If you're a huge fantasy fan who likes reading books about magic and queer love, then "A Marvellous Light" by Freya Marske is worth checking out.
What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Two inspirations collided in a dark alley! I'd been playing for a while with the idea of combining the classic fantasy trilogy with the structure of a historical romance series, where each book contributes to an overarching plot but also features a standalone romance story. I'm impatient. I don't want to string a romance out for three entire books; I want to get my teeth into the sex and feelings right away and not leave my readers panting on the edge — er, as it were — in the long wait between book releases.
And as soon as I had the idea to write about a good-natured jock being accidentally assigned to a magical bureaucracy, while having no idea that magic exists, the first book in the series began to take shape.
What does "Reading with Pride" mean to you?
I spent the first half of my life reading almost exclusively about cis, straight people. Now it's time for me to read about people like me; and also about people whose experiences, genders and sexualities are nothing like mine. It means yelling in capslock about exciting new voices. It means throwing my money at queer books and authors so that the publishing industry, famously risk-averse, is prepared to keep taking risks on us. It means seeking out books about queer trauma, queer joy, queer love, queer community, queer anger and queer triumph. They're all out there. They're all important.
Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books and characters?
The more experiences and identities are represented in fiction, the greater the likelihood that any given person might stumble across an aspect of themselves, reflected in a sudden and overwhelming sliver of light, and feel seen. Fiction can give us back to ourselves.
And fiction can also settle down in our minds and expand them, working sneakily on our capacity to understand and empathize with other people. To show us the true breadth of what people can be and how they experience the world; to give voice to everyone, especially those whose voices have historically been overwritten, underrepresented, or silenced.
Which character did you relate to the most and why?
There are bits and pieces of me in several of the characters, but I most relate to two of them: the librarian-magician Edwin Courcey, who frequently wishes the world would go away and let him curl up with a good book, and the extremely practical Miss Morrissey, who can't stand to see a thing done badly and is always itching to slap your hands away and do it herself.
What can fans expect from your book?
Murder, conspiracies, curses and deadly peril. That agonizingly sexy thing where someone's sleeves are rolled up their forearms. A satisfying jock/nerd romance. Magical parlor-games. A homicidal hedge maze. Unresolved sexual tension in a library. Sexual tension being resolved, at great length (though not — thankfully — in a library).
What's up next for you in the bookish world?
Mostly, I'm busy at work on the next two books in the Last Binding series! The second one's at the revision stage, and I keep coming up with ideas for scenes in the third one that make me wriggle with anticipatory glee. I've also got a bubbling-away side project of some queer contemporary romance novels, which I'm very excited about.