Monday, December 7, 2015

Twinja Book Reviews 3rd Annual Diversity Month Day Five: Interview with @B_R_Sanders + Month long #giveaway

We're always the most excited to invite and introduce the "super-homies"... We have a homies, but then we have "super-homies", friends that we really believe in their work, their opinion, basically everything.
The next author we consider a super-homie, for so many reasons, so we're glad they wanted to join us for our diversity event, because they're awesome, and very few people have been as supportive with our first book, as much as them

They're an author, a creator, a blogger. There really isn't a limit to where and what our next guest can do. So without further delay...

Twinja Book Reviews Annual Diversity Event Day Five:

Author B.R. Sanders

We already stalk you know you well, but for those just tuning in, introduce yourself to folks just meeting you today!

Hi! I'm B!

We see you have an awesome blog called Clatter and Clank. You do a little bit of everything there, but what inspired the gears behind it?

I blog about writing, because writers are expected to self-promote, but mostly I blog about things I've read. I try to read books with inclusive content and books by diverse creators, and when they're good, I try to promote them. I invite the authors over to my blog for interviews and guest post, that kind of thing, because books by marginalized authors have a way harder time gaining traction and finding an audience. So if I can help a book do that? I'll help.

What's been your journey to become a writer?

I dabbled in writing because I wanted more queer characters in epic fantasy, then got serious about it. It's like Toni Morrison says: "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” I freely admit to having an agenda in my fiction, and that is to produce fiction that is representative of complex intersectional lived experiences, and fiction that treats trans people like real live human beings.

I came to writing later than a lot of people do. I started writing in my twenties. I never thought of myself as creative. Looking back, I think this is part of what a lot of marginalized people do--that whole self-censoring thing. It takes a lot more work and gumption for a marginalized person to tell their story than a person who's already centered, whose story is already familiar.

That said, I want to *also* recognize my privilege. I started writing fiction while in grad school. Grad school was hectic, and a pressure cooker, but it was also flexible in terms of schedule. Unlike now, where I'm writing while holding down a full-time job and parenting, I started writing as just an exploratory thing.

I started writing because I found myself craving stories with vastly more queer and trans representation. At first I didn't know why. Over time, the writing helped me come out as both queer and trans--I realized I was craving representation of myself.

What inspires the content you create?

I write a lot in the same fantasy universe, so over time the stories inspire themselves. A character pops into one book, is awesome, then I'm writing a spinoff. Cycle repeats.

For stuff not set in that universe, a lot of it is some weird alchemy between social justice things that are always floating around in my head and random story prompts from open calls I stumble across. That's how must of my short fiction ends up getting written.

We like to celebrate diversity/inclusion on books here. Mainly because we know our demographic isn't the only diverse voice, so we're interested in knowing others walks through life. What can you tell us about yours?

I grew up White and neurotypical. I'll be frank that these two pieces of privilege really helped me--those let me essentially skate through in the education system, landing in AP classes, getting slaps on the wrist for fighting or skipping classes where Latino/a classmates got suspensions. Seriously,we White people can never underestimate the benefits of our privilege.

On the other side of that, I grew up poor, and I grew up in an unstable house (alcoholism, abuse, etc.). I grew up struggling a lot with gender and sexuality but having no real space to navigate those struggles because everything in my family was constantly falling apart. So, when I went to college, it was a rude awakening. I was basically raised by drunk hermits who were constantly chastising me for not be girly enough. I...sort of had to learn how to be a person at 17 on my own.

Is there anything we could be doing better with diverse content, or making the conversation about inclusion in books where it needs to be?

I love the We Need Diverse Books movement. It's great! It's done great work!

But I feel like the conversations should actually be We Need Diverse Authors. Like, I'm really over reading a straight person's book about what it's like to be queer. Or a cis person's book about what it's like to be trans. And I know many people of color would really rather me not, as a White person, throw another book out there with a White character in brown face because I don't have the authentic experiences to write that well.

The conversation needs to move away from "How To Write The Other" to interrogating why people with privilege feel they have the right to write The Other at all. Also, jeezy creezy, if we *had* more diverse creators maybe we could move away from the Normal/Other dichotomy which is kind of problematic in itself.

/end rant

Do you feel well represented in books and/or media?

No. I don't. It's rare to see a trans person in books or media, and rarer still for them to be non-binary.

It's rare to see class experiences really explored.

It's rare to see high-profile books address queerness in ways that don't end tragically. I'm pretty through with Buried Lesbians.

It's exceptional rare to see a character with more than one of these things going on at one time. As if the complexity I live in every day is too much for the page.

What are creators not doing well when it comes to the conversation of diversity?

I think creators with comparative privilege do a terrible job of stepping back and shutting up. This comes up a lot in the form of "no one should tell anyone what to write!!" kind of meltdowns.

Like, no one is telling you what to write. Write whoever you want to write. But know that if you write something and get it wrong and put it out there that someone might tell you you messed it up. And the decent thing to do in that case is to listen and to grow from it instead of throwing a temper tantrum.

Who's been your favorite character to create and why?

Oh, man. Um. I'm going to go with Shayat. She's from my book ARIAH. She's awesome. She just refuses to take any shit from anyone, and I love that, but she's not cruel in her honesty. It's a fine line to walk. My current project features her, and I'm writing in her voice for the first time, which is so much fun.

(That melanin tho...)

Is there a piece of work you've taken most pride in?

Probably ARIAH. I still can't even really believe that book got published, and that all the weird gender and sexuality things I wrote into it actually made it into the final published version. I'm so glad they did!

That book was so cathartic for me to write. Writing it helped me sort out a lot of things about myself, who I am. I hope that reading it is cathartic and validating for some other people out there. <3

What types of books or media did you consume growing up?

I read so much macho trashy sci fi. I also read A TON of men-at-sea-having-homoerotic-feelings books (looking at you Herman Melville). I was really into, like, too-cool-for-school pomo Sixties lit for a while? I read voraciously growing up. But mostly it was books By White Dudes For White Dudes.

And I watched movies, just constantly. I would skip school and just hang out at the movie theaters sneaking from movie to movie. My taste in movies was always much less white dude centered. A lot of foreign films. A lot of feminist films.

Are there any books in your opinion that gets representation right?

SQUEE! You can always check here for my book reviews:

Anything with 4 or 5 stars get a hearty recommendation from me!

If you're looking for awesome rep of trans people kicking ass in a dystopian city, check out RoAnna Sylver's CHAMELEON MOON.

If epic fantasy is your jam and you're craving deep worldbuilding with inclusive gender structures, check out Kameron Hurley's Worldbreak Saga. If you want urban fantasy built around intersectional awarness of race and gender, check out Daniel Jose Older's SHADOWSHAPER.

If you want a dystopian YA that features a hugely diverse cast anchored by a finely realized Black girl, check out Kayti Nika Raet's NIKO.


What inspired your review policy?If I wanted to read a book about a White dude saving the world and banging a lot of swooning women, shit, those are easy to find.

Books focused on marginalized people? Those are harder to find. So I put it right up front in the review policy that those are what I was looking for.

What draws you into a book? What themes do you look for? What makes a book an amazing read?

Spec fic! DIVERSE spec fic.

Why do you write the types of books you write, and do you plan diversifying genres in the future?

I write speculative fiction because I love it! I love the freedom in it and the ability to create entire worlds where you can play with expectations and upend the things we've been told about the world and ourselves. I don't see myself straying from that any time soon.

I have been making forays into science fiction and YA, though. Most of my writing has been adult-oriented (not, like, erotic, just not YA) fantasy. So, there's been some genre-hopping.

What would you tell your teenage self(unless you're still a teenager!) that you wish you knew now about your growth?


Which fictional world would you want to live in?

I'd make an excellent hobbit; where do I leave my application?

Who is your favorite and why?

I AM HERE FOR TETRA. those strong arms, yo.(*blushing*)


Since you're a spec fic writer, I have to ask! If you can have any superpower or supernatural ability, what would it be and why?

Telekinesis, but I would use it in such asshole lazy ways like just hovering the remote to me from the table.

What is the book that had the biggest impact on you and why?

Ursula K. Lle Guin's THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS was/is so fundamental to my coming out to myself as trans. I reread it ever couple of years, and every time the depiction of these genderfluid/agender people resonates so hard with me. It's rare for me to feel recognized by a book, seen by a book, and reading that book may have been the first time it happened. It wormed its way into my marrow.

What type of advice can you give to those starting out?

The very first thing you have to learn to do is plow through and finish things. Learn to let your first drafts suck. They're just gonna suck. Accept the suckitude. Don't let perfection stand in the way of finishing the actual draft. First drafts are for finishing; revisions are for perfecting.

What sites would you recommend for those trying to educate themselves better on the conversation about diversity in books and media?


Finally, where can folks go for updates, and to learn more about your projects going on?

Official blog
Hop on that newsletter! 

Official Twitter 

*If* you're interested, here are purchase links for the two novels I currently have out: ARIAH:


They both feature queer elves if that's your thing. (Clearly it's mine.)

Pronouns: they/them/their.

B R Sanders is a white, genderqueer writer who lives and works in Denver, CO, with their family and two cats. Outside of writing, B has worked as a research psychologist, a labor organizer and a K-12 public education data specialist. 
B is also offering their book Ariah in our month long giveaway! 


  1. I'm loving reading these posts!!!! Such a wonderful idea!

  2. @Harper Miller thanks for checking it out =D We hope to do something similar for romance readers next year


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