The guys reveal the May 2020 Big Gay Fiction Book Club selection: Romancing the Rough Diamond by Clare London. Jeff shouts out a recent episode of Tea & Strumpets, which featured KJ Charles’s Band Sinister.

Jeff & Will discuss the documentaries Studio 54: The DocumentaryCherry Grove Stories and Circus of Books. Jeff reviews Layla Reyne’s Variable Onset as well as the new children’s book The One and Only Dylan St. Claire by Kamen Edwards and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler.

Emma Scott discusses her book Someday, Someday, including the research she had to do in order to write about the many elements the book tackles, including opioid addiction and conversion therapy. Emma also talks about what got her started with writing and her shift from fantasy to romance.

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Show Notes

Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.

Jump to Book Reviews

Interview Transcript – Emma Scott

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Jeff: Emma, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to have you here.

Emma: Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here. It’s really an honor. Thank you.

Jeff: I have been looking forward to talking to you about “Someday, Someday.” I reviewed it back in episode 234 and I love Max and Silas’s stories so, so much. Tell our listeners in your words, what the story is about.

Emma: Oh boy. That’s sort of like the dreaded writing of the blurb for a book for you to try to sum it up . I think for me it’s about Max and Silas. Max is a, he’s an ER nurse who had a kind of rough childhood. He was kicked out of his house as a teenager by his father for being gay. And he subsequently had a kind of a rough life on the streets for a little while after that, but he pulled himself up, went through nursing school, and he became an NA sponsor.

And Silas, he is the son of a pharmaceutical… like a multibillion pharmaceutical dynasty. And he also had a not wonderful childhood in the sense that his father sent him to a very brutal conversion therapy camp, And so when max is, gets kind of burnt out being in the ER, he goes to work for Silas’s father to take care of him as a personal nurse.

When Max and Silas meet, I feel like they kind of go through their healing process together as they’re going through the process of falling in love at the same time.

Jeff: Which is a good way to put it. And I understand what you mean about trying to blurb the book, even reviewing it, because there’s so many components to this story. It’s hard to kind of encapsulate it, in a succinct sort of way.

Emma: And I don’t want to be like, and then there’s this person in Faith and this ended and then overwhelmed someone and they’re like, I don’t know who you’re talking about. Like what is this? So, yeah. So essentially if I had to boil it down to it, is that sense of the two characters healing themselves through the, not fixing each other, but becoming healed through the love for each other.

And that’s kind of a theme I have in a lot of the books that I write.

Jeff: And I liked how they weren’t necessarily fixed at the end, but you knew they were certainly on a better journey because of their happily ever after they were going to find more peace as they kept going.

Emma: Right, exactly. Yeah. They weren’t just, okay, everything’s magically put back together, but they’re definitely, as you said, it took a huge leap forward in the process and just overcoming a lot of the obstacles that they had had, the mental and personal obstacles that they had had before.

Jeff: What was your inspiration for this story? Because it seems like with all these components, it could have been a lot of things that fell into this book.

Emma: Well, it actually started out with max. He was a the best friend of the heroine in another book, and I just fell in love with him. The readers fell in love with him. He’s such a kind and compassionate character. And I always knew that he would eventually have his own story.

It’s just a matter of when. And he’s a recovering addict. And so I was reading this book called “Dope Sick” by [Beth Macy]. It talks about the opioid epidemic that is, you know, there’s been raging in this country for the past 15 years or so, and I was reading it and just this kind of research on what maybe Max had been going through, and it really became eye opening to me about how much of it, how you know, what a serious epidemic it was and how the addicts were being treated more like criminals instead of the pharmaceutical companies that were perpetrating the drug out.

And so I figured, okay. I had to incorporate that somehow. It felt kind of irresponsible, not to know that I knew about it, if that makes sense. And then, and so it just kind of grew from there. And the more research I did, the more it kind of the fed the particular plot of the book. And then I brought in Silas as the heir apparent of this dynasty of pharmaceutical, and he wants to fix the issue and curb his company’s, you know, evil wrongdoings.

And it just kind of kind of snowballed from there.

Jeff: How much research had to go into all of it. You mentioned reading that that one book, but there are other topics in this story too that I imagined needed a fair amount of research.

Emma: Yeah. Silas’s brother has Asperger’s, and so that required a tremendous amount of research because I never want to portray anybody inauthentically and especially, with the characters as important to me as Eddie was, I wanted to make sure that I had gotten her right, so to speak. So I did a lot of research on that front, to see, you know, to make sure that, like I said, I was being authentic to him. And then there’s also conversion therapy that Silas has gone through.

So for that, I did a lot of research and that I did mostly reading personal accounts that of people who had actually gone through it because I wanted to get like their firsthand. Like the sensations and the feelings and the really deeply personal experiences that they were willing to share so bravely with us.

I wanted to incorporate that as honestly and truthfully as I could as well. So those three things the Opioid, the Asperger’s and the conversion therapy, those are the primary books. The research, although I don’t consider Eddie to be that heavy of a character necessarily.

Only the weight of wanting to be authentic and get it right, but I think he, I don’t know, I just, I just had to, I loved him so much and I think he’s more of a buoyant character. Than any of the weightier topics that we have going on in the book.

Jeff: And I absolutely agree with that. I mean, you’ve got two supporting characters, one with Eddie, and one surprisingly with Silas is, well, we’ll just call her the fake girlfriend with Faith who brings such a, for lack of a better word, I think a lightness to the story there.

Rays of light when they’re there and it’s great. How you kind of tilted some of the heavy with these characters and especially Eddie, who really cuts through the Silas’s and Max’s like apprehension around each other because he sees what needs to happen from the get go.

Emma: He’s like, come on guys, you’re wasting time.

Like what’s going on here? Yeah. Yeah. And I love that you said that with Faith too because, you know, Faith started out when I first thought of her, she came to me is like, your tropey typical kind of like gold digging, harpy, kind of like an enemy of Silas who was going to cause even more problems.

Because if she wasn’t getting her way with, you know, as he progressed and like realized he was in love with Max and was breaking up their union or whatever, but instead, I was like, that’s so boring. And that’s so been done before and it’s not, they need, we do need the ray of light. And, but more than that wasn’t even a conscious decision.

She just kind of came forth as like, no, I’m fun. I’m an ally and yes, I am a gold digger. She’s unapologetic about that. But she’s not like, she has still has a heart and she still has, you know, sensitivities. And when she sees that her relationship with Silas, which. She was fine with it when she thought there was nothing at stake.

When she thought that he was like either asexual or just shut down completely. But when she realizes he has feelings for Max, she’s like, well then what we have cannot go forward. And I really love that she came through that way and I say this like she’s her own person like I didn’t create it that way.

I know that might sound weird, but I know a lot of authors probably. And you probably know this yourself. The characters just are who they are and you can try to force them to be something, but it doesn’t always work that way. So I had this one idea of her. And she just burst out into something completely different. And I love that she is who she is instead.

Jeff: Yeah. Her trajectory. Even when you first meet her, I’m kind of like, Hmm, she’s going to be that person, that tropey character that you described. And then you find out relatively quickly that she’s not, you know, she’s fine playing the role she’s being cast in, but she’s also fine leaving that behind.

Emma: Right. So long as she gets her big apartment in Queensland, and she’s good to go.

Jeff: And Eddie, I tell you, I mean the way he is from the very beginning that we meet him, he’s just, he’s a delightful character. And he’s part of their healing journey too, for Max and Silas.

Emma: So happy to read the reviews. It said that he was such a light for them as well for the readers as well. And that he was so well loved. And that was not only a huge validation of just, you know, him as a character. But as I said about making sure that I hadn’t, having Asperger’s and being authentic to that experience was really, you know, I had done him justice, so to speak.

And so, yeah, he’s wonderful and like, I just love how I could put anything like his like love of David Copperfield or his love of literature. I can just kind of just put it all through him and he let him be artistic in the way the Silas and Max necessarily or not. Silas has his piano playing, but he’s not emotive like in poetry and words, and clearly he’s not a romantic that way. So,

Jeff: yeah. And Eddie got a complete arc, just like Faith did. They weren’t just, you know, side characters who were just sort of kind of along for the ride. They got their own finale moment, which was really awesome.

Emma: Yeah. I try to do that.

If there’s, if the character has such an important role to play, then I want to make sure they’re not kind of left in the dirt.

Jeff: Were you ever concerned about putting too much into this book in terms of the issues you were kind of looking at here?

Emma: Yeah, I was, and I tried my hardest to keep the opioid, like data kind of from overwhelming.

Certain scenes I scaled back. I mean I could’ve said a whole lot more. I was trying not to make it preachy. I didn’t want it to make it like a treatise on the whole situation or like a thesis paper, you know? But I really wanted to get enough facts out there so that people could understand what was really happening.

Cause I had no idea. I didn’t know until I started doing the research that it was as serious as it was. I’d heard about of course, but I had no idea how bad it was. And I had no idea how much the pharmaceutical industry played a role in perpetuating it, and I really wanted that out.

And same with the conversion therapy. In the course of my research, I was thinking, am I like 10 years too late? Is this really still happening? And I was just heartbroken to learn that it still does. And so. Not to the extent that I have it in Alaska necessarily, but the emotional effects are just as brutal to the people who are still experiencing it.

And so I was like, okay, I don’t want to overwhelm the book with this, but I really want people to know that these things are happening and they need to stop. And so hopefully this is my contribution sort of to that end. So I did try to scale it back, but I wanted to keep it. Be truthful to it. Not kind of skim on the surface at the same time.

Jeff: That’s certainly the way that it played out. I never felt like I got too much and just, yeah, your balancing act between the love story and these other things was a, was just well-played out through it cause nothing seemed too heavy.

Emma: Thank you. That was a concern.

Jeff: What do you hope people get from this story?

Emma: I do hope, on a personal note, I do have readers who, who’ve approached me and said with regards to the opioid crisis saying, thank you for kind of shining the light on this because from an addictive perspective, the addict’s perspective, they have been demonized and criminalized so much.

And I don’t think there’s a greater understanding that there’s an actual, you know, chemical changes that happened in the brain when these drugs are introduced, where the person’s really not in charge anymore, and so it’s easy to say, Oh, you should just get over it and go to rehab and just pull yourself up and get over it.

When there’s actual science or chemistry involved, that makes it very, very difficult. I wanted people to kind of have that understanding again, with not hitting them over the head with it and not overwhelming a romance novel with that sort of thing. But I also feel like a romance novel is, it’s about love, which is like the most powerful universal experience and emotion that we all that there is.

And so if you’re going to write a book about that, which is already so important, and like just, I don’t know, like universal. It’s, to me, it makes sense that other series of issues that can be helped with love or not helped, but try to say the right word, serious issues and serious life experiences that people who are struggling with how love impacts that and how it, how that’s what’s needed and how much they need to feel accepted, how much they need to love themselves.

To me, that all kind of goes hand in hand. So that’s why I think most of my novels deal with heavier subjects because to me, the best or the one of the ways to kind of move through anything that’s very difficult is with love and whatever aspect it can take for you. So

Jeff: You mentioned that you, you deal in these kinds of topics a lot in your books.

Does that mean that you’re kind of lean more towards potting out how everything’s going to run together, or are you able to tie all this through as a discovery writer?

Emma: It’s kind of both. I find that I start with a generalized outline and then to try to keep myself at least on track, especially in the beginning, because the beginning, it’s always the hardest.

It’s so hard to get those first like 20,000 words done, but then I find that either the research or just in the act of writing the characters, the scene starts to expand and they start to go in different directions that I hadn’t thought. And so I have to make sure that I’m like open to that and not too rigid and not stick to an outline or else I’ll just frustrate myself and it doesn’t work.

So I tried to like let it flow, but I do need a little bit of structure in the beginning or I can’t get it focused.

Jeff: Makes sense. Yeah. What got you started as a writer and as a romance writer?

Emma: Well, funny enough, I started writing fantasy. Fantasy was my number one thing since I was a kid, I was reading Dragonlance and Tolkien and writing my own really crappy versions of their books. I had like even orcs, you know, but different kind of orcs like.

I always thought I was going to be a fantasy novelists and I wrote a fantasy, huge fantasy opus, and then it’s no good. So I tucked away and I wrote another one. I mean, we’re talking millions of words. And then I wrote a bunch of magazine articles and contest and this one contest said, okay, we’re going to give you their genre and your object and the location.

And one of the genres was romance. And so I had to write a story that had romance in it. And I realized that not only did I love doing that, but I realized that all of my fantasy I’d been writing too had a central romance at its heart that everything kind of else revolved around. They weren’t straight like, you know, action adventury type fantasies.

They were definitely romance oriented. So I realized, I kind of had been doing that all along. So I just shift focus. Then went straight into the, into the romance.

Jeff: Looking at your back list, it’s primarily contemporary. Did you just pivot fully into contemporary.

Emma: Yeah, basically. And I didn’t actually write one. I took one of my fantasy novels that I had been on the back burner kind of, and I resurrected it a little bit and I, I beefed up the romance aspect a little bit more and I did publish that, but I pulled it from the market kind of quickly thereafter because I realize it’s like, it’s going to be about seven books.

And it was really not fair. I felt to throw out one book and then have readers wait like years basically for the next one. And I’ve put it aside until I can kind of get caught up and maybe write a few more.

Jeff: So there’s more fantasy in your future there somewhere.

Emma: I think so. And it is also, I feel like whatever I’m called to write, like that’s what I have to do.

Like I’ve had books that I’ve started and I’ve even announced and I’ve had to abandon and just be honest with the readers and just say, this is not where I’m going right now. Like we’re not where like events in the world might change and then then it changes what I’m trying to say. And so like, you know, in 2016 I was going to write this book about like a photojournalist in the war and the things in 2016 went so hot for me is I was like, well, I don’t want to write about war anymore.

And so I just kind of had to backtrack. So I go wherever the energy, you know, leads me to go

Jeff: and rolling back even further, because you were writing these fantasy works, what was kind of your, your spark to, to pick up the pen and write?

Emma: There’s two things. I think one was when I was just a kid, I’ve always just wanted to read.

I was doing a lot of reading and I would write stories to go with that. And I think that kind of just goes hand in hand. You know, a lot of times if you read as much, you start to end up wanting to tell your own stories as well. But then, I never, I didn’t pursue it in college. I pursued theater arts instead and acting and never did anything with it.

And then I had other various jobs and a career in travel and yada, yada. But then one day, it sounded really weird. I was on and there was a, I was playing this Star Wars role playing game called Knights of the Old Republic. So it’s this old star Wars. It’s not about like Luke and Lea is older Star Wars timeframe, and it was a really great game, but it ended very badly. And so I wrote a fanfiction… gave it a better ending and it just kept going and going and going and going and going. And I realized as I would post a chapter, I got so involved, and I would post the chapter and then like, I would get all this feedback and I realized that I could write, people would read it and they would, you know, not everybody loved it, of course, but a lot of people did.

And it was kind of like this weird validation of something I’d always wanted to do. And finally I just did it. And it was like sitting there, you know, right in front of my face. And so I dunno, I think to be a writer, sometimes you need, sometimes it feels like you need permission. Someone needs to say, yes, you can do this before you say, I am a writer.

And like I don’t agree with that. But that’s how most, that’s what, for me, I didn’t feel like I could call myself that until I actually started doing that and getting the feedback, and I thought, well, maybe this is something I can actually do. And so from there, that’s when I started the contest and the magazine articles or magazine subscriptions and stuff like that.

So kind of thank you Who’s to say that it doesn’t pay off. So many people hate it.

Jeff: Right. And I love how your impetus to, you know, go forth and kind of publish the first time was to fix an ending that you hated. Cause I think so many of us have endings that we just hate. Yeah.

Emma: It was all resolutions. It was like it was even that more in your face was like your resolution. suck. Here’s a better one. It’s terrible.

Jeff: Now, “Someday, Someday” is your first mm book in about a dozen books that you’ve got out there. What was it that inspired you to go, m/m, for this one, it was Max always destined to be gay in that original book?

Emma: Yeah, he was definitely from the beginning. I feel like our world is diverse and so it makes sense to have characters that reflect that. And so I have characters in many books that are gay or people of color.

He was one of those characters, something about him just really stood out to me and to the readers as well. And I just, like I said, I always knew he would have a story. It was just a matter of when. And so when it came that time when. I don’t know, whatever the news or the energy said, okay, now it’s time for Max’s the story.

It was pretty easy to just go ahead and do that. It wasn’t like, okay, well now here is in a marketing way, I’m going to try an m/m, or it wasn’t like that. It was definitely just a love story between two human beings and it was just time to tell his story.

Jeff: Do we get to have more m/m from you in the future?

Emma: Yes. And actually, I haven’t said so before, but I’m doing a new series of three books, hopefully they’re going to be loosely interconnected standalones but if they get too tightly woven, then they’re going to be not stand alone. But I feel the middle book is going to be an m/m book because, I have six characters who are kind of the primary in this series, and two of them will get their own book in the middle.

Jeff: That’s very cool. So sometime in the next whenever.

Emma: And it’s millennium of time. Yes. Well, hopefully. Yeah, I’m trying to get them out this year. I just, I don’t, I have to see if I can get them out really quickly or if they’re too tied together and like they need to be, you know, publish quickly or if I can put a little of this space between him, we’ll have to see.

I’m kind of a slow, I used to be a faster writer. I’m a little bit slower now,

Jeff: Do you see more being written in the universe where Max and Silas are?

Emma: A lot of readers have asked that too, cause they, they do love this character so much. And I always say, never say never as far as what could come later. If I feel their story is completely told and these usually no, then usually I feel it’s done.

I did have a flicker of an idea that something for Max and Silas, but it was really, I’m hesitant to even like talk about or not talk about it, but to like look into it. Cause it was so, it was heartbreaking. It was even more heartbreaking. I was like, Oh my gosh, these guys have already been through so much.

I’m like, do I really want to take them down that path? And then like, Oh, so I don’t know. We’ll have to see. But like for right now, they’re happy and maybe they should just stay happy. They deserve it.

Jeff: Do you have favorite tropes to work with that kind of, you know, make up your brand of storytelling?

Emma: I don’t know. I guess you could say like the super broken character is one trope. One thing I do have though, I don’t know if it’s a trope, but one of my characters in every single novel in one or both is an artist of some kind, be, that I’m a tattoo artist. A dancer. Silas is a piano player.

I have blown glass artists. I have, let’s see, violinist, photographers. The reason is I feel art is kind of like the bridge in between, like the physical world that we live in and the kind of like unknown world beyond, this might sound really strange, but like I feel like art is how we can express ourselves as a soul rather than as a body and a brain and chemicals.

So I feel like if you’re going to write about love. Which is also an expression of the soul, I feel instead of just a body reaction, then it makes sense to me to have someone express that through art as well. That makes sense? So I always have an artist, I think one book, I don’t have an artist, but he’s a construction worker.

He builds things. That’s an art.

And I really like how I can sometimes start with the art and then the story can go from there so that it helps me as a writer as well too. To figure out what method of art I’m going to be exploring it through.

Jeff: And the piano playing really comes through here because in a lot of ways, to me that piano playing was the first flicker where they’re like, yeah, maybe there’s something more here that we can explore. Cause I think I said in the review, I was trying to put it to a trope, they’re kind of enemies first and then they kind of get this truce and then it’s friends to lovers.

Emma: Yeah. Enemies to friends to lovers. Yeah. Yeah, that’s true.

Yeah. Cause the piano playing because of the Bohemian Rhapsody scene, is that what you mean? Yeah.

Jeff: I mean a lot of things happened right there and it all kinda came together because of the piano playing in the music.

Emma: Yeah. And Eddie was a big key factor in that as well, because, yeah, yeah.

Yeah. I hadn’t even, I hadn’t really thought of it that way. I was mostly thinking of Silas as a piano player as far as like how he’s trying to get his emotions out a little bit by doing that. But yeah, that was a key moment for them where they kind of really, and they came together because of the choice of song as well. I think

Jeff: it’s hard to go wrong with Bohemian Rhapsody though.

what’s coming up immediately next for you?

Emma: So the first book, fingers crossed, in that new series will be next. It’s going to be called “The Girl in the Love Song.” And this is going to this series. We’ll start with the characters in high school, their senior year of high school and kind of carry them through into their early to mid twenties.

Each book will have that same kind of time-lapse in it, I guess. And so, yeah, so that’s next. It’s gonna be hopefully end of April at this point. But again, I’m not setting deadlines because you know, life is kind of hectic and crazy right now, and so we’ll just have to take it one day at a time and see. But that’s going to be my next project. Yeah.

Jeff: Excellent. And how can people keep up with you online to find out about all the news that’s yet to come?

Emma: So I have a, my website is And that’s probably the best place to see what books I have out there currently. I’m trying to work on adding a blog feature or the blog features there.

I need to actually type words into the blog and I can start, give updates and stuff. Find me on Facebook. My reader group on Facebook actually is probably a good place it’s called Emma’s Entourage. And that’s where I tend to give everybody the news first. It feels like my little family. My internet family, so I tend to put the news there first and then it scatters from there.

Jeff: Very cool. We will link up to all of that in our show notes so people can find it as well as the books that we’ve talked about. Emma it’s been so awesome talking to you and learning more about “Someday, Someday.” I look forward to reading more from you.

Emma: Well, thank you so much. I’m so honored and I’m so glad you loved the book. It’s pretty special to me, so, yeah, so I’m very happy.

Book Reviews

Here’s the text of this week’s reviews:

Variable Onset by Layla Reyne. Reviewed by Jeff.
Back in the romantic suspense discussion we aired in episode 217, Layla Reyne talked about a book she was working on that included a forensic genealogist. That book is here with Variable Onset. You all know I’m a big fan of Layla’s brand of romantic suspense and she’s knocked it out of the park again with this story of second chance, fake relationship romance set with the backdrop of catching a notorious serial killer.

We get introduced to forensic genealogist Lincoln Monroe and his field of expertise right away as he’s teaching a class at Quantico. I loved this dual look at both Lincoln–a bisexual agent who divorced, with a teen daughter and who has been out of the field for a few years preferring now to teach–and his specialty. The art of looking for details to pin down facts was fascinating, such as looking at elements in a picture to help determine when it was taken, intrigued me throughout the book.

FBI Director Beverly arrives though to put him back in the field. Dr. Fear, a killer who “diagnosis” his subject’s fear and then kills them using that fear, is back and has taken the family of a senator Oliver Kirk, a former FBI agent who’d previously worked on the case. His partner ends up being a former Quantico student who made him bristle–Carter Warren. Of course, these two were attracted to each other back then and that adds layers of baggage for them now.

From the get go, I loved everything about Lincoln and Carter. From the minute Lincoln arrives in Apex to begin the assignment and discovers the house he’s sharing with Cater to discover a house warming party with most of the town in attendance. Lincoln finds out as he walks in the front door the cover that he can Carter are married. It’s hilarious but also touching because there’s an instant spark restored to these guys as they have to play the part…and man do they sell it.

They’ve got a lot of work to do. Dr. Fear always operates on a schedule and that means time’s a tickin’ to recover the senator’s family. But there’s more going on too. Carter is looking for information about his parents. He knows he’s adopted and he’s discovered over the years that it appears his parents were killed near Apex. On top of it all, it’s looking possible that Dr. Fear has lured them both to be his victims.

To find out what’s happening, Lincoln goes to work in the archives at the local university’s library and Carter is in at the local police department as a trainer. It puts them right where they need to be and they’re only helped more because the entire town has fallen in love with them and their cover story.

The investigation had me hooked from the beginning. Layla does a great job of showing the investigation and showing what Lincoln and Carter are doing to track down the killer through years of archives and trying to talk to townsfolks without tipping their hand was fascinating. There’s a perfect balance between the ins and outs of the forensics, the suspense and associated action and the romance.

And oh the romance… That fake relationship they started with grew and grew over the days they were in Apex. They went from kisses and touches that were necessary for the cover to comforting each other after stressful days and that might lead to more kissing. Since they were living together for the sake of that cover, it made it easy for them to grow the romance.

The Dr. Fear case certainly took its toll on them to wrap it up, which of course I’m not going to spoil here. As is often the case with Layla, I stressed in the final act of the book wondering how on earth this was going to wrap up and end in an HEA. Of course it did and it was wonderful.

I loved everything about Variable Onset, from the core romance to the case that had to be solved, the citizens of Apex, Lincoln’s family and everything else. While this is released as a standalone, I really hope that someone we get to revisit Carter and Lincoln and honestly the realm of forensic genealogy because I enjoyed all of it!

The One and Only Dylan St. Claire by Kamen Edwards and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Reviewed by Jeff.
We talk about children’s books periodically when we find something truly wonderful and this week’s release of The One and Only Dylan St Clarie fits that bill. Written by Kamen Edwards with illustrations by Jeffrey Ebbeler, this book focuses on Dylan as he’s preparing to audition for the school play, a musical about outer space. Dylan so badly wants to play the star–yes, he wants to be a star playing a star. He’s devastated when he ends up cast as an astronaut squirrel but after being down on the role and himself he soon realizes that squirrel is a great part because of what he makes out of it and embracing it for what it is.

This book is wonderfully sweet as it looks at Dylan not only as he figures out how to turn his role into awesomeness but he’s so fully of life. While he’s young, Dylan leads exactly the life he wants to. He’s boisterous, full of life, loves musicals and theaters and isn’t going to be deterred by anyone.

The book has some wonderful musical theater easter eggs too, such as Dylan’s drama teacher being named Ms. Lovett.

The overall vibe of the book reminds me of the middle-grade Nate series by Tim Federle about a theater kid who gets his chance. I can see Dylan growing up to be very much like Nate. Kamen Edwards has penned such a delightful story and Jeffrey Ebbeler brought it beautifully to life.

If you’ve got a child in your life and want to give them a fun book that affirms that you can be whoever you want to be and to look for the silver lining, The One and Only Dylan St Clarie is perfect. Or… if you’re like me and love to get books that simply didn’t exist when you were a kid, this is great for you.