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Interview with Anna-Marie McLemore | 30 Days of Pride

Welcome back to 30 Days of Pride on Ace Of Bens! Today, I have for you an interview with Anna-Marie McLemore, the author of When The Moon Was Ours, Blanca & Roja and the upcoming 2020 release Dark and Deepest Red. She’s here to talk about celebrating pride month, queer and Latinx representation, and her newest novel! 

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Hi, Anna-Marie! 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?

Thanks for having me! 

My current queer read is THE GRIEF KEEPER by Alex Villasante. It’s gorgeous and harrowing, and combines queer rep with themes that are all too relevant right now. 

Another thing I’m really into is woman-identified singers unapologetically covering traditional male-POV love songs without changing the pronouns. It always seems to raise a few eyebrows, but I love that the musicians don’t seem to care.

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? 

How I celebrate varies based on where I am, but it usually involves a pair of rainbow fairy wings…

It’s no secret that you’re a loud and proud queer Latina, and, honestly, I admire that part of you. How would you describe your journey to becoming so confident in your identity?

Thank you so much! Being proud of who I am is an ongoing process, I think for me and just about everyone. But it started when I realized that fully loving my communities meant loving myself, and my place in them. In my work, that means letting myself tell stories about girls like me and my cousins. 

Identity is obviously a significant part of all the books you write. Do you ever set out to write a character with a specific identity (queer or otherwise) or do you just start outlining/drafting and see how they develop?

I never have to make a character queer; I just have to let them be queer. Whether it’s the Nomeolvides girls in Wild Beauty who are all queer Latina girls, or Page in Blanca & Roja, who uses alternating pronouns, LGBTQ+ identity tends to bloom in my stories as long as I give it the space and stop telling myself “I can’t make it that queer.” Because clearly I can, and I will.   

The announcement of Dark and Deepest Red is still rather new and we’re still a while away from the release date, but what can you tell us about the queer rep in your upcoming novel?

Dark and Deepest Red features a Romani girl in medieval France who’s in love with a trans guy and also has about a dozen queer friends (but doesn’t realize it). It also probably has the queerest ending I’ve ever written. I always love writing about queer communities and communities of color, communities like I ones I know and love, but getting to do it in a historical context was really meaningful to me. We’ve always been here, throughout history, and that’s true no matter what history says, or fails to say, about us. 

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?

Whether you feel safe being out or not, your identity is worth celebrating, and worth taking pride in. 

Anna-Marie McLemore (she/her) was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and taught by her family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. She is the author of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a finalist for the 2016 William C. Morris Debut Award; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature; WILD BEAUTY, a Kirkus Best Book of 2017; and BLANCA & ROJA, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. DARK AND DEEPEST RED, a reimagining of The Red Shoes based on true medieval events, is forthcoming in January 2020.

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