This interview is part of a series featuring authors with LGBTQ+ characters.
Today’s guest is here to share a series involving several of my favourite things: an apocalypse, the plague, crazy inventions, time travel, a strong LGBTQ+ cast, and British English(okay, I’m mostly joking about that last one). But don’t let me tell you about it, let the blurb for Saruuh’s first novel, The Forgotten, tell you instead:
Forgotten London: The remnant of a solar disaster, London is a dismal place of soldiers, rationing, and a four-family-per-house regulation. Fatal diseases plague the city. Borders have been erected around London for the people’s protection, but fifteen year old Honour thinks differently. He thinks they’re kept inside the fence because someone is planning to kill everyone inside.
Victorian London: The Ravel siblings’ world is turned upside down when their genius father is murdered. His dying words are to hide everything he’s ever created, but when an invention goes missing, his children discover his work is linked to the future destruction of the world. But when they’re transported to a derelict, future place, how will they reclaim the stolen device?
1. Can you tell us a bit about your novel, The Forgotten?
The Forgotten is a YA science fiction novel that takes place both in a future version of London and the Victorian Era. In the past, a device has been stolen that has the potential to scorch the world to ruins, and the son and daughter of its inventor set out to reclaim it. In the future, in the world destroyed by the device, a teenage boy suspects the world’s leader plans to kill everyone in his town, and he – along with his friends – becomes involved with a rebel organisation. Gradually, the lives in the past and the future come together as both their worlds are threatened.
2. What part of the story came to you first?
There’s a scene in The Forgotten where Honour witnesses officials shoot a man with a Strain – a disease that is rampant in his world – in the middle of the street. That came to me first, and from that glimpse at the state of the world and the Officials who controlled it, I built the world of Forgotten London.
3. The Ravel siblings are from Victorian London. Did you do much research when creating their backstories?
I’ve actually lost count of how many books and articles I read as research for The Forgotten, in order to get the world and setting just right, though I’m currently building on that research for the third book, The Revelation, and so far I’ve put in a collective 53 hours of research. As soon as I answer one question about the Victorian Era, I become curious about another.
4. What was the hardest part of writing The Forgotten and how did you get through it?
Because I have such a large cast of characters, the hardest thing was integrating each character’s arc into the main plot and not letting either one overpower the other. The way I got through it was to plan extensively, and write each character’s arc in a list format that was easy for me to keep referring to.
5. Some of the major characters in The Lux Guardians series are LGBTQ+. Did you deliberately set out to create a diverse cast or did it just happen that way?
The main queer characters, Honour and Branwell, fell naturally into a relationship from friendship, and I didn’t intend them to be LGBT or really know Branwell was gay until I started writing The Wandering. But another main character, Yosiah, is bisexual, and I definitely did write him deliberately bi. Around the time I started writing The Forgotten, I was just getting into the queer community and learning the many varied ways a person can be queer, though I didn’t know my own orientation at that time. Still, I felt I belonged to the LGBT+ community and I wanted to include a part of myself in one of the characters. Yosiah was written as bisexual, and I later identified as pansexual, but I still feel connected to him as a character.
7. How would you like to see representation of LGBTQ+ characters change in the next five years?
I’d love to see more queer girls in YA. It feels like there are several more m/m books for every f/f book I find, and I’d like to see that number equal. I especially want more ownvoices LGBTQ+ books to be published, so readers – particularly young readers like MG and YA – can read authentic queer and trans stories.
8. What are some of your favourite diverse novels?
Some of my recent favourites are Stormsinger by Stephanie A. Cain, Unicorn Tracks by Julia Ember, Daybreak Rising by C. K. Oliver (which comes out September 21st), and The Pyramids of London by Andrea K Höst. All of them feature queer main characters in some form.
9. If you could give any aspiring writer only one piece of advice what would it be?
Write what you love most – and that passion will carry you through the rocky part of drafting any novel.
10. What are you working on now that readers can look forward to?
I’m working on the last two Lux Guardians books, which will both be out in 2017!
SARUUH KELSEY lives in Yorkshire, in a house halfway between the countryside and the city with an absurd amount of books and craft supplies. She’s the author of The Legend Mirror and Lux Guardians series. Find her online at saruuhkelsey.co.uk or follow her on twitter at @saruuhkelsey. You can purchase The Forgotten here.