To be published by Ooligan Press
In THE NAMES WE TAKE, 17 yo. Pip is a scrappy intersex tomboy rejected by her parents for her need to live as the female side of herself. After One Mile Cough kills almost everyone, she survives on the streets of Spokane. When Pip stumbles across a child covered in ashes, she makes the uncomfortable choice to be saddled with the responsibility of caring for someone other than herself. With the help of a dangerous girl – who might just steal her heart – Pip fights to protect her makeshift family and hopes to be accepted for who she is.
Complete at 73,000 words, TNWT is a YA post-apocalyptic set in Spokane, Washington that will appeal to readers of LGBT+, action and adventure, and girl positive stories that pass the Bechdel test.
As for me, like the main character, Pip, I am bisexual. My main goal in creating Pip was to have a queer character where sexuality and gender is part of who they are, but isn’t the focus of the story.
Purple gondolas hung above the river like a cluster of grapes at the end of the season. Just downstream, a froth of mist boiled from rapids cascading under the concrete span of the Monroe Street bridge. Even the second floor of the library vibrated with the water’s thunder. Pip rested against a bookshelf and admired the ferocity. She could remember swinging over the falls in a gondola when she was little, laughing at the idea of danger.
Now she knew better.
Danger was a tickle in the back of the throat. A virus that racked the body with coughs. She shuddered at the memory of people hacking their lives away in overfilled hospital rooms.
It was quiet as death in the library and Pip relaxed into the silence with a sigh.
Quiet meant safety.
She tucked a thick book crowned the year before as the next Harry Potter into her backpack and cinched the top. It had been so long since she’d read anything other than instructions. How to use a camp stove, reheat a pack of freeze-dried food, how to clean a wound. Her hands shook at the idea of reading an honest-to-God book.
Now her pack was full of them. Her own little Christmas in the middle of April. Pip flopped her pack onto the floor and used it like a pillow. Pressing her ear against a hardback book inside, she looked over the city of Spokane. Rising above basalt columns and piles of rock that lined the shore, a pall of black smoke dropped ash from houses that burned onto those that hadn’t. She looked back at the water.
Keep your eye on the river, she thought. Pretend it’s just an ordinary day. A regular day of living on the streets and coming in to use the bathroom to clean up. Not the nightmare of surviving the One Mile Cough.
Metal rattled against stone. Pip sat up. It sounded like someone was on the first floor.