Queer Animals! Queer Plants! Queer Fungi, Lichen, and Corals! An interview with the creators
Our latest publication is a huge, fun coloring book showcasing the wonderous queerness of the natural world: Queer Animals and Plants Coloring Book by Kes Otter Lieffe and illustrated by Anja Van Geert. The finished product just came back from the printer, and it’s gorgeous—and probably going to immediately get banned in 20 states. We’re sure your state congressional leaders would be horrified to learn that beings from bison to herons to lichen are out their living their best lives far outside the gender binary and with sexualities humans can hardly conceive of. All the more reason to learn this science yourself … and color your rage away while you’re at it.
Kes and Anja kindly sent us replies to some questions about how this book came to be and what other queer ecological liberation projects they are up to—safely outside the US for now. Thanks, you two, we need your work now more than ever!
What inspired you to write your book?
We’re both ecologists and have been thinking about the subject of queer ecology for decades. In Kes’s first novel, Margins and Murmurations, there is a scene about a same sex couple of Kestrels (called Bert and Ernie), and a long romantic walk between two characters who are geeking out together about queerness in more-than-human community. That scene inspired several zines, workshops, articles and… Queer Animals and Plants Coloring Book!
Researching, writing (Kes) and illustrating (Anja) for the book has been a huge adventure. We knew there was a lot to learn, but even we were surprised by the sheer beauty of the stories we discovered along the way.
What else have you written?
Kes is a speculative fiction writer and the author of Margins, a trilogy of novels in which marginalised characters take centre stage in powerful resistance movements. She also has a new novel on the way. She has written several short stories and articles and writes from a working-class, chronically ill, transfeminine perspective.
Anja has published some articles on their medium blog on several topics concerning their work as a breathwork practitioner and herbalist.
What’s the best book you read in the last year?
Kes really enjoyed Embassytown, a beautiful and linguistically rich sci fi novel by China Miéville. And of course, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, which she can’t recommend enough.
Anja loved exploring the years of experience of no-dig gardener Charles Dowding who shares so abundantly in his books and especially enjoyed Skills for Growing.
What’s next for you?
We are currently deep in the process of writing an accessible science book about queer ecology together. It’s nerdy, political and very exciting! We’re also getting to do some proper science research which is fun.
Kes is putting together a queer ecology podcast, releasing a new novel and a translation of her first one. She also has a lot of seeds to plant before summer arrives.
Anja is setting up a smallholding in the Scottish countryside with their partner Emma, and exploring ways to hold space for queer people as a herbalist and breathwork practitioner.
Where can people find you online?
Kes’s writing, podcast and other projects are at www.otterlieffe.com
Anja’s breathwork and herbalism work is at www.pinprimrose.co.uk and their medium blog is https://medium.com/@avgeert