7 Minutes in Book Heaven with A.J. Irving and The Wishing Flower

Hello!

Meet A.J. Irving and her new book The Wishing Flower.

An LGBTQ-inclusive story about understanding your peers, your feelings, and yourself, The Wishing Flower is a love letter to longing, belonging, and longing to belong. With stunning illustrations by Kip Alizadeh, The Wishing Flower will inspire readers to honor their wishes and show the world their truest selves.

A.J. Irving grew up in Boise, Idaho, writing stories and daydreaming about becoming an author. Now, she writes picture books and poetry beneath an old elm tree in Salt Lake City. A.J. reads kidlit every day and dances every chance she gets. She is also the author of Dance Like a Leaf (Barefoot Books, 2020).

Buy The Wishing Flower

Head to our Bookshop store or buy directly: https://bookshop.org/a/82376/9780593430446

Connect with A.J. Irving

Website: ajirving.com
Twitter: @aj_irving
Instagram: @aj_irving
Facebook: facebook.com/ajirvingauthor

Show Links

As promised in the episode, links to A Night Without Armor by Jewel and A Million Quiet Revolutions by Robin Gow.

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Credits

Host/Founder: J.P. Der Boghossian
Executive Producer: Jim Pounds
Associate Producers: Archie Arnold, Natalie Cruz, Paul Kaefer, Nicole Olila, Joe Perazzo, Bill Shay, and Sean Smith
Patreon Subscribers: Awen Briem, Stephen D., Thomas Michna, and Gary Nygaard.

Transcript

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J.P. Der Boghossian:
Why hello everybody. My name is J.P. Der Boghossian and for our new listeners to this podcast, we have a new episode of This Queer Book Save My Life that drops next week. But today, This Queer Book presents Seven Minutes in Book Heaven, where I interview queer authors about the new books they have coming out for us to love and to cuddle up with. With me today is AJ Irving, hello!

A.J. Irving:
Hello JP, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
I am so happy to have you here! So for new listeners, how this podcast works is that AJ and I are going to spend seven minutes in this virtual studio talking about her new book, The Wishing Flower, while also getting to know more about the amazing writer who is AJ Irving. So AJ, are you ready?

A.J. Irving:
I am ready.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Okay, I’m gonna set the timer and here we are. Question number one, would you please describe The Wishing Flower as if you’re sharing it with your celebrity crush and telling us who that celebrity is, of course.

A.J. Irving:
Oh my goodness, this question is so much fun.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Ha ha.

A.J. Irving:
So here’s a little backstory about my crush. I discovered Ani DeFranco and feminism my senior year of high school. And her music actually inspired me to get a degree in women’s and gender studies. So huge crush. I usually cringe when celebrities write picture books, but Ani’s debut picture book, The Knowing is lovely. It’s lyrical and delivers such an important message identity, celebrating differences, and the beauty of togetherness. So I would say, Ani, we have a similar writing style. I think you will love The Wishing Flower. It’s the Queer Girl Picture Book of my heart and was inspired by my very first crush. It’s about longing, belonging, and finding that special someone who truly sees you.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Oh, everything about this is so cute. I love it. Ani, we need to get this in front of Ani. Ani, if you’re listening, definitely pick up a copy of The Wishing Flower.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Okay, question number two. What’s a sentence from a novel, essay, poem, or other book that every time you read it, it gives you all the feels?

A.J. Irving:
Well, I’m going to share something that has lived on my bookshelf for so many years, made it through so many moves. My grandma gave me A Night Without Armor in 1999 for Christmas. And I think one of the coolest things about grandmothers is that they always write the occasion and the date when they give you a book.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Right?

A.J. Irving:
So, A Night Without Armor is a book of poetry by Jewel. And I used to listen to her music and write my own poetry. You know, her work just always gives me goosebumps. And so this is from her poem, You Tell Me. And it goes like this. I say humanity is a boundless, absorbing heart, transcending death and generations and centuries, absorbing bullets and stitches and tear gas, enduring humiliation and illegal abortions and thankless jobs. I say to you, the heart of humanity has not not be broken and let us raise ourselves like lanterns with the millions of others with the mad and the forgotten and the strong of heart to shine.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Wow.

A.J. Irving:
She really hits you in the gut, but then she brings you back with hope, you know, and I just, I love to include hope in pretty much everything I write. So.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
That is amazing. We are going to put a link to that in the show notes for sure.

A.J. Irving:
Thank you. Thank you.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Okay, question number three. What do you feel is the best sentence you’ve ever written?

A.J. Irving:
Oh, this is such a tough question, but I just have to say that I love this podcast and you’ve had so many fabulous novelists on here who write these really long gorgeous sentences. And I’m a picture book author and all my books are under 500 words, in most cases, way under 500 words. But I really love the challenge of expressing emotion in so few words. And

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Absolutely.

A.J. Irving:
I really think the magical thing books is the marriage of the text and the art, right?

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Mm-hmm

A.J. Irving:
So I’m going to share a line near the end of The Wishing Flower. It’s my editor’s favorite sentence in the book. It’s also one of my favorite spreads. Kip’s art is just pure magic and the illustration is birdy and sunny swinging together and the sentence is, together they soared so high their toes kissed the clouds.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Oh, I love that. I love that. And I also, I want to do a shout out to, I want to do a shout out to one of our episodes in season one that featured David LaRochelle. I don’t know if you know of David LaRochelle, but he’s also a children’s book author and he said something that really has stuck with me. He said, the work that he and you, AJ, do, is so important because you have to hook readers on the joy of words and reading and under 500 words per book. And it is so difficult. And the way he framed that was so amazing. And I’ve just realized also all those beautiful books that got me hooked on reading and where I’m at today. So absolutely the work that you do is so critical and so amazing. And the fact that you do under 500 words, I literally can’t even do a podcast or say the sentence in under 500 words. So it is absolutely amazing the work that you do. So thank you for it.

A.J. Irving:
Oh, thank you.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Question number four, what’s the best romantic scene you’ve ever read?

A.J. Irving:
Ooh, I’m going to share a scene from A Million Quiet Revolutions by Robin Gow. And this is a YA novel and verse about two trans boys who fall in love. And I just really love this passage when Aaron and Oliver reunite. I’m hugging you and you smell the same as you did before. And for some reason more than anything else, I’m happy that you smell the same. You feel the same too. super soft blankets, a gray one on your bunk bed. I can’t believe it’s you, you say. Nothing else exists but us. I want to kiss you all over. I want to be in your room before your parents knew anything. Before we knew anything, when we lay next to each other, open the window and let our names go. It’s such a gorgeous book. Oh my goodness. It’s such a gorgeous book. Oh my goodness. It’s such a gorgeous book.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Woo! Steamy! That is so great! And that actually leads us into our next question talking about the scent of somebody. What are your favorite scents to write about?

A.J. Irving:
Well, I, you know, just thank you so much for this question because I’ve realized that I don’t write about scents, and I probably should. So I’m going to start doing that from now. But what I will say is that I’ve been lucky to work with some really incredible illustrators, Claudia Navarro and Kip Alizadeh. And so I, you know, I think that their work is so powerful that readers can almost smell the tea and dance like a leaf. of grass and The Wishing Flower because the art is that powerful.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
I cannot wait to see that. That’s, good art can do that for you.

A.J. Irving:
Yes! And it should.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Okay, next question. What is the worst writing advice you’ve ever got?

A.J. Irving:
Well, I think this is probably going to blow your mind, JP. The worst writing advice that I ever received was to give up.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
(gasps)

A.J. Irving:
Seriously, yes. Many

J.P. Der Boghossian:
What?

A.J. Irving:
moons ago when I first started out, yes, I had a writing blog. And one of my posts was about goals. And some dude told me to give up because it was extremely unlikely that I’d ever sign with an agent or get a book deal from a traditional publisher. And that just really lit a fire in me. So, don’t give up, people.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
We need names. We’re gonna track this person down. Oh my god.

A.J. Irving:
Ha ha ha

J.P. Der Boghossian:
That is awful. Well, I’m glad you didn’t listen to them. Jerk. Okay, well next question, promote yourself. How do we follow you on social? How do we connect with you?

A.J. Irving:
Yes, well I’ve partnered with my favorite queer bookstore under the umbrella. You can pre-order signed copies through their website at undertheembrellabookstore.com. I also have purchase links on my website ajurving.com and I’m on Instagram and Twitter at aj underscore Irving.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Fantastic. We’ve got the links for you in the show notes and on our website. And that is all the time that we have today. Thank you so much, A.J.

A.J. Irving:
Thank you so much JP.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Well, this has been another episode of Seven Minutes in Book Heaven, which is presented to you by This Queer Book Saved My Life. Our podcasts are executive produced by Jim Pounds. Our associate producers are Archie Arnold, Natalie Cruz, Paul Kaefer, Nicole Ollila, Joe Perazzo, Bill Shea, and Sean Smith. You too can be an associate producer and we welcome you to join us. All the details are at patreon.com slash this queer book. Transcripts of all of our episodes are available at thisqueerbook.com.

You can buy the books featured on our podcast on our bookshop page. you to go to thisqueerbook.com slash bookshop and have a book on your way. We are on Facebook plus we’re at this queer book on Instagram and Twitter. My name is J.P. Der Boghossian and stay tuned to this space every Tuesday for new episodes of 7 Minutes in Book Heaven and This Queer Book Saved My Life. Until then, see you queers and allies in the bookstores!

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