Some days, I just really need you all over again. I recognize the fact that I ought to be without you–and I’ve become very good at being alone–but sometimes I just don’t want to be. Sometimes I need you to slide your hands down to my hips and to pull me into your chest like I mean as much to you as I used to. Some days it’s comforting to just remember what it was like to be addicted.
I had some reservations about the book series I’m reading, hinging largely on its depiction (or lack thereof) of women. Each book has steadily gotten better about that, and now that I’m on #4, I just reached a chapter that seems to involve a traveling circus train staffed entirely by monster-fighting lesbians.
Katara and Ty Lee questioning how Aang and Zuko have shut themselves off emotionally, pretending like they do not care (for Aang, it’s about losing Appa; for Zuko, it’s about his past), even though they certainly do.
Aang is trying to distance himself because of what his anger did to him in “The Desert.” For Zuko, he’s trying to sort everything out, and he just gives into his anger.
hi cassie :) i've been a fan of the books since 2010 and it's been amazing to see how much they've grown in terms of popularity and audience. I would love to know whether you came up with the idea to write the eldest curses because of how popular Magnus became and the reaction to him or was the idea in your head from the beginning and you decided to finally write it :) also could i be cheeky and ask for a snippet from the lost book of the white preferably featuring Alec....
I was excited to write the story of Magnus and Alec Having An Adventure and Falling More In Love for a very long time, but my ability to do so was limited by the way publishing and distribution worked back in 2005, when I was initially trying to sell City of Bones. There was a lot more resistance to gay characters in YA at that time. A couple of publishers turned the book down because Alec, a gay character, was in it. The Barnes & Noble website page for City of Bones included a review from Commonsense Media where they gave it a content warning for “sexual content” just because of the presence of a gay character even though he never did anything sexual. A lot of big box stores refused to carry the book, and major children’s book clubs passed it over.
I always hoped for systems to change. As the books grew more popular, and as times changed, I was able to include more of Magnus and Alec as the series went on. In fact, their presence in the story and on the page made a big jump starting in CoFA, at which point I received a surge of criticism from those who were upset that I was writing about Magnus and Alec more prominently. I remember having my books pulled from libraries; foreign translators cut scenes with Magnus and Alec in them; once I was standing in the middle of the street about to get into a car to take me to a school where I was going to do a talk about my books when my publicist came up and said we were no longer invited: the school had read about Magnus and Alec and they didn’t want me there. Or often, if I was at a school, I’d be asked not to talk about Magnus and Alec while speaking to the students.
I tried to walk a careful line, including Magnus and Alec (and later, Aline and Helen) as significant and meaningful characters, but still managing to keep schools, libraries, and reading groups from throwing the books out or locking them up where the kids who most needed to read them wouldn’t be able to access them at all.
I held onto the hope that attitudes would continue to shift, to allow for more freedom to write characters who accurately represent the population of the world we live in (and represent my own friends and family, on whom Alec and Helen specifically are based). Hope that I’d be able to expand roles for characters like Magnus and Alec, and over the past twelve years — partly as I’ve carved out my career in a way where I can take the sales hits that sometimes result from major LGBT+ inclusion, and partly because of so many brave writers, readers, editors and publishers who’ve pushed for change — I’ve been able to do so more and more.
When I was writing CoFA, I purposefully left a gap where Magnus and Alec go on vacation, with the idea that someday I could go back and fill in that gap with a story focused on them. For a long time that wasn’t something that companies wanted to buy and publish. I could have self-published the series, but I wanted the books on the shelves in stores, on the “bestsellers” rack with every other book I’ve written, making a statement about how much people want this kind of book and these kind of characters. I chose to write the story now when I did because Simon and Schuster, my publisher, opened Saga Press, an imprint dedicated to expanding what you can do in YA and cross-publishing with adult fantasy/sci fi. It’s Saga that will be publishing The Eldest Curses.
I thought a lot about what to say here because of two things: one, that people don’t like to hear about pushback against writing non-straight characters — it’s depressing (it is), it seems distant, unreal, how can these old systems and thought processes still exist? We’ve had successful books with gay characters in them! We’re done, right? I guess all I can say is that I think there’s a value to illuminating the pushback because it underlines how important it is to keep supporting books with LGBT+ characters because we are not there yet; we’re not where those books are give the same budgets and marketing and push as books with straight casts, and it takes the support of readers and reviewers and bookstore and library buyers to get us there.
I’d also say that I know I’ll get criticism for saying I was careful in my portrayal of Magnus and Alec until I felt like I’d gotten to a place where even if the fact that they were in love, lived together, even had sex was shown or even just implied (as it is in CoFA) it wouldn’t mean the books were locked up in libraries and slapped with warning labels. I guess I can only say it’s hard to navigate a situation where you fear the very kids who need to read about Magnus and Alec won’t be able to. When you meet kids who say “This book saved my life” so many times, and you think “But what if you couldn’t get to it? What if your school wouldn’t carry it, or your library, or your Walmart, which in small towns is sometimes literally the only source of books?) I accept that criticism. We all face hard choices in life and we make complicated decisions we think are for the best, and being criticized for those decisions is part of living and learning.
If you go out and buy The Lost Book of the White of course I’ll be thrilled, and a lot of that will be because it’s a way to show publishers that this kind of media and these protagonists are wanted and desired by readers. But I’d be just as thrilled if you picked up any fantasy by an LGB+ writer with LBG+ characters in it. There’s a ton of wonderful stuff and I hope you’ll explore it.
I’m too often expected to keep quiet about things that are just too much, too loud. I can’t keep everything inside all of the time, and ink isn’t always as helpful as I trust it to be. Sometimes I need to scream.
Magnus Chase: the Hammer of Thor was fucking amazing??? Rick is basically educating the youth on so many topics/issues going on right now: a transgender & gender fluid child of Loki (as his/her mom), some LGBT+ kids being shunned out of their houses and forced to be homeless, racial prejudice in the police system, potential hardships a deaf person could face in a deaf-shaming world, cultural appropriation, human trafficking. Not to mention the hostilities he destroys (like the arranged marriage between Samirah and Amir being the cutest thing, and Sam taking flight lessons). AND PRETTY CLEAR IMPLICATIONS OF SWORD SEX????
I just love how Rick is just like, “fuck the system I’ll put all this shit in a children’s book.” he’s passed caring about what the public might think now that he’s on his bajillionth book. my idol