The Sweetest Debut: Lindsay King-Miller on Cheryl Strayed, Sarah Waters and the Lure of Buffy Femslash


Welcome to The Sweetest Debut, a new and regular installment in which we reach out to debut (or near-debut, we’re flexible!) fiction, poetry and nonfiction authors working with presses of all sizes and find out about their pop culture diets, their writing habits, and their fan-fiction fantasies.

Today we hear from Lindsay King-Miller, whose Ask a Queer Chick (which was born as a column) is part of a new wave of advice books that fall outside of the heteronormative path. When she’s not dispensing advice, King-Miller is a new parent, a teacher, and a writer whose lively pieces about the intersection politics and family life are a must-read.

What is your elevator pitch to folks in the industry describing your book?

Ask a Queer Chick is a guide to coming out, sex, dating, and living your life as a girl who’s into girls, based on the advice column of the same name.

What you tell your relatives it’s about?

Pretty much the same thing, but I leave out the “sex” part. And if they read it I tell them to skip the chapter about sex, although my great-aunt Bobbi read it anyway.

How long was this project marinating in a draft or in your head before it became a book deal?

I started writing the advice column in early 2011, and it was probably only a few months before it occurred to me that I wanted to write a book about this stuff. I found an agent in the spring of 2014 and sold my book proposal later that year.

What’s a canonical book you think is totally overrated?

As a woman and a science fiction lover, I really feel like I should love Frankenstein, but I’ve tried to read it twice and it’s so boring I can barely stand it. More monster mayhem, fewer lavish descriptions of landscapes, please.

How about a book you’ve read more than two times?

Hold on a second while I come up with a cooler answer than Pride and Prejudice. Oh, Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. I’m not sure if that’s cooler, but it’s definitely gayer.

Was there a book or other piece of art that influenced your writing for Ask a Queer Chick?

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. Hers is the tone I always shoot for when giving advice – loving and compassionate with just a touch of “but seriously, get your shit together.”

Your favorite show to binge watch when you’re not writing?

Right now I’m all about Jane the Virgin. Binge-watching happens very slowly when you have a 9-month-old, though, so please don’t spoil anything that happens after season 1.

What’s the last movie you saw in theaters?

May the gods of cinematic taste forgive me, but the only movie I’ve seen in theaters since my daughter was born was The Purge: Election Year.

Do you listen to music while you’re writing? If so, what kind?

I don’t usually write with music on, but Alabama Shakes is incredible to edit to.

Do you prefer writing in a buzzing coffee shop or silent library?

Coffee shop. That way I have an excuse to over-caffeinate myself – hey, it’s rude to use the table if you haven’t bought anything for two hours.

Desk, bed or couch?

Couch, but right now I’m writing in bed next to the napping baby.

Does your process consist of writing it all out in one big messy draft and then editing, or perfecting as you go (or something in between)?

I swear by terrible first drafts. And they’re usually way too long, too – my editing process is all about taking out the parts where I rambled around before getting to the point. Also removing the word “awesome.”

How do you pay the bills, if not solely by your pen and your wit?

I married well. My partner has a good career and benefits, so I can get by on freelance writing and occasional teaching gigs. (For the record, my partner and I were both broke when we got together.)

What is your trick to finding time to write your book while also doing the above?

Um… not getting enough sleep, mostly.

If you could write fanfiction about any pop culture character, real or imagined, who would it be?

If I ever wrote fanfiction it would be Buffy/Faith femslash. I don’t! But I’ve thought about it.