In my new book Camp, a romantic comedy that takes place at a queer summer camp, the campers have a once a week queer history lecture. One of these is about The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, two pre-Stonewall queer activism groups who have been active in the US since the 40s and 50s. There’s a story that’s told and which is told in the book, of a lesbian, who wore jeans and leather jackets. But the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis didn’t like that. They thought assimilation was the best way to achieve equality. They took the woman dress shopping. They bought her heels. The first meeting she walked successfully in heels, they all applauded. The kids in my book all agree this is bad, but they wonder about Hudson, the protagonist’s boyfriend, who describes himself as Masc4Masc – someone who acts “masculine” and is only interested in men who do likewise.
Ashley Herring Blake on Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea
Ashley Herring Blake
More than eighty percent of the world’s oceans remain unexplored. To me, that’s a staggering number, almost overwhelming, to think of all those deeps no human has touched, all the possibilities we haven’t even thought of yet. All those mysteries. When I sat down to write my next middle grade novel, I knew I wanted to tell a story about loss, about life after the unthinkable happens. What do you do? How do you actually move on, as it seemed so easy for others to do?
I’ve been writing comics in earnest for fifteen years I’ve always felt they are an ideal medium for memoir and there is a long history of auto-biographical comics which bears this out. Comics are visual and visceral, which encourages the brutal vulnerability required of a memoirist. Yet, before this book, I avoided drawing personal stories, just like I avoided telling certain stories to friends. I’m not by nature a secretive person. If anything, I’m an over sharer. But there were a few stories, especially ones around my childhood, that elicited too many awkward questions.
Florence Gonsalves on writing Love & Other Carnivorous Plants
A couple of years ago, when I’d just graduated from college, scared out of my mind with no idea what the future would hold, humor kind of saved my life. “Ancient Greece isn’t hiring,” I told people who asked how my philosophy degree would influence my career path. “I’ll probably be permanently unemployed in the year 450 BCE.” At first, I’d tried the whole, “I’ll probably go to law school!” approach, but that wasn’t the truth at all and telling that little white lie was making me feel worse and worse. The truth was I was petrified, and the only way I could access those emotions was by poking a little fun at myself.