Tag Archives: Non-Binary

Better Know an Author: Fox Benwell

New month, new author to meet! And today is a very special day to meet Fox Benwell, because he has a story in the all-#ownvoices disability anthology, Unbroken, edited by Marieke Nijkamp, which releases today!  So let’s get right to it!

It’s September 2018, and that means two things: 1) you have a new short story out and 2) it’s been a year since your incredibly unique f/f YA novel set in South Africa, Kaleidoscope Song, released. Newest things first: What can you share with us about your contribution to Unbroken?

“A Play in Many Parts” is…sort of a Faustus retelling. Or a number of retellings all tangled together and on the page at onceIt’s a love letter to (Marlowe’s version of) the play, and to theatre itself…a tale of bargaining for one more curtain call, whoever you are.

And your narrator is a cane-using enby with chronic pain, dodgy joints, fatigue, and wild love for crafting stories that change people.

For those who aren’t familiar with Kaleidoscope Song, can you tell us a little about it? 

Set in Khayelitsha, Kaleidoscope Song is a tale of first loves (both musical and human), of growing up queer in a sometimes-hostile environment, and of the power that lies in figuring out how to use your voice.

Both of your YA novels, The Last Leaves Falling and Kaleidoscope Song, are set in foreign countries (Japan and South Africa respectively). What draws you to writing about locations beyond your home nation of the UK, and what are your favorite ways to research them?

Honestly, while I’m intensely proud of those books in and of themselves, the world – and publishing – has shifted since I wrote those stories. Everything I’m working on at the moment is much closer to home, and I’d rather concede the floor to own-voices representation, for now.

That said, if you’re going to write other places (or experiences) than your own, research and respect in equal measure are the key. And not just for obvious facts: seeking out the stories and art and food and music and film (and hey, did I mention stories?) of those places and people is a good start to understanding someone else’s perspective, in addition to where your story might lie.

Music is really at the heart of Kaleidoscope Song, which of course means I must ask: what are you listening to and loving right now, and what are your forever favorites?

Oh my godddd, have you heard Grace Petrie’s new album, Queer as Folk? The entire thing is a roller coaster of queer feels. But I’ve had Black Tie on loop for a fortnight and it’s still making me cry. It’s big and hopeful and a little bit heartbreaking, and I love it.

And I’m working on a winter-and-music story right now, which means lots of not-so-Christmassy Christmas music is sneaking its way into my work playlists. Stuff like In Terra Pax, and old, obscure carols and folk songs.

Both The Last Leaves Falling and obviously Unbroken center around disability, as does your academic research. What are your thoughts on the state of disability rep in YA right now, both queer and otherwise? 

How long have you got? No, seriously, my academic thesis will be 80k, and it’s not nearly enough. 😉

We have a tendency to use disability as a (tragic and/or inspirational) plot point, and to fall back on notions of intelligence, ability and beauty of measures of worth or humanity. Sometimes this is big and obvious. Sometimes it’s subtle, in subplots and casual language, but it’s nearly always there.

There are, of course, some excellent books with equally excellent representation! But on the whole we need, quite simply, to do better.

There are some excellent people working on that, and it takes time, and changing societal perceptions of us isn’t always going to be an easy sell. But we must, because right now we’re doing a massive disservice to readers, disabled or otherwise: they deserve better. Consistently. Emphatically. Better.

What are your favorite representations of disability in queer YA, and what would you still love to see?

Everyone should read Unbroken, obviously: so much intersectional fabulousness in those pages.

Jacqueline Koyanagi’s Ascension is totally badass. Rivers’ Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts may be bleak in a lot of ways, but I love it anyway, for the things that it explores. Hannah Moskowitz’s A History of Glitter and Blood is just…so deep and twisty and full of layers.

And I know this is sort of sidestepping the YA thing, but if you’re interested in the intersection of queerness and disability, you should read everything that Kayla Whaley ever writes.

As for what I’d love to see: I had to go back to my shelves to answer this, because my first instinctive answers were all one or the other – queer, or disabled – which clearly means there’s not enough of us multiply-marginalised folks on the shelves yet. We shouldn’t have to think for answers.

You transitioned between books 1 and 2, which came complete with a name change to the fantastic Fox. What was the process of changing your authorial name like, and what advice would you give to authors pondering doing the same?

It was terrifying. And then not nearly as terrifying as I had imagined: I’d somehow expected more pushback than I got. And sure, sometimes there’s a disconnect between books under one name and the next (which eventually will fade, if books go into the next reprints) but it’s worth it. It’s worth it for that first time you see your real name right there on a cover (I did not get that feeling the first time around, under my old name, at all). It’s worth it for not wincing every time somebody talks to you, or every time you sign a book. It’s worth it, because somewhere out there is another kid just like us, for whom it means everything to see that they could live that out-and-proud life, too.

What’s the first LGBTQIAP+ representation you remember seeing in media, for better or for worse?

Uhhh. I think I discovered Boys don’t Cry and Priscilla in the same week O_o.

And 13-year-old me accidentally found the gay erotica shelves in his Borders bookstore and somehow found the guts to buy (and hide) an anthology of ‘fairies and fantasy beasts’ stories. I don’t remember story details, but I do remember the magically right feeling of gender and attraction not being fixed points.

What are you working on these days?

I just finished copyedits for another geeky (D&D/ bathroom rights) story, coming soon, in Stripes’ anthology, Proud

And amongst my current WIPs you’ll find a pregnant trans boy building his kid a new, better world, a story of winter-song and deep dark voices, ace-spectrum rep and QPRs, transitioning, anxiety, neurodivergence, and chronic pain. And also pirates. Because we will populate your shelves with our adventures.

***

Fox Benwell is a perpetual student of the world, a writer, adventurer, and wannabe-knight, who holds degrees in international education and writing for young people, and believes in the power of both to change the world. His in-progress PhD research examines disability in current YA fiction.

He is the author of the critically acclaimed The Last Leaves Falling, and Kaleidoscope Song.

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Guest Recs From Erin Ptah: More Webcomics With Major Nonbinary Characters

Welcome back to Erin Ptah, with another round of webcomic recs!

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Before we dive into this post, an important note: I have a Kickstarter to print Leif & Thorn Volume 1 launching on September 17. Watch the site, and mark your calendars!

And now, back to recs for other people’s comics.

This whole series of posts started, almost a year ago now, with a set of recs for webcomics with major nonbinary characters. At the time, I didn’t have enough recs to break that category into sub-themes.

Now I have more recs! But…I don’t have enough new recs to break those into sub-themes. So here we go again.

Today’s theme: Even MORE webcomics with major nonbinary characters!


sample-lasthalloween

(1) The Last Halloween by Abby Howard

The story of Mona and her unusual friends, who must work together to defend humanity from countless horrific monstrosities! Perhaps they will succeed, and humanity will prevail as it always has. Or perhaps this will be… The Last Halloween.

Horror with funny parts, ongoing. There’s a parallel world of monsters, one for every human, and the Phagocyte — the figure who normally keeps the worlds in balance — just died without a replacement. On Halloween, naturally.

Separately, there are a bunch of your typical horror-movie creatures secretly hanging out on Earth. Vampires, mummies, that sort of thing. A group of kids from this team meets up with Mona, a ten-year-old human who is 100% done with everything, and they set out (very unwillingly, in Mona’s case) on a quest to find a replacement Phagocyte before the whole human race goes extinct.

As of the beginning of the story, Mona is being raised by a single nonbinary Parent. They get separated from Mona pretty early on, and end up forming their own mini-team-up with another parent, one of the monster kids’ vampire dad. (Also, there’s definitely a spark between them.)

The art style is perfectly fitted to the story. Expressive characters, creepy detailed backgrounds, classy monster designs, lots of areas of solid black that frequently close in around the panels. The black-and-white lineart also mutes the ick factor when things get bloody — which does happen, but this series is much more interested in being Gorey than gory.


sample-stoopgallants

(2) The Stoop-Gallants by M.J. Alexander and W.W. Rose

There’s not much that goes on in the village of Lefthand Goat Way and the surrounding areas – unless you count some wholly accidental necromancy, a wizard who came by their powers thanks to a clerical error, a depressed villain with a chinchilla…

Fantasy comedy, ongoing. This one resists summaries — it jumps around between a bunch of groups, showcasing characters from different species, magic levels, social classes, moral alignments, mortality, and so on.

It’s in this rec post on account of Flea, the wizard-due-to-clerical-error, who we meet on the way to a magical Consortium with their pet teacup manticore. (They explain that, in the big city, tiny designer manticores are bred as pets for rich people who eventually get bored and dump the animals in the sewers.) They get help from Alta, a renowned dragonslayer with an anxiety disorder who speaks in high-fantasy argot when she’s nervous, and Marigold, the squire whose duties include translating for her and whose hobbies apparently include magical Candy Crush.

And all that happens after several chapters with Ru, who accidentally summoned a revenant — turns out his own blood counted as “virgin” by necromancy standards, because none of his sexual experiences, with men or women, involved PIV. His housemate Mica asks for help from the local evil wizard, who she made friends with, because she ran out of books to read when she’s bedridden with a flare-up and he’s the only local with a library.

With this much good stuff you’d think a comic would have to run out of steam at some point, right? But this one just…keeps going. It keeps dropping into new scenes and character groups, in between building up ongoing conflicts with the familiar ones, and the writing is funny and entertaining enough that you can roll with it.

Bonus notes: The artist has a great eye for expressions and body language. I’m very into the developing f/f romance. And the various critters are adorable.


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(3) broken by Yubria

broken is about a fairie general and his army struggling to protect their city-state after an alchemical anomaly brought eldritch monsters into their dimension. Warning: this comic contains graphic violence, horror, and flashing images.

Horror-drama, ongoing. To fight off a set of encroaching horrors, this high-tech fairie society has basically gone in the military-dystopia direction. Their tactics include using homunculi, genderless artificial lifeforms that do whatever task they’re assigned; and constructs, the dead bodies of corrupted citizens of neighboring countries, which can be puppeted into dangerous situations while all the living people stay at a safe distance.

Lots of scenes make great use of animated gifs to enhance the fear, tension, and creepiness. There’s a wonderful use of color overall, too — the details of fairie wings alone add so much worldbuilding and atmosphere.

Our main character is Huvrye (hoov-rai), a homunculus general who never aspired to lead murderous offense-as-the-best-defense campaigns, but he’s really good at it so it’s what he’s stuck with. Things get weird when his construct starts behaving unusually in the middle of a battle. It’s supposed to be corrupted past the point of recovery — it’s not supposed to have reactions.

In the middle of the post-apocalyptic worldbuilding, the emotional hook here is the story of a heartwarming friendship growing between two people, in a society that really doesn’t want them to be people…and will enforce that with military-grade weaponry if it has to.


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(4) Court of Roses by Kelsey Peterson

Meet the members of the (someday) legendary bardic troupe, the Court of Roses!

Fantasy comedy, ongoing. Merlow the Rose is a half-elf bard traveling the world. The good news: he has both musical and magical talent, including the power to charm his way out of tense situations. The bad news: he plays the bagpipes.

In spite of this drawback, he spends the first couple of chapters picking up new friends: Diana the friendly human, Nocturne the unnerving infernal, Sven the goliath who plays war drums, and Feliks the energetic one-gnome band. (Feliks is nonbinary. Also, though so far everybody’s single, Diana has mentioned being into the ladies, while Merlow is into anyone.)

Great expressions in the art, snappy one-liners in the writing, and building shenanigans in the plot. This is laying all the right groundwork to be one of those series that starts out funny, and will eventually build to being epic-without-ever-ceasing-to-be-funny.


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(5) Small Blessings by Danie

The escapades of a house-spirit in an old apartment building.

Fantasy fluff, ongoing. Adorable domestic adventures with the itty-bitty Alasdair (about the size of a Borrower, also magic). Doing little repairs! Shooing away spirits of corruption! Tidying up giant objects! Reading books taller than they are!

Some of the mini spirits go by “they,” inclusing Alasdair and an unnamed houseplant spirit. Others include Malcolm, who uses “he”, and Plish, a tiny aquarium mermaid who gets referred to as both “they” and “she” depending on the post.

Early on Alasdair makes friends with Alicia, the human resident of one of the apartments, who shares her books with them. She’s also the one who warns them that the building is slated to be torn down. So there’s a bit of ongoing plot, but don’t expect it to move fast — this comic is mostly a vehicle for lovingly-rendered cute scenes with tiny people.


Erin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (where Timothy/Camellia is finally out of the bigender work closet) and Leif & Thorn (featuring nonbinary knights, guards, and secret agents). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

Happy (Upcoming) International Nonbinary Day!

July 14th is International Nonbinary Day, so here’s a post to help everyone celebrate in traditional bookish fashion!

Books to Read Now

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

unkindnessofghosts-127x200Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world.

Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot—if she’s willing to sow the seeds of civil war.

Akashic * Amazon * B&N

No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll

39878322Destiny sees what others don’t.

A quiet fisher mourning the loss of xer sister to a cruel dragon. A clever hedge-witch gathering knowledge in a hostile land. A son seeking vengeance for his father’s death. A daughter claiming the legacy denied her. A princess laboring under an unbreakable curse. A young resistance fighter questioning everything he’s ever known. A little girl willing to battle a dragon for the sake of a wish. These heroes and heroines emerge from adversity into triumph, recognizing they can be more than they ever imagined: chosen ones of destiny.

From the author of the Earthside series and the Rewoven Tales novels, No Man of Woman Born is a collection of seven fantasy stories in which transgender and nonbinary characters subvert and fulfill gendered prophecies. These prophecies recognize and acknowledge each character’s gender, even when others do not. Note: No trans or nonbinary characters were killed in the making of this book. Trigger warnings and neopronoun pronunciation guides are provided for each story.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz

24727102Fifteen-year-old Kivali has never fit in. As a girl in boys’ clothes, she is accepted by neither tribe, bullied by both. What are you? they ask. Abandoned as a baby wrapped in a T-shirt with an image of a lizard on the front, Kivali found a home with nonconformist artist Sheila. Is it true what Sheila says, that Kivali was left by a mysterious race of saurians and that she’ll one day save the world? Kivali doesn’t think so. But if it is true, why has Sheila sent her off to CropCamp, with its schedules and regs and what feels like indoctrination into a gov-controlled society Kivali isn’t sure has good intentions?

But life at CropCamp isn’t all bad. Kivali loves being outdoors and working in the fields. And for the first time, she has real friends: sweet, innocent Rasta; loyal Emmett; fierce, quiet Nona. And then there’s Sully. The feelings that explode inside Kivali whenever Sully is near—whenever they touch—are unlike anything she’s experienced, exhilarating and terrifying. But does Sully feel the same way?

Between mysterious disappearances, tough questions from camp director Ms. Mischetti, and weekly doses of kickshaw—the strange, druglike morsel that Kivali fears but has come to crave—things get more and more complicated. But Kivali has an escape: her unique ability to channel and explore the power of her animal self. She has Lizard Radio.

Will it be enough to save her?

Buy It: B&N * Amazon

Documenting Light by E.E. Ottoman

31145748 (1)If you look for yourself in the past and see nothing, how do you know who you are? How do you know that you’re supposed to be here?

When Wyatt brings an unidentified photograph to the local historical society, he hopes staff historian Grayson will tell him more about the people in the picture. The subjects in the mysterious photograph sit side by side, their hands close but not touching. One is dark, the other fair. Both wear men’s suits.

Were they friends? Lovers? Business partners? Curiosity drives Grayson and Wyatt to dig deep for information, and the more they learn, the more they begin to wonder — about the photograph, and about themselves.

Grayson has lost his way. He misses the family and friends who anchored him before his transition and the confidence that drove him as a high-achieving graduate student. Wyatt lives in a similar limbo, caring for an ill mother, worrying about money, unsure how and when he might be able to express his nonbinary gender publicly. The growing attraction between Wyatt and Grayson is terrifying — and incredibly exciting.

As Grayson and Wyatt discover the power of love to provide them with safety and comfort in the present, they find new ways to write the unwritten history of their own lives and the lives of people like them. With sympathy and cutting insight, Ottoman offers a tour de force exploration of contemporary trans identity.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon

The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde

35901105A teen rockstar has to navigate family, love, coming out, and life in the spotlight after being labeled the latest celebrity trainwreck in Jen Wilde’s quirky and utterly relatable novel.

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital and her girlfriend in jail, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck.

Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.

Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?

Buy It: B&N * Amazon

Behrouz Gets Lucky by Avery Cassell

27214426Behrouz Gets Lucky is a romantic, literary, kinky, and political novel about two older San Francisco queers – a butch dyke gardener named Lucky and a genderqueer librarian named Behrouz. A coffee date at Café Flore in the Castro, sparks a fiery trans masculine relationship that ends with the couple eating falafel in bed at 3 am half way around the world in a hotel room in Tehran. Forced gentrification in modern San Francisco goads Behrouz and Lucky to find their own uniquely sexual way of reclaiming the city’s lost queer spaces. Behrouz Gets Lucky is also tenderly sensual – an immersive novel, full of fragrances, delicious food, delirious sexual touch, dandy fashion, and beauty.

Buy It: B&N * Amazon

Books to Preorder

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

34198648For Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don’s daughter, family is fate.

All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.

Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.

Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.

Buy it: B&N *  Amazon 

Previously Featured Works with Nonbinary MCs

Upcoming Books to add on Goodreads:

Rec Posts

Features with Non-Binary Creators

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Blood-Bound by Kaelan Rhywiol

Well I can certainly think of some underrepresented readers who are gonna be psyched at today’s cover reveal! Check out the details on what you’ll find in Blood-Bound, the new paranormal romance coming from Kaelan Rhywiol via Ninestar Press on June 11th:

Pairings: Cis M/Genderfluid AMAB, Cis M/Non-Binary AFAB

Orientations: Bisexual, pansexual, gray asexual, gray aromantic,

Representation: (Own) pansexuality, non-binary AFAB, gray asexuality, gray aromanticism, touch aversion, autism, kink, mental illness, polyamory, mixed-race rep. (Non-own) Cis M, bisexual M & AMAB, Genderfluid AMAB

And here’s the blurb!

Blood-Bound-f

 

Rhian is a pwca. A Welsh shapeshifter bound as an assassin to the Dark God Arawn.

She’s content in her life, so when he assigns her as ambassador to oversee Ontario for him, it’s a shock. Her new job? To find out who murdered her predecessor and bring them to justice, oversee the otherkin and clean up their messes before the humans find them.

All to preserve the illusion that magic and supernatural creatures do not exist.

The problem? One of the otherkin she’s supposed to oversee is her estranged husband, Kai. Kai was a Spanish-Moorish singer, thief, and whore when they met three hundred years ago. He made his living on the streets and taught her what love really was. They didn’t part well.

Now he’s a centuries old vampire and she’s his boss.

Kai is the only person Rhian has never regretted having sex with, and the only one she can’t forgive. Rhian’s vow to her god forbids her from splitting her loyalty, but being around Kai makes her realize it’s been split all along.

A vow to a dark god, or the love of her life and the only sex she’s never regretted having?

Being demisexual can be a bitch.

Preorder Blood-Bound at Nine Star Press!

Aaaaand here’s the cover, designed by the inimitable Natasha Snow!

Kaelan author photoKaelan Rhywiol was born and raised in the Adirondack mountains of Upstate NY, US. Xie currently lives in Southern Ontario, Canada with xyr husband of 19 years, their two kids, three cats and a grumpy chinchilla. Xie is not currently represented by an agent, and while not actively searching for one, if the right one offered would consider it. Xie is published through Multifarious Press, a small, independent press devoted to diversity. Xie has a paranormal romance upcoming from NineStar Press on May 21st, 2018 featuring own voices demisexuality, non-binary, mixed-race rep, touch aversion, gray aromanticism, kink, and bi/pansexuality.

Xie is the author of YAHUI’S SUSPENSION, SERVING THE DRAKON, NERA’S NEED, ANNA’S CHOICE, A DANCER’S HOPE, A HARSHER KISS, MOTHMEN, ILAVANI vol 1-5. As well as the upcoming title BLOODBOUND from NineStar Press.

Xie works as a freelance editor for small, independent presses and private clients. Xie does inexpensive cover art for independent authors and is an authenticity reader for autism, rape survival, mixed-race rep, polyamory, kink, chronic pain, and mental illness (anxiety, depression).

Better Know an Author: Anna Zabo

Today on the site I’m psyched to be talking to Anna Zabo, brilliant author of m/m romance, who’s recently added Polyam to their repertoire. Please welcome them to talk about their newest release, their infamous Takeover series, and what comes next!

Let’s jump right into your newest release! Polyam romances are one of the most common rec requests on the LGBTQReads Tumblr. What can readers expect from Outside the Lines? And might they see more polyam romance from you in the future?

35528567Outside the Lines is a polyam romance between a married couple, Lydia and Simon, and a gay man, Ian. It’s a polyam V relationship rather than a triad—at least sexually. Ian comes to love Lydia, but he’s not sexually attracted to her. But they all develop bonds with each other and become a family.

I would like to write more polyam romances! I love exploring relationships and families that aren’t seen as often in romance. I probably will eventually write a triad romance, and I would love to write a sprawling queer polyam saga along the lines of Kris Ripper’s Scientific Methods books (meaning with the same found family feel!) but I need to find the right characters and plot for that.

You also sold two new books this year, to Carina, about a queer rock band! What can you share with us about Syncopation?

37648566Oh, I loved writing Syncopation! I’ve wanted to write rock stars for a while and loved the idea of the struggle of an up-and-coming band getting jerked around by their manager and label. I also wanted the book not to be about a band-member coming out to the public. So members of Twisted Wishes, the band in the book, are openly queer.

The main focus of the books is between Ray, the lead singer and composer/song writer, and their new drummer Zavier. Zav also happens to be the guy Ray had a complete crush on in high school and invited to join his band all those years ago. Zavier was bound for Julliard, and said no. But he’s recently quit his job as a timpanist, and he’s come to admire Ray and Twisted wishes, so he auditions for the band.

Ray finds Zavier insufferably sexy and is furious that he’s exactly the drummer the group needs. Zavier admires Ray and the band and seeks out a friendship that eventually turns to something more in unexpected ways for both of them. Ray’s gay. Zavier is pansexual and aromantic, and also kinky. (Zav remains aromantic, despite getting his HEA in his own way on his terms. That was important to me.)

In the interest of making sure everyone’s in the know about your superhot m/m office romances, the Takeover series, can you give us a little background on the universe? Is there a story, setting, or character who’s particularly close to your heart?

The background to Takeover—working in high tech, Michael’s job at a routing company, and that company being bought be another—all came about as a way to give a company like the one I invested eleven years of my life (and that was ultimately bought and closed) the ending I would have liked. Then it grew into something else—a story of Pittsburgh and co-workers and queer people living around one another and supporting each other.

23213982I have a soft spot for all the characters in the Takeover Series, but the character who far and away steals my heart each time is Eli Ovadia, one of the main characters from Just Business. There’s so many layers to him. He’s so shaped by his past, but also fights hard to make sure it doesn’t define him completely. He’s strong, yet surprisingly vulnerable, and he knows this. He’s a Dom and a sadist who absolutely will cry and cuddle with his cat when he’s feeling down. He loves and protects his friends, sometimes at the expense of himself. He has a lot of hope to give, but often keeps none for himself. I could write about Eli for ages.

You rereleased your Paranormal Romance Close Quarter this past August following the closure of Loose Id. How was taking the book on your own? Is there anything you can share about the upcoming sequel?

35534292It was good experience to re-read and edit Close Quarter. The writing held up pretty well, all things considered, and I still love the world-building. Going through the process of working with a cover designer and learning KDP and CreateSpace was eye-opening. I learned that I can do this myself, but I also learned I don’t necessarily want to for every book. There are time benefits to working with publishers.

But I will be putting out the sequel this year. No Quarter Given will focus on just how Silas and Rhys upset the balance of power in the fae community in New York City when they return together. It’ll also be quite a bit about all those things Rhys had been avoiding, including a past lover and the press. As well as the things he’s searching for—who he really is.

One of my favorite things you did this past year was run #RRWTalk, a Twitter chat for writers of queer romance specifically. Why do you think it’s important to discuss queer romance separately, and did anything from those chats particularly stick out to you?

One of the things that stuck out was that there is a section of folks for whom LGBT = m/m and there’s also a section of folks for whom it does NOT. And that there are vibrant important queer stories that need and should be read and written that aren’t m/m. Happy Ever Afters are for everyone under the rainbow.

While we’re on the topic of queer romance, who are your go-to authors within? What books would you love to give a shout, especially if you feel like they’re criminally underread?

I’ve been talking about this series a lot lately, but Kris Ripper’s Scientific Methods series. It’s a kinky, poly sprawling found family series that includes all kinds of queer people. Multi-racial. Different genders, including genderqueer and trans characters. The first book is Catalyst, but I warn you, it’s one that hooks you in and suddenly, it’s a week later and you’ve read all…I think there’s 13 books now… and you look around and you wonder what happened.

Another thing I’ve seen you discuss that I really admire is how your writing helped you realize you’re non-binary. It’s sort of one of my greatest interests, for personal reasons and otherwise, how writing LGBTQA lit can really help people work through both gender and sexuality, and I think we see it a lot more with authors who are AFAB. Any thoughts you’re comfortable discussing?

Huh. This is a hard one for me because I’m not sure I have fully formed thoughts about it. Some are too deeply emotional to put into words. What writing did for me was give me a safe place to peel back my psyche, pluck some aspects out, plunk them in other people, and see what happened. I could explore bits of me in bodies that weren’t the one I was born with, and that was so liberating.

I’m not wholly any one of my characters, but there are aspects of me in all of them.

And by exploring me in others and seeing them live authentically, even if it was in fiction, I learned a lot about me in me, and could start taking steps to live my own life more authentically.

I know this isn’t related to books or whatever, but something I see non-binary people struggling with often is finding great clothing, and you dress dapper as hell. Got any great clothing tips? What’s your favorite thing in your closet?

I think the main thing is to find clothes your comfortable in! I love button-downs and bow-ties. But I know that’s not everyone’s thing.

If you’re just starting to build a wardrobe or are aching to dress in clothes that don’t conform to the gender other people think you are, a good place to start shopping is thrift stores. My first suit came from a thrift store and I bought it in October, because no one looks at you strangely when you buy gender non-conforming clothes near Halloween.

What’s something that’s really stuck with you in LGBTQIAP+ lit, for better or for worse?

Sometimes people want the perfect representation of an identity. Like the perfect trans character or the perfect bisexual or the perfect representation of asexuality. And…people aren’t perfect. There’s no perfect rep. What works for someone as the model trans experience might be nothing like another trans person’s experience. People are messy. Rep is going to be messy too. Sometimes queer people hurt other queer people over rep. I really hope we can allow ourselves to be messy.

Since you’re kicking off the new year for us: what are you really excited about in queer lit coming up in 2018? And where do you hope this year takes you?

One of the books I’m most excited about is Cat Sebastian’s Unmasked by the Marquess. It looks like a regency m/f romance, but it is SO so so sooooo queer. SO queer. As Cat puts it:

“It’s the story of a servant who dresses as a man to impersonate her employer, realizes she doesn’t identify as a woman anymore, and accidentally falls in love with a prickly bisexual aristocrat. Featuring: spectacles, lemon drops, and a kitten.”

I beta read an early draft and I loved it. I cannot wait for it to be unleashed unto the world. My only regret is that I know m/m-only readers will skip this one because one LI isn’t a man and they will miss out on a story that rivals the best m/m I have ever read.

As for where 2018 takes me? Well, I’ll be writing my first non-binary character this year. We’ll see how well I do!

***

headshots-anna-zabo-1Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.

Anna has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where they fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. They also have a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.

Website * Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook * Facebook Reader Group

Guest Recs from Erin Ptah: Webcomics with Major Nonbinary Characters!

We are super lucky to have Erin Ptah on the site today, doing the first in a series of webcomic recs! You may recognize her name from this cover/excerpt reveal, and if webcomics are your thing, you’re not gonna wanna miss her posts or her work! Take it away, Erin!

Hey there, LGBTQReads, I heard you might be webcomic-curious. Let me hook you up with some recs.

The plan is to do a whole series of these, and I’m totally open to suggestions. So if there’s something you want to see more of in webcomics — whether it’s an identity thing like “f/f romance” or a trope thing like “queer stuff with robots” — just say so in a comment and I’ll give it a whirl.

Today’s theme: Webcomics with major nonbinary characters!


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(1) The Hazards of Love by Stan Stanley

The story of a queer teenager who made a few bad decisions and has found themselves in a world very far from Queens.

Fantasy drama, ongoing. The main character’s birth name is Amparo, and I bring this up because it’s not a deadname that was deliberately changed, they just inadvertently lost it in a bargan with a supernatural creature. Along with the rest of their identity. (Oops.)

So now they’re stuck in a fantastical alternate dimension, Bright World, which has these lovely designs and aesthetics drawn from the artist’s Mexican heritage. Nothing in Bright World gets given for free, and our hero doesn’t have much left to bargain with. As of the most recent comic, they’ve picked up a new name (Fawn), but lost some memories and a couple of appendages (hands).

Word of God is that Fawn would specifically ID as “agender butch” if they knew the terms, although it’s not something that comes up in-universe, because, you know, they have other stuff to worry about.


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(2) Chaos Life by A. Stiffler

Focuses on a queer relationship between A. Stiffler and K. Copeland, who create the comic! It also delves into politics, GSM issues, mental health, pop culture, cats and other randomness.

Autobio comedy, ongoing. Not nearly as much to say about this one because it’s mostly cute one-shot gags. The artist, A., is agender, and got married to K. over the course of the strip. They own an assortment of ridiculous cats. (Pet death does get addressed, when it comes up.)

This is the one comic in the list that’s grounded in actual reality, so it’ll have reactions to current events like the US’ legalization of same-sex marriage, and strip topics like Being Agender 101. Some of you may find this a useful resource…others may find it a minor annoyance to click past so you can get to the next joke. Either way, it also has a lot of good jokes.


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(3) Floraverse by glip

Floraverse is a webcomic and open world project focused on making stories and music. Viewer participation and discussion is highly encouraged.

Surreal fantasy, ongoing. And when I say “surreal” I mean…look, it starts out linear enough, with a little story about a cute bird-pixie and an even cuter jelly-critter trying to make a delivery. Then it skips around to some other stories in the same universe without resolving the first one, and eventually it becomes clear they’re not in chronological order, but now there’s something to do with time loops and characters getting reversioned and maybe the whole thing is just a play Jupet is watching? Or is Jupet writing the play/story/universe?

I have no idea. What I do know is, it’s beautiful. The character/creature designs are lush and varied, the art goes through a couple different complex styles, the color palettes alone are worth reading for.

There’s no explicit discussion about how gender is treated in-universe, just multiple characters who go by they/them, without any fuss or slip-ups by the people around them. The major ones are Beleth, a cat-demon who shows up in two different incarnations (versions? re-embodiments? something like that), and Jupet, a childlike but deceptively-powerful critter who appears to be 90% fluff.


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(4) Job Satisfaction by Jey

What is everyday life like for a professional summoner, their zealous assistant, and the demons who crash on their couch and help out with taxes?

Fantasy comedy, ongoing. Started out very slice-of-life, though it’s developed more drama and intrigue as it goes on. The nonbinary main characters are demon summoner Sinh Thùy — I’m not sure if they’re a demon themselves, or just a human who’s blue for some reason — and fussy assistent Lemme Laviolette, who seems to have a crush on their boss that may or may not be going anywhere.

Sidenote: Dr. Thùy uses forearm crutches, and there are scenes where you can see bars and other mobility aid architecture in the setting. I don’t remember if it’s been stated whether they’re for a chronic disease or a demon-inflicted injury or what, but either way it’s a detail that most artists wouldn’t bother to include, so it’s cool to see.

Most of it takes place in the normal world, where the general public knows that demons exist, they just mostly would rather not meet any. The trans characters get some misgendering from fellow humans, although ironically not so much from demons, which don’t seem to fit into human gender schemas anyway. Sure, they might eat you, but they can’t be bothered to figure out which pronouns would upset you.


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(5) Drop Out by gray

A comic about two girlfriends who go on a roadtrip.

Bittersweet drama, complete. You have to be in the right frame of mind to read it — girlfriends Lola and Sugar are actively suicidal for most of the story, which follows them on a trip to the Grand Canyon to jump over the edge. But if you’re in the right place, it’s cathartic and amazing, with some of the best writing about ongoing depression I’ve ever seen.

It’s also an anthro comic, with a pixel-y style and handwritten text that can be hard to read, but don’t pre-judge it on any of those things. You’ll miss out.

Both characters are different varieties of intersex, which comes up in their conversations, how the conditions have affected their backstories and interacted with their emotional issues. Lola seems to be comfortably nonbinary, in contrast with Sugar, who’s nominally a woman but talks about struggling with it, in a way you almost never see — characters either have their gender already settled when the story starts, or go through a linear discovery process along the way.

The whole thing is natural, and earnest, and comes in between silly random conversations about the finer points of ninja throwing knives. The author is also a depressed intersex nonbinary person, which shows through in how everything feels deep and well-integrated, not caricatured or pasted-on.

Seriously, it’s great and you should go read it.


ptah_profile_by_erinptah-dbwe6fuErin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (featuring bigender social worker Timothy/Camellia) and Leif & Thorn (featuring agender magic knight Juniper). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

LGBTQIAP+ Pride Month Sales

It’s Pride Month, which means a whole lot of LGBTQIAP+ books are on sale! (And some of them are just cheap year round. Basically, this post is a collection of stuff that’s under five bucks.)

Due to my personal life being a little hectic right now (*insert wave from very cute new baby*) I’m just throwing all categories and genres together in one post, but hopefully that’ll inspire people to find something brand-spankin’-new they might not have checked out otherwise!

(Please note I’m assembling this post nearly a week in advance of its going up. It’s possible some of the sale prices will no longer apply. Sorry about that if so.)

(Just about all links are Amazon Affiliate. Money earned via these links goes back into the site.)

Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver (f/f/f fantasy, $0.99)

Second Kiss and Double Exposure by Chelsea Cameron (f/f contemporary romance, $0.99)

Plastic Wings by C.T. Callahan (ace-spec Dystopian, $0.99)

In Memoriam by Nathan Burgione (m/m Fantasy, $0.99)

Daybreak Rising by Kiran Oliver (f/f Fantasy, $0.99)

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (f/f YA fantasy, $1.25)

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee (bi contemporary MG, $1.99)

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles (m/m historical romance, $1.99)

The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey (NA High Fantasy, $1.99)

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman (contemporary f/f Romance, $1.99)

HeartShip by Amy Jo Cousins (m/m Romance, $2.99)

Signal Boost by Alyssa Cole (m/m Post-Apocalyptic Romance, $2.99)

The Noble of Sperath by Siera Maley (f/f YA fantasy, $2.99)

Safe in Your Fire by Darien Cox (m/m PNR, $2.99)

Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde (contemporary m/nb romance, $2.99)

Wild by Hannah Moskowitz (bi m/f contemporary YA, $3.99)

Autumn by Cole McCade (m/m contemporary romance, $3.99)

Bliss by Fiona Zedde (lesbian erotica, $3.99)

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler (pan f/f contemporary NA, $3.99)

A Hundred Thousand Words by Nyrae Dawn (m/m contemporary NA romance, $3.99)

Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen (m/m contemporary romance, $3.99)

Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones (f/f historical fantasy, $4.99)

Small Change by Roan Parrish (bi m/f contemporary romance, $4.99)

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault (ace fantasy, $4.99)

Mature Content by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell (contemporary m/m romance, $4.99)

The Butch and the Beautiful by Kris Ripper (contemporary f/f romance, $4.99)

Documenting Light by E.E. Ottoman (trans m/m romance, $4.99)

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon (contemporary f/f NA romance, $4.99)

Takeover by Anna Zabo (contemporary m/m romance, $4.99)

Poison Kiss by Ana Mardoll (f/f/m PNR, $4.99)

Hello World by Tiffany Rose and Alexandra Tauber (ace sci-fi, $4.99)

 

 

Fave Five: Physically Disabled LGBTQA MCs in Contemporary Romance

Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans (m/nb)

Sated by Rebekah Weatherspoon (m/f)

Just Business by Anna Zabo (m/m)

Gays of Our Lives by Kris Ripper (m/m)

All in the Family by Q. Kelly (f/f)

Bonus: Second Position by Katherine Locke is not demisexual on page, but is a great choice for those seeking a demi m/f romance, and features an amputee hero

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12 LGBTQ Contemporary Romance Novellas

All links are Amazon Affiliate links; proceeds go back into LGBTQReads.com. All works on this list are from 25-150 pages, for your quick-reading pleasure! (With thanks to the Tumblr Asker who inspired this post and the SFF novella post to come!)

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Fearless by Shira Glassman ($1.29, f/f, 30 pp)

Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans ($1.99, m/nb, 44 pp)

What Happens in Berlin by Jen McConnell ($1.99, f/f, 100 pp)

Spice and Smoke by Suleikha Snyder ($2.66, m/m+, 114 pp)

The Belle vs. the BDoC by Amy Jo Cousins ($2.99, f/f, 89 pp)

The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis ($2.99, f/f, 104 pp)

Second Kiss by Chelsea M. Cameron ($2.99, f/f, 59 pp)

Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde ($2.99, m/nb, 65 pp)

Sated by Rebekah Weatherspoon ($2.99, m/f, 100 pp)

Full Exposure by Amy Jo Cousins ($2.99, m/m, 97 pp)

Whiskey Business by Avon Gale ($3.52, m/m, 117 pp)

Coffee Boy by Austin Chant ($3.99, m/m, 89 pp)