Autostraddle Book Club: Emily Answers Your “Cameron Post” Questions and We Throw A Feelings-Fest

I related to the sentiment of the VHS rentals being Cameron’s “religion of choice.” Which movies held importance and meaning for you personally; are any of them shared with the movies mentioned in the book?

How did you choose which movies to reference throughout the book?

Oh I was absolutely brought up on a very steady diet of crappy VHS rentals (and whatever was playing on HBO—well, what I could catch when my parents weren’t home, which was a lot, actually, given my latchkey kid status.) If we’re talking queer movies, or movies with some lesbian expression or another, then certainly Personal Best was an important one to me fairly early on, so I share that with Cam. Even more important to me personally was Fried Green Tomatoes. That was easy to queer, long before I knew that I was “doing that,” (or before I would have called it that, I suppose). I was completely in love with Mary-Louise Parker as Ruth, and I identified with Mary Stuart Masterson as Idgie. The film isn’t as open/obvious in its treatment of this romantic relationship between the two of them as is Flagg’s novel, but it is readable in some scenes.

There’s a scene wherein Ruth is supposedly teaching Idgie how to cook, and they end up in an all out food fight. It’s hot in this restaurant kitchen—it’s summer in the south and it’s sweaty and they’re cooking with all these sensual foods like ripe berries. It’s incredibly sexual, this scene, while not being specifically a sex scene, it absolutely is (in fact, I think the film’s director—John Avnet–even referred to it as such—that they storyboarded it that way when filming) and I remember blushing the first time I saw it [at age 11], and not quite being able to figure out what was going on or to put a name to it. It’s a food fight, after all, but I knew that there was much more there. For me, they were this ideal lesbian couple even though they’re certainly not presented that way on the screen—at least not specifically, anyway.

Once I was a bit older and started studying film, movies like The Children’s Hour and Mädchen in Uniform (the 1931, original, version) became important to me as early, if problematic, celluloid representation of lesbian desire. But, you know, as child, as an adolescent, I was really able to queer just about anything that I was watching. I did it instinctively, and it wasn’t something that I discussed with anyone until much later.


What kind of writing software do you use – something like Scrivener, or just a normal word editor? Is there anything you would recommend, or recommend avoiding?

I typically just use Word for Mac (I am fully invested in the cult of apple). Word is what I’ve been writing on for more than a decade, now—it’s how I’ve written all of my fiction. It’s basically the equivalent of a nonentity for me, it’s just the slate that’s in front of me that I’m comfortable with, that I don’t have to think about at all to utilize—and I like that. I don’t want to have to think about software when I’m composing. (And, of course, everyone uses it, so sending it to editors or other readers in that form is made very easy.) I did just download Scrivener, actually, and so we’ll see if I end up making use of it for this new novel or not. (Right now the draft is all still in Word.) But I haven’t done more than goof around with it and do the tutorial, so I can’t speak to it in terms of my own writing, though I have a lot of friends who are devoted users.

I have lots of notebooks, too, with little, well, notes to myself about the novel—and I often tack note cards or slips of paper up above my desk with various plot points or character trajectories or just small things that I want to remember and have at hand while writing. These “scraps” are pretty essential to me. I know that Scrivener allows one to house and rearrange and fiddle with all of this kind of stuff electronically, but part of me thinks I might just end up needing the more tactile form.

When it comes to things like software and routines for writing, my recommendation is to do what works for you. It doesn’t matter if Scrivener is the ideal program for another writer—if all its very cool bells and whistles—and they are cool—do nothing for you, then who cares, right? And if your favorite writer says s/he writes for three hours first thing every morning, so you make yourself do that for a few weeks and it produces little for you, or it feels like it suffocates your personal habit of only writing every few weeks, but then, when you do, writing for whole weekends at a go, being completely consumed by it—then drop the other method and use your own. Another writer’s methods are only as good as their usefulness to your own process and goals. (Though I, too, always love to hear about their little rituals, even try some of them out. For me it’s swimming—lap swimming in specific. My writing day always goes better if there’s a lap swim in there somewhere. It’s time I use to process and reflect and work shit out about my characters and often the plot.)


How much of the book is autobiographical, if any? I know that you grew up in the same city as Cameron, but does the connection between you and the character go beyond that?

I read in your bio that you were born and raised in Miles City, just like Cameron Post. How much of the novel is autobiographical, if any?

After reading this book, I would love to know the inspiration for Cameron. Is she based on you? What brought you to her? How do you see her story ending?

How similar are you to Cameron? Are you a movie buff?

I’m going to try to speak to all of the above questions, in some capacity, in this answer. (Wish me luck!) My connections to Cam absolutely go beyond the fact that we both were born and raised in Miles City (or Shitty—as all of you now know), Montana. Some of the connections between our lives are really very specific—locations from my past, certain events and even moments—I absolutely mined my memories of some of my fears and conflicted emotions growing up gay and closeted at that time and in that place. But, in lots of crucial ways, Cam is pure fiction, too. Not surprisingly, I’m asked this question quite a lot, so here’s an answer that I gave to it not so long ago:

Cameron is decidedly not me. She’s a fictional character. She’s not even really a fictionalized version of me—it’s much more specific a process than that. A better way to think of her is as a character built from pieces of my experience growing up gay in Eastern Montana in the early 1990s. However, Jamie (her good—male—friend in the novel) is also a character built from some of my own experiences, and so is Lindsey (her activist in-training friend from Seattle), and so are many other characters in the book, actually. What Cam and I have most in common is that we were girls who liked girls at a time and in a place where that was not sanctioned or even talked about. (And we’re both swimmers. And we both “fell in crush” a lot—though Cam is braver about all of that than I was.) Many of the novel’s details of time and place I did cull from my own memories and then re-color, re-shape. I mean, how could I not use the hospital that sat abandoned (and lurking) during my most formative teenage years as one of the novel’s settings? It was just too ripe to skip over. But the specificity of Cam’s story—her status as an orphan, her particular interests and hobbies, her relationships with other characters in the novel, her time at conversion therapy—all of that belongs to Cam and Cam alone: it’s fiction.


Was Coley Taylor gay?

I have to put this back on you and say what do you think? (And does not knowing for sure ultimately matter to you, to your reading of the novel?) I’m more interested in a reader’s take on that question than I am my own.

But, but—since you’ll probably hate me forever if I just answer your question that way, here’s some stuff to think about: If we’re talking would Coley Taylor claim the label/identity gay, then no—clearly she would not, during the portion of her life shown in the novel, anyway—she plain refuses it anytime it’s offered or discussed.

In some ways, Coley takes the easiest route of all, which is just labeling all of that complicated, shifting desire as sin—sin pure and simple— and attempting to deal with it (deny it, really) that way.

However, that doesn’t stop her from romantically and sexually desiring Cam—and that’s what’s most interesting to me about Coley: desire and its many messy complications for someone who is attempting to live out identity types that don’t sit well with those complications. Coley’s particular brand of Christian faith, her role in her social circles, in her family, in this town—none of it fits, she thinks, with her attractions to/for Cam, and she can’t see how to make all of that stuff fit together.

She doesn’t believe there’s a way for her to be the Coley Taylor she so desires to be, and also to be a girl who is fooling around with Cameron Post. And so, in some ways, she takes the easiest route of all, which is just labeling all of that complicated, shifting desire as sin—sin pure and simple— and attempting to deal with it (deny it, really) that way. I personally don’t think she could pull off this kind of denial for the rest of her life, at least not totally successfully, but I can sure see her making a go of it. But I also don’t think, just because she had a kind of love for/with Cam, that doesn’t mean that she couldn’t have just as real kind of love with a man. Does that mean she’s firmly bisexual or pansexual something else, something more fluid, more resistant to any categories we might give it?

Maybe the question you’re getting at is what would 25 or 35 year-old Coley Taylor claim for herself— what would her relationship(s) look like—would they be with women, with men, with both? What do you think?


Did being an orphan exacerbate for Cameron Post the alienation of growing up gay in the American outback, or did it provide a sort of psycho/social excuse for her otherness that actually alleviated the coming out processs/non-process?

Wow—that’s a helluva question: nice! Unfortunately my answer is, well, both— it’s both something that further othered her and made her coming-out process that much more difficult, and it’s also something that gave her freedoms that she wouldn’t have otherwise had—freedoms and sometimes even excuses for certain behaviors/feelings, reasons not to really own them or even to consider them too carefully.

Because Cam’s first specific sexual act (the kiss with Irene) is not only one that’s fraught given its secret, shameful (she thinks) same-sex status, but it also quickly becomes one completely bound-up in her guilt over her parents’ deaths and her uncomfortable initial reaction to the news of those deaths, she spends a good deal of her early adolescence conflating her desire—and her coming-out process— with her status as an orphan. She’s already feeling guilty about her desires, and now she’s added this whole other layer of reasons to feel all the more guilty and ashamed of them—and that’s all mucked-together with her status as an orphan, in what she sees as her potential “role” in the death of her parents—even if she doesn’t always believe that she actually had such a role (or even that fate or god mandated it).

But, she also has certain freedoms as “the town orphan,”—and though she’s not always comfortable claiming that status, when she does, she can more easily use it to pass as “only” that kind of other — to, I don’t know, claim it as her trumping form of marginalization or something, and to keep folks from becoming too concerned with other aspects of her self. In that way it’s a kind of advantage, I suppose.

via themiseducationofcameronpost.tumblr.com/


One of the characters who particularly intrigued me was Lydia the therapist, and I was wondering a couple of things. Firstly, did you envision her motivations as primarily bound up in her relationship with Rick? Or something else? Secondly, I wondered whether there was a reason why you made her British.

I imagine Lydia’s motivations as a therapist/ “healer” of those “suffering from same sex attraction” given particular personal urgency/importance because of her relationship with Rick. I imagine her as someone who was already interested in psychology and theology—studying those areas back in England—who was then was handed this “gift/specimen/research patient” of a conflicted gay guy who just so happened to be related to her (and whose own mother—her sister—had died.) And then, of course, her motivations would have been both as therapist and as family-member (and, well, Christian, of course.)

So starting a place like God’s Promise absolutely happened because of her relationship with Rick, but I imagine she’d have been very interested in these kinds of “therapies,” even without Rick has her nephew. She might have then approached it from a place of research rather than practice, and Rick gave her reason to devote herself to the practice of these very malformed theories.

She’s British because she’s a character partially inspired by Elizabeth Moberly, a British psychoanalyst whose very questionable “research” texts are often cited by various practitioners of reparative therapy. (Some of these books include: Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic and Psychogenesis: The Early Development of Gender Identity.)

She was among the first psychologists to propose that homosexuality stems from developmental problems with a parental figure of the same sex and that the remedy to these problem is in developing healthy, functioning relationships with members of the same sex—not in forcing heterosexual attractions—those will develop “naturally” later, once these same sex relationships are established and plentiful. If you can track down a copy of the amazing (if dated) 1993 documentary about conversion therapy — which I mentioned earlier — One Nation Under God, you can see Elizabeth Moberly in all her British glory (though physically, and in many other respects, she doesn’t resemble Lydia).


NEXT: Choosing pop culture references, wondering about Cameron’s parents, targeting target audiences and a little extra-textual communication.

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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," 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. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

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76 Comments

  1. So, so much love for this book. The only thing I wish was different was that it had been around in 2007 when I was sixteen. And as a YA novel it could really make a difference to some little bookish, Christian kid’s life, the kind of kid who wouldn’t pick up Ruby Fruit Jungle, but would pick up Cameron Post just to see how other people live, and might find it hitting a little close to home (i.e. me at sixteen.) Thanks, Emily, for the time you spent answering all these questions. You should definitely, if you feel led to at all, write a sequel. You have me really curious as to what the hell a job making maternity mannequins has to do with anything. XP

    • Thanks to you for sending those questions in–or one of them, I would suppose–and I appreciate the goodwill toward a second book. I, too, wonder what the hell working in a maternity mannequin factory has to do with anything, tell you what. (But I promise there’s some weird, sexy stuff going on in that factory. And, Cam continues her dollhouse-diorama building in the mannequin bellies. In secret. Shhh: don’t tell anyone.)

  2. Dorothy Allison! Audre Lorde! Fannie Flagg! Rita Mae! So many of my favorite things are mentioned in these questions; I’m dying a little. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. It’s a really great supplement to the book I just finished reading like an hour ago.

    I found it interesting that Riese initially said this book “felt like home” to her, because I felt something similar. I even visited my mom–someone who probs would’ve sent me to God’s Promise in a previous decade–with the book in tow, and she noticed the cover and said, “Funny, I thought that was here for a minute.” Here being rural Georgia. She had no idea what the novel was about. Just that it looked like home. I feel like people relate to the setting just as much as they do to the story, if not more.

    VIKING FUCKING ERIN. Out of all the secondary characters in the book, she was the one with whom I was the most fascinated. That nuanced little heathen. I feel like she was the antithesis of Coley in so many ways, but still plagued by the same demons.

    I’ve had more Margots than Lindseys, I think. (Maybe Lindseys grow into Margots?)

    • i know as i was putting in this interview i was like THIS SHIT IS SO FAR UP FONSECA’S ALLEY IT’S PRACTICALLY IN HER BACKYARD

      my favorite part of Viking Erin was that obviously she was a Highly Skilled Top — when Cam noted Erin’s bedroom manner I was like OH DUH FOUR FOR YOU VIKING ERIN

    • The Viking Fucking Erin, indeed. (Nuanced little heathen is fantastic: I might make myself a T-shirt with that across the front. I really might.)

      I’m not sure if Lindseys grow up to be Margots, though. I like the idea of that, very much, but I feel like this particular Lindsey–Lindsey Lloyd, that is–she’s got a little too much punk rock in her for it to be so fully eclipsed by corporate dykehood. (Someday, maybe, once she finishes not making a very good living touring around with her band, The Molly Bolts.)

  3. So we read this book this month for our queer book group (BOSTON LADIES, y’all up in here? I feel like I sent out five million reminder emails about the Autostraddle Q&A), and this ranks up there on my list of favorite books ever. It was actually the second time I read it, and I sort of devoured it just as breathlessly as I did the first time around. It’s the queer YA book I always wanted when I was a teenager, but I can’t say that I regret it emerging in 2012.

    I think mostly what we talked about at our meeting was just how many intense feelings this book evoked in us, and how true it was for all of us, even those of us who didn’t grow up in rural towns where you had to be closeted. We kept talking about how this book got into our heads and we couldn’t stop thinking about how visceral and raw it was, how it wedged its way in. That whole section when she’s at Coley’s apartment, I remember not being able to BREATHE because of how tension-filled it is (way to go, Emily, I think you really accomplished “getting the tension right”).

    I really love hearing about the speculation on Coley’s future. I think I wrote a whole fanfiction in my head about how she’s so committed to not being gay, but still feeling so guilty, and “kissing her boyfriend and pretending to like it” (like Irene Klausen), and then going off to college and having a lesbian experience. And eventually tracking Cameron down through Jamie or Ruth or someone and being able to say sorry (years and years later). But I definitely also see the rancher’s wife, SUV-driving future too (that makes me sad; I’d like her to be happy!). I would be all over a short story about her. Or one about Irene Klausen (maybe she ends up having a torrid affair, like the one that trophy wife in Best in Show does with Jane Lynch the dog trainer). Or one about Aunt Ruth (goddddd, knowing that Ruth gets sicker and sicker makes me depressed).

    Lastly, now that I’ve written an essay, I’m so glad to know that Cameron makes it away from Quake Lake. That was probably our biggest complaint in our meeting — that we didn’t find out if they made it to civilization okay. I hope 2012 Cameron Post has a wonderful partner that she loves and a few cats, listens to the Indigo Girls and Chris Pureka, and still loves movies. THANK YOU, EMILY DANFORTH, for this amazing book that I can’t stop thinking about, and for answering these questions. Thank you so much.

    PS. We’re all on the same page that Margot was in love with Cam’s mom, right?

    • I’m on board with the Margot and Mom theory! I mean, her suave metro style, cool cocktails at steak dinner, cute bff pictures, CAMPFIRE GIRLS?? Forgive me if I so choose to read deep and far btwn these lines. It makes me happy.

      also +1 for sequel.

    • yes to margot and cam’s mom!! i totally got that vibe as well.

      also i am intrigued by the idea of cameron post fan-fiction. personally i think i’m more curious about a cam/irene reunion than a cam/coley reunion.

    • Your post made me realize something: That, out of allllll the lesbian films and novels which have been made, we still don’t have a “the one who got away years ago and then came back!” story.

      I’d like one of those, I think.

    • Thank you, Alex, for this most excellent rundown of your Boston queer book club’s take on CAM (we’re practically neighbors, you know, me here in PVD: holla New England). And thanks, too, for saying that I got the tension right in the Coley apartment scene. That’s very, very nice to hear from a reader who felt, well, tense whilst reading it. Consider me here, waiting, for you to take that Coley Taylor fanfiction out of your head and onto online, my friend–I’m ready to read it. For the record: 2012 Cam is doing very well for herself (and yeah, she probably has some playlists with Chris Pureka on them.)

      • Um, yeah, my friend who I co-run the book group with and I realized today over Facebook that maybe we could’ve emailed you or something…….oops. BUT HERE YOU ARE, answering all the questions we could have hoped for! (If you’re ever feeling like you want to pop up to Boston, our queer book group would be very interested in having tea! Or brunch! Is that a weird invitation? I don’t know. I’m just going to PUT IT OUT THERE.)

        My reaction to that whole section about the Coley + Cam Summer of LUV was saying “ALL THE FEELINGS!!!!!” to my friend over Gmail, so… I guess that writing was effective or something.

        HAHA, yeah, maybe that Coley fanfiction will come to fruition. I see that people are discussing all sorts of fanfiction for baby!dyke Irene Klausen.

        (2012 Cam should also listen to something happier once in a while, because Chris Pureka is mostly good for when you’re sad and drunk.)

  4. thank you, emily, for answering all of these questions! i loved reading the book itself, and really enjoyed reading about your writing process and thoughts on the characters here.

    and riese, your words made me realize that autostraddle – so, you (and everyone else here) – have absolutely been my lindsey lloyd. i never had a person like that in my life before.

    i really did wonder about what happened to coley taylor. i found myself nodding my head in agreement when i read your (emily) wife’s description about being a rancher’s wife. it seemed to fit, which made me sad for coley.

    in short: thank you for writing this book. i’m so glad it exists, and wish i’d been able to read it about 10 years ago.

  5. Thank you so much for doing this, Autostraddle and emily danforth! This will go down as one of my favorite posts on AS. I loved this book and Cam’s character, and it’s so rare to get a chance to really pick an author’s brain about their work.

    I had a pretty numbing day, full of boards studying, and I was consistently refreshing this site, dying to see the post appear. I was so amazed by the thoughtfulness of all the questions and the answers. Thanks for answering my question about Adam and tokenization (I kind of love that the moderators took the time to retype the questions out, resulting in totally endearing things like tonkenization, which I will now use forever and ever). I enjoyed the book so much, along with the bonus web content. ALSO ALSO so excited for a mix tape, seeing that my car does not have a CD player. You have no clue how freaking happy I am to finally have something to listen to on long drives instead of, say, the bible/Jesus-heavy radio of the Fresno/Bakersfield area.

    AUTOSTRADDLE: WHERE ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE. Thanks!

    • I’m so glad to hear that your car still has a cassette player: it was meant to be that you win, I think. You’ll now get to make use of Linds’ mix just like Cam might have back in the day–if she’d had her own car, that is. (I mean, Grandma’s Bel Air did not have a tape player.) (And tonkenization is pretty fantastic. I probably should have just answered the question assuming some awesome new definition for that word and going from there. Next time.)

  6. So, you know that old Indigo Girls song about reading Virginia Wolf that goes, ‘I know it’s alright, cause I just got a letter to my soul’? Autostraddle and Cameron Post and awesome features like this are totally that to me.

  7. I think I cried for a solid hour after I finished the book, but I laughed a few times too and felt like a teenager again. I have Perks of Being a Wallflower feelings for this book because I guess it is the first time other than camp where I felt connected to something because it spoke to similar places and events in my life that while I am not totally okay with now, I am trying to process and believe for myself.It is like everyday I wonder if I’m really the brave lesbian I have been working to become or are the NARTH workbooks correct and it is Same Sex Attraction Perversion and I need to just get through it? Cameron gave me something to hold on to on the harder days when my isolation created these kinds of doubts with my faith versus what I really want from my life.

    Thanks for writing this wonderful book, thanks for doing this amazing interview, just thanks.

    • I have the most ridiculous urge to make a wholly inappropriate–and really completely passe–that’s what she said joke, here. (I mean, when else am I gonna get a comment so perfect for doing so, asks lesbian Michael Scott?) But, you know, now I’ve just written this comment telling you about the potential for that comment instead of actually making it: best of both worlds.

  8. This post is amazing. I love how critically the author thinks about her characters and the story and the setting. I think it made the book what it is, which is great. I loved it.

    I can’t wait to read more from her. And hopefully more about Cameron Post.

  9. I read “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” all in a heady four or five hours on a Monday afternoon, haven been given the day off after driving home all night from a work trip. I had sensibly planned to structure my day around sleeping and eating peanut butter toast, but I literally could not bring myself to stop reading. Instead, I wandered from bed to sofa to floor to patio to floor to bed, and I would set it down from time to time, thinking some moment was just “too much right now,” on this day when I was exhausted and lonely with my heart lodged firmly in the base of my throat. But I would immediately pick it back up, and go through whatever it was that felt like “too much,” and sob and laugh and be so glad I didn’t leave those feelings for another day.

    And this interview! It was like getting a visit from someone you think about often but aren’t sure if you should call. emily, thank you so much for the time and care that you took with answering these questions. It was incredibly enlightening and satisfying, and (not for the first time with AS) I almost wished it had been in print just so I could circle certain things with a pencil and write “YES!” in the margins. I’m sure I’ll have more comments when I reread the post, but what a great way to wake up. I can’t wait for more from emily, Cameron Post or no!

  10. Pingback: November Book Club: The Miseducation of Cameron Post | Epic Reads

  11. and was it just me or was there an entire chapter missing on Irene Klauson’s baby dyke opportunities at her all-girls school??

    Or just more fan-fiction? I’m envisioning tube socks and cardigans, Either way, point me to it.

  12. Emily, I was a little anxious to read this post– over the course of the book Cameron had become *mine*, but she was also yours, and what if I didn’t like how you treated her? I’m relieved and delighted that you feel for her the respect and care and affection that she deserves.

    Thank you, also, for putting so much time and effort into answering these questions– it absolutely shows.

    While I enjoy hearing these details of what happened to Cameron next (and please do write that sequel or short story!) I appreciate the novel ending where it did. Having the conclusion be Cameron coming to terms with her parents’ death drove home the point that this was a coming of queer age story, not a coming out novel, and that Cameron’s identity and journey are influenced by but not limited to her being gay (not that there’s anything wrong with coming out novels, there’s just a lot of them already, and I’m a little too old to enjoy them as much anymore). Also, what a powerful, intense scene. I was shocked that it was over and wanted to hear more, but since narrator-Cameron clearly made it out of the wilderness and into an ok emotional space, I was able to calm down and stop worrying and appreciate all of the possibilities for what happened next.

    I’m not one of the readers whose experience was much like Cameron’s– it took me a while to realize I was gay, but I never felt bad or guilty about it once I did, and so many people were indifferent or supportive that cutting the few homophobic people I knew out of my life was not a hard decision. Some of my friends have had very different experiences, though, and I’m hoping that reading this book, with it’s nuanced and compassionate portrayal of Aunt Ruth and Grandma and all of these people who love Cameron to the best of their ability, but still treat her in such a horrible way, will help me to be more supportive of my friends who are facing similar quandaries.

    In summary– thank you, Emily, for writing this incredible story and for putting so much effort into telling us more about it.

    • I’m very glad to hear that my answers alleviated your anxiety, and I’m touched that you were prepared to stick up for “your” character : that’s pretty fantastic. Thanks for reading, and for sharing your thoughts about the final scene at Quake Lake–much appreciated.

  13. thank you SO MUCH for not killing off her grandmother. i kept waiting for it to happen, and i was ready — i mean i was coming to terms with how terrible it was going to be and how her life would spiral down pretty quickly and we’d have to hold our breath down there with her at the bottom while she clawed her way back up — but i was really, really hoping we could avoid it and then WE DID. just thank you. you have no idea how glad i was that we didn’t have to bury grandma.

    i found myself really hating irene klauson without meaning to, or even understanding why. like she just irritated me to my core and i felt almost embarrassed for her, and embarrassed that we (cam and me via cam) had even associated with her at all. and then i realized: i was irene. i was the girl who did really gay things with another (fairly dykey) girl when we were 12, and then freaked out, did a full 180 re: the way i carried myself, who i hung out with, etc (though without the piles of fossil money or an all-girls’ school). and i definitely stopped hanging out with the other girl, and i stopped thinking about being with the other girl and i started looking for boys to make me a person and i did, in fact, kiss most of them while wishing i could be kissing a girl.

    so what i’m saying is, maybe irene got married to a man, had a baby or two, was miserable, realized she was in love with her best friend, got a divorce then started working at a big queer website with a bunch of other queer women and now she has two dogs and a girlfriend.

    maybe.

    this interview is SO SATISFYING. definitely one of the best things we’ve ever published. i would give so many monies to read the rest of cam’s story.

    • Oh for sure, no worries: it was never in my plans, ever, to kill-off Grandma Post (or Ruth, for that matter.) Cam has already been burdened with enough tragedy, right? And thanks, too, for sharing the story of your personal connection to Irene. (Two dogs, huh? I like it, I like it. We’re also a two dog household.)

      Save those monies for a few years, please, and don’t forget about Cam.

  14. This book meant A LOT to me because I grew up gay in the mid 90’s in Southwest Wyoming so I’ve consumed massive amounts of Taco John’s and Potato Ole’s and I felt a lot like Cameron Post sometimes. Thanks to Autostraddle for introducing me to the book and thanks to Emily for answering all of these questions and posting here. I love everything about this.

    • So yours was the Wilcoxin’s/Potato Oles question, then? Nice. Thanks for reading the book and commenting here and think of me the next time you’re eating an apple grande, yeah? (Do they still have those. Or a churro. The churro, yes, the TJ’s churro.)

  15. This is just to say thanks again to everyone who commented here, or who sent in a question, or who maybe did neither of those things but read the book just the same. I’ve felt very lucky/honored recently to have had CAM POST picked for few a other book clubs, online or otherwise, and they’ve all gone very well and have been a lot of fun for me to participate in. But, truth is, this one will always be special to me because y’all are my people, you know? So thank you for reading and logging in and saying hi, thanks for sharing your funny and smart observations about the book–that all means a helluva lot coming from this audience, and I wanted you to know that.

  16. I just wanted to share something about how I felt about this book. It gave me a chunk of my childhood back. Growing up in a repressed, religious, rural clan, as a safety mechanism, I locked down my true self. After many years I have been able to recognize and take action on my true heart’s desires. Reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post was healing for me because through Cam’s experiences I was able to have many experiences that I thought I’d never have. Thank you so much for writing this book, it is beautiful and magic. This is totally great this whole post. Thanks.

  17. Aww, I wasn’t able to have my AS fix at all this last week, and was pleasantly surprised to see this Q and A today. I bought “Miseducation” after Riese’s (I think? Books I Read?) recommendation and devoured it within hours. Autostraddle publicity really works! It’s so nice to see some insight into the writing process on here.

    Loved the novel, which is a seminal “coming of GAYge” indeed (Bulldykesroman? Stop me now lol). I especially love THE HUMOUR in it, which hasn’t been touched on extensively yet. Really you guys, parts of it were so hysterical I nearly peed. Emily D has a way with comedic phrasing and detail that is very special indeed.

    I’m glad the interview touched on characterization. While reading, I was constantly imagining what I would personally have done with “baddies” like Ruth and the Promise people. The line between stereotyping and being too lenient in portrayal is a fine one. Aunt Ruth was especially begging for some kind of religious wack-job evil stepmother trope, wasn’t she? But this runs the risk of dehumanization and I am GLAD that Emily was aware of those pitfalls. I also think that editorial differences of opinion about “how bad” to make the evangelicals could very well stem from regional and personal experiences. If you have seen “the worst of the worst”, you will be more likely to accept that as an accurate characterization. I would have been very tempted to make Ruth significantly more villainous, but I can see why that wouldn’t have appealed to a more moderate audience.

    The death of the parents at the onset suggested a fairy-tale scenario to me very strongly, with Margot as a sort of fairy godmother come to rescue Cam. I saw subtle lacing of this throughout which made the folklorist in me quite happy :) Incidentally, I wonder why Jane Fonda had a wooden leg? Was that some kind of interesting symbolism? lol.

    I LOVE that there was a Lakota winkte character!!! Especially with the setting in Montana, referencing the (real, longer) history of the land and people, whose attitude toward non-binary genders was so positive, seemed very at home in the story, and was a nice contrast to the senseless Christian pseudoscience of the camp.

    Must stop writing now or will go on forever… Wonderful job Ms Danforth!!

    PS “Virginia Woolf” by Indigo Girls IS awesome and apt, and not even their best song by far. They’ve grown immensely as songwriters in the last decade or so- see anything Emily’s written from “All That We Let In” onwards for evidence. Pure unadulterated genius, swear to god(s).

  18. as a queer teen who lives in NC, this book was amazing to see circulating the local library’s teen book club. I’m impressed by such an honest portrayal of a younger lesbian. most books that we read, aimed for teen audiences are utterly awful. and almost never gay. but anyways, Emily, if you read this, know that this book is being passed around between a bunch of closeted baby gays in the south. this is something that quite a few of my friends really needed, I think. so thank you.

  19. I just downloaded this book on my Kindle and I paid for it. I never do that! I’m excited to read it. I had not heard of it before this article so I look forward to reading it and then reading this article. I haven’t read the interview yet because I don’t want any spoilers! I also haven’t read the comments. I better get to reading!

  20. so happy she answered bunch of questions i had in my mind and so did some ppl. this novel is amazing, i loved it, and read it many times. i love Cameron Post as a character. brilliant ….

    i did have a Lindsey, a girl who teached me many stuff, including kissing and beyond… a Coley who rocked my world in high school, a straight girl who fell in love with me.

    im a big fan of this book

  21. i’m a bit late to the party BUT i finally read this book – in two staying-up-till-4-am sessions – and now i am sad it has ended, i want there to be more pages (although i liked that it ended where it did, coming full circle). i don’t usually read YA, but this book club post and a certain friend’s insistent recommendations made me change my mind, and i have to admit, it was indeed really incredible

    also, it was greatly satisfying to re-read this post after finishing the book

    i totally had an irene klauson as my best friend when i was 12. i was completely infatuated with her and then she ditched me and i never understood why. nothing really ever transpired between us, other than some hand-holding and excessive letter-writing, and it took another full decade for me to realize i was, in fact, really gay, but there was all this tension between us and i was so oblivious. i really needed this book back then, is what i’m saying.

  22. I just finished reading the book and I thought I’d do a search to see if AS had any articles on it – thrilled to discover not only is there one, but it’s basically the greatest thing ever published.

    I can’t get over how brilliant the book is.

  23. Pingback: The Miseducation of Smalltown USA | Libreview YA

  24. My theory has always been that Cam’s mom was queer and her and Margot were totally together and then broke up and then Cam’s mom got with her dad and Margot and Cams mom became best friends with a side of tension.

    Just putting it out there.

  25. I (finally!) just finished reading this book and DESPERATELY want to hack that hard drive and get another few thousand pages of Cameron Post’s life. Great interview! Even if I did find her Coley answer frustrating because I also want a Coley-centered sequal. Sigh.

  26. Oh, I just finished this and it’s going to haunt me.

    It kind of makes me wonder what it would have been like to realize things earlier, all the things Cam knows and feels and does as a teenager instead of trickling into them in my twenties. But I’m also so, so grateful for a softer and gentler coming out and coming into.

    I didn’t cry while I was reading it but I’m crying now and I don’t particularly know why, but thank you and also to echo Katie O above, thank you autostraddle for being my lindsey.

  27. Pingback: Review: ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ (Book) by Emily M. Danforth – The Fairy Dust Book Blog

  28. I cried reading this book, sad tears and angry tears. Then I cried reading this Q&A.

    I am two years younger than Cameron, but I didn’t have these coming of age experiences, because I didn’t kiss (and the rest) a girl until I was nearly 21. I think I am drawn to LGBT coming of age stories because I missed out, obviously I’m glad I didn’t have the God’s Promise experience, but I wish I’d kissed and fallen in love for the first time much younger, I feel like heteronormative/homophobic society kind of stole that from me.

  29. Pingback: let's talk lgbtqia+ entertainment, again - queer voices

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