Kristen Arnett is the author of the bestselling novel Mostly Dead Things and writes for Literary Hub, The Cut, and the New York Times, among other publications. Aqueer Miami-based author, Arnett’s latest book, With Teeth (Riverhead, June 1), takes on queer parenting in a place where community is often lacking and illuminates the trials, discomfort, humor, and heartbreak of a mother’s relationships with her son, her partner, and her world.

In this interview, Arnett discusses how the first scene of the book served as the spark that led her to these characters and considersthe complex, occasionally messy queerness that she tends to favor over straightforwardlikability.She shares her love forthe awkward moments between people inboth new and intimate relationships—best observed, for example, by watching a bad first date at a bar—and reflects on the lack of defined queer spaces in many areas of Florida. Her biggest piece of advice for her protagonist? Careful, active listening.

From the Kirkus review: “Arnett writes movingly of the loneliness Sammie feels in the queer community once she becomes a parent, at times even flashing outside of Sammie’s point of view for brief interludes to show how outsiders see her in ways that she cannot clearly see herself….A novel that is not afraid to look at the underbelly of parenting, queer relationships, and middle age.”