|photo: Carter Hasegaw
Rebecca Kim Wells's debut novel, Shatter the Sky, was a New England Book Award finalist, a Bisexual Book Award winner, an ALA Rainbow Book List title, an Indies Introduce title and a Kids' Indie Next pick. Her latest novel, Briar Girls, a standalone dark queer fairy tale reimagining, was recently published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
On your nightstand now:
I'm in the middle of Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe--I've had this one on my shelf for a while and picked it up now because Maggie Tokuda-Hall recommended it at an event we did together. I'm rereading Jade City by Fonda Lee now that the trilogy is complete. And I received early copies of Book of Night by Holly Black and Fire Becomes Her by Rosiee Thor and am vibrating with excitement about them.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, which still makes me cry every time I pick it up. I got to meet Sharon in person several years ago and cried in front of her about it. (She was extremely gracious and hopefully does not remember this.)
Your top five authors:
N.K. Jemisin is the best writer working in speculative fiction today. I'm in awe of the worlds Kate Elliott creates and the questions she poses (and answers). I utterly adore the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells (no relation) and have read the series at least five times. Holly Black's creative mind astounds me. Anna-Marie McLemore's prose is exquisite, and their work makes my heart hurt.
Book you've faked reading:
I've never faked having read a book... but I've been about a third of the way through Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow since 2015. Someday I'll get back to it.
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall was one of my favorite young adult fantasy novels of 2020. This is the bookseller blurb I wrote for it: "This sweeping fantasy adventure delves deeply into questions of identity, sacrifice, and freedom. So queer, so artful, so delicate, so exceptional. I love this book fiercely, and you will too."
Book you've bought for the cover:
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo. Tordotcom is killing the cover game right now and Empress is no exception. The book is even better than the cover--queerness! feminism! covert palace intrigue!--and there's a sequel!
Book you hid from your parents:
I started reading mass market romance novels in high school (I read Mary Balogh's Bedwyn Saga series multiple times) and was definitely embarrassed to be caught with them. Thankfully I've since gotten over that bit of internalized misogyny.
Book that changed your life:
Far from You by Tess Sharpe rocked my world. Meeting furious, bisexual, hurting and haunted Sophie felt like looking in a mirror and discovering an entirely new world of creative possibility.
Favorite line from a book:
"He would have told her--he would have said, it matters not if you are here, or there, for I see you before me every moment. I see you in the light on the water, in the swaying of the young trees in the spring wind. I see you in the shadows of the great oaks, I hear your voice in the cry of the owl at night. You are the blood in my veins, and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are--you are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath." --Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Melodramatic? I don't care. Daughter of the Forest is a gorgeous adult retelling of "The Six Swans," and this quote turned teenage me into a romantic. It is imprinted on my soul.
Five books you'll never part with:
I recommend How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee to all humans, which of course includes myself--especially as another queer biracial Korean American. It's about writing and creativity but really, it's about being a human. I was blown away by The Beautiful Death by A.R. Capetta, which is a perfect book. I have the sequel but I'm afraid to pick it up because I'm certain I will be utterly undone. I get to keep all three books in N.K. Jemisin's the Inheritance Trilogy because there is a bind-up edition and it's one book now. (I'm still very full of myself for reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms back in the day and knowing with complete clarity how big of a deal she was going to be.) What Rachel Hartman did in Tess of the Road made me put down the book and stare off into the distance and think, wait, you can just do that? Tess is a fantasy quest story about rape culture and misogyny and addiction and recovery and faith and hard questions and difficult answers. And I will never ever let go of Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, which is the epitome of the fantastical whimsy and wonder I've loved all my life.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
I would give a lot to be able to read White Cat by Holly Black again without knowing the tricks and twists. Everything Black writes is mindboggling, but I still think about this trilogy and wonder how in the world she pulled it off.
Up next on your TBR:
Way too much. I bought far too many books this year and am trying to read down my pile at least a little before I add to it. I'm really looking forward to picking up Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust, The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri, The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson, The Hollow Heart by Marie Rutkoski and Black Water Sister by Zen Cho.