Most of our authors who were interviewed answered the questions that everyone else did. I’m putting all of these interviews before the main discussion posts, so you can see everybody’s views. Also, I’ve finalised the schedule for Rainbow Reads and just realised that I have a month’s worth of posts, which is much more than I was expecting. Thank you everyone!
Today, we have one of my favourite authors, James Dawson.
--Props for making Kitty and Delilah bi and in a committed relationship. Do you think bisexuals get unfair representation in YA literature?
To be honest, I think bi characters aren't represented AT ALL! There are pitifully few LGBT* characters full stop, but there are slightly more gay and lesbian 'best friends'. It's a sad fact that a lot of people, even within the LGBT* community don't really believe that bi people exist.
--Have you ever gotten homophobic or otherwise negative reactions regarding your inclusion of LGBTQIA characters? How did you deal with it?
I honestly haven't had any negative feedback about Kitty and Delilah. Ryan, in Cruel Summer, is the main character so it'll be interesting to see what reaction he gets. Personally I've had homophobic messages on my Facebook fan page - I suppose given how open I am about my sexuality it was only a matter of time. Rest assured, I won't be deterred.
--How important do you think LGBTQIA fiction is for teens?
This is an interesting question. Much LGBT* fiction for teens is ABOUT being LGBT*. I find this very odd. I'm confused as to why it's such an issue. All these books about depressed LGBT* characters having epic dramas about their sexuality doesn't always ring true. I'm much more interested in seeing LGBT* characters going about their business. That said ANY LGBT* character is important so young readers can see themselves in the world of books.
--LGBTQIA fiction is often shelved separately in bookshops/libraries. How do you feel about this?
I understand why you'd want a gender theory or gay theory section in a book shop. I also understand why you might have a gay erotica section, anything else should be in fiction, right? Most bookshops wouldn't segregate Hollinghurst, Maupin or Waters. I hope. Most YA fiction with LGBT* characters just goes in the YA section which is quite right.
--Discuss getting LGBTQIA fiction published. Do you think publishers have changed their attitudes over time?
No-one has ever suggested that Kitty, Delilah or Ryan should be straight. In fact, Ryan started life as the 'best friend' because I thought my publisher wouldn't want a gay main character. How wrong I was! My editor identified Ryan as the most compelling character and insisted he be brought centre stage. I can only speak for my experience and my publisher has been overwhelmingly supportive.
--Do you think any part of the LGBTQIA community gets overlooked/subject to erasure?
I think trans characters are very overlooked. I wonder, at this stage, if writers feel any book with trans characters would have to be ABOUT being trans. I think authors worry both about getting it right and angry internet people.
--Any recommendations for LGBTQIA fiction?
Well Hollow Pike and Cruel Summer OBVIOUSLY! Aside from them, Tales of the City was a watershed book for me and truly changed my life. Gay men should read The Velvet Rage too - it really holds up a mirror to the behaviour of some gay men. Pantomine by Laura Lam; What's Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long and, my favourite book of 2013, Every Day by David Levithan.
--Anything else you'd like to say?
Being A Boy follows Cruel Summer in September. It's called Being A Boy and it really is for all boys - gay, bi, curious and straight. There's a discussion about sexuality, but the whole book is universal. Whatever your sexuality, we're all having the same puberty, first loves, first shags and heartbreaks.