queer fiction

10 Queer Authors You Need To Follow Immediately

This year during Pride Month take some time to support the work of talented queer authors. As time goes on, more and more queer authors are getting published in both fiction and non-fiction. What is so amazing about this is that queer voices are being heard more often across the media, which means queerness in culture is getting more normalized as time goes on.

I’ve been out and proud since college -- though I am embarrassed now that it took so long for me to figure it out. I grew up around LGBT individuals and couples and I cultivated my love of writing because of male/male fanfiction. Once I finally understood that I was bisexual, I was obsessed with finding books about queer characters, and it was a challenge.

There are some amazing resources out there to help you find fantastic novels featuring queer characters, but I wanted to find queer authors who are writing about queer characters.

These are some of the amazing queer authors that I’ve found. I tried to focus on finding modern LGBTQ authors who are still regularly producing content so you can support their work as they write more amazing books.

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Author 1: Malinda Lo

If you’re like me, you probably heard of Malinda Lo because of her lesbian re-telling of Cinderella. Taking a problematic tale and flipping it to make it not only a story of a female hero, but a queer hero, is enough to snag anyone’s attention. Malinda Lo has several other YA fantasy novels, including one that was published just a few months ago.

Malinda Lo also researches diversity in YA. She’s a proud Asian author who posts regular social commentary on topics revolving around diversity.

Genre: YA Fantasy
Popular Work: Ash

Author 2: Sarah Waters

This author writes about events set during Victorian times with lesbian themes. That’s something you simply don’t see very often. She spends a lot of time doing research for her work, creating a vivid setting that feels completely realistic. I may be a bit biased because I love the Victorian period, but she’s written about other time periods as well.

She’s not published anything new in the past couple of years, but you should definitely check out her old work and keep your eyes peeled for new releases.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Popular Work: Tipping The Velvet

Author 3: CB Lee

If you are looking for diversity in the books you read, this is a queer author you need to check out. Her work features characters who are: bisexual, transgender, Hispanic, Chinese -- and that’s just the start! But her most popular work doesn’t focus on this diversity specifically, because the characters are too busy having superpowers.

Her books are the kind of stories I was looking for when I was a teenager. Keep an eye on her work; she’s not going away anytime soon.

Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Popular Work: Not Your Sidekick

Author 4: Saleen Haddad

I’ve not read this author yet, but I am so excited to. He plays with the role shame has in the life of a gay Arab man in his debut novel, which takes place in an unspecified Arab country after a failed political uprising. This is a unique perspective when it comes to queer stories and I’m really eager to see what this author has to say.

This is his first novel and he doesn’t come from a writing background, so I’m not sure if he plans to keep writing. Either way, his voice is one to listen to!

Genre: Literary Fiction
Popular Work: Guapa

Author 5: David Levithan

David Levithan is pretty well known in the LGBTQ fiction scene, and for good reason; he’s been publishing books featuring strong, gay characters for over a decade. As a teenager he was one of the only authors I could reliably find publishing YA with queer characters in my local library. He’s still writing so keep an eye out for his work.

He also has done collaborations which are worth checking out as well.

Genre: YA
Popular Work:  Every Day

Author 6: Sara Farizan

I cannot talk enough about this author. If You Could Be Mine isn’t just a story about two women falling in love, it’s a story about two women falling for each other in Iran. I was so excited to discover a novel that focuses on a part of the world we rarely get to see in Western media. The cover art for her new book was just announced, which focuses on the topic of race in high school.

She also has a second novel, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel already published. If you like diversity and YA fiction I highly recommend you look into her work. Immediately.

Genre: YA
Popular Work: If You Could Be Mine

Author 7: Charlie Jane Anders

This author and advocate wrote the award-winning speculative fiction novel All the Birds in the Sky. This is a story that combines magic, technology, and the apocalypse all into one book. She’s also organized a lot of events that are aimed at the queer community. She’s still writing and her newest work should be coming out next year.

I feel as though trans individuals are highly underrepresented, so I’m excited that someone so proud and vocal is getting published.

Genre: Speculative Fiction
Popular Work: All the Birds in the Sky

Author 8: C Alexander London

This man has written across a huge range of genres, so you’ll probably find something you like by him. I’m not kidding. He’s written YA, middle grade lit, picture books, and adult books. He’s a gay man writing gay characters into stories that didn’t used to have gay characters.

You can read this author’s work yourself, but also share his picture books with children. Like I said, he’s written something for everyone.

Genre: Everything
Popular Work: Proxy

Author 9: Chinelo Okapanta

This Nigerian-American author made a huge splash in the literary world and is proof that those who work in education can also publish amazing novels. I could list all the awards she’s been nominated for with her debut novel, but that would simply take up too much space.

She’s also published a lot of short stories and essays, which are worth checking out if you can find them.

Genre: Short Stories, Literary Fiction
Popular Work: Under the Udala Trees

Author 10: C.A. Higgins

C.A. Higgins is a relatively new author, which means she’s got many years ahead of her to keep publishing books. Her work is firmly written for sci-fi fans, dealing with both classic topics (space) and newer topics that have been gaining traction in fiction in recent years (AI). Also, she has a degree in physics, which gives her an edge over other science fiction authors.

To be fair, I’ve only seen her mention girl crushes in several interviews, so I’m not exactly sure where she fits under the queer umbrella, but she’s an author to watch!

Genre: Sci-Fi
Popular Work: Lightless

BONUS Author: April Presnell

Ok, so I’m not published yet and I don’t have any books out that you can read, but I’m getting close to finishing the first draft of FanFact, a story about a fangirl who finds herself in the “fictional” world of her favorite book series. She runs into Blane and Liam, the two boys she ships in the series, and gets tangled up in the plot of the third, not yet released book in the trilogy.

Every project I work on features queer characters, so stick around if you’re interested! I blog here weekly and send out the occasional email to email subscribers with exclusive content.

Genre: Fantasy
Popular Work: FanFact

You can read a preview of FanFact here:

FanFact Excerpt 1
FanFact Excerpt 2
Exclusive Short Story For Email Subscribers

Who is your favorite queer author? Let me know in the comments!

We Need More LGBT Representation in Fantasy

The fantasy genre has plenty of problems. Fantasy tropes can be so overused that they become comical, such as the idea of The Chosen One or the stereotypical races such as elves and dwarfs. Many fantasy novels struggle to break barriers and create something that is truly original within the genre.

I don’t even want to start writing about how women are treated in fantasy novels. There’s some amazing, strong women protagonists out there, but too many stories use women as props, or use them just for a romantic storyline.

And I cannot tell you how sick I am of reading a summary of a novel that sounds amazing when the line “and then she met a mysterious man” pops up. It’s enough to make me put the novel back about 95% of the time.

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When it comes to queer representation in fantasy, you see a couple of things (listed in order from most common to least common).

  1. There is no mention of queerness at all. Like, AT ALL.

  2. There’s a queer side character, but they’re mostly just there.

  3. There’s a queer character who has their sexuality explored, usually in a coming out subplot.

  4. There are queer characters and they just are.

I’ve written about queerbaiting before and when it comes to shipping, I can have a lot of fun with it, but that doesn’t give people the excuse to constantly write it without ever creating a queer character.

In fantasy, characters fall in love with robots. Through time travel, they fall in love with their own children. They travel across dimensions, sleep with characters that aren’t human, and fight armies off, entirely on their own.

So why exactly is it so hard to get some decent queer characters?

Of course there has been progress. A lot of media has introduced queer characters in recent years, and there are some amazing fantasy books out there that feature LGBT characters.

But in this day and age we still see a lot of media that shys away from having a protagonist, or even simply a main character, who is queer because they don’t want to be seen as “that kind of media”.

What kind of media? Because I can tell you, us queer people are tired of queer stories being all about us being queer. I want more queer stories where sexuality simply is. There are plenty of books out there about coming out, and that’s great, but we need more books where being gay isn’t a plotpoint. Our entire existence isn’t about being queer, and we need characters that reflect that.

And don’t get me started on the bury your gays trope. It makes me too angry. Too often we get amazing queer characters that are quickly killed off. And yes, in fantasy a lot of characters die, but queer characters die a lot and it has created an association between queerness and tragedy. For a long time growing up I would Google queer media before consuming it because I was tired of watching people I related to die.

Fantasy is all about exploration. In fantasy novels we explore new worlds, new races, new societies, and new ideas. If we can explore topics like that we should be able to explore sexuality and gender.

And no, you can’t say a character is gay after the book series is over with no references to it in the text. You can’t tell me across the entire wizarding world and all of Hogwarts that we couldn’t make space for a single queer character. And now, Dumbledore’s sexuality will not be explored in the Fantastic Beasts movies. Plus The Cursed Child had its own queerbaiting, and it sucks that a series I love so much has such a blatant problem.

When I think about queer representation in the media and in books, fantasy is falling behind. And though there are some great queer characters out there, none of the Big series seem to have any. Look at Avengers. With so many characters don’t you think at least someone would fall under the queer umbrella?

I don’t buy the idea that commercial book publishing won’t take queer characters. Sure, marketing a book about coming out in this day and age may be a bit tougher, but there’s no reason for a publishing house to reject a book just because a character is queer. Plenty of straight people will still read it and with more queer visibility and the demand for queer visibility, this argument doesn’t make as much sense to me as it would have a decade or two ago.

We need more queer representation in fantasy novels, especially in YA fiction. It’s not only that queer people want to see themselves represented. We want everyone to acknowledge that we exist, and that we have something to offer besides tropes and coming-of-age plots. Queer people are just people, and more of them need to be seen in this genre.

Visibility is so important for so many reasons. I want more bisexual characters. I want more ace characters. What about trans stories that don’t focus on the story of being trans? The LGBT community is huge. We shouldn’t still be fighting to get noticed in the media.

I can’t imagine I’ll ever write a novel without queer characters. I’m bisexual, I have a wife, and most of my friends are under the queer umbrella. Frankly seeing nothing but hetersoxuality in novels is jarring to me, simply because I am so used to seeing queer people in everyday life.

This month I’m participating in #LGBTWIP and you can find tons of amazing authors working on projects that feature queer characters. Our voices are getting out there more than ever, and I can’t wait to see what the future of the fantasy genre looks like with people like us in it.

Resources:

Autostraddle
The Illustrated Page
Queerly Reads
We Need Diverse Books
LGBTQ Reads
Geeks OUT
Lesbrary

Have any queer fantasy book recommendations? Let me know in the comments!