I would 100% put Alice Oseman in my top 3 favourite writers, so naturally I screamed when I saw that she was willing to take part in an interview for #LGBTQMonth!! Her books are utterly incredible. Her first novel, Solitude, and her most recent (though I need Book 3 right now) Radio Silence are both written so well, their plots are so immersive and they're both extremely diverse. She also runs a webcomic called Heartstopper, which is kind of a prequel to Solitude and it is adorable!! Check out her interview below and check out her books if you haven't already! She is an amazing human being!
1. Do you have a writing schedule?
Definitely not! I find schedules and deadlines make me very stressed. I'd probably be a lot more productive if I did have a schedule, though!
2. Out of your own LGBTQ characters in your works, who is your favourite and why?
Probably Aled. I see a lot of myself in him. He gets absorbed by his fictional worlds and creations, even sometimes at the expense of real life relationships.
3. What's your most helpful piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Write the book you want to read.
4. Do you have an interesting writing quirk?
Probably that I always draw my characters. It's so much fun and it genuinely helps me to get to know them better!
5. What was your hardest scene to write?
In Radio Silence, it was the final scenes between Frances and Aled. There were a lot of complex emotions to be expressed.
6. Who are some of your favourite LGBTQ characters from books you've read?
I really loved Ari from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz and really felt for him in that story. I also loved Clove from Lauren James's The Last Beginning and all her awkward nerdiness.
7. Snog, Marry, Kill! Charlie, Carys or Raine?
Oh my gosh! If I have to choose... I'd say snog Raine, marry Charlie, kill Carys (sorry Carys).
8. What's your favourite under-appreciated novel?
I'm terrible at choosing favourites! I'm sure there are loads. I recently read Peter Darling by Austin Chant. It was absolutely beautiful and definitely deserves more attention!
9. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Not really! I knew it was an option, but I didn't have any need to use a pseudonym. I'm very proud of what I write!
10. Can you tell us anything about the infamous Book 3?
One musician, one fangirl, one week... lots of angst.
I'm writing this blog post with a big smile on my face because, just as well as last time, we've picked two amazing books for the second #LGBTQMonth readathon! I haven't yet read The Space Between but from speaking to the author a few times I can just tell it's going to be epic. And our other pick is Radio Silence by Alice Oseman - one of my favourite books EVER!!
So without further ado and I guess I've already introduced them, the two picks for Readathon #2 are:
My choice is The Space Between and I'm really excited to get stuck into it! Comment below what you're choosing for the readathon and I hope many of you are going to participate in this fun event!
Hey everyone! Today we have some extracts from the amazing History is All You Left Me, which will surely make you sob your heart out. Adam Silvera is also the writer of More Happy Than Not and the hotly anticipated upcoming They Both Die At The End! I cannot wait to read it!
Theo scoots closer to me. “I have real things to be worried about, dude, like if the zombie pirates are going to know how to use grappling hooks and matchlocks or if they’re taking us down with teeth and nails. You don’t scare me, and you’ll never be too complicated for my friendship.” Theo pats my knee. His hand rests there for a solid minute. “And I’m sorry if I forced you to come out just now – wait am I the first person you’ve told?”I nod, my heart pounding. “You didn’t force me. Okay, actually you did a little, but I wanted to tell you anyway. I just didn’t have the balls or some huge speech I was also a little scared I was wrong about my instincts for you. Delusions run in my mother’s side of the family.”“You’re not delusional,” Theo says. “And you’re not crazy.”He reaches for my hand, and it’s not for a high five. I know the world hasn’t changed, what goes up still has to come down, but the way I see the world has shifted a little to the right, moving forward, and I can now see it the way I’ve always wanted to. I hope I don’t say or do anything that will force the world to shift counterclockwise again.I squeeze Theo’s hand, testing whatever it is we’re doing here, and I feel like I’m answering a question I was never brave enough to ask.
(History. Sunday, June 8th, 2014.)
Good morning, Theo. Sorry I shut down on you last night. I couldn’t shake off the haunting suspicion you’re hovering over Jackson instead of me. It was like some itch speeding around my body, always a second too late from scratching it dead. Don’t roll your eyes, but I did some soul searching. I dug deep into our history and remembered all our good times and the happy memories that would’ve eventually brought you back to me in life. I no longer believe I’m in this alone, talking to myself.I am still questioning how often you’re looking around for Jackson, though.Jackson.I haven’t forgotten he’s here. His crying stirred a tornado of sympathy and rage in me, and while I remained firm against the force of grief, I am definitely battered. I should’ve turned around to see if he’d worn himself out and fallen asleep or awake staring at walls like me, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
(Today. Friday, November 25th, 2016)
Hi everyone! Today I'm so glad to welcome the wonderful Moïra Fowley-Doyle to my blog today with her interview for #LGBTQMonth! She is the author of The Accident Season and the most recently The Spellbook of the Lost & Found. I have unfortunately read neither (yet!) but I have been assured that there are LGBTQ characters in them!
1. Have you any advice for aspiring authors?
Write what you love. Write what you’d want to read rather than what you think other people want to read. Fall in love with it hard and fast and when it starts to feel like a chore step back and change direction. You don’t need to write every day or even every week but you do need to finish what you’ve started. First drafts are never perfect – they’re just you telling yourself the story. Everything else happens in the edits.
2. Snog, Marry, Kill: Rose, Rowan or Ivy?
Kiss Rowan, marry Rose (because presumably marriage leads to more kissing)… and I suppose that means poor Ivy gets the chop.
3. Who are some of your favourite LGBTQ characters from books?
So! I love almost every character in every book by Jeanette Winterson but let’s go especially with Silver in Lighthousekeeping. I also love Nan in Tipping the Velvet and dare anybody not to fall in love with Sue and Maud in Fingersmith, both by Sarah Waters. I love Beth and Nora in The Cure for Death by Lightning by Gail Anderson Dargatz. I love Clove and Ella in The Last Beginning by Lauren James. I love every messed-up character in A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskovitz and in About a Girl by Sarah McCarry. I also love every character in Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente. I love Dirk and Duck in the Dangerous Angels series by Francesca Lia Block and I love Ronan and Adam in the Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater. I love Noah in I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I love Cameron in The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth and I love Astrid in Ask the Passengers by A.S. King and I’m happy that I can have such a long list of fantastic, layered and nuanced LGBT+ characters that I know will only keep growing.
4. Do you like to write in cafés?
I prefer to write in my office at home because I’m free to move around and stretch when I need to, and the coffee is limitless. I try to write with my whole body - back straight and neck long and wrists bent at the right angle so as to minimise repetitive strain (I’m someone who writes and draws constantly so it’s very easy for me to injure my wrists) - and my office set-up is perfect for long writing sprints and hours at the computer screen. But café writing can be lovely for a little change of scene.
5. Which was more fun to write - Spellbook of the Lost and Found or The Accident Season?
The Accident Season was more fun to write for a few different reasons. I wrote it before I had a publisher or even an agent, and I wrote it before I had kids. I fell in love with it straight away and banged it out in one fast dash – the first draft took only six weeks from first words to the end. I dreamed it every night, I ate and breathed it. I could write all night if I wanted to (and sometimes I did) – it was a huge, immersive experience for that month and a half, and each round of edits (with my agent and then later with my editors) was a new excitement. When it came to writing Spellbook, I was already on deadline. I had just come home from a whirlwind pre-publication book tour for The Accident Season and I had a two-year-old child and a two-month-old baby who didn’t like to sleep for more than two hours at a time, day or night. I was sleep-deprived and hormonal and terrified I wouldn’t be able to pull off the whole writing-a-book thing again. The first draft was a bigger mess than a first draft usually is. I second-guessed myself and held back and it was only after a couple of rounds of edits that I could let myself write brave and true and fall in love with my story. It took a while but once it happened, Spellbook was a wild ride. It was tangled and overgrown and challenging and beautiful and I ended up putting even more of myself into it than I did with The Accident Season and despite the difficulty I had writing it at first – or maybe because of it – Spellbook is the thing I have written that I am the most proud of.
6. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes. I wanted to be a writer when I wanted to be a ballet dancer as a child and I wanted to be a writer when I wanted to be an artist as a teenager. I didn’t always tell people that I wanted to be a writer, but I’ve always written – I wrote my first novel at the age of eight in one of those wide-ruled Aisling copy books that every Irish child had for school, and one day I’m going to rewrite that story because it actually had a pretty great concept. I’ve kept diaries since I could write full sentences and have two giant crates-full in my attic. The earliest are arguably the funniest because when I was five years old I thought that diaries should be written as a list (1. I wok up. 2. I hab my brekfast. 3. I sed “HALLO” to mammy. 4. I sed “HALLO” to daddy. Et cetera) and also because I was an abysmal speller until well into my late teens. I think part of what attracts me to writing is having had the practice of trying to tell my life like a story for so many years. Keeping diaries makes you see stories everywhere.
7. Do you have a set schedule for writing?
I write best in the morning, with a bowl of coffee and my tarot cards beside me. Because I have kids who get up early for preschool I can’t really write into the night anymore. My writing schedule is structured around childminding: I work on weekday mornings until I pick my kids up from school, and two days a week their grandparents take them after school so I can write all day. Although I sometimes miss being able to write whenever and for however long I wanted, I’ve learned that I get focused much faster when I know I only have a few hours to work in – I can’t afford to procrastinate or get distracted so I actually end up diving deeper in. Which means I sometimes get this strange culture shock when I have to resurface and be a human being again.
8. What would you tell your younger self?
I’d tell her to keep going and I’d tell her to be brave. I’d tell her to follow her instincts, to take up space, and to not be afraid to make a mess.
9. Do you have any unpublished or half-finished books? If so, would you ever consider returning to them?
Well like I said I wrote this pretty great book when I was eight that I totally plan on coming back to… I pilfer thoughts and characters from my younger self all the time. Parts of The Accident Season started life as a (very different) short novel I wrote when I was 16 and two of the characters in Spellbook were plucked from a book I started in my early twenties but never finished. The book I’m working on now grew from a story I wrote when I was ten or eleven which became the beginnings of a novel when I was a teenager which became the roots of this book, now. I should add that to the advice to give to writers: cut ruthlessly but keep everything. You never know where it’ll end up two decades down the line.
10. And finally, what are you working on next?
I’m working on a weird, tangled book about a family and a bull and three old witches and the sea but because it’s still at the first draft stage I can’t say very much about it. I like that books are kept secret until they’re announced, though. It’s gestating; it’s still forming. I’m not sure what manner of creature it’ll come out as, but I’m excited to find out.
And so are we! Thank you so much for interviewing and I hope to see you all back here tomorrow for wonderful extracts from History is All You Left Me!
I'm delighted to announce we have the amazing Lisa Williamson for an interview today. She's the author of the fantastic The Art of Being Normal and most recently, the hilarious All About Mia. Both are fabulous books so I urge you to read them if you haven't already, after you've read her interview of course ;) Enjoy!
1. Do you try and portray homo/bi/transphobia in your works?
This was certainly the case with TABON. Not all trans people encounter bullying and prejudice but the majority do and I felt I had to explore this. I didn't want to paint an overwhelmingly gloomy picture though. While working as an administrator at the Gender Identity Development Service, I came across so many young people who were surrounded by amazing support networks and I wanted to represent this in TAOBN alongside the instances of bullying and transphobia.
2. Do you have an LGBT+ role model?
Lots! Rebecca Root, Juno Dawson, Ellen Page, Kristin Stewart and Jack Monroe to name just a few.
3. Which LGBT literature character do you admire?
The entire cast of Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. It's such a powerful, beautiful and heart-wrenching book.
4. From a lot of LGBT+ people in the reading world, there is now a stigma against authors who include white, cis, straight characters in their works. What are your thoughts on this?
As an author, I always want my books to represent the world around me and, certainly where I live in London, this world encompasses people of all ethnicities, gender identities, sexual identities and social and economic backgrounds. I don't think there should be a backlash against authors who include white, cis, straight characters and I doubt there's anything to gained for attacking authors and their existing works for this reason. It is far more effective to put our efforts into encouraging own voices writing. Writing should never be a tick box exercise and I strongly believe representation for the point of representation alone usually fails to resonate with readers. It always needs to come from a place of authenticity. This doesn't necessarily mean basing our writing on our personal experiences but it does mean writing about LGBT+ themes from a place of sensitivity and truthfulness.
5. Out of all of your works, which was your favourite to work on and why?
All books present their own challenges and the process is generally one of intense highs and lows. TAOBN was special for me because it came from a place of real love. Writing it, I had no idea it would be published one day – I just knew I needed to tell this story, even if only a handful of people read it. The fact it's now been read by thousands of people blows my mind every single day.
6. Do you have an essential LGBT+ literature recommendations?
Lots! I'm going to limit it to three though: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan, Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour and I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.
7. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Tell the story only you can tell. This doesn't mean it has to be based on things you've experienced firsthand. It just needs to come from a place deep within you. Don't be too hard on yourself or feel you have to make every word poetic and perfect. Just get the story down, and don't get bogged down with style or feeling you have to comply to a trend. Often simplicity can pack the biggest punch of all. Finally, don't rush or force it – it'll be ready when it's ready.
8. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmmmm, I'm not sure I'm all that quirky in my approach of writing. Unlike a lot of writers who need silence to work, I like a bit of a buzz around me. In fact, from next week I'll be renting a desk in a busy shared office. I'm a sociable thing and really feed off other people.
9. What does your work schedule look like when you are writing?
On a typical day, to get up around 7.30 and do a quick workout (some weights or yoga, maybe a run if the weather is nice). Then it's breakfast, a shower, then down to work. I always stop at 12 for lunch and a bit of telly before getting back to it around 1pm. I'm not very good at knowing when to stop for the day which is one of the reasons I've decided to rent office space. I'm going to treat it like a proper 9-5 job and avoid writing at home where at all possible, in an attempt to get a better work/life balance going.
10. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Everywhere! Newspaper articles, snippets of conversation, talking to friends, other books etc. I also sometimes just get ideas popping into my head when I least expect it. Once I've got an idea, I usually turn to the internet to find out more. I like to let ideas percolate for a few months before I start writing, scribbling lots of ideas in notebooks as I go along.
Thanks so much for interviewing, Lisa!
Hey everyone! Welcome back to my blog. Today for #LGBTQMonth we have two exciting extracts from Lisa Williamson’s debut novel The Art of Being Normal. It is an incredible piece of fiction that follows the story of David as he realises he is trans, and when he meets Leo and strikes up an unexpected friendship, some big secrets start to reveal themselves. I really enjoyed it and considering we have an interview with the fabulous author herself coming up, I decided to choose two extracts from the book to urge you all to pick it up and read it!
One afternoon, when I was eight years old, my class was told to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Miss Box went round the class, asking each one of us to stand up and share what we had written. Zachary Olsen wanted to play in the Premier League. Lexi Taylor wanted to be an actress. Harry Beaumont planned on being Prime Minister. Simon Allen wanted to be Harry Potter, so badly that the previous term he had scratched a lightning bolt on to his forehead with a pair of craft scissors.
But I didn’t want to be any of these things.
This is what I wrote:
I want to be a girl.
(from chapter one)
I can’t help but get a shock every time I look at him. Not that he looks bad, because he doesn’t, but it’s hard to get my head round him being here, dressed like, well, like that. But the weirdest thing is that it’s not actually that weird, because the clothes he’s wearing suit him, way better than anything else I’ve seen him wear. He seems less awkward in them, less self-conscious about what his body is doing. I even start to feel a bit guilty about continuing to think of him as a ‘he’ at all.
(from chapter thirty-six)
Thanks for reading and join us tonight at 8PM on Twitter for our first #LGBTQChat!!
Claire Hennessy is such a talented writer and I adore her books so much so naturally, I was over the moon when I found out she agreed to an interview! She is the author of Nothing Tastes as Good and most recently, (the heavily inclusive) Like Other Girls! If you haven't read either, then I urge you to read both right now! Check out her interview below!
1. As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal?
I am pretty sure someone will yell at me for cultural appropriation if I answer this…
2. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Put the writing first and worry less about exams. You’re a writer, not an academic. Stop thinking that exams will validate you as a person. No really, stop.
3. What was harder to write - Nothing Tastes As Good or Like Other Girls?
They were both tricky in different ways but neither were soul-destroying. I’m not a big fan of the ‘tortured artist’ idea – there are much harder jobs out there.
4. Are you friends with any other authors? If so, how do they help you to become a better writer?
I am indeed. I think it’s more about moral support than anything technical or craft-wise – justifying the time that you’re taking to work on a book, especially if it’s not your full-time job (which it isn’t for most people).
5. Have you ever gotten reader's block?
Oh, this is a really good question. Yes, totally – because I have always studied or worked at things that involve a lot of reading, there are definitely periods of burnout where you just need to watch TV and not pick up a book. But I love TV, so it’s not exactly a hardship.
6. What is a book that's made you cry?
I get misty-eyed a fair bit when reading (which is super-awkward on public transport) but I sobbed my way through John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars the first time I read it. Like, proper hysterical crying.
7. Have you any advice for aspiring writers?
Be less precious about what you put on the page (or the screen). Be comfortable with making messes or writing something even if it’s not a complete story or poem. It might be someday, but in the meantime just write. A lot of the ordering of stuff happens when you’re editing, not when you’re first putting words down, but we’re trained in school and work not to think of it that way. (Like, think about exams – it’s all first-draft stuff!)
8. Who are some of your favourite LGBTQ book characters?
There are several queer characters in Moira Fowley-Doyle’s recent The Spellbook of the Lost and Found and I love them all. Joel, the best friend in Deirdre Sullivan’s Primrose Leary trilogy. A long-time favourite is Nic from Sara Ryan’s Empress of the World, which is about a bisexual teenage girl who falls in love at a summer camp for gifted kids (i.e. the best plotline ever, if you live in my brain). Emma Donoghue’s Hood is not YA but has the best falling-in-love-in-an-Irish-convent-school story ever and a relatable, authentic narrator in Pen who details her frustrations with and yearnings for the more dramatic Cara; I also love Landing and the two very different women who fall in love across the Atlantic. I’m very fond of Brent Hartinger’s Geography Club series, which has several gay and bisexual characters in it. Also not YA, but Cyril Avery in John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies captured my heart, as did Flannery in Sylvia Brownrigg’s Pages For You (to which a sequel is coming, hurray!) and Tammy in Tom Perrotta’s Election.
9. Since the recent publication of Like Other Girls, have you got anything planned for further down the line?
I’m working on something new but it’s at very early stages yet!
10. And most importantly, just WHO is your favourite character from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?
Kimmy herself, definitely. I love her optimism and determination and general weirdness. Plus she learns life lessons from The Babysitters Club. I also have a soft spot for Andrea, her disastrous therapist, because, well, Tina Fey.
Today we want to thank the wonderful Non Pratt for agreeing to an interview for #LGBTQMonth! She is the author of Trouble, Unboxed, Remix and most recently, Truth or Dare.
Check out her books if you haven't already and check out the interview below. (Also you don't want to miss her answer to question #1, because it is hilarious!)
1. Who is your favourite LGBT+ character in literature?
If it wasn’t cheating, I’d say Remus Lupin (as far as I’m concerned he’s bisexual), but unless an author takes the time and care to write sexuality into canon, then it doesn’t count as representation. And my other pick is a bit of a plot spoiler (why am I making this so hard?!). SO I’m going for a non-spoilery, totally canonical pick of Mum K – the spikier and more sarcastic of the two mums in Susie Day’s excellent The Secrets of Sam & Sam. It’s a younger book (ha, you didn’t specify YA!) but the reason I love Sam and Sam’s mums is that it shows us that we can all have a ‘traditional’ happy ending, even if was hard to start the journey. And Mum K has excellent sass.
2. Have you come across unfair or offensive LGBT+ representation in literature? *Without naming*
I probably have, but wouldn’t necessarily have been aware of it at the time – I used to be a largely uncritical reader and it’s taken time and energy to educate myself as to what constitutes fair representation. I’d say the biggest injustice isn’t specifically bad rep, but the absence of rep. There are fewer bi and ace characters than gay characters and fewer f/f romances placed at the forefront of stories compared to m/m. And that’s not even starting to address characters transitioning, or identifying as non-binary having stories that aren’t dominated by that aspect of their life.
3. Do you actively seek out LGBT+ fiction or if a book includes it, that’s a bonus?
I’m a very lazy reader, although occasionally I take a little more agency in my reading habits and try to steer myself towards books I know are more inclusive. Having said that, I’m usually more inclined to read something if I’ve heard good things about it – and the people I listen to care enough about diversity and representation that I get steered in the right direction! I now have a lot less patience for an all-white-straight-cis-able cast.
4. Do you think that the literature today is more open and diverse or have we a long way to go yet?
*More* open and diverse, yes. That doesn’t mean we haven’t a way to go. Few stories centre LGBTQ+ characters and sometimes I get a sense that publishing thinks it’s checked the ‘coming out’ box and doesn’t need to produce new material. We should have gay superheroes and ace romances and anything intersectional. There’s always further to go.
5. Out of all of your works, which was your favourite to work on and why?
Unboxed. It was by far the easiest to write. Most of my books take about 18 months, Unboxed took one month to draft. It was a dream of a book. Looking back, I think it was because Alix, the narrator, is a character that’s close to me in terms of the way she looks at the world. That and the fact that it’s a novella, so it’s meant to be about a quart the size of the others!
6. Do you have an essential LGBT+ literature recommendations?
I love love love The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. Leo is one of my favourite characters in all of literature. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman is also fantastic – Alice writes like no one else and she cares so deeply about her characters and how she represents on the page. No one in her main cast of characters in this book is white/straight. Love it. I’m also a big fan of Juno Dawson. Her non-fiction voice is a joy to read in This Book is Gay so I’m sure I’ll love her latest, The Gender Games when I get my hands on it.
7. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Always the same advice: if you are young, be patient. It can take time to work out what you want to say and how you want to say it. Writing is not a race. Also, do it for love. If publishing is your goal and not the act of writing, why are you doing it? Writing takes ages, but the reward of publishing is short-lived. If you love it, crack on, keep loving it, never stop.
8. What was the most interesting thing you learned while working on your books?
While I was researching traumatic brain injuries for my latest book, Truth or Dare, I learned a lot of different things about how the brain works and all the things it controls. I’m not sure interesting is really the right word, though as so much of what I learned has such a profound effect on real people’s lives that reducing it to an anecdote feels wrong. So instead, I’ll say that the most interesting thing I did was visit the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability and talk to the staff and patients there.
9. What do you think makes a good story?
The burning desire to inhabit a fictional world, your brain imagining what those characters are up to long after you’ve put the book down.
10. How long did it take to create your books?
As I said before, my novels take about 18 months from first idea to ‘finished’ draft – by which I mean that if someone intercepted the email and published whatever draft I’d sent to my editors, I wouldn’t self-combust in shame. There’s a lot more usually happens after that though! For my novella, Unboxed, it was a dream. I reached the end of the story within a month, spent another month editing myself, then sent it off. If it had been published the next day, I’d have been happy.
I’m so excited because today is the start of our first readathon! For those participating, we’ve given you two options and you can choose one:
See you all soon!
A sixteen-year-old book-lover from Ireland. Reviews will come as often as I finish a book, which is quite quickly, to be fair!