In case you missed my cover reveal last week on Halon Chronicles, I have a new book coming out. Here's the backstory.
After Girlish was under contract but before it came out, I started writing a book with my kids. I got the idea from an interview with Alon Shalev I read on KJ Harrowick’s blog. My kids were incredibly patient about the fact that my writing was geared towards grownups, but I wanted to write a book that they could read and show their friends. I wrote during the day and read that day’s work to the kids at bedtime. If the story lagged, Rian sometimes fell asleep. If I wrote dialog that sounded out of character for someone, Lewis would offer suggestions.
I wanted a book about kids taking over and fixing the mess grownups had made, and I wanted a book with queer characters that wasn’t a coming out story or even necessarily a queer story, just a book where one boy just happens to wear makeup and skirts sometimes and two girls who just happen to be a couple. Is it queer enough to call it queer? I’ve never been entirely straight and nothing I write is either, and I think we need more books like that—books that aren’t necessarily one thing or the other but that have characters that look like us.
Every child deserves to see someone who looks like them in a book, and yet, so few places make books with diverse characters. Sure, the literary world is getting more inclusive every day, but more inclusive and actually inclusive are not the same thing. I asked myself, what if instead of complaining about the lack of diverse presses, I just started my own? After all, I had a manuscript for a test subject. I could be my own guinea pig and learn the ropes, then take that knowledge and publish other people’s books as well as my own. Thus, Furtive Grunion Books was born.
A Grunion is a fish that walks on land. (And also the name of our cat!)
We make books for people who feel like fish out of water.
I spent the summer taking online classes, reading books, listening to podcasts, and basically sucking up as much information about publishing as I could: print books, e-books, and audiobooks. I found visual artists and beta readers and an editor who knew more about commas than I did.
I did a super quiet test book, Globetrotting Grandmas, to see how much about design I needed to learn. My wonderfully artistic 11-year-old, Rian, illustrated it for me. One thing I learned is that illustrated books are going to take a bit more learning on my end, but I am still proud of our little book about lesbian grandmas who travel the world having all sorts of zany adventures. (Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold.)
Dragon Brothers is my first full-length project as an indie press, due out May 26, 2020. I'm posting the cover again because I love it so much and want to admire it.
I have an open call for submissions for an anthology entitled They/Them/We/Us: Parents of Genderqueer Kids. I will be seeking out other projects by year’s end. Check out my website: FurtiveGrunionBooks.com. Subscribe to my mailing list to stay updated and stay to read my cat’s blog. I'll also be posting updates on Twitter, Instagram, and occasionally Facebook.
One last thing—you may notice that my kid lit is under the name L.B. Lillibridge. I’m not trying to be tricky, but I do want a breath of separation between my writing for adults and my writing for children. I don’t want a well-meaning adult to assume everything I write is appropriate for the young uns. I’m not hiding my memoirs by any means, but I want discovery to be intentional, not accidental.
Copyright © 2020 Lara Lillibridge
Public domain imagery courtesy of Snappygoat.com