“Here Are All My Favorite Delusions, I Hope You Like Them”: Talking to Gabrielle Korn About Queer Dystopian Novel “Yours For The Taking”

Gabrielle Korn’s Yours for the Taking exists at an intersection extremely relevant to our collective interests. It’s a story about queer people and community and love but it’s also a sci-fi novel about a faux-feminist dystopia that asks all kinds of questions we’re always asking ourselves around here — questions about the limitations of an inverted paradigm of institutional power and about how or why to sort humans into boxes by gender and about why some straight women are so obsessed with us. These are all things I personally love to think about and talk about as frequently as possible so I drove to Gabrielle’s apartment, which required scaling several steep inclines on the east side of Los Angeles, to ask her about all of that and more. Believe it or not, this interview has been edited for length!

picture of gabrielle korn flanked by the book cover for "yours for the taking"

photo by Lindsey Byrnes

“I was trying to get back to the reasons I became a writer in the first place.”

Riese: I thought I’d start with the question everyone else has already asked and that you’ve already explained a million times — what inspired you to write this book?

Gabrielle: The truth is, I feel like we don’t ever really know where ideas come from.

Riese: Yes, I am always saying that.

Gabrielle: We’re constantly consuming things! However, it was a very specific moment in my life where I’d just left Nylon and gone back to Refinery29. My life didn’t feel like it belonged to me. I felt like I’d stepped into this fast moving river and got swept away and my dreams were not my dreams anymore. I was trying to get back to the reasons I became a writer in the first place and that was that I wanted to write fiction.

Riese: Had you wanted to write fiction before, but felt like you had to start with a book of essays?

Gabrielle: The book of essays [Everybody (Else) is Perfect] felt like a really natural continuation of what I was already doing. In that way, it didn’t feel as exciting as I thought it was going to feel. It just felt like, “Oh, yeah. More essays.” I was really glad that I got to do it and I felt really thankful, but it was like, “Who am I?”

When I graduated college, the panic to be financially independent was greater than the drive to just do my art at any cost, basically. Then I just didn’t do it.

Riese: Yes. College writing workshops are full of people writing fiction for the last time while incidentally learning the marketable skill of how to be editors.

Gabrielle: Right. So it was, “Okay, I’m going to try to write a novel.” It was the end of 2019, the start of 2020, the end of the Trump presidency. There was all of this nihilism in the air. People were talking about climate change in a real way for the first time that I’ve ever seen and I was stuck in women’s media. All of this coalesced and I’m really lucky that I have an agent who takes me seriously when I call her and say insane things like, “I want to write a science fiction novel.”

She was like, “Great. Do it.”

Then I went to Fashion Week, and I was in Milan and Paris in February 2020 when the pandemic started. I had the really strange experience of watching the absolute disconnect between the world I was in, which was fashion, and the world outside, which was on fire. Then I just started writing it.

“I’ve always loved feminist speculative fiction, but a lot of the classics hinge on a very reductive understanding of gender.”

Riese: Do you read a lot of sci-fi?

Gabrielle: I do.

Riese: Had you been reading sci-fi thinking, “I wish these people were gay?”

Gabrielle: Yes. Not only, “I wish these people were gay,” but, “I wish these people could think about gender as more than just men and women.”

Riese: Yes, absolutely.

Gabrielle: I’ve always loved feminist speculative fiction, but it really seems like a lot of the classics hinge on a very reductive understanding of gender.

Riese: What are your favorite dystopian books and films and stuff?

Gabrielle: Never Let Me Go, Station 11, The Age of Miracles, Parable of the Sower, Exit West, The Blind Assassin, The Power, Les Guérillères, and it’s not technically dystopian but I feel like I’ve been very influenced by the poetry book The Work Of A Common Woman which is quoted at the beginning of my book. I’ve always really loved Octavia Butler. I got into her when I was in middle school. I always return to those books.

I’ve always really liked hard sci-fi, too, which is my secret life. At one point, I’d read every Isaac Asimov book and I really loved The Children of Time book, which is about spider aliens. I really like when it’s about aliens, but not about aliens. In film and TV, as well. Contact, I think, is the best movie ever made.

Riese: Do you think that might possibly be partially because of Jodie Foster?

Gabrielle: Yes. But I also think that it’s just one of the most beautiful films. I can’t explain it. My partner Wallace was watching it recently because she had never seen it. I got her to agree, which felt important.

Riese: You watched Station Eleven on HBO right?

Gabrielle: That was the best TV I’ve ever seen.

Riese: Yes! Exactly! It’s the best TV show I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve never seen anything better.

Gabrielle: Me too. I was really into the book. I read it a bunch of times. I thought what the series was the most incredible fucking piece of content I’ve ever seen. I cannot believe how beautiful they made it.

Riese: And it was nominated for nothing!

Gabrielle: I know. It’s like, “What’s the point of doing anything?”

Riese: I thought, “There’s no way this is getting zero Emmys. This is objectively the best thing I’ve ever seen?”

Gabrielle: And I’m not a crier. It takes so much to get a tear from me. The ending? I’m still crying about it.

Riese: Yeah sometimes I watch clips just to feel alive.

“Is this book too weird? Is it not enough of any one thing to be appealing to people?”

Riese: It’s really hard to find lesbian or queer genre books that also read like literary fiction, so I’m so glad you wrote one for me, thank you! Were you ever nervous that your first book wouldn’t feel like a lead-in to this one, which is so different?

Gabrielle: No. It’s different in format but thematically to me they feel in conversation with each other. I was more worried that publishers wouldn’t be interested in it because, to me, it feels like such a specific book, and it lives in so many different genres, which I think can make marketing hard. But you only need one “yes” when you’re pitching editors. There were some dark moments where I was like, “Is this book too weird? Is it not enough of any one thing to be appealing to people?” But we just had to find the person who understood the vision. I think not everybody gets it.

Riese: Have people had responses to it that surprised you?

Gabrielle: What I’ve suspected this whole time has come to fruition, which is people either really like it or they really hate it. I’m surprised either way. I’ve stopped looking at Goodreads because it was making me insane. Every other comment would be like, “This is the best book I’ve ever read..” And then the next comment would be, “This book is not worth the pages it’s printed on.” No one felt medium. I guess that’s true of most books.

Riese: The ones that hate it are always the ones that are like, “Thank you net galley—”

Gabrielle: Yeah, “Thank you net galley and St. Martin’s Press for this ARC!” So I’m just like, “Neither of these things can be true. It’s probably not the best book you’ve ever read..” But also, “It can’t be the worst book you’ve ever read.” So that’s been surprising, but also not, is what I’m saying. It is just such a specific book. People also seem to disagree on whether it’s plot-driven or character-driven, which is funny to me. Sometimes everyone’s reactions make me feel like every single person has read a different version of the book.

“Straight women really romanticize women.”

Riese: Often when I’m reading I feel like I’m not grasping the overall themes of a book, which is annoying to me because I like to think of myself as a smart person, and I’m like, “I don’t know what I’d ask the author of this book,” but when I was reading your book, I was like “Yes. This is hitting! I get it!”

Then I was like, well, I guess that makes sense. I related to your book of essays so much, too. Because we’ve had similar careers, we’ve been in leadership positions in “women’s media,” we’ve asked a lot of the same questions about the world and power and how ambitious visions are compromised by forces like capitalism and other people. So of course you’re writing about themes that I think speak to me personally. And one of those themes is that I think straight women really romanticize women. You know what I mean?

Gabrielle: Totally.

Riese: So I guess — you’ve said before that the book started with the story of Orchid and Ava in New York — but what made you get to the point where you decided you also wanted this to be about a feminist corporate dystopia?

Gabrielle: I know that I’ve said a lot that it started with Orchid and Ava, but it also started with Jacqueline, and Olympia and Shelby. It started with all of them. The plot, in my mind, was always Ava and Orchid break up because Ava gets accepted and Orchid doesn’t, and Jacqueline has not accepted any men, and the people who work for her either don’t know or are going along with it. It was only later that I was like, “I guess I’m saying something political.” I don’t know. I was brain dead and just banging on my computer and that’s what came out.

I feel like so much of the theme of straight women idealizing women just came from my dark times in women’s media. This idea that if you have a space that’s just women that it’s somehow superior — that just became so funny to me! The book is supposed to be funny, which I don’t know if everybody picks up on.

Riese: I think it’s funny! Even like the line about the only problem with the all-women idea is that it’s never been properly funded, I chuckled.

Gabrielle: Thank you. I was like, “If I can’t make myself laugh, what is the point of doing this?” But I just was so entertained by these women that I worked for, who just had so little self-awareness about the fact that they were branding themselves as something activist and they were making a fuckton of money and treating everybody like shit. I started writing this before the great “girl boss reckoning.” It was really interesting to be revising this manuscript while all of the stuff that I had seen play out was getting talked about.

Riese: Were you like, “This book is really going to hit now?”

Gabrielle: Yeah. I was like, “Someone better buy this fucking book.” I was also afraid that by the time it came out, people would be sick of these ideas because it became so in the news that I was like, “This is going to take three years to come out. I don’t know.”

“There’s no way to categorize people by gender that makes sense anymore.”

Riese: Have you ever been to The Wing?

Gabrielle: I was so amused by The Wing. The fact that it was like walking into a vagina and the lack of irony, the earnestness of it, I just thought was so funny. The membership fees, obviously, all of that went into the book.

Riese: I went to a book event there, and the crowd was going wild for these very basic concepts about female empowerment that are just part of your day-to-day discourse when you’re queer. By the end of it I thought wow, straight women are really easy to please! All these platitudes I thought everybody was being tongue-in-cheek about turned out to be earnest. Anyhow, I always felt like a weird outsider there.

Gabrielle: It also wasn’t just The Wing. I was thinking a lot about the activism of my early twenties and the conversations around planning The New York City Dyke March, which impacted this book, in terms of how exclusionary you automatically become when you try to categorize who can and cannot access something.

I don’t know if they still do this but back when I was involved there were people who showed up to protest, saying, “We’re protesting men at the Dyke March.” I was like, “This is for dykes. Why would there be men?” But they didn’t mean men. They meant trans women. They were a bunch of TERFs who refused to acknowledge that trans women are women. But trans women of course are welcome at the Dyke March. Anyone who identifies as a dyke is welcome.

Riese: Yep.

Gabrielle: I will never forget the cold horrible shock of realizing that that’s who they were talking about, and feeling there was this insidiousness, these TERFs, within an activist space trying to police who the space was for, and then seeing that conversation repeat in all these different ways in women’s media and having this gatekeeping around who the content covers and who it doesn’t cover and who’s On Brand and Not On Brand. Again and again, it was these cis women defining who should and shouldn’t have access to certain types of content. I decided I could either go insane or I could write a novel.

I think I did both.

Riese: Yes, the conversation that happens in the book around who counts as woman-adjacent “enough” to be in the women’s space is one that’s been happening in queer women’s communities for so long. It gets more and more impossible every year, because the lines between this gender and another get blurrier.

But Jacqueline’s idea, that having women in charge of everything will fix everything? On some level, sure — I think having women in charge can be better. But not always. We need more women in power not because they’ll always be better, but because it’s just more fair that way.

Gabrielle: Yes. Totally. I also think that what’s really complicated about theorizing about gender is that you can argue your own self out of existence. I think everything you just said is true, but also, I believe that women’s spaces are really important. I just think that having a space for queer women should not mean that other people are harmed. I think there’s this assumption that if something is for somebody, then it’s automatically against somebody else.

Riese: Yeah, it’s tricky. Sorting out the difference between trying to serve a specific community vs being exclusionary.

Gabrielle: I also think spaces where everybody is included are also important, and that it’s important to talk about queerness and gender and what it means to be a queer woman, ‘cause that category doesn’t go away just because we know that gender is fake.

Riese: Right, there’s no good way to do any of this, no way to categorize people by gender that makes sense anymore. You can say “okay, no cis men in this space,” but bring race and class into this conversation and it makes less sense. Because not all men are oppressors of all women. Are all men bad?

Gabrielle: Yeah. I feel like that is the question of the book, but I think that even when we say, “everybody but cis men,” the implication there is that trans men aren’t men.

Riese: Right! Exactly. Going back to, there’s no way to do this that makes sense for everybody. I think we can try to reflect what our communities look like on the ground — in reality, trans men and non-binary people and queer women, cis and trans, are often part of the same social community, that’s just the lived reality of it, and what we all want is to be able to share space with our friends! But once we have to officially write down “who is part of this and who isn’t” —

Gabrielle: There’s no way to do it that makes any sense! I think that straight women in particular really want to believe that it’s as easy as saying “men are the problem,” and it’s not. Because what we see is that often in positions of great power, women behave just like the men, if not worse, ‘cause they have something to prove. I saw that happen again and again and it feels like this cosmic joke.

Riese: Right! I do also think that when women in power — or anyone who’s not a straight white man really — mess up, they’re absolutely destroyed for it in a way straight white men aren’t. White men really can just be awful, torpedo a company, ruin thousands of lives, and then move on to the next project without much friction. They can fail up. Expectations are higher for women and trans people and people of color, especially when they’re trying to — or claiming to want to try to — perform a social good.

But the concept of “absolute power corrupts absolutely” has been on my mind a lot — with everything happening in the world right now. The idea that flipping who has the power will fix things, or that giving oppressed people power over their perceived oppressors will fix things — no, it’s still a power structure, just with different players in the roles, and often different ways of flexing that power. We published a piece a few years back where the author wrote, “I wish for a new societal order that does not revolve around relations of power and domination,” and I think about that a lot.

Gabrielle: It’s a classic sci-fi thing. I wanted to explore that very simple concept in a complex way where it’s queer and trans people.

Riese: Yes, I could think about this forever and ever.

“I know how this goes. I know how you can get chipped away at by someone who is a sociopath.”

Gabrielle: I also think another thing that happens is that traumatized people traumatize other people.

Riese: Exactly, hurt people hurt people. Do you think Jacqueline was ever traumatized?

Gabrielle: I think that Jacqueline felt very alienated in her own life and I think she was very disappointed by the men that she counted on, but I also think she mistook the alienation that she felt for oppression. I think that she desperately wanted to be marginalized.

Riese: Right.

Gabrielle: So that’s how Jacqueline operates. She wants to think that the things she’s been up against in her life are because she’s a woman and the reality is that she hasn’t really been up against anything. Everything she’s ever wanted has come true. She’s just been alone. I think people who are alone can be really dangerous because I think we need other people to grow.

Riese: Right, to keep us in check — we need people to supervise us and support us. The more power you have, the less the people around you feel comfortable being honest with you, which took me too long to realize myself.

Gabrielle: Totally, and she doesn’t have that. She doesn’t have anyone who trusts and respects her enough to give her feedback until Olympia starts doing that.

Riese: What were you thinking about when you were writing those types of conversations, ones where the people who are working for her were forced into compromise by a conversation?

Gabrielle: I was thinking a lot about my own work experiences and how easy it is to get tricked into doing something because you believe in the mission and want to change it from within, but forget that if you’re participating in the system, then you are participating in the system.

Also, I let myself have fun with it because she is a deeply unhinged person. It’s really fun to write a character that’s insane. So balancing out the rationality of the people she has around her with how unhinged she is and have them slowly give up more, and more, and more until they’re just doing exactly what she wants, that was a really fun thing to do. I don’t know. I felt the most confident, honestly, in writing those scenes because I was like, “I know how this goes. I know how you can get chipped away at by someone who is a sociopath.”

Riese: It’s also interesting in this because her job is her whole life. It’s not like there’s any escape. It’s not like at the end of the day Olympia can be like, “Now I’m going to my house.” Your house is part of the work.

Gabrielle: Totally. She’s really in it.

Riese: Right. Were you thinking about that at all in terms of what it was like for the employees in there?

Gabrielle: Yeah, totally. Again, if I had 1,000 pages to write the book, there would have been more employees who got to be characters. But I did, in a lot of ways, want her to not be a stand-in, but her experience, I wanted it to be implied that her co-workers were having parallel experiences and she’s the one who’s brave enough to actually take a stand at the end, but they’re all happily “trodding” along until they’re not.

“There was just so much else that I had to say that just couldn’t fit into my word count.”

Riese: What were your favorite parts to write?

Gabrielle: The romance and the relationships. That was just the most fun to write, even the romantic friendships and sister dynamics. I feel like I’m very relationship oriented and that was the most fun. It was also the hardest because you have to let your characters be their own people.

Riese: Yeah. What was the hardest stuff to write?

Gabrielle: I could not, and this is a spoiler, but I could not for the life of me write [redacted] and [redacted] saying goodbye to each other. I just felt like I had spent the whole book writing them towards each other and then they had to say goodbye and I kept not doing it and I kept having [redacted] just leave. I had to bring it to therapy and figure out why I couldn’t do it. I think it was because it felt like saying goodbye to the book, but also because I’m famously bad at goodbyes and breakups. It’s really hard for me to quit a job. I like to just bounce.

Riese: Yeah. You like to Irish goodbye on life.

Gabrielle: Yes. That’s my whole thing.

Riese: But you’re allegedly working on a sequel, right?

Gabrielle: Yeah, I am. It’s called The Shutouts.

Riese: Do you know what that’s going to focus on or who it’s going to focus on?

Gabrielle: Yeah. It’s both a prequel and a sequel. There are two timelines. One starts ten years before Yours for the Taking starts, and there’s a woman, we don’t know who she is until halfway through the book, but she’s driving across the country, trying to get back to her daughter. Then the other timeline picks up with Ava and Brooke leaving.

So there are a few new characters. It focuses a lot more on Shelby’s sister, Camilla, and Orchid, and Ava, and Brooke. It’s the outside world. It’s the story of the people who weren’t accepted inside. It’s different themes, too. It’s not about bad feminism. It’s about misogyny within left wing activist movements. My favorite thing! It’s coming out December 3, 2024.

Riese: Did you know when you were writing it, that you were going to do a sequel?

Gabrielle: At a certain point. There was just so much else that I had to say that just couldn’t fit into my word count. My editor and I started talking about what it would mean if this was a series and also, everybody hated the ending and said I couldn’t just end the book with a question mark.

So I was like, “Okay, the book continues.” But I kind of wanted to do something completely different. My editor was like, “No, I really just want the sequel.”

Riese: I was really happy when I found that out.

Gabrielle: Thank you.

Riese: As I was reading it and listening to it I was like, “this is going too fast!” Usually when I see “75% done” at the bottom of my screen I’m excited but I was like “No! I want more time with these people and this story, I want it to be longer.”

Gabrielle: Thank you. That’s really nice.

Riese: It would be like, “twenty years later…” and I’d be like, “Oh, my God! They’re going to die soon!”

Gabrielle: A lot of that is me not knowing how to write a novel, I think, and not knowing how to stay with something. By the sequel, I feel like I learned how to do it. It takes place over the course of a year. It’s a lot tighter, which I feel like is probably better. But for this, it had to be an epic.

Riese: When I’m really excited about a book, I like to buy it in every available format, which I did this year for you and also for Britney Jean Spears.

Gabrielle: Oh, my God. I’m so honored. Thank you.

Riese: I was like, “I just need to be consuming this constantly. I can’t stop.”

“Someone told me that in all sci-fi, you get one leap of faith. I was like, ‘Well, what if I got two?'”

Riese: Were there any themes that you had put into the book that you feel like people didn’t pick up on or that you thought would be noticed more that aren’t?

Gabrielle: If anything, it’s people pointing things out that I wasn’t aware of. People keep bringing up the symbolism of Orchid helping to build Inside and then not getting accepted into it. I’m like, “Oh, yeah. That is deep.”

Riese: How did you envision the spaceship and Inside? When I’m writing something, sometimes I have to look up a house on Zillow and assign it to the person I’m writing because I feel like I can’t see it in my own head.

Gabrielle: With Inside, I was at the airport. Specifically, Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. There’s this one section that has all of these tubes. It was like, “What if we lived in it,” and created that. Also, I was coming out of Fashion Week where you go into these spaces that are so heavily branded that the world kind of disappears and you step into Prada. Everything is so specific, so I think that really informed how I envisioned what it would be.

For the spaceship, I was mostly thinking of a cruise ship and just hoping that nobody would yell at me about science.

Riese: There was that one Goodreads reviewer who did yell at you about science.

Gabrielle: Yeah! It was really mean.

Riese: Did you think about that a lot? Because often I’m like, “I want to write sci-fi, but I hate science.” Did you feel like you had to research stuff to figure out how it would work or you felt like you could just create?

Gabrielle: I did a lot of climate change research, but when it came to the viability of Inside, I decided that my imagination could suffice. Someone told me that in all sci-fi, you get one leap of faith. I was like, “Well, what if I got two?” One being the space shuttles and two being Inside itself. My hope was that the hard sci-fi people wouldn’t read it and that the dystopian girlies would and that nobody would care that much. There was one science person who yelled at me and then one climate person who yelled at me in the Netgalley reviews. I was like, “Well, I can take two people yelling at me.”

Riese: That’s a very small number of people.

Gabrielle: Yeah.

Riese: That’d be a great day for me.

“I wanted the diversity of the world to feel organic and fact-of-life.”

Gabrielle: Yeah, totally. What feels more upsetting than people yelling at me about the science is people not connecting with the characters. Some people get them and appreciate them and understand their complexity, and other people just kind of don’t.

Riese: Do you think that some of that is based on identity?

Gabrielle: I think a lot of it is based on identity, but some people are just haters. I also just think people love to do bad faith readings and that’s really fun for them!

Riese: That is very true, especially on the internet.

Gabrielle: I appreciated Kayla’s review for so many reasons, but the main one being she understood the characters. I was like, “Thank God.”

Riese: Right, one thing she and I talked about was that the way you wrote outside of your own identity so well. You incorporated a more gender-diverse world in a way that felt very organic, not like you were trying to check off boxes or deliver a certain ideology. I didn’t feel hit over the head with it, it was just a fact of life. And people who don’t understand those things were also a fact of life.

Gabrielle: Thank you. That’s what I was trying to do. I really like how you put that. I definitely wanted the diversity of the world to feel organic and fact-of-life, and because of that I was explicit and straight-forward in the descriptions. I don’t love when books are vague about important character traits. Maybe it’s the journalist in me but like, just say who she is! Say she’s a masculine-of-center lesbian, and move along. Plus I feel like what I know about being queer is that we’re constantly talking about it. I feel like that’s true of any marginalized identity, you spend a lot of time talking to other people about your experiences. I wanted that to feel real. I didn’t want to ignore peoples’ lived experiences and the way that they would think and talk. Personally I talk about being a lesbian every day. I feel like that really works for some readers, and other readers who maybe don’t belong to any single marginalized category don’t get it.

Riese: Right, and we all have very complicated relationships to things that brought us good, but also were evil, and it feels for some reason like queer people are especially attuned to that conflict, we often have no choice but to live lives of compromise.

Gabrielle: Which is essentially what happens to Olympia, who in a lot of ways is saved from the climate apocalypse by Jacqueline but what she’s brought into is maybe just as bad. . She has to eventually realize that Jacqueline sees her as completely other. She wanted to think that the system would work for her, even while knowing that it wouldn’t, on some level.

Riese: Right. Which I feel like is usually the case — nothing is ever going to really work all the way. Everything is going to be a compromise. Part of what makes Jacqueline so comical, that she actually thinks there’s a way to make it so that everything will work — but moreso, that she uniquely knows what that way is. Which is only possible ‘cause she’s so narcissistic that she thinks what makes her happy is good for all of society. There’s no perfect way to do anything. Everything will always be compromised.

Gabrielle: Yeah. She’s the world’s dumbest smart person.

Riese: I think that those people are often the ones who amass that kind of power, aren’t they?

Gabrielle: Totally, yes. The people who have the most simplified ideas about the world are the people who get the most power. Because I also think that, how do you have a nuanced understanding of how power works and then aspire to more power?

Riese: Right. Exactly, yeah.

Gabrielle: You can’t.

Riese: We probably can relate on that. Literally, there’s nothing I would want less than more power.

Gabrielle: I never want to be in charge of anything again.

Riese: Never.

Gabrielle: I’m so much happier without a team of people relying on me for their emotional wellbeing. But if someone wants to offer me a job, we can talk about it!

Riese: Of course. Again, at the end of the day, people simply need to get paid.

“Here are the voices in my head, all my favorite delusions, I hope you like them!”

Riese: How has the experience been different of doing publicity, and having reviews, and having a tour compared to your first book, just because of pandemic, but also because of the difference in topic? How has that experience been different?

Gabrielle: It’s so different. I feel like, with my first book, the focus was really on me. So I did so many interviews. With this, it’s nice because it feels like the book is separate from me in a lot of ways and people don’t necessarily need me to talk about the book. But it also feels a lot more vulnerable.

With the memoir it was like, “Here’s some shit that happened. Let me make it interesting for you,” and with a novel it’s like, “Here are the voices in my head, all my favorite delusions, I hope you like them!” I just feel like I have a lot more riding on it and it’s a lot scarier. In person events are totally different from virtual events. I have also stopped sleeping, so that’s really fun.

Riese: Oh, that’s awful!

Gabrielle: Yeah. I think my brain has just decided that sleep is not in the cards until this is over.
But yeah! I think about this a lot because I like writing fiction more than I like doing anything else. Maybe this is naïve, but I just want to be a full-time author more than I’ve wanted to do anything. So! Commercial success, please. I don’t need to be a literary darling. I just want this to be a sustainable path. So I’ve been thinking a lot about how it happens and I still don’t know.

Riese: I don’t know why any specific book does well or not a lot of the time.

Gabrielle: Sometimes you read a book that nobody’s ever heard of and it’s the most wonderful thing you’ve read in your life and it has 50 Goodreads reviews and no press. It just feels like there’s a tiny room with a bunch of old white men who choose the big books.

Riese: Yes, and those old men love James Patterson. Did you ever imagine Jacqueline thinking, “I guess I should become a lesbian?”

Gabrielle: I imagined her wishing desperately that she could be, but she’s just so straight. I also don’t think she really likes women that much. She doesn’t like anyone unless she sees herself in them. She is obsessed with the idea of being a lesbian, though, which to me is very true-to-life with these sorts of people. The part of the book where she asks Olympia point-blank, “How do you identify,” that’s in there because that happened to me. Hilariously, with this person, she asked me several different times. We had this conversation and then a week later she came into the office and said the exact same thing and was like, “I just want to know how to talk about you. How do you identify?” And then a month later, she asked me again. Then finally, the last time, I was like, “I don’t fucking care. Say whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. I’m a fine mist evaporating into the air.”

Riese: “The more you’re asking this, the less and less I feel like I have a solid sense of self and therefore identity at all. “

Gabrielle: Literally that.

Riese: That was very real. People who are trying to be cool with the LGBTs ask the weirdest questions.

Gabrielle: Jacqueline thinks she’s trying. And she really idealizes lesbianism.

Riese: Right. Straight women are like, “I wish I could date women. It would be so much easier!”

Gabrielle: And you’re like, “I want to die all the time.”

Riese: Yeah, there’s a lot of things that are better! But it doesn’t eliminate —

Gabrielle: I think that women hurt each other in very creative ways. I don’t know. Lesbian divorce rates are through the roof.

Riese: That’s partially, I think, due to our propensity to get married.

Gabrielle: I agree with you. I think we’re not known for making great decisions when it comes to being in relationships with each other, but I don’t think that that knowledge has hit the straight community.

Riese: Yeah. No, definitely not.

Gabrielle: You know what? They shouldn’t know.

Riese: No, they shouldn’t know. They don’t need to know anything about us because everything that they do know, they do bad things with that information.

Gabrielle: I agree.

Riese: We should all be keeping it to ourselves.

Gabrielle: We should bring back gatekeeping. Just kidding, that’s the plot of my dystopian novel.

You should buy Gabrielle Korn’s dystopian novel, Yours for The Taking.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3212 articles for us.


  1. I won’t read this book, but only because I think it sounds somehow too good and relevant to my interests and too real. So I was really happy to read this interview cos it satiated some of my hunger for reading the book, without reading the book. (I will eventually read the book).

  2. This was really interesting, and really struck a chord for me. I’ve had straight women make comments about how being lesbian must be so much easier as if women are inherently kinder or better than men, and it’s always striked me as a bit infantilising when women have just as much capacity for toxic hurtful behaviour as anyone else.

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