Day 3 of #PrideLibrary20
Today’s post is dedicated to a new voice in LGBTQ+ YA, Helen Corcoran.
However, before reading this post please make yourself aware of ways you can help Black Lives Matter by clicking on this link and reading about how you can sign petitions, donate money and educate yourself on the injustices Black people face and how we can help. It is not enough to not be racist, we must be anti-racist.
Helen Corcoran is the author of newly published Queen of Coins and Whispers and she’s kindly written a piece explaining the inspiration behind this novel, her experience of writing and included some of her reading recommendations.
When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold … Xania, who takes the job to avenge her murdered father.
Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and Xania learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and treason?
In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country – and for each other …
“I got really tired of reading about queens ending up with kings.
I’ve read fantasy novels since I was a kid. When I was in my teens, and starting to realise I wasn’t straight, it felt like they all had predominately straight casts, with maybe one or two gay characters if I was lucky. Queens always ended up with kings; there was always a prince for the princess. Even secondary characters were straight. We could have magic and dragons, but not queer people nor female characters with their own agency.
So I decided to write a book where a princess is ready to be queen. She’s also a lesbian, and caught between who she truly is and her duty to marry for an heir. But there’s no homophobia in this world: if her uncle had his own children, as expected, this wouldn’t be an issue. Toppled further down the line of succession, she’d have more freedom to marry, including making a marriage of power, as the nobility refers to same-sex marriage.
One of my favourite parts of planning and writing this novel was how much freedom I had with a predominately female cast. Women can be brutal, ruthless, and ambitious, and whether they fail or lose is dependent on how well they play the political game. They can choose between public and private roles, or both. Many of the cast is queer, which added further dimensions: Matthias, Lia’s oldest friend and Xania’s ally, is gay. As Lia and Xania are both lesbians, neither harbour romantic inclinations towards him, and he has a past of relationships all his own, and they instead maintain a friendship trio.
There’s a tendency to declare tropes as stale when they dominate in white, straight narratives. Marginalised voices also deserve a go at tropes and retellings; readers deserve to see themselves in stories, as everyone needs to read stories that don’t reflect their own experiences. Queer readers get to see themselves go on quests, be royalty and mages and dragon slayers, just as much as straight readers, and even more so in YA genre fiction, which has lagged behind contemporary YA and is finally starting to close the gap.
If you’re interested in books similar to Queen of Coin and Whispers, you might like Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst, Crier’s War by Nina Varela, and The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, they are all fantasy novels with queer women (with some romance). If you like fantasy with political intrigue, The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski has similar elements to Xania’s spymaster plotline, and her latest book set in the same broader world is The Midnight Lie, which has a f/f relationship at its heart. Some 2020 debuts I’ve read and loved include Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn and The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, and some on my TBR pile include Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner (adult) and You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (YA).”
Thank you so much to Helen Corcoran for writing this piece.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I will earn a small amount of commission on any purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you.
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