Happy book birthday, Black Iris.

Black Iris by Leah Raeder - "My head is bloody, but unbowed"Excuse me while I emo out all over this post.

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Black Iris, my super-queer dark-‘n’-twisted blood-soaked revenge thriller, is on bookstore shelves today. Here’s the obligatory link list:

That done, I want to talk about what this book means to me.

It’s personal as hell. It’s dark, twisted, and very queer. And it’s my first purely traditionally-published book, which is amazing in itself: that the first book of mine the industry believed in—without sales numbers to prove it a risk worth taking—is also my most challenging and boundary-pushing one. I’m wildly grateful to Atria Books for taking this chance on me, and for publishing a novel that depicts graphic love between girls. That’s pretty balls out, Atria. Good on you.

Recently, bestselling novelist duo Christina Lauren predicted the future of romance on Bustle:

The voices in this genre are busy telling the world what matters to women. Yes, we care about career, work-life balance, respect — obviously critically important things. But what if, the authors of these books are beginning to ask with their themes, we take those things as given and then ask for more: to be seen as sexual creatures who are in no way delicate, who come in every flavor and color, who like people, actions, or genders society tells them they ought not to? I even predict that within a couple of years we will see LGBTQIA romance alongside M/F romance in major retailers.

And that future is sooner than you think. Right now, in bookstores, Black Iris is sitting side-by-side with hetero romance novels:

And that’s pretty fucking amazing.

Thank you

I’m grateful beyond words to everyone who helped make this happen:

To my awesomely progressive publisher, Atria, and my wonderfully smart, gimlet-eyed, 80s-loving editor, Sarah Cantin.

To my fantastic agent and advocate, Jane Dystel, and everyone at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

To my blogger and author friends who’ve pushed for more diversity in YA & NA and who’ve promoted Black Iris. There are too many of you to list, but Dahlia Adler gets a special mention for her tireless, selfless advocacy for LGBTQIA+ representation in fiction.

To everyone in my life who’s been supportive and tolerant and loving and kind (even Alex) (jk jk he’s the most ridiculously supportive partner ever).

And most importantly, to every single reader who’s read my work, reviewed it, and talked about it, regardless of whether you liked it or not. The very fact that it makes you think, debate, argue, and discuss with friends is the greatest reward I could hope for.

I sure as hell hope Black Iris does the same. I hope it makes you feel something. I hope it makes you desperate to discuss it with others. And I hope it delivers a swift, hard kick to the floodgate holding back queer love stories in mainstream romance.

Christina Lauren was spot-on about the future of romance novels. And I’m here to help gay up New Adult.

Are you with me?


Once you’ve finished Black Iris, make sure you read the acknowledgments. Trust me.

If you're reading #BlackIris today…read the acknowledgments when you're done.

A photo posted by Leah Raeder (@leahzero) on

7 Responses to Happy book birthday, Black Iris.

    • And I’m proud as fuck of YOU for being the queer ally & advocate these genres so desperately need. Thanks for all you’ve done, Dahlz. I PROMISE TO GO BACK TO HATING YOU TOMORROW WHEN I’M LESS GUSHY. <3


    Dude I am SO INSANELY PROUD OF YOU AND THIS BOOK AND EVERYTHING YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED. Here’s to ever greater challenges and achievements and amazing, amazing books. <33333333

  2. I assure you this post did not affect me in any way. Nope, I’m not crying. I’m not. I tell you, Leah, I’M NOT AN EMOTIONAL BALL RIGHT NOW.

    Great post! Black Iris is in my top TBR shelf. I hope to get to it soon. And jsyk, my favorite kind of books are the ones in which the author puts a lot of him/herself.

    Love you, Leah! <3 <3

  3. […] in my work, and I’m damn proud of them for that. My writing duo friends Christina Lauren predicted we’d see queer romance on the same shelves with mainstream straight romance very soo…, and that’s actually happening already: my ultra-queer book Black Iris is out on display […]

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