Queer YA Scrabble: Interview with Kira Harp

Queer YA Scrabble

Rainbow BriefsRainbow Briefs by Kira Harp

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Have you ever looked at a picture, perhaps a photo of two guys in a tight hug, or two girls holding hands, and wondered, What happened before that moment? What will they do next?

These fifteen stories were inspired by images from the Young Adult LGBT Books Group. In these pages you'll find LGBTQ teenagers living their lives - experiencing first encounters and long relationships, coming out, staying closeted, questioning, loving, having adventures, dealing with family, with prejudice, with magic. Author Kira Harp provides this collection of Young Adult romantic, fantasy, and contemporary short stories.

Kira Harp, author of Rainbow Briefs, kindly answered a few questions for me!

1. How did you become interested in LGBT YA?

I've always loved reading and writing YA, as well as adult fiction. Books saved my sanity as a teenager, and I never stopped enjoying stories of every kind. For a lot of years, I only wrote for my own fun, different genres, adult and YA , with heroes both straight and LGBTQ. Then in 2011, I submitted my first adult gay romance story, and suddenly I was a published author.

I got some really lovely responses on my first books, and that led me to the online reading community. Their encouragement made me brave enough to post some of my YA stories for people to read as well. I joined the YA LGBT Books Group on Goodreads, where we have creative writing fun every month, and I wrote stories there for the picture prompts. Then when Featherweight Press was looking for some YA stories for their charity line, with the royalties going to LGBT charities, I donated a couple of short stories, "The Benefit of Ductwork" and "Intervention". Those were my first YA publications.

2. Rainbow Briefs is a collection of 15 LGBT YA stories. Can you briefly tell us something about the range of stories and experiences represented in the book?

Back when the number of my stories for the Goodreads YA LGBT group reached 25 or 30, my friend Sara Winters began encouraging me to put together a collection of them. The idea was to have a positive, hopeful, diverse set of stories, something that could reach readers who might not find the group or care to join. She convinced me to do Rainbow Briefs, which is mostly free as an ebook (although .99 on Amazon) and inexpensive in paper, to make it accessible.

It was hard to pick which stories to include. I knew I wanted to make the book LGBTQ, covering a range of experiences and situations, and I also wanted to choose stories which I thought were among the better ones I'd written. I included several stories about gay guys, where I have the most experience as a writer, but also some about two girls, or transgender characters, or three guys together, or a bisexual character. I wrote a couple of extra stories for the book, to provide more balance. As for plot lines, most of the stories are contemporary, but some are fantasy or paranormal. Some have a true romance arc, where others are more a slice of life. All have a positive ending, and while there may be pain or difficulties, there are no tragedies here.

3. Do you have a personal favourite story in the collection?

I think "Designing Sam" is my favorite. This was the first time I'd tried to write about a transgender main character.

Sam was born in a female body, but has always felt like a boy. Unfortunately, his family is not at all happy about that. In this story, Sam begins to come out as a guy, to find himself, and to launch his real life. He finds support in unexpected places, but must deal with the realities of trying to transition within the framework of his current life and family. I really liked trying to write Sam's point of view, to make him real, understandable and sympathetic, but not too perfect. I wanted to let readers see that this is not about Sam trying to become something he's not, but rather trying to finally become the person he's always known himself to be. There are some tough moments, but an upbeat ending.

Come back tomorrow morning for the last Queer YA Scrabble post, an excerpt from The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson!

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