Interview with Brooke Skipstone, Author of The Queering
22 Feb 2023
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write The Queering?
I’m a pantser, so when I start to write a book, I’m not entirely sure where the story will lead. And not entirely sure where the germ of a story originates. My last book (The Moonstone Girls) portrayed a beautiful, loving relationship between a brother and sister. In The Queering, I wanted to explore the opposite. In this case, Taylor’s brother, rather than being gay, struggles with his own loathing for gays. In other words, struggles with his own homosexual inclinations. Taylor and her best friend graduate with theatre degrees and hope to continue to live together, not as lovers, but as friends. However, her brother’s murder of a drag queen and insistence on accompanying the girls as they drive across the West, forces Taylor and Brooke to worry that they will lose each other before they can express their true feelings.
The idea of a post-college trip in a VW van with two girls and a man would seem full of fun and laughter. So twisting this trope into a harrowing, intensely dangerous event was key to the book. Another inspiration is the rabid, anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment that has arisen lately, making me wonder if there has been any progress since the 1970s when the main character, Taylor Baird, felt compelled to hide her true self for 48 years.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of The Queering, what would they be?
Brooke and Taylor are best friends in college, both theatre majors. Brooke was originally attracted to Taylor because she’s a composer, and Brooke is an amazing singer. They enjoy singing songs together, including popular hits of the day, which happened to be in the early 1970s. They sing Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move Under my Feet” and “You’ve Got Friend.” Plus Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me.” They also engage in a burping contest at a local beer joint where Brooke wins by belching the chorus of “I Am Woman.”
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
Pretty much the same as what I write, though I do enjoy history, such as Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste, Nikole Hannah-Jones’ The 1619 Project, and The Stonewall Riots.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
Several by Cassandra Clare, Tess Gunty’s The Rabbit Hutch, and All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
My favorite was the inevitable, terrifying confrontation between Taylor and her brother after forty-eight years, but to say more would constitute a spoiler. I loved every scene between Taylor and Brooke, especially their first shower together and their sex scene in the back of their VW camper van.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
Yes, I do. I listen to white noise/continuous waterfall through headphones as I write. Plus, I sit sideways in an old wooden swivel chair, with the back on my left side.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
If life were that simple…
No motto or quote. Maybe something in these lyrics from my previous book The MoonStone Girls— “Raise our voice above the din of indignation and the screams of accusation to change hypocrisy to harmony and noise to a soothing melody.”
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
This quote from the main character near the end of the book: “We need to eliminate the mindset that being straight is normal, and we’re abnormal. I’ve lived most of my life believing that shit, and I won’t allow you to do the same. You girls are better human beings because you’ve broken free from the continual pressure to fit into stereotypes.”
Brooke Skipstone is the author of the new book The Queering
Connect with Brooke SkipstoneAuthor Site
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