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LGBTQ READERS FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER

A COMPLICATED LOVE STORY SET IN SPACE by Shaun David Hutchinson

Black Mirror meets What If It’s Us in this gripping, romantic, and wildly surprising novel about two boys lost in space trying to find their way home—while falling in love—from the critically acclaimed author of We Are the Ants.

When Noa closes his eyes on Earth and wakes up on a spaceship called Qriosity just as it’s about to explode, he’s pretty sure things can’t get much weirder.

Boy is he wrong.

Trapped aboard Qriosity are also DJ and Jenny, neither of whom remember how they got onboard the ship. Together, the three face all the dangers of space, along with murder, aliens, a school dance, and one really, really bad day. But none of this can prepare Noa for the biggest challenge—falling in love. And as Noa’s feelings for DJ deepen, he has to contend not just with the challenges of the present, but also with his memories of the past.

However, nothing is what it seems on Qriosity, and the truth will upend all of their lives forever.
Love is complicated enough without also trying to stay alive.
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PM) This is also probably your most scifi-work to date. What is your favorite genre to write in?

SDH) Usually, I take the contemporary world and change one thing—add aliens, make the universe shrink, bring the dead back to life—but this story is the exact opposite. The only “normal” thing in this world are Noa, DJ, and Jenny. And, as much as this is probably my favorite book I’ve written, I’m definitely more comfortable writing speculative stories in the contemporary world. There’s something about giving readers a world that feels familiar and then upending their notion of what that means.

PM) For those who don't know, many of your books exist in the same Universe or have cross-over elements. What are some of your favorite?

SDH) My favorite is definitely the little nods to the Patient F comic books from The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley. I still get a lot of emails from people wondering how Drew is doing, so I love leaving those little tidbits showing them that he’s out there living his best life. Another favorite is the idea that Elena from The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza is able to heal Nana from We Are the Ants. Those are fun to write. And since I’m a big believer in the multiverse theory, I’m able to offer those little elements without compromising the integrity of any individual book.


PM) You've been a very important role model to me when it comes to valuing yourself, exploring emotions and identity, and overcoming mental blocks. What is something you wish to share with readers who may find solace in the pages you write?

SDH) Thank you for saying that. It really means a lot. You know, I felt so alone when I was a teen. I felt like no one understood me—I didn’t even understand myself back then! I wasn’t alone; I just didn’t know it. So while I think my books may speak to a lot of different things, the most important thing I want to readers to hear is that they’re not alone.

PM) What's the first thing you want to do when the pandemic is over and you can go outside again?

SDH) More than anything, I want to drag my laptop to my favorite coffee shop, order a bad latte, and sit in the balcony and just write all day. I miss that so much. Also, weirdly, I just want to wander around Target for an hour.

PM) Who is your favorite author? What is your favorite book?

SDH) You know this is an impossible question, right? It honestly changes from day to day. I’ll tell you the best book I read in 2020. It was The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. It was just this big, warm blanket of a book that appeared in my life right when I needed it most. It’s closely followed by Adib Khorram’s Darius the Great Deserves Better. And then I think three authors who books are consistently brilliant are Victoria Schwab, Tiffany Jackson, and Neal Shusterman. No matter what they write, I’m buying it.
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Shaun's writing space!
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Brave Face, with Shaun's cooking hobby shown off to perfection.

Interview with Shaun David Hutchinson!


Patrick Munnelly) What does LGBTQ representation mean to you?


Shaun David Hutchinson) In a sense, it means survival. It means being able to envision a future where I exist. That was something I couldn’t easily do when I was coming out in the 1990s, so as a writer now, my goal is to write the kinds of books queer youth can see themselves in, and to champion diverse books so that queer youth from across the spectrum of representation can also see themselves.

PM) You're very open and honest in your work and life. How do the two blend together in your writing?

SDH) I’m actually a really private person, so it’s a deliberate choice when I open up about something personal. But in writing, I live by two rules: 1) Good enough is never good enough, and 2) Be honest. The second one is the hardest, especially when it comes to writing about difficult topics. It’s easy to write a story about depression that has a happy ending, but that’s not necessarily honest, right?. Sometimes, depression doesn’t have a happy ending. Sometimes the best outcome is simply finding an equilibrium you can live with. Figuring out a way to tell the truth, tell a good story, and offer hope is a delicate balance that I struggle with every book I write.

PM) What advice do you have for teens or adults struggling with their identity?

SDH) This is a tough one because I have so many thoughts about identity and the ways in which social media and constant connectedness feels like it forces us to declare our identities before we’re fully formed. But I think the best advice I can give with regards to identity is that you don’t owe yours to anyone. Your identity, whatever it is and however it evolves, is for you to define (or not define as you see fit!). You don’t have to define your identity for others, and you definitely don’t have to let them define you on their terms.


PM) What do you do to get your creativity flowing?

SDH) Whew, that’s a tough one to answer in the time of the pandemic. I think all artists are just remixing the world around us. Nothing juices me up creatively more than new experiences, which can be as simple as eavesdropping on conversations in a coffee shop or walking around my neighborhood. The more experiences I have access to, the more my well of creativity is filled. These days I’m definitely suffering from lack of input, which is making it tough. New music helps. Reading books in genres I don’t usually read is also a good way to grease the wheels. Over the past year or two, I’ve been using baking as a way to engage creatively, and being stuck inside has given me more time to chase that hobby.

PM) This book was originally born from the title "Gays in Space" ... can you tell us more about how this book took shape?

SDH) It honestly began as a joke on Twitter that kind of took on a life of its own. I throw out a lot of weird ideas on Twitter—my favorite unwritten one being about the big gay murder train anthology I thought would be fun to edit—but few actually stick. Gays In Space was one of those that I couldn’t stop thinking about. Usually, I just sit down and muddle my way through a story, but the idea for Gays In Space just felt so fully formed that when I pitched it to my agent, it felt like a story I’d been living with for years.


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Who's your favorite character?

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MARCH'S BOOK PICK

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Win one of 4 ADVANCED READERS COPIES! These are uncorrected proofs.
What Does It Mean to Be a Gay Man Today?

It’s just weeks after the historic Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, and all Sebastian Mote wants is to settle down. A high school art history teacher, newly single and desperately lonely, he envies his queer students their freedom to live openly the youth he lost to fear and shame.

So when he runs into his childhood friend Oscar Burnham at a wedding in Washington, D.C., he can’t help but see it as a second chance. Now thirty-five, the men haven’t seen each other in a decade. But Oscar has no interest in their shared history. Instead, he’s outraged by what he sees as the death of gay culture: bars overrun with bachelorette parties; friends getting married, having babies.

While Oscar and Sebastian struggle to find their place in a rapidly changing world, each is drawn into a cross-generational friendship that treads the line between envy and obsession: Sebastian with one of his students and Oscar with an older icon of the AIDS era. And as they collide again and again, both men must come reckon not just with one another, but with themselves.

Rich with sharply drawn characters and contemporary detail, provocative, and emotionally profound, Let’s Get Back to the Party is sure to appeal to readers of Garth Greenwell, Alan Hollinghurst, Claire Messud, and Rebecca Makkai.

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