The BKBF Interview: Malinda Lo


In the latest BKBF Interview learn about the novels by queer women that award-winning author Malinda Lo is reading, and her ideal Brooklyn Book Festival panel. She will be on the YA Stage at BKBF on Sunday, September 16, talking about scandals, obsessions, and getting away with murder.


Tell us your best book-receiving experience. It was receiving my first copy of my debut novel, Ash. It came gift-wrapped with a note from my editor, and unwrapping it and seeing my words in book form, with an actual gorgeous cover on it, was one of the most transformative moments of my life.

What books are currently piled in your “To Be Read” stack … and where can the stack be found in your home? I’ve been trying to read primarily novels about queer women this summer, and next up on my list is Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns, a science fiction novel billed as lesbian pirates versus a malevolent artificial intelligence in space! After that I’m hoping to read The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka and Cottonmouths by Kelly J. Ford, two crime or crime-adjacent novels.

What book do you return to most often, whether passages or whole? These days it’s The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, because I’ve been trying to figure out how she does twentieth century historical fiction and then, hopefully, steal her techniques.

Who made reading important to you? My paternal grandmother, who was a great reader and also a writer herself. I think she led me to almost all of my favorite first books.

If you had the power to create your own fantasy BKBF panel – any writer or artist, dead or alive – who would you love to see discussing books? I would love to have a panel comprised of all queer Asian American writers, writing across genres and categories. We could have C. B. Lee, a wonderful young adult novelist who writes about superheroes. We could invite Alexander Chee, one of the best known gay writers working today. And I’d also invite Kitty Tsui, a poet who was publishing in the early 1980s in San Francisco, and was a real trailblazer.

Malinda Lo is the author of several young adult novels, including, most recently A Line in the Dark. Her novel Ash, a lesbian retelling of Cinderella, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and was a Kirkus Best Book for Children and Teens. She has been a three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Malinda’s nonfiction has been published by The New York Times Book Review, NPR, The Huffington Post, The Toast, The Horn Book, and AfterEllen.


Get The BKBF Interview delivered to your inbox.