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Author Spotlight

Adib Khorram wrote the boy band book you’ve always wanted, and here are 5 things to know about it!

Get ready for the boy band book you’ve always wanted! Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram is a smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye.

We asked Adib to tell us more about his highly-anticipated next novel, and here’s what he said!
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KISS & TELL is probably the hardest book I’ve written—not only because I wrote (and edited) it during the global pandemic, but because it’s ambitious: it’s about big ideas, it’s got a big ensemble cast, and it’s got lots of parts that I had to bring together as a cohesive whole. It’s the story of Hunter Drake, a confident, talented, White, out gay boy in a hit boyband, as he navigates his first breakup going public, a rebound romance with an Iranian-American drummer, scrutiny of his queerness, and his own reckoning with privilege. It’s been quite the journey, with many twists and turns, so here are five fun facts about it!

  1. It’s Full of Easter Eggs: From the subtle to the obvious, from music to movies to TV, there’s plenty of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it references to other media contained in the pages of KISS & TELL. Some of them were more or less accidental, but others were on purpose, and a few were just to make a friend laugh. (They worked.)
  2. It’s Not As Hungry As Darius, but There’s Still Food: Someone once told me that whenever I don’t know how to move a scene forward, I have the characters eat something. That’s embarrassingly accurate. And while KISS & TELL doesn’t have as many lush meals as the Darius books do, it does have a few bits, from the best sandwich in Vancouver to poutine in Seattle to some queso in Texas.
  3. The Only Thing Harder Than Writing Books Is Writing Songs: KISS & TELL contains partial lyrics for several songs by the band, and it was quite a challenge writing them, because I wanted them to be decent, a little bit witty, and most importantly, to sound like actual lyrics from boy band songs. I think I did okay—a lot of practice during National Poetry Month definitely helped.
  4. Think Pieces? More Like Thoughtless Pieces: KISS & TELL is full of interstitial pieces—footage transcripts, emails, interviews, and even some internet think pieces, many of which were “loosely inspired” by some of the more ridiculous think pieces I’ve read over the years about media, about queer culture, about celebrity, and even occasionally about books. It was definitely weird to sit down and ask myself, “What’s the worst-possible-faith take on this?” Is this what it’s like writing villains?
  5. It Really Was Just Another Brick In the Wall: Even though it’s a book about a boy band, the story of KISS & TELL has a lot in common with Pink Floyd’s 1979 album The Wall, about a rock star named Pink whose fame isolates him from those around him until he eventually has a meltdown. And writing Hunter’s story during the pandemic, when there were new walls both literal and metaphorical between me and the people I cared about, was a sobering experience.

I’m really proud of KISS & TELL, and I can’t wait for readers to meet Hunter and his bandmates!


Preorder your copy of Kiss & Tell here!

Penguin Teen