For LGBTQ+ individuals and band geeks — two groups that are very much not mutually exclusive — the chance to find themselves in the pages of YA fiction is rare at best.
Forward March, an upcoming young adult novel by debut author Skye Quinlan, will change all of that with representation of individuals who rarely see themselves in the books they read.
Set to be released on March 22, 2022, readers will have the chance to witness everything from a Tinder catfishing scheme, to a presidential campaign, to a high school marching band, to the power of a found family.
Written out of Quinlan’s love for being in a high school marching band, Forward March weaves an engaging story with characters with whom readers can find themselves.
“It’s just a bunch of teenage shenanigans and a marching band that is very, very queer,” says Quinlan.
Forward March follows Harper McKinley as she tries to balance marching band and her senior year of high school with her Republican father’s presidential campaign. Further complicating things for Harper is the revelation that someone has been catfishing people on Tinder… using her face. But when this leads her to Margot, who had been catfished by the fake dating profile, Harper starts to learn the truth about herself.
“Harper realizes, ‘Oh man, I think I might be gay,’” Quinlan explains.
With an overtly homophobic mother and a father in the political spotlight, Harper must determine how to live authentically in a world where many stand against her.
Quinlan stresses the role of representation in the creation of Forward March. Both Quinlan and her character Harper identify as asexual and as a lesbian, which makes this form of representation particularly important for the Columbus author. Forward March further includes a diverse array of characters who identify as bisexual, nonbinary, and pansexual.
“It’s really important for teens to see themselves represented in the media they consume,” Quinlan says.
While she has been an avid reader ever since she was young, Quinlan rarely found identity showing up on the pages of the books she would read.
“Personally, I would have understood who I was and how I identified a very long time ago had I seen more books that were queer or focused on lesbian and asexual representation,” she explains.
Now, Quinlan wants to help ensure that teenagers can see characters like themselves in novels, find a support system, and realize that they are not alone.
According to the author, one of the main takeaways from her novel is: “It’s okay to be who you are.” She hopes her book will ensure readers that regardless of their family situation, they can still find people who will support them.
“Harper gets a happily ever after in the book,” Quinlan says. “I just want readers and teens to know that they’ll get a happily ever after, too.”
Through Forward March, Quinlan wants readers to be aware that they, like Harper, can still find support and a found family, no matter what forms those sources of comfort may take.
Similarly, she hopes that aspiring LGBTQ+ authors will be able to find the support network they deserve in the writing community. To anyone wishing to publish a book in the future, her advice is: “Keep reading, keep writing, and do not give up.” 🔥