In "Queer Ducks," author Eliot Schrefer takes a different approach to implement LGBT themes in his book - by studying queer behavior between animals.

What was your inspiration behind your most recent book?

When I was 11, I started lingering over the Fruit of the Loom ads in my brother’s Rolling Stone and realized I was gay. As a big nerd, my first step was to look up “homosexuality” in every encyclopedia I could find. The results were depressing — every time, it was characterized as a psychological aberration unique to humans. I made it to the other side of that and came to love being gay, but many young people don’t survive that feeling of deep shame of being “wrong.” It turns out that these centuries of claims about homosexuality not existing in nature — that have led to death penalty statutes and widespread discrimination — were wrong. It’s natural. (The amicus brief that supported the striking down of the last anti-sodomy law in the U.S. in 2003 cited the wave of research into same-sex sexual behavior.)

What does "Reading with Pride" mean to you?

I think we readers have to keep opening our doors wider, empathizing with greater and greater numbers of people. I'm a cis gay man and reading books by female-identifying people, books by trans or bi or ace authors, has helped me really internalize the great diversity of viewpoints in the queer community.

Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books?

Writing for young people especially, I know the power of a book to make someone feel less alone. Especially in places with smaller queer communities, a book might be the one thing keeping a kid from feeling isolated.

Tell us a little more about the book and why you decided to write it.

Why would evolution ever allow for homosexual behavior in animals? We’ve come a long way from the simple “survival of the fittest” arguments of Darwin. Turns out that for animals — just as for humans — sex serves a variety of purposes, not just procreation. Sexual union produces oxytocin, which promotes bonding and alliances within a group, like bonobo females and bottlenose dolphin males. Other uses of same-sex sexual behavior: Groups of garter snake males will have sex in order to heat up all their bodies; upwards of a third of penguin couples are same-sex, building a foster system into their population, to take care of otherwise abandoned eggs. A recent theory, “bisexual advantage,” argues that more fluid sexuality increases reproduction across a population. (“Bisexual Advantage” would also make for a killer band name.)

What can fans expect from your book?

"Only the good parts" of the recent bloom of scientific research into same-sex sexual behavior in animals, plus interviews with a variety of scientists of different gender identities and backgrounds, and a whole lot of amazing animal sex anecdotes to bring to your next cocktail party!

What's up next for you in the bookish world?

A bit of a rest! Then back in with another gay YA novel.