Tag Archives: Rob Costello

August 2022 Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction

Marquette University professor of English B. Pladek’s DRY LAND, set at the cusp of America’s involvement in World War I, when a young queer forester discovers an uncanny gift for growing plants, seemingly from nothing, to Dennis Lloyd at University of Wisconsin Press, for publication in fall 2023, by Brenna English-Loeb at Transatlantic Literary Agency (world English).

Mark Waddell’s THE BODY IN THE BACK GARDEN, a queer cozy following a young investigative journalist as he inherits his estranged aunt’s estate in a coastal Canadian village, which includes a dead body behind the house that he is forced to investigate with a very handsome Mountie, to Faith Black Ross at Crooked Lane, for publication in fall 2023, by Melissa Edwards at Stonesong (world).

Ghassan Zeineddine’s DEARBORN, a collection of tragicomic stories that examines the diverse range and complexities of the Arab American community in Dearborn, Michigan, over several decades, exploring themes of identity, generational conflicts, war trauma, migration, sexuality, queerness, notions of home and belonging, and more, to Elizabeth DeMeo at Tin House Books, for publication in fall 2023.

Emily Hamilton’s THE STARS TOO FONDLY, a debut queer space odyssey—part sci-fi, part sapphic rom-com—following four friends who break into a storied spaceship with a mysterious past and accidentally blast off to a planet lightyears away, with a hologram of the ship’s previous captain as their only guide (and an improbable, impossible love interest); about found family, interdimensional travel, and the galaxy-saving power of love, to Nate Lanman at Voyager, in a very nice deal, at auction, by Roma Panganiban at Janklow & Nesbit (NA).

2021 Lambda Literary Fellow Craig Wilse’s PROVIDENCE, pitched as reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith, in which an introverted queer English professor falls for an enigmatic sophomore who lures him into his web of chaos and deceit, to Claire Wachtel at Union Square & Co, in a nice deal, in an exclusive submission, for publication in spring 2024, by Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord Literistic (world English).

NYT-bestselling and Lambda Literary Award-winning author TJ Klune’s four original untitled novels about queer love and family, set in curious and enchanting worlds, to Ali Fisher at Tor, in a major deal, in a seven-figure deal, in an exclusive submission, in a four-book deal, by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency (world English).

Clementine Taylor’s SOMETHING ABOUT HER, following two young women at the University of Edinburgh and the romantic connection that grows between them as they navigate the pressures of school and family, pitched in the vein of Sally Rooney and Emma Cline, to Gabriella Mongelli at Putnam, by Millie Hoskins at United Agents (world).

Korean author Hwang Jungeun and translator Janet Hong’s SAVAGE ALICE, about a tormented drag queen—pitched as a Korean Hedwig—who leaves Seoul and returns to their small countryside hometown and must survive the bullying, marginalization, and tortured life in order to survive; and EVERY YEAR, to Chad Post at Open Letter, in a pre-empt, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in January 2023 and 2024, by Barbara Zitwer at Barbara Zitwer Agency (world English).

Short fiction writer, poet, essayist, and reviewer Jarrod Campbell’s THE REASON I’M HERE, a collection of fictions featuring queer protagonists in their attempts to navigate memories and their consequences, morality, and the silences within relationships; pitched as influenced by Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, and Andrew Holleran, to James Reich at Stalking Horse Press, in a nice deal, for publication in June 2023 (NA and UK).

Pushcart-nominated NYU MFA alum Cleo Qian’s LET’S GO LET’S GO LET’S GO, a debut slipstream short story collection exploring the alienated, technology-mediated lives of young Asian and Asian American women, restless with fear, desire, queer longing, and escapist compulsions, who are far from the dutiful, docile stereotypes, to Alyssa Ogi at Tin House Books, for publication in summer 2023, by Annie Hwang at Ayesha Pande Literary (NA).

Rob Costello’s THE DANCING BEARS: QUEER FABLES FOR THE END TIMES, a collection of eleven dark speculative tales featuring queer characters dealing with queer themes, to Steve Berman at Lethe Press, in an exclusive submission, for publication in March 2024, by Marie Lamba at Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency (world English).

Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award SJ Sindu’s THE GOTH HOUSE EXPERIMENT, a tragicomic collection of character-driven stories ranging from the fantastical to the all-too-real, following an array of loners and artists—a boy with wings, a poet haunted by the ghost of Oscar Wilde, a queer beer brewer, a viral influencer—as they struggle to overcome grief in the wake of divorce, the pandemic, and other significant life changes, to Mark Doten at Soho Press, in an exclusive submission, by Erin Harris at Folio Literary Management (NA).

Children’s/Middle Grade Fiction

Newbery Award Honoree, National Book Award finalist, and two-time Stonewall Award-winning author Kyle Lukoff’s THE GOLEM OF REFUSE, about a Jewish trans youth fighting evil–human and otherwise–with his friends and community, followed by an untitled middle grade novel, to Ellen Cormier at Dial, in a good deal, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2024, by Saba Sulaiman at Talcott Notch Literary Services (world).

Young Adult Fiction

Author of THE SKY BLUES and the forthcoming If I See You Again Tomorrow Robbie Couch’s YOU AGAIN, after the death of his best friend leaves him heartbroken and adrift, a gay teen enters an immersive study aimed at boosting his ability to forge bonds with classmates; just as researchers begin to help him form new relationships (and maybe even fall in love), he finds himself wondering if his friend is really gone for good… or if he’s losing his grip on reality, to Alexa Pastor at Simon & Schuster Children’s, in a very nice deal, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2024, by Moe Ferrara at BookEnds (world English).

M.E. Corey’s OUT OF BLUE COMES GREEN, in which a transgender teen wants what every other teenage boy wants—a girlfriend and a successful rock band—but when a new girl assumes the teen is a boy and asks him out, he accepts without correcting her; what could possibly go wrong?, to Tamara Grasty at Page Street, in a nice deal, for publication in winter 2024, by Tina Schwartz at The Purcell Agency (world).

Alex Dingley’s ANCESTREE, pitched as Crimson Peak meets The Green Knight, a queer YA horror graphic novel in which a young prince finds out the unsavory truth about his royal lineage when he becomes haunted by a dark creature lurking in the woods surrounding his family’s castle, to Michelle Nguyen at Oni Press, with Desiree Rodriguez editing, for publication in 2025, by Britt Siess at Britt Siess Creative Management (world).

Author of the forthcoming titles HAZEL HILL IS GONNA WIN THIS ONE and NOAH FRYE GETS CRUSHED Maggie Horne’s STAY HERE WITH ME, pitched as a cross between SOME GIRLS DO and Netflix’s The Half of It, a queer love story that centers on two best friends (and recent exes, after one of them came out as gay) who find themselves developing feelings for the same girl, to Rachel Diebel at Feiwel and Friends, at auction, for publication in fall 2024, by Claire Friedman at Inkwell Management (NA).

Author of the forthcoming FUNERAL GIRL Emma K. Ohland’s HERE GOES NOTHING, pitched as a femme queer update of Much Ado About Nothing that finds across-the-street neighbors endlessly feuding and just maybe falling in love, sparking questions for one about her asexual identity, her place in their friend group, and her plans for the future, to Amy Fitzgerald at Carolrhoda Lab, for publication in fall 2024, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Louangie Bou-Montes’s debut DON’T FEAR THE REAPER, pitched as CEMETERY BOYS meets UNDEAD GIRL GANG, in which the 16-year-old, Afro-Latinx son of the local mortician accidentally reanimates the dead body of the boy he had more than friendly feelings for and has to uncover the truth about his family’s necromantic abilities to keep him alive for good, to Carolina Ortiz at Harper Children’s, in a pre-empt, for publication in fall 2024, by Saritza Hernandez at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Non-Fiction

Educator in the kink and queer communities Lee Harrington’s BECOME YOUR OWN BELOVED: A GUIDE TO DELIGHTING IN SELF-CONNECTION, sharing how readers can ease the pain of loneliness, heal longtime emotional wounds, and celebrate themselves as complete beings in and of themselves, embracing an all-inclusive approach to appeal to readers of any gender, age, race, sexual orientation, economic status, and disability, to Elena Vega at Twin Flame, for publication in February 2023 (world).

BDSM educator, Lambda Literary fellow, creator of the Image Comics series SFSX, and host of the eponymous podcast Tina Horn’s WHY ARE PEOPLE INTO THAT, a queer feminist exploration of kink, blending cultural criticism and personal narrative to examine how we conceptualize sex, pleasure, gender, fantasy, and power—and how we can reimagine those concepts for a more liberated future, to Carrie Napolitano at Hachette Books, by Sarah Bolling at The Gernert Company (NA).

Photographer Julie Rae Powers ed.’s QUEERING APPALACHIA’S VISUAL HISTORY, an anthology of contemporary images and writing by artists currently living in or from Appalachia who identify as queer, to Abby Freeland at University Press of Kentucky, in a nice deal, for publication in fall 2024.

Performer, co-executive producer of HBOMax’s Legendary, and member of the House of Xtravaganza Sydney Baloue’s UNDENIABLE: A HISTORY OF VOGUING, BALLROOM AND HOW IT CHANGED MY LIFE (AND THE WORLD), the untold history of ballroom—a transformative social space of competition, experiment, and creativity in gender, sexuality, and culture—a driving force in the Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ community and, eventually, of profound influence to wider American society, as told through the intimate story of how voguing helped the author to realize and embrace his identity as a transgender man, to Angela Ledgerwood at Sugar23, with Libby Burton at Crown editing, at auction, by Alice Whitwham at The Cheney Agency (NA).

Inside an Anthology: Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America

Welcome to another edition of Inside the Anthology! Today we’re celebrating Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America, ed. by Nora Shalaway Carpenter, which, as you may have guessed, contains rural YA fiction, some of which is queer! It releases today from Candlewick, and here’s some more info:

Gracie sees a chance of fitting in at her South Carolina private school, until a “white trash”-themed Halloween party has her steering clear of the rich kids. Samuel’s Tejano family has both stood up to oppression and been a source of it, but now he’s ready to own his true sexual identity. A Puerto Rican teen in Utah discovers that being a rodeo queen means embracing her heritage, not shedding it. . . .

For most of America’s history, rural people and culture have been casually mocked, stereotyped, and, in general, deeply misunderstood. Now an array of short stories, poetry, graphic short stories, and personal essays, along with anecdotes from the authors’ real lives, dives deep into the complexity and diversity of rural America and the people who call it home. Fifteen extraordinary authors – diverse in ethnic background, sexual orientation, geographic location, and socioeconomic status – explore the challenges, beauty, and nuances of growing up in rural America. From a mountain town in New Mexico to the gorges of New York to the arctic tundra of Alaska, you’ll find yourself visiting parts of this country you might not know existed – and meet characters whose lives might be surprisingly similar to your own.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Book Depository

And here are the authors of the queer stories, talking about their work!

“The Hole of Dark Kill Hollow” by Rob Costello

Dark speculative fiction with a queer bent is my creative wheelhouse. So, when Nora Shalaway Carpenter gave me free rein to contribute any kind of story I wanted to an anthology that would celebrate the rich diversity of teen life in rural America, I knew my piece had to be creepy. “The Hole of Dark Kill Hollow” is the result.

I came up with the idea shortly after a visit my husband and I paid to the Shawangunk Mountains of upstate New York. I’d never been to that corner of my home state before, and something in the air of those thickly wooded peaks and valleys spoke to me. Something mysterious, magical, and perhaps a little bit sinister. Soon, that something had evoked the image of two best friends—one gay, one not, each with secret hurts and desires—as well as the malevolent presence in the woods that offers much but could take everything away from them both.

Yet, the real trick with the story for me lay not in the concept but in getting the characters right. Above all, I wanted to depict a friendship between two teenage boys whose sexuality is irrelevant to their bond. I love queer romance as much as the next gay guy, but I don’t think we see enough portrayals of purely platonic male love in YA. Jesse, my gay protagonist, has an awful lot of problems in his life—really thorny, wrenching, heavy stuff. But his best friend Tyler is his rock. Over the course of the story, as they draw closer and closer to making a terrible mistake, it becomes clear to them (and to the reader) just how precious their friendship truly is.

Life saving, in fact. Together, I hope these two boys will challenge some of the toxic stereotypes about queerness, masculinity, and love that still poison our culture today.

“A Border Kid Comes of Age” by David Bowles

When writing my award-winning MG novel-in-verse They Call Me Güero, I did a lot of digging into my own childhood, growing up in a small community on the Mexican-US border in deep South Texas. Most of what I pulled into the fictional narrative were happy memories, beloved traditions, humorous incidents that I knew would draw readers into the complex and beautiful lives of border folks.

But I stopped short of one of the darker aspects of my adolescence in this Mexican American enclave called the Rio Grande Valley: the fear I felt when I considered the deep-seated homophobia of so many local men. As I realized I was attracted as much by boys as by girls, panic set in. My youngest uncle had just been run out of town, taking refuge at last in Austin, when he was caught outside one of the Valley’s clandestine gay clubs.

Like other queer Chicanx folks of the 80s, I managed to make a sort of peace with myself and those I cared about. Married an incredible queer woman. Eventually became a teacher and a mentor to students who, in slightly more enlightened times, found themselves in similar straits.

At the intersection of their lives and mine, I have crafted “A Border Kid Comes of Age,” a verse short story about the protagonist of They Call Me Güero, four years after the events of that book. I’ve given him the courage and family support I only wish I had enjoyed.

That’s the joy of being an author. You can craft the world you want to see.

All queer teens deserve a happy ending.

So I wrote him one.

“Best in Show” by Tirzah Price

When Nora approached me with the idea for this anthology, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about, and Molly sprang to life almost immediately. Like many of the contributors, I borrowed heavily from my own life when writing “Best in Show,” but I struggled to put into words my experience of growing up queer and rural, and the complicated feelings that arise in me even now.

Like Molly, I showed pigs in 4-H, lived on a farm, and picked up my first date in a farm truck that was older than us both. Like Molly, I’ve felt torn between the excitement of a new crush and the fear that acting on said crush means being visibly different in my town. I enjoy a certain amount of privilege even today—some people are surprised to find that my spouse is not a man—and as I’ve grown older, I’ve gained more confidence in myself and my relationships. But too often growing up rural and queer oftentimes means making a choice between leaving, or sticking around and finding the courage to challenge perceptions in your community, and face questions, discrimination, and even bigotry as they come up. That’s not always easy, and sometimes it’s downright exhausting. And yet, I’ve never wanted to define my hometown by the worst interactions I’ve had with others over who I love, because it discounts all of the fantastic people I know—and many times, some people I thought for sure would write me off have surprised me with their support and acceptance. Overall, I remain optimistic. Not because I want to present an unrealistic view of rural living, but because I want readers, especially teens, who are queer and live in small towns to feel seen, and to feel as though they don’t have to follow the narrative prescribed to them.

Shae Carys, “Black Nail Polish”

When I started “Black Nail Polish,” I had a rough idea of what the story would be about. It’s a bit autobiographical, although I didn’t find out about my Ehlers-Danlos until I was much older than Maddie and our motivations were a little different. I was miserable in high school until I decided to express myself, to dress like I wanted to, wearing black nail polish and lipstick and fishnets and vinyl. It had the added benefit of people making way for me in the halls who had previously tormented me. I later found out that my popular friends envied me for not caring what others thought. I will admit, it was heady.

Maddie’s embrace of the gothic comes from a place of frustration – it’s less about the desire to stand out, since she’ll never fit in. Dealing with the news of a disability is a multilayered process, much like grief. There is a grief to it, certainly some anger. It was important to me that Maddie wasn’t alone in the process of dealing with it, since it can be one of the loneliest things in the world. I will say that in the original version, Maddie’s crush on her best friend was explicit, but in the end, we decided that it didn’t need to be. The crush is still there; it’s just not the focus of the story. I’m sure Maddie will figure herself out later, just like I did.