Lisa Norberg, Acting Director of the Library at The Cooper Union and librarian at La Scuola d’Italia, spoke with Kyle Lukoff, author and librarian at Corlears, about writing, reading, and life in the library.
LN: First, congratulations on receiving the Stonewall Award for When Aidan Became a Brother. How has receiving national recognition for your work changed the way you think about your writing?
KL: Thank you!
I think winning the Stonewall (and, prior to that, the generally good press it received) helped me trust my gut. See, it was really hard to find a publisher for Aidan. I had one editor suggest that I “team up with a talented writer,” and others give me vague, nebulous feedback saying that the story “didn’t work,” or that they “just didn’t love it.” My former agent wanted me to completely overhaul the story, but all of her suggestions involved deadnaming him, having strangers openly speculate about his gender, or include various transphobic microaggressions. Which I didn’t want to do. The last few months have proven that I was right to keep trying even when it probably made sense to give up. Which will hopefully translate to that level of confidence–or at least stubbornness–for future projects! Though who knows, that might not always be a good thing.
LN: You recently tweeted “I’m not a “real writer” I’m three very lonely creative children who like to make up stories about their imaginary friends stacked in a trench coat.” Do you think there is such a thing as a “real writer”? What’s your definition of a “real writer”?