Tag Archives: The Bone Spindle

Writing the Characters of Your Heart: a Guest Post by The Bone Spindle Author Leslie Vedder

Today on the site, I’m thrilled to welcome author Leslie Vedder, whose debut YA fantasy, The Bone Spindle, releases today from Razorbill/Penguin! Leslie’s here to talk about writing the characters of your heart, but first, a little more about the book, billed as Sleeping Beauty Meets Indiana Jones

58082223Fi is a bookish treasure hunter with a knack for ruins and riddles, who definitely doesn’t believe in true love.

Shane is a tough-as-dirt girl warrior from the north who likes cracking skulls, pretty girls, and doing things her own way.

Briar Rose is a prince under a sleeping curse, who’s been waiting a hundred years for the kiss that will wake him.

Cursed princes are nothing but ancient history to Fi–until she pricks her finger on a bone spindle while exploring a long-lost ruin. Now she’s stuck with the spirit of Briar Rose until she and Shane can break the century-old curse on his kingdom.

Dark magic, Witch Hunters, and bad exes all stand in her way–not to mention a mysterious witch who might wind up stealing Shane’s heart, along with whatever else she’s after. But nothing scares Fi more than the possibility of falling in love with Briar Rose.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

And now, here’s the post by Leslie Vedder!

When I was a kid, one of my absolute favorite TV shows was Xena: Warrior Princess. It’s very dated now, and not without its flaws, but it still holds a special place in my heart. Xena was the first woman character I ever saw who felt like a larger-than-life hero to me. She was a badass. She was respected. She had a dark past. Nobody messed with her, and when she swaggered into a shady tavern, bad guys shook in their boots.

But she could also be funny, and loving, and flawed in all the best ways. It was a show full of camp that knew how to be silly and not take itself too seriously.

Xena was almost everything I wanted in a female character. But when it came to her sexuality…it was kind of a letdown.

Xena had an absolute glut of male love interests, and only tongue-in-cheek references to women. The show was absolutely swimming with subtext between Xena and her longtime sidekick Gabriel. But alas, it was an old show, so it could never just go there.

Xena was full of the possibility of queerness—but that’s all it could ever be. A possibility. A character who had been so bold and loud and downright brash about everything else was suddenly reduced to a wink and a nod.

I wanted an openly queer Xena. I don’t think I ever stopped wanting that. And that desire to see a character who got to be just as brash and tough and funny as Xena, but totally queer this time, was a big part of the inspiration for Shane, one of the two main characters of my debut YA fantasy, The Bone Spindle.

The Bone Spindle stars two girl treasure hunting partners, each with their own love story. Fi is a bookish historian who is in an m/f love story, and Shane is the ax-wielding lesbian mercenary of my dreams in an f/f relationship. (Also, she’s my wife’s absolute favorite character!)

Shane grew into so much more than her inception. The moment she exploded onto the page, she had her own voice and humor and desires. She’s got a secret past she’s left behind. A rivalry with a vicious cult of Witch Hunters. A love of gambling (though she’s not that good at it). She’s also loud and brash, and definitely the type to swagger into a tavern and leave bad guys shaking in their boots!

Maybe my favorite thing about Shane is that she’s unapologetically herself at every moment, whether that’s flirting with girls or breaking noses, and definitely when she starts falling head over heels for Red, a mysterious and dangerous Witch. If Shane was born in part from my desire for a queer Xena, then Red must be inspired at least a little by the idea of a queer Catwoman-esque femme fatale. Their love story is probably one I’ve been dreaming of writing for a long time (and I can’t wait to dig into them even more, in the later books of the trilogy!).

Working toward bringing out a first book is a major roller coaster, but one of the high points has definitely been hearing some early readers say they fell in love with Shane. She’s truly the character of my heart.

Queer representation has come a long way since Xena was on the air. There are so many amazing fantasy books and shows coming out these days with queer characters that would have set my teenage heart on fire! And they still mean the world to me right now. If I had a time machine, I would empty my current bookshelf through to my younger self. But in the absence of that, I’m so proud to get to share a character like Shane with today’s readers—and I hope she’ll be exactly what somebody’s looking for.

But I still wouldn’t say no to a totally queer Xena reboot!

***

Leslie Vedder Author Web Size.jpg
© MICHELLE DOTTER

Leslie Vedder (she/her) is a queer ace author who loves fairytale retellings with girl adventurers and heroes! She grew up on fantasy books, anime, fanfiction and the Lord of the Rings movies, and met her true love in high school choir. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in creative writing and currently lives in Colorado with her wife and two spoiled house cats.

​When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her watching anime and sci-fi shows, walking in the woods and pretending they’re enchanted forests, or playing old video games. She always collects all the Skulltulas in Zelda and all the Dalmation puppies in Kingdom Hearts.

May 2020 Book Deal Announcements

MG Fiction


Jazz Taylor’s MEOW OR NEVER, in which a girl unexpectedly lands the lead role in her school’s musical and finds help with her stage fright and anxiety from a girl who might be her first crush—and a stray cat who lives backstage, to Olivia Valcarce at Scholastic, in an exclusive submission, for publication in winter 2021, by Holly Root at Root Literary (world).

YA Fiction


Tobly McSmith’s ACT COOL, about a transgender teen accepted into a prestigious performing arts high school in New York and cast in a role that hits too close to home—that of a trans teen whose family is intent on conversion therapy—who must learn how to be true to himself, apart from any role, to Andrew Eliopulos at Quill Tree, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2021, by Tina Dubois at ICM (world).

THESE WITCHES DON’T BURN author Isabel Sterling’s THE COLDEST TOUCH, about a mortal girl who feels the death of anyone she touches and the vampire assigned to recruit her, as they team up to stop a paranormal killer and realize they might be falling in love, to Julie Rosenberg at Razorbill, for publication in fall 2021, by Kathleen Rushall at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (NA).

Playwright and Modern Love contributor David Valdes’s SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND, about an out-and-proud Latinx teen who accidentally time travels to his parents’ era and makes it his mission to save a closeted classmate from a tragic end, pitched as an #OwnVoices twist on Back to the Future, to Allison Moore at Bloomsbury Children’s, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2021, by Annie Bomke at Annie Bomke Literary Agency (world).

Anne Camlin’s graphic novel MISMATCHED, pitched as a queer, modern-day retelling of EMMA, set in a high school in Queens where the president of the school’s GSA club fancies himself just the matchmaker his friends need, illustrated by Isadora Zeferino, to Andrea Colvin at Little, Brown Children’s, in a six-figure deal, in a pre-empt, for publication in 2023, by Britt Siess at Martin Literary Management (world).

Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Jessica Spotswood, and Tess Sharpe’s GREAT OR NOTHING, pitched as a reimagining of Little Women set in the spring of 1942, when the United States is reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor, in which each March sister’s point of view is written by a separate author; a story of grief, family, and finding one’s way in a world undergoing catastrophic change, to Wendy Loggia at Delacorte, for publication in spring 2022, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world English).

GIRL AT MIDNIGHT and RATED author Melissa Grey’s THE VALIANT LADIES OF POTOSI, in which two proper young 17th-century Peruvian ladies trade their skirts for swords and end up as vigilante crime fighters, while falling for each other along the way, to Holly West at Feiwel and Friends, for publication in winter 2022, by Catherine Drayton at Inkwell Management (world English).

Al Graziadei’s ICEBREAKER, following a hockey legacy kid who is on track to become the NHL’s number one draft pick even while barely coping with his untreated depression, until a boy threatens both his number one spot and steals his heart—something that makes him the happiest he’s ever been and could threaten both their dreams if the truth came out, to Rachel Murray at Holt Children’s, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in winter of 2022, by Jennifer Azantian at Azantian Literary Agency (world English).

Editor of A PHOENIX FIRST MUST BURN Patrice Caldwell, ed.’s ETERNALLY YOURS, a paranormal romance anthology including short stories by Kendare Blake, Patrice Caldwell, Kat Cho, Melissa de la Cruz, Emily Duncan, Hafsah Faizal, Sarah Gailey, Alexis Henderson, Adib Khorram, Kwame Mbalia, Anna-Marie McLemore, Casey McQuiston, Sandhya Menon, Danielle Paige, Akshaya Raman, Marie Rutkoski, and Julian Winters, to Dana Leydig at Viking Children’s, in an exclusive submission, for publication in fall 2022, by Alexandra Machinist and Hillary Jacobson at ICM (world English).

Printz Honor winner Mary McCoy’s INDESTRUCTIBLE OBJECT, in which a queer teen girl who hosts a podcast about the love stories of great artists finds her life falling apart when her parents announce they’re divorcing and her boyfriend breaks up with her right after her high school graduation, then sets out on a new summer podcast project about whether love even exists at all and discovers herself in the process, to Kendra Levin at Simon & Schuster Children’s, for publication in summer 2021, by Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (world).

Arianne Lewin at Putnam has acquired, in a preempt, in a two-book deal, debut author Leslie Vedder’s THE BONE SPINDLE, a gender-flipped Sleeping Beauty meets Indiana Jones, in which a cursed treasure hunter and an axe-wielding huntswoman must team up: one destined to rescue the prince sleeping in the Forest of Thorns, the other falling hard for a wicked witch. The title is set to publish in Spring 2022. Carrie Hannigan and Ellen Goff at HG Literary made the deal for North American rights.

Adult Fiction

Canada Council for the Arts grant recipient Emily Austin’s EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM WILL SOMEDAY BE DEAD, following a morbidly anxious young woman who stumbles into a job as a receptionist at a Catholic church, where she hides her atheist lesbian identity and becomes obsessed with the mysterious circumstances surrounding her predecessor’s death; a humorous exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where our eventual expiration is the only certainty, pitched for fans of GOODBYE, VITAMIN and MOSTLY DEAD THINGS, to Daniella Wexler at Atria, in a pre-empt, by Heather Carr at Friedrich Agency (world).

Kosoko Jackson’s I’M SO (NOT) OVER YOU, the author’s adult debut, an #OwnVoices queer rom-comedy of errors about what happens when two exes, the heir to a brewery empire and a struggling journalist, are forced to pretend they are still a couple and realize that the spark between them may not be extinguished, to Kristine Swartz at Berkley, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2022, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Nebula, Hugo, and Lambda Award nominee Lee Mandelo’s SUMMER SONS, pitched as THE SECRET HISTORY meets HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME in a queer, speculative Southern Gothic novel, about a Vanderbilt student searching for the truth behind his best friend’s death as ghosts, literal and figurative, haunt his nights, to Carl Engle-Laird at Tor.com, in a nice deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2021, by Tara Gilbert and Saritza Hernandez at Corvisiero Literary Agency (world English).

Non-Fiction

Historian and author of GAY AMERICAN HISTORY and THE INVENTION OF HETEROSEXUALITY Jonathan Ned Katz’s SEX REBEL: THE DARING LIFE AND TROUBLED TIMES OF EVE ADAMS, the first biography of the pioneering activist who ran lesbian and gay friendly speakeasies in Greenwich Village in the 1920s and published the novel LESBIAN LOVE (to be included in its entirety), which led to her surveillance, arrest, and eventual deportation back to Europe where she later died at Auschwitz, to Jerry Pohlen at Chicago Review Press, for publication in June 2021, by Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord Literistic (world English).

Husband of former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, Chasten Buttigieg’s I HAVE SOMETHING TO TELL YOU, a memoir about growing up gay in his small Midwestern town, his relationship with Pete, and his hope for America’s future, to Rakesh Satyal at Atria, in an exclusive submission, for publication in September 2020, by Alia Hanna Habib at The Gernert Company (NA).

Jennifer Berney’s THE OTHER MOTHERS, recounting her and her wife’s experience of trying to conceive, placing it within the larger story of how the LGBTQ community has undertaken the quest for parenthood over the last several decades, redefining what the nuclear family can be, to Anna Michels at Sourcebooks, with Jenna Jankowski editing, for publication in February 2021, by Rachel Vogel at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner (world English).