What’s Kindred about?
What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #LoveOzYA collection, twelve of Australia’s finest writers from the LGBTQ+ community explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us.
This inclusive and intersectional #OwnVoices anthology for teen readers features work from writers of diverse genders, sexualities and identities, including writers who identify as First Nations, people of colour or disabled. With short stories by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to young adult fiction including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.
I don’t read a lot of anthologies but Kindred has become one of my favourites. I was hooked and didn’t put it down while I was sick – that’s a big deal. Each story is different and most are packed with the right amount of feels, intersectional diversity and relatability. For one of the first YA queer anthologies, it isn’t bad. There are some things I think would’ve been great, but I’ll digress.
Among my special favourite stories that wedged into my heart are “I Like Your Rotation” by Jax Jacki Brown (this was full on with two disabled potential friends/potential partners who use wheelchairs, internalised ableism, figuring what love is and low self-esteem. It broke my heart but it leaves on an open ending), “Waiting” by Jen Wilde (this was a cute, but emotional one dealing with toxic friendships and self-care and cons! – I’m so weak on nerdy stories), “An Arab Werewolf in Liverpool” by Omar Sakr (damn, I carve for more stories like this) and “Stormlines” by Alison Evans (this was a unique story about friendship and survival, and refreshing for a fan like me).
Overall, I recommend this anthology. Just a content warning: childhood trauma, queerphobia, ableism and internalised ableism.
Q&A with Alison Evans (“Stormlines”)
How did you become part of the anthology?
Michael emailed me back in 2017 saying that he had secured a publishing deal with Walker Books and asked if I would like to be involved. The theme he gave us was “connections” and we pretty much had free reign. I don’t think I’ve ever had to keep such a big secret for so long!
Describe your story in 5 words
Stormy, quiet, night, water, bodies.
I like that your story is about friendship. We definitely need more, especially enby stories. What were the inspirations behind the story?
I had this image of someone sitting in a wooden cubby house, looking over the ocean. A big, dark storm was coming in. I couldn’t stop thinking about it – though I can’t remember where the image came from. From that image, questions started forming. Who was this person? Why were they in a hut in the middle of the ocean? How did they get there?
It did start off as a romance story, but then I thought that when I was a teen, all my queer connections were friendships. Friendship is incredibly important, especially when you’re a queer teenager, and I wanted to write a story where friendship was respected as an important relationship in someone’s life.
The story, set in a dystopian world, shares a similar theme or dark vibe with your books. What do you think makes your Kindred story different or stand out?
My story is pretty quiet. What I like to do is use a very abnormal/supernatural setting or idea and portray the little things about characters’ lives. While my story is set in the future, I would like it to feel very familiar to the reader. Focusing on things like staying inside when a storm is happening, not being able to sleep, preparing food.
What were the most challenging moments and the most fun moments writing your short story?
Keeping it to under 6000 words was really hard! I had this whole section at the start describing Marling in the storm, where ve is in ver boat, rolling around on huge ocean waves. I adored writing that scene and the terror inspired by the open ocean, but ultimately I had to cut it all out so I had enough room to write the ending.
I really love using ve/ver/vers pronouns, and I’m glad I got to in this story. They’re so fun and I love the sound and the look of them. I hope that by using more pronouns that are newer, we can normalise their use.
What do you hope readers would take away from your story or the whole anthology?
From my story, I would like them to have hope that we can have good lives in the future, even if our world does drown and we have to survive in a very different way than we are now.
From the anthology, I hope people see that there are lots of ways to be queer. There are many different relationships, whether they be crushes, familial, romantic or friendships. They’re all important. There’s no wrong way to be queer.
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