Nov 202013
 

Are you starting your holiday shopping?  Hanukkah is just one week away, and Christmas in less than five! You know what makes a great gift? BOOKS!  Know what makes an even better gift?  Books purchased from indie bookstores or direct from authors and signed/dedicated to your friend/partner/crush/ex, your old GSA, former youth center or whoever else you’re holiday shopping for!

This year for the holidays please consider the gift of Roving Pack- the novel Lambda Literary calls “Political, raucous, dark, and totally engrossing” and the Huffington Post says  is “a guiding light in the darkness of the false binary illusion of gender we’ve been too lazy to address” and click here to see all the amazing things some of your favorite Queer authors have said about the novel 

Order Roving Pack between now and December 10th  you’ll get this special set of one inch buttons featuring the original artwork by KD Diamond!!!! ::hint:: they make great stocking stuffers OR you can keep them for yourself!

 

The kids in Roving Pack even get into all kinds of mischief on Christmas – see what I mean:

To find out what happens you’ll just have to read the book!  

 

Oct 072013
 

I’m starting to write this somewhere high in the air inside a robotic pterodactyl on my way home to Brooklyn after being lucky enough to spend the weekend in Atlanta as part of the literary programming at Charis Bookstore connected to this years Atlanta Pride Festival. I had the chance to go to Charis with Kicked Out when it released about three years ago, and without a doubt it’s one of my favorite bookstores.  I got my start as a zinester at a feminist bookstore, and they have always felt like my most important literary homes.  I get really excited anytime I have the opportunity to visit one, especially a dear friend like Charis.

While I was sitting at the airport on my way from NYC to Atlanta on Friday morning, I got word that Charis had been vandalized the night before. Thursday night had been the kickoff pride literary event an amazing evening of 20 local Atlanta writers and sometime after the store closed that night some homophobes decided to leave some vulgar graffiti on the bookstore. It was ugly and hateful and made me so excited for Saturday night because I believe one of the best ways to respond to that kind of homophobia is to stand firm in queerness, and to not let the bigots win. Additionally it highlighted for me all over again the importance of queer and feminist bookstores, how people feel threatened by them, andwhy in the year 2013 they are still so needed by our community.

Click here to learn more about Charis, and if you can please donate to them – they are working on painting a beautiful mural on the wall that was vandalized and your donation will help them not only with that mural but all the incredible programming and events they have.

I had an amazing and super busy weekend in Atlanta hanging out with queer literary buddies. Alysia Angel and I have been
friends online for a really longtime and collaborated on several different projects (don’t miss her fantastic retelling of Little Red Riding Hood in Leather Ever After!) but had never actually met in person! We went to Elizabeth’s gay softball game right after I got into town. It was so much fun being queerleaders for all the dykes out on the field and Alysia and I bonded over our matching sandals.After that was delicious dinner – which involved  a detour when we were turned away and refused service at a restaurant for being queers!!!!!!!

 I feel so lucky to have  an incredible literary community, but it’s not that often that my people and I are in the same place, at the same time. Getting to spend time with some of my writer buddies  is definitely part of what made the weekend so special. Saturday morning Elizabeth, Alysia and her partner Dante picked me up at my hotel bright and early and we spent the whole day having fun! We started with a delicious breakfast at Ria’s Bluebird omg veggie sausage!!! (where we got a Riot Gurrrrrl discount written onto the receipt by the ADORABLE waitress) and then spent the afternoon exploring thrift stores all over the city and even checked out a lakeside neighborhood art festival full of dogs which you know made me super happy! Having a queer literary community physically together (aka off the internet) isn’t something I experience very often so it was incredibly delightful to get to talk shop with folks but also just have some silly fun together. We spent the whole day playing all over Atlanta (HUGE thanks to Elizabeth who drove us around all day) and then it was time to get ready to head to the bookstore!

Alysia and I were reading with Julie Marie Wade a great author based in Florida. The event was called “The Tears On Her Face Are From Laughter” a reference to a tattoo on Alysia’s for an evening of storytelling, poetry, and tales of queer triumph.

It was so fun to get to bring Roving Pack to Atlanta – and I was especially excited that I found a passage of the book that included a (brief) reference to Atlanta and it was so fun to read from the book at Charis next to these other fun and intense authors.  We closed the event with a really great Q&A facilitated by Elizabeth who asked us some really smart and challenging questions about craft, form, and identity as queer writers and activists.  After that was a big group dinner with new friends from the audience  Writing is such a solitary art form, and I’m really introverted so the solitary aspect of writing works really well for me, yet, there is something extremely special about the chances I have to spend in the company of queer writers who inspire and challenge me.

I’ve talked carefully before here on my blog about how editing Kicked Out was an incredible and utterly life changing experience for me as a writer, as an activist, and as an individual. Editing that anthology was some of the most important work I have ever done, and at the same time, it was also personally challenging and limiting in some ways. There were times where when I was touring Kicked Out I felt like I was only being seen as part of myself. I was the formerly homeless youth, the survivor, community builder and trauma writer, and I saw my role as being responsible  to hold that space. Those characteristics are part of me, but they aren’t the full pictures of who I am, or a complete view of how I want to be seen and understood in the world. With the release of Roving Pack, and then Leather Ever After it feels like I’ve really  turned a corner with my work, where my writing and I are seen more fully with all the paradox and complication. Every time I’m on the road now, it sinks in a little bit deeper how lucky I feel to have grown as a writer, and to have the opportunity to be fully seen and present.

This was such an amazingly FUN weekend and definitely not an experience that I’m going to forget anytime soon! HUGE thanks to Atlanta Pride and Charis for making my visit possible!!!

RWAR!!!!!! this was Sunday morning very very very early at the airport

Aug 072013
 

A few months ago I shared with you some pictures from an amazing Roving Pack reader named Michelle Brennan who had felt so connected to the novel that she made a “book in a box” style diorama of the novel! I had completely forgotten about the book in a box reports that so many of us created in elementary school and was over the moon with the idea that someone was bringing them back, and using it as a medium to represent really queer books!!! Michelle sent me some early photos of the diorama, which I shared on the block and was completely smitten.  Now though, I have to admit though, that was NOTHING compared to the magic that arrived in the mail last night!!!!

Michelle, the amazing queer artist who is behind the creation of the Roving Pack diorama is also an amazing tease – she wanted me to be surprised by the final piece so when she finished the diorama she didn’t send me any pictures.  I couldn’t believe it when I opened the box and removed all the packing peanuts. She captured everything about Roving Pack so brilliantly.

When I was writing Roving Pack I never ever could have imagined the outpouring of support and connection I would see from the community. This was a story that I knew needed to be written, needed to get out into the world. I hoped that perhaps it would connect with a few people, but I had no way of knowing that it would be so well received, that people would write me beautiful letters telling me how much they needed this book.  Messages, emails, letters and other communication from folks around the world who have felt connected in some way to Roving Pack is without a doubt the most meaningful praise/award/recognition I could receive and I really believe that I have the best readers ever.


The detail that Michelle packed into this this diorama is impeccable, I can’t imagine how many times
Michelle must have read Roving Pack to be able to capture everything from the main character’s tattoos, to the details of the apartment – floggers on the wall, the infamous black sheets, the little books that come off the bookshelf, which are all the titles of books that a queer kid might have had in the early 2000′s,  the zine on the floor that can be paged through, everything is just amazing.  When I first opened the box, I think I sat on the floor with the diorama for a good 20 minutes just looking at every single little detail and keep returning to it. To have someone make such amazing art, based on my art???? I can’t think of a higher compliment!

Here’s the thing, Michelle is also in a major battle against cancer right now and needs help from the community because we live in a society where people have to crowd source to survive the financial fallout of a major illness.  Do you have a couple of bucks (or more!) to throw her way?  Michelle is an amazing member of our queer community and we need to help her and her family gets through this difficult time without having to worry about how the bills are going to be paid.

Jun 102013
 

This morning I wanted to share a really special Roving Pack fan with all of you. Her name is Michele Brennan and she’s a badass queer living in Michigan. Do you remember being in elementary school and doing reports on books? Remember how a big part of that was creating a diorama in a box – depicting the characters and important parts of the book? About a month ago Michelle posted on Facebook that she was working on a diorama of Roving Pack! This was just about the coolest thing I could imagine (now I want to start creating dioramas of queer books!) and I was thrilled that she felt so connected to Roving Pack that she was inspired to do this! Since that Facebook post Michelle has been working on her diorama and it’s fucking incredible! No seriously, this thing is ridiculously good and so accurate to the book—right down to the black sheets and floggers on the wall! I am completely IN LOVE with this art!!!! Reader responses to my books are the greatest honor I can get as an author, and never in a million years did I imagine I would see a book diorama of Roving Pack!!! Check this out!!!

While Michelle has been making this Roving Pack diorama she’s also been fighting a battle against cancer. She and her support team are trying to raise $5,000 to help with the numerous expenses that incur when someone has a medical emergency like this. I want to share this with Roving Pack readers because I believe in the power of community. My hope is that some of you will be able to chip in $1, $5, $10, $20 whatever you can to help support this amazing member of our queer community during a very difficult time.

May 132013
 

It’s been quite a weekend!  As I reminded folks on Facebook and Twitter this weekend,  for many queers, Mother’s Day is filled with lots of pain and longing and anger and fear and just about any other emotion far from happiness you can come up with. It’s a tricky time for many queer folks and each year to varying degrees I consider myself among them. This year, much to my own surprise was for whatever reason, one of the harder years.  I spent a lot of the day practicing self care and staying far away from the onslaught of messaging about the wonder and beauty and love of mothers hat not only has been permitting the mass media but even my really really queer Facebook feed. Early in the morning I ended up posting “Stopped looking @ FB this morning because it’s all Mother’s Day. if today is a good day for you, then I’m happy for that. But please, remember that for MUCH of your Queer community, today is not something to celebrate. #KickedOut #FamlyViolence” For me creating distance from everyone celebrating was a really great form of self care, and enabled me to move on with my day doing other things, things that made me feel good about myself, my life, and the family that I’ve built. Its “holidays” like this, the ones that unlike Christmas and Easter and Halloween  etc. (which y’all know I’m bananas about) I haven’t reclaimed  and made part of my family, are the trickiest ones for me to personally navigate, but they also  make me think most of Kicked Out.  The contributors to Kicked Out remain some of the most incredible people I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with, and I’ll never be anything less than shocked and impressed by the work that all the contributes did to create space within our communities to talk, for the first time in a book about what it meant to not have family- to have been kicked out, thrown out, or ran away.

here we were!

The highlight of my weekend was having the chance to speak at the Oregon Queer Youth Summit!  I wrote a little about the event when I first was invited, specifically about what queer youth organizing in Oregon had meant to me, how I’d been involved in planning the very first OQYS, and what a tremendous honor it was to have been asked to return now ten years later and deliver the keynote!!! There were over 200 youth registered to attend this year, and even via SKYPE (we all live in the future! How cool is that?!) I could feel what a warm, excited, and enthusiastic group of youth I was getting the chance to meet!

My keynote address was a spinoff of the speech I give called “Nobody loves you. Now What?”  which while a bit about the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness, is more than anything about building chosen queer families, and the importance of telling your story, whatever story that is.  Supporting the creation of chosen family, is a topic that is central to not only my own life, but also all the work and one of the constant themes that runs through my three books, as well as the future books that I’ve started working on.  It was such a  tremendous honor to have the chance to go back to Oregon and SMYRC, the places where I first learned to build family, and talk about these themes with the youth of today!

After I spoke we did a Q&A and the youth asked lots of really awesome questions which was exciting, they wanted to know everything from what my chest tattoo says and means — which brought on a story about Portland, and SMYRC and the work we did with Kate Bornstein through “The Language of Paradox” performance/writing group which changed my entire outlook on art, creativity and my place within those worlds (a whole different blog post I probably should write sometime soon : ) ) to how long Kestryl and I have been together (9 years), how to stop LGBTQ youth homelessness, and one of my favorites – am I excited about coming back to SMYRC to be part of the book/writing group?  The answer obviously being OMG YES!!!!  SMYRC is in the process of purchasing a bulk order of Roving Pack which the youth involved in the book club are going to be reading, discussing, and then I’ll be using SKYPE to visit with them and have a conversation about the novel!  I think that’s going to be happening sometime this summer and will definitely be blogging about the experience!

I’m incredibly grateful to Cascade AIDS Project, SMYRC, The Q Center and all the volunteers in Portland that made OQYS posible this year, and who brought the technology together to enable me to participate!

 

 

Apr 102013
 
The Spring/Summer of Make/Shift magaxine is hitting news stands which is always exciting, but extra so this year for me because it includes a review of Roving Pack!!!!!
When you get your copy check out pg 50-51 to see the amazingly wonderful things the magazine felt about the novel. Here’s a little sneak peek:

“The descriptions of peer pressure,policing around transitioning, and social isolation were particularly terrifying ot read because they are absolutely true, and rarely articulated in such a vulnerable way. The last page of the book made the entire book dangerously relevant and especially necessary to read.”

It’s so amazing to read reviews of the book where it’s clear that the reviewer connected to the story and got the deeper themes embedded within the tangled story lines. As always the mafazine features lots if really important and interesting articles, analyses so support independent media and pick up your own copy!
Apr 052013
 
It’s a little hard to believe that six months ago Roving Pack released- it’s been quite a wild ride and those few months have passed really quickly. It seems like only a few weeks ago my living room was filled with piles of books, envelopes and one inch buttons as I sent out all the pre-ordered copies of the book, or packing as many copies as could fit into my suitcases for the huge European tour/release of the novel. The ways in which communities have responded to Roving Pack has truly been a shock to me. Just about every week I’ve received letters from readers talking about how they have connected to the novel, and what it has meant to them on a personal level.  Readers have told me that for the first time they have been able to see themselves and their world reflected back to them on the page, readers have called it their stone butch blues, used excerpts in collaring ceremonies, had crushes on characters, and utilized the book to start conversations with their partner(s), friends and communities.  

 

A couple of weeks ago I got a bit of an unusual reader letter from someone who struggled to connect to the novel. They wrote about how they had been really excited to pre order a copy and then when they started reading they found the novel off putting, challenging and frustrating. The reader spoke about how they waited to see others in the community having similar responses and how confused they were when Roving Pack began receiving so many positive reviews and feedback from within the community. The letter was really nuanced and the reader talked about how in the months since the release they had finally understood Roving Pack and wanted to share the process with them. They wrote about having most personally identified with the GSA kids/high school students that are privately background characters disliked by the main pack. They wrote about how Roving Pack had really challenged them to reevaluate privileges and in the end came away from a private reexamination of the novel recognizing that it’s strengths were about the underground communities it most deeply speaks to, the ways in which they were able to better understand people in their community who felt solace and connection to the book, and what that means/how they had come to see that as being important, even if on first read the content and style – which are native tongue to some of us (though not this reader) at first felt off-putting.

 

I think that the most incredible gift a reader can give to an author is to find connection with a book, and to share a glimpse into what that connection feels like. Honestly, I can’t believe how intensely incredible Roving Packs readers have been. When I began working on Roving Pack I knew it was a niche market book, a dangerous, messy book that might not win awards, but regardless needed to be written. I just had no way of knowing how many people who hungered for these themes and stories to come to life on the page.

 

It’s humbling and incredible to witness some of these conversations, and to be lucky enough to have readers who at times invite me into their conversation as they think about the themes and characters of Roving Pack. Beyond thrilling was to see Roving Pack get listed as a top book for LGBTQ youth by the American Library Association and to see in black/white the way that has translated into the novel appearing on the shelves in libraries around the country, where I hope the folks who need this book will be able to connect to it.

 

Whenever I sit down to write, I always think about he kinds of books that I needed, the kind of books that I still want.  Those are the stories I try to write. Now with Roving Pack fully birthed into the world I have begun working on my next novel Lost Boi (more on it, and the writing process in future blog posts).  However, Roving Pack is still newly born and I don’t want to neglect it in anyway.  Right now I’m preparing to get back on the road a little bit this spring. I haven’t toured since we got back from Europe, and prior to that I’d been in serious writing mode for the last year and a half and not really touring.  This month I’ll be at the University of Florida – Tallahassee and then doing a reading with the incredible Amber Dawn here in NYC called “How Storytelling Saved our Lives.”   After that I’ll be home for a few weeks, delivering the keynote via SKYPE for the Oregon Queer Youth Summit, and then hitting the road again for New Orleans to be part of the 10th annual Saints & Sinners Literary Festival. I’m thrilled to be part of the programming, and beside myself with excitement to have the chance to take a master class with one of my greatest literary inspirations: Dorothy Allison!   I’m really excited to be getting back out into communities – meeting new queers and getting the chance to learn about the incredible work/art/activism they are doing, and to find the beautiful places where our lives/stories/work intersect.

 

This was a novel that had me in a chokehold and refused to let me go until it was written and out in the world.  It was such a shift from my previous work and I was very cautiously concerned to see how people would respond to these new themes and textures, both in terms of literary style, as well as content of my work. I’m so grateful for my literary support networks that encouraged me to edge play with writing Roving Pack, and not worry about what might be controversial theme.  It’s been both thrilling, and creatively inspiring to realize that it was exactly those same things I was worried about which resulted in Roving Pack being a book that so many readers have had highly intense and personal relationships to. It’s been a wild ride these past six months; I can’t wait to continue sharing Roving Pack with communities around the world, and to be part of the conversations it continues to ignite…..

Mar 252013
 


In the past couple of years I’ve been lucky enough to experience many aspects of my life coming full circle. Call it Saturn return, or fate, or luck, or plain ol’ coincidence but it’s been really profound to have connections and experiences that circle back to my past. Writing and then releasing both Kicked Out and more recently and in some ways especially Roving Pack played huge roles in having the opportunity to witness things coming full circle in my life.  I have just accepted the invitation to deliver the Keynote at the 2013 Oregon Queer Youth Summit, which is organized by SMYRC – the youth center where I grew up.

When I was 17, newly out, and newly homeless I heard about SMYRC for the first time.  I was the acting president of my semi-rural high school’s first GSA and I was desperate for any kind of queer community. I had been attending meetings of COSMYC, which was the rural outreach program that came into my county to create a safe-ish place for us to meet. Mostly we met in downtown Milwaukie by the bus depot. We’d sit in a coffee shop and talk, work on zines, there was one time that a group of skinheads chased us away, but on the whole we were pretty safe.  The small handful of other youth who went to these meetings were TERRIFIED of ever coming out in our county, I didn’t blame them – I was the living example of what happens when you did. I felt even more alone, even more stuck and hopeless in that county and I had to get out. I knew that there must be out queer people in Portland (I had no idea how right I was about to be). I’d been staying with a friend from school and his supportive parents since being kicked out the last time, but I couldn’t stand being in Clackamas anymore.

I looked at ad listings for rooms in the newspaper and started calling anything and asking if they would rent to a minor, who had a retraining order against their parents. I figured I better put it all right on the table. Finally I found a hippy couple with gay upstairs neighbors willing to rent the basement room to me. It didn’t have a door, just a steep unfinished stairwell, and tiny windows right at ground level. It was a horrible little room, but they didn’t care I was 17, and it was walking distance to SMYRC.  SMYRC- the sexual minority youth recreation center, which funded COSMYC but where I’d never been for drop-in programming, but I knew from everything I’d been told was the only place that might find others folks a little bit like me.  I had no way have knowing I would find what would become my first loving and accepting home.

SMYRC literally raised me, and saved me up. I’m where I am today because of the connections and relationships I made at SMYRC, and because of the skills I developed there as a member of the youth steering committee, and as a bridge 13 community trainer.  SMYRC is where I learned how to be a community organizer and an activist, not in any classroom. SMYRC is where I gained the confidence to call myself a writer and created the space for me to seriously begin the journey to where I am today. Whenever I meet people who start talking about the great friendships/relationships/experiences they had in high school or college, I think of SMYRC.  While I had those educational experiences, neither of them defined me in the way that SMYRC did, and still does.  It was the first place where I met other homeless youth, and together we built families that exist to this day. SMYRC was not your average youth center, it is where I learned about BDSM/Leather and learned about the kind of relationship dynamics that were possible.

In 2003 I was part of the organizing of the very first Oregon Queer Youth Summit.  I’d been living on my own for over a year and felt solid as a youth organizer and leader in that space. I remember that I  co-led a zine making workshop for other youth, and remembering how alone and isolated I’d felt out in Clackamas County, was thrilled at the idea the summit could be bringing youth together from across Oregon.  This photo was actually taken in that workshop at the very first OQYS.

SMYRC has changed a lot over the years, they’ve physically moved twice and all the staff that were there have moved on (to other incredible projects- I feel so blessed to call most of them friends now).  I haven’t done a lot with SMYRC, and had no idea that anyone there would have any clue who I was, or that I’d ever been a SMYRCer. Imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago I got an email from current staff inviting me to deliver the KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT THE 2013 OREGON QUEER YOUTH SUMMIT! There were travel and scheduling issues, but thanks to the magic of the internet and SKYPE technology I was able to accept the invitation and will be digitally delivering the keynote, and doing a Q&A with the youth in attendance.

Writing has given me so many opportunities that as a SMYRC youth I never imagined were possible – I’ve toured the country, won awards, toured Europe and had the chance everywhere I’ve been to connect with queers of all ages and yet I cannot even begin to explain how excited I am to be going back home, and to be invited to deliver the keynote, for a conference that in a small part I helped to start.

Equally exciting – and incredibly nerve wracking I’ve learned that the SMYRC writing group is going to be having a book club, and they are READING ROVING PACK!!!!!  I’ve been in touch with one of the youth organizers and it sounds like folks are all really excited to read the novel.  I’m going to be using SKYPE to visit with them, answer questions, and be part of their conversation when they finish reading!!!  Roving Pack is fiction, but in many ways it is inspired by experiences that I had growing up at a punk and youth led queer youth center, the experiences that I had at the SMYRC that I came out into. I’m nervous and cannot wait to visit with the first book group (that I know of) to be reading Roving Pack, and to have it be a youth group at SMYRC? Wow.  I don’t even know how to put into words how amazing this is— cannot wait to hear what they think of it.

 

 

Jan 302013
 

The life of an author is incredibly glamorous. The night before the annual Rainbow Book List- created by the American Library Association to honor recommended LGBTQ books for youth had released I was cleaning up puke and diarrhea from my very old and incredibly beloved little dog (who may or may not be the visual inspiration for the dog on the cover of Roving Pack). I was up again with him at 4am  and so was somewhat groggy when morning actually came and I turned on my computer. I had to rub my eyes a few times when I saw that the annual Rainbow Book List was up….and Roving Pack was on it.

When I first saw the list was up, I was sure that my book wouldn’t be on it.  I say that not out of some kind of self-deprecating lack of confidence in myself, or my writing, but simply because of what sort of list it is, and what kind of book Roving Pack became. Very early in the writing process I was told Roving Pack would not a book for youth. As I was writing I thought a lot about the kind of books I so desperately needed as a queer youth struggling with homelessness, community, gender, and creating family etc. Staying present in that space I endeavored in part, to write the book I would have wanted and needed then. At the same time, I understood that the rules that govern appropriate content for YA fiction and knew they likely could not be bent enough to include a book like this… until they were.

When I was approaching publishers I didn’t pitch Roving Pack as a YA book – both because I wanted to market Roving Pack to an adult readership, and in part because its content especially around gender and leather is more than a little edgy. Thus perhaps you can imagine my surprise when about 5 months ago I was notified that Roving Pack had been nominated by a librarian, for inclusion on The Rainbow Book List. Even as I sent off the requested number of books to the review, I was certain it was for nothing. I think I’m still in shock that we made the list.

A couple of years ago Sherman Alexi wrote an essay Why The Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood and I found myself so drawn to as I was working on finishing Roving Pack. I was thinking a lot at that time about the need for tender brutality in the story, and how important that gritty palpable pain was to the characters I was writing into being, and how important it was to me too. My favorite line from his essay was:

“I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing everyday and epic dangers. I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed.”

Goddamn if that line didn’t slay me. I write because I have to because there are stories that won’t let me do anything but write them. But I also write in an attempt at creating the books I needed when I was a messy youth trying to make sense of myself and the world I found myself in. it’s fucking hard to be a youth. Roving Pack isn’t a sweet community of age book– it’s brutal and raw, and everything I remember about being a teenager. I write raw and dirty stories with messy protagonists, because that’s the reality of the worlds that raised me up. Youth don’t need us as queer adults, as queer authors to sugar coat the brutality of the world that they try to survive in. Never once have I told a youth “it gets better.” That now popular line makes me think back to being a seventeen-year-old homeless queer teenager who on top of loosing my family was verbally and physical assaulted in my high school on a regular basis. It was the “It will get better once you graduate’ messages that made me want to kill myself. I was working on trying to figure out how I was going to get through that day, then I would go to sleep, wake up and try to figure out how I was going to get through the next day. Tell me that months, or years down the line ‘it would get better’ hit every one of my bullshit detectors. For me, and every other queer kid I knew, seeing that far into the future was a privilege we didn’t have.

I would never call myself a YA author in that I don’t write only for youth, however as I write it is my hope that somehow something I write will help hope is that somehow something I write will help at least one queer youth or adult to feel less alone.   I write the stories that I needed, the stories that reflect the worlds that as a youth I called home. Me and my people, weren’t clean, polite, or pretty to look at and * that’s * the world I want to bring to life on the page.

When the news hit yesterday that Roving Pack had made the rainbow book list an old friend (who I’ve known since I was a teenager) shared the exciting news in her facebook and said:

“I can’t imagine how different things might have been if a book like Roving Pack had been in my HS’ library… I wish we could send copies back to younger selves and be like “there will even be literature that is both recognized AND honest about all of this”
Roving Pack is my gift back. A kind of memorial to a gutter punk queer youth world that in some way comes live every time someone opens one of its 358 pages. When I was in high school started my high schools first GSA and was threatened with violence daily in the halls of my hs. I was kicked out of home; I lost my family and community and read a hidden battered copy of Am I Blue? hiding it under my mattress and them shoved it into my backpack when I left home that final time. That book was important to me simply because it existed and was the first time I’d seen anything “gay” in print, but still I couldn’t see myself or the queer world I was starting to find  in those pages. Kicked Out and now Roving Pack are my attempt at giving back- to reflect the world I knew in hopes that somehow these stories get into the hands of folks who need them most.

Three days after I was kicked out I went to my public library looking at every book shelved under “homosexual ” looking for advice on how to live through the experience of loosing home/family/everything in order to be queer. I didn’t find the answers I was looking for, what I left that day with was a commitment to make those answers for those that would follow. To have Roving Pack appear on the Rainbow Book list means so much to me in part because I know that it will help it get onto the shelves of libraries and somewhere someone