kasimir. But if he’s going to save the Brunetti family—and his own broken heart—he’ll need to exorcise more than just his ghosts.
Mrs. Bertrice Martin—a widow, some seventy-three years young—has kept her youthful-ish appearance with the most powerful of home remedies: daily doses of spite, regular baths in man-tears, and refusing to give so much as a single damn about her Terrible Nephew.
Then proper, correct Miss Violetta Beauchamps, a sprightly young thing of five and sixty, crashes into her life. The Terrible Nephew is living in her rooming house, and Violetta wants him gone.
Mrs. Martin isn’t about to start giving damns, not even for someone as intriguing as Miss Violetta. But she hatches another plan—to make her nephew sorry, to make Miss Violetta smile, and to have the finest adventure of all time.
If she makes Terrible Men angry and wins the hand of a lovely lady in the process? Those are just added bonuses.
If anyone else had asked for his help publishing a naughty novel, Ash would have had the sense to say no. But he’s never been able to deny Verity Plum. Now he has his hands full illustrating a book and trying his damnedest not to fall in love with his best friend. The last thing he needs is to discover he’s a duke’s lost heir. Without a family or a proper education, he’s had to fight for his place in the world, and the idea of it—and Verity—being taken away from him chills him to the bone.
One radical bookseller
All Verity wants is to keep her brother out of prison, her business afloat, and her hands off Ash. Lately it seems she’s not getting anything she wants. She knows from bitter experience that she isn’t cut out for romance, but the more time she spends with Ash, the more she wonders if maybe she’s been wrong about herself.
One disaster waiting to happen
Ash has a month before his identity is exposed, and he plans to spend it with Verity. As they explore their long-buried passion, it becomes harder for Ash to face the music. Can Verity accept who Ash must become or will he turn away the only woman he’s ever loved?
Much to her father’s dismay Lady Louisa Adele Kathryn Present is quite solidly on the shelf. She shows no interest in finding a husband after three long seasons of, well, not particulalry trying.
She begins this season anew, somewhat jaded and uninterested in yet another season and the annoyance she’ll certainly face from her family when she remains with them, yet again.
But a single glance from one of the new set has her reeling— straight back into a potted palm.
Maitland Alice Elliot-Rigsby has trained to be the wife of a duchess.
Or perhaps a Viscount, an Earl at the very least. She has only her training — and a rather healthy dowry — to recommend her.
So when she catches the eye of a viscounts daughter her own mother is thrilled.
Louisa hasn’t ever trusted anyone the way she trusts Maitland and it frightens her, but how will they survive a world in which the both of them must marry?
Fifteen-year-old Eleanor Fromme just chopped off all of her hair. How else should she cope after hearing that her bully, James, has taken his own life? When Eleanor’s English teacher suggests students write a letter to a person who would never read it to get their feelings out, Eleanor chooses James.
With each letter she writes, Eleanor discovers more about herself, even while trying to make sense of his death. And, with the help of a unique cast of characters, Eleanor not only learns what it means to be inside a body that does not quite match what she feels on the inside, but also comes to terms with her own mother’s mental illness.
Set against a 1993-era backdrop of grunge rock and riot grrrl bands, EVERYTHING GROWS depicts Eleanor’s extraordinary journey to solve the mystery within her and feel complete. Along the way, she loses and gains friends, rebuilds relationships with her family, and develops a system of support to help figure out the language of her queer identity.
It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.
Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.
Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.
Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.
As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart—and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.
It’s 1930, and Birdie William’s life has crashed along with the stock market. Her father’s bank has failed, and worse, he’s disappeared along with his Jenny biplane.
When Birdie sees a leaflet for a barnstorming circus with a picture of Dad’s plane on it, she goes to Coney Island in search of answers.
The barnstorming circus has lady pilots, daredevil stuntmen, fire-spinners, and wing walkers, and Birdie is instantly enchanted―especially with a girl pilot named June. Birdie doesn’t find her father, but after stumbling across clues that suggest he’s gone to Chicago, she figures she’ll hitch a ride with the traveling circus doing what she does best: putting on a convincing act and insisting on being star of the show.
But the overconfidence that made her belle of the ball during her enchanted youth turns out to be far too reckless without the safety net of her charmed childhood, and a couple of impulsive missteps sends her and her newfound community spinning into freefall.
Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.
Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.
Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.
In this tender-hearted debut, set against the tumultuous backdrop of life in 1973, when homosexuality is still considered a mental illness, two boys defy all the odds and fall in love.
When he’s not being bullied or in therapy for anxiety, sixteen-year-old Jonathan lives with his alcoholic dad in the suburbs of St. Louis. Still coping with the death of his mother, his elaborate imagination keeps him afloat and is a balm against vicious school bullies. But everything changes when a Native American boy named Web joins his English class three weeks before the school year ends.
After being partnered for an English project, Jonathan realizes Web is different from his classmates: he’s confident, stands up to Jonathan’s bullies, and calms Jonathan’s severe anxiety. Then one day Web kisses him, and throws Jonathan into a tailspin. It’s 1973 and being gay is considered a mental illness. Eventually he tells Web they can’t be together.
But when things get bad at home Jonathan must decide if he wants to stand up to his dad, and his therapist, and be true to himself.
I am so freakin’ excited to be revealing this cover on the site today, and it’s not hard to see why. LOOK AT THAT MAJESTY. (But wait, not yet! First let me to tell you that this is a cover reveal for a historical YA called Ziggy, Stardust & Me by James Brandon, which releases on August 6, 2019 from Putnam/PRH, and to read on for the blurb and an excerpt!)
The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal—at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.
Jonathan doesn’t want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be “fixed” once and for all. But he’s drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.
A poignant coming-of-age tale, Ziggy, Stardust and Me heralds the arrival of a stunning and important new voice in YA.
And now, a drum roll for the gorgeous cover, designed by Krisitie Radwilowicz with artwork by Tomasz Mro…
Killer, right?? But wait, there’s more! Here’s an excerpt!
When I reach the summit of the crying cliff, I grab a few poofs of PeterPaulandMary and glide over to Web.
Because his eyes have built-in night vision or something, he’s clearly been settled here for seven years waiting for me. Sprawled out on the mossy patch, arms folded behind his head, he’s lost somewhere in the sky. The three-quarter moon shines a perfect white glow on “our spot.”
I flop down next to him, follow his gaze, and KAPOW.
Above us, someone’s plugged in the Lite-Brite, I swear. I’m tingling. More than that, I am the Lite-Brite. And all the plastic pegs inside me zing to life.
I can’t help it. I start giggling. “Whoa.”
“I know, man,” he says, turning to me. “Whoa.”
We lie side by side. The only other sound I hear: our synchronistic breathing.
“Don’t you wish we could go up there?” I ask after a while. “And look back down on all this and laugh?”
“We can in our mind.”
“Like the moon,” I say.
“Like the moon . . .”
I fold my hands under my head, smiling. “You know, Carl Sagan says we’re all made of star stuff. Everything is made of it. When stars die they fall into our atmosphere and turn into these chemical compounds that become things. Sometimes they become people.”
“I know. I hope one day we’ll all see each other without these stupid labels and instead see each other for who we really are. Starfolk.”
“Yeah,” he says. “One day . . .”
“Yeah . . .”
We’re staring. We’re swimming. We’re lost.
“Your turn,” I say.
“My turn what?” he asks.
“It’s your turn. Last time we were up here, I was the one to answer a question. Now it’s your turn.”
“Oh, so this is a continuous game that, what, goes on for our lifetimes?”
“Okay then. Fire away.”
I nestle my cheek in the earth, facing him. “Why do you get so angry?”
“I mean seriously? Sometimes I’m just waiting for your skin to turn green and your muscles to rip through your clothes and you’re going to start eating people like they’re little gummy bears.”
He laughs. “Yeah. It’s a problem.”
His face hides nothing. You can see the wheels cranking, the mind gears spinning. Either he’s about to punch me in my face or—
“You really wanna know?”
“It’s kind of a long story . . .”
His chest grows into a balloon, like he’s taking a deep breath for both of us. “Once upon a time—”
“Wait. For real?”
“Once upon a time?”
“Yeah, man. What, are there rules on how to tell a story now?”
“Okay then, go,” I say.
“Once upon a time,” he starts again, slowly. “There was a little boy. And this little boy loved his father very much.” His eyes glaze over, disappear in the night. “After his mother died, the father taught this little boy everything he knew. They had dreams. To drive across the country and eat a different slice of pie from every diner they could find. To be the first American Indians in space. Together, the father and son were indestructible. They were invincible.” The stars explode in his eyes. His voice drifts away.
“Then one night, driving in the middle of pitch-black nothing, two red and blue flashes appear in the sky. Carole King sings on the radio. A white cop beams a light through the window. The little boy’s father is dragged out of the car.” He yells, punching the wind with his words. “Crunching. Beating. Screaming. ‘Shut the fuck up, Injun, go back to your land!’ ‘This is my land!’ ‘Don’t you talk back to us!’” Pools of sweat drip from his forehead. “More screaming. Crunching. Beating. The little boy crawls in the back seat, curls up, cries. The cops drive away. A huge dust cloud blows all around the father and son. The little boy opens the back door. He looks down. His father lies in a river of blood. His eyes, dilated. The little boy’s superhero was dead.”
It wasn’t sweat dripping from his face.
I want to reach out, but I’m paralyzed.
“From that day on, the little boy vowed to avenge his father’s death. To make the white man pay. And one day—” He wipes his face with his shirt and looks at me. Starburst heat radiates from his body, slapping my face. I don’t move. I don’t blink. I honestly don’t know what to do.
“I win,” he says, and chuckles.
The world skips back to life: Crickets chirp, soft curly moss sticks to our cheeks, the waterfall cascades below us.
“She’s crying,” I whisper.
“Yeah . . .”
Something’s happening. My heart starts fluttering; my stomach starts tingling. Before I can figure out why, he leans in,
James Brandon produced and played the central role of Joshua in the international tour of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi for a decade, and is Co-Director of the documentary film based on their journey: Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption. He’s Co-Founder of the I AM Love Campaign, an arts-based initiative bridging the faith-based and LGBTQ2+ communities, and serves on the Powwow Steering Committee for Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) in San Francisco. Brandon is a contributing writer for Huffington Post, Believe Out Loud, and Spirituality and Health Magazine. Ziggy, Stardust, and Me is his first novel.
Just a little late for St. Patrick’s Day, this month’s Backlist Book of the Month is gay Irish Historical Fiction, set in 1915, the year preceding the Easter Uprising. At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill was a massively lauded debut when it released in 2002, and it’s a serious “can’t miss” in queer Irish fiction.
Jim Mack is a naïve young scholar and the son of a foolish, aspiring shopkeeper. Doyler Doyle is the rough-diamond son—revolutionary and blasphemous—of Mr. Mack’s old army pal. Out at the Forty Foot, that great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the nude, the two boys make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, on Easter of 1916, they will swim to the distant beacon of Muglins Rock and claim that island for themselves. All the while Mr. Mack, who has grand plans for a corner shop empire, remains unaware of the depth of the boys’ burgeoning friendship and of the changing landscape of a nation.
In the hours after a bridge collapse rocks their city, a group of Boston teenagers meet in the waiting room of Massachusetts General Hospital:
Siblings Jason and Alexa have already experienced enough grief for a lifetime, so in this moment of confusion and despair, Alexa hopes that she can look to her brother for support. But a secret Jason has been keeping from his sister threatens to tear the siblings apart…right when they need each other most.
Scott is waiting to hear about his girlfriend, Aimee, who was on a bus with her theater group when the bridge went down. Their relationship has been rocky, but Scott knows that if he can just see Aimee one more time, if she can just make it through this ordeal and he can tell her he loves her, everything will be all right.
And then there’s Skyler, whose sister Kate—the sister who is more like a mother, the sister who is basically Skyler’s everything—was crossing the bridge when it collapsed. As the minutes tick by without a word from the hospital staff, Skyler is left to wonder how she can possibly move through life without the one person who makes her feel strong when she’s at her weakest.
In his riveting, achingly beautiful debut, Richard Lawson guides readers through an emotional and life-changing night as these teens are forced to face the reality of their pasts…and the prospect of very different futures.
Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind.
But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own.
In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.
Sixteen-year-old Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth.
This can be scientifically explained (it’s called parthenogenesis), but what can’t be explained is how Elena is able to heal Freddie, the girl she’s had a crush on for years, from a gunshot wound in a Starbucks parking lot. Or why the boy who shot Freddie, David Combs, disappeared from the same parking lot minutes later after getting sucked up into the clouds. What also can’t be explained are the talking girl on the front of a tampon box, or the reasons that David Combs shot Freddie in the first place.
As more unbelievable things occur, and Elena continues to perform miracles, the only remaining explanation is the least logical of all—that the world is actually coming to an end, and Elena is possibly the only one who can do something about it.
Blaze Bellamy is the bad girl of the short track speed skating world. Looking like a roller derby bruiser when she’s not in her Team USA uniform, she’s an unlikely American heroine. She’s got a punk attitude to match her provocative dress and her dyed hair, and she’s determined to get onto the front pages of the papers regardless of how she has to do it.
Maisy Harper is the workhorse of the Canadian women’s figure skating team. Serious, modest, and above all, polite, Maisy would prefer to win her victory on the ice rather than in the press, and is exasperated by Blaze’s antics. When she’s not lusting after her anyway. After they both failed to make the medal podium at the last Snow and Ice Games, they drowned themselves in gin—and each other.
Despite their hookup being drunken, they both harbor fond memories of their night together and are keen for a repeat. But they’ve got different ways of going about getting what they want, and Blaze’s willingness to go to any lengths for the spotlight could ruin any chance she has with Maisy.
The epic conclusion to Lauren James’s debut The Next Together about true love and reincarnation.
Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives.
But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation?
For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future, and failure could cost the world everything.
High school students—Soph, who attends private school in Manhattan, and Tess, a public school student who lives on a dairy farm in New Hampshire—are thrown together as roommates at a week-long writing conference. As they get to know each other and the other young women, both Soph and Tess discover unexpected truths and about friendship, their craft, and how to hold fast to their convictions while opening their hearts to love.
Zack Scherzo likes his notebooks. And his pens. And, okay, he really loves to organize stuff. He’s organized his whole life into the ideal trajectory for his ten year plan, at which point his career will be solid and he’ll be ready for a husband and family. Everything makes perfect sense.
Until he meets Isaiah.
Driven entrepreneur Isaiah Carlin generally doesn’t get involved with lost causes, like the climbing gym Zack’s trying to keep afloat. But there’s something about the gym—and there’s definitely something about Zack—that intrigues him. He wants to help. He also wants to see what happens when Zack shakes loose some of his rules and allows himself to feel.
When passion collides with Zack’s regimented life path, something’s gotta give. And it looks like that thing is going to be Isaiah, unless he can convince Zack that sometimes real life is even better than the best laid plans.
Welcome to Daniel Boone Middle School in the 1970s, where teachers and coaches must hide who they are, and girls who like girls are forced to question their own choices. Presented in the voice of a premier storyteller, One True Way sheds exquisite light on what it means to be different, while at the same time being wholly true to oneself. Through the lives and influences of two girls, readers come to see that love is love is love. Set against the backdrop of history and politics that surrounded gay rights in the 1970s South, this novel is a thoughtful, eye-opening, look at tolerance, acceptance, and change, and will widen the hearts of all readers.
Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.
The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.
Take a journey through time and genres and discover a past where queer figures live, love and shape the world around them. Seventeen of the best young adult authors across the queer spectrum have come together to create a collection of beautifully written diverse historical fiction for teens.
From a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier, to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain, forbidden love in a sixteenth-century Spanish convent or an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, All Out tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten.
*There are strong accusations that Leavitt plagiarized Stephen Spender’s life for this novel. You may also want to check out Spender’s autobiography, World Within World, which contains an afterword addressing the allegations.