A: I think I audibly gasped. I was in an airport in Minneapolis eating chicken and pancakes (the place had run out of waffles) and nearly spit out my pancake. It’s so gorgeous! Samira knocked it out of the park again, and Adams provided another stunning illustration.
Q: Did you read anything that inspired you while writing Darius the Great Deserves Better? Have you read anything recently that’s inspired you?
A: No one told me when I became an author that I’d never have time to read anymore! And inspiration is such a tricky thing to quantify. So instead I’ll just give some of my favorite recent reads! I’m really excited for Lev Rosen’s CAMP, about a gay theater boy who decides to reinvent himself as masc to win his crush’s heart. It’s a phenomenal interrogation of internalized homophobia. And HOW TO BE REMY CAMERON was one of my favorite reads of 2019: about family, and friendship, and identity, and queerness. I also loved my twin Natalie C. Parker’s STEEL TIDE. Caledonia’s crew has very strong Star Trek vibes to it, and I can’t wait for the finale. I asked Natalie about it earlier and she told me I had to wait like everyone else. I guess that’s how far sibling loyalty goes.
Q: At the end of the first book, Darius finally got to one-up his school bully, Trent Bolger, when he found out that he’d become better than Trent at soccer after playing it with Sohrab in Iran. Will we get to see Darius get more legs up on Trent?
A: We’ll definitely see Darius and Trent Bolger, Soulless Minion of Orthodoxy, interacting more. Darius has gained a lot of confidence in himself, and he’s got friends now, so he’s not quite as easy a Target as he used to be.
Q: Now that Darius and his dad Stephen are watching Star Trek again and occasionally with Darius’s sister Laleh, which Star Trek TV series do you think would ultimately be Laleh’s favorite? And should all incoming Star Trek fans start watching with The Original Series?
A: I think Laleh would love Star Trek: Voyager most of all, because of its sense of adventure and because she would admire Captain Janeway. As far as how new fans should interact with the series, I’m a firm believer that you should watch what you enjoy. I reject and renounce gatekeeping in fan communities. So while Star Trek: The Original Series is a good starting point, it’s not the only one. Viewers wanting a modern sensibility in their storytelling would be better off staring with Star Trek: Discovery.
Q: The cover of Darius the Great Deserves Better seems to hint at a love triangle. Did you ever think you’d be writing a love triangle, with Darius at the center of it?
A: I feel like YA went through a phase where love triangles became passé (wasn’t there a whole Hot Take Think Piece about them?), and it’s weird to me that we’ve trivialized this very common teenage experience of how messy and confusing attraction and romance can be. But then again, society has often undervalued the experiences of the young. I hope to push back against that.
I don’t know that I ever think far enough ahead in my own writing (I’m a pantser) to know what I will or will not write…I like to follow characters on their journey and see where choice and consequence take them. So I don’t know that ever thought I would (or would not!) write a love triangle. But I’m excited to write about Darius’s attractions and feelings and confusion, and to queer the idea of a love triangle.
Q: Now that he’s back from his life-changing trip to Iran, where is Darius most at home? Where is his rooftop now? Or do we just have to wait to read it?? (P.S. we can’t wait!!)
A: Darius is finding many new places he feels at home. His trip to Iran opened up his life and his heart in ways he never expected. But you’ll have to read to find out!