#LGBTQMonth Author Interview: Erik J. Brown!

Hello everyone!

I’m so excited to welcome you to the next Author Interview of #LGBTQMonth 2022! How is the readathon going for you all? What are you reading? Let me know in the comments below!

For the next interview, I’m immensely excited to welcome the wonderful ERIK J. BROWN to my blog! . If you don’t know, Brown is the author of the recent ALL THAT’S LEFT IN THE WORLD!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Film and Media Arts with an emphasis in Writing for Media. When not writing, he enjoys traveling (pre-pandemic), collecting disco compilations on vinyl, remodeling his haunted house with his husband, and embarking on the relentless quest of appeasing his Shiba Inu, Charlie.

In 2021 he was selected as a Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow.

His debut Young Adult novel, ALL THAT’S LEFT IN THE WORLD, was published by HarperColllins/Balzer+Bray in the US and Hachette Children’s Group in the UK Commonwealth.


ABOUT ALL THAT’S LEFT IN THE WORLD

When Andrew stumbles upon Jamie’s house, he’s injured, starved, and has nothing left to lose. A deadly pathogen has killed off most of the world’s population, including everyone both boys have ever loved. And if this new world has taught them anything, it’s to be scared of what other desperate people will do . . . so why does it seem so easy for them to trust each other?

After danger breaches their shelter, they flee south in search of civilization. But something isn’t adding up about Andrew’s story, and it could cost them everything. And Jamie has a secret, too. He’s starting to feel something more than friendship for Andrew, adding another layer of fear and confusion to an already tumultuous journey.

The road ahead of them is long, and to survive, they’ll have to shed their secrets, face the consequences of their actions, and find the courage to fight for the future they desire, together. Only one thing feels certain: all that’s left in their world is the undeniable pull they have toward each other.


THE INTERVIEW

Hey Erik! What was your journey to publication like for All That’s Left in the World?

It was somehow both very slow but very fast all at once! I started the first draft of ATLITW in 2015 and didn’t even query with it until spring 2019. I knew something was wrong with it, but I couldn’t figure out how to fix it until one day in maybe 2018 when it just hit me. From there, it was fast again. I got my agent in fall 2019, we went on submission Feb 2020, and it sold March 13, 2020. But then it was over a year before I finally could even announce it, and it would be another year before the book came out!

Wow, that is LONG!! You’ve got such a great title for your book. Does it take you long to come up with a title or was it pretty instant?

It takes me a long time to come up with a title, if I ever do. Some novels I’ve written still don’t have the right title. I’m editing my second book now, it’s due out next year and we actually don’t have a title for it! I didn’t have a title for ATLITW until I was writing a query and wrote the line: “they’ll have to learn to survive when all that’s left in the world is the love they have for each other.” And I went “Oh! That’s the title!”

I love that!! Have you got any advice for aspiring writers?

I was going to say ‘keep writing!’ because everyone says that, and it genuinely is good advice. But it’s 2022, we’ve had a rough couple of years, and I think maybe we should normalize saying ‘stop writing!’ Not forever. But just take a break. If you keep getting rejections and it begins to feel like you’re being beaten down and you’re forgetting why you’re even writing, stop for a bit. Take the time you need to do something else you enjoy. There are going to be readers for your book no matter when you publish.

Yes, such great advice!! Who was your favourite character in All That’s Left in the World to write?

I really loved writing Henri. She somehow became this amalgam of all the strongest women I know in real life and actresses that every gay man loves. I also loved her dichotomy to Andrew and Jamie. When Andrew and Jamie meet, they’re alone and very much starved for human interaction. Whereas Henri raised three kids, worked civil service, had a long and loving marriage before the apocalypse. And now she’s just kind of moseying around Bethesda with a shotgun, living a quiet life. She doesn’t need people, she likes them, but she’s a lot better off on her own. Despite the apocalypse she’s still living her second best life.

What LGBTQ+ books and/or films have stood out to you lately?

For books: The Loophole by Naz Kutub, A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy, The King is Dead by Benjamin Dean, And They Lived… by Steven Salvatore, The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes, How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow, Out of the Blue by Jason June, and Nothing Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk.

And I can’t really recommend people watch it, because it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely loved the movie Titane. It’s a very queer, very disturbing body horror that somehow by the end made me feel more emotions than I’ve felt watching a movie in years. So much of the movie is this tense, horrifying serial killer/body horror film, but it slowly turns into a metaphor for unconditional love and what it means to be a parent. But again, not for the faint of heart. 

Some amazing books recommend there!! As a queer writer yourself, what do you think the importance of LGBTQ+ representation is, especially in young adult fiction?

It’s important for young people to see they aren’t alone. Teens already feel like they’re the only person in the world who feels what they’re feeling. It isn’t until we’re older we find out everyone goes through similar emotions and experiences. So seeing ourselves presented, and especially seeing that others feel the same way we do, can be life saving for some teens.

As a kid, when I realised I was gay, I thought it meant I didn’t have any future. I thought it meant I would have to lie to everyone I loved and all the dreams I had about my life disappeared because all I knew back then was what the media and kids in school said. Gay people in the media were never portrayed having the life I wanted. It wasn’t until I was seventeen or eighteen that I realised I could still have the life I wanted. It’s important for kids to know they aren’t alone and that there are so many queer people in the world living the lives they want and deserve, and they can have that, too. Seeing themselves represented in media, in a realistic way, is the first step to that.

That’s so true! What three things are an absolute must for you to have a good writing session?

I’m a very simple writer: my computer, an idea, and hopefully no distractions! Sometimes I will put on music, sometimes I write in silence. But if the idea, or even knowing what happens next in the book, isn’t there it’s a struggle. That’s when the distractions come in and I jump on my phone or just walk around my house. But I love when I know exactly where the story is going and I lose whole hours writing it out.

Sounds like a dream! What can we expect to see next from you? Are you working on anything at the moment?

My second book is coming out next year, I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say but it’s a coming-of-age contemporary YA about a queer teen working at an old-folks home. It’s based on the after-school job I had in high school. I’m also hoping one day enough people will have read ATLITW to warrant a sequel, because I have been outlining what that would look like! Fingers crossed! (Also if it does happen hopefully no one gets mad at me…)


That sounds like a book I definitely want to read! Thanks again for being a part of #LGBTQMonth, Erik! I am delighted to have had you onboard!

And for everyone else, I hope you enjoyed this interview! Do stay tuned for the rest of the month!