An interview with Malinda Lo


AE: How do your young adult readers — gay and straight alike — respond to the queer characters and relationships in your stories?
ML: I get wonderful emails from queer readers who have told me that reading Ash helped them to feel more comfortable with their own sexual orientation, and I love that. And I get emails from straight readers who say things like, “I had no idea this was going to be a lesbian romance but I loved it!” So that’s nice, too.

AE: Has the queer element of your work and the fact that it is listed for Young Adults caused any controversy?
ML: As any LGBT person probably knows, sometimes people don’t like us because of our sexual orientation or gender identity. So, yeah, sometimes homophobic people don’t like my books. But I have been lucky that my books haven’t been on the end of any major controversy.

AE: What do you hope your readers get out of your stories?
ML: I hope they have fun! I just want to tell enjoyable stories that can take readers away from the real world for a little while.

AE: Do you think there’s anything missing from contemporary Young Adult fiction?
ML: Fantasy and science fiction about queer girls, for one thing. That’s what I want to read. I want adventures and thrillers that star LGBT characters — not as secondary characters, but as main characters. I want those LGBT characters to have awesome, sexy romances that are front-and-center.

Realistically, I doubt there is going to be a sudden onslaught of YA fantasy and science fiction about queer teens. But I am certainly doing my part to write that kind of book!

AE: What are you working on now? Returning to the gothic boarding school mystery you thought you’d be writing when the idea of Huntress took over?
ML: Ha, no, unfortunately the gothic boarding school mystery is on hold, but I reserve the right to write it later! Currently I’m working on my next YA novel (Adaptation, coming out in fall 2012), which is a sci-fi-ish tale set in the near-future United States. It’s sort of X-Files-like in that it deals with government conspiracies about UFOs, and two teens who are caught up in a bunch of weirdness when their car crashes in the middle of Nowhere, Nevada. And of course, there are queer girls.

AE: Speaking of queer girls, do you miss writing for AfterEllen?
ML: Sometimes I do! I think what I miss the most is the sense of queer community at AfterEllen, because my day-to-day life now as a young adult novelist is pretty darn straight. People in YA love to talk about cute boy crushes, and usually I’m just sitting there with a smile plastered on my face as my mind wanders off to dykier pastures. Who would’ve thought I’d miss the Hot 100?

AE: Tell us about the Diversity in YA tour that you’ll be participating in.
ML: I’d love to! I’m doing the tour in May. I’ll be traveling to San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, Boston, and New York — and in New York we have a special LGBT session at the LGBT Center — to celebrate diversity in young adult fiction from May 7-14. This is a project that I cofounded with Cindy Pon, a friend of mine, when we realized we both were releasing Asian-inspired fantasies at the same time. We have about 25 other fantastic children’s and young adult authors joining us across the country, and I think it’s going to be so much fun.

I hope some AE readers can come out to see us! You can get more information about the tour at our website,, or my own events at

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