“Inspiring and page-turning” is how Good Morning America contributor, Zibby Owens, described local author, Jillian Abby’s debut memoir Perfectly Queer, as she featured it on her April 5 list of “15 delightful books perfect for spring reading.” That was icing on the cake of a series of unexpected life events that led Jillian to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming an author.
“While I always knew I wanted to be an author, I had no idea what my book would be about. I certainly never expected it to be a memoir about perfectionism and queerness!” Jillian shared. Her writing journey started shortly after she came out as a lesbian in a therapy session at 38 years old. “I was living what looked like a nearly-perfect life. I was married to my college sweetheart whom I cared for deeply. We had two children that I homeschooled, a house in the Tampa suburbs, a thriving small business, and a rescue cat.” When the toll of masking her identity began to take a toll on her physical and mental health, though, she started the challenging process of untangling her life and figuring out how to start over.
Jillian began writing as a way to reflect on what she was going through. She soon joined a small online group of women writers who were supportive of her work and encouraged her to tell more of her story. Within a year, she had the bones of a book coming together and submitted a proposal to a Hay House Publishing contest. Two months later she was informed that she had won the contest out of hundreds of submissions from around the world.
According to the description on Amazon, “Perfectly Queer takes the reader on Jillian Abby’s poignant and painfully funny rollercoaster of self-discovery as she identifies and eventually accepts herself as a lesbian just before her 40th birthday. Living her new truth means leaving behind a life that, by societal standards, is nearly perfect. It’s a story of hope and inspiration to those who are starting or are in the middle of their journey, and an affirmation to those who have been through it to stand proudly on the other side.”
When she wrote the story, Jillian hoped that it would help to further discussions about attraction, identity, and the LGBTQ+ community, but assumed that the only people who would be interested in reading it were women who came out later in life—a relatively small market. Turns out that a story of self-discovery is relatable in all of our lives and the LBGTQ+ identity is an area where we can continue to expand our learning. In their article, Good Morning America shared that “Perfectly Queer is really about owning who you are — and it’s never too late for that.”
Perfectly Queer was released in the US, Canada, UK and Australia on April 25 to coincide with Lesbian Visibility Week. It is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and local area book retailers in paperback and e-book, with an audiobook version read by the author coming May 30. The Perfectly Queer book launch event took place at Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, April 25.
More about Jillian Abby can be found through her website QueerAbby.com, on Instagram @JillianAbbyAuthor, and on TikTok @AskQueerAbby. She is a proud member of the Tampa Bay LGBT Chamber of Commerce through corporate creative writing business, Storyteller Soul, LLC.