CONVERSATIONS 002: QUEER BOOK CHAT

Since I enjoyed the last queer book chat I did with Star so much, I thought I’d keep it going by chatting with one of the #AusYaBloggers newest members Brooklynne!
Brooklynne came on board a few months back and has been actively partaking in our tours and promotions right from the get-go.

Hi. I’m Sarah, one of the AusYABloggers group moderators and today I’ve asked fellow queer book blogger (she’s an American turned Kiwi), the above-mentioned Brooklynne, to chat to me on the group blog.

Brooklynne is a bisexual transwoman and all-round awesome person. I am a quiet bisexual who can no longer stand to be quiet (and some people think I’m awesome, love ya mum).

Sarah: I recently finished reading Heartstopper volume two. I adored volume one and two of this sweet and queer comic about two teenage boys finding each other, first through friendship, then through something more. In the first volume the boys met and have their first kiss. In the second volume one comes out as bisexual (the other is already out as gay) and the two start dating. SOOOO f***ing cute. But anyway, sorry I’m babbling - get to the point Sarah! In the second volume we are introduced to a transgirl side character, who has a straight boy interested in her – I am hoping that these characters are developed more and we get to get to know them and they can have a beautiful positive love story of their own. But it had me thinking about the lack of positive transgirl fiction. Actually, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since your tweet the other week where you mentioned how all you wanted was a trans girl/m romance novel where everything is soft and sweet and not once is the phrase "does this make me gay" mentioned. Just a guy meeting the hot girl and falling for her and I’m with ya! I want to read a story like that, GIMME GIMME GIMME.
In your years of reading queer fiction have you come across any positive transgirl fiction? and if so, what were the stories names/authors.
Brooklynne: Sadly I haven’t, but part of that is due to being a bit out of the book loop for a bit. Another part of that is subconsciously avoiding it after having read a few bad ones. The transgirl YA fiction that I have read so far has all been mostly from an outsider’s perspective and more about that person dealing with their friend or loved one’s transition. I kind of gave up hope until recently and found myself surrounded by positive Transboy stories. Although excitedly I did discover “If I Was Your Girl” By Meridith Russo* in doing some research for this chat and it seems to be what I’m looking for. I’m looking forward to reading that, as it is an own voices novel and will have to get back to you. Otherwise I really love the short story Light Bulb by Nevo Zisin which is in Kindred which features a trans character even though it is more about Mental Health and Depression. Also and while it’s not really a YA book but it is a classic trans fiction which has a great transgirl side character is “Stone Butch Blues” which is own voices as well.
Sarah: I can understand your avoidance. There is so much hurtful crap written by Cis authors. It is sad, no more than sad, it’s disgraceful, infuriating even, how lacking YA is in regards to positive transgirl characters. That’s why I was so happy when I came across the character in Heartstopper. I have been trying to read as much queer fiction as I can get my hands on and even still, I can feel the lack of trans characters. I’ve got If I Was Your Girl on my ASAP tbr!!
Light Bulb was my favorite story in Kindred. Some people didn’t seem to get it, but I felt a connection to the story deep down - but maybe that was me connecting to being in a dark place mentally.
Brooklynne: Exactly, which I think was poignant because trans people have a higher rate of mental health issues, like depression and anxiety. What has disheartened me lately I have to say, is that two well known YA authors wrote books about trans characters that received negative feedback either about the title or the blurb or the writing that they wrote, from the trans community. Instead of apologising and rewriting the book just dug their heels in deeper and insisted they were right, or they asked a friend. But thankfully we are getting overall better trans and nonbinary fiction out there. 

A P.S. from Brooklynne* Since this chat I have read If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, It was disappointingly not what I was looking for, but was still a good Trans rep novel. Especially for cisgendered readers, I personally felt that too many concessions were made to provide an easy read to cis readers that I felt a little alienated at times. There are some great parts of this book though and I loved it till about the last third. I think it is an important and wonderful book overall but as a transwoman it wasn’t what I am looking for.*

Sarah: While we’re on the topic of under representation (or thereabouts). Alison Evan’s is the only Aussie author who I’ve noticed getting props for their non-binary characters. I love Alison’s books and think they are a fantastic author, but I am wondering if you’ve come across any others in your queer reading experience be they American or Kiwi.
Brooklynne: Interestingly it was reading a book by a non-binary author about a non-binary character that made me make the afforementioned frustrated tweet. That was “I Wish You All The Best” by Mason Deaver (this book is great and just made me wish that I had something similar that represented me), but also recently read Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy which not only has non-binary rep but has asexual, gay, and bi rep as well. Amy Rose’s Lost Coast also has non-binary character. Even though you didn’t ask, my favourite transboy book is a delightful magical realism book by Anna-Marie McLemore called “When The Moon Was Ours” which also has a Trans Woman storyline as well. And the Main character and his trans boyfriend are the absolute cutest in “The Past And Other Things That Should Stay Buried”.  Also I might be Biased but I always recommend “f2m:the boy within” as a great book about Transitioning in the Australia/New Zealand area from a transboy perspective, although keep in mind it’s nearly 10 years old now.
Sarah: excuse me while I go add more books to my TBR :-). Actually I have Once & Future sitting on my shelf and I am DYING to read it. And looking up f2m:the boy within on goodreads, it looks brilliant. I’ve added it to my ASAP tbr! Fingers crossed I can track a copy down.
Brooklynne: I’m curious Sarah, looking to the future what upcoming Queer/Trans books, if any are you looking forward to? I’m personally counting the days to Reverie by Ryan La Sala because it includes a Drag Queen Sorceress!!! Like How can I not be excited for that. Anna-Marie McLemore has a new book which I’m always here for Dark And Deepest Red. Finally Mason Deaver’s second book The Ghosts We Keep is due out and after how amazing their first books was I’m hopeful. 
Sarah: Drag Queen Sorceress! Yes please! 
Before we started this lil chat, I had Dreadnought, George, If I Was Your Girl, Finding Nevo and Extraordinary Birds on my need it radar. In trying to find more books to recommend for this chat I've stumbled upon two comic series I want to try, Quantum Teens and Alters, and a few more books; Spy Stuff, The Art of Being Normal and Peter Darling. ANNNNND then there’s all your recommendations - Oh wow, I seriously need to take a few weeks off work and have a read a thon. 

Sarah: What was the last queer story you read that you absolutely adored? For me it was Heartbreaker and before that it was when I did a binge read of the Concrete Queer zines.
Brooklynne: Jeeze, why don’t you ask me what foot is my favourite, this is just as equally hard question. Jokes, it’s my left foot as it has the cutest pink toe. Not that you needed to know that. Anyway, I read a lot of queer or queer aligned fiction so there are a lot. The last I finished was “Wilder Girls” and while that affected me to my very core on a visceral level I’m not sure “adore” is the right term for it. I think “These Witches Don’t Burn” has to be the last I adored, which makes sense cause it’s Magical Realism, and very gay, plus added bonus of Transboy minor character. Before that would be “Once & Future” because it was very queer and also Pansexual King Arthur so what is not to love?
Sarah: omg I NEED to get Once & Future and These Witches Don’t Burn read. I can see both books sitting on my shelf staring at me with disapproval because I have yet to open them and devour their pages. AHHH there isn’t enough hours in the day.
Brooklynne: Once & Future is so worth it as is These Witches don’t Burn. And I feel you on the TBR, I recently got a cart for my all the books on my TBR that I physically own, and it’s getting pretty full already. I’m not sure what I will do when it fills.
Sarah: Yep! We both definitely need reading holidays - if only.

Here is a list of the books we mentioned in this chat and/or have on our TBR’s. This list is mainly YA, but there are one or two MG and NA titles in there as well.





You can find Brooklynne @ Twitter | Instagram | Book Blog


And you can find me, Sarah @ Twitter | Instagram | Book Blog

If you’ve read any of these books or have any recommendations, please leave a comment below. We’d love to know about your reading experiences and favorite reads.

Click HERE to read Conversation 001: Queer Book Chat.
Sarah and Star chatting about things they noticed during Pride month, the importance of F/F in LGBTQ+ books and being able to see yourself in characters and they also give some F/F reading recommendations.

1 comment

  1. Amazing post, Sarah and Brooklynne!
    Thank you for shedding light on the fact that I, too, need to read 120% more trans books.
    Sarah's right - I want a book that has a transgirl/m relationship without the "does this make me gay" comment. It's just unnecessary!

    Also, I read George a few years ago and absolutely loved it.
    I wish you all happy reading, and thank you both for giving me more books to add to my TBR! ♥

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