First Lines Celebrating Pride Month

Celebrating Pride month, this month’s First Lines post aims to please with a selection of international authors whose novels that run the science fiction and fantasy subgenre gamut from epic fantasy to reimagining of fairy tales to urban fantasies, to dystopian tales, stories of aliens, and space opera. These authors took inspiration from their imaginations mixed with classic fairy tales or history and mythology from Africa, India, Greece, or Persia. There is something for everyone.

What is First Lines?

First Lines is a series of blog articles posted on around the first of the month. Inspired by a friend’s suggestion that I write a post on how to write the first line of your story, I started this series. My idea was to inspire my writing with examples. I also hoped to inspire other writers and point readers to books they might enjoy.

As writers, we’re often told that the first line of a story must hook the reader (particularly if that reader is an editor.) Implied is that the editor will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. But the hooky-ness of a first line is in the eyes of the beholder. I hope you enjoy them.

Amazon Editor’s Pick:

Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

The cover of a Pale Light in the Black shows a blue and red planet in the background with satellites around it and space ships taking off away from the planet

The hardest part was the smiling. 

Commander Rosa Martín Rivas pasted another smile onto her face as she wove through the crowds and headed for her ship at the far end of the hanger. She and the rest of the members of Zumba’s Ghost had weathered the post-Games interviews with as much grace as a losing team could, answering question after question about how it felt to come within three points of beating Commander Carmichael’s SEAL team without ever breaking expression.”

A Pale Light in the Black, NeoG Novel Book 1, by K.B. Wagers

Amazon Editor’s Pick:

Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

The cover of Black Leopard red wolf is a brightly colored (primarily red purple, teal, and black) of wolf and leopard intertwined with snakes and vines.

The child is dead. There is nothing left to know.

I hear there is a queen in the south who kills the man who brings her bad news. So when I give word of the boy’s death, do I write my own death with it?”

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Winner of

the World Fantasy Award

Cover of the Jasmine Throne shows a background of yellow and orange flames with a young person of indeterminate genre wearing redand orange sari like clothing and holding a taller-than-a-man staff, seated on a sloping brick abutment jutting from a brick wall


In the court of the imperial mahal, the pyre was being built.

The fragrance of the gardens drifted in through the high windows—sweet roses, and even sweeter imperial needle flower, pale and fragile, growing in such thick profusion that it poured in through the lattice, its white petals unfurled against the sandstone walls. The priests flung petal on the pyre, murmuring prayers as the servants carried in wood and arranged it carefully, applying camphor and ghee, scattering drops of perfumed oil.”

The Jasmine ThroneThe Burning Kingdoms Book 1, by Tasha Suri

Amazon Editor’s Pick:

Best Literature & Fiction

Cover of the Song of Achilles shows an ancient bronze Trojan helmet on a field of teal cross-hatched with black

My father was a king and the son of kings. He was a short man, as most of us were, and built like a bull, all shoulders. He married my mother when she was fourteen and sworn by the priestess to be fruitful. It was a good match: she was an only child, and her father’s fortune would go to her husband.

He did not find out until the wedding that she was simple.”

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Amazon Editor’s Pick:

Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

Cover of Amatka is black with Orange-pink lettering and the title repeated 5 times. Superimposed in the center is a misshapen round black and white image of an industrial city with tall smoke stacks from some distance across the waters of a river, bay or ocean

Brilars’ Vanja Essie Two, information assistant with the Essie Hygiene Specialist, was the only passenger on the auto train bound for Amatka. As soon as she had climbed the steps, the door shut behind her and the train jerked into motion. Vanja took a new grip on her satchel and typewriter case and pushed the suitcase through the sliding door with her feet. On the other side, the darkness was complete.”

Amatka by Karin Tidbeck

Amazon Editor’s Pick:

Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

THe cover of Gideon the Nineth has a black background with skeletons in lighter tones fighting, in the fore ground is a woman dressed in black with her face made up to resemble a skull face. She holds a sword in one ungloved hand, the other hand is gloved. There is a strip of orange down the far right side of the page.

In the myriad year of our Lord—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!—Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.

She didn’t run. Gideon never ran unless she had to. In the absolute darkness before dawn she brushed her teeth without concern and splashed her face with water, and even went so far as to sweep the dust off the floor of her cell.”

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Amazon Editor’s Pick:

Best Young Adult

The cover of Girl Serpent Thorn has a pale green background with an albino snake writhing around a vine of pink roses.


Stories always begin the same way: There was and there was not. There is possibility in those words, the chance for hope or despair. When the daughter sits at her mother’s feet and asks her for the story—always the same story—her favorite part is hearing those words, because it means anything is possible. There was and there was not. She is and is not.”

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Amazon Editor’s Pick:

Best Young Adult

The cover of the midnight lie has a black background with the author name and the right edge of the book a bright pink. In the center is a beautiful woman's face in black and white, she has black eye makeup that wraps from her eyes and around her cheeks. She has large hoop earings and is wearing a a green snake dotted with white lilies on  her head, the snakes head rests just above the bridge of her nose and is showing it's tongue.

There were warning signs in the Ward that day that anyone could have seen. The children must have seen the danger in their own games, in the crescent moons, roughly cut from tin, that they strung from fishing line on sticks and dangled to cast shadows beneath the pale sun. They knew, as I knew, that the festival meant the militia would be out in force, seeking to fill their quotas for arrests.”

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

Amazon’s Teachers’ Pick

THe background of the cover of Cinderella is dead is a purple and pink wall of thick thorny vines. A young black woman looks back at the audience over her right shoulder, she's wearing a blue ball gown.

Cinderella has been dead for two hundred years.

I’ve been in love with Erin for the better part of three years.

And I am about two minutes away from certain death.”

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron 

2021 Locus Award Finalist for Best Young Adult Novel

The cover of The Scapgracers has a solid black background with purple graduating to pink lettering and graphics. The graphics show a dear cradled in an olive wreath, above the dear is a snake in dotted outline whose head shows in the center of a pinkish medalion a pink multi-rayed star glows above that.

The punch was the color of my first and second knuckles and it tasted like lye. It singed off the surface of my tongue. Between sips, if I angled my wrist just right I could make my reflection glint off the surface, and warped little me could stare up from the depths of my Solo cup like an overgrown jackdaw.”

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

An NPR Best Young Adult Book of 2016

The cover of Labyrinth Lost has a gold toned background with a gradient that grows darker toward the bottom. Blue lines mimic the squares and corner stickers from an old album of photographs and there is an eye with a winged snake wrapped around it in the center.

The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosaria, she was dancing. 

Earlier that day, my mom had warned me , pressing a long, red fingernail on the tip of my nose, “Alejandra, don’t go downstairs when the Circle arrives.”

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova


There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page. Usually I pull these titles at random. They are from Amazon, my personal library, my area public library, or other online booksellers. 

Please note: 

I have made each of these books link go to Amazon because so many people are accustomed to getting their ebooks there. However, if you prefer paperbacks or hardbacks please visit

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If you can, please support independent booksellers as well as independent book authors. We depend upon your patronage to continue creating and selling our stories. 

Do You Want to Read More?

Do these first lines hook you? Do you want to read more? They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books.

Check out previous First Lines posts

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