The Rainbow List is “a joint project of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table and the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. The Rainbow Book List presents an annual bibliography of quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content, which are recommended for people from birth through eighteen years of age.”
My Loncon report is still in progress. In the meantime…
While at the con, I found out I am on a Buzzfeed List. Initially it was called “21 of the Best British Sci Fi and Fantasy Writers you Should be Reading” but then it changed to the more clickbaity headline of “21 of the Best British Sci Fi and Fantasy Writers You’ve Probably Never Heard of.” Aww yeah. Damien Walter, the compiler of the list, said on twitter it had about 60,000 views though, which is roughly the total amount of views of this blog over the past 3 or so years I’ve been running it. *blinks*
At Nine Worlds, I ran a workshop on writing LGBTQI characters in SFF. A few days before this, I put out a call on Twitter for character portrayals in SFF that were either positive, negative, or conflicted. I collated most of them into a table. Initially I was going to print them out for attendees, but I had no idea how many people would show up. I probably would have printed about 20, which wouldn’t have been enough–about 50 or so people came to my workshop! So here’s the list. There’s plenty on here I haven’t read. Feel free to comment with thoughts, additional examples, spark debate, etc. If I have time, I’ll come back and update the table now and again to reflect the comments.
Otherbound, Corinne Duyvis
Baron Harkonnen, Dune
The Last Herald Mage Series, Mercedes Lackey
Characters in Mark Charan Newton’s books (transgender, gay, etc)
Illario, Mary Gentle
Austin & Robby in Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Bonnie in Rapture of the Nerds by Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow
Jack Randall in the Outlander series
The Steel Remains, Richard Morgan
The Culture Novels, Iain M. Banks
Problematic portrayal of a gay man in Windrose Chronicles, Barbara Hambly
Andrew in Buffy
Malinda Lo’s work
Riddick at one point offers to turn a lesbian character straight in the latest film.
Cutter and Judah in the Iron Council by China Mieville
Transgender character in Shadows on the Moon, Zoe Marriott
Izana from Knights of Sidonia
Transgender character in Eon/Eona, Allison Goodman (plus crossdressing-but-straight protagonist)
Orson Scott Card
Vintage: A Ghost Story, Steve Berman
Willow in Buffy (bi-erasure)
Daja in Will of the Empress, Tamora Pierce
Anne McCaffrey (blue and green dragonriders)
Anthem in Coda, by Emma Trevayne
Darwin in The Four Realms by Adrian Faulkner
Nick in The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
Kylie Chan novels
Lord John Grey in the Outlander series
Havemercy & sequels by Jones & Bennett.
Susan Ivanova and Talia Winters from Babylon 5
Okha Soyan in Bloodhouse, Tamora Pierce
Pen in the Skyscraper Throne series, Tom Pollock
Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Ro in Owl Stretching by K.A. Laity
Makaria and Hypatia in Romanitas by Sophia McDougall
Last weekend was the 2nd annual Nine Worlds Geekfest at Heathrow in London. Last year I heard nothing but amazing things, so I was glad I was able to go this year with my friend Erica, who was visiting from California.
I arrived Friday morning, with just barely enough time to check into the hotel before my first event. Note to self: don’t do that again. It was a bit stressful as I didn’t get a chance to unwind so I was more nervous. My workshop was writing LGBTQ+ Characters in SFF. I think at least 50 people showed up in the end, which was fantastic. I had people do a brief character sketch at the beginning of the workshop and then went on to discuss the importance of well-rounded characters, what are common stereotypes and how to avoid them, the difficulty of queerbaiting in fandom, and a few other subjects. I tried to have a lot of interaction with the audience so it wasn’t just me yammering on the entire time, plus some people in the audience were able to answer certain questions far better than I could. At the end of the workshop, I had people share some of their character sketches if they wanted, and the ones shared were of many sexualities or gender identities.
Later on I attended to “Looking Forwards” panel with Lauren Beukes, Nick Harkaway, Sarah Lotz, and Fabio Fernandes. It was an excellent panel, discussing what the future holds and what that means for the fiction we read. Superheroes came up, and Lauren mentioned how there was a group of vigilantes in South Africa who would serve justice without concrete proof if they believed the person deserved it, which of course raises a lot of questions of what is justice. Nick Fabio mentioned his native Brazil, and Sarah mentioned being a recent victim of violence and how a surveillance state in certain respects doesn’t scare her–had she been watched by CCTV, perhaps that violence could have been avoided, for instance. Harkaway also mentioned that he’d rather everyone in the world was 1% nicer and more empathetic rather than having a superhero, as that could make a much bigger difference to the world.
Afterwards I had dinner with Team Mushens (authors represented by Juliet Mushens), as there were many of our posse in attendance. The con menu at the hotel restaurant was not the best, and we had the angriest waiter ever. Peter Newman was a brave man, asking for the tap water we ordered three times until we finally received it after about 45 minutes.
Next, I had a reading on the first night of New Voices. Stephanie Saulter had a brilliant idea last year to get a large group of new writers together to do lots of short readings, as it’s difficult as a new writer to 1. fill a room when you’re an unknown 2. read for half an hour or so when you’re still new to this whole reading-in-public thing. So there were a bunch of writers reading for 5 or so minutes. I was planning on reading good old Pantomime, but Juliet told me I should read from my new book, and I listen to her, so I did. It was the first-ever reading of False Hearts and it seemed to go down well. I really enjoyed the other readings as well, especially the Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano, which was just released last Thursday.
Saturday, Erica and I meant to get an early start for some 10am panels…but that didn’t happen. Kim Curran and I went to the Brain Hacking tech demo through the Future Tech track, though, which was brilliant. Two PHd students were discussing the ways we currently map brains and how electrical stimulation can affect learning new tasks. I’ve studied this topic a fair amount for False Hearts so it was relevant to my interests. They also showed how you could make your own brain stimulator, but as soon as they put up the electrical diagrams, I knew it was far beyond my non-engineer capabilities. Maybe I can get someone from my work to help me make one…? 😉
After a brief break for food, it was back to see “Where are the Women in the Creative Industries?” with Kim Curran, Juliet Mushens, Laurie Penny, Shalegh Rowan-Leg, and Dr Will Brooker. The panel looked at women within journalism, film, advertising, and publishing, discussing how strides are being made but there’s still a long way to go for total balance.
The next panel I attended was “Westerns: They’re Your Huckleberry,” which had Jared Shurin moderating Will Hill, Stark Holburn, John Horner Jacobs, and Joanne Harris (of Chocolat fame). There was a lot of discussion about how at the moment Westerns have been amalgamated with many other genres, but perhaps there will be a resurgence of straight Westerns again soon.
That evening there was the second New Voices panel, which had plenty of Team Mushens again in attendance. After yet more Cards Against Humanity, Saturday came to a close.
Sunday the first panel we went to see was the African Speculative Fiction Panel. It was interesting, but the entire panel was white. It wasn’t meant to be–one of the panelists was in a car accident on the way in and he was okay, but it meant at the last minute a few more panelists came on. It still meant that there were no black African voices heard on the panel, which I found problematic.
I was meant to have a signing at 1 pm, but I got the times messed up and thought it was 2. So unfortunately I missed my own signing, but at least a few people found me later on and got me to scribble on their books. 🙂
Next, I went to see the Epic Fantasy panel with Scott Lynch, Gaie Sebold, Rebecca Levene, Elizabeth Bear, and moderated by Den Patrick. I particularly enjoyed their discussion of using and subverting tropes to reflect the world we live in today.
At 5 pm, I had my last event, which was participating on the panel for Female Protagonists in Young Adult Literature with Juliet Mushens, Anna Caltabiano, Tom Pollock, and moderated by Rowan Williams-Fletcher. We discussed what do people really mean by “strong” female characters, does strength necessarily have to be physical, or does it mean women taking on more traditionally male characteristics, for instance. It was a great discussion.
By that time, I was definitely flagging, but I had a nice, lower-key evening. I had dinner with my agent, Juliet, and we toasted my recent deal, and then we played Cards Against Humanity until it was time to sleep and finish the first con.
As so many people have said, Nine Worlds is a particularly special con. It stands out from the rest – it’s overall a younger crowd, it mixes ALL sorts of geekery tracks, cosplay is encouraged. I loved that I could go see things on the future track or crafting panels as well as books and literature. The con itself is very respectful of everyone and it’s a safe space – there were gender neutral bathrooms, quiet rooms if you needed a place to unwind for a bit, and a firm harassment policy was in place. It was my first year going but I think I’m going to make it a priority con for me.
I’m honored to be part of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign. It begins tomorrow, May 1st and ends May 3rd but the conversations have already begun with an overwhelming outpouring of support from publishers, agents, and authors like Veronica Roth, Laurie Halse Andersen, LeVar Burton, John Green, and so many many more, but most importantly, an outpouring of support from the public who desperately wants more diverse books. It’s a reminder we need diverse books and that there is an audience for books like these.
Does diversity matter to you? Do you want to read about people that represent a myriad of viewpoints and perspectives and backgrounds? Then Please Join Us!
For a basic understanding of how this came to be and the important dates please read here.
To follow along on tumblr where we’re answering questions as they come up please check here.
To RSVP on FB for a reminder and to spread the word to your friends please do so here.
To join the conversation on twitter that started early and shows no sign of stopping check out the hashtag: #WeNeedDiverseBooks and follow the campaign at our twitter handle here.
Send in your pictures. Share your thoughts. Spread the word. Join the movement. We need diverse voices represented in our beautiful diverse nation and this campaign gives hope for exactly more of that.
More on why this campaign is necessary: Statistics show that the percentage of children’s books with multicultural content has remained disappointingly flat over the past twenty years, despite the fact that more than 50% of US children under the age of one are minorities.
Additionally, the faces that our children see on bestselling bookshelves are resoundingly white. In 2013, only 7% of young adult bestsellers are by authors of color, and only 12% had main characters of color.
What does this mean for our children? As Walter Dean Myers said in the New York Times, children “see books less as mirrors and more as maps,” showing them places they might go. When kids of color read books where they are only in the background – if they are there at all – it can limit their destination.
Diversity in children’s literature is important for all kids, however. Books teach about other cultures, provide windows into the lives of those of different socio-economic status, and are key to combating ignorance and intolerance of all types of diversity, including sexual diversity.
So what can we do to diversify our shelves? First, awareness through a visual social media campaign via Twitter and Tumblr. Second, action. Underlying the lack of publisher support for diverse books is the perception that “minorities don’t buy books.” Thus, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign includes an effort to Diversify Our Shelves, with handselling and active buying of diverse books. For more on this project, click here.
April is LGBT Month, and throughout the month, Pantomime & Shadowplay have been discussed out and about on the web.
LGBT Month is hosted by Laura @ Laura Plus Booksand Cayce @ Fighting Dreamer. It runs throughout the month of April and it’s here to celebrate LGBT+ readers, LGBT+ authors and of course LGBT+ books.
Cayce of Fighting Dreamer put up a great review of both Pantomime & Shadowplay: “I really loved how these books escape what’s common for most ya fantasy [. . .] and instead give us something truly unique and captivating. Pantomime & Shadowplay is so… unlike any (ya) fantasy I’ve read/heard of – I’m really glad I gave this series a chance.”
Clover at Fluttering Butterflies has a post on Bisexual Characters for LGBT April, and Pantomime & Shadowplay are also mentioned there as well.
Over on the Diversity in YA tumblr, Pantomime is featured as part of a Diverse Dozen.
While trying to round up all my recent guest posts, I found this lovely review at Books and Beautiful: “Lam’s depiction of Gene/Micah’s personal story is lovely, thought-provoking, and one that I have become wholly invested in emotionally. The questions about self-identity that go through the character’s mind throughout the course of the story, the struggle to accept and understand… It felt real to me, and really got me in the heart.”
Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn says of Shadowplay: “[ . . .] it is still in my top five YA series going at this point. The next book can’t come fast enough, I doubt I will ever tire of Micah and can’t wait to finally get some answers.”
In a few weeks, I’ll be in Glasgow for the Satellite4, the 65th Eastercon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. I’ll also be participating in my first-ever panel. This is my only official part of the programming. Aside from that I’ll be bouncing around between other panels and in the bar. If you recognise me, please do feel free to say hello.
Sat 19 April 15.00-16.00
PANEL: Future Representation
The panel explores SF literature in the context of what stories actually are, or are not, being told. Who gets to be in the future; what happens to everyone else; and who gets to decide?
Fran Dowd (moderator), Laura Lam, Stephanie Saulter, Donna Scott, Ian Whates
I’m happy to say Pantomime is on the final 2014 American Library Association Popular Paperbacks List in the GLBTQ Category. I didn’t make the Top Ten like the Rainbow List, but I’m still very pleased to be on it with some other wonderful books (David Levithan! Malinda Lo! Cris Beam! Libba Bray! Stephen Chobsky! Lauren Myracle! Julie Anne Peters! OMG!)
GLBTQ: Books with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer-questioning, Intersex, Asexual individuals, and Their Allies
Adams, S.J. Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie. Flux, 2011; 9780738726762; $9.95.
Debbie loves Lisa, but Lisa has a boyfriend.
Beam, Cris. I Am J. Little, Brown and Company, 2012; 9780316053600; $10.00.
J runs away from home to become his true self.
*Bray, Libba. Beauty Queens. Scholastic Press, 2012; 9780439895989; $9.99.
Fifty Miss Teen Dream Pageant contestants crash on a desert island with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.
Chbosky, Stephen.The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. MTV Books, 2012; 9781451696196; $14.00.
Charlie battles depression his freshman year of high school.
*Cronn-Mills, Kirstin. Beautiful Music For Ugly Children. Flux, 2012; 9780738732510; $9.99.
Elizabeth takes on a new identity as a radio DJ: Gabe.
Dole, Mayra Lazara. Down To The Bone. Bella Books Inc., 2012; 9781594933172; $14.95.
Laura Amores gets kicked out of her home for having a girlfriend.
Goode, Laura.Sister Mischief. Candlewick Press, 2013; 9780763664565; $8.99.
Esme and her friends form hip hop crew Sister Mischief and shake up their suburban school.
Hyde, Catherine Ryan.Jumpstart The World. Ember, 2011; 9780375866265; $7.99.
Ellie develops a crush on her neighbor Frank and then finds out that he is transgender.
Kluger, Steve.My Most Excellent Year: A Novel Of Love, Mary Poppins, And Fenway Park. Speak, 2009; 9780142413432; $8.99.
T.C.’s best friend Augie falls for a boy.
Lam, Laura.Pantomime. Strange Chemistry, 2013; 9781908844378; $9.99.
Gene, raised to be a proper lady, runs away and joins the circus.
Levithan, David.Every Day. Ember, 2013; 9780307931894; $9.99.
Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
*Lo, Malinda.Ash. Little, Brown and Company, 2009; 9780316040105; $9.00.
In this retelling of the Cinderella story Ash finds freedom from her evil stepmother in the love of Kaisha, the huntress.
Myracle, Lauren. Shine. Harry N. Abrams Inc., 2012; 9781419701849; $7.95.
Is Patrick in a coma because of a hate crime?
Parent, Dan. Kevin Keller: Welcome To Riverdale. Illus. Dan Parent. Archie Comics, 2012; 9781936975235; $11.99.
Archie’s first gay character makes a splash in Riverdale.
Peters, Julie Anne.Between Mom And Jo. 2008. Little, Brown and Company, 2008; 9780316067102; $7.99.
Nick’s mother and her wife are splitting up.
Sanchez, Alex. The God Box. Simon & Schuster, 2009; 9781416909002; $9.99.
Growing up in a conservative town, Paul confronts the question of how a person can be both gay and Christian.
Tamaki, Mariko.Skim. Illus. Jillian Tamaki. Groundwood Books, 2010; 9780888999641; $12.95.
Kimberly Keiko Cameron, aka Skim, looks for life’s answers in Wicca, tarot cards and her English teacher, Ms. Archer.
Tracey, Scott.Witch Eyes. Flux, 2011; 9780738725956; $9.95.
Braden falls for Trey, then learns their powerful witch families are on opposite sides.
Wise, Tama. Street Dreams. Bold Strokes Books, 2012; 9781602826502; $13.95.
Tyson gets involved in both the local hip hop scene and a possible romance.
Woodson, Jacqueline. The House You Pass On The Way. Puffin, 2010; 9780142417065; $7.99.
When Staggerlee meets Trout she begins to question what she thought she knew about herself.
Yee, Paul.Money Boy. Groundwood Books, 2013; 9781554980932; $9.95.
When his father throws him out on the street, Ray Liu wonders how far he’ll have to go to survive.
See the full list to also see the other categories: Conflicted: Life During Wartime & Humor Me: Funny, Fantastic and Witty Reads.
Intersex children are more common than you would think. Children often face surgeries before they are old enough to consent or before they are aware of their own gender identity. These surgeries can leave intersex children barren or essentially castrated, and may have to face further surgeries due to complications. Please take a minute to learn more about what it means to be intersex. Knowledge and acceptance are important to celebrate genital diversity.
After researching intersex issues for the main character of Pantomime, it’s become a cause near and dear to me and I consider myself an ally, and I hope that we continue to make strides to help raise awareness against stigma and unwanted and unnecessary surgery on children.