Q&A with Author Anna-Marie McLemore

1. Tell us about your most recent book and how you came to write/illustrate it.

WILD BEAUTY is about queer Latina girls and enchanted, murderous gardens. The Nomeolvides women, including the youngest generation of five cousins, tend the grounds of La Pradera, a famously beautiful garden known both for enthralling visitors and killing those who break its rules. This story grew from my love of flowers and from wanting to write girls like me and my cousins into the world of fairy tales.

2. Do you think of yourself as a diverse author/illustrator?

I’m queer, Latina, and I’m married to a trans guy, so in a way I didn’t set out to write diverse fiction any more than I set out to live a diverse life. Writing inclusive stories was a matter of letting the truth I already know have a place in my work. 


3. Who is your favorite character of all time in children’s or young adult literature?

Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia

4. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you are forced to sell all of the books you own except for one. Which do you keep?

My family’s Bible

5. What does diversity mean to you as you think about your own books?

Because of my identities, because of the communities I’m proud to be part of, diversity in my own books often just means letting the world I know exist on the page.

6. What is your thought process in including or excluding characters of diverse backgrounds?

I didn’t see many characters like me on shelves growing up, and for a long time that turned into me thinking that characters like me had no place on shelves. Though my work is very much fiction, I had to learn to let myself into my stories.

7. If you are an author, write an example of a paragraph that is tone deaf when it comes to cultural diversity, then write the correct version. Explain the differences in the third paragraph.

I’m seen this done so well by other authors and publishing professionals, so I’ll add a general observation about writing cross-culturally: Being willing to listen and being willing to learn, entering the process with openness and humility, is so important to writing authentic, respectful representation. That’s something that’s true no matter what identity a writer is trying to portray. 


Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and grew up in a Mexican-American family. She attended University of Southern California on a Trustee Scholarship. A Lambda Literary Fellow, she has had work featured by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, CRATE Literary Magazine’s cratelitCamera Obscura’s Bridge the Gap Series, and The Portland Review. She is the author of The Weight of Feathers, which was a Morris Award finalist, and When the Moon was Ours, a 2017 Stonewall Honor book.

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