2015 LGBT YA

22352840Hello all!

SO! Yesterday I attended A PLACE AT THE TABLE, Inclusive Minds conference for diversity in books. Every delegate was to pledge to do ONE THING right away. This is my ONE THING. It’s only a small thing, but I hope it does its bit.

As you may have noticed, 2015 is a BUMPER year for YA titles featuring LGBT characters. This is unequivocally a GOOD THING. Some of these books are better than others, but that is, of course, subjective. Some of these books are ABOUT being LGBT, some of them are not and just happen to have LGBT characters. Both are good.

I’m a-gonna miss some titles here. I’m not an expert, I’m just very lucky to get sent some proof copies and stuff. Please add more in the comments box or tweet them at me and I’ll amend. Note – this is books released in the UK in 2015 to keep it nice and clear. Also let’s get me out the way first.

  • ALL OF THE ABOVE – James Dawson
  • THE ART OF BEING NORMAL – Lisa Williamson
  • I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN – Jandy Nelson
  • READ ME LIKE A BOOK – Liz Kessler
  • THE ACCIDENT SEASON – Möira Fowley-Doyle
  • SIMON VS THE HOMOSAPIENS AGENDA – Becky Albertalli
  • LOVE HURTS – Various
  • THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY – Keren David
  • UNSPEAKABLE – Abbie Rushton
  • THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST – Holly Black
  • HONEY GIRL – Lisa Freeman
  • HOLD ME CLOSER (THE TINY COOPER STORY) – David Levithan
  • ANOTHER DAY – David Levithan
  • THE DARK LIGHT – Julia Bell
  • THE BIG LIE – Julie Mayhew
  • WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND – Robin Talley

Now what’s the ONE THING that you can do? Well! If you’re a bookseller, STOCKING these titles is vital. I would be so saddened if I heard talk like ‘well we’ve already got enough LGBT titles’ or ‘LGBT titles don’t sell’. Stories sell, not sexualities. Each of those books tells a DIFFERENT and UNIQUE story. Can you imagine if we limited numbers of straight relationships in books? The shelves would be empty. That’s eleven titles. How many straight love stories are on the shelves? This said, do NOT segregate these books into a LGBT section. A nice display maybe, but they belong in the YA section.

If you’re a reader, you can BUY these titles with actual currency. I know! What’s the good in whingeing about the lack of diversity in YA books if we then only buy Divergent with four different cover variations? If people DON’T buy LGBT YA, bookshops will think there is no market for it. If bookshops won’t stock them, publishers will stop acquiring them. 

Authors! Be bold! Tell stories about all different types of humans. I got a bit feisty yesterday. While there is ALWAYS a place for authentic voices from minority backgrounds, we must be mindful that people from minority backgrounds are not aliens. As humans from humanity we have more similarities than differences. I do not want to write white gay men forever and no one questioned how I fathomed straight characters. I’ve never been straight but it was EXPECTED that I would ‘get it’ because of ‘privilege’. Frankly, I expect a straight writer to ‘get’ being gay, and if you don’t, ask. This said, I think the publishing industry SHOULD and MUST seek out writers, editors and other staff from minority backgrounds. It’s very important, but ALL OF US should be doing our bit to portray the world as it actually is.

Lots of little things add up to change.

PHBC – The Watcher by Lael Littke

2564599What’s it all about?

Soap addled fangirl Catherine Belmont is a huge fan of glossy, two minute drama ‘Lost River’ until the events of the show start to come true! As her lookilikey ‘Cassandra Bly’ is stalked by a mysterious figure, so is Catherine.

Stalked by a mysterious figure?

Indeed. Catherine is secretly filmed, left numerous roses, presented with balcony DIY, spooky phone calls and haunted by whispering. It’s all to do with her mum’s old shag.

The Girl

Sadly, Catherine takes us firmly back into the April Fools territory of TSTL – Too Stupid To Live. OK, girl, we all loved a bit of Sunset Beach back in the day, but we didn’t all write to Annie Douglas for a signed photograph. Oh, wait, I actually DID do that. Even so, I didn’t get her haircut, practice a British accent and start running to an electrical goods shop to watch over lunchtime. Also, her level of non-commitment to cheerleading makes me question her commitment commitment.

The Love Interest

A feeble love triangle sort of thing is brewing with Catherine/Cath/Cathy/Cassandra and boy-next-door Wade and handsome newcomer Travis.

Wade says stuff like: ‘I like watching you, Cath.’ Creepy.

Travis says stuff like: ‘Oh boy…I’ve stained your carpet.’

Slim pickins. Worst OF ALL THE BOOKS EVER, Travis has some sort of shady backstory WHICH WE’RE NEVER TOLD. Never. No clue. Answers on a postcard, pls. Fuck it. In the end, Catherine decides to send 14 of her eyelashes to Dr Carlton Wyatt at Lost River ER anyway.

The Gang

As well as the boys we have reliable best friend sort, Liz and Regina Georgesque Britny, whose name I couldn’t see without thinking of Brinty from the Nekci Minij Show.

lwren-scott-dark-gold-long-sleeve-tie-neck-blouse-product-3-15111383-364875085_large_flexFashion Faux Pas

Some key 90s fashions for Catherine include: ‘A full, flowered skirt and rust coloured blouse’ and full marks for ‘a pair of black pants and a gold shirt.’

Dialogue Disasters

OK are we ready for this: He fingered through the ring…

‘But how could it slip off my ring?’

He held out the ring to her

‘Britny took the key from your ring.’

‘You must have been watching the day Britny gave that key to Travis and he put it on his ring.’

‘The key to the cabin was on my ring.’

Some Mild Peril

All very standard PH. A breathy phone voice just isn’t what it once was. And it’s all ‘a little far fetched’ as Wade points out at one point.

Body Count: 1 (historically)

Did The Best Friend Do It? ‘Surprised, Cath?’ No. Not in the slightest, Liz.

Is It Any Good?

Well no, not if we’re honest. The soap opera concept is a fresh one but the issue with seeing what’s going to happen before it happens is that you know what’s going to happen. The most intriguing part for me was the back story with Catherine’s mother and TJ, although the reveal is so crushingly predictable I had scarce fucks to give. I can’t even with how Travis and Wade watched Lost River, went searching for a cemetery and got to the cabin in the woods in under two minutes. Unforgivable though is never finding out what happened in Travis’s past.

Over To You

Just one question this month – what the fuck is up with Travis?

 

Epilogue

It’s with a sad little heart I have to announce this is the final PHBC from me. It’s a lovely problem to have, but I’m just too busy with paid writing to do free writing any more! I know! Boo! But the most important thing with a book club is that as soon as it starts to feel like an obligation, you must stop at once. I gift it to you though. We’ve trolled nineteen titles now and some of us (Paul) have been here from day one. If someone else wishes to take over the mantle, I’m more than happy for the group to continue and I’ll drop in and out if I have time.

What have we learned? Teenage readers are perhaps drawn to different elements than adult ones – repetition and pattern being big draws. The ones I loved as a teen (Dream Date, Camp Fear) haven’t aged as well as some of the ones I wasn’t so sure about (The Yearbook, The Cheerleader). We learned Caroline B Cooney is a legend. We established RL Stine is as good now as he was then and that Collect Call is as good as we remembered The Cemetery being awful.

We can all agree that The Forbidden Game is still the undiscovered Twilight of its generation and that, I think, was my highlight.

Love you all – check out Under My Skin in March. Like Point Horror, but weirder and pinker.

Satanville – The Beginning

SATANVILLEWHAT IS SATANVILLE?

Satanville is a fictional CW show. It’s a favourite of Sally Feather, Stan Randall and Jennie Gong, the main characters in my new novel UNDER MY SKIN.

You can now read the novelisation of Satanville – The Beginning on Wattpad.

It’s a companion piece that allows you, the reader, to join in with a fandom that appears throughout Under My Skin.

 

DO I NEED TO READ IT?

No. You don’t need to read Satanville to appreciate Under My Skin and vice versa. It’s just for fun. I love American YA so much, and this is my homage to it. I am also fascinated by new social medias and wanted to use Wattpad in a different and creative way that wasn’t just giving away odd parts of a novel.

 

WHAT’S SATANVILLE ABOUT?

Well, no spoilers, but it’s about a New England town called Statenville. Recently orphaned Taryn Van Pelt is about to discover the town has a dark secret and is torn between gallant Zeke Bianco and darkly mysterious Dante Carruthers.

 

HOW WILL IT WORK?

A new chapter will appear on my WattPad each week in the run up to the release of Under My Skin on March 5th. But you can dip in and out at your leisure or read en masse when it’s all online. It doesn’t directly correspond with the book. Sally and her friends are on season 4 – this is the pilot episode as it were.

You can get started right now – the first chapter is LIVE!

 

To ensure you get one of the gorgeous PINK editions of UNDER MY SKIN, you can pre-order now