With Author Interview of Michael Earp.
What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #OwnVoices collection, twelve of Australia’s finest queer writers explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us.Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories Synopsis
Compelling queer short fiction by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to the #LoveOzYA community including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.
‘Kindred’ is an encapsulating word that places ‘me’ next to ‘you’ and ‘us’ next to ‘them’ in such a wonderful way. It speaks to the connections between us and ignites a sense of community. You know that feeling of warmth you get when you walk into a room that’s filled with your people?
Michael Earp the Editor and Contributor sums Kindred up perfectly in the introduction as above. And every story in this Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories builds upon that premise. Each of these stories touches on some part of feeling like you have found your kindred. Know your kindred. Are your kindred.
Usually, I find it hard to review and rate anthologies. The variety of stories in them it’s rare that you enjoy them all. This book is one of those rarities. While I wouldn’t say every story is a 5 star hit, the lowest story is a 3.5.
The Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories:
I was lucky enough to get to interview Michael Earp which you can find below so I am going to keep this review short.
Rats By Marlee Jane Ward
This was such a fun fast paced dystopian sci-fi story that I was instantly engaged in. My only complaint was that it ended too soon. This is definitely an author I will be reading more of.
In Case of Emergency, Break Glass by Erin Gough
This was a weird bit of magical realism, I liked it but I didn’t like it. Does that make sense? It explores that first discover that perhaps you might not be straight.
Bitter Draught by Michael Earp
What a sweet and wholesome story this was, only to wrench your heart out an stomp on it. I just want to wrap Simeon up in a hug to keep him safe.
I Like Your Rotation by Jax Jacki Brown
People with disabilities who are queer are an important part of the community and this story proves why. It’s hard to not write a whole blog post on why I loved this story particularly so very much.
Sweet by Claire G Coleman
This is one of my favourite stories here because it plays on gender politics and found family. This was such a wonderful dystopian story I want to read more of this!
Light Bulb by Nevo Zisin
This was a weird little piece of fiction that so clearly spoke of mental health issues. It was poetic, beautiful and heartbreaking, yet in the end uplifting.
Waiting by Jen Wilde
This is another of my favourites as it deals with community in the wider sense, finding those who make you feel at home. We don’t need to just accept those who are okay with our sexuality, but those who accept all of us right down to our nerdy cores.
Laura Nyro at the Wedding by Christos Tsiolkas
This was such an interesting story. About the purpose of marriage but also about forgiveness. I didn’t like it at first but I have found it has grown on me.
Each City by Ellen van Neerven
This was an interesting exploration of an increasing police state, and especially what that means to indigenous people. It is one of several where sexuality is a side point which I appreciated. A story showing sexuality is not our sole identity.
An Arab Werewolf in Liverpool by Omar Sakr
Wow! I loved so much about this story, it didn’t shy away from being graphic while staying YA. But also exploring queerness from a Muslim perspective and toxic masculinity.
Stormlines by Alison Evans
What is home, is it the place you were born, the place you are staying, or the place you make your own. That is the key tale this story tells and so wonderfully in a future with gender neutrality and a dying planet.
Questions to Ask Straight Relatives by Benjamin Law
This non fiction essay was the perfect ending to the collection. It asks us to explore the questions we are asked and ask questions back. It was powerful and reaffirming especially to anyone weary from being asked again if they are LGBT for life.
This book is so powerful and a wonderful read. Each of the stories has a beautiful message that reminds us that our community is diverse within it’s diversity. Don’t be afraid to find your niche. To love who you love and try to understand those around you.
I give Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories 5 out of 5 stars
Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories edited by Michael Earp was released 1 June 2019. You can get your own copy at Angus and Robinson, Booktopia, Amazon Australia, Fishpond, The Book Depository, Mighty Ape or wherever you like to get books.
If people purchase the book from The Little Bookroom they can have it signed By Michael Earp. All they have to do is mention in the order notes that they followed the Kindred Tour and would like their copy signed by Michael.
A Review Copy of this book was provided to me by the Walker Books Australia in exchange for an honest review.
Author Interview With Michael Earp
Michael thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few of my questions, I’m so excited about Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories. I’m a Bisexual Transwoman who resides in New Zealand. As such I’m just so thrilled to find great queer young adult writing and am so happy at how much variety and quality is out there. I remember watching my dear friend Ryan Scott Kennedy work on ‘f2m: The Boy Within’ and how much love and energy went into it. Thanks so much for all the hard work that you have put into this and the dedication.
So, how does it feel to have your baby out in the world now?
Honestly, it’s surreal. I keep finding myself be surprised by it, the sudden realisation that it exists, that what took so much work and love is actually a thing that people can pick up and enjoy for themselves… It overwhelms me and I’m filled with so many emotions.
So, what does being queer mean to you? In this world of ever-increasing words and choices why queer and not gay, homosexual etc?
I used to resist the term queer. I felt the slur it used to be too strongly. But over time I’ve grown to embrace it. I still consider myself a gay man, but I’ve come to almost prefer the term queer because of how it places me in a wider circle of love and acceptance. It’s a way to identify as non-cis-het without needing to get into the specifics of labels which some people can find restrictive. I encourage anyone to identify with any labels that empower them. And if labels aren’t your ‘QUILTBAG’ ? then I hope you forgive me for counting you as part of my queer kindred anyway.
How did you find editing an anthology?
It was a fun, challenging experience that I’m so thrilled I had the opportunity to do. I’ve never thought of myself as an editor, always in terrible need of editing myself. But I did have a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve with this anthology and it was such a joy to chase that vision to it’s completion. I could not have done it (not in the slightest) if it weren’t for my editor, Nicola Santilli. She was there for every step of this journey and while we bounced off each other constantly, I think she was a genius to work with and I really hope we’ll work together again in the future. She kept me on track, while I tried to keep the contributors on track. But all the editing-editing (the stuff you actually study at a place of learning) was all her.
What were some of the bigger struggles in putting the book together?
There weren’t many major struggles, I don’t think. I do believe there is a fine line to tread between what content is deemed ‘suitable’ for teenage readers, and what they get up to in their lives. Also, there is a disjunct between what is considered ‘acceptable’ content when it is heterosexual characters and how that differs when the characters are queer. I’d like to think that we reached a good place, but I do believe that the playing field is not yet even where that is concerned.
Looking now at your story in the anthology, what inspired it?
My story came about when I decided I wanted to write a fantasy for Kindred. I have this exercise for writing short stories where I list random things until a story emerges from them. I usually don’t have anything in mind when I start my list. The list that turned into ‘Bitter Draught’ went like this:
Two boys, a forest, a village, a day’s labour, a calling, a witch – male, a sickle, a stone, a warning, a transgression, a spell, a tree, a large family, a sick sister, terror, time.
And I very quickly realised my witch was non-binary, but other than that the story just emerged out of that list. Also, I was going through a rough trot at the time, and so that kind of seeped its way into the story, too.
What is your usual writing process? Do you have any special rituals?
Nothing out of the ordinary. I often make sure my desk is as tidy as possible. I’m so easily distractible so I need to minimise the risks. I also need to have instrumental music playing (lyrics are too distracting) or if I’m really in the zone, silence. I can’t write in public, but enjoy having a window nearby. I tend to get a little too caught up in editing as I go, wanting to “get it right” first time, but eventually get frustrated at the slow progress of my first draft and then just smash out the mess the fix later. It’s a bit different with short stories, because I usually have a clear endpoint in mind, so I rush towards it and then work out the problems later.
Would you say you have any trademarks to your writing?
I’m not sure, to be honest. I’m still relaxing into my comfort zone and trying to push myself out of it at the same time. So far, there’s always been a queer element. And I like to explore interpersonal relationships and quiet moments between people.
Finally, there have been so many excellent queer books coming out this year I have dubbed 2019 “The Year of Queer”, what queer book (other than Kindred ?) are you most excited for?
I’m lucky enough to have already read it! I’ve been waiting for the conclusion to the trilogy that started with ‘Welcome to Orphancorp’ by Marlee Jane Ward since the moment I finished the first book. ‘Prisoncorp’ is the fantastic conclusion to the series and if you haven’t, then I strongly recommend you go out and read it.
But then again, just look at the list of contributors for Kindred! You really should go out and pick up any of their other books! And so many of them have new ones in 2019. Alison Evans’ ‘Highway Bodies’ came out at the beginning of the year, Omar Sakr’s ‘The Lost Arabs’ is recently out, Jen Wilde’s ‘Going Off Script’, Claire Coleman’s ‘The Old Lie’, I want to read them all.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and spend some time on my blog! Congratulations again on the release of this amazing book, which was definitely one of my most anticipated books of the year!