LGBTQIA+ Young Adult Literature


Call for Submissions: Asexuality in YA Series

During the Asexuality in YA series we want to use our space on GayYA to support ace spectrum voices. Last year, we decided to host Awareness Week Series over the various LGBTQIA+ Awareness Weeks throughout the year. Though we hope to include everyone on the site at all times, we wanted to dedicate a concentrated space to people from a specific community to talk about how they’re represented in YA. The response from the community was phenomenal– we got to feature many fantastic and thought-provoking posts, and watched as the community fostered some nuanced discussions via our identity-centric Twit Chats. I personally remember feeling amazed as I read the posts that were sent in and scrolled through the Twit Chat hashtag. I realized I wasn’t alone in my feelings of discontent regarding the representation of my identities, or my hopes for what that representation could look like in the future. I got to meet and connect with so many smart and passionate people.

So of course, we had to do the Awareness Week Series again this year.

Unfortunately, the dates for this year’s Asexual Awareness Week (Oct 23rd-29th) ended up never getting on our calendar. We’re so SO sorry for this mishap! We ran across this year’s dates two days ago. We debated trying to pull something together last minute, but since these weeks are driven by guest posts, we didn’t want to ask people to rush their work. We also have a number of resources we’re developing for libraries & bookstores, and want to take the time to get them done right! So we decided instead to reschedule and take the time to truly make a dedicated and purposeful space for an Asexuality in YA Series. So! Our Asexuality in YA series will be held December 5th-10th.

During the 2016 Asexuality in YA series, we’ll feature 5-7 posts from various ace-spec contributors over the course of the week, and dedicate a space to talk about ace representation in YA.

Interested in contributing? Here are the details:

  • Posts should be between 800-2500 words, and somehow tie into ace representation in YA. Your posts may go through light edits or a collaborative workshopping process.
  • Send your post as a Word or Google doc to vee@gayya.org. Please include a 2-5 sentence bio about yourself including links to your blog, Twitter, website, or tumblr. Any links you’d like to use should be included as hyperlinks in the post. If you’d like to include a headshot or other images please attach them to the email– do not embed images in the document!
  • We do not offer monetary compensation of any sort, but are usually happy to help you out in other ways if we can. Just ask!
  • The deadline for submitting a post is November 28th.

A Few Words of Advice:

We will consider any topic that is related to LGBTQIA+ YA, however please be aware that we try to avoid repeating similar takes on identical topics. The more specific you can be, the more likely we are to accept your submission. If you have a few topic ideas and want feedback on which would work best, email us you ideas and we’ll work together to find the best fit!

Lastly… we are EXTREMELY interested in post submissions from teens & young adults. Your voice is the most important in discussions about representation in YA, and we want to hear from you. With that said, all are encouraged to send pieces in! 🙂

Email vee@gayya.org with any questions. We look forward to reading your submissions!

By | October 24th, 2016|Categories: Archive, Updates and Announcements|Tags: |0 Comments

Gay YA Agent Spotlight! #3 – Brent Taylor

Today on our Agent Spotlight series we have Brent Taylor from Triada US Literary Agency! Brent’s got some serious storytelling power all of his own in this interview!

1. Hello! Thank you for participating in our Agent Spotlight series! We’re excited to have you. Can you tell us how you got started agenting?

Hello! Thank you for doing this wonderful series and for having me. I started interning for literary agents in 2011 and spent about three years soaking up as much information about the industry as I could. In the summer of 2014, I joined Triada US as an intern and was hired as an assistant when the internship was over in the fall. Since then I’ve sold some books here and there was promoted to associate agent last fall.

2. We’re a site highlighting LGBTQIA+ YA (and increasingly, and excitingly, middle grade!). Can you tell us a recent LGBTQIA+ book you read and enjoyed?

How much time we do have for this interview? I could go on and on! There are so many amazing ones being published. I am a huge Robin Talley fan. I haven’t read her newest, AS I DESCENDED, but I absolutely loved LIES WE TELL OURSELVES. I really enjoyed Meredith Russo’s book IF I WAS YOUR GIRL. There’s so much about the teen experience Russo captures perfectly, but I particularly loved the nuances of the small southern town the book’s set it. (I grew up in Kentucky and have spent a lot of time in Tennessee.) And, finally, I haven’t read this one yet but I’m very excited to get my hands on Brie Spangler’s debut YA novel BEAST in October.

3. Do you currently represent any LGBTQIA+ YA or MG? Anything should we be putting on our radars?

I do! I cannot wait for the publication of PERFECT TEN by L. Philips, coming from Viking Children’s Books in June 2017, which is about a gay teen who does a love spell that goes awry. A few months after that in September Eric Bell’s debut middle grade novel ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD publishes from Katherine Tegen Books. It’s about a gay 12-year-old boy whose older brother discovers his secret crush and threatens to expose it to everyone—unless he agrees to participate in a game of nearly impossible tasks. These are books of my heart. I swell up with pride when I think about what they would have meant to me if I found them in the library when I was growing up gay.

I’m extremely excited for February 2018, when HarlequinTeen publishes my author Kaitlyn Sage Patterson’s debut YA fantasy THE DIMINISHED. It’s told in dual POV, and one of the POVs is a gay teen. Realistic fiction is definitely where my heart is, but Kaitlyn pulled off this gay teen’s character in such a rich way in such a rich world-unlike-our-own that I just had to have this book on my list. I’m really excited by the idea of someone picking this book up for its fantastic premise and then being delightfully surprised by the strong LGBTQIA+ characters and themes.

And if I could fit in just one more: this isn’t a book that I sold, it’s one that my boss did, but Blair Thornburgh’s YA novel WHO’S THAT GIRL (from HarperTeen in June!) has an absolutely stellar cast of LGBTQIA+ characters and the most charming voice you will ever encounter. I’m not exaggerating. This would have been one of my favorite books as a teen.

4. Why do you think it’s important for LGBTQIA+ youth to be represented in their literature?

Buckle up, because this is a long story. I remember being in the first grade and having “buddy readers”—fifth graders who would pair up with a first grader and read books to them for a portion of the day. I had the world’s biggest crush on my buddy reader. I can’t remember his name, but I know he had a smile that brought immediate butterflies to my stomach, and ohmygodareyoukidding—a cute guy READING BOOKS TO YOU ALL DAY? What a dream.

So, at recess and at home, I would daydream about us holding hands on a walk home and introducing him as my boyfriend to everyone. This wasn’t something I’d ever seen before—two guys being together in this way—so I was wracked with guilt. Are you supposed to think about your buddy reader like that? What does it mean if you’re a boy and want a boyfriend? These were the questions I asked myself all year.

In fourth and fifth grade the boys in my classes started calling me gay because I’d sit at the girls’ lunch table and instead of playing basketball at recess, I’d sit at the bottom of the rock-climbing wall and read J-14 Magazine. “Gay” was not a word in my vocabulary. It took me a while to figure out what it meant, and when I did, a wave of a million emotions rolled over me. Yes, yes, this is what I am. This makes sense. And then: No. This cannot be what I am. If this is what I am, then I better get used to lifelong bullying.

So, I was gay—I knew I was gay—but I couldn’t be gay. I buried this deep within my subconscious and just forgot about it and tried to move on. When boys weren’t accusing me of being gay in this hostile manner, then I’d get it from my girl friends (“Come on, Brent, you’re gay, right? You can tell us.”). I denied and denied and denied this until I actually started believing it.

Until middle school, when I fell in love with reading. For the first time in my life, I was reading books with gay people in them. Some of the first and most meaningful books were WHAT THEY ALWAYS TELL US by Martin Wilson and MARKED by P.C. and Kristin Cast. I can’t put into words how special this was for me. I saw these characters going through some of the same troubles as me, and some that were entirely their own—but what was special was seeing gay people doing things in the real world. I knew it was fiction, but when you’re immersed in a novel, it’s 100% real. For the first time, I was seeing that being gay was something you could be proud of.

Every child and teen deserves a moment as special as that. Realizing that what makes you different is something that you don’t have to keep secret—that you can own it, and be happy, and conquer the world. This is why I’m a literary agent. This is why I’m so proud to see PERFECT TEN and ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD and THE DIMINISHED go out into the world.

5. What trends in LGBTQIA+ YA are you seeing? What would you love to see in your inbox? And, if you’re open to queries, how can someone query you?

I’m seeing a good amount of stories about characters who aren’t “out” about their identity and this pleases me so much. As much as I adore books where the LGBTQIA+ characters are already comfortable with their identity and moving on with their lives, I think it’s so important to continue to publish books for the audiences that aren’t quite there yet. My list is robust with gay male characters, so I’d really love to more of the LBTQIA+. I’m open to queries and my submission guidelines are simple: send me your query letter and first ten pages pasted in the body of the message to brent [at] triadaus [dot] com, with “query” in the subject line.

By | October 20th, 2016|Categories: Publishing People|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Gay YA Agent Spotlight! #2 – Jim McCarthy

Welcome to our new series, Gay YA Agent Spotlight! Every Thursday, we’ll be interviewing one agent about upcoming trends in LGBTQIA+ YA and MG, what they currently represent, and what they’re looking for.

1. Hello! Thank you for participating in our Agent Spotlight series! We’re excited to have you. Can you tell us how you got started agenting?

Mine’s a bit of an unusual story. I had completed my freshman year at NYU and already blown through all the money I had saved for college (NYC is EXPENSIVE), so I needed a job stat. I sent out 40 resumes, and Stacey Glick was the first person to call me back. I didn’t know what a literary agent was, but I knew I liked to read, so it seemed worth a shot. I had the part time position within two days and began working at DGLM in 1999. In 2000, I quit because I couldn’t have a job and be an RA for the first semester. Then I came back. Then I thought I should get a job in “my field,” as I was studying Urban Design. So I went to work for the City Parks Foundation. That…didn’t delight me. So I came back. And then I quit again before my senior year for a reason I honestly can’t remember at this point. And…I came back. Each time I had quit, I continued to work with the agency as a freelance reader, and of the first three books I recommended, two sold for six-figures (I still fondly remember the third and wish I knew what happened to it). I fiiiiiiiinally started thinking that maybe there was something to this publishing thing as a career, but there were no jobs at DGLM at the time. As I suffered through some terrible interviews in various fields, I started to panic. Then someone quit the agency, and I jumped on the job. Miriam Goderich told me, “You know if you work here full time, you can never quit again, right?” I never did. So here I am. 17 years later!

2. We’re a site highlighting LGBTQIA+ YA (and increasingly, and excitingly, middle grade!). Can you tell us a recent LGBTQIA+ book you read and enjoyed?

I adore Tim Federle’s Better Nate than Ever series. I’m a theater geek at heart, and Tim’s books appealed to me on a gut level. It’s also just a joyous series which tickles me. And I’m delighted that it’s middle grade. What a wonderful space to see this kind of story in!

3. Do you currently represent any LGBTQIA+ YA or MG? Anything should we be putting on our radars?

I do! From Robin Talley’s just released AS I DESCENDED (a retelling of Macbeth at a boarding school—with lesbians!) to Rory Harrison’s upcoming LOOKING FOR GROUP (a trans girl and gay boy on a road trip to the Salton Sea) to Saundra Mitchell’s upcoming ALL OUT (an anthology of stories about LGBTQIA+ teens through history) down through new books I’ve signed on and am getting ready to sell like Tehlor Kinney’s BETWEEN THE SHADOW AND THE SOUL (a queer Latinx fantasy set in a world where powerful men are assigned two wives). That’s a small handful of what’s just out or just coming up. There are more in the past, and there will be more in the future.

4. Why do you think it’s important for LGBTQIA+ youth to be represented in their literature?

I think kids need to felt seen and heard. I still remember a coworker at my first job (Seattle’s Coffee in Mamaroneck, NY!) who handed me a copy of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City and said, “I think you should read this.” I wasn’t out, but she knew. And she helped. Immensely. She didn’t tell me why I should read it. She made it feel so safe. “It’s this awesome book about a bunch of friends in San Francisco.” But she saw me, and she knew what I needed, and that meant the world to me. Later on, while working at the National Book Foundation, I found a copy of Alex Sanchez’s RAINBOW BOYS which blew. My. Mind. A book for teens about three gay boys who were more or less happy? It was extraordinary. And I will never feel anything less than a pure and tremendous affection to both Maupin and Sanchez (who is now contributing to an anthology I sold!). They helped me find myself. So did so many other authors, but they were the first who spoke to me on that level. Working in children’s books, I know that so many other kids still haven’t had that moment, that they still feel unseen and unheard and on their own. But I look at books like Alex Gino’s GEORGE or I.W. Gregorio’s NONE OF THE ABOVE or the books of Malinda Lo or Laini Taylor or Francesca Lia Block, and my heart warms so much. I know how far we have to go as a publishing community, but that doesn’t stop me from also being profoundly grateful for how far we’ve come.

5. What trends in LGBTQIA+ YA are you seeing? What would you love to see in your inbox? And, if you’re open to queries, how can someone query you? (Email or a website link to your agency website is fine!)

I’m seeing a trend away from “issues” novels and towards the inclusion of characters across the spectrum in romance and fantasy and thrillers and sci-fi, and that is so, so heartening. And listen, I always have time for serious literary fiction that delves deep, but I’m excited to be getting to a space where that’s not ALL we can see. LGBTQIA+ kids also deserve escapism. And fun. And adventure. Let the trend continue! I’m always open to new queries, and my guidelines are available at www.dystel.com. I’m pretty flexible on what I’m looking for, but I’m super down for some intersectionality, all kinds of OwnVoices, and any perspectives that I haven’t seen before. And I’m always looking at the make-up of my own list so I know that I have better coverage of LBT than GQIA+, which could be worth noting. And my list is more white than I would hope, so I’d love to rep a broader array of voices.

Thanks, Jim!

By | October 13th, 2016|Categories: Archive, Publishing People|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Gay YA Agent Spotlight! #1: Jennifer Johnson-Blalock

Hello, friends! Welcome to a new feature here at GayYA! Every Thursday for the next couple of months, we’ll have an interview with an agent about LGBTQIA+ books they’re reading, ones they rep, what they want in their inbox, and where they see LGBTQIA+ YA and MG going in the next few years.

I’m THRILLED to kick off this interview series with Jennifer Johnson-Blalock with Liza Dawson Associates.

Jennifer Johnson-Blalock, agent with Liza Dawson Associates

Jennifer Johnson-Blalock, agent with Liza Dawson Associates

1. Hi, Jennifer! Thank you for participating in our Agent Spotlight series! We’re excited to have you. Can you tell us how you got started agenting?

So happy to be here; thank you for having me! I had a somewhat unusual background in that I didn’t get started in publishing until I was nearly 30–before that I practiced entertainment law briefly and then taught high school English and debate. Once I moved to New York to pursue publishing, though, my path was pretty straightforward. I took a class at NYU, which helped me land an internship as the Young Adult Editor at a startup called Riffle. That led to an internship with Liza Dawson Associates. I then worked as an assistant to John Silbersack at Trident Media Group for about a year and returned to Liza as an associate agent in April 2015. Now I’m just working on building my client list and selling books! (For the very long answer to this question and a bit about breaking into publishing, you can read my interview on Jessie Devine’s blog: https://jessiedevine.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/a-long-road-jennifer-johnson-blalocks-journey-to-becoming-an-agent/)
2. We’re a site highlighting LGBTQIA+ YA (and increasingly, and excitingly, middle grade!). Can you tell us a recent LGBTQIA+ book you read and enjoyed? 
I read two YAs this summer that I completely loved. The first is Robin Talley’s LIES WE TELL OURSELVES about a developing f/f romance in 1959 Virginia between two girls on opposite sides of the battle to integrate an all-white high school. The historical context added richness and tension, and the characters had such depth. The second is YOU KNOW ME WELL by Nina LaCour and David Levithan. That novel tells of the meeting and growing friendship between Mark and Kate during San Francisco Pride and alternates in perspective between Kate, who’s scared to meet in person the girl she’s loved from a distance, and Mark, who has a complicated relationship with his best friend, Ryan. With the Pride setting, the book is so atmospheric, and it just left me brimming over with love and hope.
3. Do you currently represent any LGBTQIA+ YA or MG? Anything should we be putting on our radars? 
The first book I sold is a YA forthcoming from HarperTeen next summer, Rebecca Barrow’s YOU DON’T KNOW ME BUT I KNOW YOU. The couple at the center of the novel is heterosexual, but Rose, the MC’s best friend, is bi, and she has a really beautifully developing relationship with another character. I completely acknowledge the problem with the “gay best friend” trope across art forms, and I’d of course love to see more LGBTQIA+ MCs, but in this instance, Rose truly does have a narrative and character arc all her own. Rebecca actually went through versions of the novel where Rose was the MC.
I also signed a project during #DVPit (I highly encourage aspiring writers to participate in the next event for that on October 5 and 6) that I just sent out on submission to editors–fingers crossed! It’s a debut historical YA from Nicole Melleby, set in Regency England, about a headstrong young woman who falls in love with her suitor’s sister. The short pitch would be “gay Jane Austen,” and what’s not to love about that?
4. Why do you think it’s important for LGBTQIA+ youth to be represented in their literature?
Publishing and New York are so liberal; I think it’s easy for us to forget that LGBTQIA+ youth aren’t accepted and treated with kindness everywhere. On the extreme end of things, gay conversion camps still exist. And on the day to day, I was chastised at an independent school I taught at in Texas for wanting to teach a short story about a teenage girl questioning her sexuality. Particularly if you’re in an environment where people don’t want to recognize and honor who you are, books can be an incredible source of support. And even in an ideal environment, I think it’s valuable for every young person to be able to see themselves in the books they read; that’s part of how we figure out our place in the world.
5. What trends in LGBTQIA+ YA are you seeing? What would you love to see in your inbox? And, if you’re open to queries, how can someone query you? 
I think we’re seeing an expansion of LGBTQIA+ characters–the m/m relationship was probably the most common one to start in YA, and it’s diversified from there. Recently, there have been prominent books with transgender MCs, for instance, such as Meredith Russo’s IF I WAS YOUR GIRL. While I’m always happy to see any inclusion of LGBTQIA+ characters and themes in my query inbox, I’d love something that pushes at the boundaries of what’s currently available. And I have yet to sign a MG project, which I’d really like to do; I’d love to see LGBTQIA+ inclusion there as well. To learn more about my taste, you can check out the LDA website (http://www.lizadawsonassociates.com/staff/jennifer-johnson-blalock.html) and my MSWL (http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/jennifer-johnson-blalock/), or if you already know you have just the thing for me, feel free to send a query letter (just the letter to start) to queryjennifer [at] lizadawson [dot] com.
Thanks, Jennifer! 
By | October 6th, 2016|Categories: Publishing People|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Call for Selection Team Members

Are you an avid reader of LGBTQIA+ YA? Do you have ThoughtsTM about the representation of LGBTQIA+ youth? Are you interested in helping GayYA.Org decide which LGBTQIA+ YA books to recommend, review, and promote?

We are thrilled to announce that we are seeking 5 new members for our Selection Team. GayYA’s Selection Team is a group of people who help GayYA decide which books to recommend, review, and help promote. GayYA gets dozens of review requests a month. We are unable to keep up with reading all the books! That’s where you come in.

We’re looking for people who:

-Have read a wide selection of LGBTQIA+ YA books, and can assess what is unique about an LGBTQIA+ YA book in context of other LGBTQIA+ YA. (Does it flip a trope on its head? Represent an underrepresented identity? Introduce an entirely new narrative?)

-Are able to commit to reading 1-2 LGBTQIA+ YA books a month. (We’re pretty flexible about which books these are. We have ARCs, finished final copies, and ebooks that we can send you/mail, as well as an extensive backlist of titles that you may have already read or can most likely get from a library.)

-Have a wide range of identities. GayYA believes that beyond needing diverse books, we need diverse reviewers & critics. As often as we can we want to match books with reviewers who share the same identity as the main character. In particular we are looking for people who identify as trans, intersex, asexual, aromantic, nuerodiverse, and disabled. We’re also seeking people of color, Jewish & Muslim people, and people from countries besides the US. (This said, everyone is welcome to apply!)

What will Selection Team members be asked to do?

-Read 1-2 books a month.

-Write an internal report (NOT a review) on whether or not they believe the book should qualify for a GayYA recommendation.

-Interact/collaborate with other Selection Team members.

-Provide feedback on our book selection process.

Interested in being a part of this team? Email vee@gayya.org with:

-A little bit about yourself (name, how you identify, and anything else you’d like to share!)

-2 reviews of LGBTQIA+ YA books that you’ve written (if you haven’t posted/published any reviews, it’s perfectly fine to simply send us your thoughts on two LGBTQIA+ YA books)

  • A word of advice: we’re looking for readers who are able to critically analyze representation, so choose reviews that showcase that ability!

-Feel free to also include another writing sample and social media, blog, or Goodreads links.

Email vee@gayya.org with any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

By | October 4th, 2016|Categories: Archive, Updates and Announcements|0 Comments