I had the pleasure of interviewing C.B. Lee, the author of one of my favorite F/F books, Not Your Sidekick. If you like superheroes, relatable characters, and adorable romance, I’m sure you’ll also love her book!
Q1: I love Not Your Sidekick so much! Where did the idea of this superhero world originally came from?
I love comics and superheroes and one of the fun things about it is that cheesy, campy feel as well as the ability to explore different themes, especially with identity. The feel of this world is also inspired by The Incredibles and the 1960s Batman TV show, but along with the comic feel of superpowers and ridiculous hero and villain names and secret leagues and guilds is also this post-WWIII world.
That came along because I’ve always been inspired by post-apocalyptic worlds and I think they’re fascinating to see how different people interpret how humanity will handle certain disasters. What I really love is seeing the rebuilding process, and we don’t see a lot of that in most post-apocalyptic narratives. I thought it would be really interesting to see a world that had already handled this and was moving forward, already in the rebuilding process. Things aren’t perfect, not by the least, but I had fun exploring how people would have dealt with the limited resources of their world.
Q2: What was your favorite thing about writing this book?
I just really enjoyed writing the friendships between Jess, Emma and Bells, and it’s just so much fun to get to write how much they care about each other and are there for each other, their little in jokes and as they bring Abby into the fold. There’s a lot more of this in Not Your Villain, too, and it’s so much fun getting to write their texts and group chats and just really get to share more of this dynamic.
I also enjoyed writing characters with a lot of weird superpowers. You don’t see all of them in Sidekick, but you’ll learn more about them in Not Your Villain.
Q3: That Romeo and Juliet reference at the end of the book has to be one of my favorite F/F moments ever. Do you have any favorite moment from other media about LBQP+ women?
Aw, thank you! That was a lot of fun to write, it’s such a serious moment where Abby’s like “I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die, everything is terrible” and Jess is just… “Nope.” Heh. I have so many favorite moments! I really loved Pen and Blake in Girl Mans Up, as well as Lien and Claudia in Storm Season and Sarita and Maritza in Certainly, Possibly You. You know how in romcoms there’s that rush-to-the-airport moment where everything is happening and you just have to tell that one person how you feel? I adore those and Sarita and Maritza’s huge moment in that book was one of my favorites ever.
Also, Korra and Asami in The Legend of Korra are one of my all time favorite couples and I just adore them so much. One of my favorite moments (really, a lot of them are my favorite) is just the development of them throughout the series, how they become friends and come to care for one another. I’m very excited about the new comic books as well where we see their romantic relationship unfold.
Q4: What are some LGBT+ writers that inspire you in your writing?
I think Malinda Lo’s work is incredible, and she’s such an inspiring person and writer; Ash and Adaptation are favorites of mine and those two duologies have such rich worlds and complex characters. I also am a huge fan of Benjamin Alire Saenz and just his lyrical and lovely prose, and he’s an amazing poet as well as novelist.
Q5: Is there a genre you’d like to explore in your writing but didn’t have a chance yet?
I would love to write a mystery, something very Scooby Doo and have that fun, delightful Goosebumps feel.
Q6: Are you planning to publish more F/F stories sometime soon?
Yes! I have a few projects in the works that I can’t talk about, but there will be more of Jess and Abby’s romance in the Sidekick series, as well as another short story.
Q7: Do you have any messages or advice for LGBT+ authors who are just starting their career?
Don’t give up! You are valid and your story is important and it may be challenging, but getting your story out there is worth it. You are worth it.
About the Author:
CB Lee is a bisexual writer based in California and author of Not Your Sidekick, the first in a YA science fiction series featuring queer protagonists from Duet Books. CB has been featured at literary events such as the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Celebrating the Asian American LGBTQ+ Experience at the Chinese American Museum, YALLWEST and Pasadena Litfest as well as a guest at popular panels and discussions such as DragonCon’s “LGBTQIA IN YA,” and “BiScifi: Queer Heroes in Science Fiction and More,” WonderCon’s “Sisterhood of the Self-Sufficient,” Emerald City Comic Con’s “Diversity in Publishing.” In 2017, Not Your Sidekick was honored as a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards and the Bisexual Book Awards.