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Thursday, June 15, 2023

Authors Talk: Queer Books Past, Present, and Future: Pride Month

A short while ago I posted a Google form for authors to answer where we discussed queer books past, present, and future. Here are a few of the answers that I received.

Introduction to the authors. Authors will be color-coded to make matching answer and responses easier, at least to me.

Dahlia Adler: (she/her) Author of queer books including Going Bicoastal, Cool for the Summer, and Home Field Advantage.
Deke Moulton: (she/they) Author of the upcoming novel Don't Want to Be Your Monster.
Caroline Huntoon: (they/them) Author of the recently released book Skating on Mars.
Alder (Ash) Van Otterloo: (they/he) Author of middle-grade books Cattywampus, A Touch of Ruckus, and The Beautiful Something Else.
Jae: (she/her) Author of queer books including Backwards to Oregon, Chemistry Lessons, and Just a Touch Away.
Jen St. Jude: (they/them, she/her) Author of the recently released book If Tomorrow Doesn't Come.
Michelle Mohrweis: (they/them) Author of The Trouble with Robots and the upcoming book The Problem with Gravity.

What are/were some LGBTQ+ books that made you feel seen?

Dahlia Adler: Imogen, Obviously by Becky Albertalli was the most recent one that hit a lot of nails on a lot of heads for me. Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan and Far From You by Tess Sharpe were definitely big ones. And it's adult, but In at the Deep End by Kate Davies had a life-changing line for me.
Deke Moulton: Honestly, THE CITY BEAUTIFUL by Aden Polydoros. I loved the intersection of Jewish observance and a desire to remain in the community with wonderful deconstructions of the ways in which Biblical mistranslations have led to persecution of queer people.
Caroline Huntoon: ALWAYS THE ALMOST (Edward Underhill), IF TOMORROW DOESN'T COME (Jen St. Jude), FELIX EVER AFTER (Kacen Callender)... always looking for more.
Alder (Ash) Van Otterloo: Hell Followed with Us, The Deep, I Wish You All the Best, It Came From the Closet, The Merry Spinster, The Witch King duology, The River Has Teeth, The Sound of Stars...to name a VERY few.
Jae: Most meaningful to me were the first LGBTQ+ books I read, including Silent Legacy by Ciaran Llachlan Leavitt and And Playing the Role of Herself by KE Lane. I grew up in a tiny little village, with no openly LGBTQ+ people around, so books like these were a lifesaver. I was also pleasantly surprised to find a character with aphantasia in Write for Her by Kim Hartfield. I had never seen that aspect of myself represented in fiction.
Jen St. Jude: The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch, Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen, We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds, Man O' War by Cory McCarthy, Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis, everything by Lin Thompson, Just As You Are by Camille Kellogg, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera.
Michelle Mohrweis: Oh goodness! There’s so many, but here’s a few highlights. First, some middle grade:
In middle grade, IZZY AT THE END OF THE WORLD by K.A. Reynolds features a bisexual autistic girl trying to save her family after aliens make everyone vanish away. As a queer autistic enby, I loved reading that rep, especially in a story as fun and spooky and adventurous as that one!
MEOW OR NEVER by Jazz Taylor is a wonderful story that really made me feel seen in a way I can’t explain. Along with a queer first crush plotline, it had an anxious main character. I battle with my anxiety a lot, and I really wish there had been more books showing characters grappling with it when I was a kid. Plus it has cats. I love cats!
Moving into young adult:
I can’t get enough of LAKELORE by Anna-Marie McLemore. The main characters are neurodivergent and nonbinary, and as a neurodivergent enby myself, this book really resonated with me. From the conversations about gender and what it means to them, to the way the main characters think and act, this story was so validating and wonderful. Plus, it’s absolutely beautiful, written in an almost lyrical tone as the characters find their magical world below the lake starting to appear around them on the surface! I especially loved how the book showed the way so many of us click when we find each other, that sheer joy and relief at being able to have conversations with another neurodivergent person where you aren’t viewed as too random or one upping, but instead are understood, even if the other person doesn’t always follow your particular train of thought.
I really enjoyed and felt seen when reading FIRE BECOMES HER by Rosiee Thor. Rosiee writes amazing aro/ace characters and it’s so refreshing to read a book showing a queer platonic relationship. Also it has magic you can drink and so much intrigue packed into a 1920s style setting, so not only did their book make me feel seen… but it also really entertained me!
The graphic novel MAGICAL BOY made me feel so seen. The main character is a trans boy, and although I’m nonbinary, so many of his struggles getting people to see him for who he is really resonated with me. There’s a scene where he is trying on clothing and one popular queer style is still more form fitting than he likes, and that just stuck with me because I grapple with that all the time! This was also the book that finally got me to try a binder, which was so, so, so affirming. Add in all the adventure and magic and poking fun at countless magical girl tropes (but in a loving way) and this graphic novel quickly became one of my favorites.

What are some upcoming LGBTQ+ books (releasing in 2023/2024) that you're looking forward to reading?

Dahlia Adler: I've been anxiously awaiting Naomi Kanakia's Just Happy to Be Here (January 2024) for ages, and I'm really excited for more by Edward Underhill the month after that; I loved Always the Almost so much. The No Girlfriend Rule by Christen Randall sounds like a mix of everything I love, and I'm obsessed with Feiwel & Friends' Remixed Classics series - I absolutely loved Caleb Roehrig's upcoming Teach the Torches to Burn, and I'm ridiculously excited for Most Ardently by Gabe Cole Novoa. Also, gimme more K. Ancrum, always - cannot wait for her Icarus.
Deke Moulton: I cannot wait to read THE BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING ELSE by Ash Von Otterloo! SECOND SIR CALLIE!!!!! (and knowing that I'm in for a ride with two more books to complete the series!) ALEX WISE by Terry Benton-Walker.
Caroline Huntoon: THIS DAY CHANGES EVERYTHING (Edward Underhill), IRIS KELLY DOESN'T DATE (Ashley Herring Blake), ASKING FOR A FRIEND (Ronnie Riley), NOAH FRYE GETS CRUSHED (Maggie Horne)... AND SO MANY MORE.
Alder (Ash) Van Otterloo: The Otherwoods (MG, Winans, 23), All That Consumes Us (YA, Waters, 23), Don't Want to be Your Monster (Moulton, 23), Flicker (Edgmon '24), The Lumbering Giants of Windy Pines (Netz, '24), and Night of the Living Queers (antho, Page). I'm currently really enjoying Blood Debts (Terry Benton Walker)! 
Jae: There are two fake relationship romances (which are my catnip trope) that I'm looking forward to: "Fly With Me" by Andie Burke and "Cover Story" by Rachel Lacey (She just signed with Montlake, but I don't think it has a release date yet). Plus anything Lee Winter and EJ Noyes publish next.
Jen St. Jude: I've talked quite a bit about 2023 books so let me look ahead to 2024! Just a small handful but I can't wait for A Good Happy Girl by Marissa Higgins, A Bahn Mi for Two by Trinity Nguyen, Wake Up, Nat & Darcy by Kate Cochrane, Mischief & Matchmaking by Emma R. Alban, Our Shattered Masks by Erin Luken, and Time and Time Again by Chatham Greenfield.
Michelle Mohrweis: I can’t wait to read Sonora Reyes’s queer autistic revenge story, THE LUIS ORTEGA SURVIVAL CLUB. Sonora writes some truly amazing stories, and they have a talent for grappling with dark subjects in an approachable and nuanced way, as well as creating wonderful queer characters that stick with you long after you finish reading. I have so much respect for them, and am so excited for this book.
LOVE LETTERS FOR JOY by Melissa See is another book I can’t wait for. Academic rivalry, enemies to lovers, panromantic ace main character and so much other queer rep… it’s going to be a delightful read!
The upcoming young adult sapphic fantasy SO LET THEM BURN by Kamilah Cole looks amazing! It’s got dragons and magic and sisterhood all set in a world inspired by Jamaica! Also, I know we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but have you seen how magical that cover looks?

What representation or type of LGBTQ+ books would you like to see more of in the future?

Dahlia Adler: More transfem rep in all categories, 1000%, and I'd also really love to see more books that explore the intersections not just of queerness and religion, but queerness and being a member of a religious community. .
Deke Moulton: I honestly would love to see more queer books with positive religious experiences, or tackling misconceptions within rigid, traditional frameworks. I swear I've seen much more Jewish queer books (thinking of Dahlia Adler, Aden Polydoros, Sarah Kapit, Rebecca Podos, uhh... me?) - but I'd love to see other faiths as well. I loved BUTCH HIJABI BLUES for seeing validation through readings of Quranic texts. (of course, I love HELL FOLLOWED WITH US for it's handling of fundamentalists, too!).
Caroline Huntoon: I just want more... there is such a range of experiences and identities within the LGBTQ+ community... I want there to be an abundance of different kinds of stories, so people can see their own truths and those books and work to understand the identities of others more fully.
Alder (Ash) Van Otterloo: Trans women/transfem authors in kidlit! And more trans horror, always. The eerier, the better!
Jae: More books with "everyday" characters--someone like Denny from my novel Wrong Number, Right Woman, who has love handles and works as a cashier. More diversity--BIPOC characters, neurodivergent characters, body-positive books, etc..
Jen St. Jude: Definitely more YA by trans women and trans feminine people! And we always so desperately in need of more BIPOC writers, neurodivergent writers, disabled writers...give us all the voices! 
Michelle Mohrweis: I'd love to see more middle grade books with queer rep, especially in SFF. There's so many amazing queer contemporary middle grade books (heck, it's what I write) but as huge fan of fantasy and scifi, I'd love to see that rep makes it's way into that area more as well. There are some AMAZING ones already, but I always long for more!

Here's where to follow the authors!

Dahlia Adler: Website, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Deke Moulton: Website, Twitter, andInstagram.
Caroline Huntoon:
Website, Twitter, andInstagram.
Alder (Ash) Van Otterloo:
Website, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Jae: Website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Jen St. Jude: Website, Twitter, andInstagram.
Michelle Mohrweis:
Website, Instagram, and TikTok.

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