If you haven’t read Charlotte Sullivan Wild’s and Charlene Chua’s beautiful lgbt+ picture book, I highly recommend you do. You can read more about the wonderful book LOVE, VIOLET in my interview with @SullivanWild below. #ChatWithThePBLady
📚If you were an ice cream flavor, what flavor would you be?
Orange chocolate chip!
📚What do you like to do in your spare time?
Hang out with our chickens
📚What three items would you bring with you to a deserted island?
My wife, a magical mirror to talk to anyone, regenerating chocolate!
📚Now let’s talk about your beautiful book, LOVE, VIOLET. Can you tell us briefly about the story and the inspiration behind it?
Love, Violet is the tender story of a crush between two girls and the courage it takes to share your heart – even when it’s pounding! TAKE A LOOK! It appears to be a first picture book from a major U.S. press about a queer girl crush.
I had innocent young crushes. Yet I’d never seen queer love. I didn’t understand myfeelings. Later, I actively repressed them. This caused deep harm, not just to me. I didn’t come out until my thirties. I was married and teaching at a conservative college. That was rough. I wanted a better world for kids. I wanted kids to see themselves and each other in a happy ending. So: I wrote Love, Violet!
📚Violet and Mira have such endearing personalities. How would you describe the personalities of the two main characters?
Mira is a vibrant, feminine whirl of motion! And so kind! Yet she harbors a secret crush! And Violet? She’s brimming with daring fantasies of galloping exploits! She loves the crunch of snow under her boots. Her gender falls more in the center of the spectrum. Her heart, too,is bursting with a crush! Yet face-to-face, Violet freezes. If she can face her fear, Violet is a fierce and joyful friend. Just like Mira.
📚This book has really lovely language. Was this something that was achieved easily. Or did it take several revisions?
I love musical language, so it comes naturally – especially after 100s of revisions – ha! The story itself underwent endless changes, in part because people resisted or questioned the queerness. This slowed the entire journey; Love, Violet took ten years! Yet every time I revised, I rolled that language over my tongue, polishing it, like a stone in the waves.
📚LOVE, VIOLET is a wonderful lgbt+ story. In your own words, please tell us why is lgbt+ representation is so important in children’s books?
Charlene Chua and I made a video about this very question. We were queer kids. We had innocent crushes. But we grew up in societies (U.S. Upper Midwest, Singapore) that taught us not to exist, that it’s okay to erase and punish minorities. The consequences can be deadly. (I describe queer erasure and the struggle to publish Love Violet in this piece for We Need Diverse Voices.)
Yet, if kids begin life with stories in which everyone is worth cheering for – kids are more likely to act that way! They are less likely to hate themselves and each other. Yet we are in a moment of intensifying animus toward minority groups. It’s playing out through horrific anti-LGBTQ+ laws particularly targeting transgender kids. It’s in the banning of any minority representation in schools and libraries. I can’t overstate the danger of this. It resembles the swell of prejudice a century ago leading into WWII, and the longer legacy of genocidal racism in the U.S. Kids are in the middle. They are hearing themselves described as dangerous, divisive, disgusting. They are being taught to fear, loath, and persecute their peers. And themselves.
One book can’t change the world. But one book can mean the world to a kid. It can say: We see you. You are beautiful. We are cheering for your happy ending! Forget this talk of “discomfort” and “division”; inclusive kid’s books bring us together. They remind us of our shared humanity, the only road to justice and healing.
We need that today.
We’ve needed it for a long time.
📚Violet and Mira love adventuring together. What adventures do you imagine them going on in the future?
Who knows where their imaginations will lead them? Magical forests? Outer space? A world of equality? I only know, they’ll adventure together