If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (Iran)
A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith (Japan)
Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley (Mexico)
Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera (Philippines)
Kaleidoscope Song by Fox Benwell (South Africa)
Welcome to Better Know an Author, a feature title I stole from Colbert Report because I miss it so, which will introduce you to a fabulous author of LGBTQIAP+ books every month! This month, the spotlight is on Robin Talley, who just released her newest book, Our Own Private Universe! Robin is an extremely prolific author of LGBTQ YA, as well as a huge reader and supporter of it, and I’m thrilled to have her here!
So, new book! I know with Our Own Private Universe, you were aiming for something like a queer-girl version of Judy Blume’s Forever, and you know I think you succeeded there! What was particularly important to you to include in the book, and why?
Thank you! With Our Own Private Universe, I set out to write the book I wished I’d had when I was a teenager and was first starting to figure out I was queer (which took me quite a while). What I wanted then, but wouldn’t have even known to look for, was a story that validated happy endings for queer girls. I wanted someone to tell me that however I wound up identifying, my life would go on, and it would be fun and interesting and with the usual ups and downs, just like it was for my straight friends. At that time, I was also desperate for representations of what it was like to be a girl in a relationship with another girl, complete with flirting and fighting and sex and everything in between. So I set out to cover all that in OOPU.
You’ve had some damn cool experiences in the publishing world, including hitting the NYT bestseller list and getting shortlisted for the Carnegie. What’s been the absolute coolest thing, and how do you usually celebrate?
I was pretty excited about the Carnegie situation. I got to go to London for that, which was awesome. Plus my UK publisher sent me a bottle of fancy champagne as a congratulations gift, which was lovely of them. My wife and I are not very good at finishing bottles of champagne by ourselves so we had some friends over and we made tacos and drank champagne. That might have been my favorite writerly celebration. 🙂
It will probably not shock you to learn that I’m a major fangirl of As I Descended. Have you considered queering up any other retellings, and if so, which ones? And whether or not you’re looking to write more, what kinds would you like to read?
Thank you again! And I might have a queer contemp retelling of Taming of the Shrew coming up, actually. Stay tuned for more on that! There are a bunch of other classic stories I’ve tried to tackle but haven’t been able to make work. Doesn’t someone have an f/f Pride & Prejudice in the works right now? That would probably be my #1 request.
What’s something you’ve seen in LGBTQIAP+ lit that’s really stuck with you, for better or for worse?
Right now what I’m most excited about are stories that focus on straight-up friendships between queer characters, like You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan. Those friendships can wind up being much more significant and lasting much longer than romantic relationships do, especially in the teen years. I’m glad we’re seeing that represented more in YA.
What are your favorite LGBTQIAP+ reads, and which ones are you most looking forward to?
My all-time favorite has long been The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth. Other faves include When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore, Ask the Passengers by AS King, The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan, Far From You by Tess Sharpe, Ash by Malinda Lo, and The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson. And coming up I’m really, really, really excited for Ramona Blue by the amazing Julie Murphy.
I’m excited that we’re anthology buddies in All Out, the historical all-LGBTQ antho coming out in 2018. What setting did you pick for your story, and why?
I am SO EXCITED for All Out. I can’t believe I got to be in an anthology with all of these amazing authors!! My story is set in 1726 in Kensington Palace in London, and it focuses on a romance between two servant girls. I chose the Georgian period after finding lots of fascinating tidbits about this era in my research. Now I want to know what the setting of yours is, Dahlia!
(Blogger’s note: I was slightly less ambitious about the “historical” aspect…like, 1994 Seattle less ambitious!)
My character in Feral Youth is definitely a girl who likes girls. And without giving too much away, readers interested in queer characters will find a LOT to like in this book.
And finally, what can you share with us about the awesome-sounding Pulp?
Pulp is my current work-in-progress, slated for 2018. It’s about lesbian pulp fiction, which were these incredible books were published in the 1950s and 1960s and sold very cheaply (think 25 cents) in drugstores and bus stations. They were intended for a male audience and often had lurid covers featuring scantily clad women, but a lot of the books were actually written by lesbians, and the best ones wound up being these really frank portrayals of lesbian life at a time when there were NO mainstream media images of queer people at all. So for a lot of readers, these books, with their lurid covers and all, were an essential lifeline—the only indication they had that there existed a community of other people like them. My own book, Pulp, has two different stories taking place in two timelines. One focuses on an 18-year-old girl in 1955 who’s just realizing she’s a lesbian and is writing a lesbian pulp romance, and the other follows a modern 17-year-old out-and-proud queer girl who comes across the other character’s book in the present day and tries to uncover the author, who wrote under a pseudonym and mysteriously disappeared from the public scene as soon as the book was published.
Robin Talley is the New York Times-bestselling author of four novels for teen readers: Our Own Private Universe, As I Descended, What We Left Behind, and Lies We Tell Ourselves. Her first book, Lies We Tell Ourselves, was the winner of the inaugural Amnesty CILIP Honour. Her work has been short-listed for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Concorde Book Award, and has been included on the American Library Association Rainbow List, the Amelia Bloomer Project List, and the Capitol Choices List. It has been nominated for the Kirkus Prize, the Young Adult Library Services Association Teens’ Top Ten, and the Goodreads Choice Awards, and has been selected for the Junior Library Guild. Robin was a Lambda Literary Foundation fellow, and has contributed short stories to the young adult anthologies A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers and Other Badass Girls, All Out, and Feral Youth.
Robin lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife, their daughter, and an antisocial cat. She enjoys reading about queer characters, analyzing Disney movies, and chocolate. You can find her at www.robintalley.com.
Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon (NA)
37 Things I Love (in No Particular Order) by Kekla Magoon (YA)
The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson (YA)
F*ths by G.L. Thomas (NA)
A Hundred Thousand Words by Nyrae Dawn (NA)
Bonus: Coming in 2017, Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (YA)
Double Bonus: For a Sci-Fi NA, check out To Terminator, With Love by Wes Kennedy (NA)
For those of you who feel like you’ve already read every LGBTQIAP+ book in existence, not to worry – there’s plenty still to come! Every TBRainbow Alert will have a mix of five LGBTQIAP+ titles to make sure are on your radar, along with three reasons why you should know them. If you missed the earlier alerts, you can check out those titles here. And now, because I can’t wait to get these books on your reading lists, check out some of what awaits in 2017!
Title: History is All You Left Me (January 17)
Author: Adam Silvera
Genre/Category: YA Contemporary
Rainbow details: gaaaaay (and a bi LI)
Why put it on your radar?
1. I mean, you read More Happy Than Not, right?
2. Not only is this a lovely, soul-crushing grief novel, but the exploration of mental illness as the MC wrestles with his OCD is excellent.
3. If you’ve ever wondered how quickly a book will shatter your heart, enjoy!
Title: Our Own Private Universe (January 31)
Author: Robin Talley
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: f/f with a bi MC
Why put it on your radar?
1. Robin Talley’s the most consistently publishing author of mainstream LGBTQ YA right now (this is book number 4, plus she’s got a queer short story in The Tyranny of Petticoats), so you’ll wanna stay on top of whatever she does!
2. If you’ve read books like Judy Blume’s Forever or Daria Snadowsky’s Anatomy of a Boyfriend that walk through both the emotional and physical complexities of a first sexual relationship in great detail and have thought “Maaaan, queer girls could really use that,” WELL. You are in luck!
3. No, seriously, this is the first YA I’ve ever read that discusses dental dams.
Title: Born Both: An Intersex Life (March 14)
Author: Hida Viloria
Genre/Category: Adult memoir
Rainbow details: Intersex
Why put it on your radar?
1. I don’t know if you’ve read any #ownvoices Intersex lit but I sure as hell haven’t.
2. In addition to being intersex, Viloria is also genderfluid and Latinx.
3. Viloria also has videos and an active blog on he/r site, so there’s already plenty of bonus content!
Title: The Cursed Queen (January 3)
Author: Sarah Fine
Genre/Category: YA Fantasy
Rainbow details: Bi female MC, f/f
Why put it on your radar?
1. Book one in this series, The Impostor Queen, was one of my fave fantasies of last year, so I’m dying for the next one!
2. This book positive screams “badass MC,” which is my crack.
3. Magic and torn loyalties and a romance with a chieftain’s daughter?? I MEAN.
Title: Star Crossed (March 14)
Author: Barbara Dee
Genre/Category: Contemporary MG
Rainbow details: Bi female MC
Why put it on your radar?
1. DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW LITTLE LGBTQ MG THERE IS?
2. Look how freaking adorable that cover is. LOOK.
3. I…actually don’t think I’ve ever seen a bi MC this young. The blurb alone pretty much makes my heart explode.
Today is a huuuuge day in LGBTQ YA releases, so get your wallets and library cards ready and check out what’s now out in the world! (And congrats to all the authors!)
Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.
Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.
Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.
But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.
Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.
But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.
Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.
Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.
The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…
A new state, a new city, a new high school. Mike’s father has already found a new evangelical church for the family to attend, even if Mike and his plainspoken little sister, Toby, don’t want to go. Dad wants Mike to ditch art for sports, to toughen up, but there’s something uneasy behind his demands.
Then Mike meets Sean, the new kid, and “hey” becomes games of basketball, partnering on a French project, hanging out after school. A night at the beach. The fierce colors of sunrise. But Mike’s father is always watching. And so is Victor from school, cell phone in hand.
And yesterday marked the release of yet another YA and an m/m Romance!
Kindra’s moral compass has never pointed north, but that’s what happens when you’re raised as an assassin and a thief. At sixteen, she’s fantastic with a blade, an expert at slipping through the world unnoticed, and trapped in a life she didn’t chose. But nothing in her training prepares her for what happens when her father misses a target.
In the week-long aftermath, Kindra breaks rank for the first time in her life. She steals documents, starts questioning who their client is and why the target needs to die, botches a second hit on her father’s target, and is nearly killed. And that’s before she’s kidnapped by a green-eyed stranger connected to a part of her childhood she’d almost forgotten.
Kindra has to decide who to trust and which side of the battle to fight for. She has to do it fast and she has to be right, because the wrong choice will kill her just when she’s finally found something worth living for.
Grey Jean-Marcelin wants to die. He thought painting his passion—vivid portrayals of Haitian life and vodou faith—would be enough to anchor him to this world. But it isn’t. And when the mysterious man known only as Saint saves Grey from a suicide attempt, it’s more curse than blessing—until Grey discovers that Saint isn’t just an EMT. He’s a banished fae, and can only survive by draining the lives of those he loves.
All Saint needed was a simple bargain: one life willingly given for another. But as Saint’s feelings for Grey grow deeper, centuries of guilt leave him desperate to save a man who doesn’t want salvation, even if Grey’s life means Saint’s death.
When Grey’s depression consumes him, only he can decide if living is worth the struggle. Yet his choice may come too late to save his life . . . or Saint’s soul. And whatever choice he makes, it may shatter them both.
Using “classics” fairly loosely here, but whatevs!
Great by Sara J. Benincasa (Contemporary The Great Gatsby)
As I Descended by Robin Talley (Paranormal Macbeth)
Marian by Ella Lyons (Fantasy Robin Hood)
Beast by Brie Spangler (Contemporary Beauty and the Beast)
Ash by Malinda Lo (Fantasy Cinderella)