In honor of TeenTober, we’re celebrating some of our favorite YA authors throughout the month of October, including the one and only Gabby Rivera. If you love queer fiction, you’re going to love Gabby and her new release Juliet Takes A Breath. Heavily impacted by this incredible read, She Reads got the scoop on the inspiration behind the book, what Gabby loves to read and more about this refreshing fiction writer. Keep reading to learn more about our October Guest Editor and She Reads favorite, Gabby Rivera.
What was the inspiration behind Juliet Takes A Breath?
Juliet Takes A Breath is super autobiographical. I fell in love with a feminist book when I was 19 and totally hauled my ass from the Bronx to Portland, Oregon for a summer internship with the author. It was magical and also the gayest thing I’d ever done in my life at the time. My mom was like, “Umm… who is this lesbian woman you’re gonna spend the summer with?” and I was like “Teehee it’s for school!”
And boom, there I was in Portland, meeting all these hippie lesbians. One of them, author Ariel Gore, was the person who later encouraged me to write down my experience and that was the birth of Juliet Takes A Breath.
Oh, and of course, my mom forever and always telling me to write it all down and make magic.
Which authors do you admire most?
The ones who never give up. I admire all the authors who mentor each other and take the time to read and love on each other’s works. I’m here for the single Dominican mom writers, the nonbinary, public school teacher-writers, the angry fifteen-year-olds who don’t give AF and have all the feelings writers, writers who are afraid and still write. Like all of us.
And also, Vanessa Martir, Roxane Gay, Nayyirah Waheed, Ibi Zoboi, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Trinidad Escobar. So many incredible folks!
What kind of positive message are you hoping readers take away from Juliet Takes A Breath?
I want queer kids of color to come away feeling hype and ready to write/create/share their stories. Like no matter where they are on their journeys of understanding the world and all the complexities of race, sexuality, gender, white supremacy and navigating relationships, their experiences are important, valid, real.