Amanda Bennett

Happy Birthday, Amanda!

Today's my birthday! One of the perks of being the organization's webmistress is that I get to write up everyone's birthday posts. It's a little different when it's your own, however!

Founding a magazine like Iris was a long-held dream of mine. When I was young and just discovering who I was, the lack of representation of LGBT themes in YA novels really bothered me. I read Annie On My Mind and clung to it - but unfortunately, beyond Nancy Garden's landmark work, my library fell short. It was not unique in that regard.

Representation of LGBTQ characters and themes in YA literature is incredibly dismal. When queer YA characters do turn up, they tend to be sidekicks, stereotyped, idealized, or demonized. When Bexy and I decided to make Iris a reality, it was because we wanted to write and publish fiction and poetry that featured characters that were well-rounded rather than one-dimensional, vital to the work as opposed to a token bit of diversity - in short, human. Necessary and human.

To our teen readers and writers, thank you. The way that you have welcomed Iris means the world to me. Your emails and comments bring me such joy, because every time I hear from a young person who enjoyed the magazine or who wants to write for us, it means that that teen has access to something I didn't have: original writing that celebrates queer characters and themes. And for our teen writers whose work I edit, working with you is the most incredibly rewarding thing.

To all of our contributors, and most especially the Iris team, thank you so much for believing in this project. I am so excited for all the wonderful things to come for our magazine!

Since it's my birthday, I think it's as good a time as any to say: YOU GUYS I'M WRITING A NOVEL. That's the next thing on my literary bucket list, and I can't wait to share it with you. It's a kind of magical realism steeped in references to arcane literature, and it stars a pretty kickass heroine and her nerdy girlfriend. It's a book with lesbians! And also a princess (who does in fact have a prince). AND FAIRIES! If you take anything away from this post, apart from the thanks, of course, let it be those four sentences, because that's basically me, in shorthand, minus the prince. Get excited, guys. I know I am.

I suppose it's bad form to wish oneself a happy birthday, but you certainly can!