Thursday, August 17, 2017

QSR Guest Post: Sex Repulsed Aces in Fiction

Hey Scouts! Please welcome Tabitha to the blog! This is a post I think you guys are going to find really interesting. I know I do!

Growing up, I never saw anyone like me in fiction—a sex-repulsed asexual person. This left me basically thinking I was the only person on the planet who hated the thought of ever having sex. So it’s amazing to now get to read about characters who actually have similar feelings to mine; it means so much to finally see myself reflected in stories. Here are a few sex-repulsed/averse ace characters who have especially resonated with me (all of whose names, coincidentally, start with “N”):

Nevian from City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault

When I started this book, I knew there were several ace characters, but it was still a pleasant surprise to discover that Nevian was a sex-repulsed ace almost as soon as he was introduced: “Nevian didn’t know who she was trying to impress with that. Not him, he hoped. He had no interest in these things—not with her, and not with anyone. The thought had always made him recoil a little.” I appreciate that his specific orientation is made so clear—he doesn’t just lack interest in sex, but actually has an aversion toward it.

And then this later encounter made me smile:
Nevian jumped back as if the door had burned him. Why was the High Priest naked in the middle of the day? Then he heard a woman’s stifled giggles, and Varden hushed her. The door snapped shut and they shuffled inside. Nevian would never understand that kind of desire—he had never even experienced attraction and doubted he one day would—and physical proximity unnerved him. He waited, wishing people were more reasonable about this whole sex thing. Because, really? The middle of the day?
Having been regularly forced to overhear my former neighbors doing certain… things… at random times like 10AM or noon, I am completely with Nevian here. I haven’t seen many characters who are uncomfortable with being aware of others’ sexual activity (although Nadin is another one—see below!), but that is my experience, and it was exciting to find a character who shares it.

Nadin from Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari

Like Nevian, Nadin is also disconcerted at witnessing others’ sexual desire on display:
The man said something I couldn’t hear and pulled the woman close. She giggled and draped herself around him, her hands snaking up under the tight fabric of his shirt. I grimaced and pulled the hood of my cloak further over my face.
[…] “They were just being affectionate,” [Isaak] said.
“You mean that didn’t”—I paused, struggling to find the right word—“bother you?”
“No. Honestly, it’s the first time since I've been here that I've seen anyone act human.”
I glared at him. “How is that what makes someone human?”
Sex scenes in movies = me covering my eyes and asking when it’ll be over. You’re not the only one it bothers, Nadin! (And yay for her calling out the idea that sex makes us human!)

Later, her boyfriend initiates a passionate kiss for the first time, which completely freaks her out. When she expresses her discomfort, he gets upset:
He pushed away from me, getting to his feet. “I’m sorry, Nadin,” he said, his voice impossibly small. “I thought… I thought you loved me, too.”
I jumped up after him. “I do love you!” I protested.
“Then why don’t you—” I flinched, and he lowered his volume. “Why don’t you want me?”
When society equates love with sex, and when even other aces often emphasize that asexual people can still have sex to please their partners, it’s powerful to me to see a character who isn’t able to just go along with sexual activity for their partner’s sake—not that there’s anything wrong with choosing to do that, if it is indeed a choice, but I wouldn’t be able to make myself, and I relate to Nadin because she can’t either.

Niavin from Sinners by Eka Waterfield

I fortunately don’t relate to Niavin’s experiences too much, as he’s been through a lot worse than I have because of his sexuality, but I certainly understand his feelings:
He could never desire anyone and yet he simply had to. He was the last of his House, and it depended on him to survive. Children were rare among the sidhe; the union needed to be a formal marriage blessed by the Queen, and even then it would take countless nights, countless decades of copulation. Niavin would have to endure that. His aunts and uncles and nephews had fallen to war and duels and other misfortunes, and the House had to go on.
I felt so alone growing up because the adults around me talked as if everyone got married and had children someday—it was just inevitable, just what people did. But Niavin, like me, knows that making babies is not for him (and fortunately, he gets out of getting married). I also really appreciate that by the end of the book, he knows there’s nothing wrong with that: “He did not need the flesh of another to be happy, that much was for damn sure.”

Trigger warnings for these books:
  • City of Strife trigger warnings
  • I don’t know of an official list of trigger/content warnings for Fourth World, but the second scene I quoted contains a description of a non-consensual kiss. Nadin also grapples with feelings of brokenness after that encounter.
  • Sinners trigger warnings
Tabitha is an ace vegan feminist who loves thinking and talking about representation in media. One of her short stories with an ace main character has appeared in Vitality magazine. You can find Tabitha on Twitter @tabithawrites and on Wordpress at tjoconnell.wordpress.com.

Thanks for joining us, Tabitha!!

Peace and popsicles,
Laina

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

QSR: Giveaway!!



Hey everyone! Who likes giveaways?

(If you don’t, this post probably isn’t for you :P)

I’m giving away a queer book for up to 15€ from Book Depository and a sticker from Queer Enough :)

You have to be 13 or older if you want to enter, and you need your parents’ permission if you’re a minor. Only entries submitted through Rafflecopter will be counted. The book has to be queer, and own voices books would be great. Book Depository and Queer Enough have to ship to you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck and happy reading!

xoxo
Lucia

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

QSR: Jasmine Gower Interview

Hi everyone! We have Jasmine Gower over for an author interview today :D

Q. Tell us a little about your books!

I’ve got two books coming up that I’m very excited about. First is my fantasy romance novella, A Study of Fiber and Demons, which is being published by Less Than Three Press in ebook and paperback on August 9, 2017. It’s a polyamorous enemies-to-lovers story about a group of bitter academics who have spent their whole careers sabotaging each other and find themselves assigned to work together on the same research project studying demon magic.

I also have Moonshine coming in February 2018 from Angry Robot, also in ebook and paperback. Moonshine is set in a fantasy 20s-esque world during a magic prohibition and focuses on Daisy Dell, a young flapper and secret mage who gets a job working in an office for a shady boss.

Q. What made you write the stories you did? What do they mean to you?

I actually went into Fiber and Demons with a specific set of things I wanted to incorporate into the story: a female asexual character, a rivals-to-lovers storyline, and polyamory. I think the main character, Alim, was also inspired by my disappointment in another series I read that featured a queer-coded Arab character that never committed to making his queerness explicit, although I wasn’t really consciously thinking about that when I started writing Fiber and Demons.

Moonshine was more directly informed by things going on in my own life. I had just gotten my first Real Job out of college and was finding that I didn’t really understand the purpose of the work that I was being asked to do, which got me thinking about a character who has similar misgivings about her workplace that turns out to be a front for an illegal magical moonshining operation. (My job just turned out to be generic exploitative capitalists getting me to train my own replacements so they could underpay them even more than they underpaid me. Not quite as fun.) But that was where Daisy’s story in Moonshine came from. Her boss, Andre, has his own storyline that was inspired by my experiences as an aromantic reader looking to see more non-romantic intimate relationships explored and celebrated in fiction.

Q. What are some of your favourite things to read in queer books?

I’m pretty excited for any queer content in books, provided that it doesn’t involve queer people needlessly suffering Because Queer. Some things in particular that I’d really like to see more of, though, are non-binary characters who are human (not aliens, not shapeshifters, etc.), characters that don’t require dedicated romance subplots to establish their orientations (whether it’s because the character is ace/aro or just a gay, bi, or pan person who happens to be single the whole book), and more intersex characters in general.

Q. Got any fun summer reading plans?

I’ve been trying out my local library’s ebook lending for the very first time, which has so far involved getting started on Daniel José Older’s Bone Street Rumba series, so I’m hoping to get all caught up on that. I’m also reading Keith Yatsuhashi’s Kojiki, which I’ve been dying to read since I saw the cover for its sequel, Kokoro. (Kojiki and Kokoro are both published by Angry Robot, and they had just revealed the cover for the second when I started getting into talks with them about publishing Moonshine, and seeing Kokoro's beautiful cover got me really excited to work with Angry Robot for my own book.)

Other than that, I’m really in the mood for some epic high fantasy, but I’ve got so much editing to do this summer that I don’t have a lot of room to add more to my reading list.

Q. Tell us one of your favourite experiences with someone who’s read your book.

My romantic heroes in A Study of Fiber and Demons are not exactly… heroic. They are quite terrible and rude, in fact. After one of my friends finished reading it, the first thing she said to me (in sheer delight) was, “These are the worst characters you’ve ever written.” Interestingly, my editor had a similar reaction. I guess the new rage in romance is embittered middle-aged academics.

Q. I want queer vampires to become a thing in 2020. What is a thing you would love to see in queer books in the future?

I’ll second the call for queer vampires. My favorite series of all time is a vampire-hunting high fantasy, but the queerness of the characters is pretty aggressively subtextual, and that series ended two years ago, anyway. There’s such an extensive (and honestly kind of ugly) history of vampirism as a symbol of queerness, and the advent of Twilight kind of reassigned vampires to heteronormativity just as they were starting to be culturally regarded as sympathetic. I think we’re long overdue to reclaim vampire symbolism, and thankfully I think the vampire oversaturation caused by Twilight and its imitators is starting to wear off and publishers are becoming more open to vampire stories again.

Q. What queer book are you looking forward to?

I’ve been kind of drifting away from YA lately, but I’m pretty excited for the upcoming Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller. I’m a sucker for thief-slash-assassin archetypes, as well as genderfluid characters. Admittedly, that second category is one I see a lot less of in fantasy.

Q. What’s something you always want to say in interviews but no one ever asks?

In 2014 I was in a documentary called Gaming In Color, which is about queer gamers. They interviewed me at the premiere GaymerX convention while I was in full cosplay as Anders from Dragon Age II.

Q. Favourite summer drink?

My favorite cocktail is a Honey Jack Lemonade (lemonade with honey whiskey), which is really a summer-specific kind of drink. But I’m also partial to just regular lemonade.

Q. Favourite frozen summer treat?

I’m an Oregonian, so of course I’m partial to Tillamook Dairy’s marionberry pie ice cream.

Jasmine Gower is from Portland, Oregon, where she studied English literature at Portland State University. Jasmine was drawn toward writing years before amidst a childhood of fantasy novels and 90s video games and has a passion for exploring themes of gender, sexuality, and disability through the conventions of speculative fiction and fantasy worldbuilding. Find her at jasminegower.com, on Twitter @Jas_Gower, and on tumblr as jasgower.tumblr.com.

Thank you so much for joining us!

xoxo

Lucia

Monday, August 14, 2017

Things I've Read Recently (54)

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason.

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

Published: March 1st, 2016 by Greenwillow Books
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 299 in my copy
Part of a series? No, but I wish.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Soledad has always been able to escape into the stories she creates. Just like her mother always could. And Soledad has needed that escape more than ever in the five years since her mother and sister died and her father moved Sol and her youngest sister from the Philippines to Louisiana. Then he left, and all Sol and Ming have now is their evil stepmother, Vea.

Sol has protected Ming all this time, but then Ming begins to believe that Auntie Jove—their mythical, world-traveling aunt—is really going to come rescue them. Have Sol’s stories done more harm than good? Can she protect Ming from this impossible hope?

Thoughts: I really like middle grade books about sisters, I'm realizing. I love that Dicey Tillerman, Delphine Gaither type of character. Sol reminds me so much of them that I feel like I should start keeping a list of this type of book. Her voice is so mature and that lends itself very well to a character that feels the weight of the world on her shoulders.

I actually went into this expecting something quite a bit fluffier in tone, mostly because of the cover. (Side note, as adorable as the cover is, Sol is a little um. A little lighter on the cover than she's described in the book, where she talks about being fairly dark skinned. Cover, what's going on?) The subject matter of this, though, is quite serious. There's child abuse, the heroes bully a girl (and later come to realize how wrong that was), and it can be a little intense.

Overall, I loved the voice of this and the characters were great, so vibrant and interesting. The only thing I don't love is that the abuse in the book is left kind of unresolved. I realize this is realistic and try in the real world, but sometimes I don't want books to be one hundred percent true to life because I want kids reading to know it's okay to tell someone about something like this, and to have hope things will get better. And they do, but I guess I want a way that's a little more drastic and permanant than what happens in the book, I guess. I just feel like there wasn't enough resolution for the abuse subplot. I would honestly be wholeheartedly behind a sequel to this.

Otherwise, I really enjoyed this and the voice was so good that I really want to read more of the author's books.

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

Published: May 17th, 2016 by Chronicle Books
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 287
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie.

But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other.

Thoughts: Hannah is a friend so factor that into this as much as you need to, but I enjoyed this. I've read a couple books with non-standard formats this year, and I've really enjoyed them. This is true of this as well!

This reminds me so much of being in a fandom. (Yes, I am, and no, you don't get to know which one or what my name is there, lol. I like my things separate.) It reminds me of that blurry space between friendship and love and romance and queerplatonic relationships and how complicated and confusing that can be. (Spoiler ahead.) I love how this depicts a non-conventional relationship and it's not about "picking" one person.

I also think it's really interesting that this is definitely a YA book, but one character is twenty-two and graduated from college and one is eighteen and just starting college. It's really different from most YA and what you'd think of as YA, but it works very well. Honestly, I think this is sort of what we originally thought New Adult was going to be before it turned into all college-set erotica. I wish that we'd gotten more like this, frankly, because this is a lot more interesting to me.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Published: September 29th, 2015 by Henry Holt and Company
Genre: YA Fantasy
Binding: A very heavy hardcover
Page Count: 462 plus
Part of a series? This is the first of the Six of Crows duology, which itself is a sequel series to the Grisha trilogy. You don't have to read the Grisha trilogy to read this. I didn't, and I was cool, and the general consensus of my informal twitter poll was people agreeing it was cool.
Got via: The library.
Amazon and there's a free Kindle sample / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he'll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done - and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable - if they don't kill each other first.

Thoughts: I definitely didn't love this as much as everyone else, but I liked it. This is not my favourite genre (I think I mention that every time I review a fantasy book similar to this), but it never made me get well and truly lost like some books do to me, and I appreciate that. Someone mentioned that a lot of the world-building is done in the first trilogy, and maybe that actually worked in my favour. Maybe too much world-building just doesn't work for me?

I do think this is a little slow in the beginning and definitely takes a while to get moving, and maybe a couple too many flashbacks in the first 100 pages or so that drag a bit. Again, not my favourite genre, so it might be I have a little less patience, but I do feel like it took a little while to get into the action. I think also that, while I know some characters were coded as POC, no one really seemed to have skin darker than "bronze" and that could probably have been done better. I didn't find any reviews addressing this, but hit me up if you know any. (This book has like fifteen thousand reviews - it's so needles and haystacks.) I did like that there were a couple queer characters, though.

All in all, I enjoyed this enough that I've already ordered the sequel from the library. I liked the characters a lot, and the world is cool. If you actually like fantasy, you'll probably love this, but as someone who doesn't generally love it, it was still pretty cool.

TW for some serious gore at one point. (Page 158 specifically - why is it always that thing also? That thing always gets me. *shudders*) Also, the pages of this are edged in black and I cannot accurately state how freaking cool that is. It really does stand out.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published: February 28th, 2017 by Brazer and Bray/HarperTeen
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 444 plus acknowledgements
Part of a series? No.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Thoughts: I am way, way, way too white and too privileged to act like I have any right to really review this or talk about how things are handled in it. This is another one where I want to give my platform and my support and love for a book but I also don't think my review actually matters.

But also I have feels and a blog and I gotta let them out, dude. This seriously amazed me. It's just... all the feels. I have been reduced to a puddle of Tumblr ooze. And there are a lot of things in this I wish I saw more in books - people with tattoos that aren't magic tattoos (seriously, I didn't realize how little I saw this in books, especially parents, until Starr talked about her father's tattoos in such a beautiful, positive way), parents who have been incarerated but aren't completely villanized for it (I'm gonna link an article here because relavant), like everything.

I am going to say though... this book does lack some positive fat rep. It's not fat-shaming, generally, (being called fat is treated as an insult at one point, and there's also a bit of body shaming towards very thin girls) but there isn't great fat rep. And I'd be a really, really bad fat activist if I didn't talk about it, because fat rep is incredibly white (and cis allo straight, etc, not the place for this rant) and we owe so much to amazing black and brown fat activists. Come to think of it, it is lacking a little in queer rep too. Queerness, fatness, disability, race, these things can't be separated from each other when they exist in the same person. A lot of the book is about Starr struggling with feeling like she lives in two worlds but fits in neither, like she has two halves of herself and has to pick one depending on who she's with. How incredible it would have been to talk about that with queerness or fatness or disability, because people don't break down into tidy boxes where you get to choose just the parts you like.

But (editing Laina: Wow, you had caffeine when you were writing this, didn't you?) those things, while they would have been a nice addition, don't take away from this being really, really good. It's so engaging and... just wow.

That was a lot of rambling and I apologize. I had many feels.

And I think that's it for this post!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, August 11, 2017

QSR: C. M. Spivey Chat Reminder

Hey Scouts!

How are you guys doing today? How's the weather where you guys are? Do you know what day it is?

It's Twitter Chat time!! This week we have C. M. Spivey as our special guest! Join us 11pm UTC / 4pm PDT / 7pm EDT or find your time here.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm super excited :D

See you there!

Peace and popsicles,
Laina

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

QSR Author Interview: Ana Mardoll

Please give a warm welcome to Ana!!

Q. Tell us a little about your books!

I’d love to! I have two lines of books, my fairytale retellings (Pulchritude, and an upcoming release I can’t talk about just yet! but am very excited about!) and my Earthside paranormal series (Poison Kiss, Survival Rout, more to come!). Both lines delve into my lifelong interest in magic and fairies, while dealing with queerness and issues like survivorship and rape culture. I like to write grim books with happy endings to them—although admittedly it took me a little while to hit that stride, ha!

Q. What made you write the stories you did? What do they mean to you?

Oh gosh. I worry that if I start navel gazing, I won’t come back up for air! Content notes for domestic violence below.

Pulchritude was my first novel and in some ways was a therapy book for myself. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, heavily seasoned with domestic violence. I’d just come out of an abusive marriage where I’d been physically trapped with someone I loved and yet who hurt me, and Beauty and the Beast resonated with that place in my heart. I wanted to show how a lover can be both a “good person” and yet do horrifically abusive things from a place of selfishness and control. In many ways Pulchritude is a redemption story, but not one with a happy ending. Pulchritude is also an early tree ring in my queer journey and it painfully shows; one of the characters is a blink-and-you-might-miss-it lesbian who is incredibly shy around women. She’s achingly subtle in part because I was still so scared of my own sexuality and afraid of coming out after being brought up in a bigoted environment.

But after Pulchritude, I realized I wanted happy endings in my books because I was coming to accept my own queerness and my need for happy, affirmative, non-shaming stories embracing my queer identity. If Pulchritude was me working through my abusive marriage, Poison Kiss was about my escape from an abusive upbringing and my embrace of a bisexual label for myself. My protagonists Rose and Lavender—who are both wonderfully bisexual—escape a world of control, forced heteronormativity, and sexual violence. They come out from fairyland to find an accepting “earthside” community of like-minded queer outcasts and survivors, and they work together with their unique magical powers to fight back against the fairy forces who seek to recapture them. It’s a straight-up unapologetic paranormal romp, but there’s allegorical elements of my own captivity as a kid in a violently anti-queer community.

Survival Rout, the sequel to Poison Kiss, uses those same elements of captivity to explore rape culture in a setting which is superficially set in fairyland but metaphorically an exploration of my first college experience. Men and women were heavily segregated at my Christian school and in many ways we were trapped—my dorm had the most incredible security features for locking down girls at night to make sure we weren’t out having sex—and yet in the midst of these trappings of purity culture, rape was rampant and heartbreakingly commonplace. Survival Rout focuses on a group of girls who, despite being trapped in this environment of purity and rape, fight back and use their powers to escape. Once out, they surprise their boy allies by not being as passive as previously assumed. It’s a book about power differentials between groups, and how allies can be genuinely good people and still not “get it” sometimes. One of the boys is a good guy who would never hurt a girl, but still has to be brought around to understanding the sheer depth of anger the girls have towards the boys who did hurt them.

My two upcoming works—a fairytale anthology and the third Earthside book—are about my transgender identity as a nonbinary trans person and my identity as a fat feminine person in a world that isn’t always kind to us. I’m very excited about these books and just need to write faster!

Q. What are some of your favourite things to read in queer books?

My favorite stories are huge ensemble casts that work together. X-Men stories, Star Trek stories, stories with lots and lots of people who are all weird and unique and who solve puzzles by combining those weird unique skillsets in new and exciting ways. That’s what I gravitate towards in my reading and writing: big ensemble queer casts where everyone is special and unique and so very queer. I like communities and cooperation and happy endings wrested from a harsh world intent on hurting us. Grimdark but with hope and triumph at the end. Hopebright? Is that a word? Can we make it a word? I want all the fat and queer and disabled characters to have lovely happy endings together.

Q. Got any fun summer reading plans?

I know this sounds so incredibly trite but I want to read Lord of the Rings again. Trungles did a read-through on twitter (which was lovely and the storify is glorious) and it reminded me how much I enjoyed Tolkien as a kid. I haven’t read the books since I was a baby—I’ve seen the movies and played the video games and I know the content, but I haven’t read the actual original words in forever—and I’d really like to go back and see how those books influenced me and where I can do better in my fantasy writing. I just have to steel myself to get through all the singing.

Q. Tell us one of your favourite experiences with someone who’s read your book.

The funny thing about writing books me is that when I set one free into the world, I don’t think about it much. I go from an intense one- or two-year time period where the book is my entire life and then set it free and move on to other things. So it’s always beautifully surprising when people message me about my books. I’ve had bisexual and polyamorous women contact me in tears to say how much Poison Kiss gave them the f/f/m triad relationship they needed to see in their lives. I’ve had abuse survivors write me about Pulchritude to say how much their experiences resonated with mine. Their messages are so touching and humbling and remind me why I do this; I really do write because I want to put words out in the world that people like me are thirsty for. Pictures of ourselves, doing amazing and magical things.

Q. I want queer vampires to become a thing in 2020. What is a thing you would love to see in queer books in the future?

Oh my god, I have all the feels about queer vampires. I have a WIP in my head, with a little dabbled on paper, with a lesbian trans woman vampire and her beautiful fat human Wiccan girlfriend and they fight crime (as naturally you would!) but I just need the time to get all the words to line up and march. I love noiry angsty vampire fiction and it is just so very much our turn to have fun in the sandbox here. I always feel so sad when people talk about vampires—or really any genre—being ‘played out’ when that genre still very much needs queer rep.

Speaking of, where are all the queer cozy mysteries? My mother loves cozy mysteries and I would like so very much to sneak some queer ones into her TBR pile. That’s the thing I love about queer fiction, the way it’s like a Trojan Horse onto the Kindles of bigotry. It’s harder to hate someone you’ve come to love for being an amazing character, and it’s harder to hate yourself when you see someone just like you on the page. That’s one reason why I try to keep my cover art very chaste and “stealthy”; my books are books I would have loved to read as a kid and would’ve sneakily checked out from the library under the veil of plausible deniability.

For my own books, I’d like to produce more and better ace and aro rep in the future. Earthside has ace and aro characters quietly in them, and an acearo character I strongly personally identify with, but I was still closeted to myself when I wrote the first two books and I fell into some stereotypes that I know hurt some readers. I want to fix that moving forward with better rep and with more rep all over so that no one person reads as “the” only way to be ace or aro. This goal is as exciting and scary for me as my First Bisexual Character and my First Trans Character were; it’s always thrilling and terrifying when I write myself onto the page and worry whether the self-portrait I’m painting is a masterpiece or a mess.

Q. What’s your favourite recent queer read? What queer book are you looking forward to?

I really, really want to read Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller; the protagonist is supposed to be a genderfluid assassin which sounds like the best thing ever. I’m a wee bit trepidatious because I’ve heard mixed reviews but honestly the big reason I’m waiting is because I’m trying to push to finish my own genderqueer project and time has just been flying by, ha. I’m saving Mask of Shadows as a reward for the end.

The most recent queer book I read was Snake Eyes by Hillary Monahan and the protagonist resonated with me so deeply that I honestly sobbed for a day afterwards because I just need more of this and forever and also retroactively as a kid, please. It’s a paranormal kitchen-sink urban fantasy book—which is my favorite and why I write my own paranormal settings—with a protagonist who is a lesbian woman who also possesses two working penises because she’s half-snake. It’s complicated. But she’s perfect and I adore her and she just hits me right in my genderqueer heart feels and the book is an amazing portrait of familial abuse and why and how it’s so hard to combat and overcome. FEELS.

Q. What’s something you always want to say in interviews but no one ever asks?

Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for using semicolons or adverbs.

Q. Favourite summer drink?

PINK LEMONADE. The minute the temperature spikes, I’m digging the pitcher out of the cabinet above the fridge and measuring out the pink dust and tap water and trying to get the ratio just right. It tastes like summer and childhood to me, and I can’t get enough. Then autumn will come around and the pitcher goes right back into the cabinet for the next seven months, ha. Sense memory is such an odd thing.

Q. Favourite thing to do on a rainy summer day?

This is going to sound silly, but I do my best writing on rainy days. I live in Texas and rain is a rare luxury here, so it’s always been a beautiful sound to me. Every time it rains here, you can hear the relief in people’s voices. “Lotta rain today.” / “We need it.” The bliss contained in that simple six-word exchange is so hard to convey to someone who hasn’t lived here. Rain kissing the driveway and pattering against the fireplace flue is the most relaxing thing in the world.

So when it rains, I write. If I can’t write that day because of a pain flare-up, I’ll read. I would always read on rainy days as a child. One of my fondest memories as a child is being bundled up with wet hair from the rain in my pink bedspread and reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Rain reminds me of those getaways, of being able to slip into another world through the power of words.

Ana Mardoll is a writer and activist who lives in the dusty Texas wilderness with two spoiled cats. Her favorite employment is weaving new tellings of old fairy tales, fashioning beautiful creations to bring comfort on cold nights. She is the author of the Earthside series, the Rewoven Tales novels, and several short stories.

Aside from reading and writing, Ana enjoys games of almost every flavor and frequently posts videos of gaming sessions on YouTube. After coming out as genderqueer in 2015, Ana answers to both xie/xer and she/her pronouns. Find her at www.AnaMardoll.com, on twitter as @AnaMardoll, on Youtube at www.YouTube.com/c/AnaMardoll, and on Patreon.

The Poison Kiss and Survival Route art in this post was created by Laya Rose who you can also find @layahimalaya. It's gorgeous, and if I hadn't included art from the person who made the art for the cover of Chameleon Moon, Luci might actually have flown to Canada and murdered me.

Thank you so much for joing us Ana!

Peace and popsicles,
Laina

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

QSR Guest Post: 5 Queer Nonfiction Books

Hey Scouts! Please welcome the one and only Lucia to the blog! Tell them how awesome they are, okay?

Hi everyone! August has finally arrived, and with it four prompts to have fun with. I know nonfiction is hard for some people, so here’s a list of cool books that you could read for the nonfiction prompt:

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

A collection of fifteen essays written between 1976 and 1984 gives clear voice to Audre Lorde's literary and philosophical personae.

These essays explore and illuminate the roots of Lorde's intellectual development and her deep-seated and longstanding concerns about ways of increasing empowerment among minority women writers and the absolute necessity to explicate the concept of difference—difference according to sex, race, and economic status.

The title Sister Outsider finds its source in her poetry collection The Black Unicorn (1978). These poems and the essays in Sister Outsider stress Lorde's oft-stated theme of continuity, particularly of the geographical and intellectual link between Dahomey, Africa, and her emerging self.

(Summary from goodreads.)

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg John-Barker and Julia Scheele

Activist-academic Meg-John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking non-fiction graphic novel.

From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged.


Along the way we look at key landmarks which shift our perspective of what’s ‘normal’ – Alfred Kinsey’s view of sexuality as a spectrum, Judith Butler’s view of gendered behaviour as a performance, the play Wicked, or moments in Casino Royale when we’re invited to view James Bond with the kind of desiring gaze usually directed at female bodies in mainstream media.
Presented in a brilliantly engaging and witty style, this is a unique portrait of the universe of queer thinking.


(Summary from goodreads.)

Mini Review: I read this a while ago, and while there were many things I liked, there were several things that bothered me, too, and a few points that I disagree with altogether. I enjoyed the diverse illustrations and think the language is easy to understand even without an academic background. However, I was disappointed that, although the Kinsey scale is discussed, asexuality is only brought up very briefly – so briefly, in fact, that I couldn’t find it without rereading the whole book – and aromanticism isn’t brought up at all. Reading the book, I got the impression that the author’s approach to the subject was too broad for the length of the text. As a result, I felt like there was a lack of depth to the book.

All in all, I think the book is a good starting point for learning about Queer Theory.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

In this graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father.

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the Fun Home. It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.


(Summary from goodreads.)


But Not Up Here: Poems About Remembering In Neon by RoAnna Sylver

Words about love, loss, grief, PTSD, and jokes with no punchline.
Steps toward finding yourself and singing down the stars.


(Summary from goodreads.)









The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker

What if you weren't sexually attracted to anyone?

A growing number of people are identifying as asexual. They aren't sexually attracted to anyone, and they consider it a sexual orientation—like gay, straight, or bisexual.


Asexuality is the invisible orientation. Most people believe that "everyone" wants sex, that "everyone" understands what it means to be attracted to other people, and that "everyone" wants to date and mate. But that's where asexual people are left out—they don't find other people sexually attractive, and if and when they say so, they are very rarely treated as though that's okay.


When an asexual person comes out, alarming reactions regularly follow; loved ones fear that an asexual person is sick, or psychologically warped, or suffering from abuse. Critics confront asexual people with accusations of following a fad, hiding homosexuality, or making excuses for romantic failures. And all of this contributes to a discouraging master narrative: there is no such thing as "asexual." Being an asexual person is a lie or an illness, and it needs to be fixed.


In The Invisible Orientation, Julie Sondra Decker outlines what asexuality is, counters misconceptions, provides resources, and puts asexual people's experiences in context as they move through a very sexualized world. It includes information for asexual people to help understand their orientation and what it means for their relationships, as well as tips and facts for those who want to understand their asexual friends and loved ones.


(Summary from goodreads.)

Mini Review: I first read this book before I came out as asexual, and it really helped me define my identity. It’s very informative without being prescriptive, and contains a good list of resources for further reading. I like that you can read the different sections of the book out of order, which makes it easy to get answers to some of your questions first before reading the whole book.

I would recommend this book to people who are still figuring out their identity and everybody who wants to be an ally to aces.

My Dear Boy: Gay Love Letters Through the Centuries by Rictor Norton

DEAR BOY is an anthology of gay love letters between illustrious men for almost 2,000 years. Correspondents include Marcus Aurelius, St. Anselm, Erasmus, Calvacanti, Michelangelo, Sir Phillip Sydney, King James I & VI, Thomas Gray, von Kleist, Byron, Hans Christian Andersen, Melville, Whitman, Tchaikovsky, Wilde, Henry James, Frederick Wm Rolfe, Wilfred Owen, Hart Crane, T. E. Lawrence, Cocteau, Auden, Pasolini, Allen Ginsberg, Wm Burroughs, among others.

(Goodreads link.)

Mini Review: If you like love letters and queer history, this book is for you! I haven’t finished it yet, but what I have read so far has been both sweet and sad.

If you’ve been counting, you’ll notice that this is book number 6. The reason I didn’t count it is that it is extremely hard to get in print, and there is no eBook available. However, you can read much of it for free on the author’s website.

I hope you found something on the list that looks interesting to you! I tried to get some different types of books so hopefully there’s something for everyone. Of course, there’s a lot more out there 

xoxo

Lucia