There are not a whole lot of queer anthologies exploring the LGBT community, and thus "This is Our Rainbow" edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby was born.

What was your inspiration behind creating this anthology?

Nicole: Dahlia Adler, a Young Adult author who also runs LGBTQreads.com and has put together a bunch of anthologies, had tweeted something like, "Someone should be putting a queer anthology together if they’re not already." I immediately agreed. There is such a wide variety of identities within the LGBTQ+ community, and it seemed right to have one place to put as much representation as possible for kid readers to get into their hands. So I said to Dahlia, okay, but I have no idea how to do it, so I’m not going to actually do it. And she said, well, Katherine Locke has done it before, so I’m going to pair you two up, and she did. Katherine and I talked and realized that we meshed well, so we decided to go for it.

Katherine: It’s been so great too to bring together a collection of stories that really do show such a wide variety of experiences and identities and hopes and dreams. This is the kind of queer representation that would have meant the world to us when we were the age of our readers (ages 9-12.) We are so proud of the anthology and how it came together, and so grateful to Dahlia for putting us together!

What does "Reading with Pride" mean to you?

Nicole: For me, I think it means being able to pick up a book that reflects the queer experience and being proud of what’s inside of it. To walk into a bookstore and see yourself on a shelf. To be able to read and feel comfortable with who we are and what makes us all special. To have those books exist in the first place, so that kids, especially, can see themselves reflected on the page.

Katherine: I agree, I think that Reading with Pride is about affirmation, that wherever you are in your own journey of your identity and how you fit into this big messy world, is valid and important.

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

Nicole: The queer experience is different for everybody, so the more stories that exist, the more someone might have a chance of finding that mirror book. Even with our anthology, try as we may reach as many identities and readers as possible, we’d never be able to represent everyone. I’m hoping there’s something for everyone in this anthology, but it just goes to show how much room there always is for more. Kids deserve to see themselves, no matter what that means, period.

Katherine: Exactly — everyone’s story is important. We could have many more anthologies like this one, and still not cover the whole breadth of the queer experience. But I think it’s worth trying. Everyone deserves that moment where a story feels like it’s speaking directly to you, at that moment, wherever you are. And there have been so so many stories that have been wildly overlooked, especially by BIPOC queer creators. I hope we continue to see more stories in all formats from underrepresented voices.

What can fans expect from the anthology?

Nicole: A little bit of everything! We tried to get as much representation on the page as possible. And we tried to appeal to as many different types of readers as possible, too. We’re lucky to have some stories that skew to the younger middle grades, some that skew a little older, and we have a couple of graphic novel shorts in there, along with a story in verse. We really wanted this to be a book for as many kids as we could make it.

But, most importantly, I think fans can expect a lot of joy and hope from this anthology.

Katherine: That was important to us. It was actually the only directive we gave our contributors. It could be any genre, any format, but we wanted it to be hopeful and joyful, uplifting. We wanted kids to be walking down the hall hugging this book to their chest, and sleeping with it under their pillows, and sharing it with their friends. So there’s time travel and dragons and golems and witches, but also Ferris wheels and crushes and summer and thrift shopping and cat adoption. There’s so much here for readers.

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

Nicole: My next book is called The Science of Being Angry, which came out May 10. It’s about an 11-year-old girl named Joey who has anger issues she’s trying to understand. She throws temper tantrums and sometimes gets violent and gets in trouble a lot in school and at home because of it. She’s a triplet, and her brothers never get angry as she does, and neither does her mama, one of her moms she shares DNA. In her search to figure out why she is the way she is, she and her best friend (and crush) end up turning to 23-and-Me to try and find out information on the sperm donor her moms used to conceive the triplets. It’s a messy story about family, as Joey tries to fix things so that her mom (the one she doesn’t share DNA with) will love her anyway, and Joey won’t keep hurting the people she loves most, either.

Katherine: I have a picture book out in February called BEING FRIENDS WITH DRAGONS about how sometimes friendships can be tough and we all have to learn to be good friends. And my next novel, THIS REBEL HEART, for teen readers, came out April 4. It’s about a Jewish girl swept up in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and deciding whether or not to fight for a city and country that has never loved her the way she loves it. It’s queer and fantastical and I’m very excited for people to read it!


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