Lucy Powrie, author of The Paper & Hearts Society and The Paper & Hearts Society: Read with Pride answers our five questions as part of our #ReadwithPride celebrations!
Find out more about our #ReadwithPride summer celebrations here.
1) Tell us, what is your book/series about in one sentence?
The Paper & Hearts Society is about a book club run by a very nerdy group of teenagers, and in the latest book, Read with Pride, main character Olivia starts a read with pride campaign when she discovers that her school library has restricted access to books with LGBTQ+ content.
2) Can you tell us a bit more about why you decided to write the book/series?
There are lots of LGBTQ+ books for a YA audience, but I began to realise that there were far fewer for a young teen audience. I write my books for Young Lucy, and I would have hugely benefitted from a book like Read with Pride when I was the age of my characters: all I wanted to know was that it was okay to be me, and there was no reason to be ashamed.
As soon as I had the idea for an underground LGBTQ+ book club operating at Olivia’s school, I couldn’t let it go. I’d actually started writing a different version of Olivia’s story, but it didn’t work the same. And then the characters came along and started chatting in my brain, and there was no way I could ignore them. Read with Pride was born!
3) What are some of the LGBTQ+ themes and issues you explore in your book/series?
In Read with Pride, I didn’t want to focus solely on the usual coming out narrative because, while those stories are incredibly important, I also believe it’s important to acknowledge that sometimes people don’t feel comfortable coming out and sharing their identity. So while Read with Pride may be seen as a “coming out” narrative, it’s just as much about “staying in” and doing everything in your own time.
The main theme in The Paper & Hearts Society series is “finding your people” and that was definitely something I kept in mind as I was writing: for some of the characters, the first time they meet other members of the LGBTQ+ community is through Olivia’s campaign, and I hope readers will enjoy their friendship, fun and determination to see change. Finding your people really can change your life!
4) What is your favourite LGBTQ+ book and why?
Can I cheat by talking about two?! I can’t pick one favourite! My YA favourite is My Heart Goes Bang by Keris Stainton because it was one of the first times I remember thinking, ‘This feels just like me.’ From wider literature, I have to say Maurice by E.M. Forster because he believed that “a happy ending was imperative” and that was incredibly unusual when he began to write it in the 1910s.
5) What plans do you have to celebrate PRIDE this year? Any virtual events you’re attending that you can recommend?
I’m going to be celebrating Pride in the best way possible: through reading lots of books! I’m particularly excited to read Heartstopper: Volume 3 and fill out the new Heartstopper Colouring Book, but I’m also hoping to read Wonderland by Juno Dawson, Hideous Beauty by William Hussey, and Simon James Green’s new YA book, Heartbreak Boys. It’s going to be a great summer for LGBTQ+ YA!
And I am, of course, looking forward to joining in with BKMRK’s summer of reading with pride!
Find out more about Lucy’s books by clicking on the covers below.