The short story collection ALL OUT: THE NO-LONGER-SECRET STORIES OF QUEER TEENS THROUGHOUT THE AGES is the critically acclaimed anthology edited by author Saundra Mitchell, featuring diverse historical fiction by 17 celebrated YA authors.
Now she’s back with OUT NOW: QUEER WE GO AGAIN! [Inkyard Press, May 2020] and this time she’s rounded up a new posse of queer YA authors you know and love to present 17 new contemporary and speculative short stories. In this Q&A with Diane Ramsay of Mt. Vernon ISD, the author talks ace teens, the editing process, and “dumpster rats.” 🙂
Q: I read that you were a phone psychic, car salesman, denture deliverer, a layout waxer, and endured basic training! Keeping your interesting job history in mind, tell us about yourself.
A: Ha! Well, that’s the kind of job history you have when you grow up poor, can’t afford college, and get kicked out of the military for being queer! So I think it’s fair to say I definitely didn’t end up here the way most people did. I’ve always been the kind of person who keeps going, no matter what. My bff and I call ourselves dumpster rats: we’ll claw our way to the top, no matter what.
What compelled you to bring your fellow writers together to create the anthologies All Out and Out Now?
The initial idea for All Out came from a brainstorming session with my agent, Jim McCarthy. I wanted to do another anthology (my first was DEFY THE DARK, HarperTeen) and we were trying to come up with something that excited both of us. We’re both queer, and we realized we both wanted to see more queer authors writing about queer characters, but more specifically, the stories we wish we’d had when we were sixteen. So much queer literature (that is frequently written by straight people) focuses on queer pain. And yes, as a community, we have that. But we also deserve to see ourselves in joy, in excitement, in adventure–in short, as whole people who have a whole lot of different experiences and desires.
What was the most surprising discovery you made as you completed your anthologies?
It’s always surprising and delightful to find out how other authors work. I learn so much from them, because I get to see their drafts, and then their revisions, and how they think about the whole process. It’s a pleasure and an honor, and I feel very, very lucky to have so many incredible authors share their work and trust me to help them perfect it.
What have been some of the responses from fans of your writing/editing that made all the hard work worthwhile?
Wow, there have been so many. I did a school visit, where a teacher told me that All Out had changed her life. Like wow, what do you say to that? I cried; she cried; there was a lot of hugging. And I can’t count how many ace kids have hugged me because there were stories about ace people in the anthos–and more than one! The best thing in the world was giving All Out to teens at the Indianapolis Pride Festival. The teens were first shocked, then delighted, that there was a queer antho for them. All of the wonderful contributors reached out, directly, from their sixteen-year-old selves to teens now, and it’s created this beautiful, genuine connection.
What message do you want your readers to hear loud and clear through your anthologies?
You are valid. You are beautiful. You are loved.
What advice would you offer for inspiring writers?
Read, read, read and write, write, write. You absolutely can take the college path, the MFA path to get here. But you can also apprentice yourself by reading, and writing, and learning on your own. With the Internet, it’s easier than ever to become a dumpster rat, just like me. The top is there for anybody to take it, if they want it enough.
And finally, if you had to leave one video message to Texas librarians, what would you say to them?
Read more about Out Now here.