It’s June and that means it’s time for another year of Pride Month spotlights! I’m so excited to spotlight The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes and share the interview with the author!
Welcome Sonora! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Thank you so much for having me! I’m Sonora, author of the contemporary YA novel The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School, which recently came out on May 17! I’m also the host of the monthly Twitter chat #QPOCChat, which is a chat for queer and trans BIPOC writers to come together and chat about our projects for an hour!
How would you describe The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School in one sentence?
After getting sent to a mostly-white Catholic school, Yamilet goes back into the closet, which means she has to try her best not to fall in love with the only openly queer girl at the school.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School?
Yami co-runs a jewelry-making business with her mom to help pay for her and her brother Cesar’s Catholic School tuition. She’s fiercely loyal, hilarious when she wants to be, and would do anything to protect the ones she loves, especially her brother–even if she won’t let him know it.
Yami’s brother Cesar has always been a straight-A honors student, casting an overwhelming shadow for Yami to fill. He would be the perfect golden child if it weren’t for all the fights he kept getting into at their old school. Even so, he’s full of jokes and smiles, never letting the bruises he comes home with sour his mood.
Bo is the only openly queer girl at Slayton Catholic, and she’s proud as hell. She wears her queerness on her sleeve unapologetically, and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself (and others) when she needs to, even if it means telling off a priest.
Jamal is Cesar’s best friend from their old school. He’s the only person besides Yami from that school who ever seemed to have Cesar’s back. Despite Cesar’s constant joking around, Jamal never fails to take him seriously.
What representation will readers find in The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School?
There is both f/f and m/m rep, an indigenous Mexican lesbian main character, a bisexual side character, a lesbian Chinese-American adoptee, and a side character with mental illness.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
With The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School, I had a very specific plan that did not end up happening at all! The only thing that really stayed the same from my original plan was that Yami gets sent to a Catholic school lol. I’ve gotten much better since writing this book about sticking to my plans.
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
One scene that really sticks with me is when Yami takes Bo and Bo’s parents to a baile folklórico performance. It’s a beautiful moment where Yami feels connected with her culture for the first time in a while. There’s an excerpt from that scene that I think about often. “I may not know the languages of my ancestors. I may not know much about them at all. Colonization will do that to a people. But when I’m watching my people dance. When I see my own skin on the stage. There’s something about the joy on their faces and in their bodies that feels ancient somehow. And I feel like my ancestors have been with me all along. I can almost see them here, dancing with us.”
What is something readers will find in The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School that they may not realize based on the synopsis?
Based on the synopsis, readers may not realize that The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School is first and foremost a story about love, but not just romantic love. Platonic love, sibling love, and most importantly, radical and unapologetic self-love.
What’s something you hope readers will take away from The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School?
I hope readers will walk away from my book feeling inspired and ready to take on the world, or even just to tell their crush how they feel.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School?
Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa, Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie, and Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno.
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I’m very excited to say I’m working on my second novel right now, which we anticipate to come out (no pun intended) about a year after The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School. All I can say for now is that it’s a #metoo revenge book with a queer autistic protagonist. I’ll be announcing more on this very soon!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Seventeen-year-old Yamilet Flores prefers drawing attention for her killer eyeliner, not for being the new kid at a mostly white, very rich, Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she’s gay, and Yami intends to keep it that way. After being outed by her crush and ex-best friend, she could use the fresh start.
At Slayton Catholic, Yami has new priorities: make her mom proud, keep her brother out of trouble, and most importantly, don’t fall in love. Granted, she’s never been great at any of those things, but that’s a problem for Future Yami.
The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. Either way, Yami isn’t going to make the same mistake again. If word got back to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. So she’ll have to start asking, WWSGD: What would a straight girl do?
Told in a captivating voice that is by turns hilarious, vulnerable, and searingly honest, The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School explores the joys and heartaches of living your full truth out loud.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born and raised in Arizona, Sonora Reyes is the author of the forthcoming contemporary young adult novel: THE LESBIANA’S GUIDE TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL
They write fiction full of queer and Latinx characters in a variety of genres, with current projects in both kidlit and adult categories. Sonora is also the creator and host of the Twitter chat #QPOCChat, a monthly community-building chat for queer writers of color.
Sonora currently lives in Arizona in a multi-generational family home with a small pack of dogs who run the place. Outside of writing, Sonora loves dancing, singing karaoke, and playing with their baby nephew.