Podcast Interview on People You Should Know

Hey folks!

I thought I would post my interview from earlier today on the BlogTalkRadio show People You Should Know.

It was great talking with the host, a fellow Bold Strokes Book author David-Matthew Barnes (pictured in the freeze frame). We talked writing LGBT young adult literature, LGBT youth generally, and fantasy. I also read a short excerpt from The Seventh Pleiade.

Do listen in to the earlier guests Vivian Trask and Joel Gomez-Dossi. My segment comes up at 40 minutes in.

 

Check Out Entertainment Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with People You Should Know on BlogTalkRadio
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My Own Little Blog Hop

I’ve been idle for a while here, but that’s mainly because I’ve been skipping around town lately to promote The Seventh Pleiade. Many thanks to the generous folks who opened their doors to guest posts, interviews and giveaways.

If you haven’t caught me tweeting or FB’ing about it, here they are: (and did you know I have a Facebook author page? I’d love it if you ‘liked’ it. Please?)

Brandon Shire: Brandon is a gay fiction author, and he was good enough to look at a review copy of The Seventh Pleiade and run an interview with me. We got to talking about modern versus ancient world sensibilities and came up with the title: “Wasn’t Gay Marriage Legal in Ancient Greece?”

The Old Bat’s Belfry: If you’re an epic fantasy fan, you should know about The Old Bat’s Belfry where “grandmom” blogger Shari talks about what’s going on in the genre. I pitched my book to her, and she very kindly ran two pieces last week.

The first was a Spotlight Post on The Seventh Pleiade. The second was sitting me for her “Wacky Interview” series, which was lots of fun.

True Colorz: Last but not least, LGBT young adult blog True Colorz has an author interview and giveaway drawing for The Seventh Pleiade running from Feb. 24th to March 2nd. You can enter it here.

True Colorz is a wonderful site run by LGBT fiction authors Jeff Erno and Madison Parker. In addition to raising awareness of good books for LGBT teens, the site lets people know about charitable organizations across the country that fight homophobia and provide lifesaving services.

Now here’s something for your listening pleasure…

Embedly Powered

 

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The Number of LGBT YA Titles Increasing at a Turtle’s Pace According to Malinda Lo

This is a lazy blog post. It really is.

I basically just wanted to share a very sharp, well-reasoned analysis of the status of LGBT YA written by author Malinda Lo earlier this week (“LGBT Young Adult Books 2003-2013: A Decade of Slow But Steady Change”).

You might find the title to be a bit charitable after you read the article and see her pie charts and graphs. (Yay for Pie Charts and Graphs!) In an industry that publishes thousands of young adult books every year, on average only fifteen of those books portray LGBT teens and/or “LGBT issues” such as growing up with same-sex parents or bullying in school.

Yuck.

Anyway, as always, Lo is thoughtful and precise in her consideration of the dilemma. Part of that precision is focusing on big publishers only. The number of LGBT titles from small presses, or those self-published by authors, is very challenging to count and analyze. Including those titles could skew perceptions. It’s important that LGBT books are published, but it’s also important that they have a wide distribution so that they get to teen readers. That’s not to say that LGBT titles at big publishers are better. I like the way that Lo addresses this issue:

“In some ways, I see the largest YA publishers as analogous to the broadcast networks on television. Broadcast networks have historically had the widest reach, even though much quality programming happens these days on cable channels that have smaller distribution in the television marketplace. An analysis of the broadcast networks — or the major publishers — doesn’t negate the contributions that smaller networks (or publishers) can and do make, especially in representation of minorities, but I do think the major networks (and publishers) have a greater responsibility due to their greater reach.”

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On Various Things YA

Two recent happenings in the sphere of LGBT Young Adult books caught my interest, and I thought I’d share them here.

First, Lambda Literary Foundation announced they are starting a new venture for young adult readers on May 1st called My Story Book Club. According to their press release on their website:

As part of our LGBT Writers in Schools program and our growing mission to promote the acceptance of LGBT works, their authors and LGBT students in schools, we are launching a national online book club for LGBT youth. Lambda Literary Foundation, in partnership with the Gay/Straight Educators Alliance and the National Council of Teachers of English, aim to provide readers 14 years-old and up the opportunity to read and discover LGBT works in the safe and protective atmosphere of Goodreads

The forum will feature youth moderators and a monthly Q&A with an author as well as typical features like discussion boards, polls, and playlists. Upcoming guest authors include Cris Beam of the trans-themed I AM J, Sara Ryan (“two girls in love” EMPRESS OF THE WORLD) and Charles Rice-Rodriguez (Latino, gay coming-of-age CHULITO). All three of those titles are on my ever-growing ‘to-read’ list. Their reviews are stellar, and I love that My Story Book Club will be showcasing diverse queer fiction.

Elsewhere, a blog post by sci-fi YA author Paolo Bacigalupi on Kirkus Reviews, has generated a lively discussion about the place of queer characters in future dystopias. In considering the question of why there aren’t more gay and lesbian characters in the genre, Bacigalupi suggests that gay experiences are better portrayed through allegory than overt characterization, because it’s hard to imagine a future more “dystopic” than modern gay queer living.

Bacigalupi says his goal in writing a dystopia about being gay would be to “rattle” complacent straight readers into awareness and understanding. His criteria for a good dystopian story are that it be “insurgent.” The story should “illuminate the horrors right before our eyes,” and “build empathy and humanity.”

The statement he makes that became a bit of a lightning rod is:

“So instead of writing a story about being gay, create one about being straight. Create a world where heterosexuality is a shocking desire.”

Bloggers like Rebecca Rabinowitz were quick to respond that obliterating queer characters from dystopian tales confuses the point Bacigalupi purports to make, and I would agree.

Imagine Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD taken from the viewpoint of a gay father who is determined to protect his son in a post-apocalyptic world of starvation and cannibalism. The possibility of gay parenting transcending terrifying obstacles seems to meet Bacigalupi’s criteria of insurgency, empathy and humanity delightfully well. It makes readers re-think their notions of fatherhood, and provides a powerful queer representation for young adults.

(Allright, THE ROAD isn’t a YA novel, but it was the most accessible title I could think of).

Would a gay THE ROAD have a wide enough access point to reach the “complacent straight readers” Bacigalupi talks about? Probably not. But for many of us authors and fans of LGBT YA, I think, that perennial debacle–making LGBT stories “palatable” to a non-LGBT audience–is kind of tired and irrelevant. We like our queers in outer space, in Medieval-inspired fantasy lands, as well as confronting dilemmas of modern living. A fresh setting is nice, but the fact that we exist, and can exist everywhere is the greater part of our engagement in literature.

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