Saturday, June 17, 2017

#Exclusive #Interview and #Giveaway Robin Reardon talks about "Waiting for Walker" out June 23rd!

An Interview with Robin Reardon: What's a straight, cisgender (slightly queer on the inside) female author like you doing writing in the world of GLBTQIA teen fiction?

Author Robin Reardon answers this and other questions about her work and her latest release, Waiting for Walker, which features a gay teen and an intersex teen.

It's my great pleasure to have Robin on my blog today, and she was kind enough to allow me to interview her. Her newest novel, Waiting for Walker, is a wonderful story and I can't recommend it highly enough. So much so, I wrote a foreword for the book. Check out my awesome interview with Robin and don't forget to scroll down and enter the give-away! FIVE lucky people will win an ecopy of Waiting for Walker!

Waiting for Walker is now available for pre-order
(Print edition available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & IngramSpark.)

Cody: Let's take it from the top. How did you get into writing in this area of fiction?

Robin: Isn't late teens the most intense time of a person's life? I mean, either something is critically important or it's "whatever." Teens know more than their parents and teachers one minute, and the next they feel like total idiots who'll never be able to figure out this thing called Life. And anything can change with no more than a second's warning.

So I wanted to write for teens, and GLBTQIA teens are under-represented. And misunderstood. I want to support them by writing. If my writing makes even one young person feel better about him, her, or theirself, then I have done a good thing. And I write about boys because—well, because I know what it feels like to want a man. See? Even adults can be a little queer on their gender identity.

Cody: That’s awesome to know, Robin. Not many adults admit they’re a little queer on the inside. I understand you've written stories in addition to your novels. Tell us about those.

Robin: I contributed a short story (Giuseppe and Me) to author Brent Hartinger's Real Story Safe Sex project, and I contributed a novella (A Line in the Sand) to a project benefitting The Trevor Project. I felt it was important to contribute to these projects, each for its own reason.

Many younger gay men—and even active teens—don't understand that even if HIV/AIDS isn't a death sentence the way it was in the 1980s and 1990s, it still takes over your life in a very bad way. And it affects the lives of other people in your life, too. Perhaps the younger generation also takes it less seriously because they didn't attend the funerals of friend after friend after friend as I did. But safe sex is critical, and that's what Brent's project is about. As for the Trevor Project, their work in suicide prevention is absolutely vital. A hugely disproportionate number of teen suicides occur among GLBTQIA youth. That's horrifying, and Trevor wants to end it.

Cody: Crucial information, to be sure, and I join you in the support to put an end to GLBTQIA youth suicide. What do you like best about writing?

Robin: Research. I know, I know, that makes lots of people cringe. But I find that unusual subjects can add a lot of depth to the characters and I also like to teach you new things as I write. Besides, it's fun learning new things like how some people see colors when they look at letters. I like knowing the best way to handle a misbehaving dog. Hey, if I hadn't done some research, I wouldn't know that it's a part of our brain that dictates what our sexual orientation is—which means nothing but genetics can make someone gay or straight—not even you no matter how hard you try.

Cody: Exactly. I wish more parents understood that. I also like that you include trans and bi characters in some of your stories, not only gay teens. 

Robin: And there's an intersex teen in my newest book, Waiting for Walker. Being intersex is much more common than people realize, and it's seriously misunderstood even by people who've heard of it. I researched it in depth to write my character, Walker Donnell, but even after all my research, I wouldn't presume to describe it accurately. You wrote a foreword for the book that provides a long list of informational resources, including a video that's a great starting point. 

I'm also fascinated by the difficulty some people have in accepting differences around sex and gender. And I really, really, really (writing coaches will tell you not to use "really" even once, but I'm not big on rules) want GLBTQIA people, and teens especially, to know that there is nothing wrong with them. The only thing wrong is how some people treat them.

Cody: I totes agree, Robin. Micah and Walker are the main characters in Waiting for Walker. Micah is a gay boy with a rather morbid disposition. He isn’t thrilled with his life and expresses himself through photography. How did you come up with Micah’s personality?

Robin: It's a process. I come up with an idea for a story, and then I think about who's in it. In this story, I landed pretty quickly on the contradiction between Micah and Walker. In the beginning, Micah's life looks lousy, and Walker's looks dreamy. But in reality, Micah is a lot more grounded, and Walker's life includes challenges few people have to face, making him vulnerable in ways Micah is not. BTW, that seagull image is pretty much what Micah wanted to do with his shots of the dead seagull he's shooting when he meets Walker.

Cody: One day when Micah is out on the jetty, Walker sails up in his boat. Walker is outgoing and confident... and cool, and Micah is taken with him. As the story progresses, we find out that Walker is intersex and Micah struggles with that concept in two ways. Tell us about those two ways.

Robin: Micah has never heard of intersex and, until he meets Walker, has no idea that sometimes nature creates people with a little bit of both natal sexes. That sort of blows his mind. But then he grapples with what that means. Can Walker be gay? For Walker’s part, he is certain he’s gay, but his family isn’t all that supportive, and it takes time for him to develop autonomy.

This story helps us understand the differences among the concepts of 1) natal sex (how we are born), 2) identity (how our minds and hearts feel about ourselves), 3) sexual orientation (the physical and romantic attraction we feel toward others), and 4) gender (roles that have been constructed in society).

Cody: This is one of the best stories I’ve read to explain those complicated things, and I commend you for writing it. You’ve covered tough subjects, and subjects that parents and teachers don’t always want to discuss with youth. How do you know what's going to happen next when you write a story?

Robin: My characters tell me, and I always listen to my characters. They’re teens. They know more about their stories than I do. Here’s an example. When I was writing Thinking Straight, I got stuck at one point when Taylor and his roommate, at the "ex-gay" camp they were in, were separated into different room assignments. The story ground to a halt. I leaned back in my chair, stared at the screen, and said (I think I said this to myself silently, but I can't be sure), "Okay, Taylor. Where did I go wrong?" It was almost as though he reached a hand out from the screen, took mine, and led me back to that split. "Here," he told me. "This is wrong. We stay roommates." And they did. And it worked. The story practically flew forward after that.

Cody: I am firmly of the opinion that talking aloud to yourself as you write is acceptable. Do you have any advice for young wordslingers-to-be?

Robin: LOL! Well, I do a lot of talking to myself, though I don't do it when I'm writing. But here's my advice. Read. Read a lot. You can’t write until you have read. Then, write. Write some more. Read what you've written. Read it aloud. Give it to someone else to read, someone who'll be honest with you. Edit. Read again, watching for places you know (and you will know) are rough or awkward. Fix those places. And if those awkward places include language or phrasing or ideas you're in love with, too bad; delete or put them somewhere else. We authors call this “killing our darlings.” Read aloud again. When that work is complete, write something else.

There's no point in wanting to be an author. There's no point in wanting to write. If you need to write, if you truly want to write, you will write. And if you write, you’re a writer even if you never publish anything. And if you write things other people want to read, at some point, someone will call you an author and it’ll make you smile huge.

Cody: *huge smile* What's next? What are you working on now? 

Robin: I'm taking a chance. My next work will be a three-book series. I've never written a series, although many readers have asked for sequels to their favorites of my books. In this series, the main character will be older than in any of my previous books. He'll be a college freshman for the first book and in his mid-twenties when the series ends.

Cody: What will the title of the series be? 

Robin: The series title is A Natural Man. Each book will have its own title, based on the location where the crucial part of the story takes place. Here are the working titles, which might (or might not) change during the writing process: On Chocorua; On the Kalalau Trail; and On the Precipice.

Cody: When will we be able to buy it? 

Robin: I'm hoping for a release date in the first half of 2018. But somehow, my books always seem to take longer to write than I think they're going to. Maybe it's all that research. 

And maybe there'll be an interview to announce that launch, and we'll have to come up with a different headline. Because my teens will have grown up.

Cody: Thanks for joining me today, Robin. I love your books and I’m honored to have you here. Go read Robin’s books! They are awesome! And don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Additional Books by Robin Reardon

A note from Cody: Waiting for Walker is an important book. Please read it and discuss it with your family and friends. Librarians and Teachers, please recommend this book.

The official release date for Waiting for Walker is June 23, 2017!
Waiting for Walker is now available for pre-order
(Print edition available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & IngramSpark.)

Five hearts 

The first five people to contact Robin Reardon and include a mention of this post along with their email address will receive a digital copy of Waiting for Walker in their choice of mobi (Kindle) or epub format.

About Waiting for Walker

Micah Jaeger's life is a mess. His folks have split, and his mother is seeing a medium to communicate with Micah's older brother, killed in Afghanistan. He had to change schools for his junior year, and he retreats further into himself, hiding behind his camera—and hiding that he's gay.

One sunny day in June, as he's shooting a dead seagull on the shore of Long Island Sound, a mysterious guy appears in a beautiful sailboat. At first, the guy's boat shoes are the image that stays with Micah. But soon it's the person himself, Walker Donnell, who haunts Micah's dreams.

Walker's life looks perfect to Micah. His wealthy parents adore him. He has everything he could want. He's gorgeous and generous. And he falls hard for Micah. But he has a secret: Walker is intersex.

The closer Walker and Micah grow, the more Walker feels the need to be sure of himself in ways he hasn't fully faced before, and now it's his turn to retreat. Micah knows Walker is worth waiting for, so he waits. And waits.

Waiting for Walker is now available for pre-order
(Print edition available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & IngramSpark.)

About Robin Reardon
Robin Reardon is an inveterate observer of human nature, and her primary writing goal is to create stories about all kinds of people, some of whom happen to be gay or transgender--people whose destinies are not determined solely by their sexual orientation or identity. Her secondary writing goal is to introduce readers to concepts or information they might not know very much about.

Interests outside of writing include singing, nature photography, and the study of comparative religion. Robin writes in a butter yellow study with a view of the Boston, Massachusetts skyline.

Facebook Author Page, and Twitter @TheRobinReardon

1 comment:

  1. Great interview!! Can't wait for Walker!!! I'm reading Thinking Straight right now and finding the characters fascinating.