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In honor of Bi Visibility Day, one Young Adult writer talks queer media, food, and intersectionality

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When it comes to adult readers, the Young Adult section of a bookstore can sometimes hold a bad reputation. YA books, however, are far from easy breezes or superficial fluff. In fact, YA writers are doing some seriously important work when it comes to getting diverse, nuanced narratives out into the world. Aaron H. Aceves, a bisexual Latino man living in New York City, chatted with Daily Kos on the phone about working on his debut YA novel, This Is Why They Hate Us, during the novel coronavirus pandemic, what changes he would love to see in media, and why bi rep is so important—and why we all still have so much work left to do when it comes to creating safe and inclusive spaces for bisexual folks.

Talking about LGBTQ issues is always important and relevant, but themed days and holidays can add extra visibility and awareness. This year, for example, we can celebrate Bi Visibility Day on Thursday, Sept. 23, making it an extra opportune time to share this writer’s thoughts, perspectives, and message. Let’s check out Aceves’ thoughts on writing in New York City, how food fits into his world as a writer, and a message he has for the mainstream media below.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity, flow, and content.

Marissa Higgins: Would you like to talk to me in a few sentences about what your forthcoming book is about?

Aaron Aceves: My forthcoming book is a contemporary young adult novel called This is Why They Hate Us. And it's about a 17-year-old Chicano boy named Enrique who is in love with his best friend. And when his best friend goes on vacation, Enrique decides to use his summer to get over him by exploring his other prospects.

MH: What has it been like working on fiction during the pandemic?

AA: I've actually been focusing on editing a lot. I have always written a lot of short stories and I have other books that I've written before. And so, I sort of focus on fine-tuning them and I guess I do write when I'm adding to these stories or to these other books but mostly it's been about polishing versus drafting and making new things. Because, just for some reason, I don't feel that urgency because I feel like we're sort of in limbo a bit because of the pandemic.

MH: Can you talk to us about how you started as a writer and how you got here today?

AA: I actually started writing screenplays. I guess I like the form because I'm not a very flowery writer. My prose isn't my strong suit. I feel like I'm better at plot or pacing or dialogue, even. So, I actually started writing a screenplay freshman year of college and then I realized it had a lot of voice-overs. And I'm not a big fan of movies with a lot of voice-overs because I think it's kind of a cheat a bit if you're just narrating everything that's happening over voice-over without letting things be visual.

I was like, "Oh, I think this is more of a book." I actually adapted the screenplay into a YA novel. And I was doing this for the first three years of college. So, I finished when I was 21. That's also when I started writing short stories.

Once I graduated, I tried to find an agent for that first book but I had no success. So, I wrote two other books, tried to get an agent with them. That did not work out. It was around the time that I started actually submitting short stories and getting them published at tiny, little sort of just small presses, small magazines. But one of them was specifically for queer Latinos, which I really appreciated. And it was........

© Daily Kos

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