It’s June. Pride month. But also, the first birthday of my first book baby.
Kindred:12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories came out 12 months ago. That’s a story per month, if you wanted to read it that way, but once you start, it might be hard to stop.
I’m so proud of this book and what it offers, so thrilled with how many people it has reached and the warmth it’s been received with.
The last blog post I managed to put up (quite some time ago now) talked about what I’d been doing last year, and so I won’t talk too much about that. In fact, I’m going to briefly list all the Kindred things from the last year, then try and capture all the feelings.
Thanks to an incredible Australia Council for the Arts grant, Kindred was able to be represented at eight different writers’ festivals around Australia and NZ. Many of those were dedicated panels to talk about the book, queer literature for young adults and the other work of the contributors. That doesn’t even count the epic launch we held at the Melba Speigeltent!
Kindred visited Sydney, Melbourne, Emerging Writers, Bendigo, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide writers’ festivals as well as the Same Same But Different Queer Writers Festival in Auckland.
We had more lined up, too, but then the world ground to a halt and we had to cancel Newcastle, Margaret River, Darwin, and Clunes. Not to mention the ‘One Year On’ celebration we were planning at Hares & Hyenas. But I’ll talk more about lockdown in another post.
For now, I want to highlight the joy this whole process has brought me. It has been a lot of work. I can’t stress that enough. A. Lot. Of. Work. But, most things worth doing are. But the Pleasure and energy I got from bringing this book into the world know no bounds.
When I first thought ‘wouldn’t it be great to have a queer anthology of Australian writers?’ I didn’t really expect it to light up faces of young readers right in front of my eyes. I thought it might find a home with some people, but to hear the excitement in people’s voices saying that they’ve been desperate for this book for years; to have teens say they can’t wait to read a particular story because that kind of representation is hard to find or non-existent; to see it be shared time and again on people’s Instagram especially as part of people’s pride recommendations… It’s enough to make my chest want to burst.
And when I ran a giveaway of 100 copies for Pride Month just for people aged 14-24, there were over 600 entrants. Some of those were teachers or youth group leaders, wanting to share it with their teens, mentioning they’d be able to find homes for multiple copies if I had them available. Some were people who specifically asked for discrete packaging as they weren’t yet out to their family or weren’t comfortable talking about it with them. My heart went out. I wish I could have sent Kindred into every home in Australia! Wouldn’t that be a thing? But it was wonderful to have the opportunity to giveaway 100.
Now, as the grant funds have been used up, and Kindred’s first birthday passes, there’ll be less touring for it, less mentions of it in social media (or actual media! Like the time it was reviewed in The Age!). But it won’t be any less buoyant in my mind, it won’t lessen the joy I feel knowing it’s out there. And every time it gets talked about on the socials, or someone orders it from my shop, or even when I see it on my own shelf… I get a smile, knowing how many hearts went into its making, and how many hearts it has touched.
Thank you to all the contributors. Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin. It has been a journey that has been a delight. A special thanks to Nicola Santilli, editor extraordinaire who was fighting for this project to exist long before it officially became hers to usher into the world.
I’m working on other things, and hope that I’ll have more exciting news soon. But in the meantime, if you want to read another short story by me, you can join my mailing list and I’ll send you one! Then I’ll keep you up to date with any news.