Welcome back to 30 Days of Pride! Today I have with me Mina Waheed, the author of the indie romance hits Soft on Soft and Graham’s Delicacies. They’re here to talk about how they (and their characters) celebrate pride month, writing queer characters, and more!
BEN ACE: Hi, Mina! Welcome to 30 Days of Pride, and thank you so much for participating! To start off this Q&A, why don’t you talk a bit about some of your favorite media (TV, movie, books, music, etc.) with queer representation?
MINA WAHEED: Thank you so much for having me. June happens to be my favorite month! Currently, I am watching and loving Schitt’s Creek! It’s this sitcom about a family who loses all of their money and have to move in to a small town! There is an mlm relationship in the show that kicks up in season 3! I love it to pieces because not only is it entirely unfetishized, it’s also not the only relationship David, the pansexual lead, has been in.
A movie I love is The Handmaiden; which I’ve read up a lot on and how the director had made sure the main lead women were utterly comfortable filming any intimate scenes. Not only is The Handmaiden beautifully shot, it’s got a compelling story about a con-artist who falls for her mark. It’s based on The Fingersmith but is Korean!
Books… There are simply so many that I can’t just choose one! How about some recent reads that I’ve adored? That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert (demisexual representation) and Nine of Swords, Reversed (queer representation).
BA: Part of the reason I started this series is because I know June feels like a month-long holiday for many people in the queer community. How do you celebrate Pride Month?
MW: I celebrate with books. Before I began writing, and before blogging, I didn’t know the significance of June. Living in the closet means I don’t really have any sort of way to celebrate my identity. However, thanks to being part of the blogging (then the writing) community on Twitter, I began dedicating my June to queer books.
BA: When you begin planning a new story, do you ever specifically decide to write queer characters onto the page or do they just work their way in without you necessarily meaning to?
MW: Both yes and no. I think all of my characters will turn out to be queer, whether I plan it or not. It’s just something inherent in me.
BA: How would you describe your own journey to becoming more prideful in your identity (queer and otherwise)? Does that personal journey bleed into your characters’ lives?
MW: I definitely had a whirlwind of suppressing feelings, then wanting to celebrate it, not knowing who might hurt me in the process. I try to do little things to celebrate who I am. Such as my existence online. Or using gender-neutral language in my daily life even when I am always misgendered. I try to give my queer characters some depth in regards to their own identities, but at the end of the day, I want them to be happy, proud, and celebratory of who they are.
BA: What role does intersectionality play in your life, writing, and sense of self-pride?
MW: It plays a big part. I can’t exist as simply queer. I’m also Muslim. And I’m also mentally ill. My identities intersect in every occurrence. In writing, I try to touch up on some topics, but at the end of the day, I try to be careful. My intersectionality doesn’t mean it’s universal. I could hurt someone if I wasn’t cautious about what I wrote.
BA: One of the compliments I’ve seen a lot of people give your books is that your characters are super relatable, so let’s talk about them a bit! How do you picture the characters of Soft on Soft and Graham’s Delicacies celebrating pride month?
MW: This is so sweet! You know, in the process of writing these people into existence, I’ve given them pieces of myself. Alright, so little secret, but I’m drafting the companion to Soft on Soft and Shelby and the gang might just go to a pride event. It’s also the scene that kicks off the book.
BA: Lastly, do you have any advice or positive words to the people out there who aren’t able to be so openly proud of their queer identity?
MW: My advice is for them to find their people. Find people like you who would understand and sympathize. Without my friend who respected my pronouns, welcomed me when I came out as ace, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. She was there when I needed her the most. Everyone could benefit from a friend (or two!) who understands them. I know being open isn’t an option to everyone, I live it every day, but I steal moments in my writing, online, with my friends, to be who I am. Being proud isn’t a matter of outer appearance or vocal celebration. It’s the feeling you have inside. Be proud of yourself first and foremost.
About Mina Waheed
Mina Waheed grew up on TV and K-pop like many in their generation.
Living in a secluded little island in the Middle East meant very little to do and a lot of time of nothing. At thirteen, they picked up their first book with the blessing of an older sister and has been in love with prose ever since.
Today, they spend the hours they’re not educating young minds proper English dreaming up and writing those fluffy hugs in the form of books.
They learned a lot about how to be a hermit and not interact with people, but they love to hear from readers! Reach Mina Waheed through social media or email if you’re shy like them.
Find out more about Mina’s newest Graham’s Delicacies in Corey’s Book Corner interview on writing soft works, nonbinary characters, and what’s next on the horizon!