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Happy pride month, honey bees! We hope you can be loud and proud during the next month and, of course, all year round! To celebrate, we got to interview some of our favorite authors who have given us amazing LGBTQ+ themed books. One of our favorites of 2022 is Laura Gao, the author of Messy Roots. It’s a book we absolutely enjoyed when we got to read it and we highly recommend it to each and every one of you.
With us absolutely loving Messy Roots, obviously, we were more than excited when we got the opportunity to interview Laura Gao all about her book, future plans, pride month and so much more! Keep scrolling for more.
Welcome to The Honey POP! We’re so excited to talk to you today. To get things started we’d love to get to know you a little better. Could you give us three fun facts about yourself?
I’ve lived nomadically since I became a full-time artist, including living in Taiwan and Portugal. Ever since college, on my birthday every year, I wear a ridiculous onesie and dance in public to raise money for charity. I’m named after Laura Bush and I named my little brother after Jerry from Tom & Jerry.
If your younger self could read Messy Roots, what do you think they would say about it?
Younger me was quite rebellious so if I told her to read something, she probably wouldn’t do it haha! But if she did, I hope she’d be quite excited for the future.
Do you have any other LGBTQ+ graphic novels or books that you recommend for fans of Messy Roots?
Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle, Stone Fruit by Lee Lai, and an upcoming book I got an early copy for called In Limbo by Deb Jj Lee.
The story of how Messy Roots started off as a webcomic and became a graphic novel was so inspiring! What advice would you give to young artists looking to create their own webcomic?
Always start small and post that work, no matter how crappy it looks! The quicker you get over your perfectionism, the faster you’ll finish projects, get feedback, improve, and overcome imposter syndrome or “artist stage fright”. I give myself a deadline for when I must post the art, finished or not. Even if it has mistakes, after I post, I realize 99% of people never even notice. Ultimately my goal is to tell a story; I don’t need to be perfect to be impactful.
Messy Roots is a beautiful story about self-love, racism, sexuality, and so much more. What is the main message that you want readers to take away from it?
Messy Roots is both a love letter to my hometown, Wuhan, and to all the wandering young Lauras out there looking for a safe place to call “home.” Everyone’s search for identity and home is different and complex. And that’s okay! By letting your voice shine above the doubts, you’ll realize the right people and places will naturally gravitate towards you — no matter how messy your roots are.
Messy Roots takes us on your journey of life and coming to terms with your sexuality. What’s some advice you have for young LGBTQ+ readers who are still trying to find themselves?
Think of it less as a “coming out” and more of a “coming into” yourself. Each step you take and each mistake you make when trying to figure out your queer self all are stepping stones in this journey. Go at your own pace and always make sure to be in an environment in which you feel safe and supported by allies before you make any big reveals.
One fun little question we have is: if you could decide any classic novel could be remade as a queer story which one would you choose and why?
I was a terrible student and never was interested in reading the classics. However, if The Hunger Games could be called a classic by now, I’d totally dig a queer Katniss love triangle.
The art style of Messy Roots is super unique and is super easy to get inversed in. What’s a drawing tip you’d have for us who are sadly nowhere near as talented as you are at drawing?
Hunt for great YouTube videos! There’s a goldmine of free and high-quality content out there by amazing artists. I still use YouTube videos today to learn how to draw some obscure thing or a complex piece of anatomy.
As we are celebrating Pride Month soon, what is Laura Gao wearing to Pride this year? What are your plans? What would a comic page look like?
A floral jumpsuit, rainbow suspenders, and a pride flag wore around my neck like a superhero! I plan on celebrating with my queer friends in San Francisco. A comic page would be a montage of all the shenanigans my friends and I would get into that weekend, a few lip prints in blue lipstick on the page, and only half-finished because I’d be busy partying.
Last but not least, Messy Roots is such an awe-inspiring story and we love the queer rep and how real you kept it. What is next for Laura Gao? What is a queer story you would love to tell next? Which queer stories do you think don’t get told enough?
I’m working on my second graphic novel with HarperCollins! I’d love to write a fantasy, think Percy Jackson but make it queer, Asian, and based on Asian mythology. Stories of queer joy and happy endings are still lacking. I’m excited for stories where the majority of the characters are queer, and allowed to be messy and flawed and loveable all at once.
What a pleasure it was to talk to Laura Gao we will surely be reading her next book! Have you read Messy Roots yet? What classic would you like to be retold as an LGBTQ+ story? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP! You can also visit us on Facebook and Instagram!
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TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LAURA GAO:
INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | VIMEO