Do you have a sweet tooth? A hankering for a happy novel featuring queer teens in love? With a powerful friendship at the front and center, Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski is just the thing for you.
Meg and Linus are best friends bound by a shared love of school, a coffee obsession, and being queer. It’s not always easy to be the nerdy lesbian or gay kid in a suburban town. But they’re pretty happy. Until Sophia, Meg’s longtime girlfriend, breaks up with Meg. In order to distract herself, Meg sets out set Linus up with the dream new kid in town, Danny. What could go wrong?
>What can readers expect when they dig into Meg & Linus?
I’d say a relatively drama-free queer YA romance. I mean, of course there’s some drama, because without some conflict there is no plot, but this is supposed to be a happy book. So I hope what readers can expect is to find something that makes them happy.
Tell us where the idea for Meg & Linus came from. What was your inspiration?
Okay so this story started out in a very different place compared to what it became later. Originally, I was writing the story of a girl who had been dumped by her girlfriend. It was written as an epistolary novel, only letters Meg wrote to Sophia. I’ve always been a fan of the format and wanted to try it, so that was really my inspiration. Linus was a supporting character helping her through it all. While I still like the idea of it, I ultimately decided I wanted to write something less sad. So I added in a happier storyline to balance it all out.
our novel is told from the point of view of a boy falling in love and a girl falling out of love. What interested you in juxtaposing two young teens on very different points in their romantic lives?
Both are things that a lot of teenagers go through at some point. And if they don’t, these are still things that make you connect to characters and let you follow them on their emotional journey. The idea behind it really was to show a friendship between the two characters and how they support each other through both ends of a romantic relationship, with Linus at the beginning of one and Meg at the end of hers with Sophia. Linus is nervous and doesn’t know if he stands a chance with Danny, and Meg is sad and lonely after losing Sophia. But their friendship helps them both get through their individual struggles.
At times, stories of queer teens focus almost entirely on the act of coming out, leaving little room for them to exist beyond the revelation of their sexuality to others. Meg & Linus, however, is not a coming out novel. What went into your decision for your characters to not only be out, but also comfortable with their identities?
While addressing all the issues queer teens are facing in our world is incredibly important, I strongly believe that it’s just as important to have love stories for them that are no different from every other YA romance out there. A lot of stories with lead LGBTQ+ characters are focused on coming out or dealing with negative reactions from their families, friends, and other people in their social environment and that’s good, that’s important. But it was important to me to give the community what I think is essentially a feel-good story about teenagers falling in love. Something to pick up after a long day at school or work to just leave your troubles behind and sink into a nice, hopefully comforting love story.
There were a few microaggressions aimed at Meg and Linus’s identities throughout the book, but for the most part their queerness wasn’t ever positioned as an issue for others. Tell us about why writing a largely homophobia-free romance with queer teens was important to you.
It kind of goes with the answer above – every story that deals with the very real issues LGBTQ+ teens (and adults) are facing around the world every day is so important. Those stories have to be told to assure people that they’re not alone in their struggles and to make others understand the difficulties queer teens are facing. But no one in the LGBTQ+ community is solely defined by the issues they have to deal with. They deserve love stories just like everyone else. Falling in love and figuring out where to go from there is not something that is either cis-het or queer. I wanted that to be reflected in my characters’ stories in this book. There should be more teenage romance novels featuring LGBTQ+ teens the same way they exist for straight teens. It’s easy to find heteroromantic/heterosexual love stories everywhere, but queer teens have very little in terms of fictional characters they can identify with. I hope the number of happy queer teen romance stories will increase exponentially over the next few years. I wanted to contribute to that.
What’s next for you?
I am working on a new novel. I have several ideas for new stories, some closer to being finished than others and some I haven’t started on yet. All of them with queer characters and strong friendships at the center of them.
Is there anything you’d like readers to know that hasn’t been touched on?
believe that friendship is the strongest bond you can form with someone. Life can throw a lot at you, but there are people out there who are on your side and can relate to what you’re going through. Find your community. They can be people you meet in person or people you know over the internet. If you find each other and connect and have each other’s backs, it will help you through the tough times and make the fun times a lot more fun.