Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
The Seep by Chana Porter
The Unstoppable trilogy by Charlie Jane Anders (YA)
Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
You know when two humans you really like also happen to be married and also happen to have written a book you know is absolutely fantastic before you’ve even read a word? And then you get to reveal its cover?? Such is the case for me, and I am thrilled to be revealing the cover of Venom & Vow by Anna-Marie McLemore and Elliott McLemore today, a trans YA fantasy releasing from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan on May 16, 2023! Here’s the story:
Two enemy kingdoms are forced to work together to break a curse in this lush YA fantasy, featuring a transgender prince and a bigender dama/assassin in the lead roles.
Keep your enemy closer.
Cade McKenna is a transgender prince who’s doubling for his brother.
Valencia Palafox is a young dama attending the future queen of Eliana.
Gael Palma is the infamous boy assassin Cade has vowed to protect.
Patrick McKenna is the reluctant heir to a kingdom, and the prince Gael has vowed to destroy.
Cade doesn’t know that Gael and Valencia are the same person.
Valencia doesn’t know that every time she thinks she’s fighting Patrick, she’s fighting Cade.
And when Cade and Valencia blame each other for a devastating enchantment that takes both their families, neither of them realizes that they have far more dangerous enemies.
Cowritten by married writing team Anna-Marie and Elliott McLemore, Venom & Vow is a lush and powerful YA novel about owning your power and becoming who you really are.
And here’s the epic cover, designed by Lindsey Whitt and illustrated by Mx. Morgan!
Anna-Marie McLemore grew up hearing la llorona in the Santa Ana winds and now writes books as queer, Latine, and trans as they are. They are the author of The Weight of Feathers, a 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book When the Moon Was Ours, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature; Wild Beauty, a Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist best book of 2017; Blanca & Roja, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; Dark and Deepest Red, a Winter 2020 Indie Next List title; The Mirror Season, which was also longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, and the forthcoming Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix (September 6, 2022).
Elliott McLemore is a nonbinary trans guy who comes from mountains and loves trees. As a child, he romped in dresses, fought with plastic swords, and dreamed up his first stories. Between then and now, he has focused on academic and professional writing, research, and advocacy, including work toward adding nonbinary gender markers to California identity documents. Venom & Vow is his debut novel.
Being a massive fangirl of both this author and this series, I am so thrilled to be revealing the cover today for Self Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore, a trans reimagining of The Great Gatsby publishing September 6, 2022 in Feiwel & Friends’s Remixed Classics series! Check it out:
Stonewall Honor recipient and two-time National Book Award Longlist selectee Anna-Marie McLemore weaves an intoxicating tale of glamor and heartache in Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix, part of the Remixed Classics series.
New York City, 1922. Nicolás Caraveo, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Wisconsin, has no interest in the city’s glamor. Going to New York is all about establishing himself as a young professional, which could set up his future—and his life as a man—and benefit his family.
Nick rents a small house in West Egg from his 18-year-old cousin, Daisy Fabrega, who lives in fashionable East Egg near her wealthy fiancé, Tom—and Nick is shocked to find that his cousin now goes by Daisy Fay, has erased all signs of her Latine heritage, and now passes seamlessly as white.
Nick’s neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious young man named Jay Gatsby, whose castle-like mansion is the stage for parties so extravagant that they both dazzle and terrify Nick. At one of these parties, Nick learns that the spectacle is all meant to impress a girl from Jay’s past—Daisy. And he learns something else: Jay is also transgender.
As Nick is pulled deeper into the glittery culture of decadence, he spends more time with Jay, aiming to help his new friend reconnect with his lost love. But Nick’s feelings grow more complicated when he finds himself falling hard for Jay’s openness, idealism, and unfounded faith in the American Dream.
And here’s the absolutely stunning cover, illustrated by Elliott Berggren and designed by Veronica Mang!
Today on the site we’re revealing the cover of Gwendolyn Clare’s speculative YA, In the City of Time, which releases from Feiwel & Friends on November 29th and stars two queer POV characters, one pansexual and polyamorous and the other a trans lesbian! Here’s the story:
In 1891, Willa Marconi’s life falls apart when her mentor at the University of Bologna unexpectedly dies, but Willa refuses to let anyone take her research away. While testing her prototype radio equipment, she detects a mysterious signal and pursues its origin.
In 2034, a cataclysmic event has rendered Earth uninhabitable, and humankind survives by living inside artificial worlds. Riley would do anything for Jaideep, who lost his family in the collapse of the Bay Area pocket universe—and “anything” includes building a time machine so they can travel back to the nineteenth century to prevent the destabilization of the planet and rewrite history.
But the experiment goes wrong. Willa is pulled forward in time, and the three find themselves stranded in a strange, seemingly abandoned city. Now they’ve got a glitchy time machine, a scary android time cop hot on their trail—dead set on preserving the current timeline—and some tangled temporal mechanics to unravel. Can they save the Earth before there’s no Earth left to save?
And here’s the electrifying cover, designed by Sarah Kaufman!
Look, I know queer readers are mythology nerds, and I’ve seen what readers of all genders and orientations have done for Song of Achilles. So what I’m saying is, this Pride month, treat yourself to a fantastic fantastic featuring a badass trans woman Achilles. You can thank me in July when we get to Wrath month. (It’s a perfect read for that one too.) Wrath Goddess Sing releases from William Morrow on June 7th, and is available for preorder now. (See handy links below!)
Drawing on ancient texts and modern archeology to reveal the trans woman’s story hidden underneath the well-known myths of The Iliad, Maya Deane’s Wrath Goddess Sing weaves a compelling, pitilessly beautiful vision of Achilles’ vanished world, perfect for fans of Song of Achilles and the Inheritance trilogy.
The gods wanted blood. She fought for love.
Achilles has fled her home and her vicious Myrmidon clan to live as a woman with the kallai, the transgender priestesses of Great Mother Aphrodite. When Odysseus comes to recruit the “prince” Achilles for a war against the Hittites, she prepares to die rather than fight as a man. However, her divine mother, Athena, intervenes, transforming her body into the woman’s body she always longed for, and promises her everything: glory, power, fame, victory in war, and, most importantly, a child born of her own body. Reunited with her beloved cousin, Patroklos, and his brilliant wife, the sorceress Meryapi, Achilles sets out to war with a vengeance.
But the gods—a dysfunctional family of abusive immortals that have glutted on human sacrifices for centuries—have woven ancient schemes more blood-soaked and nightmarish than Achilles can imagine. At the center of it all is the cruel, immortal Helen, who sees Achilles as a worthy enemy after millennia of ennui and emptiness. In love with her newfound nemesis, Helen sets out to destroy everything and everyone Achilles cherishes, seeking a battle to the death.
An innovative spin on a familiar tale, this is the Trojan War unlike anything ever told, and an Achilles whose vulnerability is revealed by the people she chooses to fight…and chooses to trust.
Super queer found family. Witches and fairies. Trans main character. Badass fantasy. Swoony romance between two guys doing the best friends-to-betrothed-to-enemies dance. Awesome duology opener with a sequel coming on May 31st. Just stop me when you’ve read enough to get the grabbiest of hands for The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon, a rare YA fantasy I absolutely loved that you should check out ASAP so you can jump right into The Fae Keeper!
Wyatt would give anything to forget where he came from—but a kingdom demands its king.
In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.
Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.
I must confess that other than YA anthologies, I’m not much of a short story person, but I was really intrigued by Rainbow Rainbow by Lydia Conklin and decided to pick it up, figuring I’d read a couple of stories. Of course, I ended up devouring it and all its beautifully messy stories about gender and sexuality, falling in love with it, and blogging about it for Buzzfeed, and now I’m passing that love along to you in the hopes you’ll pick it up too (it releases May 31st from Catapult), whether or not you think you’re a short story reader!
In this delightful debut collection of prize-winning stories, queer, gender-nonconforming, and trans characters struggle to find love and forgiveness, despite their sometimes comic, sometimes tragic mistakes.
In one story, a young lesbian tries to have a baby with her lover using an unprofessional sperm donor and a high-powered, rainbow-colored cocktail. In another, a fifth-grader explores gender identity by dressing as an ox—instead of a matriarch—for a class Oregon Trail reenactment. Meanwhile a nonbinary person on the eve of top surgery dangerously experiments with an open relationship during the height of the COVID crisis.
With insight and compassion, debut author Lydia Conklin takes their readers to a meeting of a queer feminist book club and to a convention for trans teenagers, revealing both the dark and lovable sides of their characters. The stories in Rainbow Rainbow will make you laugh and wince, sometimes at the same time.
All links are Libro.fm affiliate.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas, narrated by Avi Roque
A Million Quiet Revolutions by Robin Gow, narrated by Salem Corwin
Act Cool by Tobly McSmith, narrated by Shaan Dasani
The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon, narrated by Dani Martineck
Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee, narrated by Logan Rozos
Bonus: Upcoming in 2022 are Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White, narrated by Shaan Dasani, Graham Halstead, and Avi Roque (June 7), Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min, narrated by Alejandro Ruiz and Jensen Silvio (July 26), The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas, narrated by , and Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore, narrated by Avi Roque and Kyla Garcia (September 6)!
“Under the Gaydar” features books you might not realize have queer content but do! And definitely belong on your radar.
This edition is dedication to YA with trans and/or nonbinary main characters, with the aim of helping readers find books that explore gender identity and can more safely be read in unsafe spaces. Please note that most of these have some potentially triggering content, including transphobia and abuse, so I do encourage reading reviews, if that’s helpful to you. (And please do read the notes below as well.)
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – This absolutely lovely m/f romance steeped in magical realism includes trans boy Sam as one half of the couple.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi – This was a Backlist Book of the Month on the site in 2021, so you can read a lot more about it here. For the sake of this post, I’ll just mention that the protagonist is a trans girl and that’s not in the copy.
I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman – Note: this is only under the gaydar with the British copy; the copy on the version coming out in the US in October 2022 does state that Jimmy is trans. You can get the UK version via Book Depository, Waterstones, or Blackwell’s.
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall – Note: This blurb can be read as Sapphic, so do read it carefully and consider your environment, but there’s no visible nod to the fact that the main character is either genderfluid or bigender.
Even if We Break by Marieke Nijkamp – In this gaming-themed thriller, there are five POVs, one of which belongs to a trans boy and another of which belongs to a nonbinary kid. The copy is 100% thriller-centric with no descriptions of the POVs to be found. (You can also find hidden nonbinary rep in one of the three POVs of Nijkamp’s newest YA thriller, At the End of Everything.)
For a books with gender questioning as a non-central element, check out This is How We Fly by Anna Meriano. (This is also true of And They Lived… by Steven Salvatore, though obviously that book is not under the gaydar. Feels like I should mention it, though, in case this is a thing someone is looking for where it’s not mentioned on the cover.)
Non-queer-specific anthologies are also great resources for hidden trans and/or nonbinary rep. You can find trans stories in:
Today on the site we welcome C.L. Beaumont, author of Names of the Dawn, a contemporary m/m romance starring a trans man that released last month from Carnation Books. C.L. discovered his own identity while writing the book, and is here to share more about that experience! But first, the book:
Seasoned Park Ranger Will Avery has found his home in the Denali wilderness, cherishing his solitary routines for the decade leading up to 1991. The trade-off that no one knows of his identity as a transgender man feels worth it for the comforting assurance he finds in the towering glaciers.
Until Will discovers an unexpected passenger in his truck—the visiting wolf biologist everyone in the Park is ecstatic to meet—Nikhil Rajawat.
Nikhil doesn’t return his new colleagues’ fervor. He’s dreamt of Denali for one reason: the pinnacle of his research, and it isn’t anyone’s business that this is the last year he’ll get to chase the wolves. He doesn’t expect to fall for the grisled Ranger who forces him to carry bear spray in the backcountry. Just as Will doesn’t expect to ask Nikhil to share his bed.
But when their dreamlike summer comes to an end, and Nikhil resolutely leaves on a plane bound for India, a devastated Will pretends he didn’t just plead for Nikhil to stay. And one year later, when Nikhil suddenly re-appears in Denali without explanation, Will must decide if Alaska is his solitary refuge—or if perhaps there’s a home somewhere in the world for two.
Buy it: Amazon
And here’s the post!
Denali was a place of many firsts for me. Almost five years ago, I spent a week there visiting my partner who was working as a seasonal Ranger. Even after years of hiking together, it was the first place I ever backpacked off trail (the mileage of which resulted in me not being able to walk normally for days). It was the first time I encountered a grizzly at close range, and the first (and thankfully, last) time I was ever chased by a moose.
On the train ride back to Fairbanks, trying not to cry over the fact it would be months before I saw my partner again, I leaned hard into the ‘romantic train travel’ aesthetic and started jotting down ideas for a potential story on the back of my park map. Denali had stunned me. I’d always been a nervous person, and yet we had ventured into that bear-infested land with only a compass. I knew it would make an incredible setting for a story: the drama of the changing seasons alongside the comfort of animal migrations, long-traveled routes by the Koyukan people who’d given the mountain its rightful name. The simplicity of life versus death, and the complexity of no certainties once we ventured beyond the sole park road.
And as I wrote, I realized that my Ranger was a trans man.
I had no idea what made me picture my main character in that way. My brief previous experience including a trans character in a story had felt like taking a picture of someone’s life and merely recording it as the writer. This felt like I was in mortal danger of falling into the photograph I was supposed to have taken.
But over the next year, I wrote the entire first draft of Names for the Dawn without even realizing I was transgender. I felt guilt, in fact, for writing from that perspective without it being my own experience. I wondered if I was allowed to write the story of Will Avery, or if I could somehow earn that right. I would have said to anyone who asked that I was a cis woman writing this story of a trans man from the perspective of a queer ally, digging into research so I could do his story justice. What I didn’t admit was that so many of his fears were uncharted whispers I’d been shutting down for twenty-five years, somehow made safer to think about if they were Will’s thoughts instead of my own. How could I have written 100,000 words of a trans man’s inner thoughts and not known?
During my second draft, once I had made the decision to turn the story into a full-on novel, I found myself in an online forum to learn more about what chest binding could have looked like for Will. A week later, my own binder arrived in the mail. Not long after that, I made a spur-of-the-moment appointment after work and cut my hair. Tiny steps that I told myself were aesthetic explorations, nothing more.
By the time I started on my third draft of the novel, I had started seeing a therapist who specialized in gender identity. I had since realized that my confusion was coming from far more than just writing this book, and yet I still feared I had over-identified with my own character, somehow brainwashing myself. It didn’t occur to me then that perhaps this writing process felt so raw and all-consuming because these were thoughts I’d had for long before I ever typed the name Will Avery.
The fourth draft, and I had come out to everyone I knew. I now understood the wave of self-doubt and vulnerability that comes with such a step. After the loneliness of silently questioning, there was now a certain type of loneliness in being seen, even though I was lucky to have supportive people in my life. I found myself thinking back to Denali as I agonized over how to describe the landscape. I had felt that same unique loneliness there among the mountains. Alone, and yet surrounded by vibrant life.
I began my fifth draft just after I started taking testosterone. Again, my entire understanding of the book had shifted. The scenes where Will gives himself his shot didn’t change, but they felt more intimate now, not purely medical. I understood the subtle shame that comes with having to pierce yourself to bring who you are to the surface where everyone can see. I felt I should have been scared of such a seemingly permanent or drastic step, and yet I felt no fear.
A year later, I completed the last major rewrites while recovering from my own top surgery. It was the aspect of Will’s life that had felt the most unbelievable to me when I first wrote it — the fact that someone was allowed to just do that. And there I was, editing passages that I knew were first written by a hand that had absolutely no idea that same operating room was on my own horizon. I added in a scene where Will takes his shirt off outside for the first time. It was perhaps the first detail where it felt like I knew something my own character didn’t, finally allowing myself to be the expert of my own experience.
I struggled for a long time with my decision to continue working on this book. It felt like my earliest drafts were a lie, both to myself and to future readers. Or like maybe I should have moved on from this book a long time ago, treating it as a tool that had helped me when I needed it most. It feels strange now to be in the same category — as the world sees it — as my protagonist.
But as I prepare to send this book out into the world, I look back at the moment I first stepped off the bus into the Denali landscape. That same trust in myself accompanied me to my first therapy session, the first day with my new name tag at work, the day I told the people I love who I really was. It doesn’t feel devastating to recognize that it’s finally time to leave Denali behind. Perhaps these past five years haven’t really been about transitioning while writing a trans character. Rather, they’ve been about how I can write a story of a Ranger in Alaska.
C. L. Beaumont received his B.A. in South Asian Linguistics and Art History from the University of California, Berkeley, and now volunteers as a crisis line counselor while he delves into his true love: writing. When he isn’t hiking or checking another National Park off his list, he enjoys devouring crime fiction, cooking new vegetarian recipes, and working on way too many cross stitch projects at once. C. L. Beaumont lives in Montana with his gorgeous partner and their chickens.