Tag Archives: Not Your Villain

Better Know an Author: C.B. Lee

I am beyond psyched to have this month’s featured author on the site, because ICYMI, I am a pretty tremendous fangirl of Not Your Sidekick, and in case you’re not familiar with C.B. Lee, she’s a seriously kickass human. Not Your Sidekick actually first crossed my radar at the Romantic Times conference in 2016, where every Interlude Press author was also handing out swag for this title; it was clear she was an author they wanted to support! So of course, I had to check it out, and if you haven’t yet read it, please put this series on your to-read list: it’s so much fun, the romance is adorable, the characters and their friendship is great, and the representation is diverse and amazing.

But enough of listening to me babble; please welcome C.B. Lee!

It’s been so much fun seeing how much love and attention Not Your Sidekick has gotten! (See: Gay YA Book Club, WoC in Romance book club, Bisexual Book Awards, Lambda Awards…) What was the coolest part of your publication experience and what was your biggest surprise?

I was so overwhelmed to the response to the book being announced! It was kind of incredible how the original cover reveal with the summary really took offover the first weekend on Tumblr it hit over 5000+ notes and I was just like whoa! I’d looked through the tags and it was really such a response: people were excited Jess was Asian American, people were excited that the romance was between two girls, and I was just stunned and just so happy and grateful.

Publishing Not Your Sidekick has been an amazing journey. I think the readers are the best part of the experience, from meeting readers at book festivals and conventions to readers reaching out to me personally to talk about how much the story resonated with them, whether it was Jess feeling like not quite one or the other in terms of being Chinese-Vietnamese American, to her being the middle child and being overshadowed by her siblings, to being bisexual, and the story in general.

The biggest surprise was just seeing people respond to the novel! I had no idea it would become a thing, and I’m so happy people are enjoying it. I was really honored to be nominated for the Lambda Literary Awards and the Bisexual Book Awards, too!

I am so excited that the gang will be returning for a sequel called Not Your Villain. What can you tell us about it?

 It’s been so much fun to write in Bells’ perspective! Not Your Villain actually starts off a little before the timeline when you meet Jess in the first novel. I’m really excited to finally share what was going on during Not Your Sidekick when Bells kept disappearing on Jess and Emma. We’ll learn all about his superhero origins and more about the inner workings of the Heroes’ League of Heroes, and then we move forward with Bells and his friends as they start off on a mission to find the Resistance and deal with things that they think the adults aren’t prioritizing.

More info on Not Your Villain at my website!

For those who are just finding you now via Not Your Sidekick, can you describe your previous novel, Seven Tears at High Tide, in five words?

Selkies, magic, bisexuals, first love!

You keep some great writing tips on your site. What’s been the best source of craft education for you, and what’s some of your favorite advice?

I think there’s something to learn from everyone, and the Internet is such a great resource. As far as research goes in facts and worldbuilding, it makes it easy to search for anything and learn all about it, from how popular a word was in a historical era and to seasons in countries and anything and everything in between.

As far as craft, I think writing is different for everyone, so writing tips will vary. What will work for some people won’t work for other people, and it’s easy to get disheartened if you see a piece of writing advice, especially if it’s not your style and doesn’t work for you and to see other people swear by it. But as far as any advice goes, I would say to read broadly because there are so many resources, and just pick and choose what works for you. I’ve reblogged and organized a number of different writing posts on my Tumblr, and have also written a few ideas as well, but I don’t think there’s an end-all-be-all of writing advice in terms of craft.

I do have a favorite piece of advice from Erin Bow:

“No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”

This is really reassuring to me, about how your efforts efforts are not wasted. In writing a lot of work goes unseen: first drafts with huge chunks thrown out, paragraphs deleted, characters rebuilt from the ground up. Everything you do, whether it’s writing character bios or imagining them in alternate universes, or writing almost entire drafts one way and having to do it another way,  it’s part of the learning process and just adds to your overall skill and ability as a writer.

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

I think the message of hope is a persistent one I’ve seen across genres, and I think that’s so important. The fact that these novels exist and readers can identify with the characters and say I’m here, I’m seen and just have all kinds of stories is so powerful. And I love that I’m starting to see more and more people who want stories with happy endings, stories that are fluffy and cute, stories where the main conflict has nothing to do with their identity.

What are your favorite LGBTQIAP+ reads, and which ones are you most looking forward to?

I have so many favorites! Malinda Lo and Benjamin Alire Saenz are two authors whose works I love, and as far as recent favorites, I really adored FT Luken’s The Rules and Regulations of Mediating Myths and Magic. It’s a hilarious read and has a wonderful bisexual coming-out story as well as wonderfully complex and dynamic friendships and family relationships. (There’s also werewolves and Bigfoot and the end of the world, but it’s wonderful.

A few novels I’m looking forward to this fall include It’s Not Like It’s A Secret by Misa Sugiura, They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera, That Inevitable Victorian Thing by EK Johnston, Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke, and A Line in The Dark by Malinda Lo!

What do you wear, listen to, read, and/or watch when you need to feel a little more like a superhero?

I love movie soundtracksPacific Rim has to be my all time favorite, I always feel ready to take on aliens and get in a giant robot when I listen to it, although it’s usually my writing action soundtrack. Other soundtracks that make me feel like a hero: Wonder Woman, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones.

I also really love my leather lace-up boots. I would definitely go hero-ing in them.

You’ve got a lot of really beautiful representation in Not Your Sidekick, and I’m sure in Seven Tears at High Tide as well. What’s something it’s really important to you to show in your books?

It’s really important to me to show characters from different marginalized communities have adventures and fall in love and just do all the things straight white characters do.

Is your full name a total secret, or will we someday know the meaning behind “CB”? 

Carrie Beatrice!

Any idea what’s up next after Not Your Villain?

The next part of the adventure will be told from Emma’s perspective in Not Your Backup! I can’t say much other than the stakes will be raised! I’m also planning two short novellas within the universe, so look out for those!

Thank you so much for having me on the blog! You can find me at the following:

*****

Preorder Not Your Villain

Interlude PressAmazonBarnes & NobleMysterious GalaxyTarget

C.B. Lee is a bisexual Chinese-Vietnamese American writer who also works in outdoor education in Los Angeles for low-income youth.

NOT YOUR SIDEKICK was a 2017 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist for Best In YA/Children’s Fiction and a 2017 Bisexual Book Awards Finalist in Speculative Fiction. SEVEN TEARS AT HIGH TIDE is the recipient of a Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Fantasy Romance and also was a finalist for the 2016 Bisexual Book Awards in the YA and Sci-Fi/ Speculative Fiction categories.

CB has been featured at literary events such as the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Lambda Litfest’s Celebrating the Asian American LGBTQ+ Experience at the Chinese American Museum, YALLWEST and Pasadena Litfest as well as a guest at  popular panels and discussions such as DragonCon’s “LGBTQIA in YA” , “BiScifi: Queer Heroes in Science Fiction and More”, “The Craft of Dystopia”,  “Magic and Worldbuilding,”, WonderCon’s “Sisterhood of the Self-Sufficient,” Emerald City Comic Con’s “Diversity in Publishing,” and San Diego Comic Con’s “Super Asian America” and “Into the Fanzone!”

 

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End of Year Book Survey: 2016

This is one of my favorite posts (courtesy of Jamie of Perpetual Page Turner) to do on my personal blog, and I thought it’d be fun to bring it here, using just the LGBTQIAP+ books I’ve read this year, and hear what your answers would be in the comments! (Note: a few of these answers on my personal blog were LGBTQIAP+ books anyway, so those have been copy-pasted here.) So, let’s see how this goes:

2016 Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 64 books w/LGBTQIAP+ protags
Number of Re-Reads: Just Out on Good Behavior, for obvious reasons!
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary YA

  1. Best Book You Read in 2016:

YA Fantasy: And I Darken by Kiersten White
YA Contemporary: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
YA Thriller: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
YA Sci-Fi: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
NA Romance: Hold Me by Courtney Milan
Adult Romance: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Pretty much any book I expected/hoped would have better representation than it does.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Best surprises are the ones that had queer POVs in books I definitely did not expect to see them in, and wouldn’t necessarily have read this year (if ever) if bloggers didn’t push me to! So: Cherry by Lindsey Rosin, Winning by Lara Deloza, and This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I asked Twitter, and apparently it’s between Cherry by Lindsey Rosin, The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie, and This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin!

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Series Started: Five Boroughs by Santino Hassell and Cyberlove by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell. I’m much worse about reading YA series than I am about Romance series, but I’m super excited to read the sequels to And I Darken by Kiersten White (i.e. Now I Rise), Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee (i.e. Not Your Villain), and The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (i.e. The Edge of the Abyss).

Sequel: The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

Series Ender: Pretty sure Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo’s the only one I read with any queer POVs!

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Santino Hassell – picked up one book, continued to read four more of his throughout the year.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie! I know that conceptually that book is so many people’s dream, but it’s not my usual thing and I found it totally unputdownable. And Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee – not usually a superhero-book reader but this was so much fun, and I’m so psyched it’s gonna be a continuing series.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Apparently The Abyss Surrounds Us!

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Uhhhh definitely at least the opening of Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell. I don’t get much time to reread, but.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

Perfect Ten by L. Philips, which is fun since that was revealed here!

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Juliet from Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. Honestly, in any given year she writes a book, that book’s gonna be the answer.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis. That’s one of my favorite LGBTQIAP YAs of all time now and people were talking about its greatness for SO LONG, but I was slow to it for no good reason.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

To the boys who get called girls,
the girls who get called boys,
and those who live outside these words.
To those called names
and those searching for names of their own.
To those who live on the edges,
and in the spaces in between.
I wish for you every light in the sky.

~the dedication of When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Under Threat by Robin Stevenson (144 pp)
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (536 pp)

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith, both because of how scarily compelling I found it and because it’s kinda dark and terrifying.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Oof, this is tough. I think maybe Kai and Garrett from Strong Signal? I am bad at choosing these.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Frances and Aled in Radio Silence by Alice Oseman.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Published in 2016: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Coming in 2017: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
But it feels like a lie not to mention Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake, coming in 2018

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis, which thank God Becky Albertalli finally got me to read. Should also mentioned that I would never have picked up This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin if not for Rachel G. telling me it had an ace MC.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

I am not good at this. Can I pass?

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo and Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

I mean, Leigh Bardugo’s pretty unbeatable here, right? Although definite shoutout to Zoraida Cordova’s Labyrinth Lost.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Published pre-2016: How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by JC Lillis
Published in 2016: Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
Coming post-2016: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (June 20, 2017)

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour. It didn’t even happen immediately, but as the book sank in, I just completely lost it.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

I feel like in LGBTQIAP+ lit almost everything is a hidden gem because they rarely get decent marketing budgets, but I have such a soft spot for Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate, for quietly delivering both (explicit) pan and (implicit) ace rep in a mainstream YA. While both of those words pop up a bunch in 2017 YA, 7WWL was the only mainstream 2016 YA I saw to contain either one. (And yes, it’s also a good book!)

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

For sheer standout beauty, When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith, which is definitely by design and which I utterly loved.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

Queer Lit on my Mind, which isn’t exactly a book blog but it’s a (now-) friend’s Tumblr I think posts great reviews.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?

I’m actually a terrible reviewer, and since I keep needing to remind people this isn’t a review site, I’m going to abstain from this question so I don’t send the wrong message!

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Not that I can take any credit for it, personally, but gotta go with Casey Lawrence’s “Goodbye, Bad Bi“!

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Only did one LGBTQ panel this year – with Adam Silvera, Jenn Marie Thorne, and Kenneth Logan – but it was great! Also attended a good one featuring Rebecca Podos, Kenneth Logan, Cordelia Jensen, and I.W. Gregorio.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Kicking off this site, I’d say!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Thank you to guest-posting author Casey Lawrence, whose “Goodbye, Bad Bi” was by far the most popular post on the site this year.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I did hope more people would share the post of Trans Lit Under $5 – most of those books are #ownvoices titles that could definitely use some love!

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The LA all-Romance bookstore The Ripped Bodice is amazing, and so great for queer romance. And I’m not just saying that because they made Out on Good Behavior their book club pick one month, but I’m also not not saying that? Because choosing an f/f NA for book club is pretty damn awesome.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Finally launching this site! (And my personal Goodreads challenge of reading 175 books.)

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon – I’ve been saving that series for myself forever!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert. I freaking loved Pointe and this character is bi and Jewish, so, no-brainer! But absolutely highly anticipating Noteworthy by Riley Redgate and Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee, both of which sound super clever and fun, and by authors I’m really curious to see more from as well. Redgate did something really fantastic for YA by bringing it its first mainstream on-the-page pansexual character, and Tash reportedly contains fantastic on-the-page ace rep, so, lots to look forward to!

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura, hands-down.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

Series Ending: The Savage Dawn by Melissa Grey
Sequel: The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie (which is also a series ending)
Companion: YA: Not Your Villain by CB Lee; Romance: Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Actually have a new “Better Know an Author” up every month. (And yes, I have ones scheduled for January and February!)

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

There are actually a lot of these, which is delightful! How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake, Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley, and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee are three I loved, blurbed, and definitely recommend. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera is fantastic, Perfect Ten by L. Philips and Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde are so delightful, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour is beautiful and emotional and makes you scared to love anyone but also so grateful that you do, and…I could probably go on forever, so I’ll shut up, but you’ll see plenty more in discussion soon!

That’s my year! How was yours?