Since it’s Pride Month and Juneteenth season and three months until Ruby Finley comes out, I thought I’d post about an aspect of the book that’s not obvious from the jacket copy but is very important to me, a Black Queer person.
When I first decided to write this book I had specific goals about representation and inclusion. I wanted my protagonist to be Black, to live in a Black community that is functional, safe, and caring, and for that community to have LGBTQ+ people in it as a matter of course. I did this by including parents who are gay and lesbian, and at no point is this ever brought up as a problem or abnormal.
I did this because representation is important, and I feel it’s extra important to write the world I want to see. I know that there are Black and other POC groups and cultures that are painted as homophobic, and I know that this is the case for some. It’s not the case for all, and that deserves representation, too. And I firmly believe in the power of narrative to help shape the world.
In the book, Ruby has a tight-knit crew of friends. Alberto, the video game rock star, has a Dad and a Papi, one of whom grew up in the neighborhood. Jackie, the oldest and de facto leader of the group, has two moms who both go to church. Both sets of parents are treated like everyone else in the neighborhood.
And… that’s it. No drama, no problems related to identity, no needing to explain why things are the way they are. Because that’s how my world is and that’s how I want the rest of the world to be.
One of the best things about my journey getting this book published is that this is never something I had to explain or fight for or worry about. No one from my agent to my editor to the copyeditors ever questioned or challenged this or even mentioned it. Everyone accepted that this is how the world of the book is and there’s nothing wrong with it.
I hope readers feel the same! Can’t wait for you all to meet Ruby and her friends and their community.