Maggie Tokuda-Corridor nonetheless has the voice memo that comprises the lightbulb second behind her new graphic novel, “Squad.” The Oakland author and writer of the award-winning younger grownup novel “The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea” was driving by means of South America along with her husband when she was struck with the premise: a squad of teenage women who flip into werewolves and devour the “worst boys” who’re sexually aggressive at events.
It was an entry level for Tokuda-Corridor, the daughter of longtime San Francisco journalist and retired TV information anchor Wendy Tokuda, to investigate and critique the thorny, darkish territory of rape tradition and sexual assault she skilled and ceaselessly witnessed rising up.
“Squad,” with illustrations by Lisa Sterle, is already within the early levels of being tailored right into a film after a bidding battle. It facilities on Becca, the brand new lady at school who’s pulled into the orbit of a squad of ladies who harbor a lethal energy. What follows — interval jokes, homicide gone fallacious, a queer love story that serves as refuge — turns into each a wildly entertaining, gory coming-of-age story and a insurrection in opposition to the entrenched internet of patriarchy and rape tradition.
The Chronicle spoke to Tokuda-Corridor by cellphone forward of the guide’s launch on Tuesday, Oct. 5.
Q: The guide takes place at Piedmont Excessive College within the East Bay hills, the place you graduated from your self. How a lot of this guide comes from your individual expertise as an adolescent?
A: I graduated from Piedmont Excessive 18 years in the past. After I was there, it was extraordinarily white. It’s very wealthy — that’s nonetheless true. It’s actually privileged. Rape tradition was actually rampant, and I used to be actually mad about it. A few of the issues that I noticed or the issues that occurred to me had been sort of traumatizing, however I don’t really feel like a traumatized particular person. I don’t really feel like a sufferer, and I wished to put in writing a narrative that mirrored that as effectively.
Q: The ladies of the squad flip into werewolves as soon as a month and feast particularly on boys who ignore women’ lack of consent, habits that happens at each occasion they go to. What are you making an attempt to say in regards to the dynamics between girls and boys culturally?
A: I really feel like that’s the least make-believe a part of the guide. These events the place alcohol is used as a strategy to excuse horrible habits and to allow frankly predatory habits that boys educate one another. … (It occurs) as a result of we’re nonetheless so weirdly puritanical about intercourse in America, in our tradition that they’ll’t simply say that that’s what they need. They need to get wasted and get into these bizarre conditions the place they could or is probably not revered or respectful. It’s one thing that I witnessed consistently.
To not be too graphic, however the first time I ever noticed a penis was as a result of a dude shoved my face in his lap. I didn’t even wish to make out with him, however we had been all consuming collectively.
Youngsters proper now are dealing with this quite a bit higher than children did once I was that age. (That’s) the impression I’m beneath. Not globally, I don’t think about. Not with perfection. Nevertheless it does appear to be they know the phrase “consent” now. I didn’t even know that phrase in that context.
Q: Within the guide, the squad’s energy is used to enact a type of revenge that finally comes beneath ethical scrutiny as effectively. Is what they’re doing justified?
A: I imagine in abolishing the police and the carceral state. I don’t imagine within the demise penalty, and so, philosophically, I can’t get on board with (the squad). They’re essentially unhealthy folks in a sure means, however indulging in that revenge fantasy is so satisfying and likewise such a present to me as an individual who has been sexually assaulted. To even permit a second the place I used to be like, “Wouldn’t that really feel good?”
I hope that it’s obvious that these women don’t have a wholesome consent apply. They’re not function fashions. They mainly give Becca the selection of, “Hey, you wish to be a part of or die?” They police one another’s our bodies, they sex-shame each other, they take part in patriarchy in ways in which they aren’t crucial of. So on the one hand, sure, they’re victims. And however, they’re additionally perpetrators.
Q: You title some characters that appear to reference well-known predators related to the #MeToo motion. However you started work on the guide earlier than this turned a nationwide dialog. Has the shift in discourse of the previous few years affected the way you considered “Squad”?
A: To not toot my very own horn, but it surely did make me really feel extra prescient. Additionally, the best way that #MeToo ended up being co-opted by white ladies — it’s a hashtag that began with Black activists — and the truth that white ladies took it and actually turned the face of it, that additionally made me really feel like “Squad” was extra prescient as a result of it’s also meant to be a little bit of a critique of white feminism.
Arianna, being a pacesetter (of the squad), is completely snug doing issues like weaponizing her tears, belittling the ladies of colour that she surrounds herself with, utilizing her personal energy to maintain them right down to her personal detriment.
Q: The premise of your guide is already being in comparison with the likes of the movies “Jennifer’s Physique” and “Promising Young Woman.” What do you make of those comparisons?
A: We’re telling this sort of story quite a bit proper now. I discover it extraordinarily thrilling. I’m all about it. I don’t assume that we will have too many. The principle factor that I would like is to listen to extra from individuals who should not have different unbelievable privileges. At all times situating it inside heterosexuality, inside cisgender narratives, inside white folks is to our detriment and belies the key issues.
Q: Within the guide, queer love is without doubt one of the solely locations that appears to be a supply of security. Was that meant to be a subversion of what we often see in narratives round queerness?
A: In each of my books, love is salvation. And I imagine very totally in my coronary heart that after we permit ourselves to like outdoors of what patriarchy has dictated for us, this complete different world of being, the place all of those different techniques of oppression are not related, can begin to take form.
I’m bi. I used to be bi in highschool, however I used to be in full denial about it. So there is part of me that wished to put in writing a narrative for that child.
Q: These are heavy themes however informed by means of a younger grownup graphic novel. Who is that this guide for?
A: I hope that trans, nonbinary children and cis women can learn it and really feel like they get to have a dialog with out being lectured. What my dearest hope, really, is is that it turns into irrelevant. That these points are simply so nonexistent of their lives that this guide doesn’t matter to them anymore.
By Maggie Tokuda-Corridor and Lisa Sterle
(Harper Collins; 224 pages; $12.99)