What projects are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m drafting a queer YA novel about a transgender teen who enters a televised baking competition and serves a heck of a lot more than her competitors bargained for. Once I’ve finished editing it, I hope to query it. I’m also usually working on short stories and essays on the side, most of which fit within the YA genre.
Your stories and personal essays often feature transgender or non-binary characters/themes. Are you transgender or non-binary? What are your pronouns?
Yes, I’m a trans man and I use he/him pronouns. Thanks for asking!
Much of your work also features religious themes, especially in which queer and spiritual identities intersect. Where does your inspiration for this come from?
As a transgender Latter-day Saint (“Mormon”), I have often struggled with doubts about faith and belonging. Spirituality, for me, takes the form of a question that I imagine I’ll grapple with for the rest of my life. That’s tough and confusing at times, but also beautiful. In some of the lowest moments of my life, my faith has given me hope that every person is of immeasurable worth and deserving of love (including myself). If I were to sum up my spirituality in a quote, it would be one by C.S. Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
In work that I include spiritual themes, I’m hoping to reach others in a similar situation to help them feel less alone. And to tell a story that I hope touches people in some way, too.
What’s the writing process look like for you?
Most of my writing friends are “pantsers,” meaning that they plot as they go and don’t always know where a story’s going while they write. I wish I could write like that, but I work better if I’ve outlined beforehand. Generally, I like to make outlines for a story before I write it, as well as mini-outlines for individual chapters, characters, and scenes. It’s like a first round of editing before I even start writing, which helps me feel less overwhelmed when the real editing begins.
Any LGBTQ YA book recommendations?
Along with writing queer YA, I also run an LGBTQ YA book review catalog for queer teens as well as parents and educators. Here are a few favorites:
- If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
- The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
- Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
- What We Left Behind by Robin Talley
- When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
- Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
- The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
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