Interview with a Queer Reader: Amanda Talks Octavia Butler’s Genius, Rereading Tamora Pierce, Alison Bechdel’s FUN HOME, and more!

Amanda is a 24-year-old genderqueer, Midwestern Hufflepuff. (Yeah, Hufflepuff solidarity!) Amanda is queer, nonmonogamous, and very feminist. She works at a nonprofit arthouse theater and film festival as the Director of Theater Operations. They also volunteer with the Harry Potter Alliance as the Fandom Forward Project Leader and do some freelance writing. Find her on Twitter at @amandandwords or at amandaplanet.com.

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Keep reading to hear Amanda talk about rereading Tamora Pierce, the genius of Octavia Butler, writing the book you want to see in the world, how awesome the YA Pride website is, and more!

What was the first LGBTQ2IA+ book(s) you remember reading? How did you end up reading it (i.e., were you searching for queer books or did you just happen across it?)

Oh, good question.  I think the first explicitly queer book I remember reading was The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce.  It was published in 2005 so I would have been 12 at the time. I didn’t seek it out as a queer book, I’d read the Circle of Magic series and my cousin, who worked at a bookstore, got an advance reader copy for me. In the book one of the main characters, Daja, falls in love with a woman. I’d been with the characters in the series for years and reading Daja’s realization that she was interested in a woman, and their subsequent romance, was more than captivating. I reread their scenes over and over again. I still reread it at least once a year. It’s a really good book. (Also: I tweeted a version of this to Tamora Pierce and she tweeted back to me! How kind!)

Oh my god, that’s so cool about Tamora Pierce. What is/are your favourite LGBTQ2IA+ books, and why?

Oh so many! Definitely Will of the Empress because it has a special place in my heart. Wolfcry by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes is also a favorite. It was the first book I read that I knew was written by a queer person about a queer person. Plus, I am a sucker for YA fantasy – especially when it involves queer romances. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel is also a classic. I didn’t read it until college but I think I read it at just the right time. Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis (or Lilith’s Brood) trilogy is my favorite trilogy of all time. It weaves so many complicated threads together in a unique and very sci-fi way. I reread it this summer and these lines have been rooted in my brain since:

“Do you still want to be male?”

Had I ever wanted to be male? I had just assumed I was male, and would have no choice in the matter.

The series has helped me tremendously with understanding my own views of gender.

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book have you read that best reflects your experiences as an LGBTQ2IA+ person?

I don’t think any single book reflects my experience as a queer person. It’s a jumble of stories and characters and feelings. If I had to pick one that’s the closest, it’s probably Fun Home. Alison Bechdel’s recollection of her childhood memories of sexuality, gender, and mental health mirror my own.

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book do you wish you could read but can’t because it doesn’t exist yet?

Ooh, probably one about a gender questioning ‘girl’ who doesn’t think they’ll ever want to settle down with one person even when they’re in love. They’ll, of course, learn about ethical non-monogamy, destroying the gender binary, and learning how to relearn consent. Also there would be aliens or shapeshifters. Honestly I might write this.

How do you find LGBTQ2IA+ books? How easy or hard is it in your experience finding the ones that you want to read?

The internet and perusing through used book stores. I love the Twitter and website YA Pride. It’s been great having a LGBTQIA book list to read. It can be hard finding queer books that I really want to read, or that are my specific brand of fantasy or sci-fi. I’m working on requesting a bunch of queer books at my library. Help the next generation of queer readers!

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Do you know other LGBTQ2IA+ readers or participate in any LGBTQ2IA+ reading communities (in person or on the Internet)? What’s it like? Why or why not?

Yeah, definitely. I love the YA Pride Twitter. I’m not a young adult anymore but their content is A+. I was on a “How to Write Straight Characters” panel at Nerdcon:Stories last year and Vee, one of the badass co-creators of the site, live tweeted it and reached out to me about their site. I wish that it had existed when I was a teen! Twitter in general is my go-to for recommendations. I also find some great queer book and show recommendations from the Femsplain Slack channel. The #amreading and #queer channels are always top notch. Also the staff and volunteers at the Harry Potter Alliance are pretty queer (I might even say majority queer) so there’s always someone eagerly sharing rave reviews about a book or series they’ve recently finished.

I wish I had an irl queer reading group — maybe someday!

I look forward to reading your alien/shapeshifter non-binary poly book someday Amanda! And I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said about YA Pride. They are such an amazing resource! You all should definitely check them out if you haven’t already.

About CaseytheCanadianLesbrarian

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and future librarian who holds an MA in English literature and is currently studying for an MLIS in the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, BC). Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, running, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of LGBTQ2IA+ Canadian books, archives of the book advice column Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian, and some other queer, bookish stuff. She also writes for Autostraddle, Book Riot and Inside Vancouver. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian. Some of her old reviews, especially the non-Canadian variety, can be found at the Lesbrary.
This entry was posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Interview with a Queer Reader, Non-Canadian, Queer, Young Adult. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Interview with a Queer Reader: Amanda Talks Octavia Butler’s Genius, Rereading Tamora Pierce, Alison Bechdel’s FUN HOME, and more!

  1. I loved Tamora Pierce when I was younger, but never got a copy of “Will of the Empress” in my rural town. Now I definitely need to seek it out and see what I missed!
    (And yes, please write this binary-breaking book. I need this in my life and bookshelf.)

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