Posts Tagged With: My Invented Life

Why write about sexuality if you’re not gay?

My debut YA, My Invented Life, centers around big SECRET that drives a wedge between sisters that used to be close. The secret has to do with sexual identity. When the book hit the stores, interviewers often asked me what inspired me to write it.

This question always made me squirm. The easy answer would’ve been, “I wish that funny, uplifting stories with lesbian an bi girls existed back when I was a teen.” Unfortunately that would’ve been a lie. I am not lesbian or bi. I don’t have any LGBT family members. Nor LGBT friends in HS. The challenges of growing up gay did not occur to me until much later. I’m that lame.

In fact, my biggest post-pub fear went something like this: LGBT readers and authors would scoff at my lack of “credentials,” laugh in my face, call me a fraud, or much worse. (False alarm, btw. I learned later that people like me are called allies. I felt very appreciated by the LGBT community.)

Luckily, the interviews were written, so I had time to develop cogent answers.

Reason A: I was inspired by events around my high school reunion. A number of my classmates came out around then. I asked a few about their experience in HS, and was somewhat horrified by their answers.

True.

Reason B: I wanted to write an uplifting story that focused on a friendship between sisters, and how a secret can ruin a friendship. I didn’t want the “coming out” itself to be traumatic.

Also true.

However, the biggest reason didn’t occur to me until after the book got published. Here it is: I can identify with the pain of LGBT teens that hide their true selves from friends because I grew up in the same situation.

Only different.

My mom died when I was five. She didn’t die in a car wreck, of cancer, or in any tragic, yet socially acceptable way. She killed herself. My Dad insisted that my sister and I keep it a secret. I mostly did. But the secret made me feel ashamed. Dark. Dishonest. Disconnected. Fringe.

And that is why I believe in telling the truth, even if it makes others uncomfortable. Some day, I hope to live in a world where we aren’t afraid that others might judge us for who we really are.

Categories: My Invented Life, Real Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Librarian superhero unleashed

Welcome to LIBRARIAN SUPERHEROES–modest defenders of books
Meet Rebecca Donnelly, Youth Services Librarian in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
I caught up with Rebecca minutes after she completed a dangerous mission, and asked her a few questions.
Flying vs. Invisibility?
Invisibility–I would be a klutzy fly girl.
Can you share a story of a librarian encounter from your childhood?
I have always hoped no one would ever ask me this question, because I don’t have any. I was a keep-to-myself kind of reader, and the greatest influence on my book choices was probably my grandmother. But I vividly remember the children’s room (house, really) at my childhood library. They had bought the house next door to the Carnegie library building and turned it into the children’s area, and a raised hallway was constructed to connect the two buildings. So going from children’s to adult was literally a passage. Not that I thought that poetically back then.
What is the best part of being a librarian?
Best part of the invisible side of the job = collection development. I love buying books for the library! There is great satisfaction in building a really good collection and seeing it get used. Best part of the public side of the job = reader’s advisory. Giving a child or teen the right book is a very special thing.
The worst?
The bureaucracy and inflexibility that comes with any government job.
What is on your TBR right now?
It’s a nice stack of middle-grade mysteries (Seventh Level by Jody Feldman; The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett; The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder) and a book about mystery writing; Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James. Also a book on alchemists; Perdido Street Station by China Mieville; Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (which I’m halfway through), and Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen (about a fifth of the way through). I’m also listening to The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai.
If you could say one thing to your patrons, what would it be?
You have more time to read than you think you do!
What books, in your opinion, still need to be written?
This is a tough one. I mean, there is almost every kind of book you could think of in YA right now. Jewish lesbian hip-hop in suburban Minnesota? Check. (Sister Mischief by Laura Goode.) Talll tales of Filipino-British basketball players? Check. (Tall Story by Candy Gourlay.) Stories of transgender teens (I am J by Cris Beam), hard-hitting stories about eating disorders, drug abuse, abusive families–these are the things we tend to think of when we consider what needs to be written. We all want books that speak to readers who are often ignored in mainstream culture, or who want a book that says that they’re not alone. This stuff is there, and I think the real challenge is getting it to the readers. Kids don’t come up to me and say, I want a book about one-legged jerks, bullying, self-hatred, and maybe a swim team, and at the end of it I want to cry. I have that book: Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher.
What is flying off the teen shelves of your library right now?
In addition to the things you’d expect to be popular (the Maximum Ride series, the House of Night series, Alyson Noel’s The Immortals series), I’ve seen D.M. Cornish’s The Foundling’s Take (formerly Monster Blood Tattoo) series go out often, and Eva Ibbotson’s recently repackaged-for-teens historical novels, like The Reluctant Heiress. And manga, lots of manga. Chibi Vampire, Vampire Knight, Fruits Basket, Antique Bakery.   
I definitely want to check out a lot of these books.
Thanks for appearing on my blog, Rebecca!
Categories: Librarian Superheroes | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teens spread love in the face of hate at Taos Pride

I wish I’d brought my camera with me.

Gay Pride in Taos in KCP was a colorful event–dogs in bright sweaters, a drag queen with a full length rainbow boa, and happy dancers on the grass. I went to catch up with friends and listen to the music. My son’s didn’t really want to go with me until they found out there would be extreme religious protesters present. Maybe they could do a sneak attack with squirt guns? My husband suggested water balloons with rainbow paint inside.

 

When we got to the event, though, the reality of the protesters was way too intimidating. They had congregated at one end of the park, wearing matching hats and T-shirts, yelling disgusting and hostile things through their mega-phones. Police were present. Anyone coming in or out of the park had to walk right by them.

 

That’s when I noticed three teen boys holding up hand-made signs, welcoming people who dared to cross the line of hate. I don’t remember what the signs said (and didn’t have my camera!), but the messages were all about love and acceptance. Inspired by this, my sons went home with their friends to create a sign of their own–Jesus Proclaimeth That Hate Achieves Nothing.

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How to alienate your family

Have you ever wondered what happens when a writer models a character in her bestselling novel on a family member? I’d imagine it goes something like this:

Yeah, Dad, you’re right. The dad in my book flies model airplanes like you do, has a mustache that twirls up at the ends like yours, and trekked across Tibet in his youth like you did, but my fictional dad is a jerk, which you are NOT. He totally isn’t you, okay?

I wrote about this today at YA Outside the Lines. You can read the whole post here.

Categories: My Invented Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Gay Pride in a small town.

I live in a town of 6,000 people, 20 churches, 30 art galleries, one Non-Super Wal-Mart, and no shopping malls. Bare dirt walkways exceed the number of side-walks by a large margin. And I like it that way.

But it is still full of surprises. A month ago, a chapter of PFLAG started here. And then a dedicated young man, Robert Quintana, began organizing a Gay Pride event for this summer, the first ever.

It started with The Gayest Bake Sale Ever. Which raised $1,400!

I just love this flier!

Keep an eye out for the Gayest Car Wash Ever. Just kidding! But there really will be a huge car wash in early August to raise money for Pride. And dozens of clean cars in town for days afterwards.

After that, there will be galas and parties, culminating Pride in the Park, a picnic with booths, live music, entertainment, and freebies. Come join the fun on August 21st at Kit Carson Park!

It makes me proud to live here.

Categories: My Invented Life, Real Life | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

ASK MY SISTER (#14)

Dear Roz,

I have plenty of problems: too many ex-boyfriends, a summer job I hate, a best friend I’ve neglected, and a certain hot skateboarder…but I’m not going to think about him. I’m not. But my biggest problem of all: living with my grandma the famous ADVICE COLUMNIST Miss Swoon!

No offense to you–I’m sure you give great advice–but Miss Swoon is just making things worse. I’ve got affirmations scrawled on my arm in Sharpie and I STILL can’t stop thinking about, you know, a certain male member of the species.

How can I stay away from this guy? I’m obviously not cut out for relationships of any kind so I truly need to resist this temptation. –Pollywog (a horrid nickname given to me by who else? An ex!)

Dear Pollywog,

I know a thing or four about boys—the kind that are as irresistible as radioactive Cheez Doodles, and just as bad for you. If you want to forget about him, don’t write affirmations. Go for defamations. Write his bad-points down one arm and up the next. And use a permanent marker. Works for me

Or you can prank him in some unforgivable way. Tag his skateboard with a pink sticker. Loosen the screws on his wheels.

Actually, though, I may be projecting because of a certain hot skate-boarder that three-timed me. Your hot skate-boarder is probably a cut aboe. And he might take your mind off your nosy grandma and those annoying nick-name giving ex’s.

Please don’t worry about offending me. Advice columnists can never solve their own problems, so relish mucking around in everyone else’s business.

No joke. I have no idea what I’m talking about most of the time. But this time I’m right. So go for him!

Roz

Letter provided by the awesome and amazing (and prolific) Sydney Salter, author of SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK and MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS and JUNGLE CROSSING.


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Heck is where you go if you don’t believe in Gosh.

A writer friend of mine recently received a nasty letter from a Texas librarian about a “bad” word she used once in a beautiful, heartfelt and otherwise “clean” middle grade novel.

What the … ?

I don’t swear much.  [Except when my life is threatened by a bad driver] But the very existence of this letter warrants a string of expletives.

Why?

Contemporary realistic novels, by necessity, reflect the world back at itself. And the world swears. A lot. I’m not saying books need to imitate reality word for word. Yet, a well placed “bad” word can show character, make the drama in a scene believable, or deepen a revelation.

And do teens or even pre-teens really learn these words from BOOKS?  Don’t be a boil-brained clotpole! My two pre-teen sons know every word imaginable. Which they learned out in the world. They also know they can’t use them around me. I’m a huge advocate of polite discourse.

And a huge advocate of discourse period.

Which is why books should not be banned.

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Bisexuality in teen lit

I wrote this for the GLBT Challenge 2010:

Bisexual characters, especially bi protagonists are unusual in teen lit. A visit to Lee Wind’s website—I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?—makes this clear. Only eight out of 200+ GLBT titles there have bisexual characters or themes. Until recently, the in-betweens hovered on the fringe of the literary rainbow world. For instance, the Lambda Literary Award only began recognizing bisexual lit in 2006, though the award started in 1988. Here are a few of the myths bis have had to overcome–

They go for everything that moves.

They’re not as committed to the gay movement “real” gays.

They prefer to date the opposite sex so they can “pass” as straight.

They’re going through a transition on their way to becoming gay.

They’re confused and indecisive.

Here’s the cool part! Two weeks ago, I bought a stack of bi teen novels and read them all from cover to cover. They were universally excellent, deep, and heart-warming.

To read the rest … and for a list of fun, heart-warming, and amazing bi books, please view the original post at GLBT Challenge  2010.

Categories: My Invented Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Five signs of the impending apocalypse

Go check out Roz’s signs of the impending apocalypse, plus five reasons to go on living. It’s on at Shelf Elf. Plus enter for yet another chance to win a copy of my book or a writing journal!

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Another contest!

Jennifer W. is giving away a signed copy of My Invented Life, plus two writing journals. To win, just leave a comment at the TRT Book Club!

Good luck!

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