Today on the site we’re revealing the cover of Born Andromeda by K.M. Watts, a space-pirate adventure YA romance releasing from Interlude Press on November 15, 2022! Here’s the story:
She was destined for a royal life—until galactic pirates changed her destiny.
Being eighteen is difficult, especially when you’re a cyborg and heir to the entire kingdom of the Moon. Disillusioned with royal life, Princess Andromeda dreams of nothing but freedom and adventure outside the protective dome of royalty. But when her parents arrange her marriage to an Earthen prince, she is forced to put her kingdom before her dreams of independence.
While traveling to Earth, Andromeda’s ship is attacked by galactic pirates led by her father’s sworn enemy, the Lord Captain Bran. Taken prisoner, Andromeda realizes that her captors are unaware of her true identity and sees an opportunity: To best her enemies, she may have to join them.
And here’s the luminous cover, designed by C.B. Messer!
K.M. Watts is a debut novelist who first dreamed of becoming an author when she won her school’s Young Author Award at the age of five. She enjoys reading and writing YA fantasy and sci-fi, though she also dabbles with YA romantic thrillers. In her free time, she enjoys canyon hiking in her home state of Arizona.
Today on the site we’re revealing another cover for a Kevin Craig YA, and this time it’s Book of Dreams, a horror/thriller releasing from Interlude Press on May 24, 2022! Here’s the story:
Gaige’s curiosity gets the better of him when he discovers a bookstore on an abandoned street where no bookstore should be. He steps inside and is immediately enthralled by its antiquarian sights and smells. But one book in particular calls to him. It isn’t long before he gets a bad feeling about it, but it’s already too late. The store’s aged bookseller gives him no alternative: once he touches the book, it’s his—whether he wants it or not.
The book leads Gaige on a horrific descent into the unknown. As he falls into the depths of its pages, he loses blocks of time, and his friends become trapped inside ancient cellars with seemingly no means of escape.
Gaige soon learns that the ancient bookseller is a notorious serial killer from previous century, and fears that he has fallen into a predicament from which he may not escape. When all seems lost, he finds the one person he can turn to for help—Mael, a sweet boy also trapped inside the book who didn’t fall for the bookseller’s tricks. Together, they race against time to protect Gaige from joining a long string of boys who vanished without a trace inside the Book of Dreams.
But wait, there’s more! Here’s the excerpt from Chapter 1 of Book of Dreams!
I’m a book addict. There. I said it. It will one day be my downfall. And, the older the better. Give me an old book and I’m in nirvana. Mr. Clancy says I’m a dying breed. I may be seventeen and stupid, but even I know books will be around long after the apocalypse hits. Yep, books and cockroaches. And that old relic guy from the ancient band with the big lips, Keith Richards.
I walk inside and the first thing I see is an all-white cat sprawled on the hardwood floor. He stretches inside a thin shaft of the last bit of sunlight coming in through the front window. Spreading away from—or drifting toward—the dirty old thing is a line of dust motes. It looks like both the cat and the motes are fighting for the dying light.
The cat lifts an eye in my direction long enough to telepathically say, ‘Don’t screw with me, I’m busy here.’
There are eight rows of thick wooden shelves, all filled with books that look older than Great-Gram Imogene. If that’s even possible. She’s like ninety or something.
I go right to the first shelf and start to look at all the books, caress their spines.
I get this spooked-out feeling as I peruse the shelf, though. What bookstore isn’t jam-packed with color? Everywhere I look there are various tones of only two colors: brown and black. And with all the dust motes floating around wherever the dying sunlight hits, it looks like there’s this low-lying fog throughout the store.
On those rare occasions when I’m forced into fishing outings with Dad, low-lying fog is apparently a good thing. Brings the fish out for a feeding frenzy, or something like that. What do I know? I’m so not a sporto. While shopping in a bookstore, low-lying fog? Not so much a good thing.
I have my hand on an old smacked-down mud-dragged copy of a Russian classic—The Brothers Karamazov—when I hear a rumbling throat clearing that sounds like stones in a washing machine or a cat stuck up in a car engine when the ignition turns over. I’ve never heard a death-rattle, but Dad has joked about them and I’m pretty sure something behind me just made one.
“That’d be a good pick right there, son.”
The hairs on my arms reach away and I clench my head into my neck like a turtle, only I can’t make my head disappear down inside my shell. His voice is way worse than his throat-clearing. The cat agrees. It snarls and hisses at the old man like he isn’t its friggin’ owner.
Just as I’m about to tell him I already read everything by Dostoevsky, my eye catches something shiny. In a store as dull as this one it’s almost a eureka moment to discover something that stands out so much.
The old man, who’s not yet in my sightline, scurries toward me. I can see him move up the aisle in my peripheral vision. As my hand reaches out to grab the book’s spine—anything shiny in the dull dark ocean of books, dust and derelicts—he steps between me and it.
“You don’t want that one, son,” he says, already objecting to my choice before I even have a chance to touch it. His voice comes out in a hiss this time.
Who tells a kid that? Of course it automatically becomes the only thing within a twelve block radius that I do want. And I still haven’t even seen the title.
I deke around him and make a grab for the shiny-shiny.
“Ooh! The Book of Dreams! Sounds awesome. Is this like the Tibetan one?”
“Young man,” he says. “I’m going to have to ask you not to touch that particular book.”
My hand lingers by the gold spine. As I move to haul it out of its slot on the shelf, though, the old man’s hand engulfs mine. My first visual, a disembodied hand as white as bone and, well, also extremely bony. And cold. And covered with those age spots that all old people have. The hair already standing up on my arms now electrically stands up. Ice courses through my veins, as though his touch actually lowers my body temperature.
Who the hell is this old coot to tell me what books I can or cannot touch? It’s for sale, dude. If it’s on the shelf in plain view—in a bookstore—it’s for sale. End of story.
I wrench myself away from his skeletal grip and step back from the shelf, finally with the book in hand.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Gaige,” the old man says as he turns and heads back to the front of the store. I think I hear him tsk. “Just know, son, some books opened can’t be unopened.”
“What the hell does that even mean?” I ask. Now I feel brave. I won the standoff. I have the book in my hand. Dude is too weird, though. I watch his back as he moves up the thin aisle toward the counter, He’s impossibly tall and skinny. Like a basketball player who has just returned from a ten-year stay on a deserted island where he lived off insects and water. Like, he-should-be-dead skinny.
His all black suit is three sizes too big for him and covered in dust. His aura itself is dust. It mingles with the motes that fill up all the empty sun-lit spaces in the store. And what is with the long greasy hair? Dude totally creeps me out.
I turn my back on him and make to crack open the gold book cover. My heart races, and I’m desperate to see what’s inside.
“You read the title wrong too, son. Take another look. It’s MY Book of Dreams.”
I stop what I’m doing and return my gaze to the cover. MY Book of Dreams. Huh? Don’t know how I read it wrong. I’m certain it read THEBook of Dreams. I’m positive, even.
What was it Shakespeare said? “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” I think he also said, “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” Thankfully, my thumbs have not yet been pricked. Between scary giant, his pissed-off cat, the dust motes, the fog, and the book, my Spidey senses are telling me to get the hell out.
But I’m also intrigued. Too intrigued. Like I said, I’m a bibliophile. And this book is so calling my name. There’s something about it. It’s a four-car pileup and I’m a rubbernecker.
I spot a chair at the end of the aisle and take my prize over to it. I sit down to open the book.
He just called me Gaige.
“Hey wait,” I say. “How did you know my name? You just called me Gaige.”
“If you haven’t looked inside that book yet, you can still leave it be and pick another. The Russians are fine reads, if you ask me. You still have prerogative on your side, Gaige. You can even leave empty-handed if you wish. It’s not too late. Choose wisely.”
Talk about creeping the hell out of a kid. What the hell is even wrong with this dude?
“How the hell do you know my name?”
But I don’t wait for an answer. None of the alarm bells that should ring in my head are doing their job. At least not properly. They’re ringing, I’m just not listening, I guess. He has suggested a forbidden-ness about the book and I have never been one to take to that kind of shit very gently. I dive into it.
After I turn the first couple pages, though, I turn away. They’re empty and a rotten smell emanates from them. It’s like the book hasn’t been opened for decades and all the badness that has ever lived in this ancient bookstore has come to rest within this one book’s yellowed pages.
“It stinks,” I say more to myself than to the man, who now seems too far away to carry on an actual conversation with. Like I would want to. He totally gives the creeps a bad name. “Why does it smell so bad?”
Apparently, he’s listening. From the front of the store, he says, “That’s a question you really have to ask yourself, young man. You have things to hide in that little head of yours? You have things to be ashamed of? You sure that smell ain’t coming from the inside of yourself? Skunk smells his own stink first, Gaige.”
I stand and walk toward him, book in hand.
“Stop saying my name. How do you know who I am, anyway?”
“I’m just saying that book knows you better than I do. I’m a silly old man who tried to warn you not to dance with the devil. Now you’re dancing, young fella. Now you’re dancing.”
Kevin Craig is the author of several young adult novels. Their most recent title, The Camino Club, was the 2021 Silver Winner of the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award. Kevin is a five-time recipient of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. As a playwright, Kevin has had twelve plays produced for the stage. Kevin lives in Toronto, Canada. As an avid explorer, they can also be found traveling the world with their significant other, Michael.
Today on the site we’re getting a first look at the cover of Prize Money by Celeste Castro, a contemporary lesbian sports romance set on the professional rodeo circuit(!) that releases from Interlude Press on May 11, 2021! Here’s the story:
Eva Angeles is a professional barrel racer headed for her third world title when a competition mishap throws her in the path of an on-the-loose bull. She is saved from impending disaster by a tall, dark, and handsome bullfighter—a woman. Toma Rozene is an equestrian stuntwoman fresh off the set of a blockbuster film when a family emergency calls her home to help run the family business: rescuing fallen rodeo riders before blustering bulls and bucking broncos trample their dreams. Eva and Toma’s shared passions and competitive spirits make friendship easy, but, as their feelings deepen, they must decide if the divergent futures they seek will stand in the way of love.
And here’s the powerful cover by none other than C.B. Messer!
Celeste Castro, she/her, is an American Mexican, Own Voices author from small-town, rural Idaho, where most of her stories take place. She grew up with learning disabilities, though she always kept a journal. When she was a young adult, court-ordered volunteer work helped her find her way—community outreach. In 2009, she graduated from Seattle University with a Master of Public Administration. She began writing fiction in 2015. Her writing credits include HOMECOMING, Bella Books, 2017. LEX FILES, Bella Books, 2018. WE’VE GOT THE POWER, Brisk Press, 2018. THE TAKING, Bella Books, 2019, SAVE THE DATE, Bella Books 2021 and PRIZE MONEY, Interlude Press, 2021. In addition to fiction, she is a staff writer with Hispanecdotes, an online magazine for Latinx writers, where she publishes essays and poetry.
Today on the site, we’re thrilled to welcome author Lilah Suzanne to celebrate the release of their newest, a contemporary f/f Romance called Tack & Jibe that releases from Interlude Press today. Here’s a little more on the book!
Raised on a small island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Willa Rogers has a picture-perfect nautical life: hanging out at the beach with her friends, living in a cozy seaside cottage, working at a sailing store, and running a hugely popular sailing Instagram. It’s so convincing that her overzealous online followers register her to compete in the High Seas, a televised national sailing championship.
Too bad Willa doesn’t actually know how to sail.
Desperate to protect her carefully curated life, Willa tracks down four-time High Seas champion Lane Cordova, and begs her for a crash course in sailing before the race begins. But Lane’s mastery of the water is matched only by Willa’s ineptitude—and her growing crush on Lane isn’t helping matters. When the competition threatens to go awry and take her idealized life with it, Willa has to figure out if she can save her reputation from sinking while taking a chance on love.
The shopping center when you first come into town features a gas station-slash-Italian grocery store, an eyebrow threading studio that is also, somehow, a U-haul rental center, and next to that, a vape store. This a town that was put on the map in the 1800s thanks to a railroad stop and a natural spring that locals claimed had healing powers— a spring that has since dried up and a train depot that is now a brewery. The rows of brick buildings branded with historical marker placards are occupied by shiny new stores: a juice bar, a coffee roaster, an artisanal chocolate cafe, even more breweries. There’s a new library; an expanded town hall; and a newly-opened art center. The art center, with its white-washed facade and picture windows, sits in the center of downtown, around the corner and across the street from a gun store that boasts over 6,000 guns in stock. It’s a complicated place; a town in flux, but from what to what I’m not quite sure. A rural small-town turned suburban enclave for certain, but just as transplants from colder places north of the Mason-Dixon bring more progressive views, an undercurrent of conformity remains.
The suburbs, like much of the South, is not a place to make waves.
It’s fitting, I suppose, that the first story I’ve set in North Carolina is about a character who struggles with the desire to be someone else, somewhere else. Someone who feels as if they must contort and misrepresent themselves in an effort to fit in and who, in a pretty straightforward metaphor for wanting to get the heck out of dodge, dreams of literally sailing away and never coming back. And yet.
And yet, there’s this tug of home. This is the place that’s shaped them. That’s shaped me. Isn’t this odd little town part of who I am? Won’t it always be? Could I really leave, even if I wanted to? Do I want to? Wherever you go there you are… This is the push-pull at the center of Tack & Jibe, a story that asks a lot of questions about authenticity and truth and finding yourself when you aren’t in a place–literally or metaphorically–to explore that fully.
In truth, I didn’t even realize I was writing these themes in Tack & Jibe until I was well into the editorial process. It was one of those oh, that’s what I was working through here, moments. I am several books and short stories in to a writing career and just now am I writing about the state where I’ve spent most of my life. Just now am I really exploring the complicated relationship I have to home and self and identity and loving a place that doesn’t always love me back. Why? Maybe I just needed time. Maybe I needed to write about other things first. Maybe I just didn’t feel like it. Maybe, like Willa and Lane in Tack & Jibe, I needed to know I could leave if I wanted to. And maybe I do, even if it’s only in a story. But maybe I don’t.
This is what I love about North Carolina: The accent, the sweet tea, the barbeque, the mild winters, the pine forests, the mountains, the beaches, the way people smile and say, “hey!” and genuinely welcome you to their home and heart even when they don’t know you all that well, not really. How people surprise you by being open and loving when you’ve come expect the opposite. Here’s what I don’t love: How change is still slow to come and hard-fought, the gut punch of realizing you don’t belong somewhere after all, knowing there are parts of you that you have to hide, knowing you aren’t safe, knowing that if they knew really knew you, they wouldn’t welcome you into their home and heart. Not really.
I don’t have answers to any of the questions or conflicts I ask in the book nor do I in real life. Like the town I currently reside in, perhaps I’m in flux. I’ve left home before and I probably will again. For now I’m here because, well, because I am. I’m happy though, and in the book, Willa ends up happy. But Tack & Jibe is a rare story where I didn’t neatly wrap up all the loose ends, which troubled me at first until I realized there exists the possibility of multiple happily-ever-afters unspooling from the place where the story finishes. For a lot of us, a sense of home and a sense of who we are is complicated. And for me, for Willa, for Lane, for a lot of people, it probably always will be. Ultimately, that’s what the story is really about. Well, that and sailing.
And romance, of course.
Lilah Suzanne is a queer author of bestselling and award-winning romantic fiction. Their 2018 novel Jilted was named a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and a Foreword INDIES Award, and won a Bisexual Book Award for romantic fiction. Their critically acclaimed Spotlight series included the Amazon #1 bestseller Broken Records, along with Burning Tracks and Blended Notes. Lilah also authored the romantic comedy Spice, the novellas Pivot & Slip and After the Sunset, and the short story Halfway Home, from the holiday anthology If the Fates Allow. A writer from a young age, Lilah resides in North Carolina and mostly enjoys staying indoors, though sometimes ventures out for concerts, museum visits, and quiet walks in the woods.
Today on the site we’ve got another fabulous cover reveal, this one for Luckmonkey by Alysia Constantine, which releases from Interlude Press on March 9, 2021! Here’s the gist:
By day, Luckmonkey is a struggling punk band playing in record stores and taco joints; by night, its members are anti-capitalist agitators, breaking into homes and businesses, each time stealing one possession and leaving something different in its place. Squatting in an abandoned building without electricity or heat, they scrounge a patched-together life as a raucous, mismatched family of queer, trans and first-gen social activists.
But when one of them steals a wind-up monkey toy and brings it home, things begin to deteriorate into squabbles and bad decisions, until an arrest forces the group to weigh the hard work of political resistance against their individual needs for stability and safety.
Set in the margins of Pittsburgh in the early aughts, Luckmonkey barrels into the defiant lives of social outsiders working to change the world.
And here’s the cover, designed by the magical C.B. Messer!
Alysia Constantine is a critically acclaimed and award-winning author whose novels blur the line between reality and fantasy, feature luscious prose and explore complex themes of otherness. Her novels Sweet (Interlude Press, 2016) and Olympia Knife (Interlude Press, 2017) received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Foreword Reviews, respectively. She is also the editor of the 2020 Young Adult anthology, Short Stuff (Duet Books). She lives in the Lower Hudson Valley with her wife, two dogs, and a cat and is a former professor at a New York arts college.
I’m so thrilled to have Kevin Craig on the site today to reveal the cover of his sophomore novel (and first with Duet Books), The Camino Club, which releases on October 6th! Here’s the story:
After getting in trouble with the law, a group of wayward teens from diverse backgrounds are given an ultimatum: serve time in juvenile detention for their crimes, or walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain over the summer holidays with a pair of court-appointed counselor guides. Although unlikely friends, they all try to make the best of their situation. The pilgrims grow closer on their journey, but when and if they reach the Cathedral in Santiago, will they each find what they’re looking for and come out of the walk ready to conquer the shattered worlds they left behind?
And here’s the beautiful cover designed by C.B. Messer!
We’ve been lost for over an hour. The way Claire is so chill about it, I’m beginning to think she doesn’t much care. She might have had something to do with us taking the wrong turns in the first place.
We were only a city block or so ahead of Meagan. Every once in a while I would slow our pace down so she was always able to catch glimpses of us. And Manny and Greg walked just slightly ahead of us. They sped up, and as soon as we lost sight of them, bam. Everything fell apart.
The rain didn’t help. We’re soaked through. At least it’s stopped. Hopefully it stays this way. I need to either dry off or find my way back to the path before I go mad. I can’t be wet and lost.
But here we are, drenched, on this quiet street with no peregrinos anywhere in sight. We have lost our way. And I kept letting Claire lead me in the wrong direction, because I had assumed she was trying to find her way back to the yellow arrows.
Clearly, not a good idea. Not an arrow in sight. I should have just kept walking with Manny and Greg. Even Gil disappeared back at the albergue after he realized Claire finally had a new walking partner.
I think last night may have been a one off, though. She seemed nice enough at the time, but I think today’s Claire may have gone rogue. I’m almost positive. Maybe she’s possessed by Cacabelos Jesus.
“I give up,” I say, stopping in front of a small grocery. “I’m asking for directions.”
“No, don’t. It’s more fun this way. Can’t we just wander around and figure things out for ourselves. Where’s your sense of adventure?”
“You know what I think,” I say before heading inside. “I think you want to be lost. I think you did this to us on purpose. I don’t want to be drawn into any of your plans to screw this up. You’re sabotaging me.”
I turn and walk into the small grocery. I let the door close on Claire, shutting down her ability to respond. I hope they can point me in the right direction. I don’t care if she follows me or not. I’d rather she didn’t.
I have my phone out, getting directions from the lady behind the counter, when Claire finally enters the store. We’re struggling through the language barrier, but the woman understands Camino and is able to show me on Google Maps where it is I have to go to get back on the path. Claire stands behind me, skulking noisily. After I have the directions, I buy a couple apples that happen to sit in a basket on the counter.
I turn to Claire and give her a dirty look as I put one of the apples into a side pocket in my backpack. I bite into the other and say, “Come on. Let’s go.” I hold up my phone to show her I know where I’m going.
“Nah,” she says. She pops a handful of Skittles. It was cute at first, but those little candies are beginning to annoy me. “I think I’ll sit this one out.”
“What does that even mean?”
Claire heads for the door without saying another word. I thank the woman behind the counter again before I leave. She says Buen Camino and I wave as I leave her store.
“What is your problem?” I ask Claire as I catch up to her. She just shrugs and keeps walking, in the opposite direction we need to go in order to get back to the yellow arrows. “Come on, Claire. You’re going the wrong way. You can’t just get lost in Spain. Are you nuts, girl? What is wrong with you? I thought we bonded last night. I thought—”
“Oh, what?” She pivots, cutting me off mid-sentence. “You think because we spent half an hour together we’re best friends now? What about the day before that? Or on the plane? You know, when you didn’t say two words to me?”
“I just want to get back to the Camino, Claire. I don’t want to fight with you.”
“What are you even in for, anyway?” she says. She walks over to where I stand waiting for her.
“You don’t want to know.”
Kevin Craig is a playwright, poet, and short story writer who lives in Toronto with their husband, Michael. An author of six published novels, Kevin’s books include Pride Must Be a Place (MuseItUp Publishing, 2018) and Burn Baby Burn Baby (independently published, 2014). Kevin was a founding member of the Ontario Writers’ Conference Board of Directors, and sat on the Writers’ Community of Durham Region’s (WCDR) Board of Directors as Membership Coordinator. Website: https://ktcraig.com/
Miriam Newman at Candlewick has bought THE HEARTBREAK BAKERY, a new YA novel by Amy Rose Capetta in an exclusive submission, in which agender teen baker Syd deals with first heartbreak by whipping up brownies—which break up everyone who eats them, including the owners of LGBTQIAP+ institution The Proud Muffin. With the help of magical baking and a cute transmasc bike messenger, Syd must save relationships and defend the bakery from disappearing in a fast-changing Austin, Texas. Publication is set for fall 2021; Sara Crowe at Pippin Properties did the deal for North American rights.
Ashley Hearn at Page Street has bought world English rights to author Alison Ames’s debut, THE HAUNTING OF MOON BASIN, a queer YA horror with shades of SAWKILL GIRLS. After a mining explosion coated Moon Basin in ash, residents moved just outside the uninhabitable zone and set up a new settlement in the mine’s shadow. Years later, the people of the New Basin begin experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices only they can hear—prompting four teen girls to investigate. Publication is slated for spring 2021; Rena Rossner at the Deborah Harris Agency brokered the deal.
Jason June‘s JAY’S GAY AGENDA, which follows a teen boy after he moves to Seattle from his rural high school, introducing him to other queer teens for the very first time, and allowing him to finally cross items off his gay romance to-do list, to Megan Ilnitzki at Harper Teen, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2021, by Brent Taylor at TriadaUS Literary Agency (world English).
ONE MAN GUY and HOLD MY HAND author Michael Barakiva‘s THESE PRECIOUS STONES, pitched as SAILOR MOON meets SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, about an eclectic group of queer and international teens who learn that they must bear the magical gems that will save the universe from an ancient galactic threat, to Trisha de Guzman at Farrar, Straus Children’s, for publication in fall 2021, by Josh Adams at Adams Literary (world English).
Mabel Hsu at HarperCollins/Tegen has bought, at auction, in a two-book deal, THE (UN)POPULAR VOTE by debut author Jasper Sanchez. Pitched as RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE meets The West Wing, this YA contemporary novel follows a transmasculine teenager who defies his congressman father and runs in a three-way brawl for class president. Publication is planned for summer 2021; Claire Friedman at InkWell Management brokered the deal for world English rights.
Alexis Hall‘s THE BEST OF ME, a transgender Regency romance about a woman who is reunited with her childhood best friend, the Duke of Gracewood, who believes she died in the Battle of Waterloo, at auction, in a two-book deal; and WINNER BAKES ALL, a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of a British baking reality show, in an exclusive submission, in a three-book deal, to Amy Pierpont at Forever, by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary (world).
P. J. Vernon’s BATH HAUS, pitched as GONE GIRL with gays and Grindr, about a young gay man whose life spirals out of control after an indiscretion, to Robert Bloom at Doubleday, by Chris Bucci at CookeMcDermid (world).
Courtney Maguire’s INNOCENCE LOST, book one of the Youkai Bloodlines series, set in feudal-era Japan, in which a servant is different—not really a man, not quite a woman; in the wake of their failure to protect a boy they saw as a son from their abusive master, they are sold into the house of a young nobleman, who is the opposite of everything they have ever known—gentle, kind, and generous; their friendship blooms into a profound love, but the nobleman harbors a dark secret: he is a youkai, a blood demon, to Heather McCorkle at City Owl Press, in a nice deal, for publication in September 2020 (US).
RITA Award-winning author Elia Winters‘s HAIRPIN CURVES, a f/f frenemies-to-lovers romance in which two former friends embark on an epic road trip that promises to change their lives forever, to Kerri Buckley at Carina Press Adores, for publication in August 2020, by Saritza Hernandez at Corvisiero Literary Agency (world).
OLYMPIA KNIFE and SWEET author Alysia Constantine‘s LUCKMONKEY, about a punk band whose members are anti-capitalist agitators who break into homes and businesses, each time stealing one possession and leaving something different in its place; but when one of them steals a wind-up monkey, things deteriorate into squabbles and bad decisions, forcing them to weigh the work of political resistance against their individual needs for stability and safety, to Annie Harper at Interlude Press, in a nice deal, for publication in January 2021.
Author of EMPIRE OF SAND and REALM OF ASH Tasha Suri‘s THE JASMINE THRONE, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother, to Priyanka Krishnan at Orbit, in a three-book deal, for publication in spring of 2021, by Laura Crockett at TriadaUS Literary Agency (world).
Celebrity fashion stylist Andrew Gelwicks‘s THE QUEER ADVANTAGE: CONVERSATIONS WITH LGBTQ+ LEADERS ON THE POWER OF IDENTITY, collecting personal interviews with LGBTQ+ luminaries from the worlds of business, Hollywood, tech, sports, and politics on how they leveraged their unique challenges to supercharge their careers, to David Lamb at Hachette Go, with Mollie Weisenfeld editing, for publication in fall 2020, by Ian Bonaparte at Janklow & Nesbit (world).
Lambda Literary Award-winning author Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore‘s BETWEEN CERTAIN DEATH AND A POSSIBLE FUTURE, an anthology of essays by queer writers coming of age in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, exploring how the specter of death suffuses desire for an entire generation that internalized trauma as part of becoming queer, to Brian Lam at Arsenal Pulp Press, for publication in fall 2021, by Amanda Annis at Trident Media Group (world).
As a well-documented fan of music coming out of PNW in the 90s, I’m so thrilled to revealing the cover on the site today for Shine of the Ever by Claire Rudy Foster, a collection of short stories that “explores what binds a community of queer and trans people as they negotiate love, screwing up and learning to forgive themselves for being young and sometimes foolish.” The stories feature a whole rainbow of representation, including people who identify as queer, bisexual, gay, lesbian, binary transgender, non-binary transgender, polyamorous, asexual, pansexual, and genderfluid.
NOW, is there any better format for mashing the best things together like a mix tape?? And that’s what makes this cover, designed by C.B. Messer, so perfect!
Shine of the Ever comes out on November 5th, 2019 from Interlude Press
But wait, there’s more! In addition to the cover, we have an exclusive excerpt from the short story that gave the collection its name, “Shine of the Ever”!
We spent most of the winter in and around my apartment, which overlooked a boring section of southeast Belmont, before the cafes and PNW-inspired restaurants moved in. My rent back then was five-hundred-fifty dollars a month. It had hardwood floors, a bedroom, pocket doors, and a view of Mount Tabor. My neighbors were older people who had been there since the 1980s. I was the youngest person in the building, young enough that I was the only one who didn’t have a player for the tapes the other tenants swapped in the laundry room “library.” I only had a binder of CDs. I didn’t buy a lot of music, because at the time the rent I paid was considered kind of high. Since then, it has more than tripled. I’m pretty sure my old neighbors are all out in the Numbers now. I’m just saying. I don’t live there anymore. Nobody I know does, but there’s never a vacancy. Explain how that works. Where the hell do all these new people come from? At least the weather hasn’t changed. That winter with Ada, it mostly rained, but one day snow piled like popcorn in the gutters, and on another morning a white fog, so muffling that we couldn’t even see the mattress company storefront across the street.
We were a we, an actual couple. We did relationship things. Ada went to her classes at Portland State, and I went to my library job, but we always met up at the end of the day. She didn’t want to spend time with anyone else, and I wasn’t bored yet, so it worked. She served me free beers when she picked up shifts at the Crow Bar. When school got too busy, she quit, and started bringing over a bottle of whiskey a couple times a month.
She didn’t want me to ever feel deprived or like I was missing out, she said. She didn’t want me to have a reason to go anywhere but home.
We went to places that are other places now. We shared beers at Blue Monk, which was a bar and music venue where you could hear actual good hip-hop and jazz musicians who didn’t play that gooey, elevator shit. The Blue Monk is called something else, and there’s a line out front with a doorman and a velvet rope. The people waiting are all dressed up. Lines were never a thing, back then. I associate never waiting with that time of my life, because the timing was always just magically perfect. Anything you wanted, you could have right then: brunch, beer, a turn in the horseshoe pit. Delayed gratification didn’t exist, when I was twenty-three.
Ada and I kissed in bars that are too clean for me now and too expensive. It’s bizarre, when I go back now and try to approximate the proportions of the places I used to know so well. I went to one of my old dives a few years after it closed, and only the ceiling was the same. Pipes and drywall, peeling paint, that was all. Everything else, from the lighting to the tinted mirrors over each booth, was styled. The weird thing was, the place was styled to look like Old Portland. My Portland. They spent a fortune trying to do it too. The matching frosted globes that hung from the exposed rafters would run at least four hundred apiece. A matched set in such good condition must have cost a mint. The tables were tropical salvage. I had that feeling I was in a movie set of my own living room, where every object looked exactly like my personal possession, but nicer, cleaner, and more appealing. I hate it. These designers put in a lot of effort to make things seem natural, but I think the only people who believe it are the ones who never saw the original. They don’t understand that this isn’t Portland anymore: it’s Portlandia. A theme park of the places we used to love.
If you have no point of reference, you are very easy to fool.
Claire Rudy Foster is a queer, trans single parent in recovery. Their short story collection, I’ve Never Done This Before, was published to warm acclaim in 2016. With four Pushcart Prize nominations, Claire’s writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, and many other journals. Their nonfiction work has reached millions of readers in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Narratively, among others. Claire lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.
Today on the site I’m delighted to welcome Lissa Reed, author of the Sucre Coeur series (which you can see from the cover of the digital box set that releases February 12 I happen to be quite the fan of), to talk about one of queer lit’s hottest topics: writing from a male POV when you yourself are not male. It’s a complicated question, and one that doesn’t have easy answers, and here to discuss it with honesty and nuance is Lissa Reed:
“Write what you know.”
A common mantra. Writers hear it all the time.
“Write what you know.”
I know baking. I know anxiety. I know emotional post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Write what you know.”
I know that I don’t want to write about these things from a female perspective.
When I first began writing what would become the Sucre Coeur trilogy, I identified—however reluctantly—as female, and one who had a lot to process. I was a few years out of a very toxic relationship and still coping with the damage it had inflicted on me. And I was ready to be done with it, or as done as I could be, at least; some things, I knew, would be with me for way longer than I would want them to be, and there was nothing I could do about that.
But all the imaginary confrontations? The emotional conflict? My reconciling myself with my anxiety? I could do something with those, I could cough them up and out and try to make sense of them: I could write them. All of them. Get them all out.
As long as I didn’t write them from a female perspective.
I’d been drawn to writing from a male perspective for years, and truly enjoyed doing so, even as it baffled many of my friends. “But… why?” they would ask, perplexed. “You’re not a guy.”
I know now, of course, what I didn’t know then, that I identify as non-binary, that I do not adhere to labels at either end of the gender spectrum. And I think subconsciously, that had at least a little something to do with it, the voice of that stifled part of me trying to speak up. But that wasn’t all of it, or even most of it.
As someone then identifying as a woman, I could not write about being an abused, traumatized woman. I would never have been able to get all of my anger and distress out if the form it was taking wasn’t at least slightly removed from my own. I needed that step back, that distance. The character who was going to carry my issues couldn’t be me, or anything that resembled me, and at the time, the sharpest line I could draw between myself and my fictional counterpart was to make them male.
Alex Scheff, the romantic interest in Sucre Coeur 1: Definitely, Maybe, Yours, is not like me in a dozen other ways that go beyond gender—I’m not a professional photographer. I am not a college graduate. My parents are not lawyers. I’m not from Seattle. I’m not a lanky, freckled, skinny-jeans-wearing hipster with an unruly shock of hair and a frighteningly boisterous Russian-German-American family.
But Alex carries my emotional trauma, the way I flailed through an abusive relationship without knowing I was also dealing with a severe case of undiagnosed anxiety. Every panicked thing he does, every bad decision he makes in Definitely, Maybe, Yours, every time he takes two steps forward only to hustle one step ass-over-teakettle back – all of these were things I knew, so I wrote about them, and because this character was not me, I was able to write my way out of them.
If I had been writing a female character, she would have become me, and I would have just been mired in all of the darkness once again. Instead, Alex became a movie screen for me, a way to view everything that had happened through someone else’s eyes. And as I was writing him through his darkness, he was guiding me through the last stretch of mine.
So Definitely is of course an extremely personal book for me, even though I’ve otherwise never lived anything like it. No hot British baker has ever wooed me with cookies, my own closest cousin is not a thing like the dizzy, meddling mess that is Samantha. I’m not as close with any of my exes as Craig is with his. I am definitely not a dog person, no matter how adorable Yorkies are. And all of the people in that book are in and out of each other’s houses without so much as texting beforehand! In my circle of friends, that’s punishable by death.
But in every other way, I wrote what I knew – in a roundabout way.
Lissa Reed is a queer, non-binary (she/they) writer of ﬁction, blogs, and bawdy Renaissance song parodies. She traces her early interest in writing back to elementary school, when a teacher gifted her with her ﬁrst composition book and told her to fill it with words. After experimenting with print journalism, Reed shifted her writing focus to romance and literary ﬁction and never looked back. She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Sucre Coeur, her culinary romance trilogy about a circle of friends and lovers in a Seattle bakery, will be released as a digital boxed set on February 12.
It’s not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.
She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic.
But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has—everything it’s convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.
This is the second book in the In the Present Tense series.
Now on the run from the corporation that turned him into a lab experiment, Miles finds himself in a fight for his life as he unravels the complicated relationships he shares with ex-boyfriend Adam, whom he still loves, and wife Ana, whose allegiance he cannot trust.
Meanwhile, nineteen-year-old Bethany Carter is on the run from her past and present. Having escaped the same institution that trapped Miles, she must find a way to safely manage the schizophrenia that triggers her time travel while navigating unpredictable bouts of paranoia.
As Miles’ and Bethany’s lives become more intertwined, Dr. Branagan, the man who made their lives a living hell at Longleaf Retreat, will stop at nothing to continue his research, even if it means destroying his subjects in the process.
Elena Mendez has always been career-first; with only two semesters of law school to go, her dream of working as a family lawyer for children is finally within reach. She can’t afford distractions. She doesn’t have time for love.
And she has no idea how much her life will change, the day she lends her notes to Cora McLaughlin.
A freelance writer and MBA student, Cora is just as career-driven as Elena. But over weeks in the library together, they discover that as strong as they are apart, they’re stronger together. Through snowstorms and stolen moments, through loneliness and companionship, the two learn they can weather anything as long as they have each other–even a surprise visit from Elena’s family.
From solitude to sweetness, there’s nothing like falling in love. College may be strict…but when it comes to love, Cora and Elena are ahead of the learning curve.
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.
Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.
Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.
This is the second book in the Mask of Shadows duology.
As Opal, Sal finally has the power, prestige, and most importantly the ability to hunt the lords who killed their family. But Sal has to figure out who the culprits are before putting them down. Which means trying to ignore the fact that Elise is being kept a virtual prisoner, and that the queen may have ulterior motives.
And the tales coming out of north are baffling. Talk of dark spirits, missing children, and magic abound. As Sal heads north toward their ruined homeland and the lords who destroyed everything, they learn secrets and truths that can’t be ignored.