Today on the site I’m delighted to reveal the cover of Kosoko Jackson’s The Forest Demands its Due, a paranormal thriller releasing October 3rd from Quill Tree, an imprint of The Publisher That Needs To Come to the Table and Talk to Its Union Already. For more on the HCP Union and how you can help support its efforts, click here. I also encourage you to use the Bookshop preorder link below, which directly supports the Strike fund. And now, the story:
Regent Academy has a long and storied history in the small, sleepy town of Winslow, Vermont. But so does the vast, dense forest that surrounds its campus. While the prestigious school is known for molding teens into world leaders, its history is far more nefarious—and far more entangled with the forest—than anyone could begin to suspect.
Seventeen-year-old Douglas Jones wants nothing to do with Regent’s king-making; he’s just trying to forget his past and survive his present. But then a student is killed and, by the next day, no one remembers him ever exiting, except for Douglas and the groundskeeper’s son, Everett Everley. As Douglas begins to research what he finds to be a centuries-long curse in the town, he and Everett awaken a horror hidden within the forest. And to save the town, and the school, the forest wants more blood as payment. The question is, will Douglas and Everett be able to pay the debt?
Critically acclaimed author Kosoko Jackson explores how power can—and will—corrupt absolutely and how cycles of violence are perpetuated throughout history in this high-octane, page-turning dark academia mystery of murder and magic.
And here’s the chilling cover, illustrated by Joel Tippie!
Kosoko Jackson is a digital marketer during the day and an author of books that champion queer Black male characters during his free time. When not writing novels that champion holistic representation of black queer men across genres, he can be found obsessing over movies, drinking his (umpteenth) London Fog, or spending far too much time on Twitter. He lives in The New York Metro area with his Golden Retriever, Artemis. YESTERDAY IS HISTORY was his debut young adult novel, published by SourcebooksFire in 2021.
Combining the luxurious partying vibes and outsider perspective of The Great Gatsby with a revenge plot, budding queer romance, and some deadly botany, Tripping Arcadia is a lush Gothic thriller that definitely deserves a space on your shelf, whether you grab it brand new, pick it up for gardening vibes in the spring, or embrace its creepiness come Spooky Season. It releases on the 22nd from Dutton Books, and we’ve got preorder links for your convenience below!
Med school dropout Lena is desperate for a job, any job, to help her parents, who are approaching bankruptcy after her father was injured and laid off nearly simultaneously. So when she is offered a position, against all odds, working for one of Boston’s most elite families, the illustrious and secretive Verdeaus, she knows she must accept it—no matter how bizarre the interview or how vague the job description.
By day, she is assistant to the family doctor and his charge, Jonathan, the sickly, poetic, drunken heir to the family empire, who is as difficult as his illness is mysterious. By night, Lena discovers the more sinister side of the family, as she works overtime at their lavish parties, helping to hide their self-destructive tendencies . . . and trying not to fall for Jonathan’s alluring sister, Audrey. But when she stumbles upon the knowledge that the Verdeau patriarch is the one responsible for the ruin of her own family, Lena vows to get revenge—a poison-filled quest that leads her further into this hedonistic world than she ever bargained for, forcing her to decide how much—and who—she’s willing to sacrifice for payback.
You may have noticed that a few books in the post of my Most Anticipated Adult Fiction of January-June 2022 lacked covers, including this particularly compelling thriller by Sebastian J. Plata, author of Freak ‘N’ Gorgeous. Well, I’m delighted to help fix that today! We’ve got the cover for Seeing Strangers, Plata’s adult debut, which releases from Polis Books on May 3, 2022, and it’s got a great story behind it (more on that below from the author). But first, the actual story!
Life is going well for Greg Kelly. He’s married to the handsome and kind Cristian, a Spanish-born artist who is also a talented cook. Greg’s work as a translator for an IT startup allows them to live comfortably in a stylish Bushwick two bedroom and enjoy just about all NYC has to offer—including sleeping with other men, since Greg and Cristian’s marriage has been open for the past few years. This arrangement has been particularly appealing to Greg and his exceptional sexual appetite. Now approaching their mid-thirties, fatherhood calls and they enlist a friend to act as surrogate.
In order to focus on building a family, Greg and Cristian decide to close up the marriage when the baby arrives. Greg is going to miss his hookups, but at least he has the summer for one last hurrah. He methodically plans his hookups via Grindr and Tinder, carefully coordinates train routes for quick lunchtime hookups, and scouts potential candidates anywhere, anytime, like an old time Hollywood casting director.
As their baby’s due date draws closer, anxiety sets in over Greg’s impending parental responsibilities, the loss of his sexual freedom, and even his marriage to Cristian. But before he can sort out his feelings, a spurned hook-up reappears—Russell, an arrogant tv producer, who had wanted a relationship with Greg. And the problem is, Russell just won’t go away, infiltrating himself into Greg’s life in the worst ways possible, threatening his marriage and sanity. Greg is left asking, what does it mean to find happiness but still crave more?
And here’s the appropriately unsettling cover by Kristie of 2Faced Design!
I always wanted the cover to be an intriguing mixture of sexy and creepy.
Since hook-up culture is so integral to the story, and since shirtless mirror photos are so integral to hook-up culture, I envisioned a mysterious figure reflected in a foggy mirror—an image I thought might just deliver both of the elements I wanted perfectly. Fortunately, when I shared my idea, my editor and publisher agreed.
Less fortunately, our designer couldn’t quite find the right photo to use. So what did she do? She steamed up her own mirror at home, asked her husband to strip, and snapped a photo of him standing in front of it herself.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of how some designers are more badass than others, and how Seeing Strangers ended up with a perfect cover I absolutely love.
Sebastian J. Plata was born in Poland, grew up in Chicago, and spent most of his twenties living in Tokyo. He is now based in Brooklyn,
NY. In addition to writing, he also works as a Japanese/English translator. He is the author of the YA novel FREAK ‘N’ GORGEOUS,
this is his first thriller. Find him online @sebastianjplata.
Today on the site we’re revealing another cover for a Kevin Craig YA, and this time it’s Book of Dreams, a horror/thriller releasing from Interlude Press on May 24, 2022! Here’s the story:
Gaige’s curiosity gets the better of him when he discovers a bookstore on an abandoned street where no bookstore should be. He steps inside and is immediately enthralled by its antiquarian sights and smells. But one book in particular calls to him. It isn’t long before he gets a bad feeling about it, but it’s already too late. The store’s aged bookseller gives him no alternative: once he touches the book, it’s his—whether he wants it or not.
The book leads Gaige on a horrific descent into the unknown. As he falls into the depths of its pages, he loses blocks of time, and his friends become trapped inside ancient cellars with seemingly no means of escape.
Gaige soon learns that the ancient bookseller is a notorious serial killer from previous century, and fears that he has fallen into a predicament from which he may not escape. When all seems lost, he finds the one person he can turn to for help—Mael, a sweet boy also trapped inside the book who didn’t fall for the bookseller’s tricks. Together, they race against time to protect Gaige from joining a long string of boys who vanished without a trace inside the Book of Dreams.
But wait, there’s more! Here’s the excerpt from Chapter 1 of Book of Dreams!
I’m a book addict. There. I said it. It will one day be my downfall. And, the older the better. Give me an old book and I’m in nirvana. Mr. Clancy says I’m a dying breed. I may be seventeen and stupid, but even I know books will be around long after the apocalypse hits. Yep, books and cockroaches. And that old relic guy from the ancient band with the big lips, Keith Richards.
I walk inside and the first thing I see is an all-white cat sprawled on the hardwood floor. He stretches inside a thin shaft of the last bit of sunlight coming in through the front window. Spreading away from—or drifting toward—the dirty old thing is a line of dust motes. It looks like both the cat and the motes are fighting for the dying light.
The cat lifts an eye in my direction long enough to telepathically say, ‘Don’t screw with me, I’m busy here.’
There are eight rows of thick wooden shelves, all filled with books that look older than Great-Gram Imogene. If that’s even possible. She’s like ninety or something.
I go right to the first shelf and start to look at all the books, caress their spines.
I get this spooked-out feeling as I peruse the shelf, though. What bookstore isn’t jam-packed with color? Everywhere I look there are various tones of only two colors: brown and black. And with all the dust motes floating around wherever the dying sunlight hits, it looks like there’s this low-lying fog throughout the store.
On those rare occasions when I’m forced into fishing outings with Dad, low-lying fog is apparently a good thing. Brings the fish out for a feeding frenzy, or something like that. What do I know? I’m so not a sporto. While shopping in a bookstore, low-lying fog? Not so much a good thing.
I have my hand on an old smacked-down mud-dragged copy of a Russian classic—The Brothers Karamazov—when I hear a rumbling throat clearing that sounds like stones in a washing machine or a cat stuck up in a car engine when the ignition turns over. I’ve never heard a death-rattle, but Dad has joked about them and I’m pretty sure something behind me just made one.
“That’d be a good pick right there, son.”
The hairs on my arms reach away and I clench my head into my neck like a turtle, only I can’t make my head disappear down inside my shell. His voice is way worse than his throat-clearing. The cat agrees. It snarls and hisses at the old man like he isn’t its friggin’ owner.
Just as I’m about to tell him I already read everything by Dostoevsky, my eye catches something shiny. In a store as dull as this one it’s almost a eureka moment to discover something that stands out so much.
The old man, who’s not yet in my sightline, scurries toward me. I can see him move up the aisle in my peripheral vision. As my hand reaches out to grab the book’s spine—anything shiny in the dull dark ocean of books, dust and derelicts—he steps between me and it.
“You don’t want that one, son,” he says, already objecting to my choice before I even have a chance to touch it. His voice comes out in a hiss this time.
Who tells a kid that? Of course it automatically becomes the only thing within a twelve block radius that I do want. And I still haven’t even seen the title.
I deke around him and make a grab for the shiny-shiny.
“Ooh! The Book of Dreams! Sounds awesome. Is this like the Tibetan one?”
“Young man,” he says. “I’m going to have to ask you not to touch that particular book.”
My hand lingers by the gold spine. As I move to haul it out of its slot on the shelf, though, the old man’s hand engulfs mine. My first visual, a disembodied hand as white as bone and, well, also extremely bony. And cold. And covered with those age spots that all old people have. The hair already standing up on my arms now electrically stands up. Ice courses through my veins, as though his touch actually lowers my body temperature.
Who the hell is this old coot to tell me what books I can or cannot touch? It’s for sale, dude. If it’s on the shelf in plain view—in a bookstore—it’s for sale. End of story.
I wrench myself away from his skeletal grip and step back from the shelf, finally with the book in hand.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Gaige,” the old man says as he turns and heads back to the front of the store. I think I hear him tsk. “Just know, son, some books opened can’t be unopened.”
“What the hell does that even mean?” I ask. Now I feel brave. I won the standoff. I have the book in my hand. Dude is too weird, though. I watch his back as he moves up the thin aisle toward the counter, He’s impossibly tall and skinny. Like a basketball player who has just returned from a ten-year stay on a deserted island where he lived off insects and water. Like, he-should-be-dead skinny.
His all black suit is three sizes too big for him and covered in dust. His aura itself is dust. It mingles with the motes that fill up all the empty sun-lit spaces in the store. And what is with the long greasy hair? Dude totally creeps me out.
I turn my back on him and make to crack open the gold book cover. My heart races, and I’m desperate to see what’s inside.
“You read the title wrong too, son. Take another look. It’s MY Book of Dreams.”
I stop what I’m doing and return my gaze to the cover. MY Book of Dreams. Huh? Don’t know how I read it wrong. I’m certain it read THEBook of Dreams. I’m positive, even.
What was it Shakespeare said? “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” I think he also said, “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” Thankfully, my thumbs have not yet been pricked. Between scary giant, his pissed-off cat, the dust motes, the fog, and the book, my Spidey senses are telling me to get the hell out.
But I’m also intrigued. Too intrigued. Like I said, I’m a bibliophile. And this book is so calling my name. There’s something about it. It’s a four-car pileup and I’m a rubbernecker.
I spot a chair at the end of the aisle and take my prize over to it. I sit down to open the book.
He just called me Gaige.
“Hey wait,” I say. “How did you know my name? You just called me Gaige.”
“If you haven’t looked inside that book yet, you can still leave it be and pick another. The Russians are fine reads, if you ask me. You still have prerogative on your side, Gaige. You can even leave empty-handed if you wish. It’s not too late. Choose wisely.”
Talk about creeping the hell out of a kid. What the hell is even wrong with this dude?
“How the hell do you know my name?”
But I don’t wait for an answer. None of the alarm bells that should ring in my head are doing their job. At least not properly. They’re ringing, I’m just not listening, I guess. He has suggested a forbidden-ness about the book and I have never been one to take to that kind of shit very gently. I dive into it.
After I turn the first couple pages, though, I turn away. They’re empty and a rotten smell emanates from them. It’s like the book hasn’t been opened for decades and all the badness that has ever lived in this ancient bookstore has come to rest within this one book’s yellowed pages.
“It stinks,” I say more to myself than to the man, who now seems too far away to carry on an actual conversation with. Like I would want to. He totally gives the creeps a bad name. “Why does it smell so bad?”
Apparently, he’s listening. From the front of the store, he says, “That’s a question you really have to ask yourself, young man. You have things to hide in that little head of yours? You have things to be ashamed of? You sure that smell ain’t coming from the inside of yourself? Skunk smells his own stink first, Gaige.”
I stand and walk toward him, book in hand.
“Stop saying my name. How do you know who I am, anyway?”
“I’m just saying that book knows you better than I do. I’m a silly old man who tried to warn you not to dance with the devil. Now you’re dancing, young fella. Now you’re dancing.”
Kevin Craig is the author of several young adult novels. Their most recent title, The Camino Club, was the 2021 Silver Winner of the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award. Kevin is a five-time recipient of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. As a playwright, Kevin has had twelve plays produced for the stage. Kevin lives in Toronto, Canada. As an avid explorer, they can also be found traveling the world with their significant other, Michael.
Look, I’m well aware I cannot shut up about this book, but I also cannot shut up about this book, so. To quote my own blurb, “Chillingly sinister, warmly familiar, and breathtakingly transportive, The City Beautiful is the haunting, queer Jewish historical thriller of my darkest dreams.” Whether your holidays are the many Jewish ones we just passed or the upcoming Halloween, or every day with a good book is a holiday to you, this is the book to gift to yourself this month!
Death lurks around every corner in this unforgettable Jewish historical fantasy about a city, a boy, and the shadows of the past that bind them both together.
Chicago, 1893. For Alter Rosen, this is the land of opportunity, and he dreams of the day he’ll have enough money to bring his mother and sisters to America, freeing them from the oppression they face in his native Romania.
But when Alter’s best friend, Yakov, becomes the latest victim in a long line of murdered Jewish boys, his dream begins to slip away. While the rest of the city is busy celebrating the World’s Fair, Alter is now living a nightmare: possessed by Yakov’s dybbuk, he is plunged into a world of corruption and deceit, and thrown back into the arms of a dangerous boy from his past. A boy who means more to Alter than anyone knows.
Now, with only days to spare until the dybbuk takes over Alter’s body completely, the two boys must race to track down the killer—before the killer claims them next.
As a huge fan of People Like Us, I’m thrilled to help reveal the cover for Dana Mele’s sophomore YA, Summer’s Edge, a paranormal thriller with bisexual and lesbian protags releasing May 31, 2022 from Simon & Schuster! Here’s the story:
I Know What You Did Last Summer meets The Haunting of Hill House in this atmospheric, eerie teen thriller following an estranged group of friends being haunted by their friend who died last summer.
Emily Joiner was once part of an inseparable group—she was a sister, a best friend, a lover, and a rival. Summers without Emily were unthinkable. Until the fire burned the lake house to ashes with her inside.
A year later, it’s in Emily’s honor that Chelsea and her four friends decide to return. The house awaits them, meticulously rebuilt. Only, Chelsea is haunted by ghostly visions. Loner Ryan stirs up old hurts and forces golden boy Chase to play peacemaker. Which has perfect hostess Kennedy on edge as eerie events culminate in a stunning accusation: Emily’s death wasn’t an accident. And all the clues needed to find the person responsible are right here.
As old betrayals rise to the surface, Chelsea and her friends have one night to unravel a mystery spanning three summers before a killer among them exacts their revenge.
And here’s the striking cover, designed by Lizzie Bromley with art by Nicole Rifkin!
But wait, there’s more! Read on for your first glimpse of the book in this exclusive excerpt!
SUMMER OF EGRETS
The lake house hasn’t changed in the 91 years of its distinguished existence. Solid, stately, a relic of the Rockefeller and Durant era, it has survived three hurricanes, countless termite infestations, and a flood. It’s survived death itself. A bold claim if you can make it, but in this case, it happens to be true. Last summer, it burned to ashes with Emily Joiner trapped inside, and it was simply resurrected in its own image by its benefactors. It’s indestructible. Impervious to death and all that nature and beyond can summon. I’ve always thought of the lake house as a special place, but staring up at it, risen from ruin a year after its demise, flawless, the word that comes to mind is miraculous.
Has it really been a year?
To the day.
I pull the stiff, custom-made postcard from the pocket of my faded army green capris, a pair that Emily designed herself. On the front of the card is a gorgeous snapshot of the house. It was built in the Adirondack architecture style—a million-dollar mansion with a rustic stacked-log-and-stone aesthetic, a wraparound porch featuring delicate columns of hand-carved trees with branches winding up to the roof, and a sculpted arch of briar framing the door. Out back is a killer view of Lake George, a serene little corner exclusive to the handful of neighbors scattered sparsely along the coast. Completely secluded by majestic pines, the lake house is something out of a fairytale, a lone cottage in a deep dark forest. Sometimes it almost feels alive.
I do think it gets lonely. I would.
The house is in its own little world, buffered from civilization by the wilderness and a strict back-to-nature philosophy—no internet, no cable, no Netflix, satellite, or cell service, just peace, quiet, sun, swimming, boating, and plenty of misbehavior. It’s been our summer haven for the past ten years. Me, Emily, our best friend and my ex-girlfriend Kennedy, Emily’s twin brother Ryan, his best friend Chase, and as of two years ago, Chase’s girlfriend Mila. Last year should have been the last year because that was the year of the fire. The year we took things too far. The Summer of Swans. The year Emily died.
But then, the postcard came.
I flip it over and read it again. It’s a hot day and my car is like an oven. It only takes the interior of a car about half an hour to reach a deadly temperature when it’s in the mid-sixties outside. The gauge on my dashboard reads 81. I pull back the dark frizzy curls clinging to my neck and twist them into a bun on top of my head, yank the keys out of the ignition, and kick the car door open. A cool breeze sweeps off of the lake and touches my face, fluttering my t-shirt softly against my skin. It’s like a blessing from the lake gods. The sound of wind chimes rings softly, an arrangement of notes both strange and familiar, like a music box song. I imagine the sound of my name in my ear, a whisper in the breeze. I am home. I take my sunglasses off and close my eyes, shutting out the light, and allow the delicious air to wash over me. The scent of pine and soft earth. The promise of cool, clear water on my skin. The taste of freshly caught fish, charred on the grill, gooey marshmallow, melted chocolate, Kennedy’s lips, sweet with white wine. Our voices, laughing, swirled around bonfire smoke.
Jesus. I open my eyes and the bright sunlight makes me dizzy. Charred. Smoke. Just thinking the words gives me a sense of vertigo, even now. My mouth feels bitter, full of bile, and the phantom smell of smoke stings my nostrils and makes my eyes water. How could I think about fire in that way, here of all places, today of all days? Where Emily died. Where her bones were burned black.
I don’t know that for a fact. She may have asphyxiated. The rest of us were assembled on the lawn, in shock, immobile, separated from Emily. My parents wouldn’t let me know the details. I haven’t been allowed to find out for myself. It’s been a nightmare of a year. A year without my friends. A year without any friends. Any fun. Of seclusion, doctors, fucking arts and crafts and therapy animals. Which, yes, they’re cute, but it’s insulting. Five minutes petting a golden retriever before he’s ushered away into the next room does not repair an unquiet mind.
And witnessing your best friend die because of something you did—or didn’t do—is as disquieting as it gets.
You’re asking, okay, yeah, why go back then?
The answer is opening the door.
Dana Mele is a Pushcart-nominated writer based in the Catskills. A graduate of Wellesley College, Dana holds degrees in theatre, education, and law. Dana’s debut, PEOPLE LIKE US, was published in 2018 and shortlisted for the 2019 ITW Thriller Award for Best Young Adult Novel. A second YA thriller, SUMMER’S EDGE, is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster in Summer 2022, followed by TRAGIC, a graphic novel retelling of Hamlet from Legendary Comics.
Today on the site, we welcome CT Liotta, who’s revealing the cover of his upcoming novel No Good About Goodbye, releasing November 24, 2021 from St. Ire Press/Rot Gut Pulp! Here’s the story behind this coming-of-age thriller/action-adventure pulp:
Fifteen-year-old Ian Racalmuto’s life implodes when his older brother vanishes and his mother, a vodka-drunk spy, dies in a military uprising in Algiers.
Forced to live with his cantankerous grandfather in Philadelphia, Ian has seven days to find his brother and locate a smartphone that could start a war – all while adjusting to life in a troubled urban school and dodging assassins sent to kill him.
Ian soon meets William Xiang – an undocumented immigrant grappling with poverty, a tough family, and hateful classmates. The boys find they make a formidable team. Together they resist school bullies, thwart sociopathic killers, and design a heist at the State Department to foil World War III.
An even greater problem lurks, however: one of the boys has a crush on the other. Will it ruin their friendship and roll up their mission?
CT Liotta was born and raised in West Virginia before moving to Ohio for college, where he earned a degree in biology. He now uses Philadelphia as his base of operations. You can find him the world over.
A younger member of Generation X, Liotta takes interest in writing, travel, personal finance, and sociology. He likes vintage airlines and aircraft, politics, news, foreign affairs, science, classic film, ’80s pop culture and ’40s pulp and film noir. He can be reached on Twitter @CTLiotta and at www.CTLiotta.com.
Today on the site we’re welcoming Honni van Rijswijk, author of dystopian thriller Breeder, which just released on Tuesday from Blackstone publishing! Honni’s here to talk about the writing process for their novel, the “dark/bleak” elements that dominate it, and why such fiction can be kinda cheering, actually, regarding both their queer sexuality and nonbinary identity. But before we get to that, here’s a little more on the book:
Will Meadows is a seemingly average fifteen-year-old Westie, who lives and works in Zone F, the run-down outermost ring of the Corporation. In the future state of the Corp, a person’s value comes down to productivity: the right actions win units, the wrong ones lose them. If Will is unlucky and goes into unit debt, there’s only one place to go: the Rator. But for Zone F Breeders, things are much worse–they’re born into debt and can only accrue units through reproduction.
Every day in Zone F is a struggle, especially for Will who is fighting against time for access to an illegal medical drug, Crystal 8. Under the cover of night, Will travels to the Gray Zone, where life is less regulated and drugs–and people–are exchanged for gold. There, Will meets Rob, a corrupt member of the Corporation running a Breeder smuggling operation. Will also meets Alex, another teen whom he quickly recognizes as a Breeder in disguise.
Suddenly, Will has an illicit job and money, access to Crystal, and a real friend. As the pair grows closer, Alex shares her secret: she is part of the Response, an uprising to overthrow the Corporation. Caught up in the new friendship, Will and Alex become careless as the two covertly travel into Zone B for a day of adventure. Nothing goes as planned and Will’s greatest fear is realized. Will his true identity be revealed?
My novel Breeder is set in a bleak world. It takes place after a catastrophic environmental apocalypse, where an avaricious corporation has taken control of all resources, and treats all people (except its shareholders) as resources to be used and then discarded. Part of its violence involves the ways it controls people through rigid gender norms–boys/men are only used for labor, and girls/women are only used for reproduction. The main character, a 15-year-old called Will, has to navigate this extreme world and readers witness Will doing so in ways that are often ethically problematic. Why did I want to set up this world, as an author, and what do we gain, as readers, from bleak possibilities and morally gray characters?
I’ve always been drawn to “dark” novels and films–horror, sci-fi, and extreme realism. As readers, we gain a lot from these bleak worlds. Samara Morgan, the vengeful ghost/demon in the horror story THE RING helps us understand the brutal possibilities of the mother/daughter relationship. Serena Joy’s callous upholding of religious and gender norms in The Handmaid’s Tale reveals white women’s complicity in historical oppression. The devastating realist trauma represented in Stone Butch Blues brings home the violence experienced by gender queer people. As a nonbinary person brought up as a girl, I’ve experienced violence based on gender identity and sexuality, and I needed these dark tales as catharsis, recognition and articulation. It has always been a relief to me to see violence I’ve experienced told back to me as stories. Why is this the case? Because these bleak tales offer frameworks of recognition from places that sometimes haven’t been recognised before. They provide us a language of trauma, and also languages of responsibility and accountability–once we have these languages, we can recognise and speak to each other, we can speak back to power. These stories provide ways to call for justice, through the frameworks of revenge, tragedy and revolution.
In Breeder, the main character, Will, is nonbinary, trying to navigate a world that refuses any possibility of gender fluidity and, indeed, any lived experience outside that of being a productive cog within the Corporation. I wanted to explore this extreme world as a way to explore our current world–where we’re absolutely facing environmental collapse, hyper-capitalism and conservative backlash on reproductive freedom as well as LGBTQI rights. Through the character of Will, I wanted to explore what a young person at the intersections of these crisis might do. Will is at the bottom of the class order in the Corp; they are nonbinary, assigned AFAB, and they have no legacy Units. Structurally, everything is against them. I wanted to explore what moral choices a character might make in that situation–will they conform or will they rebel? Will they create alliances with other excluded people, or will they try to make the best of their difficult situation? In Breeder, I set up extreme versions of choices that I, and many LGBTQI people, have had to make throughout our lives. We might not always agree with the choices that Will makes, but hopefully people can empathise with why Will might make these choices. For me, as both a reader and a writer, it’s only in these extreme and bleak worlds that I see versions of my own experience reflected and so I will always seek them out!
Want your own copy of Breeder? The author is giving away two copies, and yes, this giveaway is international! Just comment below with what kind of fiction you gravitate toward for comfort and/or catharsis and we’ll pick two winners on Friday, July 23rd!
Honni van Rijswijk is a writer, lawyer, and academic. Breeder is their debut novel. Their fiction has appeared in Southerly and was short-listed for Zoetrope: All-Story. They are a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney, where their research focuses on intersections between law, technology, and culture. They live in Sydney, Australia, with their partner and daughter.
Welcome to part two of the Kosoko Jackson Cover Reveal Extravaganza here on LGBTQReads! (If you missed the reveal for I’m So (Not) Over You, it’s time to remedy that immediately!) In the space of approximately no time, Jackson is jumping from contemporary adult romance to YA sci-fi thriller, and I know everyone’s along for the ride, so let’s get to showing off Survive the Dome, which releases March 1, 2022 from Sourcebooks Fire!
The Hate U Give meets Internment in this pulse-pounding thriller about an impenetrable dome around Baltimore that is keeping the residents in and information from going out during a city-wide protest.
Jamal Lawson just wanted to be a part of something. As an aspiring journalist, he packs up his camera and heads to Baltimore to document a rally protesting police brutality after another Black man is murdered.
But before it even really begins, the city implements a new safety protocol…the Dome. The Dome surrounds the city, forcing those within to subscribe to a total militarized shutdown. No one can get in, and no one can get out.
Alone in a strange place, Jamal doesn’t know where to turn…until he meets hacker Marco, who knows more than he lets on, and Catherine, an AWOL basic-training-graduate, whose parents helped build the initial plans for the Dome.
As unrest inside of Baltimore grows throughout the days-long lockdown, Marco, Catherine, and Jamal take the fight directly to the chief of police. But the city is corrupt from the inside out, and it’s going to take everything they have to survive.
And here’s the powerful cover, with art by Jeff Manning!
Kosoko Jackson is a digital media specialist, focusing on digital storytelling, email, social and SMS marketing, and a freelance political journalist. Occasionally, his personal essays and short stories have been featured on Medium, Thought Catalog, The Advocate, and some literary magazines. When not writing YA novels that champion holistic representation of black queer youth across genres, he can be found obsessing over movies, drinking his (umpteenth) London Fog, or spending far too much time on Twitter.