Today we want to thank the wonderful Non Pratt for agreeing to an interview for #LGBTQMonth! She is the author of Trouble, Unboxed, Remix and most recently, Truth or Dare.
Check out her books if you haven’t already and check out the interview below. (Also you don’t want to miss her answer to question #1, because it is hilarious!)
1. Who is your favourite LGBT+ character in literature?
If it wasn’t cheating, I’d say Remus Lupin (as far as I’m concerned he’s bisexual), but unless an author takes the time and care to write sexuality into canon, then it doesn’t count as representation. And my other pick is a bit of a plot spoiler (why am I making this so hard?!). SO I’m going for a non-spoilery, totally canonical pick of Mum K – the spikier and more sarcastic of the two mums in Susie Day’s excellent The Secrets of Sam & Sam. It’s a younger book (ha, you didn’t specify YA!) but the reason I love Sam and Sam’s mums is that it shows us that we can all have a ‘traditional’ happy ending, even if was hard to start the journey. And Mum K has excellent sass.
2. Have you come across unfair or offensive LGBT+ representation in literature? *Without naming*
I probably have, but wouldn’t necessarily have been aware of it at the time – I used to be a largely uncritical reader and it’s taken time and energy to educate myself as to what constitutes fair representation. I’d say the biggest injustice isn’t specifically bad rep, but the absence of rep. There are fewer bi and ace characters than gay characters and fewer f/f romances placed at the forefront of stories compared to m/m. And that’s not even starting to address characters transitioning, or identifying as non-binary having stories that aren’t dominated by that aspect of their life.
3. Do you actively seek out LGBT+ fiction or if a book includes it, that’s a bonus?
I’m a very lazy reader, although occasionally I take a little more agency in my reading habits and try to steer myself towards books I know are more inclusive. Having said that, I’m usually more inclined to read something if I’ve heard good things about it – and the people I listen to care enough about diversity and representation that I get steered in the right direction! I now have a lot less patience for an all-white-straight-cis-able cast.
4. Do you think that the literature today is more open and diverse or have we a long way to go yet?
*More* open and diverse, yes. That doesn’t mean we haven’t a way to go. Few stories centre LGBTQ+ characters and sometimes I get a sense that publishing thinks it’s checked the ‘coming out’ box and doesn’t need to produce new material. We should have gay superheroes and ace romances and anything intersectional. There’s always further to go.
5. Out of all of your works, which was your favourite to work on and why?
Unboxed. It was by far the easiest to write. Most of my books take about 18 months, Unboxed took one month to draft. It was a dream of a book. Looking back, I think it was because Alix, the narrator, is a character that’s close to me in terms of the way she looks at the world. That and the fact that it’s a novella, so it’s meant to be about a quart the size of the others!
6. Do you have an essential LGBT+ literature recommendations?
I love love love The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. Leo is one of my favourite characters in all of literature. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman is also fantastic – Alice writes like no one else and she cares so deeply about her characters and how she represents on the page. No one in her main cast of characters in this book is white/straight. Love it. I’m also a big fan of Juno Dawson. Her non-fiction voice is a joy to read in This Book is Gay so I’m sure I’ll love her latest, The Gender Games when I get my hands on it.
7. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Always the same advice: if you are young, be patient. It can take time to work out what you want to say and how you want to say it. Writing is not a race. Also, do it for love. If publishing is your goal and not the act of writing, why are you doing it? Writing takes ages, but the reward of publishing is short-lived. If you love it, crack on, keep loving it, never stop.
8. What was the most interesting thing you learned while working on your books?
While I was researching traumatic brain injuries for my latest book, Truth or Dare, I learned a lot of different things about how the brain works and all the things it controls. I’m not sure interesting is really the right word, though as so much of what I learned has such a profound effect on real people’s lives that reducing it to an anecdote feels wrong. So instead, I’ll say that the most interesting thing I did was visit the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability and talk to the staff and patients there.
9. What do you think makes a good story?
The burning desire to inhabit a fictional world, your brain imagining what those characters are up to long after you’ve put the book down.
10. How long did it take to create your books?
As I said before, my novels take about 18 months from first idea to ‘finished’ draft – by which I mean that if someone intercepted the email and published whatever draft I’d sent to my editors, I wouldn’t self-combust in shame. There’s a lot more usually happens after that though! For my novella, Unboxed, it was a dream. I reached the end of the story within a month, spent another month editing myself, then sent it off. If it had been published the next day, I’d have been happy.