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QWS Podcast S1E6 – Jemimah Brewster

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QWS Podcast S1E6 Jemimah Brewster

QWS Podcast S1E6 – To listen to the podcast click on this link from Words and Nerds.

In this episode Rob talks to Jemimah Brewster about creating newsletters, indie publishing and listicles!

Jemimah Brewster is a queer writer and editor based in Gippsland, Victoria, working in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and book reviews.

Rob also chats with Grace, Blarney Books & Art in Port Fairy book reviewer. This episode Grace reviews Raised by Wolves by Jess Ho and A History of Dreams by Jane Rawson.

Books mentioned and reviews can be found on QUEER WRITES SESSIONS | Blarney Books and Art.

Jemimah Brewster’s Contacts


Newsletter, The Brew


Oscar and Alice, by Jemimah Brewster

Jemimah Brewster’s Shout Outs

Tansy Rayner Roberts The Belladonna U series

Unreal Alchemy

Holiday Brew

The Whippet newsletter, McKinley Valentine

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Sex Education TV series

The Nancys, by R.W.R. McDonald

Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans

Sophie Gonzales

The Brink, by Holden Sheppard

Invisible Boys, by Holden Sheppard

YOUth&I , An intersex youth anthology


QWS Podcast S1E6 – Jemimah Brewster interview transcript

Please note: this interview transcript has been modified slightly for ease of reading.

Rob: Jemimah Brewster is a queer writer and editor based in Gippsland Victoria, working in fiction, creative, non-fiction poetry and book reviews. Jemimah’s creative work has been published in Voice Works magazine, Visible Ink anthology, Planet Bastard Anthology, and Introvert, Dear and her self-published novella, Oscar and Alice was released in 2021. Jemimah has written book reviews for The Big Issue, Arts Hub, AU Review, Underground Writers, and her own blog on Jemimah also writes the fortnightly newsletter, The Brew on Substack: Welcome to Queer Rights podcast Jemimah.

Jemimah: Thanks, lovely to be here.

Rob: Thank you for being our guest. Jemimah, we, we start off with an opening question that we ask all our guests, which is, “How has your work influenced your identity?”

Jemimah: Yeah, I I’ve been grappling a bit with this question. When you sent it through to me, <laugh>, I was thinking about it just before and writing myself a few notes. And I think that, like, if you define work, so I would define that here as my interest in reading and writing and literature. I would say it has pretty much always defined me to some degree. I remember when I was about 10 or 11, I was, you know, grappling with the idea of what do I want to be when I grow up?

I decided I wanted to be an author <laugh>, not a writer, an author. <Laugh>.

Rob: Excellent.

Jemimah: So. and then I always loved reading, Always loved (it), like I grew up on so many different picture books and comic books and so on. And yeah, that has sort of fueled everything that I’ve done. Like, I studied a Bachelor of Arts in writing and editing. I did a short course many years ago on book binding. So actual book binding, which was a lot of fun. Really interesting. And like, it, it sort of pivots around to different areas of things, but always related to books.

I went to a slam poetry night with a friend in Melbourne many years ago, and it sort of twisted my brain a little bit. This is like a whole different way of experiencing like, poetry and writing and there’s, there’s no writing involved. People are saying it to you that it really kind of opened a whole different avenue for that. So, yeah, I would say that experiencing different ways of communicating and expressing yourself, myself, like sort of lifelong exploration of different ways to do that.

Rob: Brilliant. Fantastic answer. Thank you. I highly recommend to our listeners to get onto The Brew, which is Jemimah’s weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it. I will be putting anything that we discuss today in our show notes, so you’ll be able to get there.

I would love to start off learning about how you got into creating a newsletter and how that evolved. Just noting that for our listeners who perhaps aren’t writers, this is something as emerging writers, we get told, ‘Make sure you do a newsletter.’ And I think 98% of us don’t do it, or don’t even know how to do it. So I’m keen pick your brain because The Brew is, is fun. It has such a great voice to it and it also just seems to be the perfect reading length. Like, you want more, but you feel like you’ve read something, so please…

Jemimah: Ah, sure thing. Well, honestly, it’s really nice to hear feedback on the newsletter because sometimes I write it and I think, ‘This is so dumb, no one’s going to read this.’ <laugh>. And it’ll be like 1130 at night and I’ll, my laptop propped open, one eye open. I’m like, ‘Does this joke make sense? Did I put it in the right way up. I don’t even care. Just send it out.’ I feel a bit vaguely embarrassed reading through it again.

Rob: No, not at all.

Jemimah: And then other times I’ll spend the whole week, you know, tweaking it, trying to get it perfect and then still not be entirely happy with it, so it can go in any direction basically.

So, newsletters… the first sort of regular newsletter that I had anything was with Underground Writers, we would put posts on website. So we would post book reviews, all sorts of stuff. We would do a sort of a roundup of those in our newsletter. And newsletters come essentially in two different kinds. And you can have a sliding scale of those two kinds. It can be a roundup of stuff that’s already been published — so it’s mostly like a bunch of links with some, maybe some pictures of things you’ve put out — all the way through to what mine sort of is, which is where you write something pretty much completely original for every issue.

A lot of writers have a combination of that. So, they write a little sort of intro and maybe it’s an anecdote of something that’s going on. Or especially those writers who are currently working on a few different things they might give an update of that stuff. Then also, their most recent blog posts and you know, recent appearances at libraries and bookstores, that kind of thing. So, I was trying to remember where the idea first came from (for The Brew) and I can’t quite find it in my memory banks because it was in late 2020 and most of that has been deleted since <laugh>

Rob: Really? So, was it that recent?

Jemimah: Yeah.

Rob: Because it’s so polished, it’s so well put together and the way that you combine you know, mixed media within it, and I’ll get you to talk about that. But yeah, I just thought you’d been doing this for years. It’s so well done.

Jemimah: Thank you. I think the idea had been brewing, no pun intended at all, been brewing in my head, <laugh> for a while. The first iteration of it, I kept sort of looking at all the interesting little things that I had in my house, like, you know, interesting bit of clothing or like a nice found somewhere or whatever. And the first idea was to have like an Instagram page called ‘My Favorite Things’. And it would just be like a picture of some little thing. Maybe I got it when I was traveling overseas, or someone gave it to me in an interesting little meet-cute, or something just with a little kind of story with it on Instagram. But then social media is a fickle beast as we <laugh>. I didn’t really like the idea of having another Instagram account to sort of keep on.

You know there are so many Instagrammers and people dedicate like, have careers running them and it was not what I was really wanted to do. So then I don’t know where the newsletter part came in specifically. It might have been when, because originally Jess, who I ran Underground with, she put together our newsletter for Underground and then at some point I started doing it because it was getting a bit busier. So that might have been where it came in.

And as I said, it was late 2020 and I think a combination of all these things, and of being in isolation for so long, I was sort of thinking of ways of connecting with people more meaningful online. Yeah. So as I said, social media’s very fickle and especially at that time, because everyone was online.

The world was much more online than they were before. It just felt like this sort of super stuff. And like, you’d spend most of your day online, even if you were working, you would still be checking news and seeing if your family’s okay. All those things. And then at some point the My Favorite things Instagram account sort of cross pollinated with this other idea and I came up with newsletters.

I had heard previously about a newsletter that was the kind where it’s sort of written from scratch and by someone named McKinley Valentine, and it’s called The Whippet. It had been around for a few years already at that point and had like thousands of subscribers and McKinley’s a Melbourne based writer. And then I saw through Writers Victoria that McKinley was running a workshop online specifically about newsletters.

The stars had aligned, I can a bit more about it and, you know, learn a bit more what it’s all about and what kind of platforms to use, all that kind of stuff. So that was like a four-hour workshop online and I think it was January ‘21, so yeah, not very long ago. And McKinley went through and sort of gave a breakdown of like this sort of origin of online newsletters as we kind of know them now. Yeah. So when, this is like a sort of brief history historical aside, when people used to read, newsletters and magazines as their main source of reading material as opposed to online, you would read something that you were interested in and then you’d be caught by the article next to it. And so you’d read that even though before sort of things. So there was a lot more reading of incidental things that you didn’t, wouldn’t necessarily read.

Rob: Yes.

Jemimah: And algorithms don’t like that so much. Like algorithms are their own agendas for whoever’s paid more money, or whatever they think get. So the process of things going online and people really narrowly reading specific topics, but newsletters are sort of like a digital newspaper to some degree because you’re reading it and you are reading it for that author or that organization because you’re interested in what they’re saying essentially. And I think the reason that authors in particular and publishers and anyone literary basically are told to have their own newsletter is because it’s much more reliable than social media and it’s a much deeper engagement in your audience.

Rob: Right.

Jemimah: Yeah. Because if someone signs up for your newsletter, that means that they’re a captive audience to some degree, like they’re already interested in what you’re going to say. And lots of authors use these really, creatively, and really effectively. At the bottom of her newsletter (her name escapes me), her author newsletters, she always has a bunch of links to e-books through this particular site. And if you download them through her newsletter, you can get them for free.

Rob: Oh, wow.

Jemimah: Yeah. So, I’m not sure how she organized that, but it’s genius because you’re also promoting lots of other authors in a similar genre.

Rob: Yes. And what I love about The Brew is you’ve got your book reviews and memes that you’ve come across and that you like, and photos, your own personal photos, and then just these interesting articles that you found interesting. So anytime you’re online do you think, ‘Oh, this would be great for the newsletter,’ or do you go hunting? How do, how do you curate it, I guess?

Jemimah: A little bit of both. There are many newsletters online that I subscribe to and that’s where I get a lot of reading from. And also from the newsletters, like Tansy Rayner Robert’s to all different types of things. Like one of them was about a Twitter thread from this person who’d been researching how women were treated in medieval times as opposed to how they were treated in Victorian times, which is very niche and very specific, but it was a really interesting thread and all the way through to, you know, how racist is Bridgerton or whatever. Like, she, she’s got a very wide range of stuff and she does a lot of reading, but then I will also find things just by Google searching. Like when I was watching Heart Stopper, I looked up every article I could find about it. And the ones that seem to have a really interesting, or in-depth take on it. And for the imagery and stuff, I have a lot of fun finding like just the perfect meme that goes with <laugh> the newsletter. I sort of collect memes at this point, <laugh> and yeah, finding the right gifs. I use a lot of gifs from Adventure Time and—

Rob: Oh, I love adventure time. Yeah.

Jemimah: Yeah. And like Parks and Rec and stuff because there’s just some really great gifs. Yeah. So I guess I’m a little bit like a magpie collecting bits and pieces. And because I write so many book reviews for AU Review, I put a condensed version of those into the newsletters which gives an update of what I’ve been reading. Yeah. So it’s almost like a little sort of snapshot or like a diary or something of the media I’ve been consuming basically in the last fortnight.

Rob: That’s great.

Jemimah: Yeah. Well it’s a little bit difficult sometimes if I’m like rewatching the same thing for the hundredth time and haven’t read any books lately, I have to say, and it’s like Thursday and I’m like scrambling around, I’m like, ‘Oh, I haven’t done anything interesting recently,’ <laugh>.

Rob: And so do you have a bit of a formula? Or, I’m just thinking for anyone who’s going to have a go at creating their own, because it feels like the timing (of reading The Brew) is just right. Like, do you sort of go, okay, it needs to be two pages, nothing more, or you’ve just got a feel for it now because you’ve been, you’ve been making them for a while?

Jemimah: I think it is partly I’ve got a feel for it. I, I scrolled back to my very first one, which I think came out in February, 2021. I scrolled back to that recently and was re-reading it and it definitely was a lot wordier <laugh> and yeah. One of the things that McKinley talked about in that workshop was just to avoid walls of texts like the plague. Like the rule isn’t, you know, how often should I put spaces in like line breaks? It’s how many can I get away with?

Rob: Wow. Yeah. Yeah. Cool.

Jemimah: Then, yeah, and then I find like if I’m, if I’ve got say a book review and I have to scroll and scroll and scroll to get to the bottom and I kind of think, ‘Oh, that, that’s a bit much.’ So I’ll cut out often stuff that I, you know, writing I would prefer to have in there. But, you know, you just can’t keep engaged for that long sort of thing.

Rob: I wanted to segue to your website under your blog, you have a whole lot of listicles. How did you get involved? I love listicles.

Jemimah: I love listicles too. <Laugh>,

Rob: How did, how did you start doing that? Is that something you have a, a thought and go, ‘Okay, let’s do eight’ -, I saw one that you had done, I think it was eight amoral characters and fiction? I was just like, ‘Oh this is great.’

Jemimah: What was it? Yeah, amorally fiction characters that sort of, I, I started getting the al while we were running Underground Writers, so I think because I used to get the Book Riot newsletters but they send out like five a day, so I ended up unsubscribing. It was a bit intense.

Rob: <Laugh>. Yeah, that’s a lot.

Jemimah: Yeah. But they do a lot of listicles and basically I saw them doing that and, and they’re American organisation at Books for American as well. So it’s like we could totally do that and have majority Australian New Zealand titles. And so they’ll have, you know, six cozy witchy books for Fall or you know, six books by intersex authors or whatever.

So yeah, I think we had a bit of a team meeting with the editors for Underground and I was just like, ‘Hey, let’s start doing listicles once a month.’ And so out of each year I’d sort of assign each month and I’d be like, ‘Oh, this person’s in charge of the listicles for this month’, et cetera, et cetera. And if anyone was ever stuck we would sort of brainstorm ideas and they were always so much fun coming up with pretty much anything. Like I think we had one about books that have very like floral covers because there was a phase a couple of years ago. And then I started writing a couple from my own blog just, you know, because they’re fun to write. Basically I just go in and I look at my bookshelf and I try and think of ways that different books are connected.

Rob: That’s awesome.

Jemimah: I’ve got one that I’ve been working on, I haven’t finished it yet. And it’s called ‘Eight of the gothiest gothic books to ever goth,’ I got the word goth in there as much as I could and then there is the amorally protagonist one, ‘Eight books and cheerfully amoral protagonist’. That was based around a particular book that I wanted to include on it. And then I just sort of kept going with it to see who else I could find. Yeah. And that’s got like Douglas Adams, and a Shakespeare character. Like I just sort of went nuts with that one.

Rob: Definitely. I want to start playing with that I think. Looks like a lot of fun. I also I wanted to ask you about your novella, Oscar and Alice. How did that story come and can you give us sort of a quick elevator pitch about it?

Jemimah: I can. So there’s a little bit embarrassing as like a writer who has a, a degree, but basically almost the entire plot came to me in a dream <laugh>, which is, you know, if we are in a book right now and you had a writer character that said, ‘Oh, the whole story came to me in a dream,’ like as an editor, my editor brain is just like, ‘No, no.’

Rob: <Laugh>

Jemimah: No, no one would accept that. But it literally did. It was in summer, and it was either Christmas Eve or like Boxing Day. It was like right next to Christmas, I just had this like, super, super vivid dream and it was basically the plot of Oscar and Alice.

Rob: <Laugh>. Oh wow.

Jemimah: And it was quite a few years ago, I think it was like 2017. And I just sort of spent the day on my laptop just like typing this thing out to get it out of my brain. And at the end of it, it was almost entirely the way it is, the way it came out in, in the book. A lot of rounds of edits and stuff, but it’s a really strange length. So it’s 15,000 words. Too long for a short story and way too short for full length book. So I did a bit of research and discovered that novellas exist and there aren’t that many places that published them. I know 12th Planet Press has done a couple of series of novellas and I looked up and, you know, found what I could find.

But again, it seems to be defined like the length seems to be defined differently in different places. So in America they, they go a little bit longer and then I think the UK they go a little shorter and so it just didn’t fit anywhere. And I put it aside and I forgot about it for years and then I got it out and I was like, ‘Oh, I remember this, this is a lot of fun to write,’ and edited it and tightened it a bit and thought I kind of could maybe make it longer or I could maybe make it shorter, but I don’t really want to, I like it the way it is. And then I turned 30 last year and I had a requisite crisis that goes with that I realised that I could, because I’ve always wanted to, have my own book published.

Rob: Yeah, yeah.

Jemimah: Like, hey, I could just do that <laugh>, I don’t need to ask someone else’s permission. Every time I’d got it out, I’d look up all the links I’d saved for places that published novellas and none of them were open or, you know, you had to wait six months to hear back and stuff like that. It’s like, that’s sucky. So yeah, I have two different friends who have successfully self-published and by successfully, I mean that they did a job publishing.

Rob: Absolutely. So how was that? Did you talk to them and get pointers from them on how to do it? Because I know a lot of listeners and myself are very interested in, indie-publishing and I guess what are the highlights and what are the lowlights from people who have done it?

Jemimah: Yeah. It’s interesting. You have to be realistic in what you’re expecting from it and honest with yourself about why you’re doing it. I published it, released it on Halloween last year. I did it as a sort of, as a project for myself. I had done my best to stay literary community and keep writing all that stuff. But it was very hard because it’s all online and I kind of thought this is a really good way to keep my creative side up by. And it timed out really well because I thought all this through in about August last year. And then, because it’s quite a witchy Halloween, that’s a really sort of crossover. And then was a week or two after it was published, I moved house and then started a new job.

Rob: Wow.

Jemimah: <Laugh> and since then I would never not have had the time to do it. So it timed out really nicely. Basically, Oscar and Alice is the story of twin siblings Oscar and Alice. It’s sort of about death and family and coping, I guess. And unity to some degree. Yeah. I had a lot of fun coming up with the characters when I was writing it. This would happen in my head, but constructing characters that would make sense for doing what they were doing and how they sort of fit together like that. Okay. that, that wasn’t given to me the dream.

That I had to come up with myself, <laugh>. So yeah, at, at the start of the book Alice is sort of surrounded by like bad things are happening. Her brother dies quite horrifically and unexpectedly, but she’s not that sad about it because he was terrible. And then her mother leaves and so it’s just her and her dad and her dad’s like, he’s a plumber and the drain out the front of their house has like blocked and like sewage backing up out of it, but he can’t fix it because the council won’t let him kind of thing. And so, yeah, you know, his son has died, his wife has left his teenage daughter’s super mopey, and he has this huge sort of sewage out the front of his house so he can’t do anything about. And so his arc is sort of like, he’s not a sort of demonstrative person to begin with to sort of deal with that. And I was actually quite proud of how his arc came together in the end.

And then there’s, there’s two neighbors. There’s an elderly neighbor, and she grows dope out in the woods and she can see people’s auras and she sort of keeps an eye on what’s happening next door. And at some point she decides that Alice needs a bit of a help and she goes over and, but she doesn’t really know how to talk to people.

And then the other neighbor is this – I didn’t want her to be too much of a stereotype – but she’s essentially the maneater. So, she sets her sights on the dad character and decides that she wants to have him as partner sort of thing. And Alice isn’t too happy about that and so I have to work that out and it’s sort of told from different perspectives throughout and over perspective on point.

Rob: Ah, that’s fantastic. Yeah.

Jemimah: Yeah. It’s sort of meandering and I did my honours’ thesis on magical realism, and I think if you know that it makes a bit more sense because it’s a little bit sort of dreamy and sort of random magical things happen, but it sort of makes sense in the story.

Rob: Oh I think it’s great. And, and what a fantastic thing that it now exists out in the world. Like that’s that’s brilliant. Yeah.

Jemimah: Yeah. It was a good project. So to answer your original question about the self-publishing aspect I talked to my friend – both my friends who had self-published – whose book books I had physical copies of. I had them in front of me and I could get a good idea of what I wanted in a physical book. I published it as an e-book and a physical, but I needed to have the physical copy in my hand. Like that was what I wanted.

So I ended up doing it through Ingram Spark. I did a bit of research and they seemed to be the best to go with, because I have a membership to Small Press Network. Part of the membership discounts through Ingram Spark.

Rob: Okay.

Jemimah: So I used that to help to fund it.

Rob: That’s great. And it’s in your local bookshop? Yeah, <laugh>. Yeah. I bought a copy <laugh>.

Jemimah: You did, yes. About four people told me about that after you bought it. Which is awesome though. I mean it’s so great and I’m so pleased I did it. Because otherwise that story would be still sitting on my laptop somewhere.

Rob: Yeah. That’s the thing, there’s so many stories out there that traditional publishers aren’t going to publish them, but we still need them, right?

Jemimah: Especially ones that are sort of a bit odd and a bit Yeah. Stuff like, I think there’s more provision for that kind of thing now. Like, think particular awards or particular submissions open for some, which is where they’re like, ‘Send us your weirdest work or whatever.’ But it was because we had been contacted by quite a few self-published at Underground Writers that I could see the scope of it. So one of the first books that I reviewed, the author who’s a very good friend of mine now, and she had a collection of like non-fiction essays. It’s called Watching Cartoons with Boys by Emma Michelle and hers was the one that sort of properly inspired me to do that.

And she works in administration, she’s very like, very organized, knows exactly what to do, did oodles of research and so she has in quite a few bookstores, even Dymocks and stuff, she has them there on commission because she did all that incredible research right at the start. Yeah. Quite a few different authors got in touch with us at Underground Writers. So I got to see like a lot of poetry collections as well. Cause there’s not a huge amount of opportunity. I mean there’s lots of opportunities for it, but there’s also a lot of poetry out there that people have published in, especially in collections, to literary magazines. And so yeah. It was a really good exercise and I’m really glad I did it and I think that I will do it again. But I haven’t got a novel that came to me in a dream sitting on my laptop anymore.

Rob: I’m sure if you go to bed an hour early. Just wait for that inspiration. Lucid Dreaming. Do some automatic writing while you’re sleeping <laugh>.

So we have a writing question that we ask all our guests and it’s just around any advice or top tips or writers out there. You’re doing some fantastic work in that space from your reviewing to the newsletter to novella. So yeah. What would you say?

Jemimah: I’d say a few different things. I would start with read lots, that’s like my theory when I was a student and I stand by to some degree – is that words in words out <laugh>. Especially if, you know, say you really love fantasy, read a lot of fantasy, you really love poetry, read a lot of poetry etcetera. Something that I’ve found, which may sound a bit like a hippie along with that novel dream thing, is it’s really good to write while your inhibitions are down. I’ve found that some of my best writing has happened when I’m so tired that I can think straight, which might sound counterproductive, but it actually works really well.

Rob: Right.

Jemimah: Yeah. For a couple of months, a few years ago, I would take my laptop with me when I went to bed and I would just sort of work on whatever I was working on at the time and then I’d read it the next day and I’d think, I barely remember this, but this was really good <laugh> and I think it was just because, you know, I experimented a bit with it and basically it was just that I felt like I had to do it before I went to sleep. And so all of my, ‘Oh this isn’t quite good enough. Oh, this sounds a bit stupid,’ or whatever, wasn’t there.

Rob: That’s amazing. Do you think there’s also that that connection with your subconscious?

Jemimah: Yeah, I think that’s definitely in there as well. And I tried it once when I was a bit tipsy and it worked quite well as well. But get drunk if you want to write, but there was, I think, I don’t know if it was like Hemingway?

Rob: Hemingway, yeah.


Right, ‘Write drunk, edit sober.’

Rob: Yeah.

Jemimah: Yeah. Blows to take any of Hemingway’s advice. Yeah. So that works really well for me. So there’s that and then the other one is some days you’ll sit down to write and it’ll be part of your routine and there’s just nothing there and you just can’t do it. And at some point that’s just a part of it. Like, you know, brains are so complicated and there’s so much going on in your brain every day. And even if you are home all day every day, say in isolation or something, and only interact with the same person every day, your brain still is different every single day it remakes itself or fills the different chemicals or whatever. So you can sit down to write one day and write 4,000 words and then the next day you can barely string a word together. And that’s just the way it is and it sucks.

Just do not get discouraged by that and not feel like, ‘Oh no, it’s gone. The magic has gone.’ You just have to say, ‘Oh, okay, I’ll just look at memes for an hour and then go to bed and then give it another go the next day.’

Rob: <Laugh>. Yeah. That’s brilliant. Absolutely. We do have a shout out question, but first how can listeners connect with you on socials subscribe to you in newsletter? We’ll have, as I mentioned before, we’ll have that in the show notes.

Jemimah: Yeah, sure. So I have a website which is where my little stuff goes. So if you want to go straight to the source it’s, which seemed like a good idea at the time when I set it up. Where I post the most, especially if you like memes is on my Instagram, which is @jemofthebrew. And then my newsletter is called The Brew and it’s on Subs Stack. Just Google it with my name there and yeah, The Brew comes out every second Thursday unless I travel in Australia. Which case it comes out on Saturday. Like when I was in Western Bay.

Rob: The food you had in Western Australia was amazing listeners. Oh my goodness. Check that one out. Now we also give our guests the opportunity to shout out any LGBTIQA plus artist books, shows, events, organisations.

Jemimah: I made a short list and I’m really worried that I’ve missed something important, so I’ll just apologise if I missed anyone. Some shows I’ve been watching, Heart Stopper on repeat, and also Sex Education on Netflix.

Rob: And Gillian Anderson. Yeah.

Jemimah: Oh yeah. So I have a shortlist of books here. Yourself, The Nancys, so cozy and lovely.

Rob: Oh, thank you!

Jemimah: Alison Evans work, they’ve written a few different YA books. They’re based in Melbourne. Their book Euphoria Kids was really, that was one of the first sort of specifically queer YA books that I read a couple years ago, and it’s really sort of dreamy and lovely and Alison wrote it as a counter to gender dysphoria. They wrote it as a gender euphoria. It’s really lovely and heart warming.

Sophie Gonzales has a couple of really good books particularly about the bisexual experience also YA. Holden Sheppard’s The Brink just came out, his second book, like I was up till like midnight on a school night reading it because I just couldn’t stop reading. In his first book, Invisible Boys, it’s about gay boys in Rural Australia, which is a really tough subject to be writing about, but just incredible because that is his experience.

And there’s two others. So Tansy Rayner Roberts, I mentioned earlier, she’s a Tasmanian writer. She self-publishers, a lot of her work and she was another inspiration for me self-publishing.

She writes some really lovely queer, cozy, sort of magical uni student type books that I have re-read a couple times. Brilliant.

And lastly, another organisation that got in contact with us when we were doing Underground – YOUth&I, which is an anthology by Intersex Youth. So their first anthology came out a couple of years ago and I think the second one either has come out or will be coming out soon. And it’s about increasing voices of intersex people in writing and editing, all of the cover designers/artists, everyone.

Rob: Fantastic. So was that youth and I?

Jemimah: Yes. YOUth and I

Rob: Great. That excellent. Thank you. And our closing, which we ask everyone is, ‘What is your hope for the LGBTIQA plus communities?’

Jemimah: Hard one <laugh>. There are a lot of things to be hopeful for. I think one of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, and hoping for, is that young children and teenagers can be in legal frameworks and social frameworks and every, you know, all the spaces they have to operate in can be given the space to be themselves fully, not from a, you know, ‘If they have to be gay, they have to be gay,’ kind of thing. Because that’s from their heteronormative point of view. You’re a blank slate and you’re working out where you are and that’s a lifelong process. You don’t have to choose a label. You can if you want. And for that to be sort of, I don’t know, in enshrined in a sort of sacred space like, you know, ‘Don’t mess with the kids,’ kind of thing.

And it’s difficult to imagine because our world is built on very linear things. We have laws and everyone has to abide by them. We have rules and everyone has to abide by them or whatever. And things like sexualities and communities and all those really important things that we need to be happy and live and so on are very difficult of defining those terms.

And I think a lot of people, particularly in the last few years of navel gazing, are realising that there is more to life than going to work and struggling and so on. And that your spiritual health and your mental health are as important as your physical health and you can’t just give people food, they’ll be fine. Like let them be all of their-selves. <Laugh>, Sorry, it’s a bit of a con long, convoluted answer.

Rob: No, not at all.

Jemimah: Putting it down, I’ve been thinking about it all week and I haven’t found a way of condensing that.

Rob: <Laugh>. No, that’s beautiful and absolutely. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see that in our lifetime?

Jemimah: Yeah. I think it’s getting there to some degree.

Rob: Yeah. And look, Generation Z is really pushing things along, particularly in the gender space. Yeah. Which is fantastic. Like it’s just that step change it feels like you know, even looking back a couple of years to where we are now is incredible, but it’s still not enough. And those in power need to stop punching down.

Jemimah: Yeah. So I think, I think the scope for changing it is growing. Like even this is partly why I’ve enjoyed watching things like Heart Stopper and Sex Education because those shows didn’t exist even when I was in high school, which was early two thousands and, you know, the kind of behavior that was acceptable then is not (acceptable), I mean it was never acceptable, but, you know, people just thought it was normal to do those kinds of things or say those kinds of things. And now you can stand up for yourself and you can point to other people and say, ‘No, it’s not okay to do those things. It’s not okay to say those things.’ Yeah. Representation is so important. You can actually see people living their lives as authentically or how they need to live it.

Rob: Absolutely. Yeah. Fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us, Gemma on QWS Podcast. Welcome back Anytime

Jemimah: <Laugh>. Thanks Rob.