Interview with Author Claire Kann

Claire Kann is the author of several novels and an award-winning online storyteller. In her other life she works for a non-profit you may have heard of where she daydreams like she’s paid to do it. She loves cats and is obsessed with horror media (which makes the whole being known for writing contemporary love stories a little weird, tbh).

I had the opportunity to interview Claire, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?


Hi! Hello! I’m Claire Kann, the author of quite a few novels now, including the forthcoming THE ROMANTIC AGENDA (preorder today!). I enjoy watching YouTube essays for hours on end, reading horror novels, and spending time with my cat. 

When and how did you realize you were first interested in writing, and what drew you specifically to Young Adult Fiction and your upcoming Adult Romance?

Well… I haven’t told this story in quite some time so here we go:

Once upon a time… just kidding. 

As a kid/teenager, I was a voracious reader but it never occurred to me that I could also be an author. I thought being an author was something that was only available to other people who were not me. Which is silly. I know. I dabbled with writing poetry for a while, but nothing really stuck.

Fast forward to my college years. I attended right after high school, realized I wasn’t emotionally ready for the dorm environment, and dropped out after a semester. I spent the next few years reading, working, and hanging out with my friends–just normal growing up stuff and really enjoying life as a soon-to-be adult with a lot of hard lessons to learn.

Finally, I decided I was ready… It was time for me to go back to school. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in yet, but I knew I wanted to do something that would lead to a better paying job. To get started, I signed up for general education classes and chose creative writing as one of my electives.

And then everything changed, when the Fire Nation attacked.

The Fire Nation being my fellow students in my creative writing class. I wrote my very first original short story for a workshop and the response was so overwhelmingly positive I started crying. I remember walking to my car and thinking, “This is it. This is what I’m supposed to do. I’m going to be a writer.” I changed my major the next day. 

At that time, I was still a young adult so that’s where I got started–write what you know, and all that. Now, there isn’t really a specific special something that compels me to write one age group over another. I come up with an idea, and the characters who populate the story tell me who they are. I let my agent/marketing decide what it should be classified as. 

How would you describe your writing process? What inspires you to write and keep on writing?

My writing process is both chaotic and repetitive as all get out. There’s a saying “writing is rewriting” which my creative brain took to heart. I always start with a rough outline and create a draft from that, often writing scenes out of order, huge chunks of dialogue, and info dumps galore. I just need to get everything out of my head first. From that draft, I create a new outline and rewrite the entire thing. Twice, if needed.

Usually after that third pass, my manuscripts are good to go. I send them to my editor or agent or critique partners for feedback. Then with their notes I revise, revise, revise…

While I’m drafting I like to have some coffee, crunchy foods like carrots or chips, and music playing. Music is a huge part of my process. 

These days, apart from my contracts, I’m not sure what inspires me to keep writing. It’s actually something I’ve been focusing on finding an answer to for the past year. I think because I started writing after receiving such instrumental positive feedback, I’m always striving for that experience again… which is… not smart. The internet doesn’t care about your feelings and will hurt them in ways you can’t even imagine. I’ve had to learn to disconnect my inspiration, the elation I feel from sharing my writing, from the reader’s response to my work.

I do love writing, though. I don’t think I could ever give that up, its hooks have latched onto my soul, but whether or not I continue to seek publication is another story.

Within the literary community, you’re known for your books featuring asexual representation, including Let’s Talk About Love and your upcoming ace romance, The Romantic Agenda. Just wanted to give a brief thanks for that! Where did you find the inspiration for those stories?

The stories began because both main characters just appeared in my head.

I knew who Alice, the protagonist of LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE, was almost immediately because she screamed a lot–she’s very excitable and chaotic. When I asked her what kind of story she wanted, we went through a few plots I had in my idea bank but she ended up telling me she wanted a romance. I paired her with Takumi, and there was zero chemistry. None. Zilch. The story wasn’t working at all. I wasn’t sure why so I did some character interviews, some research, and what do you know… she’s asexual. It was one of the biggest “AHA! Oh, wait… oh shit” moments of my life. I remember, in startling, visceral detail, exactly how I felt right then. (I often have to throw out a disclaimer here: LTAL is not autobiographical or even auto-fiction. Alice and I land on different spots on the spectrum, something I did on purpose.)

For Joy, the protagonist for THE ROMANTIC AGENDA, it was a bit easier. My agent asked if I would be interested in writing an ace romcom and I said, “I can try!” I knew I wanted to write an older ace character who had almost everything figured out. Joy appeared and was up for the task. Plot wise, I decided on a mashup between the movies The Great Outdoors and My Best Friend’s Wedding. Personally, I don’t see the end result as a romcom. I’d rather call it a contemporary love story.

Looking from your book, it is obvious you are a fan of romance and cute and fluffy content. What draws you in about writing romance?

More than anything else I’m a character driven writer. I do what they want. I tell their stories.

Because my focus lies so heavily with my characters, it’s only natural that their chosen supporting casts have a great impact on who they are, who they become, and why. Those relationships (whether they be romantic, platonic, familial) determine how the story plays out. Labels are decided by marketing–I revise to match genre conventions based on what the primary perception is (if I agree it fits the overall heart of the story, of course).

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing or consuming in your free time?

I love listening to music and spend a lot of my time watching YouTube. This year one of my goals is to focus on reading more. I really want to push beyond my comfort zone by reading things I think I won’t like. 

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet, but wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

Oh, this is a difficult one. I’m a notoriously private person, so I don’t like being asked questions. But in the spirit of sharing…

What’s my favorite color and why? 

Purple because a long, long time ago Howie D. from the Backstreet Boys said it was his favorite so it had to be my favorite. I also love forest green. 

What advice would you have to give for other aspiring writers?

Hmm. I truly believe that all the writing advice that could ever be given can already be found on the internet. There’s no such thing as an inspiring writer. If you write, you’re a writer.

But if you’re an aspiring author, as in you are seeking publication, actively or someday,  I’m going to use a quote from ACROSS THE GREEN GRASS FIELDS by Seanan McGuire, from her Wayward Children which series I heartily recommend reading: 

“Be Sure.”

Are there other projects you are currently working on and at liberty to discuss?

I am indeed working on other projects! I wish I could talk about them because I’m really excited about what’s coming up next! But alas! I cannot!

Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/authors would you commend to the readers of Geeks OUT?


RISE TO THE SUN by Leah Johnson

THIS POISON HEART by Kaylnn Bayron


Geeks OUT Creator Spotlight: Amy Chu

Chris Allo here for our first creator spotlight of the New Year. Myself and Greg Silber had the opportunity to speak with comics writer, Amy Chu, at last year’s New York Comic Con. Amy is a Korean-American and an advocate for women and Asians in comics. She’s also one of our favorite allies!

Amy is a self-starting Harvard graduate who formed her own company, Alpha Girl Comics, in 2010 with her friend, Georgia Lee. They felt there was a severe lack of female voices in the comic book industry at the time and wrote several stories for the Girls Night Out anthology series which they also published!

Amy has worked steadily over the past 12 years with projects at Marvel, Valiant, DC, Dynamite and more. She has a fantastic run on Red Sonja for Dynamite Entertainment and wrote Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death with artist Clay Mann. She currently has several projects with Archie Comics.

Greg Silber: When did your interest in comics begin? What was your first comic book? What was the thing that got you into comics?

Amy Chu: I think my journey is very atypical. I don’t remember the first comic I read. It was probably an Archie, honestly. You know I didn’t get into comics until much later, right?

GS: Right.

AC: It wasn’t my lifelong dream or anything. The most interesting comics I was reading were when I was at MIT. MIT… had this long box, and I was reading through the long box and thought “cool” because they weren’t superhero comics. They were other things. It was Elfquest, it was John Sable, stuff like that. What I realized was “comics are actually multigenre.” After many years I was hanging out with one of my friends who wanted to start in comics. I remembered the comics I read and thought “you know what, I can do this. I know a little about comics, you know?”

GS: What are the positives of working for other companies as opposed to working for yourself? What do you like about working for those different companies?

AC: Of course working for Marvel and DC, there’s added validation, especially if you’re a fan of that particular universe or character. Doing Poison Ivy is an honor. Doing Wonder Woman is an honor. And let’s face it, you get paid doing that. When you’re working for yourself, you don’t get paid! Cash flow, right? But absolutely if you’re starting out, you’ve gotta self publish. You’re not going to get work from Marvel or DC otherwise, unless you’re like Darryl McDaniels and already a rapper with a massive fanbase. You don’t get that choice. You don’t get the luxury to say “what do you prefer?” It’s a professional luxury to say that.

“Girls Night Out,” Alpha Girl Comics

GS: In terms of projects like work-for-hire, what kind of projects or content do you really like writing? What are some of the projects you’ve worked on that really satisfied you as a writer?

AC: That’s such a broad question. I do like to take underdeveloped characters and give them more agency. I do think it’s ridiculous that there are so many characters, especially female characters and characters of color, that really have been given the short shrift. But I don’t like it if I am basically pigeon-holed in that space. Obviously, I like to write Batman and Superman! But everyone does, and I get a big thrill out of giving my take on certain characters, and when people like my take on it.

GS: Are there any creators lately that inspire you? Or contemporaries working now?

AC: I mean, anyone working in comics is inspiring, because it is a bear! You’ve gotta have a lot of grit and perseverance to make it in this business. Anyone who’s still around, honestly, is an inspiration. I love Sean Von Gorman. He almost sold out of his new book here. That is just like, super perseverance.

GS: Especially in a year like this.

AC: Yeah, there’s a lot to be said for people who are just original, and doing it. Jim Mahfood… let me do a special callout to Jim Mahfood, who was so special because I brought my entire Kubert School class over, and he didn’t even bat an eye. He was so great with them, trying to be inspiring but also telling it like it is. He’s been doing it for 20 years, and he’s trying to do his own vision: making his comics, writing, and lettering, and doing the whole thing. And you know how it is: you can do things, and get the paycheck like I do, and he has a very specific creative vision that he fights for and does. To be able to do that and tell my students what’s going on, I really respect that and like that.

GS: As someone who works in mainstream comics, what do you think the future of LGBTQ representation looks like there?

Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death, DC Entertainment.

AC: Oh, I think it’s great! I mean, there’s obviously room… the thing that annoys me of course is tokenization. I’d like to get to a point where all stories are all valid and represented well, rather than being like “oh, this is the LGBTQ story.” It should be taken for granted. You know what I’m saying? All stories should be mainstream. We should not be like “oh this character’s this or that.” All characters should be represented. And I also like to think that all the stories are equally well-developed. We are in this weird time where there are certain stories that… look, I can say this as an incoming CBLDF member, that the very idea that there is pushback on some of these stories based on sexual orientation or that reference anything, is ridiculous. We still have, definitely, a ways to go. Especially some of the reactions to the trans community in particular, in terms of creators, is outrageous. Right? I think it’s intolerable. If people are not rallying around these stories and these creators, there’s something really wrong with this community. It shames me to see some of the actual creators having issues with this.

GS: Generally speaking, are there any specific types of projects or genres that you really like working on? What are some projects you’ve worked on that really satisfied you as an editor?

“Kizz: The End,” Dynamite Entertainment

AC: I don’t do too much editing except for myself, but if you know anything about me you know I like dabbling. I like all genres. I think everything is game and down for anything, and I don’t like getting into a rut creatively. Every once in a while I’m like “maybe I should do more horror?” That’s definitely something I look forward to. Maybe some more crime? Because I always tend to react when people are like “oh, women don’t do this,” that I find really annoying. You don’t think I can write true crime? I’ll show you!

GS: With horror it’s especially annoying, because a woman arguably wrote the first horror novel. And the whole sci fi genre!

AC: Yeah, let’s not be ridiculous. Let’s look at history. I’m actually doing some horror right now, with a female artist. So that’s quite exciting. There is a little bit of a fan reaction that’s like “oh, really? Let me go back to some of the original horror written by women.” So I think that’ll be fun.

GS: What are the challenges of working with licensed content? What are the perks of working with licensed content?

AC: Again, such a broad question. It’s really not as much about licensed content as the specific licensor. Some licensors are like “we love what you do. If we like what you do, go ahead.” Other licensors are like “no no no, I need to vet every single thing.” It’s really that. I think there’s this idea where some people think licensors are bad, don’t do licensed comics, it’s not right. But I do licensed comics because I’m a fan. Look, I did the X-Files because I’m an X-Files fan. Why wouldn’t I? It’s your choice. If you’re like “I only want to do my own stuff” than that’s your prerogative.

X-Files, IDW

GS: What lesson or advice would you give to aspiring writers and artists today? What do you wish you knew then that you know now when it comes to being a working artist in today’s industry?

AC: Finish what you start. Don’t get caught up in perfection. Get it done, and keep going. Look, I always say, if you have other options, do other things! You know? Because really, this is for people who are like, “I just can’t think of anything else.” If you wanna do this as a hobby, go ahead. Get it done. And then decide, do you want to do it again? Then you kind of know. I meet so many people who are like “I really want to make comics,” and I’m like “there’s nothing preventing you. Make your comics.” Get it out of the way. Get it out of your system. After that, if you want to make another comic, now you know. But this idea that you’ll be 60 years old and you’re still thinking “gosh, I wish I made a comic…” just do it!

GS: If you could pick your own project, like a mainstream thing, what would you want to work on?

Chilling Adventures in Sorcery,” Archie Comics

AC: Well that’s tough, because it’s not like I’m necessarily a fan of one specific character and I absolutely need to do that. I think the greatest challenge is doing a team book, and I think that’s particularly tough. I want to do X-Men, for example. Just because I think it’s technically very difficult. Also because I just gave Chris Claremont a sandwich! I’m thinking X-Men. And let’s be real. His stuff is amazing. There’s aspirational right there. I’d love to do Batman just to say I did Batman. How many women did Batman? Just Becky Cloonan, basically. 

GS: Is there anything new on the horizon? What’s your next project that you could talk about?

Rick and Morty,” Oni Press

AC: I have an Archie Horror: Jughead coming out next month. I think I can say I’m working with Karen Berger on something, but I won’t tell you what it is. I also have something coming out from Oni, but I don’t think I can say what it is. You can print it if they announce it [they did!]. It’s Rick and Morty.

GS: Thanks Amy, you can check out all of the latest news about Amy and her upcomig projects, here.

Gregory Paul Silber is a writer and editor with bylines at PanelxPanel, The Daily Dot, NeoText, Shelfdust and more. His humor column, “Silber Linings,” appears every Friday at The Comics Beat. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @GregSilber.”

The Geeks OUT Podcast: Give Peacemaker a Chance

The Geeks OUT Podcast

Opinions, reviews, incisive discussions of queer geek ideas in pop culture, and the particularly cutting brand of shade that you can only get from a couple of queer geeks all in highly digestible weekly doses.

In this week’s episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by Teri Yoshiuchi, as they discuss their thoughts on Peacemaker, get excited about all the Star Trek shows getting renewed & coming soon, and celebrate all the nominees for GLAAD Media Awards in This Week in Queer.



KEVIN: In an interview Joss Whedon shows his ass productions delayed due to Omicron

TERI:  Xbox is in talks to acquire Activision-Blizzard



KEVIN: Injustice, Scream, Peacemaker, Euphoria, Yellowjackets, Archive 81
TERI: The Witcher, Stay Close, Wheel of Time, D&D Wild Beyond the Witchlight



Reports seem to suggest Batgirl will feature DCEU’s first trans character



The GLAAD Media Award Nominations announced



Paramount+ announces premiere dates and renewals for Star Trek: Picard, Discovery, Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks and Prodigy plus a new trailer for Star Trek: Picard




• Netflix orders sequel to Chicken Run
• A sequel to A Christmas Story is officially happening
• Roku orders Weird Al biopic starring Daniel Radcliffe
• Disney developing a live-action adaptation of The Aristocats 
• Due to COVID Black Panther 2 production is paused after returning, but it looks like Winston Duke’s role is expanding considerably



• New trailer for Moon Knight
• AppleTV+ orders Monsterverse series based on Godzilla & King Kong movies
• New trailer for Severance
• The cast is revealed for Rupaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World 
• Sadly Y: The Last Man fails to secure a new home
• Netflix makes it official Squid Game is returning for at least a second season
• New teaser for Joe vs. Carole



• Marvel to release two ongoing Captain America books
• DC announces they’ll be killing the Justice League in April



• KEVIN: Steve & Sam & Bucky & John
• TERI: Captain America(s)

Interview with Author Preston Norton

Preston Norton is bisexual, slightly genderqueer, and married. His partner, Erin, is trying to put him on a diet, and he’s revolting (both contexts apply). He has taught seventh grade and ninth grade English, mentored drug addicts, and mowed lawns (in no particular order). He is obsessed with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Quentin Tarantino.

I had the opportunity to talk to Preston about his new book, Hopepunk, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to GeeksOUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m an environmental science teacher at a youth retreat facility where local private schools send their fifth graders to us for a week, and we teach them how to not fuck up the planet. (So, big Greta Thunberg fan, obviously.) When I’m not doing that, I’m writing. I’m also a nerd for lots of things: from high literature and pretentious, artsy cinema to dorky anime and video games. It’s less a question of “What am I a nerd for?” then “What am I not a nerd for?” What can I say? I like things.

How did you find yourself becoming a writer? What drew you to young adult fiction specifically?

I’ve wanted to write for about as long as I can remember. (I remember attempting to “write a novel” as early as eleven years old? I did not get far.) But the thing that draws me most to YA lit is voice, and how these young protagonists tend to feel a lot of things and very often. I am a thirty-six-year-old adult person, and it just so happens that I too feel a lot of things and very often, and I tend to get very voice-y about it. I don’t know what else to tell you other than YA lit and I tend to be a great fit together.  

What can you tell us about your upcoming book, Hopepunk? Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

It’s a story about rock and roll! And science fiction! And westerns! It’s also a story about social justice, and fighting for what you believe in. But at its deepest core, I think this story is about unapologetically being yourself. It’s about loving people and loving things. It’s about being a nerd, and being queer, and being a sister, and being a friend. But also punk rock! And sci-fi! And superhot cowboys, yee haw!

Hopepunk contains a strong music theme in its rocker elements. What music would you say you’ve gravitated to while writing this book and in general?

I mention a lot of songs and artists in the novel itself, and I don’t know that I would add any others to that already extensive list. But if you’re asking what I like generally, well: my favorite song of all time is “Wide Open” by Chemical Brothers, feat. Beck. My favorite artist of all time is Radiohead. (Favorites include “How to Disappear Completely,” “Reckoner,” and “Burn the Witch.”) My current passing musical obsession right now, which tends to fluctuate on a dime, is a tie between Superorganism (“Something for your M.I.N.D,” “Everybody Wants to Be Famous,” and “Hello Me & You”) and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (“Catching Smoke,” “Interior People,” and “If Not Now, Then When?”) Also, while I would not consider myself the most “metal” person in the world, I do have tickets with my partner and friends to see Tool this February. It’ll be the first concert I’ve been to since Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden toured together, back when Chris Cornell was still alive, may he RIP.

With that said…I issued an unofficial “contest” of sorts in an interview I gave to BookPage, and I would like to issue that same contest/challenge here. In Hopepunk, Hope Cassidy and the Sundance Kids perform a number of songs—completely original works of my own creation. However, I really struggled to write the third and final song, and as such, sort of cheated and had to use a pre existing song as a model for writing it, from the lyrical beats and the time signature down to the tune that you do not hear but was very present in my head. The first reader who calls me out on Twitter (aka, tag me) with the song I used as a crutch, I will use your name (or a name you give me) and give it to a minor character in my next book. The contest begins NOW!

An interesting part about the book was discussing the ripple effects of homophobia, how it not only affects the queer characters in this book but also those who love them, as it does the titular protagonist who initially loses her sister because of it. Would you mind speaking about that?

I grew up in a very religious household/community, so my experiences with and proximity to homophobia has always been very close and personal. I think the homophobia that hurts the most is the kind that pretends it is not homophobia at all but rather “Christlike love.” The sort that says, “I love you, but everything about who you are is a sin and wrong.” I am not a religious person anymore, and no longer feel the need to sugarcoat how I feel about this sort of belief, which is that it is fucked up, and I fucking hate it. I truly hope Christianity as a whole learns and evolves past this primitive, hateful stance. 

How would you describe your writing process?

I drink the caffeine, and then away we gooooo!!! 

I consider myself very lucky, the writing process comes so easy and fluid to me. Not only that, but my brain often delivers a high serotonin and even dopamine-reward for my efforts, so when I’m actively writing, it is often the most enjoyable thing I do with my time. Outside of the actual writing process, however, things are tough. Selling my agent on a new book idea, for example. Selling my editor on a book idea that I finally got my agent on board with. Writing a synopsis! Fucking hell, you guys, I fucking hate writing synopses.

Growing up, were there any books or authors that touched or inspired you as a writer, or made you feel seen?

You know, as voracious of a reader as I was when I was younger, I maybe didn’t find those books as a child/teenager so much as I have found them as an adult. A little late now, but they do continue to shape me and my writing. I would argue that the most profoundly influential ones were Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, Looking for Alaska, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the latter of which, I actually like the movie even more than the book, which was incredibly both written and directed by its author, Stephen Chbosky. No, I have not seen Chbosky’s newest, the film adaptation of Dear Evan Hanson. I’ve never heard the word “cringe” used so often in reviews. 

Hopepunk is defined as a subgenre of fiction that looks at dystopia and the world with an element of resistance, optimism, and well… hope. Where did you first encounter this world and why do you think you were pulled to use it as the title, if not the basis of your book?

You know, it’s funny because I did not hear about it until a book blogger on Twitter compiled a list of their top five “hopepunk” novels, and one of my previous novels, Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe, made the list. Upon hearing this unfamiliar word, I sort of fell down the rabbit hole of hopepunk’s birth as a subgenre, at which point I realized that hopepunk was definitely my favorite subgenre, and I had only just learned about it! Naturally, I became obsessed, not just about the genre but what it stood for, and what it said about the times we were living in. My natural state is to start thinking about book ideas and plots without even realizing that’s what I’m doing, so the cogs were already turning at this point, and it was almost inevitable that the next book I would write would be called “Hopepunk.” The trick was selling both my agent and editor on the idea…and hey, they both loved it!

Aside from being a writer, what are some things you would want others to know about you?

I am actually a very private person, so wanting people to “know things about me” is actually very low on my agenda. But with that said, I will humor you with a fun fact: I have a scar on my chin that I received from a pillow fight with my little sister that I received when she was maybe only five years old! Intrigued yet? Of course, you are. Now, I was only about six years old at the time, but the very important detail I have withheld is that she was using a couch pillow, and it had a very sharp zipper on it, and the rest is history. I’m sure my six-year-old memory is not to be trusted, but I pretty much remember blood gushing from this grievous wound like the neck stump of that guy that gets decapitated in Kill Bill.

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

Write! That’s it. The antithesis of writing is not writing—putting it off, waiting until we feel like we’re good enough, procrastinating. The only way that you will become good enough is by making a regular practice out of it. We often talk about people who are naturally good at things and people who become good at things because they work at it. I will be the first to tell you that I was not born a naturally good writer. That did not come to me well until my late 20s, and I had already written several bad unpublished novels leading up to that point. What I was born with was the desire to be a writer. I actually can remember few things I wanted to be as a young child more than I wanted to be an author. Being a teenage mutant ninja turtle was one of them. But even if being a ninja was an achievable goal for me, I think we can all agree that no amount of practice would ever let me become a mutant turtle. All that was left was for me to become a writer.

Just write. That’s my advice.

Are there any other projects you are working on right now and at liberty to speak about?

There is nothing official yet, but I have a full synopsis my agent really likes, and we’re just polishing up the sample chapters. Have I mentioned I love video games? I am particularly a fan of Life is Strange, which in my opinion is like the greatest YA novel never written, and there is an element of this story that is heavily inspired by my love of the original game.

Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/authors would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert—a very deserving Stonewall Book Award nominee. Kelly is also just the most delightful writer you will ever meet in person. I am not biased, you are!

Interview with Author Aden Polydoros

Aden Polydoros grew up in Illinois and Arizona, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from Northern Arizona University. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys going to antique fairs and flea markets. His debut novel, The City Beautiful, is available now. He can be found on Twitter at @AdenPolydoros.

I had the opportunity to interview Aden, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT and congratulations on your debut book, The City Beautiful? Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Thank you! There isn’t really much to tell. A couple years ago, I acquired my bachelor’s degree at Northern Arizona University, and ever since then, have been working toward becoming a professional author. In particular, I’m interested in writing stories with queer and Jewish protagonists, since I didn’t have that kind of representation growing up.

How would you describe The City Beautiful? And where did the title and inspiration for this book come from?

The City Beautiful is a queer gothic thriller that draws from Jewish folklore. Set during the 1893 World’s Fair, it is about 17-year-old Alter Rosen, who recently immigrated to the US from Romania, and after being possessed by his best friend’s vengeful dybbuk, is forced to embark on a quest to free himself from the ghostly possession. 

It would seem that a lot of historical research has gone into this book. How would you describe the process and how it intertwined with you writing the actual novel?

It was definitely important for me to get the research right. A lot of it was spent working on the timeline, trying to figure out how to link the different events in the story together. The story follows a very tight timeline, beginning on the Fourth of July and ending the same day as a disaster that occurred at the World’s Fair, on July 11th, so I wanted to keep as close to that timeframe as possible. 

The other research I focused on involved Jewish folklore and customs, as well as the evolution of LGBTQ+ rights. I wanted to figure out how Alter would have acted, talked, etc. during that time, considering both the era, the Jewish communities in Romania at the time, and his level of observance. 

As a queer Jewish person, I quickly want to say how grateful I am that more books like yours exist in the world. I feel like there’s often this gatekeeping or expectation about what Jewish stories can be, or are allowed to be, which usually involves a certain type of pain that you might be familiar with. Could you tell us how you felt writing this story into existence?

I’m not going to lie—this was a difficult story to write at times. I drew from some of my own experiences and feelings, so I became emotionally invested in the project. But it was so important for me to get it out there. Like you said—for me at least, it sometimes feels like there’s an expectation for Jewish stories to focus solely around the Holocaust, and to reduce the Jewish characters in those stories to passive victims. I grew up reading Holocaust stories, and more often than not, the Jewish characters weren’t even the POV characters. I wanted to change that.

What are your hopes for the future of queer/Jewish fiction?

I’m hoping that more queer and Jewish stories will be brought into the world. I already feel like there’s so many of them coming forward, and I’m so excited for what the future holds in publishing. I know that I’ll be working on more. 

Aside from writing, what are some things you would want others to know about you?

I can’t really think of anything else. The only other interesting thing about me is my love of antiques. 

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet and wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

Probably: What other sort of media projects are you interested in working on? And to answer—I’d really love to someday write for video games or television, or do IP work.

Are there any other projects you are working on and at liberty to speak about?

I have a few books in the pipeline. My next YA, BONEWEAVER is a dark Slavic fantasy coming out in Fall 2022, while my MG debut, THE RING OF SOLOMON, comes out in winter 2023.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers, especially those looking to finish their first book?

Don’t give up. This industry can be difficult and lonely at times, but it’s important to keep going and believe in the story you’re trying to tell.

Finally, what queer books/authors would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

I’m incredibly excited for HELL FOLLOWED WITH US by Andrew Joseph White. I read an ARC of it, and it’s absolutely incredible. I also can’t wait to read FROM DUST, A FLAME by Rebecca Podos, which is a queer Jewish fantasy. 

Interview With Cody Daigle-Orians

Cody Daigle-Orians (he/they) is an asexual writer and educator living in Hartford, Connecticut. He is a member of The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project, a Washington, DC-based organization providing resources on asexuality and romanticism to the public. And he is the creator of “Ace Dad Advice,” an online project that aims to help young people and those questioning their sexuality find the courage and confidence to live their best ace life. An “Ace Dad Advice” book will be published in January 2023.

I had the opportunity to interview Cody, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m an asexual writer, educator and content creator living in Hartford, Connecticut. Before I started this work in ace advocacy and education, I wore a lot of professional hats: I was a theatre artist for many years (playwriting and acting), I taught high school theatre, I was an arts writer, then an arts administrator and arts programmer. It all comes together in my ace-related work. I’m also a giant horror nerd (film and fiction) and a book hoarder. 

Online, are you known for Ace Dad Advice, a digital platform where you dispense advice and information about asexuality and the asexual community. Could you tell us how this project came to be and how you came up with the name?

It started with my barber telling me I had to download Tik Tok. I balked at first, because in my mind, Tik Tok was “for the kids.” But I did anyway, just for kicks. I made a video where I self-identified as asexual, and I got this flood of comments, mostly from younger ace folks, saying they’d never seen an older ace before, didn’t know we existed, that they never saw ace adults living their lives like that. It took me by surprise, and I thought, “Maybe there’s a space in this community I can fill.” 

I’ve always sort of had this “dad energy” about me, so I thought, “I’ll just be Ace Dad and give the kids advice like a dad would.” And it’s taken off. “Ace Dad Advice” is one part ace education, one part ace advice column, and one part ace pep talk from a mentor. 

As a queer person, how did you find yourself coming into realization of this part of your identity?

I didn’t come out as asexual until I was 42, and I discovered asexuality on Tumblr. I always knew asexuals existed, but (like most people in and out of the queer community) I had a skewed idea of what asexuality was. Tumblr introduced me to the nuance of asexuality and the stories of ace people. And in those stories, I saw myself clearly for the first time. 

I’d always thought of myself as a gay man, since that was the label that fit the best. But it wasn’t exactly right. So I saw myself as a broken gay man, a not-quite-right gay man. Finding asexuality helped me see that I wasn’t a “broken” anything. I was ace. And that was whole and valid. really thankful for Tumblr. 

Within the queer community, there’s almost a dearth of queer elders thanks to the HIV+ epidemic and other factors. How does it feel being seen as an “elder” in terms of being a queer ace educator and Ace Dad?

It’s amazing. When I first came out as gay when I was 18, I had some really incredible older men who helped me navigate queerness. So mentors were incredibly important for me growing up, particularly growing up as a queer person in the Deep South. (I’m originally from Louisiana.) I wouldn’t have made it through some of the tough stuff in my twenties had it not been for the elders in the community. 

So I feel like this is an opportunity for me to pay back the elders that helped me when I was younger. It’s my opportunity to assume that role and help younger ace folks where and when I can. 

As of now, you are currently working on a book inspired by Ace Dad Advice. Could you tell us how the book came to be and what readers can expect from it?

An editor from the publishing company reached out and told me they really liked what I was doing with the “Ace Dad” content and asked if I’d ever thought about turning it into a book. I jumped at the opportunity. 

The “Ace Dad Advice” book is going to feel a lot like the online video content: ace education, ace advice, ace pep talks. The goal is for it to be a resource readers can go back to for encouragement and empowerment whenever they need it. So they feel they always have someone in their corner helping them live their best ace life. 

Ace Dad Advice on YouTube

What are some basic truths asexuality and queerness you would want people to take away from this interview?

The most important thing I try to communicate in all of my content is: we are not broken. Ace folks aren’t missing something. We aren’t a damaged version of something. We aren’t a liability. We are fully valid, fully whole people living an ace experience. Our aceness doesn’t limit us. It’s just one facet of who we are and what we bring to the world. 

For someone new to the asexual community, what resources would you recommend checking out?

The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) is a terrific resource, as is The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project (TAAAP). I work with the folks at TAAAP, and they’re amazing. 

If you’re book-inclined, I’d recommend The Invisible Orientation by Julie Sondra Decker and Ace by Angela Chen. Both books are wonderful resources to learn about asexuality. 

Who are some other ace activists you would recommend others to know about?

If you’re not following Yasmin Benoit (@theyasminbenoit on Instagram), you should be. Her work is really important and her voice is essential. 

I love the folks at the Sounds Fake But Okay podcast, Elle Rose (@scretladyspider on Twitter), Asexual Memes (@asexualmemes on Tik Tok), and Gentle Giant Ace (@AceGentle on Twitter). 

The ace creator on Tik Tok that deserves a ton more followers is @visibly_ace. Her content is so thoughtful. I think she’s amazing. 

There are so many other folks doing great work. This is just a handful. 

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet and wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

Ask me about my favorite horror books of 2021! They’re not ace related, but if you want to read some of the best horror of the year, check out My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones and Cackle by Rachel Harrison. Very different books, but I loved them both. 

Can you tell us about any other projects you are working on and at liberty to discuss?

Just have to finish the book! Then I can focus on some new stuff. But I’ve got some ideas. 

Finally, what are some LGBTQ+ media (i.e books/ comics/ podcasts/etc.) you would recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

I want to shout out an amazing anthology called Fat and Queer edited by Bruce Owen Grimm, Miguel M. Morales and Tiff Joshua TJ Ferentini. I loved the pieces in it. Really moved me. I also loved the YA novel The Reckless Kind by Carly Heath, which has some wonderful ace representation. 

And while it’s not necessarily queer, it’s close enough to count: If you haven’t listened to the podcast Out For Blood, which lovingly documents the entire incredible story of the Broadway production of Carrie the Musical, you are missing out. It’s brilliant. It’s got tons of interviews with the original cast. And it’s got so much dirt on an infamous Broadway flop. It’s unmissable. 

Chef’s Kiss Interview With Jarrett Melendez And Danica Brine

Jarrett Melendez grew up on the mean, deer-infested streets of Bucksport, Maine. A longtime fan of food and cooking, Jarrett has spent a lot of his time in kitchens, oftentimes as a paid professional! Jarrett is a regular contributor to Bon Appetit and Food52, and is the author of The Comic Kitchen, a fully illustrated, comic-style cookbook. When not cooking and writing about food, Jarrett usually writes comic books (like this one, Chef’s Kiss!) and has contributed to the Ringo-nominated All We Ever Wanted, Full Bleed, and Murder Hobo: Chaotic Neutral. He is currently writing a graphic memoir for Oni Press. Jarrett lives in Somerville, MA.

Danica Brine is walking sass in a leather jacket, forged in the icy lands of New Brunswick, Canada. From her waking hours to the moment she slumps over asleep at her desk, Danica can be found with a drawing tool in her hands. Her work has been featured on the covers of Wayward, Elephantmen, Exorsisters, and Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor. She’s also contributed artwork to All We Ever Wanted, featured in the New York Times, and The Comic Kitchen. When not working as a comic artist, she illustrates children’s books for a Canadian French-language publisher. Danica lives in Moncton, NB, Canada, with her husband, Nick, and their shiba inu, Taro. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing both Jarrett and Danica, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourselves?

JM: Well, I’m 36, a Leo, single, and I write comics and for food media. I love cooking, writing, video games, and, of course, comics. I wrote Chef’s Kiss, and I live in Somerville, MA with a collection of Monokuro Boo plush pigs.

DB: Thank you! I’m Danica, the illustrator for Chef’s Kiss. I’m a freelance artist living in New Brunswick, Canada with my partner Nick and shiba inu, Taro. Other than drawing I love long  walks in the woods and playing too much Animal Crossing.  

Where did the impetus for Chef’s Kiss come from and how did the two of you get paired together for this project?

JM: Danica and I had been friends for about four years when we decided to collaborate on this book. We’d been talking about trying our hands at making comics and sharing a ton of interests, like BL manga and anime, food, beautiful men—all the best things. At the time, you didn’t see a ton of queer romance in western comics, and we wanted to change that. 

DB: Jarrett and I have been friends for almost a decade now, and we’ve always wanted to collaborate on something together. Chef’s Kiss came from Jarrett watching me draw cute boys for commissions at conventions and him saying, “hey, I should write a comic and you should draw it”. Chef’s Kiss was the result of a faithful meeting at a Boston Comic Con years back.

How did you get into writing/ illustrating? Were there any books/stories growing up that made you think “I want to do this myself one day”? 

JM: I’ve been writing stories since I was a little kid. English was always my strongest subject in school, but it wasn’t something I saw myself doing as a grown up. It wasn’t until I was in college and read Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami that I started considering writing as a career. I think that was the first book that made me cry, and all that raw emotion rekindled my love of writing. 

DB: I’ve loved drawing ever since I can remember. My favourite thing of all time as a kid was  colouring books! Growing up in a bilingual community, I was exposed to French bandes  dessinées (comics) like TinTin, Spirou and Astérix & Obélix as well as French translated manga. I always loved Disney movies too, and thought of pursuing animation. When I finally attended animation college, that’s where I discovered I wanted to draw comics! My partner Nick, who is also a comic illustrator, has also been a strong influence on me getting into drawing comics  professionally.

Were there any queer narratives growing up that stuck out to you and/or left an impression?

JM: Gosh, not really. It wasn’t really common to see queer folks in mainstream media when I was little unless it was mired in tragedy, like the film Philadelphia. Apart from that, stuff like Will & Grace and Queer as Folk were probably the first overtly queer pieces of media I was exposed to and, honestly, had the biggest impact in terms of making me realize it was okay to be queer.

DB: As a hetero female, I never thought of seeking out queer narratives in particular. I think being exposed to things like manga, I just love the thought of beautifully drawn male characters? Maybe it all spun from that?  

Jarrett Melendez

Cooking and writing about cooking can be two very different things. What’s the appeal of both to you and what drew you to them?

JM: I love cooking for loved ones, and I love getting people excited about the things I love so, for me, the two go hand in hand. Writing about cooking gives me the chance to get others excited about cooking, whether it’s a recipe I’ve developed, or a piece of kitchen equipment I particularly love using. When I’m really in a groove in the kitchen, I lose myself in the process. I can hyper fixate on things sometimes, like a particular food craving. This one time I had a huge craving for meatball subs, but none of the spots near me were quite right, so they couldn’t satisfy the craving. So I spent 12 hours making rolls, slow cooking sauce in the oven, and roasting meatballs, then braising them in that sauce to make, for me, the absolute perfect meatball sub. And I’d do it again.

How did you come to find yourself becoming an illustrator and could you describe your artistic background for us?

DB: I’ve always been drawing. In high school, I took a fine arts mail correspondence course and the  same time. In my 20’s it took me going to college for animation to figure out I wanted to draw  comics, so here I am today in my 30’s doing what I love best! Through the years, I’ve work for several indie publishing companies in the US, Canada and France as well as illustrated children’s  books for a small publisher local to me. Chef’s Kiss is my first fully published graphic novel. 

I’m very curious to know where the pig character comes from? Was there a real life inspiration for Watson the pig?

JM: I’m just obsessed with pigs! I think they’re super cute. There sort of is a real life inspiration, actually! So, all of the plush pigs in my collection have names, and one of my favorites is named Watson. 

DB: Pigs are Jarrett’s favourite animals. Dogs are mine (but I love baby boars too!). We knew we  wanted Watson to not be your average pig…I drew him to look like a pig and act a bit like a pet  dog. We both wanted to make him win every reader’s heart. I hope we’re successful!  

How would you describe your writing/ illustrating process? What are some of your favorite things about writing/ illustrating?

JM: It’s a lot of staring into the middle distance thinking about characters, settings, action and dialogue. Just a lot of daydreaming, almost. Once I have a good framework for a story, it becomes very mechanical: outline, page breakdowns (deciding the key moment for each page, and how many panels it’ll take to get there), then scripting the action, followed by dialogue. My favorite parts are the sitting and staring—it’s very nostalgic, like being a kid trying to cook up the next scenario in your game of pretend—and then the dialogue.

DB: I love being able to tell a story using pictures in harmony with the script. My favourite part of the  process has to be inking. Storyboarding and pencilling takes a lot of concentration. Inking is so relaxing, you’re just following your lines and filling in your blacks. I love watching repeats of shows like The Office when I ink. 

Danica Brine

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet, but wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

JM: Is that full head of salt and pepper, daddylicious hair natural? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

DB: Bagels with butter and cream cheese? Or just cream cheese? The right answer is the first one.  

JM: Also, Danica is 100% correct: butter, then cream cheese.

What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives?

JM: Say yes to things, take chances, and don’t wait to try and publish your work, whether its a webcomic, self-publishing, or pitching to publishers. The first thing you create and put out into the world is not going to be your best work, and you can’t be afraid of that.

DB: 1.) Either it’s drawing, writing, creating music..If you love it, do it. 2.) Try not to let the number of followers on social media dictate what is success. I’ve noticed this trend for the last while and it can destroy you as an artist. 3.) Nothing is simply handed over either, you need to put in the mileage.

Are there any other projects you are working on and at liberty to speak about?

JM: Yes! Danica and I are currently developing a post-apocalyptic Mexican fantasy graphic novel, and I just turned in a script for my graphic memoir. I have about six different projects in various stages of development, all coming out over the next few years. Buckle up!

DB: Other than being quite busy with a backlog of commissions, Jarrett and I are starting  development this year on a new graphic novel featuring Mexican folklore and adventure! 

Finally, what are some LGBTQ+ books/comics you would recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

JM: Commanders in Crisis by Steve Orlando and Davide Tinto is a great superhero book, but I’m also a huge fan of Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu, and Heartstopper by Alice Oseman—both are super wholesome queer romance graphic novel series. I’m also a very big fan of Casey McQuiston’s books—Red, White and Royal Blue made me cry like a gigantic baby, and I loved every second of it. Horror fans should also peep Orlando’s Party and Prey, which he co-wrote with Steve Foxe, with art by Alex Sanchez. 

DB: Since I’m always so busy drawing, I rarely get a chance to sit down and read something other than for research…All I know is that there should be more books out there with content catered to the LGBTQ+ community! Especially for younger readers that are looking to identify with characters  in those stories 🙂

The Geeks OUT Podcast: My Safeword is The Batman

The Geeks OUT Podcast

Opinions, reviews, incisive discussions of queer geek ideas in pop culture, and the particularly cutting brand of shade that you can only get from a couple of queer geeks all in highly digestible weekly doses.

In the return of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by Geeks OUT President, Nic Gitau, as they discuss the toll Omicron is taking on tv productions & the Grammy Awards, the new trailer for The Batman, and celebrate record making and current Jeopardy Champion, Amy Schneider as our Strong Female Character of the Week. 



KEVIN: The Grammy’s along with numerous tv productions delayed due to Omicron

NIC:  According to rumors Okoye will be in queer relationship in Black Panther 2



KEVIN: The 355, The Book of Boba Fett, Superman: Son of Kal-El
NIC: Power Born of Dreams: My Story Is Palestine; Alice in Borderland; Dafne & The Rest (Todo lo Otro)



Trans Jeopardy champion Amy Schneider making history



New merch seems to confirm America Chavez will be queer in Dr. Strange 2



New trailer for Moonfall




• Director of Luca toyed with making it explicitly queer
• Pixar’s Turning Red now to debut exclusively on Disney+
• Sony delays Morbius yet again until April
• Newly added to the public domain, Bambi and Winnie the Pooh
• New trailer for The Batman and new looks at The Riddler/Penguin



• New trailer for Archive 81
• New trailer for Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness
• Netflix developing a Scott Pilgrim anime series
• The SATC revival And Just Like That… becomes a queer meme
• New trailer for season 2 of Resident Alien



• Sony announces the new Playstation VR2
• President of Square Enix espouses the greatness of NFT’s & blockchain



• KEVIN: The Riddler
• NIC: Selina Kyle

Interview with Author Kosoko Jackson

Born and raised in the DC Metro Area, and currently living in Brooklyn, Kosoko Jackson is a digital media strategist for non-profit organizations; which enables his Twitter obsession. Occasionally, his personal essays have been featured on Medium, Thought Catalog, and The Advocate. When not searching for an extra hour in the day, he can be found obsessing over movies or drinking his (umpteenth) London Fog. He is the author of Survive the Dome and Yesterday is History.

I had the opportunity to interview Kosoko, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Thank YOU for having me! I’m so excited to be here. I’m Kosoko Jackson. I’m an east coast native, author of Survive the Dome and Yesterday is History. I’m a Scorpio sun, Virgo Moon, Scorpio Rising (fun fact, I have a triple stellium). I love to write, watch far too many movies (in 2022 I’m trying to watch IMBD’s top 100 movies by the end of the year), and I love indie folk music. I say that without any shame.

How would you describe your upcoming book, Survive the Doom? Where did the inspiration for the story come from?

Survive the Dome is basically Black Lives Matter meets Internment by Samira Ahmed. I came up with the book in 2020 during the George Floyd protests. I was in NYC, during the height of COVID, unable to protest with my fellow Black brothers and sisters, and I wanted to come up with a way to resist. I always have believed writing is a form of resistance, so I put my pen to paper and got started. I’m a huge science fiction nerd, and believe science fiction is the perfect grounds for dealing with complex world issues on a grand or microscopic scale. And thus, Survive the Dome was born!

What do you do to help yourself as a writer? Any tips to spark or help creativity?

Most of my books, honestly, come from movie or TV show inspirations. It can be a simple shot, one line, or something I wish the director/writer did differently and wanting to explore that. I get a lot of inspiration from music, too. I listen to soundtracks and albums when writing, and sometimes just one well played line can inspire a whole scene, or book. 

How did you get into writing, and what drew you to young adult fiction and speculative fiction specifically? 

I’ve always loved writing. When I was young, I used to write stories and have my parents listen to them during commercial breaks or shows. I fell in love with writing young adult fiction because, as a team, I didn’t see a lot of positive Black queer characters. When I decided that I wanted to be a writer, I knew that I wanted to fix that and add to the tapestry of diverse authors who are helping to diversify our literary canon. When it comes to science fiction, I think I just started writing that because it was a lot of the entertainment that I absorbed when I was younger. Stories, books, movies, TV shows about fantastical worlds where anything was possible, but rooted in science, always interested me the most.

What would you say are some of your favorite craft elements to work on?

Personally, and I think it’s a bit of my writing crutch, I really like dialogue. I think you get the most characterization in the most understanding of the world and the internal motivations of said characters through their dialogue. How they talk, what they omit, unique ways to create differences in two different characters simply by their word choice is the most fun part for me. and I’m a big fan of banter also period there won’t be a book written by me, no matter the genre, that doesn’t have at least two or three good solid banter scenes.

Were there any stories or authors that inspired you as a writer coming into your own?

The Pendragon Series by DJ McHale. It’s an epic 10 book series that I encourage everyone reads. I ADORED it and it was probably the series that made me want to be an author. 

Besides being a writer, what are some things you would like others to know about you? 

I’m obsessed with movies! Like, before the pandemic I used to see 100 movies a year in theaters. Starting in 2022, I’m going to try to get back into that, but using more streaming services to watch more movies. By the end of the year, I’m hoping to see the IMDb top 100 movies. Interview me in 2023 to see if I actually achieved it!

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet but wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

I never get asked if I could have one superpower, what would it be? And this seems like a pretty easy question, but if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m kind of obsessed with DC and Marvel Comics and I just feel like it’s such a lowball question. The non-nerdy answer would be phasing. If you’re a fan of Marvel Comics then you know of Katherine Pryde, AKA Shadowcat, and I’ve always found her ability to be the most interesting. The nerdy answer would be telepathy, with a focus on psychic surgery and skills augmentation through precise psychic manipulation.

What advice might you have to give to other aspiring writers?

I think the hardest piece of advice to follow is to understand that your writing will change. I never thought 5 years ago I’d write adult rom coms, but I’m loving this journey for me. You do not have to stay in the genre, or field, you started in, just because you think that’s right or where you belong. Allow yourself to grow. The worst thing that can happen is you don’t succeed.

Are there other projects you are working on and at liberty to discuss?

I cannot discuss some of the cool things I’m working on YET, but I am working on my second adult rom com that I’m very excited about, and something secret!

Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/authors would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

I’m a big fan of anything by CL Polk, Sam Miller, Ryan La Salla! I’ve learned so much about writing from reading their work.

Interview with Author Alechia Dow

Alechia Dow is a former librarian and pastry chef living abroad with her partner in Germany. When she’s not writing, you can find her having epic dance parties with her daughter, baking, reading or taking teeny adventures around Europe.

I had the opportunity to interview Alechia, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Hello! Thanks for having me! My name is Alechia Dow, and I’m the author of The Sound of Stars, The Kindred, Just a Pinch of Magic, a couple of short stories, and more to come. I’m also a former pastry chef, and youth services librarian. 

How and when did you know you were first interested in writing, and what drew you specifically to young adult fiction and speculative fiction?

I started writing very terrible stories when I was five years-old. My teachers would write reports home that I wasn’t paying attention in school, but they liked my creativity. I wrote stories about cats in trees and one called Princess in a Jar, where a princess was––you guessed it, trapped in a jar by a wicked sorcerer, ha! Truthfully, though, it was the town library that inspired me the most. I considered the town library my home and the librarians my friends. One day I was going through their MG/YA section and I stumbled upon X-Men comics. I devoured them. I fell in love with the themes, the characters and especially the powers. From there, I read Star Wars books, R.L. Stine, anything compelling, but almost always scifi-fantasy. After baking school, I went into library science, specifically for teens. I’ve always felt that the library and books saved me and that MG/YA fiction is *the* place to inspire a lifelong love of reading. When I started writing stories again, that’s where I found my voice and where I thought I had something to contribute. And I have to say, it’s an absolute privilege to write in this age group and about children and teens. I know how impactful a good book can be at that age, and I hope, somehow, my books inspire compassion, empathy, and future writers!

How would you describe your general writing process?

Straightforward, ha! I sit down and I write. I have a clear idea of what I’m doing or what I’d like to accomplish and I do it. Also, I stay excited about my projects, I visualize them like movies. As I see particular scenes unfold, it not only helps me write them, but also get really pumped about the overall story. Basically, I get excited, I visualize, down to as many details as I can, and then I write it. Sometimes I’ll outline, but not until I’m about 3-4 chapters in. 

Where did the inspiration for your first book, The Sound of Stars come from?

The Sound of Stars was that book that just felt right to write. Out of nowhere, I was inspired by the idea of a secret, illegal library. Which got me to thinking, why is it illegal? And then it evolved over the course of a long walk into a story about a rebel librarian and an alien who loves music. This is often how my mind works, one minute I have a fragment of an idea, and the next, it’s a full-fledged plot bunny that I tend to follow on the page.

Also, as an aspec reader, I’m always grateful for more asexual/demisexual representation in books! Would you mind discussing what it was like bringing that representation to the page?

I think writing elements of my own identity is really natural, almost easy. Sharing it with the world, though, is the difficult part! It’s so important to be inclusive and to give meaningful, unharmful representation, but my brain is constantly worried that someone might read that and be upset that their experiences weren’t similar. Or it doesn’t resonate with them. At the same time, I couldn’t imagine writing another way. So to answer your question, bringing that representation to the page means the world to me and I love writing it, but I also try to be very careful and thoughtful about how I approach it.

In addition to demisexual rep, you’d mentioned in other interviews how personal your writing was to you in terms of reflecting Black and body diverse characters. Would you mind speaking a little about that?

Growing up Black and fat, there weren’t a lot of characters that looked like me, or experienced the world like I did. And some of those that did were villains, dehumanized, and hated. When I finally saw myself on the page in a non-harmful way, that was huge for me. I felt less alone. I felt seen and heard. It inspired me. Now when I write characters––most of my main characters are Black, fat, queer, brown, experience mental or chronic illness––I take a loving approach to it. I want my readers to feel proud of who they are and their bodies. I want them to see people like us being the main love interest, having adventures, saving the world, and living their best lives not despite their identity, but because of who they are.

What can you tell us about your upcoming book, The Kindred and its inspiration?

The Kindred is a story about mind-linked grumpy duke, Felix, and commoner sunshine Joy, after they flee their home when they’re accused of murdering the royal family and crash-land on Earth. It is a love story that explores what it means to be connected when everything and everyone tries to keep you apart. I loved that aspect of Sense8; being mentally paired with someone across the world (or universe) and how this would make you feel as if you’re never truly alone. That you’re seen and loved for who you are by someone you’ve never truly met. It was a pleasure to write.  

From what I gather, food is also a big part of your books and your life as a baker. What yummy foods would you say will be featured in your writing, and what are some of your favorite things to make IRL?

Being able to combine my two careers (three?) is such a cool thing. Becoming a professional pastry chef was intense and taught me a lot about sensory details which honestly helps so much when I write about food. Whether I’m featuring a can of sweet baby carrots in The Sound of Stars or chocolate covered raisins in The Kindred, I get to have fun with how characters engage with food and describe it. In Just a Pinch of Magic, I got to include some of my favorite recipes like Should-Be-Famous Hot Chocolate and Ooo-Girl-You’re-In-Trouble Chocolate Chip Cookies! In real life, I’m always darting between the kitchen and my computer. I love making time-stealing masterpieces like baked Alaskas (making homemade ice cream is my favorite) and developing recipes for simple sweets like chocolate glazed doughnuts, apple scones, or new types of pie. It’s an absolute joy. 

What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

Keep writing, even when it’s hard. Find your people. Find CPs who understand your work, and you can trust with a piece of your heart. Find friends who you can trust with your anger and who make you feel good even when you lack self-confidence. Celebrate every opportunity that comes your way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but be prepared to get it, and not in the ways you always want. Stay excited about your work. And lastly, don’t compare yourself to anyone else and JUST KEEP WRITING. Rejections will come and they’ll make you doubt yourself, your writing, and your future…but if writing makes you happy and you have a story you want to share with the world, please write it. There’s so much in the publishing industry you can’t control, but the one thing you can do is write. 

Aside from writing, what are some things you would want readers to know about you?

I think my writing tells a lot about me already, haha! Let’s see, I have a dog named Biscuit, I’m a mom to a very opinionated (the love of my life) eight-year-old, I will travel for food, and I listen to music probably as much as I write and bake!

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet, but wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)? 

Q: If The Kindred was a cookie, which one would it be? A: The Kindred is a story about love, friendship, and finding harmony. So I would say it’s a raspberry linzer cookie; the linzer dough doesn’t taste all that great on its own but paired with tart raspberry jam and sprinkled with a little cardamom & cinnamon sugar, it’s beautifully balanced. Like Joy and Felix, they go better together than apart.

Can you tell us about any new projects you are working on and at liberty to discuss?

Just a Pinch of Magic, my middle grade debut, comes out in Fall 2023. It’s a magical foodie book that is so much fun and has a big piece of my heart! I’m currently working on more YA scifi, middle grade mystery, a foodie paranormal YA, and so much more. I stay busy, lol.

Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/authors would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

I love Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love, MK England’s Disasters, Rebecca Coffindaffer’s Crownchasers & Thronebreakers, everything Kalynn Bayron writes, Lora Beth Johnson’s Goddess in the Machine duology, Claire Winn’s City of Shattered Light, Aiden Thomas’ Cemetery Boys, H.E. Edgmon’s The Witch King, and Adiba Jaigirdar’s collected works as well. I have so many more!!