On Wednesday 18th May, the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL), my research centre at the University of Roehampton, held their annual ‘PhD Day’. This is a day where all of the children’s literature post-graduate research students gather and share a slice of our research from the most recent academic year. The title for my presentation was ‘Lip Gloss & Curling Heat: “First Kiss” Scenes and Malinda Lo’s Young Adult Science Fiction novels’.
For the last 6 months, I’ve been looking at Malinda Lo’s four YA novels: Ash (2009), Huntress (2010), Adaptation (2012) and its sequel Inheritance (2013). While the third chapter of my thesis examines all four novels, this talk focused on close readings from Adaptation. My research overall, as you might have gathered, focuses on lesbian loves stories. As such, I’ve been examining how those love stories are constructed–particularly when the two characters are teenagers who identify as lesbian/bisexual or are in a same-sex relationship. One narrative event that has become of great interest to me is the ‘first kiss’ scene. Thus, the first half of my talk looked at ‘first kiss’ scenes across a selection of lesbian YA novels in my corpus, including examples from The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2012) by Emily M. Danforth, Everything Leads to You (2014) by Nina LaCour, and Empress of the World (2001) by Sara Ryan. I then focused on Lo’s novels with close readings of the ‘first kiss’ scenes between Reese and Amber, and Reese and David in Adaptation.
Why are the ‘first kiss’ scenes so important? I’m hoping to post a video of my talk soon so you can join in the conversation, or contact me if you’re working in a similar field. I’m always happy chatting about YA novels with LGBTQ characters!
Julie Anne Peters has published more young adult novels with lesbian protagonists than any other YA author. Writing from 1999-2014, her YA novels are stylistically similar—full of melodrama and cliché—to lesbian pulp fiction novels of the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, those novels by lesbian authors hoping to reach lesbian readers in the mid-twentieth century United States, authors like Vin Packer (Spring Fire (1952)) and Ann Bannon (‘Beebo Brinker Chronicles’ (1957-1962)). This talk will compare Peters’ YA novels with the lesbian pulp fiction novels by Packer and Bannon, examining peritextual production, the ‘butch/femme dynamic’, the conventional coming out story, and ‘happy endings’ for the contemporary young adult reader.
UPDATE: My PhD colleague, Anne, recorded my talk for me so I’ve posted it online for you all to watch! I’m new to uploading videos so the quality isn’t the best, but hopefully if you turn up your speakers it won’t be too bad. Thanks for watching!
I’m a Once Upon a Bookcase LGBTQ YA Month participant!
For the WHOLE month of July, Jo at Once Upon a Bookcase is hosting LGBTQ YA month! Her schedule includes everything from daily reviews of some of the best LGBTQ YA books available, but she’ll also have author interviews, discussions, link round-ups and guest posts—including a post from me on 30th July! I’m particularly excited to read the interviews she’s conducted with Joanne Horniman (author of About A Girl) and Emily M. Danforth (author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post).
I’ll be posting a link when my guest post goes up at the end of the month, but in the meantime, go check out Once Upon a Bookcase’s LGBTQ YA Month!!
My first guest lesbrarian review has been published on The Lesbrary! Yay! When I figured out I could submit my own reviews to this awesome website, I jumped at the chance. Just having finished Adaptation by Malinda Lo, I sent through my thoughts on this brand-new sci-fi novel. I’ve been so impressed with Lo’s style, narrative and portrayal of her bisexual protagonist I’ve been telling everyone who will listen/read about it!