Tag Archives: Seven Ways We Lie

Better Know an Author: Riley Redgate

I am so excited to have Riley Redgate on the blog this month. If you’re not already familiar with her excellent YAs, rectify that immediately by reading Seven Ways We Lie as you wait for Noteworthy to release on May 2nd! Not only are her books and brain super fun and unique, but she’s got some skills when it comes to getting underrepresented POVs on the page, which is something I think we can alllll appreciate around here. But I’ll let her tell you more about that!

Congrats on the upcoming release of Noteworthy! One of my favorite things in the book is that not only is Jordan figuring out her own sexuality, but she’s also critically examining her actions as they pertain to gender identity. Was that always a planned part of Jordan’s journey, or did that come about as it was unfolding?

Thank you! Yes, I always wanted to address gender identity in Noteworthy. We’ve reached a point where not addressing gender identity in these sorts of narratives feels disingenuous to me (especially in a liberal environment like an arts school). That said, it was critically important to me that I steer clear of using the trans community as a foil or mirror for Jordan (who’s cis), in a way that felt diminishing of the importance of trans kids’ lives, identities, and struggles. I actually did have a draft that omitted examinations of gender for fear of that feeling of exploitation, but it felt off, tonally, so out the door it went. I don’t know. Striking that balance—maintaining a feeling of awareness, but not using the community as, basically, an object for sort of voyeuristic consumption by a cis narrator—was one of the toughest lines to walk in the manuscript.

I also really love that Jordan’s narrative is that of a child of immigrants, which is a glaringly important one in the current political climate, and especially welcome in LGBTQ lit. For those who haven’t gotten to read Noteworthy yet, what would you say about how her background informs her choices and identity?

Jordan’s narrative in many ways is about belonging. There’s no foregrounded struggle where she’s asked to take ownership of her identity as a Chinese girl, but I think the alienation of being a child of immigrants peeks out several times. She acutely feels the distance between her American identity and her parents’ upbringing abroad, but there’s also the usual sense of not being American enough (e.g., to land roles written for white Americans). Those smaller tensions can be unavoidable in the day-to-day.

Your books strongly acknowledge queerness without ever really being “about” it, or about coming out, but as far as I know, you’re the first author to put a pansexual main character on the page in mainstream YA, with your debut, Seven Ways We Lie. Was that a challenge along the way? And what kind of response have you received to that from readers?

The response from the YA community, and more privately from readers, has been wonderful. Writing a pan character in a book with seven perspectives was an interesting experience; I get a lot of “I wish [X character] had their own book,” and the pansexual narrator is at the top of this list. This makes sense to me. Because there’s such a dearth of narratives with pan characters at their centers, I understand why his perspective being limited to 1/7 of the narrative would feel frustrating. That said, I really hoped for him to be a lovable character to readers, because when there’s very little representation of a certain identity, all new representations tend to feel definitive in a way that is sort of overwhelming. Actually, though, the biggest concern for me was that people would take away only the fact that his character is associated with the deadly sin of Greed — the goal was to deconstruct the common tendency to think that pan & bi people are ‘greedy’ and ‘need to choose.’

Seven Ways We Lie also has a narrator working through the process of figuring out he’s aromantic asexual, though he hasn’t quite found those words yet. Or, at least, that’s how I read him. Do you find readers tend to read and respond to him that same way? (I definitely had someone tweet at me that he was the closest she’d ever seen to herself in a book!) Is that an identity you might explore more in future books?

I get a lot of messages about this narrator from people who see themselves in him: asexual readers, aromantic readers, and autistic readers. I think his realization that he’s aromantic asexual is textually explicit enough that acearo readers will recognize that arc, and I’ve seen that response. Still, in retrospect I wish it were on the page, as well as his identity as an autistic boy. I do plan to keep writing characters of all sexualities; I would be very surprised if I didn’t write another acearo character.

You’re not only an author, you’re also a musician. How do you find those two passions intersect, and where can your readers also find your music?

This is true! I do the musics! Folks can find my singer/songwriter stuff at my Bandcamp, and for giggles, here’s me singing with my college a cappella group, the Owl Creeks. I’m also writing a soundtrack for Noteworthy!

I did music long before writing. I’m a classically trained pianist of 19 years (whose training is quickly atrophying now that I don’t have a piano where I live, alas). I’ve also sung in musical theater, choir, & a cappella since high school. Music certainly informs my sense of rhythm when it comes to writing, and…well, honestly, writing prose makes songwriting feel simple and relaxing, because songwriting doesn’t quite have to make sense. My favorite songs don’t quite cohere, lyrically; they make these intricate soundscapes where the tone and style of the music define how you feel upon listening rather than the words. Bon Iver is really good at this in particular, but I’m also thinking about pop music, which I think – when the formula’s executed to perfection – is unparalleled for conveying the emotion of yearning, whether or not the lyrics are, uh, questionable. This is why I will defend to the death the Chainsmokers’ seminal work, “Closer.”

Obviously you’re not new to the world of a capella, either. What are your favorite covers, and what are you still dying to see done?

Oh Lord how do I pick. Okay. My all-time favorite covers are “We Found Love” by Voices in Your Head at UChicago, “Honeymoon Avenue” and “What Now” by the Nor’Easters, and “Move” by the Sons of Pitches. Runner-ups are “Domino” by the Duke’s Men, “Tightrope” by the SoCal VoCals, and—I don’t care if they’re mainstream, lmao, they’re incredible—Pentatonix’s “Dog Days Are Over.”

I’m still waiting for that perfect arrangement of Taylor Swift’s “Style.” And will someone please do a mashup of CeeLo Green’s “F*ck You” and Meghan Trainor’s “Lips Are Movin'” already? Like, good Lord, I’ll do it myself if this doesn’t happen soon. Yes that is a threat.

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

In high school, I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson. What stuck with me is Tiny Cooper’s embodiment of archetypically gay characteristics in a way that’s uniquely his own. I feel as if there’s a tendency to write, specifically, gay male characters as cleaving away from typically feminine characteristics, ostensibly to steer clear of stereotyping. But this ends up excluding gay men who are more feminine. Tiny was notable to me in that he reminded me that queer people present themselves the way they do for all sorts of reasons, all equally interesting to examine.

My current favorite authorly pastime is mentally creating anthologies, since YA seems to be springing up with great ones everywhere. If you were helming one, what would you love the subject to be, and who would be among your dream contributors?

SCIENCE FANTASY ANTHOLOGY PLEASE. Oh my God. My favorite genre. Just anything science fantasy. Dream contributors would include: Emily Skrutskie, because we’ve talked about this before; Heidi Heilig, because her brain is beautiful; Leigh Bardugo, because I’m a massive Bardugo fangirl please keep this a closely guarded secret; and Zadie Smith, because look, I know she’s not a YA writer, but I think if she wrote a science fantasy story I would just read it and then drop dead on the spot.

Any chance you can share about what you’re working on now?

Yep! Currently working on my 2018 release. It’s about a girl named Laila who’s a creative writer. (Real stretch there.) Near the end of high school, Laila’s kind, supportive creative writing teacher is replaced with a viciously critical, perpetually unimpressed Pulitzer Prize winner who believes one must suffer to make great art. Laila becomes obsessed with gaining this woman’s approval, and begins walking that ever-fascinating line between sanity and the pursuit of perfection.

I’m also working on this massive four-book epic fantasy project, which I occasionally weep about on Twitter, mostly accompanied with prophecies of my own impending stress-related death. Cheers!

*****

Riley Redgate graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in Economics. Her seven-deadly-sins-themed first novel, Seven Ways We Lie, was released last year. Her next, Noteworthy, will be released May 2nd. She currently lives in Brooklyn and wears a lot of gray, and drafts theories on why these two things so often coincide, statistically.

Riley’s Books for Purchase

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Fave Five: Pansexual Main Characters

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate (YA)

The Melody of You and Me by Maria Hollis (NA, f/f)

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler (NA, f/f)

Double Exposure by Chelsea Cameron (f/f)

First and First by Santino Hassell (m/m)

Bonus: Coming in October, 27 Hours by Tristina Wright (YA)

Under the Gaydar: Asexual Rep

“Under the Gaydar” features books you might not realize have queer content but do! And definitely belong on your radar.

This time around we’re looking at books with major characters on the ace spectrum that don’t have that info in the blurb (and haven’t been on every post about this since the beginning of time; at this point I assume most people have discovered books like Quicksilver by RJ Anderson) – hopefully this will help expand your library a bit!

Depositphotos_40057967_s-2015This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin – Though the book doesn’t include the label “asexual,” discussion of being a romantic asexual (and finding your place in a romantic relationship) is a significant portion of this 2016 contemporary YA.

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate – Redgate’s debut is delightfully infamous for being the first mainstream YA to feature an on-page Pansexual main character, but among the 7 POVs is another queer character on his own journey to figuring out he’s aromantic asexual. As with the above, you won’t see the word on the page, but you won’t be able to miss it, either.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan Maguire – Portal fantasy with ace rep and atmosphere to spare, from one of SFF’s most popular prolific authors.

Overexposed by Megan Erickson – M/M NA Romance with an on-page demisexual main character. I think that’s maybe all I need to say about that?

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman – I don’t usually feature books in which the character in question isn’t a POV character, but the presence of a major on-page demisexual character in YA is just too great to ignore! If you’re not in the UK, where it released in 2016, make sure you nab this one as soon as it’s available where you are.

27 Hours by Tristina Wright – Coming out in October 2017, this sci-fi YA features a host of underrepresented POVs, including one who’s ace.

Before I Let Go by Marie Nijkamp – Releasing in January 2018, this fabulous Alaska-set contemporary YA I have read and you have not (#CPlove) features an (#ownvoices) ace MC.

For some more instances of on-page labels in non-POV characters, check out Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham, Lunaside by JL Douglas, and Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg! And do check out this interview with Erica Cameron, to see which of her books apply as well!

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?

Fave Five: Winter YA 2016

Fave Five will generally be a little less…well, general, but since this is the first edition of it for the site, I’m gonna use it to quickly catch up on what are in my opinion the most noteworthy LGBTQIAP+ YA titles of the year so far!

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate (P, Contemp)

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (L, Sci-Fi)

This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin (A, Contemp)

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle (G, Contemp)

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (GF, Contemp)

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (G, Spec Fic)

Rainbow heart

(Yeah, I slipped in a sixth. You gonna fight me? I didn’t think so.)