I have a new story out today! It's called "New Year" and is part of the anthology All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages, edited by Saundra Mitchell.
All Out has gotten some stellar reviews, which is no wonder since it includes such talented writers as Anna-Marie McLemore, Robin Talley, Mackenzi Lee, Tess Sharpe, Sara Farizan, and more. Here's some of the praise:
★ "A historical-fiction anthology shines the spotlight on queer teens, from as far back as the 1300s up to the turn of the 21st century. ... The vast majority come to life through sumptuous language, plentiful historical detail, and satisfying endings. Most stories acknowledge—and sometimes directly deal with—the hardships of being queer in these settings, but that's not the focus here. Instead, the collection centers on adventure, first love, and self-discovery. ... Readers searching for positive, nuanced, and authentic queer representation—or just a darn good selection of stories—need look no further than this superb collection." — Kirkus, starred review
"From the forests of fourteenth-century England to Massachusetts on the eve of Y2K, this anthology waltzes through history, infusing it with the oft-overlooked—and much-needed—narratives of queer teens. Through an alluring blend of genres and a diverse array of YA authors—including Malinda Lo, Alex Sanchez, Robin Talley, and Mackenzi Lee—these 17 short stories explore crushes and coming out, runaways and revelations, narrow escapes and enchanted evenings. ... LGBTQIA story collections are scarce, but even if they weren’t, this one would be essential." — Booklist
"The diversity is refreshing: it’s not just white history being told and there is a deaf character fighting alongside Robin Hood. ... Malinda Lo’s “New Year” really captures the slow discovery by young Lily on Lunar New Year of an underground of queer folk like her." — School Library Journal
My story, "New Year" — which is set around the Chinese New Year festival in 1955 San Francisco — is about a Chinese American girl named Lily who realizes, for the first time, that queerness is a possibility that exists in the world. It's a story about waking up to a real world that was previously hidden. It's about becoming aware of what might also be hidden inside yourself.
The initial idea for "New Year" came from the book Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt, which tells the story of the women computers who worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena in the 1940s and 1950s. One of those computers was a Chinese American woman named Helen Ling. I began to imagine her as an inspiring figure in the life of a girl — perhaps she was the aunt of a teen girl who also dreamed of working on rocket ships.
At the same time, I'd been reading about queer San Francisco history for a different project, and I learned that there were numerous lesbian bars (and a lively lesbian community) in the North Beach neighborhood in the 1950s — barely two blocks away from Chinatown. I began to imagine a chance encounter between a Chinese American girl from Chinatown and a lesbian from North Beach. Surely, their paths could have easily crossed.
Take that chance encounter and mix it up with my rocket-ship-loving teen girl, and you get "New Year."
You may (or may not!) remember that last year I also sold a new novel, and that novel is about a Chinese American girl in 1950s San Francisco. "New Year" is the origin of that novel idea! I'm actually halfway through writing it right now, and although the novel has expanded significantly from the original story and changed in many ways, "New Year" is still the root of the novel. So if you want a sneak peek at my next book, this is it.