Black Iris girl-on-girl teaser and audiobook excerpt.

My little wolf

Eleven days to go until Black Iris hits stores. You may have heard rumors that this book contains girl-on-girl action. Well, let me put your mind to rest: all the rumors are true. Check out this gorgeous teaser for a taste.

Black Iris - "My Little Wolf"

How do you like that hotness? Blythe sorta makes ovaries explode. Like…

Black Iris audiobook excerpt

Some awesome news for audio fans: the Black Iris audiobook will release simultaneously with the paperback and ebook on April 28! Here’s an excerpt from the audiobook, read by Grace Grant (who also read Unteachable).

Black Iris gets a STARRED REVIEW in Publishers Weekly. Plus, my first interview this year.

First, the news that has had me bouncing off the freaking walls all day: Publishers Weekly gave Black Iris a STARRED REVIEW. Excuse me while I run around in circles, squeeing like a loon.

Black Iris - Publishers Weekly Starred Review

This is, obviously, just a really lucid dream I’m having, right?

I’ve also got an in-depth interview with my fellow Menace to Sincerity, Dahlia Adler, where I talk about some of the major themes in Black Iris—queerness, mental illness, sexy Aussies—and dish some tidbits on my upcoming third book, Cam Girl. Plus, Dahlz is giving away a signed paperback galley of Black Iris, so make sure you hit this up!

Here’s a taste of the interview:

“When I was a kid, I needed to see portrayals of girls like me, portrayals that weren’t painfully stereotypical and that captured the fluidity of sexuality and attraction. I didn’t relate to characters who were 100% gay and never hooked up with or had wayward thoughts about the opposite sex. It made me feel like a ‘bad gay’ on top of already feeling like a freak for being queer. There are plenty of kids out there who benefit from those portrayals, but there are also lots and lots of kids who fall somewhere between 0 and 6 on the Kinsey scale, and there are far too few books serving them. Bisexuality is arguably more taboo than gayness now, FFS. How the the hell did THAT happen?”

Read the full interview here.

Black Iris cover reveal + excerpt.

This is kind of a surreal day for me, in all sorts of ways.

This is my first fully traditionally-published book. It’s also my first f/f book. It’s also the book closest to my real life and my heart, so far.

So here it is. The cover reveal. Here’s the Black Iris you’ll see on bookstore shelves in a few months.

Thanks for letting me share this story with you, world. I can’t wait for you to read it.

Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Excerpt from the first page of Black Iris:

April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot said, and that’s because it kills. It’s the month with the highest suicide rate. You’d think December, or even January—the holidays and all that forced cheer and agonized smiling pushing fragile people to the edge—but actually it’s spring, when the world wakes from frostbound sleep and something cruel and final stirs inside those of us who are broken. Like Eliot said: mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain. In the deepest throes of depression, when sunlight is anguish and the sky throbs like one big raw migraine and you just want to sleep until you or everything else dies, you’re less likely to commit suicide than someone coming out of a depressive episode. Drug companies know this. That’s why antidepressants have to be marked with the warning MAY CAUSE SUICIDAL THOUGHTS.

Because what brings you back to life also gives you the means to destroy yourself.

Yes, Black Iris has girls kissing girls. Is that a problem?

I’ve been getting lots of questions lately from readers who are curious about the sexuality of characters in my upcoming romantic suspense novel Black Iris. If you’ve browsed the Black Iris Pinterest board, you may have noticed something:

Girl on girl hotness.There sure are lots of pics of girls kissing girls.

Hmmmmmm.

And so readers have asked: is this book f/f? Is it about girls getting it on with other girls?

I’m torn about how to respond to this question. On the one hand, the sexuality of certain characters is related to the plot, and to reveal it is somewhat spoilerish. For a suspense novel, spoiling any of the mystery beforehand is a big no-no.

On the other hand, some readers deliberately avoid books with girl/girl romance, and that saddens me. What if they’d love this story if they only put aside their preconceptions about f/f romance and gave it a chance? Why does the sex and/or gender of the main couple matter? Love is love, right?

But on the other other hand, my inner queer self thinks: THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I WROTE THIS FUCKING BOOK IN THE FIRST PLACE. Because the reality is that people do judge others based on their sexuality, even imaginary fucking people in fiction. And though the plot of Black Iris hinges on certain characters’ sexuality being gradually unveiled, I should embrace the queerness of this book unabashedly, because the whole reason I wrote it is because I’m sick of my queerness being something I’ve had to hide half my life. I’m sick of pretending to be something I’m not. I’m sick of trying to win people over first before I show them who I really am.

Unteachable was, in a symbolic way, me presenting a hetero face to the world. Look, cute boys! Hot P-in-V sex! Please like me. Please don’t hate me when I show you how queer I really am, okay?

Man, fuck that. Enough.

So I’m going to answer this question definitively, and stand by it, unashamed, proud.

Yes, Black Iris is f/f. It is also m/f.

Both are represented. Not equally. To say more is to spoil plot points. But you should expect at least as much f/f as m/f in this book.

Unf.And you should expect that in all of my upcoming romance novels, too. Because, guys, in case you missed it, I’m queer. I like girls. A whole hell of a lot. I like writing about girls falling in love with other girls. I like writing about girls and boys falling in love, too, but the girl/girl thing is VASTLY under-represented in comparison. Close your eyes and throw a dart and you’ll hit a romance novel about a girl and a boy. Good luck finding a good one about a girl and a girl.

I’ve done a lot of soul-searching since Unteachable became a rollicking success, and I’ve decided it’s more important for me to be true to myself, and to represent a facet of romance that is tragically under-represented. So yeah. Black Iris is pretty fucking gay. So is Camgirl. So is everything you’ll read from me in the future.

I make no apologies for it. If you want m/f, you can literally fall ass-backwards into it.

If you want well-written f/f, well, join the club. I’ve been searching for it my entire reading life and found precious few authors I can rely on for quality girl-on-girl romance. I grew up desperate to find books like Black Iris, books about girls who like both girls and boys, whose sexuality is fluid. Books where there’s no fade-to-black when the girls fuck each other. Books that show me my life as I lived it, without making me feel like a freak.

Look, no beating around the bush, to use a horrible pun. If you hate f/f, that means two things: 1) you’re not going to like any of my future books, which is okay, because not every author is for every reader, but also 2) you might be a homophobe, so, you know, fuck you.

But if you “hate” f/f because you haven’t read it done well, then I sympathize. And I hope I can change your mind. I hope taking this risk inspires other romance writers to be bolder and write queer romance that isn’t the same old white gay boys falling in love.

Bottom line: I’m not sorry for being who I am. I’m not sorry for writing about things that are important to me, like the representation of girls who don’t fit the heteronormative template. I’m not sorry if that loses me readers who loved Unteachable. I’m incredibly lucky to be in a position to publish a subversive, unconventional, pretty fucking gay novel with a major publishing house and see it on bookstore shelves next to your typical ultra-heteronormative New Adult romance. The mere fact that my queer-as-fuck novel will sit side-by-side with straight-as-fuck novels is in itself a victory, even if it doesn’t sell a single copy.

So fuck it, man. I’m embracing this and running with it.

Yes, Black Iris has tons of f/f. Are you ready for it?

And just as importantly: are you ready for more?

New site design + Black Iris cover reveal signups.

New leahraeder.com design

This update is pretty much all imagey. To start: I redesigned my web site! The OG Rainbowface thing was a bit out of date. Hope you folks dig the new ~edgy~ rainbow shit.

Also, Atria is doing an open signup for all book bloggers who want to participate in the Black Iris cover reveal. Anyone with a book blog can join in. If you’d like to hop on this train, click here.

Black Iris cover reveal

Signups are open from December 23, 2014 to January 5, 2015. The Black Iris cover reveal happens January 8, 2015. See you there, queer cadets. ♥

And a reminder: Black Iris releases April 28, 2015. If you want s’more deets, click here.