"It's really interesting to be part of a huge diaspora, but it never feels like anyone is writing about the strange femininity of Bangla in any particular way," said Tanaïs, who uses a name.
The two authors have since become friends. After reading an early version of Like a Bird, Tanaïs suggested to Róisín that she revise passages that she wrote in her youth that felt like a different voice – feedback that helped her see the discrepancy more clearly and give her confidence to fix her. "It kind of freed her to trust herself," said Tanaïs.
Zeba Blay, another friend of Róisín's, who saw a design, was impressed with her commitment to the work. "She's someone who kind of goes to the mountains and then comes back with a masterpiece," she said.
When she started writing the book, Róisín said that there was a lot she didn't know. She devoured works by authors such as Audre Lorde, Susan Sontag, and June Jordan, who dealt with healing in their writings. Not only was the language of the early drafts simpler, but there were also things about which she couldn't understand, such as her sexuality.
"When I look back on old pages I think, wow, even my idea of storytelling is so skewed," she said. For example, there was a male love interest initially before Róisín turned Taylia's arc into one in which she finds fulfillment through community, not romance, which felt more appropriate for the queer communities where Róisín himself found support.
"It was part of me that was deleted because I saw it as no other choice," she said. "How could I be so bold as to write about my weirdness or about a character who might not be easy to digest?" Rewriting these parts and being able to name forces such as xenophobia, white supremacy, and racism helped bring the book into its final form.
"I think the greatest gift of this book is breaking the silence that has long plagued our communities," said Tanaïs. "It is a gift for young people and people healed from trauma and trauma survivors, like me, who need it when a young person expresses and moves through their pain and trauma."