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- author Jackie French

Tuesday 11 August 2020

12 Curly Questions with author Sarah Prager

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
In high school and college I’d imagine my future wife would wear glasses reading a book next to me in bed. This was the height of my idea of a perfect future life and luckily I met a bespectacled woman right after college. I was over the moon that she’d read in bed next to me before we went to sleep each night. Then she got LASIK (laser eye surgery)! I still love her even without the glasses!

2. What is your nickname?  
Our three-year-old goes by many names: Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Tinker Bell, Daniel Tiger… you get the idea. Whenever she changes character, the names for everyone else in our family changes, too. I go by Eric, Gaston, Genie, Mom Tiger, etc. Lately I’m usually Kristoff. (Her baby sister is always a sidekick like Olaf, Flounder, Abu, or Baby Margaret.)

3. What is your greatest fear?  
Like many parents, my fears most often involve my kids. I worry that I’m not being a good enough mom, about keeping them safe, about raising them well.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.  
I write my ancestors’ history for those of the future.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.  
Emotional. Representative. Diverse. Empowering. Evolving.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
I’d be Piggie of Mo Willem’s Elephant & Piggie series. Piggie’s always encouraging Gerald to lighten up and they have so much fun together.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?  
I’d go to 1593 so I could meet Francisco Manicongo. Francisco is one of the 50 historical figures featured in my new book Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History and we barely know anything about his life. He was taken from Africa to Brazil in the late 1500s and was put on trial for refusing to wear male clothes and for sleeping with another male slave. I don’t know what happened to him and I’d like to ask him… and also show him some support.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
“OMG, I can’t believe you’re gay! You’re legally married to a woman, too?? And you have kids without a husband?? WHAT?!”

9. Who is your greatest influence? 
It’s cliché, but my parents. They raised me with love.

10. What/who made you start writing?  
I first started writing about LGBTQ+ history as a way to promote my free mobile app, Quist, that teaches LGBTQ+ history. I would do unpaid guest blog posts to get the word out since I didn’t have an advertising budget. Then one day a senior editor from HarperCollins Children’s emailed me asking for a call. She invited me to write a book about LGBTQ+ history for teens! I was floored. It felt like a dream book deal fell into my lap out of nowhere, even though it was the result of years of hard work making a name for myself in the LGBTQ+ history space. I got an agent and signed a contract within two weeks and turned in the manuscript less than a year later. That turned into my first book, 2017’s Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World.

11. What is your favourite word and why?  
It’s actually lesbian. I love that it’s tied to a sense of place, like I am a descendent of Sappho of Lesbos and actually from the Greek island. Fun fact: The residents of Lesbos actually tried to sue the Greek LGBTQ+ rights organisation for using the word 'lesbian' in their name. All of the residents of Lesbos are Lesbians, it's their demonym. They lost the case, but I like to think there is a lesbian Lesbian out there who finds it funny.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. While I was writing my YA book (Queer, There, and Everywhere), I tried to immerse myself in excellent YA writing so that mine would come out close to that. My wife and I listened to the audiobook over and over during the months I was writing; we couldn’t get enough. I was pregnant with our first child while I wrote my first book and that book certainly influenced our choice to name our daughter Eleanor, though she is named for Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the historical figures featured in Queer, There, and Everywhere
Sarah Prager is an advocate for LGBTQ history education particularly for youth. HarperCollins published her first book, Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World, in 2017. The book received three-starred reviews, was named an official selection of the Junior Library Guild, received five award nominations, and was named a Best Book for Teens 2017 by New York Public Library and Chicago Public Library. Her second book, Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History has already been named a Junior Library Guild selection. Sarah’s writing has been published in The Atlantic, The Advocate, HuffPost, Bustle, JSTOR Daily, and various other outlets. Sarah has presented on LGBTQIA+ history to over 140 groups across five countries. She lives with her wife, two children, and three cats in Massachusetts, USA. For more information, see www.sarahprager.com.