Cover Reveal + Interview: Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson

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Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson is delving into an awesome new area—it’s a Middle Grade nonfiction book about the history of Pride and Stonewall! It’ll be coming out April 2016. Today, we’re THRILLED to reveal the awesome cover of this awesome book. We also got to talk to the fantastic author herself about why this book needs to exist, what exactly is in it, and why you should be super excited for its release in April 2016!

For LGBTQ people and their supporters, Pride events are an opportunity to honor the past, protest injustice and celebrate a diverse and vibrant community. The high point of Pride, the Pride Parade, is spectacular and colorful. But there is a whole lot more to Pride than rainbow flags and amazing outfits. How did Pride come to be? And what does Pride mean to the people who celebrate it?
Aaaaaaaaaand *drumroll pleeeeease* … here is the cover!
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Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)

Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)

Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)

Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)

Isn’t it fantastic?! I think it has the perfect feel for a Middle Grade book about Pride, and these pictures are just amazing.

Below is our interview with the author, Robin Stevenson!

Vee: There are a number of books out there about Pride and Stonewall, but none (that we know of) that are targeted towards Middle Grade readers. We think it’s SO COOL that you’ve dived into this! What made you want to write about this, and what are you hoping young readers will get out of this book?

Robin: As a queer parent of an eleven year old, I’ve been struck by how rarely my son sees families like his in the books he reads. And kids shouldn’t have to wait until they’re in their teens to see queer families and learn about the LGBTQ community. My son was a month old at his first Pride Day, and has been to Pride every year since. At Pride, kids get to see a wonderful diversity of people, families, gender identities, sexual orientations and forms of self-expression, and to see this diversity as beautiful—as something to celebrate. I think every kid deserves to experience that. I’d love to see this book in school libraries so that kids with queer families and kids who are themselves LGBTQ can see themselves reflected in these pages– and so that all kids can learn more about the history of Pride and the diverse community that celebrates it.

V: What was your research process like and how did you decide what to include? There’s a lot of info about Stonewall and Pride out there, some of it rather dark. How did you go about deciding what would go in a middle grade book about this?

R: Deciding what to include—and what to leave out– was definitely one of the hardest parts of the writing process. I felt like every small section I wrote really deserved a whole book to itself. I mean– Stonewall! Sylvia Rivera! ACT UP and Queer Nation! Coming out in high school! Gay-Straight Alliances! Intersex activism! Drag! Pride in Uganda!—and the list goes on… Luckily, my publisher is awesome and let the book grow considerably longer than the word count we had agreed on in my original proposal.

I tried to keep the language straightforward and accessible without over-simplifying some fairly complex issues—which was challenging– and I tried to reflect the ways in which Pride is both protest and celebration. And I included personal stories of individual LGBTQ kids, teens and families, which I think will speak very directly to young readers.

The book covers the history of Pride, explores and explains some of the diverse identities that make up the LGBTQ community, and looks at some of the ways Pride Day is celebrated in North America and around the world, as well as touching on the challenges (both internal and external) that the LGBTQ community continues to face.

V: Since this is a cover reveal, let’s talk about this awesome cover! How do you think it fits with the theme of the book? What do you hope it’ll get across to readers? And what was the design process like?

R: Pride is about equality, diversity and freedom- and it’s something everyone who shares those ideals can participate in. I wanted a cover that reflected that idea, and that would appeal to young readers. The cover photo is from a Pride parade on Canada’s west coast and I love the bright colors and energy and movement in this image– and the quirkiness of the unicycle. And I love the back cover too— it suggests the shape of a flag flying, and I think it captures something of the diversity and spirit of the community that celebrates Pride.

All my previous books are novels, so the design process was totally new and interesting one for me. I spent a great deal of time searching for photographs and was thrilled with people’s generosity in sharing their pictures. And I love the overall look and layout of the book— the designer—Orca Book Publishers’ Rachel Page— has a wonderful eye for color and she put a huge amount of time and energy into making this book look absolutely gorgeous.

Find Robin Stevenson online, or follow her on Twitter!

On Love in a Dystopian Time: A Call to ([White] Queer) YA Authors About #BlackLivesMatter

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by Jennifer Polish

As authors (us too, fan fic writers!), aspiring authors, and readers of YA literature, many of us are often thinking about the meanings of love in dystopian societies. Katniss’s protectiveness of Rue, of Prim. Peeta’s devotion to Katniss. Tris and Christina. Tris and Four. Lucky and Digory. Loup and Pilar. David and Callan.

But, as YA enthusiasts, it is also our responsibility to think long and to think hard on love in this dystopian time.

Because if you go to buy Skittles while Black, or if you love someone who does; if you attend a pool party with family and friends while Black, or love someone who does; if you drive while Black, or love someone who does; if you run through Central Park while Black (there is something distinctly dystopian about Jacqueline Woodson’s main character in If You Come Softlya teenager – getting shot down by the state for running because he is excited by young love) – then you know that people often write and read very overtly dystopian YA fantasies because we need to root for the proverbial underdog, winning against insurmountable odds. And many like it because it is necessary, as food for survival, because this, too, is a dystopian time.

And especially as queer YA readers and writers, we need to care that most queers in our stories are white – and that does not accurately reflect the world (not to mention it perpetuates stereotypes of queerness as whiteness).

We need to care that in too much YA dystopian stories that take place in futuristic human societies, racism is written off as though it never existed – this “colorblind” thinking only perpetuates the racism that white supremacist structures enforce.

So those interested in GayYA need to blog, tweet, protest, engage – as often as we do in #weneeddiversebooks chats – about how #BlackLivesMatter matters in GayYA. We need to be as communicative about state violence against people of color as we are about the underrepresentation of all queers in YA lit: because the most underrepresented of us are queer POC, and because all of our oppressions are carried out by interrelated structures. Like the criminal justice system (which targets young QPOC all the time); like the education system (great white straight cis men, right?); the publishing industry that so often refuses to put QPOC on cover art (go Malinda Lo for Huntress’s cover art!). And on and on.

White as I am, I don’t want to finish this piece on my own. So here is Maisha S. Johnson on the importance of science fiction, though for our purposes – and I hope Maisha would approve – I am switching out “sci fi” for “YA”, and hope that we continue in this vein:

“Some might call [YA] a means of escape, a vessel for turning away from the ugliness of our world. But as black women, we can’t escape. Oppression is part of our reality at every moment of every day. And black women’s [YA fantasy] does not represent a flawless utopia of eradicated oppression. Instead, these writers draw the reader’s eye to issues like colonization and white supremacy, even when those forces seem absent – even the most imaginative science fiction exists in conversation with the reality it differs from.

Through [YA], we create conversations challenging the conditions we’re struggling in and shine light on the remarkable ways our communities survive and work to support and liberate one another. We can question our expectations of gender expression and race, and our sense of who economic and technological systems should benefit and how. I can wonder, “What if everyone in the world was as queer as I am?” and actually take to the page to visualize a world of magical topsy-turvy gender expression and abundant flirtation. I can do one of the most loving things I could ever do for myself – step away from the expectations and walk the wild path I can only create for myself.”

Jennifer Polish is an adjunct English professor at CUNY Queens College and PhD student in English at the CUNY Graduate Center. When she’s not working on her debut YA fantasy novel (so queer that she felt the need to include some token straight cis characters), she is likely to be reading or writing about YA literature for school, sweating an absurd amount at the gym, or writing fan fiction in small, dark corners.

Cover Reveal + Interview: Dagger by Steven dos Santos

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We are big fans of Steven dos Santos’s first series The Torch Keeper. Today, we are THRILLED to reveal the fantastic cover of his next book, Dagger. Dagger was turned down by an agent back in 2008 because it had a gay protagonist—now, it’s finally being published! Along with revealing this fantastic new cover, we also got to talk to Steven about how it feels to have this book published, diversity in publishing, and why Dagger should be on your TBR come September.

When Ultimate Evil engulfs the entire world, only Dagger can pierce the Darkness—even if the Apocalypse falls on a school night!

Dagger Beaumont is a High School senior who’s been recruited by D.U.S.T. – a covert governmental organization dedicated to battling supernatural terrorism all over the globe.

However, Dagger’s unresolved conflict over his missing brother could be his undoing, as he races around the world battling the Dark Reich, a diabolical organization on a quest to possess an ancient artifact and unleash a mystical plague to enslave humanity. If that weren’t treacherous enough, Dagger must juggle his life as a secret agent with his social life, where he faces romantic rivalry for the guy of his dreams, a mysterious and handsome new student at his haunted boarding school.

But in a high-stakes world where nothing is as it seems, and death lurks in every shadow, love rides shotgun with survival!

Without further ado, here is the cover for Dagger!
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Dagger

Isn’t it GREAT?! Definitely makes me want to pick up this book ASAP.

Here’s what Steven has to say about finally getting this book published, diversity in publishing, and more!

Vee: In a previous interview, you shared that you’ve encountered some roadblocks getting Dagger published. Even though an agent LOVED the book, they turned it down because the main character was gay, and she thought that wouldn’t sell. In light of that, how does it feel to finally be getting this book published?

Steven: Can you say VINDICATED? I’m not going to resort to “Told ya so’s,” or sticking out my tongue, or any crude hand gestures, but it does feel wonderful to finally release my baby Dagger into the world after all these years!

V: What changed to make the publishing of Dagger possible? Was it the industry? Did you pitch it to more inclusive agents/publishers? What happened to make this a reality? 

S: Sadly, not much in the traditional publishing industry has changed since 2008, when I first tried getting Dagger published. Though there has been a spotlight placed on diversity in Children’s & YA Lit in the last few years in particular, and things have improved, I still came across the same familiar road blocks when I resumed submitting Dagger for publication more recently. While many publishers claimed they thought Dagger was a very fun and exciting story, cinematic, etc., they didn’t feel it was a “right fit” for them. Fortunately, I discovered Evernight Teen, a publishing house that truly does embrace diversity and is not afraid to take “risks” in publishing stories that feature diverse protagonists.

V: What parts of Dagger are you most excited to share with readers?

S: Dagger, who is the main character, was very fun to write! He’s a little cocky, enjoys witty banter, while at the same can be a badass kicking evil’s butt all over the globe. Think James Bond/Mission Impossible meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer and you can get a good idea of the tone of the book. There’s a lot of action, adventure, and romance in Dagger, and I can’t wait to introduce him and his charming personality to readers!

V: Let’s talk about the cover! How do you think it fits with the theme of the book? And what was the design process like? 

S: OMG! I was completely blown away by the gorgeous job Artist Jay Aheer did on the cover for Dagger! She truly captured the mystery and intrigue of the book. I particularly like how the cover resembles a map on old parchment, and the little sketches of iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, etc. highlight all of Dagger’s globe-hopping perfectly! Even Dagger himself is rendered like a painting you might find in an ancient palace ceiling somewhere. And the targeting scope on the logo ties in the whole spy theme quite nicely. Working with Jay was a pleasure. She’s very open to suggestions and we had a very pleasant back and forth exchanging ideas that made it seem effortless (at least for me since I didn’t have to draw anything, lol). I hope I’m lucky enough to have her work on my next cover!

Dagger will be released in September by Evernight Teen (this link will be LIVE soon)! You can add Dagger to your Goodreads list and Enter the Goodreads Giveaway here.

For more information on Dagger and other news, you can visit my website and like me on Facebook (here and here). I’m also on Twitter, and you can find me on Tumblr and Instagram.

And if you want to help support Dagger’s release on Social Media, join the Thunderclap Campaign and help spread the word!

Thanks so much for allowing me to share the cover for Dagger with you!

Review: Street Dreams by Tama Wise

by Nathaniel Harrington

Street Dreams (Tama Wise, Bold Strokes Press 2012)

Street Dreams (Bold Strokes Press 2012)

From Goodreads:

Tyson Rua has more than his fair share of problems growing up in South Auckland. Working a night job to support his mother and helping bring up his two younger brothers is just the half of it. His best friend Rawiri is falling afoul of a broken home, and now Tyson’s fallen in love at first sight.

Only thing is, it’s another guy.

Living life on the sidelines of the local hip-hop scene, Tyson finds that to succeed in becoming a local graffiti artist or in getting the man of his dreams, he’s going to have to get a whole lot more involved. And that means more problems. The least of which is the leader of the local rap crew he’s found himself running with. Love, life, and hip-hop never do things by half.

Trigger warnings: homophobic slurs and the threat of homophobic violence, domestic violence, recreational drug use, racism.

My rating on Goodreads: 4/5 stars

Before I start, I should note that I’m approaching Tama Wise’s Street Dreams (Bold Strokes Books, 2012) as an outsider to the community in which the book is set — indeed, the disconnect between Tyson (as a poor, gay Māori man) and the white gay community to which I belong is one of the central components of the book. I am neither Māori nor from even New Zealand — I’m a white settler from the United States whose family is not poor, both my parents are still alive, and I’m not especially into hip-hop or knowledgeable about it as a scene.

Bearing all that in mind, and understanding that there are undoubtedly things I missed about the book as a result of my extremely privileged position relative to its main character, I’d like to talk a bit about why I liked it. This review will contain some minor spoilers, but I’ll try to keep big stuff out.

For starters, there are the usual suspects. While the book isn’t only a coming out story, Tyson’s coming out is a large part of it, and I think it’s really, really well handled and very relatable. Wise perfectly captures the anxiety, the struggle to find the right moment:

Tyson stared, his mind sitting on the edge. The words hung on his tongue, waiting to be uttered. Rawiri was too busy watching the silent television to notice.

I also thought Tyson’s crush on Marc was very well-handled, both narratively and as a representation of what a straight crush feels like.

But there are other books that do these things well, so I’m going to move on to talking about four things Street Dreams does that I think are different and make it worth a look.

  1. Home as a source of strength: a lot of LGBTQ YA has a somewhat strained relationship with home (from Rafe feeling stifled in Boulder in Openly Straight to the community-wide homophobia in Ask the Passengers to active homophobic violence). Characters want to somehow escape their homes and families and go where the grass is greener and they can redefine themselves. Street Dreams does the opposite: while Siege (the leader of the local hip-hop crew mentioned in the blurb) is emphatic about wanting to “get out” of the community, Tyson’s anxieties stem from a desire to stay in his community, help support his family, and find a place for himself locally. He might not want to live in his family’s house any more, but he doesn’t want to leave South Auckland. Stories where being LGBTQ and finding a comfortable place for yourself at home (in a broader sense than having a supportive immediate family) aren’t mutually exclusive are important, especially when they’re set in a greater variety of locations than generic American suburbia.
  2. The intersection of race and sexuality: this is really important and not something LGBTQ YA about white teens can adequately address. Tyson concisely summarizes some of his anxieties about this in conversation with William, who runs a local gay support group:

    “I guess guys like me ain’t gay.”

    “When you say guys like you, you mean Māori guys?”

    Tyson scowled at that, but refused to pick at that particular sore. He shrugged, fighting to find the words to explain it. He hated having to explain himself. “I mean guys like me. Guys who like the stuff I do, and yeah…brown guys too. Like I said, I guess guys like me ain’t gay.”

    Tyson has to deal with the disconnect between all the images of gayness that he’s been presented with — all white, with a certain quantifiable “look” — and himself. Representation matters. Also worth mentioning is the scene where Tyson goes to a local gay club and is told by a guy he approaches that “I don’t do brown”: racism is alive and well in the LGBTQ community, and not just in whitewashed representations thereof.

  3. Support from the gay community: there are counterpoints to the above, though, especially William and (however imperfectly) Jason, another support group attendee who accompanies Tyson to the club. I suspect William’s words of wisdom may be Tama Wise’s personal message for young Māori men: “…if it’s a guy you want, you will get one in time. You don’t need to rush things, even if it feels like you don’t have all the time in the world.” Some of the rhetoric is a little It-Gets-Better-ish, but sometimes we all need a reminder that “you’re not the only one”, and in light of Tyson’s struggle to reconcile himself with his ideas about what it means to be gay, this is especially important.
  4. Class (/settler colonialism): Wise doesn’t pull any punches here, either. The Rua family is struggling financially. Tyson’s job is on the night shift, meaning he gets up and goes to work when the rest of his family is going to bed and returns when they’re all getting up to go to work and school, and it takes a real toll on him. His best friend Rawiri is dealing with domestic violence. Tyson’s community is poor and predominantly Māori in a country dominated by white settlers — of whom his crush, Marc, is one (and a rich one, at that).

Street Dreams covers a lot of ground. I should probably note here that there are both a masturbation scene and a sex scene in the book, although neither is especially explicit — the book overall isn’t much more explicit than, say, Grasshopper Jungle, and spends a lot less time focused on the main character’s genitals.

The writing does sometimes feel a bit stilted and thesaurus-y. Some of that may be an attempt by Wise to capture actual South Auckland Māori speech patterns, and if anyone from the area reads this and wants to chime in, I’d be happy to hear one way or another. But that’s my only real criticism, and the only thing keeping me from giving this book 4.5 or a full 5 stars.

On a broader concluding note: I agree up to a point with the rhetoric of “we need more than coming out stories”, in that I want to see books with LGBTQ characters in a wide range of situations and settings, fighting dragons, solving mysteries, and whatever else. But I also firmly believe that as long as there are people who struggle to come out, as long as there are people who have to wonder how telling people they’re gay (lesbian, bi, trans, what have you) will affect their relationships with family, friends, and community, the coming out story will continue to be relevant.

On top of that, while some readers may feel overwhelmed by coming out stories, I think it’s worth remembering that the “coming out story” as a subgenre has been (like most of LGBTQ fiction) dominated by stories about white people. Street Dreams is a welcome and important change of pace, and I hope that we will see more books like it, written by members of communities that have thus far not been well-represented in LGBTQ YA.

Dumbledore Gets Married in Ireland. Sort Of.

by Jennifer Polish

So Dumbledore and Gandalf got married.

At the suggestion of J.K. Rowling.

And all the fandoms rode off into the proverbial sunset.

But that’s not the entire story.

In the same episode of Doctor Who that Shakespeare was portrayed as bisexual (I punched the air myself before remembering I was watching it with a straight cis guy who was glaring at me), the Doctor proclaims – after saving the world with the iconic spell Expelliarmus! (please don’t ask how) – “Good old J.K.!”

Which is largely what the queer interwebs have been saying of late: Good old J.K.!

Because who doesn’t enjoy watching the Westboro Baptist Church be kicked where it hurts most on Twitter by a world-famous author?

Headlines abound about the author of the Harry Potter series “blasting” the Westboro Baptist Church. In case you missed it, after they threatened to picket Dumbledore and Gandalf’s Irish wedding (!!!!), Rowling tweeted back at them: “Alas, the sheer awesomeness of such a union in such a place would blow your tiny bigoted minds out of your thick sloping skulls.” Following up on this, she tweeted again, to explain why she snapped back at the extremist group: “I don’t care about WBC. I think it’s important that scared gay kids who aren’t out yet see hate speech challenged.”

And yes, yes it is! So… good old J.K.!

But I worry. I worry that we are too eager to give straight cis folks cookies for offering us such basic support: Rowling had absolutely nothing to lose from responding to WBC’s tweet in the way that she did. And since she has the platform that she has… why wouldn’t she?

I know not everyone would. So yes, what she did is great. And important. Yes. It’s always amusing to watch WBC be embarrassed, and more importantly, Rowling is absolutely right about it being essential for young queer kids to witness “hate speech” being challenged.

But. But.

What about when I was a young queer kid? When I was growing up reading Harry Potter, and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why Ron wouldn’t just own up to his sexual tension with Harry, why Ginny didn’t coax Hermione through her fear about falling in love with Luna? Or, for that matter, why no one – no one – in all of Hogwarts was portrayed by Rowling as anything other than a straight cis (mostly) able-bodied white person (except for a few token people of color)?

Sure, it’s great that Rowling is so “out” about queer rights now. And sure, she’s said that Dumbledore is gay now.

Maybe I’m just bitter.

But where were my out witches and wizards while I was reading Harry Potter, good old J.K.?

Because I was a young queer kid, too, and only queer fan fiction (you know, like the ones you’ve threatened law suits over) got me through.

Good old J.K. indeed: but for some of us, it’s a little late in coming.

Cover Reveal + Interview: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

We are HUGE fans of Robin Talley’s debut novel Lies We Tell Ourselves. Today, we are THRILLED to reveal the gorgeous new cover that this fantastic book will soon be getting! We also got to talk to Robin Talley and her kick ass editor T.S. Ferguson about the cover redesign, representation, and Robin’s forthcoming projects.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (Harlequin Teen, 2014)

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (Harlequin Teen, 2014)

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley UK edition (MIRA Ink, October 3rd 2014)

Lies We Tell Ourselves UK Version (MIRA Ink, 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

Without further ado, here’s the new cover of Lies We Tell Ourselves!

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IS IT NOT JUST GORGEOUS AND FANTASTIC AND EVERYTHING YOU COULD WANT IN A COVER FOR THIS BOOK. I will totally be buying another copy just for this cover!

Here’s what Robin & T.S. have to say about the cover, representation, and more!

Vee: We LOVE the new cover. Did you have any input in the new design? And what do you think of it? 

Robin: Thank you! I think it’s really quite gorgeous. As for input, I actually didn’t know that there was going to be a new design for the paperback until there was already a draft in the works, so it was quite a surprise! It’s very different from the hardcover design, which I adored.

But what’s great about the paperback version is that you can really get a good look at both Sarah and Linda. I think both of the models do a great job of embodying the characters as I’d envisioned them. I also love how they’re both looking straight at you. I think it makes them both look very smart, very astute, which is fitting with how I see the characters.

Also, of interest to GayYA readers, there’s a small but significant tweak to the back cover copy from the hardcover version, too. This one was my editor T.S.’s idea. The hardcover back copy refers to Sarah and Linda having to deal with “how they really feel about one another.” The new copy changes that to “the fact that they may be falling for one another.”

To me, as a queer reader, the original copy was plain as day about the fact that this is a girl/girl story ― but apparently that wasn’t the case for all readers, because we heard from quite a few people who were surprised to realize Sarah and Linda weren’t straight. So T.S. made that tweak to the new copy so now there will be no mistaking it.

I’m really pleased about that, because I want to make sure this book is accessible to teens and other readers who may be specifically seeking out stories with QUILTBAG characters. There are still few enough of these stories out there that I think we need to make sure they’re easy to find.

V: What was most exciting to write in Lies We Tell Ourselves, and what did you find most challenging? 

R: To tell you the most exciting part to write would actually be a spoiler, so I’ll just say that it’s the last line of chapter 26. (No skipping ahead if you haven’t read it yet!)

The most challenging part of writing this book was getting into Linda’s head. The way she thinks, especially at the beginning of the story, defies logic and understanding. I didn’t realize how big a job I was taking on when I first decided to have her narrate half the story. I doubt I’ll ever write from a point of view like hers again ― in addition to being incredibly difficult, it was also pretty devastating to try to spend time inside her mental space, but that’s what I had to do to make it through her chapters.

V: The Queer YA community has been interested in “happy f/f” recently. Without spoiling the book, did you make a conscious decision to let your characters end the book on an up note? 

R: Not really. With some books, I know how they’ll end from the very beginning of the writing process, but Lies was not one of those. It took several months of working on the story before the ending began to take shape in my mind.

I was consciously thinking, though, that these characters, especially Sarah, had been through so much ― I couldn’t just leave them where they were. I wanted to put them on a path to a better future and a better world.

V: One of the main characters in Lies We Tell Ourselves is bisexual, but the book doesn’t use the word. You’ve spoken about your increasing awareness of bisexual erasure and the importance of calling bi characters bi — and done a great job of IDing Sarah as bi via social media. How has becoming more educated about the specific issues surrounding bisexual representation influenced your writing, and how do you think the community can get this information out to writers who are writing bisexual characters today? 

R: I actually think both of the main characters in Lies would identify as bisexual if they were familiar with the concept as we know it today. In fact, they sort of come close ― at one point in the book Linda tries to get a copy of Alfred Kinsey’s book Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, which came out six years before Lies takes place. That book would’ve introduced them to the idea of bisexuality, but ultimately they aren’t able to get a copy, and they wind up reading depressing lesbian pulp fiction instead.

In the 1950s ― and, sadly, still today in many places ― there was a concerted effort in place to prevent children and teenagers from having access to honest sex education. Linda and Sarah aren’t familiar with the term bisexual or even with gay or lesbian. They might’ve heard homosexual or queer, but they would view those terms with revulsion and never want to apply them to themselves. (And they likely would’ve assumed those terms could only apply to men, anyway.)

So far, though, all of my other books are set in the present day, and I’m making a concerted effort in them to be as specific with labels as I can. My next book, What We Left Behind, is probably too label-heavy for its own good, since identity is a major theme of the plot. But for my next book after that ― As I Descended, a lesbian retelling of Macbeth coming out in 2016 ― the main character, Maria, has had relationships with both boys and girls, but in my drafts of the book I never had her actually specify a label for her sexual orientation. I assumed her relationship history would speak for itself.

As I’ve spent more time in the YA social media world, though, I’m starting to better appreciate how important it is for labels to be spelled out ― not just for sexual orientation, but for other aspects of identity. So I’m trying to make a more conscious effort to specify exactly how my characters see themselves. Not all of them will have labels that they’re comfortable using yet (as was the case for me in my teen years). But I’m revising As I Descended to have Maria explicitly describe herself as bi in the text.

When I was in high school in the 90s I never expected to read about a character who was in the same place as me in terms of identity. I can imagine, though, how amazing it would’ve been if I had encountered a story like that. And today’s teens actually have the opportunity to see themselves reflected on the pages of the books they choose to read. I want to contribute to that as much as I possibly can, and I hope other writers will feel the same way.

V: We are so excited for your upcoming book, What We Left Behind. What can you tell us about it? 

R: I can tell you:

  • That it’s coming out in October
  • That the lead character identifies as genderqueer (and the co-lead identifies as gay)
  • That it’s set during the first semester at college for the main characters, who are a pair of high-school sweethearts
  • That almost every significant character is somewhere on the QUILTBAG spectrum
  • And that it’s my favorite book I’ve ever written, with characters who are so close to my heart I sometimes forget they aren’t real. I can’t wait to let them loose into the world. I hope you guys love them too!

V: We just LOVE this cover for Lies We Tell Ourselves. What do you hope this new cover will communicate to readers about the book?

T.S.: I hope readers will see this cover and immediately understand that this is a historical novel about two girls, one black and one white (with all the implications that go along with that premise). But more importantly, I hope this cover is striking enough and beautiful enough for potential readers to pick it up, read what it’s about, and get pulled in from there.

V: One of the things we love about this redesigned cover is the prominence of a POC. (And the FACE! Are we past the era of weird hip shots and cut off heads? One can dream.) Was that a deliberate decision to push back against some of the troubling cover trends in YA?

T.S.: The decision to show a black girl on the cover was most definitely a deliberate decision to push back against these cover trends. I was lucky enough that my entire team backed me in this decision from the very beginning of our cover discussions for the hardcover. I said “I think it’s important to show a black girl on this cover, especially given the theme of the book. No silhouettes, no birds, and if we can only show one of the girls, it has to be Sarah.”

When we started discussions for this paperback redesign, that sentiment held true. While we wanted the cover to be a bit more commercial than the hardcover, and hopefully reach a wider audience, we never discussed taking Sarah off the cover. Having her there was a must!

V: One of the things we have heard about the lack of POC on covers is that there are few stock photos of POC, so putting images on the cover means a full photo shoot to get something suitable. Did you find this to be the case? And what was the process like of developing this (gorgeous, amazing) cover?

T.S.: I’ve definitely heard that it’s harder to find stock photos featuring models of color, but since I’m not a designer, I’m not sure how true that really is. The process for this cover seemed really simple. Our design team showed me four different concepts to start with, each with different black models featured, and this concept was the one we all fell in love with.

I’m really excited about this direction because, while I usually let the designers do their own thing and then give my feedback, I had given them one very specific direction (in case they needed inspiration), and this was it. My vision was to show the girls side by side against a 1950s/1960s wallpaper, and have the image saturated as if it was an old black & white photo that had been colorized. They really delivered on that vision in such a beautiful way and I’m so pleased with it. I hope readers love it as much as I do.

My Big Gay Sequel

by Casey Lawrence

This past May my first book, Out of Order, was published through Dreamspinner Press’s YA branch Harmony Ink. My first foray into queer YA has been, on the one hand, a whirlwind of excitement, and on the other, a huge let down. My book will never be a New York Times Bestseller, and I’ve made my peace with that. It will never win awards, sit on Indigo shelves, be translated into a dozen languages. This isn’t because my main character is a biracial, bisexual teenaged girl or because my writing style is still growing, still changing from day to day. I think, ultimately, it’s because I didn’t think big enough.

My main character, Corey Nguyen, is a bisexual WOC in small town USA. Her experiences are not like my own, but I still drew on my high school memories to write her story; her high school had a GSA only because she pushed for it. It was small, inadequate, and none of its members supported or relied on each other. The book only has two central LGBT characters, Corey and Kate, and neither of them have any experience being queer. They’re still figuring things out, just like I was in high school.

Out of Order by Casey Lawrence (Harmony Ink, 2015)

Out of Order by Casey Lawrence (Harmony Ink, 2015)

So I’ll admit it: with Out of Order, I fell into certain stereotypes. I didn’t even know that some of them were stereotypes, like that f/f romances in YA never have happy endings. But I fell into the traps that have been set up for people like me by years of precedence: Confused Bisexuals. Ambiguously Bi. The One Exception. Turned Gay. All of these things are tropes I didn’t know I was using, clichés drawn on for lack of a bigger understanding.

I’m working on doing better now, but this is something I will always struggle with as an author of queer YA; how far is too far? How can I make this as diverse as possible without alienating a huge segment of potential readers?

Writing a sequel to a book you’re not entirely happy with anymore is incredibly difficult. In my case, I’ve been struggling with it for longer than it took me to write the first one. But there are some things I feel I’m obligated to fix now. Corey deserves a second shot at this, a second chance to break down the barriers that have been placed around her as a bisexual YA character. I want to address the issues that she and I both face every day, but I have to do it without making my book an Afterschool Special. With YA, you have so little space to work with to do all of the big things you want to accomplish.

I’ve changed so much since I graduated high school. I’ve realised that in the real world, when you’ve not grown up with the same group of kids for years and years, queer people flock together. Pride groups and GSAs exist but so do gay bars, LGBT bookstores, online communities. There are good things out there, and bad things too. Bisexual erasure, biphobia, mental health stigma. The events of my first novel have left my protagonist in a unique position; university won’t be a fresh start for her to explore this new world. She has so much baggage to drag along with her, baggage I never had to carry, which is what’s making my Big Gay Sequel so hard to write.

My cast of characters has multiplied and diversified. My fictional world has grown wider and deeper. And yet I don’t feel satisfied. No matter how many gay, lesbian, bi, and trans characters I add, I feel like I should be doing more. That my work should be making some grand statement. That I’m not doing enough.

And so my Big Gay Sequel is slowly becoming my Little Bisexual Follow-Up instead. The thing about sequels is that they need to be able to stand alone, to be just as entertaining and authentic as the first story, and to add something new and fresh. I’m probably never going to win any of the big awards or be a household name. But that’s okay as long as I like what I’m writing and I am satisfied that I’m doing the best I can.

It doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be right.

Keep up with Casey Lawrence on her Twitter!

Author Interview: Corinne Duyvis

We’re so psyched to have the chance to talk with Corinne Duyvis, author of the fantastic queer YA fantasy Otherbound, about world-building, the work she’s done with DisabilityinKidLit, her queer SF/F wishlist, and much much more. :)

Amara is never alone. Not when she’s protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they’re fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she’s punished, ordered around, or neglected.

She can’t be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he’s yanked from his Arizona town into Amara’s mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He’s spent years as a powerless observer of Amara’s life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she’s furious.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan’s breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they’ll have to work together to survive–and discover the truth about their connection.

You can visit Corinne online, or follow her on Twitter and Tumblr!

Vee: Hey Corinne! Thanks so much for joining us here on GayYA. To start off, can you tell us a little bit about who you are, and how you identify?

Corinne: So happy to be here! GayYA is a much-needed presence in the YA world.

I write YA and MG novels (though only the YAs are published so far), all in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. When you grow up on Goosebumps, Animorphs, and Harry Potter, it’s only natural! I’m Dutch—born and raised in Amsterdam—and I’m into comic books, krav maga, cats, and making lists for everything under the sun. I still live in Amsterdam now, with a chubby, not-too-bright cat as my roommate.

I’m bisexual and autistic, so it’s probably not a huge surprise that diversity is my jam. This manifests itself in various ways: I write diverse protagonists/worlds, co-edit Disability in Kidlit, and I’m a team member with We Need Diverse Books.

V: Your debut novel Otherbound was released last year which features (among many other things!) two queer girls. How did Otherbound first come into being?  

C: My typical answer is: a mishmash of things. I had this one idea about something happening whenever someone closed their eyes, and this other idea about traveling between worlds, and something about invulnerability, and they kind of merged spontaneously at one point. Everything clicked into place pretty quickly.

The queer element of Otherbound wasn’t there at the beginning. There wasn’t any romance at all, in fact. I was plotting out the book and considering the interactions between Amara (main character) and Cilla (another prominent female character) and kind of fannishly went, “Haha, I so ship it.”

And then I realized I was writing my own book, which meant I could, in fact, ship them, and it would be super hella canon. I am in control.

That realization was oddly liberating. It’s astonishing how often we self-censor without even realizing it, whether because of concerns about The Market or because we’ve simply internalized how much diversity is “allowed” in a story. I figured that I already had two protagonists of color, two worlds almost entirely populated by people of color, multiple disabled characters—including both protagonists—et cetera. Surely it would be too much if I added queerness into the mix, too?

But why should it be? Why would two girls in a relationship be an added distraction, while a girl and a guy in a relationship would be normal and expected?

I still waffled on whether I wanted to go for it or not, partially because I wasn’t sure I could make it work with the complex power dynamics going on between the two of them. I decided to give it a try. Obviously, it stuck!

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis (Amulet Books, 2014)

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis (Amulet Books, 2014)

V: I was fascinated by all the levels of oppression and privilege you layered into Otherbound, particularly the nuanced depiction of its effects and how some of the power dynamics were opposite of our society. What was the process like for developing that? 

C: I’d never had to build a secondary world before, and it was kind of petrifying. I was convinced I’d be awful at it. Then, when I actually started hashing out ideas, I found that I really enjoyed it. It was much more organic than I’d expected. I love playing with world rules, with what-ifs, and I’ve often been bothered by how, in some secondary worlds, the social norms are identical to ours for no clear reason. Sometimes these norms have a purpose in the story, and the author explores it in a meaningful way; other times, it feels as though people default to those norms, rather than it being a conscious choice they’re making.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We have limitless freedom when it comes to secondary worlds. I loved putting that to work.

A lot of it is pure extrapolation. Examples:

A large part of the story is Amara protecting a rogue princess; therefore, I needed a monarchy that was recently overthrown. I dubbed their people Alineans.

I knew I wanted a very mixed world; therefore, I decided to have a recently (200 year-ish) settled part of land that functioned as sort of a trading outpost, drawing people from all over the world.

So, wait, how do I combine monarchy and distant trading outpost? Are the Alineans considering this a colony? Perhaps, but I need a local government for this plot to work. Let’s say this monarch appointed a branch of the royal family to rule this part of the world.

But then, wait, if the world is so mixed, odds are the people overthrowing the monarchy wouldn’t (all) be Alineans. Would the local Alinean population rise up and try to reclaim their rule? If they founded this outpost and have been the favored class for so long, I imagine they wouldn’t simply sit back. Maybe they’re outnumbered by now, since the trading outpost is located nearer to other countries than the Alinean homeland. What kind of dynamics would that create between these different groups, given this history? How would they perceive each other? How does this animosity play out in locations that have different racial make-up—for example, select cities or islands where Alineans are still in the majority—and how would it interact with class? Are Alineans still economically privileged more than a decade after the coup?

I didn’t want to simply mimic existing power structures and racial dynamics, basically. I tried to build it from the ground up, but implementing what I’ve learned about how these imbalances work in our world.

I applied the same logic to my local servant population. I came up with my own servant system, created a local lore around it, and considered how these different factors would affect the world, people, and dynamics. How might individual servants perceive themselves? What logic is being used to justify servitude? Do people genuinely believe this logic or do they realize that it’s bunk but play along anyway? How does the average citizen perceive servants? And how might this Alinean system of servants be perceived by other population groups, and how has the system been applied—and perhaps altered—in the years since the coup? And how would all this differ for servants like Amara, who grew up on the run, separated from the tightly knit servant culture that’s inevitably evolved?

And on and on. Every world-building choice has consequences in terms of the characters’ social standing. It has consequences for both the groups as a whole and for the individuals in their unique positions. It was a challenge keeping all of that straight, but the more the world came together, the more real it felt. Three-dimensional, breathing. Conveying this in the text was difficult, and I don’t know how well I succeeded, but the building, the way it took shape in my head … I loved it.

Even if the power structures are different and privilege and oppression play out in different ways, people will respond to them in very human ways: resentment, fear, internalized self-hate, dedication, pride, fury, resourcefulness. Some try to fight and others try to grind their teeth and bear it and others try to play the system and others accept their lot. However different a secondary world may be from ours, I do strongly believe you need a thorough understanding of how oppression works in our world on both a micro and macro level in order to extrapolate its effects to other worlds and situations.

V: The world of Otherbound is very complex, and I’m not just talking about the Dunelands. There was plenty of magic and complicated oddities going on. Is there anything in this rich world that you know about, but weren’t able to show in your book?

C: I should have considered this question more carefully before answering the previous one! Yes, there’s an awful lot going on behind the scenes. This was one of the most difficult parts of writing and editing the book: making sure I gave enough information to make the world understandable, to make the plot work, and perhaps to intrigue the reader—but never so much that it overwhelmed or confused them. So I held back a lot of information.

One element I enjoyed hashing out, but didn’t get to show as much of in the book, was the mage system. All five recurring population groups in the book perceive mages differently and have different lore surrounding them; there are also certain cultural associations with magic use. While there are of course many individual differences, some cultures embrace it, others fear it, and others reject it outright. This has consequences for how their mages are treated and what kind of code and rules mages are expected to abide by.

Bits and pieces show up in the book, but not nearly as much as I’d brainstormed behind the scenes.

V: What do you think your teen self’s reaction would be to reading Otherbound?

C: That is an interesting question! I’m not quite sure. I think I might’ve been intrigued by the character’s situations, but turned off by the expansive world, since a lot of the books teen!Corinne read at the time were much more straightforward world-wise. As much as I’d love to say that I would’ve loved and cherished Otherbound forevah and evah, I veered toward more commercial books.

I do think, though, that it would’ve been a real eye-opener to see two girls attracted to each other, particularly in a book that wasn’t about queerness at all. I don’t remember ever reading queer characters in books growing up (just graphic novels), which is kind of crushingly sad.

V: You co-run the fabulous blog Disability in Kidlit (which if anyone in our community doesn’t know about, definitely should). I’m curious, do you think running that blog has affected your own writing in any way?

C: Oh yes! Absolutely. For one, it made me realize just how many disabilities out there are never or rarely portrayed, and it made me want to write Every Single One of them. (Good luck with that, Corinne.) Interacting with contributors behind the scenes, hearing people’s reactions to our content, and of course reading the actual posts, makes the lack of (good) disability representation painfully clear. There’s so, so much to explore, and so, so many people are hungry for it.

Basically, I suspect I’d have a lot fewer disabled characters in my WIPs if I’d never started the site.

For another, it made me realize just how much I don’t know yet. I thought I was super savvy about disability stuff two years ago (Disability in Kidlit went live July 2013), but I’ve learned a lot since then, and it’s only made me realize how much there’s still left to learn. The website has made me much more conscious of how I depict disability; for example, while I’m generally happy with how I wrote the disabilities in Otherbound, there are things I’d do different were I writing the book now.

V: I recently learned that you are an artist as well as a writer! (And your art is just gorgeous.) Is there any way in which those things have had an impact each other?

C: Oh, thank you! That’s lovely to hear.

One obvious way is that it’s made me a very visual writer. I always have a very clear picture in my head of what my characters look like. I try not to let this seep into my books via endless physical descriptions, and art is a great outlet for that. I always doodle my characters to get a feel for them. It’s fun for me, and others may enjoy seeing my depictions of the characters.

V: In the recently released article LGBTQ Publishing Wishlist you give a great answer about what you’d like to see in queer YA. I wanted to ask: what are the top three queer stories/characters that you personally would like to see in SF/F? 

C: Hmmm.

A big one—which I also mentioned in the article—is that I really and truly want to see more trans protagonists in SF/F. (Particularly written by trans authors!) It’s astonishing that this … basically doesn’t exist.

(I’m working on it, unsurprisingly. We’ll see when or if that gets sold.)

This is another one I mentioned in the article, but I super want to see more queer communities portrayed in fiction. I mean, come on, we flock together, whether on purpose or subconsciously. The lone queer kid is an incredibly important narrative to feature, and something many of us can relate to, but it’s surprising to me how this seems to be the dominant narrative. Where are the gay protags with the gay best friends? Where’s the GSA kids at? Where are the after-school meetups with queer friends the protagonist met online?

I want to see this in contemporary fiction, but even more in SF/F, because it’s my genre of choice. It may be that people feel that this would be “too much.” It’s becoming more and more OK for a character to be incidentally queer in an SF/F story, thankfully, but the presence of an entire group of queer characters would mean the characters probably talk about their queerness, joke about their queerness, commiserate about experiences, talk about intra-community issues … all topics that come up to a greater or lesser degree in real-life meetings between queer people. And this would feel like an distraction in a plot-driven SF/F story, or like preaching, or like shoehorning in irrelevant queer content. It’s as though a certain percentage of queerness will automatically turn a book into a Queer Story, and those clearly have no place in SF/F.

(Screw that. Give me a GSA club caught in the zombie apocalypse.)

Well, that’s my theory for why we so rarely see it, anyway.

Finally, I want to see more queerness in traditionally very straight, cis narratives. For example, queer characters in the compulsorily cishet world of many dystopians. (Some books, like Phoebe North’s Starglass and Gennifer Albin’s Crewel, do address this. I’d love to see it as the focus though, with main characters rather than secondary characters.)

Or maybe two lovers destined to be together across time and across incarnations … but now maybe they’re both girls. Or one of them is non-binary and they’re really not keen on the gendered language in the prophecy. Or one of them is ace, and dang, that’s gonna get in the way of True Love’s Kiss.

There is so much potential out there, and I can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store for us.

V: What’s next for you?

C: My next book is out spring 2016, and while its protagonist is straight, there are major queer/trans side characters. It’s called On the Edge of Gone; it’s a near-future sci-fi YA set in Amsterdam during an apocalyptic comet impact. The protagonist is a mixed Surinamese-Dutch autistic girl who believes she’s doomed until—only minutes before impact—she finds herself on a damaged generation ship, the last one remaining on Earth. All other ships have already fled the planet.

Engineers are working on repairs around the clock so the ship can escape the incoming impact winter and the comet’s disastrous after-effects, but she may not be allowed to stay for launch. She’ll have to prove her value on board … a task that’s made extra complicated by her mother’s irresponsibility, her sister’s disappearance, and the world around and inside her rapidly falling apart.

It’s a very personal story, and one I’m excited to share.

I’m also working on several MGs—an alternate-world sci-fi, a current-day sci-fi, and a quirky horror—and playing around with ideas for various YAs. (Incidentally, all those YAs feature queer girl leads, because of course.) None of these are under contract yet, so we’ll see which one ends up being book #3. Place your bets!

Queer YA Scrabble: The Auction Opens! (plus an Excerpt)

The Queer YA Scrabble Giveaway is now over… but the auction is just starting! You can still get all of the fabulous prizes in Team Dragon’s Prize Box– plus some fabulous critique opportunities with editors and agents. All of the proceeds will go to the amazing organization Stonewall UK.

The auction closes on June 14th– start bidding now, and get your friends involved, too! We’re hoping to raise a really solid amount to donate to Stonewall UK to help support the amazing work they’re doing.

Go here to bid, and take a look at all the amazing prizes you’ll get if you win!

Make sure to check out the boxes of the other teams too! So many fabulous things to bid on out there. Visit the Queer YA Scrabble home page to check out the other teams!

For a sneak peek from one of the books you’d get if you bid on this package…

18068693

From A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke

I took my phone out and tried to ignore Jamie staring at me. It was a text from Kate, asking if I’d enjoyed the procession. She said she’d been able to see the fireworks from Portobello. She liked that we’d both been watching the same thing at the same time. She said it was the next best thing to being together. Kate was always sending sweet messages like that — little things that would make me smile and feel good about myself no matter what was happening around me. Those messages were like oxygen to me.

There weren’t going to be any more messages like that from Kate. I was looking at the very last one. I stared at it until the words went blurry. And then I realised the words hadn’t gone blurry at all – there was a film of tears in front of my eyes. I blinked hard until they went away.

Kate’s message didn’t make me smile and feel good about myself this time. It made me feel like I was choking. It was too much — the thought of her looking at the fireworks, feeling happy and excited, hopeful about the future, while I looked up at them knowing it was over.

I would never see her again. Not unless we passed each other in the street one day. I’d already thought of that.

 

 

New Releases: June 2015.

June 1st (USA)

Love Spell by Mia Kerick — (G,Q)

Love Spell (Cool Dudes Publishing, 2015)

Love Spell (Cool Dudes Publishing, 2015)

Goodreads Summary: “Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance César, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.
As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.) However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.”

But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.

An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.

Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.”

Cool Dudes PublishingAmazon

June 2nd (USA)

*GAY YA’S BOOK CLUB PICK FOR JUNE!*

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera — (G)

More Happy Than Not (Soho Teen, 2015)

More Happy Than Not (Soho Teen, 2015)

Goodreads Summary: “Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, part Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

When it first gets announced, the Leteo Institute’s memory-alteration procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto—miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor, how his friends all seem to shrug him off, and how his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. He has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession over the Scorpius Hawthorne books and has a sweet movie set-up on his roof. There are nicknames. Aaron’s not only able to be himself, but happiness feels easy with Thomas. The love Aaron discovers may cost him what’s left of his life, but since Aaron can’t suddenly stop being gay Leteo may be the only way out.”

Amazon / Book Depository / Indie Bound

June 2nd (USA)

Skyscraping (Philomel Books, 2015)

Skyscraping (Philomel Books, 2015)

Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen — (Gay parent)

Goodreads Summary: A heartrending, bold novel in verse about family, identity, and forgiveness.

Mira is just beginning her senior year of high school when she discovers her father with his male lover. Her world–and everything she thought she knew about her family–is shattered instantly. Unable to comprehend the lies, betrayal, and secrets that–unbeknownst to Mira–have come to define and keep intact her family’s existence, Mira distances herself from her sister and closest friends as a means of coping. But her father’s sexual orientation isn’t all he’s kept hidden. A shocking health scare brings to light his battle with HIV. As Mira struggles to make sense of the many fractures in her family’s fabric and redefine her wavering sense of self, she must find a way to reconnect with her dad–while there is still time.
Told in raw, exposed free verse, Skyscraping reminds us that there is no one way to be a family.

Amazon / Book Depository / Barnes & Noble

June 4th (USA)

The Geek and His Artist by Hope Ryan — (G)

The Geek and His Artist (Harmony Ink, 2015)

The Geek and His Artist (Harmony Ink, 2015)

Goodreads Summary: Simon Williams spends his lunch periods drawing his geek and trying not to think about the terrors waiting for him at home. He needs to get away from his abusive father before he suffers the same grisly fate as his mother. Because he’s learned the hard way running away doesn’t work, he’s counting the days until his eighteenth birthday.

Jimmy Bennet should be spending his lunch studying so his senior GPA is good enough to get him into college, but he can’t seem to focus thanks to his distracting artist. When he’s given the opportunity to tutor Simon in Trig and discovers Simon’s home-life nightmare, he wants nothing more than to get Simon out of danger. This need becomes more urgent when Simon comes to school the Monday after their first date with bruises, but it takes a broken leg before Jimmy can convince his boyfriend the Bennets really want him.

But the danger Simon thought was past shows up at the most unexpected time, and he must stand up to the fears he’s held so long to protect not only himself, but the man he wants to spend his life with.”

Harmony Ink Press / Amazon

June 5th (UK)

Starring Kitty (Catnip Publishing, 2015)

Starring Kitty (Catnip Publishing, 2015)

Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton (Middle Grade – L)

Goodreads Summary: Sometimes the greatest love stories happen behind the scenes…

Kitty’s keeping secrets. Like how she’s struggling to cope with her mum’s illness. And how she’s falling for the girl with the purpley-red hair… A fun film competition with her friends Sunny and Hannah seems like the perfect distraction. But then Dylan wants to be more than Kitty’s secret. Is Kitty ready to let her two worlds meet or will she risk losing Dylan forever?

Starring Kitty is the first in a new series about first love and friendship by much-loved teen author Keris Stainton.”

Book Depository

 

June 9th (USA)

The Rules of Ever After by Killian B. Brewer — (G)

The Rules of Ever After (Duet, 2015)

The Rules of Ever After (Duet, 2015)

Goodreads Summary: “The rules of royal life have governed the kingdoms of Clarameer for thousands of years, but Prince Phillip and Prince Daniel know that these rules don’t provide for the happily ever after they seek. A fateful, sleepless night on top of a pea set under twenty mattresses brings the two young men together and sends them on a quest out into the kingdoms.

On their travels, they encounter meddlesome fairies, an ambitious stepmother, disgruntled princesses and vengeful kings as they learn about life, love, friendship, and family. Most of all, the two young men must learn to know themselves and how to write their own rules of ever after.

The Rules of Ever After is the debut novel from Duet Books, an imprint for Young Adult LGBTQ fiction from Interlude Press.”

Amazon / Book Depository / Barnes & Noble

June 11th (USA)

The History of Us (Harmony Ink, 2015)

The History of Us (Harmony Ink, 2015)

The History of Us by Nyrae Dawn — (G)

Goodreads Summary: “Sometimes it’s not about coming out, it’s about settling in.

Eighteen-year-old Bradley Collins came out a year ago and hasn’t looked back since. Who cares if he doesn’t know any other gay people? Bradley has friends and basketball—that’s all he needs. Even if that means always sitting on the sidelines when the guys go out looking for girls.

When cute film-boy TJ tries to flirt with Bradley while his friends are doing their thing, he freaks. Yeah, he’s gay, but he’s never had the opportunity to go out with a boy before. He’s never had to worry about how his friends will react to seeing him with a guy.

Bradley accompanies TJ on a road trip to film TJ’s senior project documentary. In each city they visit, they meet with people from different walks of life, and Bradley learns there’s a whole lot more to being honest about himself than just coming out. He still has to figure out who he really is, and learn to be okay with what he discovers.”

Harmony Ink Press / Amazon

June 16th (USA)

Glittering Shadows (Dark Metropolis #2) by Jaclyn Dolamore — (book#1 featured L and A characters)

Glittering Shadows (Disney Hyperion, 2015)

Glittering Shadows (Disney Hyperion, 2015)

Goodreads Summary: The revolution is here.

Bodies line the streets of Urobrun; a great pyre burns in Republic Square. The rebels grow anxious behind closed doors while Marlis watches as the politicians search for answers—and excuses—inside the Chancellery.

Thea, Freddy, Nan, and Sigi are caught in the crossfire, taking refuge with a vibrant, young revolutionary and a mysterious healer from Irminau. As the battle lines are drawn, a greater threat casts a dark shadow over the land. Magic might be lost—forever.

This action-packed sequel to Dark Metropolis weaves political intrigue, haunting magic, and heartbreaking romance into an unforgettable narrative. Dolamore’s lyrical writing and masterfully crafted plot deliver a powerful conclusion.”

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Indie Bound

June 18th (USA)

Noble Persuasion (The Halvarian Ruin Books #2) by Sara Gaines — (L)

Noble Persuasion (Harmony Ink, 2015)

Noble Persuasion (Harmony Ink, 2015)

Goodreads Summary: “Aleana Melora, now a duchess in name only, sought refuge after fleeing the kingdom she once called home. Unwilling to admit defeat, Aleana jumps at the opportunity to learn what is happening in her lands when a mysterious letter arrives summoning her to a nearby fortress.

After discovering she is not the only one who has suffered, Aleana is given the chance to aid her people more than she imagined. But doing so means she must meet the demands of those she would align herself with. This decision has far-reaching consequences for both her people and her relationship with Kahira, the marked criminal who holds Aleana’s affections, as she’s faced with a line she hoped never to cross.”

Harmony Ink Press

June 23th (USA)

The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2015)

The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2015)

The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek by Seth Rudetsky — (G)

Goodreads Summary: Broadway, New York. The shows, the neon lights . . . the cute chorus boys! It’s where Justin has always wanted to be–and now, with a winter internship for a famous actor, he finally has his chance to shine. If only he could ditch his kind, virtuous, upright, and–dare he say it?—uptightboyfriend, Spencer. But once the internship begins, Justin has more to worry about than a cramped single-guy-in-the-city style. Instead of having his moment in the spotlight, he’s a not-so-glorified errand boy. Plus, Spencer is hanging out with a celebra-hottie, Justin’s best friend Becky isn’t speaking to him, and his famous actor boss seems headed for flopdom. Justin’s tap-dancing as fast as he can, but all his wit and sass might not be enough to switch his time in New York from nightmare-terrible to dream-come-true terrific.

Seth Rudetsky’s second YA novel is endearingly human, laugh-out-loud funny, and for any kid who’s ever aspired to Broadway but can only sneak in through the stage door. ”

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Indie Bound

June 30th (USA)

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler — (B, L)

Under the Lights (Spencer Hill Contemporary, 2015)

Under the Lights (Spencer Hill Contemporary, 2015)

Goodreads Summary: “Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls…opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved…and the person she never imagined she could.”

Amazon / Book Depository / Indie Bound / Barnes & Noble

If we missed your book for this month or you know of new LGBTQAI+ titles releasing for the followings months feel free

to email us at: nadia@gayya.org or tweet us @thegayYA with the info!

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