Robin Talley, opens a new window for our Annual (and first ever, virtual) Author Talk.We are thrilled to be hosting author
We hope you'll join us on Saturday, October 24 from 1 to 2 pm, opens a new window! But first, let us introduce you to Robin. She is a queer author who, before writing full time, did digital communications work for LGBTQ rights, women's rights, educational equity, and other progressive causes. She is now the New York Times-bestselling author of seven novels for young adult readers, including The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre,, opens a new window Music From Another World, opens a new window, and Pulp, opens a new window. Robin lives in Washington D.C. with her wife and their kids.
In advance of this much-anticipated event, we checked in with Robin about her work and inspiration, and her commitment to featuring racially diverse and LGBTQ+ characters.
Of Pulp, a Goodreads review says, "I have never felt more acknowledged in a book." How does reading that make you feel?
It feels great! And thanks for letting me know, since I try not to read Goodreads reviews. 🙂 I particularly love reading stories I can relate to, so it's wonderful when I hear that a reader has connected with something I've written in the same way.
Before turning to writing full time, you worked in digital communications advocating for LGBTQ rights, women's rights, and educational equity. How does that work inform your writing?
In my assorted day jobs I spent all day, every day focusing on ways of fighting back against systemic barriers to social justice. Then I’d go home at night and write fiction about characters facing some of those very same barriers. The two have always gone hand-in-hand for me.
In what ways are there similarities between you and the characters in your books?
The biggest similarities are in Pulp, since both of that book’s main characters are writers. My own experience as a writer definitely informed a lot of the ways they both approach their work. In my other books, though, most similarities between me and my characters are pretty small and very specific. For example, in my upcoming book The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre, one of the secondary characters, Will, strongly shares my opinion of the Les Mis musical, and in Music From Another World, the way Sharon feels when she attends her first protest is similar to how I felt when I participated in protests for the first time as a college student.
How do you decide what you want to write about?
It’s different with every new project, but it usually starts with some very small spark of an idea—it might be a setting, or a character, or some small part of plot or an existing story that I’d like to put my own spin on —and from that kernel of an idea, the real work begins. I start out by doing a lot of freewriting and research and brainstorming, and as I do that, a few main characters and a real plot start to spin out from that kernel. That’s when I decide whether it’s a plot and a set of characters I like enough to spend a LOT of time with over the next couple of years, since deciding to write a novel is a very serious commitment.
Your books have been celebrated for featuring racially diverse and LGBTQ+ characters. Was there a time in your writing process that you decided that was something you would commit to?
When I was starting out I didn’t put very much conscious thought into it, and I wish I had. Now it’s something I approach very deliberately with every new project. My stories always focus on main characters who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, since when I was growing up I craved the chance to see characters like me in the fiction I read and watched. And my goal is to represent the full world those characters live in, and to make it realistically diverse in terms of race, sexual orientation and gender identity, and representation of other marginalized communities.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue, which was incredible. And I just started Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
Please note this is a virtual event. It will be held via GoToWebinar and requires registration to attend, opens a new window. Attendees must use a computer or device to see the presentation, but will have the option to call in for audio.