Interview with Author Jonny Garza Villa

Jonny Garza Villa is a product of the great state of Texas, born and raised along the Gulf Coast, and a decade-long resident of San Antonio. They are an author of contemporary young adult fiction that maintains a brand of being proudly Latinx, and the most queer, and embracing the power and beauty of the chaotic gay. Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun is their debut novel. I had the opportunity to interview Jonny regarding their debut novel, which you can read below.

CW: Discussion of toxic relationships/parental abuse.

First of all, congratulations on your debut novel, Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun. Could you tell us a little of what it’s about?

Thank you so much! I like to call Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun part of my own adolescent traumas, part Selena’s “Dreaming of You,” and part Patrón. It’s a coming of age, contemporary romance that follows Corpus Christi, Texas teen Julián (aka Jules) Luna, who’s just trying to have a lowkey senior year, hang out with his friends, get into UCLA, and finally be able to move away from all the environments that have kept him closeted his entire life. That is, until he accidentally comes out as gay on Twitter after getting tremendously drunk at a party. And in the days and weeks and months that follow, Jules will realize all the good that comes from allowing ourselves to live openly and authentically—like having a long distance Twitter crush slide into his DMs—as well as the bad, like figuring out how to come out to his extremely machista dad.

Where did the inspiration for this book come from? Were there any books/media/music that inspired you prior to or while writing it?

Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun was hugely influenced by Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, as well as its film adaptation, Love, Simon. I love both of them so much, but they also left me with the question of what would Simon Spier’s journey look like if he was a Chicano kid living in a socially conservative, Mexican, Catholic household in South Texas? Because there would absolutely be drastic differences, and I felt like there needed to be something that gave queer Chicane and Mexican American youth the same chance to see ourselves as Simon did for so many.

Also, specifically with characters, On My Block had a lot of influence on a couple in particular. I like to say that Jules is very much like Ruby meets Simon Spier, and his friend Lou takes a lot of influence from Jasmine and how wildly and wonderfully chaotic she is.

How would you describe your writing process?

Constantly changing. I pantsed Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun, which basically means I came into it with a very vague, basic idea of what I wanted the story to be and then just started writing it without any sort of outline. Even my second book, Ander and Santi Were Here, was largely pantsed. However, I have started embracing the idea of outlining and, I think, all of my current projects have been plotted and thought about much more intensely before just going at it. In the end, I’m a fan of both and figuring out what works best for you, whether it’s one or the other or somewhere in the middle.

One of the hardest parts of writing a book is finishing one. Were there techniques/ strategies/ advice that helped you finish your first draft?

Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun is the very first book I’ve ever written and only the second idea I’d ever attempted, so I definitely went into it with very little knowledge on craft or best practices. But what I think helped was that I had a deadline. I drafted it during National Novel Writing Month, so having that set, last day of November deadline to get as much of this idea out onto a page helped keep me focused.

I’m also a big advocate of things that aren’t writing but are still absolutely creative productivity. If I was having a hard time thinking of words, I’d spend the afternoon creating playlists or listening to music that felt close to the vibe I was going for in the next scene. I’d go on Pinterest and make mood boards. I’d cook. I’d think about any random situation and how these characters might react.

A significant part of the book involves exploring toxic bonds, including family ones. If you feel comfortable would you mind discussing that a little?

Yeah, of course. So, while I love writing about the cool and beautiful parts of my culture and being Chicane, I also feel compelled to write about the not so great aspects of my community and, specifically here, that meant calling out how harmful machismo philosophy is and specifically its prevalence when it comes to raising sons or AMAB children.

Also, while I get it, I’m not huge on crappy parents in YA suddenly becoming this embracing or even at least tolerant person. Like, realistically, just because we ourselves decide we’re gonna stop hating this specific part of ourself, that doesn’t mean everyone around you jointly decides they’re going to stop hating that part of you too. And I think that needs more attention. I think it’s okay to recognize those relationships that are going to always be bad for us because that then allows us to rely on those that are good for us.

What are your favorite parts of this book and of the writing process in general? What message did you want to send with Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun?

I love those specific scenes where Jules is with just one of his friends. Those times with Jordan or before Homecoming with Lou or that one scene with Rolie or in the days after his birthday with Itzel. Friendship and platonic relationships were, for me, as important as the romantic plot between Jules and Mat, and in those times of intimacy between Jules and his friends, they were and are so incredibly special and meaningful for me.

My favorite part of the writing process is revisions. That feeling of knowing I’m getting closer to what a book is supposed to be is such a driving force for me.

And the message I wanted to send with Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun, specifically to anyone who knows what it is to be in Jules’ shoes, is that I hope you find love and acceptance in this story, even if it’s alone, in the quiet of your room, between just you and Jules and Mat and Jordan and Itzel and Rolie and Lou and Piña and Xochi. And that I hope you know that you are enough for this world just as you are.

Upon reading the book, the reader tends to notice a moon and sun theme coming up, especially with the lotería themed character art cards of Jules and Mat drawn by Mars Lauderbaugh? Where did that symbolism come from?

In all honesty, at first I thought it was just a very clever thing, personally. Like, oh what if there’s moon in his name and sun in his name? That would make me the greatest writer of all time. I’m obviously the first person to ever be this creative with language. But as Jules and Mat’s personalities began to really take shape and then I learned that there’s actually a trope that is literally sun type and moon type (absolutely crushing my ego and idea of originality), I ran with it and embraced it.

What’s a question that you haven’t been asked but wish you were asked (along with your answer)?

One thing I haven’t had the opportunity to talk about is Jules relationship with religion and specifically as a gay Catholic. While I’m not anymore, I was raised and was pretty devoutly Catholic, which left me with an appreciation for what it is at its best while also with the ability to be critical. From the beginning I knew that I wanted Jules to, one, not be a character who was trying to convince himself he isn’t gay but instead just a closeted gay boy waiting for his chance to not be closeted, and, two, that I didn’t want his sexuality to be a hinderance in his personal relationship with his beliefs. Originally there were at least a couple of scenes with him actually at Mass and pretty committed to practicing his faith. I wanted the God he believes in to be one that doesn’t care who Jules loves. I wanted to show the difference in those who believe religion to be a tool of love, like his Güelo, compared to those who use it to oppress, like his dad. And, ultimately, I didn’t want it to be a story of someone running away from their faith but as someone who knows he can exist as he is. That it was never God who was withholding love, but those who believe to know God best who are the ones withholding love and, in the end, we don’t need it from them.

What advice might you give to other aspiring writers? What advice might you have to give as a debut author specifically?

To aspiring writers, I would say to not listen to anyone who says you have to write every day. Write when you’re able. Write when you feel like it. Don’t push yourself. Don’t create a relationship with writing that makes it into something you force on yourself.

And to debut authors, don’t procrastinate! Got a cool preorder idea? Want to get with a local indie for a virtual thing? Get on that now; do not wait.

Are there any project ideas you are currently thinking about and are at liberty to speak about?

One project I’m currently (slowly) revising is a rivals to lovers story that centers around high school mariachi. Big ego, Leo sun main character and a love interest who will not be pushed into the background. Less coming of age feels and more strictly romance, which has been pretty cool to write, as much as writing coming of age stories is my favorite.

And I feel like I can mention these because they’ve been brought up publicly already, but I am putting some thought into what happens after the end of Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun; also, there is some pondering going on about a potential co-written YA gay cowboy story with one of my favorite people that I’m very excited about.

What books would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

For contemporary, Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera; Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram; Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee; The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters; and Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp.

For contemporary fantasy, Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas; Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz; and The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon.

For fantasy, We Set the Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia; Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro; and Crier’s War by Nina Varela

For speculative contemporary, They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera and The Grief Keeper by Alex Villasante

For romance that’s not YA but still has that coming of age feel, Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

The Geeks OUT Podcast: Halloween Slaps

In this week’s episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by J.W. Crump, as they discuss the new trailers for Halloween Kills & Shang-Ch and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and celebrate Pride with Loki and the queens of Dragging the Classics: The Brady Bunch in This Week in Queer. 



KEVIN: Image comics ignores #MeToo and give Warren Ellis another shot
J.W.: New trailer for Halloween Kills



KEVIN: Battlestar Galactica, Kevin Can Fuck Himself, Marvel Voices: Pride
J.W.: Sailor Moon: Eternal, Tuca and Bertie



HBO Max developing Madame Xanadu series



Paramount+ announces Dragging the Classics: The Brady Bunch



New trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings




• First look at the Shazam family in their new costumes
• New trailer for The Suicide Squad 
• New trailer for Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins
• Disney casts Rachel Zegler as title character in live action Snow White
• New trailer for Candyman remake
• New trailer for Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog



• Latest episode of Loki confirms the character’s bisexuality
• New teaser for American Horror Stories 
• New teaser for Q-Force  
• First look at season 3 of Sex Education
• Hulu renews Solar Opposites for 4th season  
• New trailer for Only Murders in the Building 
• AMC officially orders Interview With the Vampire series
• New trailer for Jellystone



• First look at queer horror comic Party & Prey from Steve Orlando & Steve Fox



• KEVIN: Shang-Chi
• J.W.: The Shazam Family

Geeks OUT LGBTQIA+ Creator Spotlight: Vita Ayala

Hello and welcome back to the Geeks OUT Creator Spotlight. For this edition I had the chance to speak to one of the most sought after and super talented comic writers working in the industry today, Vita Ayala! Vita Ayala is a queer Afro-Puerto Rican, born and bred in New York City, where they grew up dreaming dreams of dancing on far away worlds, fighting monsters on the block, and racing the fish along the bottom of the ocean. Their killer list of work includes THE WILDS (Black Mask Studios), SUBMERGED (Vault), QUARTER KILLER (ComiXology) all creator owned. They’ve also have been tearing up carpet in the mainstream on titles such as SUPERGIRL (DC), XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (Dynamite), LIVEWIRE (Valiant), NEW MUTANTS and CHILDREN OF THE ATOM (Marvel), among others.

Welcome, Vita!

Chris Allo: We like to do a little educating here on the GeeksOut Creator Spotlight. With that in mind, as a queer non-binary person, how would you define that in a general sense? And what does it mean to Vita personally?

Vita Ayala: I can’t really define what queer non-binary means in a general sense, because those words and the identities “covered” therein are extremely personal. The “general” accepted definition for non-binary is a person who does not fall under the binary gender identities of “man” and “woman” in their societal context. But there is a lot that can be covered under such an umbrella term.

For me, I feel like I am a gender that is not “man” or “woman,” but not agender either. I don’t really have the language yet to full articulate it beyond saying that.

Black Mask Studios

When did your interest in comics begin? What was your first comic book?

I have told those stories a lot, so I won’t go on too much about it, but my first comics were a Wonder Woman comic, an X-Men comic (with Storm and Bishop on the cover – or just Storm, my mind remembers both but also my mind is a labyrinth so who knows), and a Fisher Price-Marvel team up, Arabian Nights (which I still have).

I’ve always loved stories, and have had an active imagination. I was drawn to these books because they featured BIPOC people (and here, I admit that I misidentified Wonder Woman as Puerto Rican for a long time, but in my defenses, there are Reasons), and they were heroes. I would flip through the pages for hours, making up the words (since I couldn’t read at the time).

Who are some of the writers and artists (any kind of artist; they don’t have to be comic artists) whose work inspires you?

I’ll talk about some inspirations that are outside of Western comics – inspirations that have been with me since long before I was trying to become a professional writer.

Octavia Butler is a huge influence on me, as a creator and as a person. Her books saved my life, and rewired my brain.

Basquiat is one of my favorite artists. I grew up in the Lower East Side/Alphabet City in New York in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and his spirit was still in the concrete and brick, in the streetlights and subways. His work is incredibly powerful, but also, he as a person resonated with me a lot of a teen (and still).

Naoko Takeuchi has shaped my moral center a lot. She taught me what friendship could be, and how to love people for who they are not who you want them to be.

Bruce Lee  – as an actor and creator and martial artist – is a huge inspiration for me. His drive and vision and self discipline are aspirational, holistically. 


And I would be lying if I didn’t say that Lewis Carroll and Homer are both foundational figures in terms of my inspiration. Alice in Wonderland/Through he Looking Glass and The Odyssey are two of my favorite stories of all time (though, they are arguably the same story).

How has being a queer non-binary informed your work? What is it about being a queer non-binary writer that you feel gives you a unique and enlightened or challenging perspective that you channel into your work?


First, I don’t think that being any particular identity makes you enlightened just by virtue of being it. Enlightenment (if it can even be achieved) is a lifelong pursuit and requires a LOT of work.

Totally right!

This is a question that there are plenty of canned answers for, but the honest truth is that everyone’s perspective is unique and personal, and absolutely informs their point of view. My intersecting identities have shaped both how I am perceived in the world and how I perceive the world, and that in turn is channeled into the world.

I also believe that there is no objective state of being, and no way to creator “objective” work. Everything we do – whether casual or purposeful, art or science or whatever – is informed by our biases and experiences.


What drew you into wanting to work in the comics industry? What was the first comic or graphic novel that made you realize the power and potential of the medium?

I started working at a comic shop when I was 19, partially to justify dropping out of school, and partially to feed my comic and manga habit. I ended up working there on and off for 10 years (with breaks in there to attend college), and my understanding of Western comics as an industry was born and nurtured there.

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t actually consider entering the industry as a creator until 2012, when I was working at the comic shop with Matthew Rosenberg. He was incredibly supportive, and he (having a lot more knowledge about the professional side) really helped guide me through my first few years/attempts to “break in.”

So great to hear about the support from Matthew. He’s a very talented writer as well.

There were two books that really reshaped my understanding of what comics could be. The first was Gotham Central – I could talk about this series forever – and the second was Strangers In Paradise, which was a book that also saved my life. And when I say certain books saved my life, I mean it literally. I would not be here, alive, if they hadn’t found me when I needed them.


Valiant Entertainment

In terms of work-for-hire projects, what kind of stories do you most enjoy writing? What are some of the projects you’ve worked on that particularly satisfied you as a writer?

I like writing a wide range of things, but I think I tend to be most immersed when I am stress testing what makes a character who they are, or I am trying to get to the answer of some sort of question I have a bout a character/set of characters.

It’s hard to single out a particular project that made me feel satisfied, because I get different things out of different projects. I don’t think I would be able to work on a project that I wasn’t invested in, and so I am very satisfied with having worked on things once they are done.

Also, honestly, the gift of collaborating with such incredible creators through these projects is a blessing. Every collaborator I have had has been both an inspiration and a wonder, and even when I am stressed, knowing I have such amazing partners (artists, colorists, letterers, editors) to work with me brings me energy and joy!

Quarter Killer-Comixology Originals

So great to hear you say that, Vita! Comics are a truly a collaborative effort.

Who are some contemporary writers and artists in the comics industry you enjoy most these days? Who inspires you to want to continue to work in the industry?

I am so incredibly lucky to know so many skilled, passionate, wonderful creators. I am most excited, awed, and inspired by my collaborators and peers. 

Again, singling anyone out is hard because that means I am leaving people out, so I’ll just touch on a few I bought recently. 

Trung Lê Capecchi-Nguyễn’s book, The Magic Fish, wrecked me. It’s incredibly beautiful and touching, and I had to sit with it for days afterwards.

Agreed, quite an amazing and empathetic tale.

Leah Williams and David Baldeón’s work on X-Factor has been consistently moving and interesting, a mix of joyful and melancholy. I love that book so much, and I will miss it desperately when it is gone.

Martin Simmonds and James Tynion IV have absolutely smashed the button in my brain that was made for Vertigo comics. That book is really incredible.

I’m a big Vampire the Masquerade fan, and the comic is a gas. I have been loving what Tini and Blake Howard are doing with the backups in that book.

I didn’t know about those! Will check them out!

My wife and I have been on a big 20th Century Boys kick lately, and Naoki Urasawa always energizes my brain!

What lesson or advice would you give to aspiring writers today? What do you wish you knew then that you know now when it comes to being a working creator in today’s industry?

I guess the advice I would give writers is to get into the habit of writing regularly. I don’t mean “you must write everyday” or anything like that, but more, figure out a routine that works in your life, and stick to it. 

You have to hone your craft as much as possible, and you can’t wait for “inspiration to strike you” – keep a journal if you don’t feel like you can write fiction on a schedule or if you feel like you have writer’s block. Writing is a skill that you have to practice at to become more proficient at it.

As for what I wish I had known? I guess I wish I had known to try and get an agent as early as possible, or to hire a lawyer to look over contracts. Having an advocate that is purely on your side is important, and having someone to make sure that your interests are being made priority in legally binding documents invaluable.

As an artist’s agent myself, I whole heartedly agree!

The creators (writers, artists of any kind, designers), we are what brings value to the industry. We should be respected and treated accordingly.

As someone who frequently works in mainstream comics, what do you think the future of LGBTQ representation looks like there?

I have no idea, I haven’t been to the future haha.

I walked into that one…

Marvel Entertainment

If you mean what I would like to see going forward, I want to see more and varied representation. More intersecting identities. More, more, more.

Here’s a lighter question: who is your favorite existing queer character and why?

I have pretty standard answers (Renee Montoya, Xena, Katchoo), but I think that closer to the truth is the queer characters being created and pushed by queer creators.

I’ve expressed the same thing myself. I want authentic queer characters.

I love every queer character I had the honor of helping bring to life. I love every queer character my friends have put their sweat and tears into. All of them. They’re my favorite, because they are labors of love, and they are for us by us. 

If you could put together your own superhero team from any queer characters who are out there, who would be on your team?

It would honestly depend on the story/what the goal was.

Are they investigating something? I have answers for that. Are they adventuring to the center of the Earth to find buried treasure? I have answers for that. Are they repelling space invaders or making magic? I’ve got answers for that too.

Although, I think whatever the goal/team, you should definitely bring John Constantine along.

What are the projects you are most proud of right now?

I can’t say what projects make me most proud, because I feel honored and blessed to have worked on every project I have been involved in.

But I will talk about the books I am currently working on/recently worked on a bit.

I am working on three series right now (New Mutants, Static, Children of the Atom), and have the absolute pleasure of teaming up with folks like Nikolas Draper-Ivey, Chris Cross, Rod Reis, Paco Medina, and David Curiel for art, and Travis Lanham and AndWorld Design for letters.

Some top notch creators! I love Paco, Reis and Chris Cross is amazing! I can’t get enough of his art!

I recently got to work with Skylar Patridge, Jose Villarrubia, and Ariana Maher on  on a Question short for DC Pride, which what an incredible team!

Nice! Villarrubia is so gifted and a role model for me!

And of course, my creator owned work and partners hold a special place in my heart. Emily Pearson, Marissa Louise, Jim Campbell, Lisa Sterle, Stella Dia, Rachel Deering, Jamie Jones, and Ryan Ferrier have my unwavering love!

Marvel Entertainment/DC Comics

It’s promo time! Can you tell us about some of the creator-owned projects you’ve worked on that will be coming out in the next year? What’s your next mainstream project that you could talk about? Or not talk about–whatever you’re comfortable with!

As for WFH, mainstream, as I said above, I’m currently working on New Mutants (Marvel), Children of The Atom (Marvel), and Static (DC).

Loving your NEW MUTANTS and can’t wait to read STATIC!!

Not to mention the two stories you have in the Marvel Voices: Pride and DC Pride one shots!!!

I don’t have any creator owned work coming out in the next year, but as I said above, my creator owned work holds a special place in my heart.

Submerged (Vault Comics) is a contemporary queer, Brown retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth that takes place in the New York City subway.

The Wilds (Black Mask Studios) is a post-apocalyptic story that center queer BIPOC leads, in which the end of the world is beautiful.

Quarter Killer (Comixology) is a Black cyberpunk Robin Hood of the ‘hood story set in a near-future New York City that centers a Black non-binary character and their family.

Thank you so much, for your time and for speaking with me! Happy Pride!

Part two with Vita coming soon!

Chris Allo is a freelance editor and artist’s agent. He has been a serious comic geek since his early teens. He breathes, eats and sleeps comics and comic art, and is an X-Men fanatic. Aliens and Star Wars are his second favorite things in all the world. He also loves animals and has a cat named, Mugsy. He has a separate business with his partner, Puppet Punx!, specializing in costumes and puppets.

Interview with Author Simon James Green and Illustrator Garry Parsons

Simon James Green is an award-winning UK-based author of young adult novels. His works include Noah Can’t Even, Noah Could Never, and Alex in Wonderland, which was nominated for a Carnegie medal and featured in Best Kids Books 2019 from The Guardian. Llama Glamarama is his first picture book.

Garry Parsons is the illustrator of many adorable children’s books including The Dinosaur That series written by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter and George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Stephen and Lucy Hawkings. Garry lives in South London with his young family & old doggie.

I had the opportunity to interview them both about their new book, Llama Galamarama, and more which you can read below.

As a writer who usually writes Young Adult fiction, what inspired you to write a children’s book? What do you like about writing for Young Adults versus writing Children’s books?

SJG: To be honest, it was really a case of having an idea that really only suited the picture book market. There are many ideas that suit young adult fiction, but I’m not sure dancing llamas is really one of them! My editor at Scholastic is very open to anything I present to him, and I really wanted to write a picture book about Pride that was fairly subtle in it’s messaging, (although admittedly not in the delivery!), so this seemed like the perfect fit. 

I love writing for both age groups. With picture books, you have the chance to be one of the first books a person encounters, which is an extraordinary privilege. With young adult fiction, especially with it also being LGBTQ+, you hope that your readers are going to find comfort, understanding, and acceptance in your work, and knowing how important that is to many teenagers is a great responsibility and also a huge privilege. 

What were the titles of some of your favorite books growing up? 

SJG: Gosh, so many! I absolutely adored the Winnie the Pooh stories as a young child, and then Roald Dahl when I was a little older – especially The BFG. I really got into mystery and detective stories around the age of 11 or 12 – I loved Nancy Drew! 

GP: My favourite books started with Rupert Bear annuals which I received at christmas from the age of four. If you are not familiar with Rupert’s adventures the stories were cleverly written in a short rhyme which sat beneath a graphic novel style set of four illustrations per page, but also had a fuller text at the bottom of the page giving the reader a choice of how to follow the story. However, despite this choice I would look at the sequence of illustrations and decipher the story in my own way without reading either. The illustrations were so gripping! 

I too adored Roald Dahl, particularly “Danny The Champion of the World” and a picture book by John Vernon Lord,  “The Giant Jam Sandwich” and later, the graphic novels of Raymond Briggs. Thrillingly, John Vernon Lord became my tutor when I was studying sequential design at university.

Simon James Green

What was the collaboration process like between author and illustrator working on this title?

SJG: It was Scholastic who put me and Garry together – we didn’t know one another before, although I did know his work, and I knew how brilliant he was. I had already written the story when Garry was brought on board, but knowing how great he was, beyond a few very brief illustration notes I thought it best that he just got on with it. Garry’s work is so characterful, and adds another whole layer of humour to the story, and I think it’s really important that he came to the story with a fresh pair of eyes and added his own interpretation – it is a collaboration, after all! What has been really nice since is how we’ve been able to work together presenting lots of online events, really demonstrating to the children watching how author and illustrator work together to bring a book to life. 

GP: What’s been wonderful about working on Simon’s stories is  illustrating his wry sense of humour. Whilst our actual collaboration on the book’s production has been quite small, we seem to have a very similar sense of how they should feel and how they can be brought to life.

As queer creators, do you ever find yourself making the type of stories you wish you had as a younger queer reader?

SJG: For sure! When I was at school, here in the UK, there was a piece of legislation called section 28 which basically made it illegal to have books with any LGBTQ+ content in school libraries – so there simply wasn’t anything. The legacy of that casts a long shadow, (it was only repealed in 2003) but it’s great to be part of the effort to put it right. 

GP: I agree, If only there had been representations of ourselves in books when we were children! I feel these new stories are incredibly important . Having  an accessible range of diverse characters in literature for young people is essential and I believe they will have more of an impact on young lives than we can imagine.

As a medium primarily intended for younger audiences, what do you think of the value of creating queer centered works for children? How can we express LGBTQ+ themes in a way that’s clear for kids? 

SJG: The value is two-fold: it’s so important for children to see themselves, or their families, in books. So whether they are LGBTQ+ themselves, or whether their parents or carers are, seeing their lives represented is a really important thing. Secondly, all children, regardless of sexuality, or family set-up, will benefit from learning and understanding the many wonderful things that people are, and the many wonderful ways they live their lives. 

The great thing about more LGBTQ+ children’s books being around now is that you can access many different approaches to exploring these themes. There’s no ‘one way’ to be LGBTQ+ and there’s no ‘one way’ to tell our stories. Some are out and proud and have their message clear for all to see. Others, like Llama Glamarama, take a more allegorical approach, which can be easier for some people, especially if you’re in a community where talking about LGBTQ+ themes is still difficult or a problem. 

GP: My feeling is that when children read they can look at characters and on some level say to themselves “I know that person, that’s me” and that tells them that they are valued and they can say “it’s ok to be me”.  Picture books have a special quality that allows for subtleties that can potentially speak to everyone.

Garry Parsons

What are your favorite parts of writing?

SJG: I love devising the initial ideas and playing around with what possibilities there might be. For me, it always feels like the most creative part, where I can just let my mind wander and see what happens. This process usually happens before the fear of deadlines kick in too, so it’s always more enjoyable! 

What are your favorite parts of illustrating?

GP: I love the very first part of creating the main character and working out how they might look and feel. With Larry from Llama Glamarama, I practised drawing him as a regular llama first and then adapted him to take on different dance poses. Making the drawings is always something I enjoy and if they make me laugh then I know I’m on the right track.

When everyone involved in creating the book is happy with the drawings I’ve done I can begin to work in colour which I paint using acrylics. The wonderful thing about painting is choosing and mixing colours that work well together. With Llamaglamarama, I was able to go from the sedate colours of the barn, through the drabness of the Larry at his lowest ebb, to the loud frivolity of the Glamarama. What’s not to enjoy?!

What advice would you give for writers/artists working on their craft? What advice would you give in particular for creating a children’s book?

SJG: Discover your voice. By which I mean, work out what your unique perspective on the world is, what makes you, you, what it is you want to say, and how you want to say it. Many people come up with similar ideas, but only you can express it in that very unique and individual way that will make the story yours. 

GP: I would suggest budding illustrators draw anything and everything  and keep a sketchbook handy for all occasions. Practising your drawing will help you to find a way of drawing that feels right for you. And don’t worry about things not looking the same as what you imagine them to look like in your head because what comes out on your piece of paper is always going to be different, the important part is seeing that what you draw has its own value and your unique ‘style’ will come through all of its own.

Are there other projects you are working on and at liberty to discuss?

SJG: Garry and I have just had our second picture book published here in the UK – Fabulous Frankie is about a flamingo who learns the key to being more fabulous isn’t about what you wear or how you look, but about just being your true, authentic self. I’ve also just had my fifth LGBTQ+ young adult novel published – You’re the One That I Want – set around a high school production of Grease. Meanwhile, I’m working on a new middle-grade for next year – so it’s been a busy time!

GP: I was thrilled to be asked to illustrate Fabulous Frankie, it’s a wonderful story and Frankie is adorable and fabulous in all sorts of ways that even he doesn’t know about. I’m very lucky to have more picture picture books to illustrate but I’m secretly hoping Simon has another animal story in the pipeline.

What queer books/authors would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT? Any LGBTQ+ kid-friendly media you would like to recommend?

SJG: In picture books, I must give a shout out to Adventures with My Daddies by Gareth Peter, and also illustrated by Garry Parsons – it’s such a joyous picture book, perfect for Pride month. I’m a big fan of anything Julian Winters writes – they’re such positive, happy books for YA readers – Running with Lions and How To Be Remy Cameron being two favourites. I’d also recommend taking a look at some of the LGBTQ+ young adult books coming out of the UK, because a lot of them don’t get official US publication deals, but they’re really great, and I think it’s nice to get different perspectives on LGBTQ+ life from around the world. Check out Boy Queen by George Lester and The Outrage by William Hussey. 

GP: I would recommend “Hello, Sailor” by Ingrid Godon and Andre Sollie. This picture book is both beautifully written as well as illustrated and being published in 2004 feels ahead of its time. It continues to be one of my all time favourite children’s books. I would also urge everyone to have a copy of “Julian is a Mermaid” by Jessica Love on their book shelves.

Interview with Author Alex London

Alex London is the author of over 25 books for children, teens, and adults with over 2 million copies sold. He’s the author of the middle grade Dog Tags, Tides of War, Wild Ones, and Accidental Adventures series, as well as two titles in The 39 Clues. For young adults, he’s the author of the acclaimed cyberpunk duology Proxy, and the epic fantasy trilogy, The Skybound Saga. A former journalist covering refugee camps and conflict zones, he can now be found somewhere in Philadelphia, where he lives with his husband and daughter or online at www.calexanderlondon.comBattle Dragons: City of Thieves goes on sale this fall, but you can pre-order it today.

I had the opportunity to interview Alex, which you can read below.

First of all, congratulations on your latest series, Battle Dragons, starting with Book #1 City of Thieves! Could you tell us a bit of what the series will be about?

The short pitch is that it’s The Fast and The Furious meets How to Train Your Dragon, but it’s very much its own thing. Battle Dragons tells the story of 13 year old Abel and his friends and family, who get caught up in the criminal dragon battling underworld of Drakopolis, the mega-city where they live. Dragons do everything there, from haul freight and transport busses, to work in mines and serve the ferocious military. There are corrupt dragon-riding gangs—called kin—and corrupt secret police whom the kin pay off. When Abel discovers his big sister is a notorious dragon thief, his big brother is an agent of the secret police and his best friend is tangled up with a vicious gang, he’s going to have a lot to deal with for a seventh grader! There are sibling rivalries and new friends and high stakes souped up dragon riding action. There are also, I hope, a lot of laughs! 

As a queer writer, do you ever find yourself directly writing the books your younger queer self would have wanted?

Every book I write is aimed at that memory of my younger self, that longing to see queer heroes in queer worlds and the need I didn’t even know I had to see entirely new possibilities for what a queer reality could be. My view of what was possible for gay boys like me was small. Fantasy and sci-fi opened my imagination to all kinds of other worlds, why not all kinds of other queer worlds?

As a former political journalist who had covered conflict zones and refugee camps, what drew you to fiction, particularly YA and MG? Do you believe your experience writing the former has affected the latter?

Absolutely it has. I write fiction for the young people I met all over the world whose lives were as epic as the Aeneid. Young people are capable of surviving and creating joy in all kinds of horrible and complicated situations, from war and famine to neglect and abuse, and though they are victimized by wars and upheavals, they are also the protagonists in their own stories and participants in shaping their societies. I write books to entertain, but also to celebrate and honor that capacity that all young people have.

How do you find yourself dealing with creative challenges, i.e. writer’s block, creative burnout, etc.? What tips would you give to other writers dealing with these challenges?

Writing a story is a gift you give, to yourself and to readers. I try to remind myself of that. I am creating a gift and so I want it to be a good one, which means working hard and thoughtfully, but also, with joy. I guess my advice is to be kind to yourself, be gentle with yourself, and remember that you are making a gift for someone you may never meet. The craft stuff comes with practice and revision and daring and all that, but the intention behind it, that needs to be held gently and with joy.

What are some of your favorite parts of the writing process? What are some of your more ambivalent ones?

I love world building. I have so much fun dreaming up and picking out the little details of whatever world I’m creating, whether it’s a rendering of this one in a realistic story, or a totally imagined dragon drenched city like in Battle Dragons. I definitely struggle with including too many of those little details and they can bog down the text. Cutting them always hurts!

What authors/books do you believe your books stand in conversation with?

I think my latest, Battle Dragons, is definitely in conversation with the dragons that have come before, whether that’s Le Guin’s Earthsea dragons or Cressida Cowell’s Viking dragons in How to Train Your Dragon. But the conversation is bigger; I was definitely influenced by the sci-fi and cyberpunk I read and watched growing up, most strongly by the Akira movie I first saw in middle school. That was certainly an influence here. 

Where do you usually find inspiration for your book ideas? Do they ever come from really specific sources?

Everything is a potential source. Battle Dragons draws inspiration not only from the books and movies I mentioned above, but from my favorite Kit Kats, from kids I’ve met at school visits over the years, from books about animal rights and police corruption and urban planning and even from RuPaul’s Drag Race (I’m very proud of the Drag(on) Queens in the story: humans who dress up and perform as dragons…)

As a writer, what advice would you give to other writers who are stepping into the field?

Tell your story as only you can tell it. Embrace what excites you, even if it seems there is no market for it. I promise, the weird in you is where the wonderful lies in wait, ready to be celebrated, if you can find a way to wrestle it out. Get to work!

What are some book recommendations you would give to the readers of Geeks OUT?

Recently, in middle grade, I loved Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen’s Last Gate of the Emperor, a thrilling, imaginative and funny Afro-futurist romp. I’m also reading the adult gothic horror Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo, which is atmospheric and creepy and unsettling in the best ways. And everyone needs to read Sarah Schulman’s Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993, as a historical corrective to the AIDS activist narrative we’ve all internalized and an amazing study of activism and how movements for change work. One of the great challenges of storytelling, I think, is dramatizing collective action rather than elevating individual acts of heroism and stand-ins for community. Schulman’s book is one hell of a guide in that direction.

The Geeks OUT Podcast: NYCGaymers Pride School Special

In this special extended edition of the Geeks OUT Podcast taped live during the NYCGaymer’s Pride School Festival, Kevin is joined by Raffy Regulus, as they talk about the significance of hosting a Pride event during Juneteenth, the queer themes of Pixar’s Luca, and celebrate gay parents being introduced on Sesame Street in This Week in Queer.



KEVIN & RAFFY: Pride School Festival & Juneteenth



KEVIN: Luca, Genera+ion, DC Pride, Static Shock, DC Represent!
RAFFY: Genshin Impact, Pose, Hellfire Gala/Planet size X-Men!!!



New revelations from Harley Quinn EP blow up DC’s stance on Batman’s sex life



For Family Day, Sesame Street introduces a married gay couple and their kid



New trailer for The Patrick Star Show




• New trailer for The Tomorrow War
• A reboot of Blacula is coming
• New Juneteenth message from Nia DaCosta about Candyman



• New trailer for season 2 of Central Park 
• Disney+ officially orders prequel Beauty & The Beast series 
• HBO Max renews Legendary for season 3



• E3 announcements for Nintendo, Xbox, (WarioWare, Super Monkey Ball Anniversary, Smash Character Kazuya from Takken) 
• New Breath of the Wild 2 teaser
• Creator of Five Nights at Freddy’s tries to explain why he gives money to homophobes/transphobes before retiring from development



• KEVIN: Jackson Hyde
• RAFFY: Static


Three movies, three weeks, three times the scares! Make this the MUST-SEE movie event of July aka “the summer of FEAR”. Be among the first to have a chance to see the “Must-See Movie Event of July!”

Geeks OUT has been given the opportunity to offer 100 screening passes for the Netflix movie trilogy Fear Street! 100 screening passes means we’ll have 100 winners that get a near-week head start on watching the horror movie event of the summer.

For your chance to enter in, please fill out this google docs form by Thursday June 24th. Winners will be notified via email and receive links to the movies as they become available with 24 hours to watch.

The dates for the screenings are as follows:

FEAR STREET Part 1: 1994 – Monday, June 28 
FEAR STREET Part 2: 1978 – Thursday, July 8
FEAR STREET Part 3: 1666 – Wednesday, July 14

Scroll down for more information on the Fear Street trilogy.

A circle of teenage friends accidentally encounter the ancient evil responsible for a series of brutal murders that have plagued their town for over 300 years. Welcome to Shadyside.

Shadyside, 1978. School’s out for summer and the activities at Camp Nightwing are about to begin. But when another Shadysider is possessed with the urge to kill, the fun in the sun becomes a gruesome fight for survival.

The origins of Sarah Fier’s curse are finally revealed as history comes full circle on a night that changes the lives of Shadysiders forever.

Interview with Cartoonist Sophia Glock

Sophia Glock is a cartoonist who lives and draws in Austin, Texas. She attended the College of William & Mary and the School of Visual Arts. Her work has been featured in the New Yorker, Buzzfeed, and Time Out New York. Her latest book, Passport, is currently available for pre-order. She talks to her sister every day. I had the opportunity to interview Sophia which you can read below.

First of all, how would you describe yourself to new readers?

Considering that I just wrote a memoir that is ostensibly all about me I am always so stumped at how to describe myself. I guess I would say I am a comic book artist (or cartoonist or graphic novelist, whatever term works for you) who lives, draws, and raises babies in Austin, TX. At least that is where I live currently, but I move a lot and am used to being from nowhere in particular. When I am not working on my long-form comics I draw shorter funnier cartoons, often for the New Yorker. In my artwork I feel like I am always looking for contrast and paradox, and I like things that don’t fit neatly into categories, both visually and narratively.

Can you tell us about your newest book, Passport, and what readers can expect?

It’s a story about what it is to grow up away from your place of origin and confronting truths about one’s family and oneself. As a high schooler I was an American who never lived in US and that is the frame within I explore my attempts to differentiate myself from my family by adopting the very behavior they modeled in an attempt to hide their secret lives from their children and the world.  

What drew you to graphic storytelling? Were you always drawn to cartoons?

My fixation on comics started when I was 12 years old. Like many kids I’d always read comics (Archie, Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes), but when I discovered X-Men comic books it really broke my brain in a new way. I’d always been a compulsive drawer and storyteller, but here was this medium which did so much, made me feel so much. Comics are deeply satisfying, the interplay between the reader and the page is unlike other visual mediums. You are literally filling in the gaps, each page contains within it dozens of small connections and discoveries. Reading comics is not a passive experience and I find that exciting experience for readers. And they are so plastic, you can do so much with them. The budget stays the same, but where you can take it is unlimited. 

Passport is a recount of your experiences growing up in Central America, and later discovering family secrets? Was it hard to figuring out how much to tell and how much to simply allude to? How many restrictions came from outside circumstances or from one’s personal sense of privacy or feeling responsible for familial privacy?

Memoir is hard, period, but I couldn’t help but feel this was a particularly difficult process for me considering I had to parse all manner of secrets, some of them personal and some of them very official. I had to sort out which were the truths that I had the right to share, which truths I wanted to share, and which were not mine at all. Complicating matters was the fact that there was also an outside authority which had a legal claim on what I could and could not say and that added to the difficulty. I was also very worried about hurting feelings amongst some of my family members and former classmates. I also felt self-conscious talking about places and countries that were not “mine”. When I shared this with an old high school friend of mine, she gave me the advice that I had the right to talk about my truth, as I lived it, and that gave me a lot of peace of mind as I completed my story. I hewed closely to my own experiences, because ultimately that is all I can ever speak to.  

Though Passport is not an overtly queer story, the book does touch upon queerness, and your personal budding awareness of it? Could you tell us a little about that?

The were themes that continually cropped up in the writing of Passport, playing different roles, hiding parts of yourself etc., that dovetailed nicely with the parts of the story where I explore sex and sexuality. Like most of the things I was discovering in adolescence, sex was not a tidy or clear-cut part of my life and it resisted my expectations of what I thought it “should” or would be, which of course can be confusing, but also liberating.   

What advice would you have to give to creators, especially those who are artists or working on memoir material?

Write your first draft as if no one will read it. Editing can come later. Be kind to your past self, but also be kind to the people you knew then, even those who were not kind to you. It is very tempting to simply write about all the ways things were hard for us, but that leads to pretty flat characters and monotone storytelling. If you are going to write about other people you need to find their humanity as well as admit to your own shortcomings. Compassion is a powerful writing tool.

Are there any other projects or story ideas you are currently nursing and could tell us about?

Yes, I am working on my next book now and I am far enough along that I don’t mind discussing it. It’s still in process, but it’s a graphic novel about dreams and dreaming, not metaphorical dreams, but the literal act of dreaming and how it begins to affect my  characters’ waking lives.  

Finally, what are some LGBTQ+ stories you would recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?Oh so many! Off the top of my head, two books from the last several years that I am continually recommending to people are Flocks by L. Nichols and Spinning by Tillie Walden. The graphic memoir Fun Home and the graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby are also very important comics to me, both as a reader and as an artist.

Interview with Author Eliot Schrefer

Eliot Schrefer is a New York Times bestselling author, has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, and has won the Green Earth Book Award and the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award for Children’s Literature. His novels include the Lost Rainforest series, EndangeredThreatenedRescuedOrphaned, and two books in the Spirit Animals series. He lives in New York City, is on the faculty of the Hamline University and Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA in creative writing programs, and reviews books for USA Today. His latest novel, The Darkness Outside Us, is available now. I had the opportunity to interview Eliot, which you can read below.

First of all, congratulations on your newest book, The Darkness Outside Us! Could you tell us in your own words what the book is about?

Hi, and thanks for having me! THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE US is about two young astronauts who are sent on a perilous rescue mission to rescue the first settler of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. They soon find out that their mission is not at all what they were told, and that they will be on this ship for much longer than they expected. These two adversaries must come to rely on each other—and maybe (definitely) fall in love!

Where did the inspiration for this book come from? Were you influenced by any authors or media (i.e. film/shows/ music/etc) while writing it?

There’s this 90s movie with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, called What Lies Beneath. While I was watching it I hatched a gonzo theory about what was going on, which wound up not being true at all. THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE US is my go at writing the plot twist my mind came up with, only with two boys in outer space.

How do you come to realize you wanted to be a writer? What drew you to the field, especially the Young Adult medium?

I was at dinner with friends in my early 20s, and I said “obviously if we all had lots of time and money, we’d be novelists. My friends all said “no way, ugh.” I’d actually just revealed myself, to myself. I had so many inner voices saying that you couldn’t possibly succeed at such a thing that I hadn’t let myself make a real go of it. 

As for YA, I actually wrote a piece for the New York Times about my transition to YA from adult writing, and how it made me a better writer! Short version: I learned to focus on telling a good story instead of trying to impress my peers. 

What books or voices do you think The Darkness Outside Us stands in conversation with, especially those regarding similar Gays in Space themes?

I really enjoyed Shaun David Hutchinson’s A COMPLICATED LOVE STORY SET IN SPACE. We start with very similar openings—two boys wake up on a spaceship, not sure why they’re there—and then go in totally opposite directions with it. It’s like a queer sci-fi YA experiment on the butterfly effect.

What advice would you give to other aspiring queer writers?

There is a bloom in publishing queer books, especially in the YA and middle-grade space. That’s absolutely wonderful. Along with it will come pressure to write books that focus on queerness, that take it as the theme and plot of your book. I love those books, but remember you are a writer who has permission to write widely, just like straight writers do.  

Are there any other projects you are incubating or working on and at liberty to discuss?

Yes! I’m in edits for a non-fiction YA book called QUEER DUCKS. It’s about the explosion of research over the last 20 years into same-sex sexual behavior in animals. I’m profiling 12 animal species, looking at how they embody queer identities and desires, and what that means for the eye-roll-y conservative arguments about the “unnaturalness” of queer behavior. 

What’s an interview question you haven’t been asked yet but wish you were asked?

Why are you so dashingly handsome?

Finally, what books/authors would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

There are so many. To name just one, I absolutely adored Malinda Lo’s LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB, which came out earlier this year. Lo can make an entire scene turn on a small gesture, a precise image… she’s such a major talent. 

The Geeks OUT Podcast: Be Gay Do Fashion Crimes

In this week’s super-sized return of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by Tea Berry-Blue, as they discuss Cruella and it’s potential sequel, get excited for an Okoye series coming to Disney+, and get ready for queer wrath month with Marvel’s upcoming Inferno series in This Week in Queer.



KEVIN:  The Eisner nominations were announced and disappointing in a number of areas
TEA: First episode from Disney+ confirms Loki is gender fluid



KEVIN: The Quiet Place part 2, The Conjuring 3, Cruella, Legendary, Pose
TEA: Cozy Grove, Raya is now free on Disney+



Disney+ announces Black Panther spinoff series following Okoye



Marvel announces Krakoa will burn in queer rage in Inferno limited series



New trailer for Space Jam: A New Legacy




• The voice cast for DC’s League of Super-Pets announced
• WB decides Blue Beetle movie & others to premiere exclusively on HBO Max
• New trailer for the Fear Street trilogy coming to Netflix
• New trailer for Free Guy
• New trailer for Reminiscence
• Disney is developing a sequel to Cruella
• Issa Rae cast as Spider-Woman in Spider-Verse sequel



• New teaser for Masters of the Universe: Revelation 
• First sneak peak at The Sandman
• New trailer for the Gossip Girl reboot/revival
• First look at Batwing in the Batwoman season finale
• Jameela Jamil cast as Titania in She-Hulk
• New trailer for Monsters at Work
• FX announces that Y: The Last Man will premiere Sept. 13
• First trailer for Cuphead
• Teaser for season 2 of The Witcher



• DC announces Aquaman: The Beginning limited series starring Jackson Hyde 
• In the first time in 48 years, the Pulitzer refuses to issue an award for Editorial Cartoon



• KEVIN: Loki
• TEA: Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku)