Before we get into this week’s interview, Jeff reviews the audiobook of How to Be Remy Cameron, as well as the new anthology Black Boy Joy, edited by Kwame Mbalia.
We are super excited this week to welcome Silas Whitaker, a new audiobook narrator who already has a few titles out for young adult and gay romance fans. Author Julian Winters joins us as well to tell the story of how Silas came to narrate How to be Remy Cameron. We get the scoop on how Silas recorded his first book, managed the large cast of characters, and what his favorite scene was. We also talk about the books Silas has recorded in the gay romance genre. In addition, Julian discusses his short story in the Black Boy Joy anthology.
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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. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Episode 205 – Hailey Turner Discusses “Soulbound” and “Metahuman Files” on Big Gay Fiction Podcast (contains Jeff’s original How to Be Remy Cameron review)
- Black Boy Joy by various authors, edited by Kwame Mbalia on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Silas Whitaker & Julian Winters Interview
- Silas Whitaker: website | Twitter | Instagram
- Julian Winters: website | Twitter | Instagram
- Kirt Graves on Amazon | Libro.fm
- Wolfsong by TJ Klune on Amazon | Kobo
- Codename: Winger series by Jeff Adams on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters on Amazon | Kobo
- The Good Boy by J.A. Rock & Lisa Henry on Amazon
- Ready or Knot by Susi Hawke & Crista Crown on Amazon
- Show Me by Neve Wilder on Amazon
- Blind Warrior by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott on Amazon
- Queer Sci-Fi website
- To Light a Candle by Mercedes Lackey on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm (pre-order until March 22, 2022)
- Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Right Where I Left You by Julian Winters on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm (pre-order until March 15, 2022)
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Libro.fm website (use this link to receive your Big Gay Fiction Podcast special offer)
- Frolic Podcast Network website
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Coming up on this episode, we introduce you to a new narrator as we talk with Silas Whitaker, who has recently released his very first audio books.
Will: Welcome to episode 333 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction I’m Will and with me as always is my co-host and husband Jeff Adams.
Jeff: Hello, rainbow romance readers. It is great to have you back for another episode of the podcast.
Will: Now, this week’s interview is really special. Not only do we get to meet Silas, but it’s a behind the scenes look at how one of Jeff’s favorite books found its way into audio. And incidentally, you got to listen to an advanced copy of “How to Be Remy Cameron.”
Jeff: Oh yes I did. And it made me so very happy.
And your right to this interview is pretty special. Not only do I talk to Silas, but we’re also joined by “Remy “Cameron’s author, Julian Winters. The story of how Silas came to work on this book is unlike any narrator origin story we’ve had on the show before. This one involved not only Silas and Julian, but also Kirt Graves and me, I’m not going to spoil the interview, so you’ll just have to stick around to see how all of us fit together.
Book Review: How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters audiobook
Jeff: And before we get to that interview, I have to gush about “How to Be Remy Cameron” on audio. The audio releases this week, and it is simply extraordinary. I reviewed “Remy” back in episode 205 in September of 2019, shortly after the book came out. And like Will said, it’s one of my very favorites. Julian does such an incredible job of capturing Remy as he’s having to write this essay about who he is. The problem is that he’s not totally sure how all the labels that are attached to him actually fit together, or if they’re even totally accurate. And then there’s on top of that, what it means to him that he is an adopted child. Beyond Remy trying to figure himself out. There’s also a fun mystery going on at the school as homecoming approaches and Remy also gets a super cute romance.
Silas nails in every single way the narration of this book. Every emotional nuance is captured perfectly. And there’s a lot because Remy has got a lot on his mind. One of the things I loved about the book originally was it’s first person, present tense point of view. And now that it’s read by Silas, that’s even more powerful. Silas does more than get Remy right though, the complete cast of characters have exactly the voice I would want for them.
In the interview. You’ll hear us talk about Julian’s favorite scene of the audio book, which just also happens to be Silas’s. This scene made me cry when I read it in the book and I swear Silas made the waterworks flow even more than originally. And I was even prepared for that this time.
It’s awesome that “Remy Cameron” is among the first books silas has narrated. It clearly shows what he’s capable of. It’s also great that readers have a new way to experience this sublime story that is “How to Be Remy Cameron.” If you’ve already read the book, you should definitely give the audio book and go to revisit it. And if you haven’t had the pleasure of this story yet pick up the audio book and hear Remy brought beautifully to life.
Book Review: Black Boy Joy anthology
Jeff: Now, another book I want to mention before we get into our conversation is the anthology “Black Boy Joy,” which are a set of middle-grade stories and poems written by 17 acclaimed black authors Joy is exactly what each of these stories are infused with, even the ones that tackle difficult topics.
I talked to Julian about his story, which is called “The Legendary Lawrence Cobbler,” And I won’t go into this particular story right now because you’re going to hear all about in the interview, how much I was delighted by this story.
I also want to highlight a few others from this extraordinary collection.
George M Johnson’s “The Gender Reveal” is really special as it tells the story of Malcolm who is turning 13. Malcolm has things to say, maybe, during the birthday party, but they’re scary things since it’s not totally clear what the reaction of family and friends might be. This is a beautiful story about embracing who you are, and the strength and courage to share that with everyone.
“Epic Adventure” by Jay Coles, who, by the way, his new book “Things We Couldn’t Say” also releases this week and happens to be super high up on my to read list, offers a super sweet story of a boy who loves hearing his grandfather’s war stories and gets to take a flight with his grandpa before the plane gets sold. It’s a simple story, but it is full of so much wonder and enjoyment that I swear I smiled the entire time I read it.
“Extinct” by Dean Atta is a poem that embraces the joy of learning, the happiness of friends and family and the importance of capturing and remembering the past. And I have to say, I don’t often read poems because it’s just not something that I do, but I really enjoyed this one. And just the cadence of the way that the poem flowed. It was really special.
Julian Randall’s story “But Also Jazz” is one of the stories that looks at the reality that far too many young black men and boys are being laid to rest after shootings. This story of two boys with a talent for writing lyrics and who are asked to create a song to bring joy and hope back to their neighborhood’s congregation is incredibly powerful, truly showing the power of joy and where it can spring from.
And lastly, I have to shout out a three-part story that runs throughout the book, and it comes from the anthology’s editor, Kwame Mabalia. It’s called “The Groit of Grover Street.” I’m not going to say too much about it because this story has to be experienced, but I will say it’s pure magic as it weaves a tale of restoring balance by replenishing joy.
So do yourself a favor and pick up the “Black Boy Joy” anthology. Every one of the stories is guaranteed to bring you some joy, happiness, and wonder.
And now on to our interview with Silas and Julian. We find out how Silas went from doing a reading at a bookstore and how that led to narrating the audio for “How to Be Remy Cameron.” We also talk about some of the gay romances he’s already done, including co-narration that Silas has done with Kirt. And of course, Julian and I talk about his story in “Black Boy Joy,” and we find out what’s coming up next for him.
Interview: Silas Whitaker and Julian Winters
Jeff: I am so happy to welcome back to the podcast Julian Winters, and to welcome for the very first time a new narrator on our audio book scene, Silas Whitaker, welcome!
And we get to celebrate something, I was oh so happy about “How to Be Remy Cameron,” which is one of my very favorite books from 2019, has finally come out in audio and a tremendous audio edition no less. Julian, before we get into all the audio stuff for those who haven’t maybe picked up “Remy Cameron” yet, and what is wrong with you people, if you haven’t, tell folks a little bit about what this book’s about.
Julian: It’s so funny that you said 2019, cause I’m like how long ago did I write this book and it come out? I don’t even remember my old school pitch I had, but I’ll do my best.
Jeff: Here’s the back of the book. I can pull it up to the camera and you can read.
Julian: Right, let me read the back of the book.
“How to Be Remy Cameron” is about a 17 year old, queer, adopted black boy by the name of Remy Cameron. He’s semi-popular at school has a great group of friends. Is very much in love with his family, and kind of has this goal set in mind about what university wants to go to once he graduated high school and the plan it’s going to take to get there.
Until he gets an assignment in AP Lit class that he has to write an essay about who he is. And that begins a series of questions about who Remy thinks he is in the eyes of his family, in the eyes of his friends, in the eyes of society, and how they look at him.
And then it also sends him off on another journey, because he’s adopted, into how much of that part of his life does he want to know? And how much is he willing to explore in order to feel like he knows himself. And the book is very much about stereotypes and labels and how we identify and the things that we get to claim and the things that people put on us that we have to carry around and labels and whatnot. But it’s also like a super cute romance in there too, that I thoroughly enjoy.
Jeff: You remembered all that really well, because yeah, that’s exactly it.
Silas: That was great. That was perfect.
Jeff: There’s a great story, how “Remy” came together on audio after these couple of years.
Jeff: Silas, I first heard about you because of Kirt Graves. Kirt and I have been friends for awhile. I became a big fan boy of his back when he did TJ Klune’s “Wolfsong.” Gosh, that must be like five years ago now. And he mentioned one day that he had started working with you, and how did you and Kirt come to know each other and to get you into a spot where you were coming on the scene as a narrator?
Silas: It was just a, kind of a strange story. It all happened pretty quick. So basically. I was doing this book reading at this new bookstore that had opened up not too far away from where I live. And I was just reading for a couple of new books that were coming out, and Kirt just happened to be there.
And the end of everything, I was just milling around the store and he just walks up to me, hands me, his card and is like “I think that you could do something. and he was willing to help me and, show me the ropes and it just kind of went from there. I mean, it’s been amazing working with Kirt. Absolutely amazing.
Jeff: And he’s got interesting background too, because he also teaches forensics. So not only is he a narrator in his own right, but he teaches speech and things that go with it too.
Silas: Yeah, he just loves teaching. Every time we’re having a conversation, I think I learn at least like five new things, just always.
Jeff: And then one of the things that he showed me in case I knew anybody who might be looking for a narrator, was your website? And among the initial, like little readings that you’d done there to be your demo reel was at least some of the first chapter of “Remy Cameron.” And I was like, gosh, this is so amazing.
Silas: Yeah. I remember it was like the very first chapter first like paragraph or something like that. And I remember cause Kirt, of course, was telling me, it’s like, well, you got to get samples, get one from like every genre that you can pretty much.
I was just perusing the internet and I saw this part of the book and I was just reading and it’s a part between Remy and Rio. I absolutely love their chemistry, honestly. I love whenever they have a moment together. Perfect, it’s always gold. So I was like, I got to have this for a sample.
Jeff: And then I immediately went Julian, you have to hear this! Is there any way this could be your “Remy” audio book?
Julian: I remember that email and I was like, what? One, I was like, who, out of all the books thought to use my book as a demo reel. Then I was like, okay, I’m just going to check this out and I heard it and it’s still so wild to me now.
Remy’s this voice that’s lived inside my head. I don’t think I’ve did a lot of readings for “Remy” when it first came out. Like a lot of readings in public and whatnot. Remy’s voice was just living in my head for years and years. And I heard the sample and I was like, how is this possible? Because Silas had nailed, and I mean, nailed exactly how I heard Remy in my head. And I freaked out and I was so floored by hearing this. It’s just a little clip and say, oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh, wouldn’t it be so cool if something happened with this?
As soon as I heard the sample, I emailed my publisher’s marketing manager, Candysse Miller, and I was like, you have to hear this. You have to hear this. If we ever do anything with “Remy.” If anyone ever wants to with “Remy,” this is who I would want to read for him. She heard it and she loved it and she was like, I’ll get back to you on this. We’ll see what happens, kind of thing.
You hear these things in publishing, all across the different industries and whatnot where it’s like, we’ll get back to you on things and you know what that means. It’s like maybe, but also a strong, possibly something’s not going to happen. If anything, this little clip right here will always, my part of “Remy” that I get to have outside of what’s already lived in in my head.
Jeff: Have you listened to the whole book?
Julian: Yes, I have. I haven’t listened to the final book yet because I haven’t had to, I did get to listen to the initial recordings of it.
I was listening to it to take notes and whatnot, and I remember so many parts where I couldn’t take notes because I was either smiling so hard, laughing so hard and I distinctively remember crying at least three times. And I would text Candysse and I was like, oh my gosh, I’m sorry. I can’t take notes on this part because I’m crying. And I can’t, give you the technical feedback you’re looking for, because I was just so overwhelmed to hear my words spoken in the way that I would want a reader to receive them.
Silas: Yeah, and I remember some of those parts too, like, especially the crying ones I had to stop recording for a couple of times. Just the way that you had them specifically the I think it’s between Remy and his dad at one point towards the end of the story. I was reading for that, and I went and I had to hit pause on my record and I just had to take a breath. I was just like, wow. Okay.
Julian: When I tell you, you nailed that scene, like to its bare bones. And I just, yeah, I was really just sitting there tears just rolling down my face because I remember writing it and wanting to invoke a lot of emotion, but I never thought it would be in a way that when I heard it back.
Cause you know, when you’re writing a book, you read it so many times that it just becomes words and you kind of lose some of the things that you were putting into it because you’re really trying to make sure it’s technically perfect before I send it out for readers. And you just brought back so many emotions I felt writing that scene for the first time and it’s chef’s kiss, beautiful.
Silas: Well, thank you.
Jeff: Before this interview actually airs in the show. I’m going to be talking about my perceptions of the audio, but as we’re sitting here recording this, I haven’t gotten to that part yet, but I know which scene it is because I know what, at the end of the book, that’s the one I’ve been like, ah, this is going to be the thing that’s going to make me need some Kleenex before I get to it. Now I know that Julian’s cried that I’m like, well, I’m just going to be done.
Julian: Do not listen to that scene while driving in a car, is all I’m saying.
Silas: Not recommended.
Jeff: I’ve had those issues before, where I’m just trucking along and listening to a book and then it’s like, oh my gosh, I might need to pull over because I can’t see anymore.
Julian: Too many for me.
Jeff: Had it crossed your mind Silas, when you met Kirt, to even consider narrating
Silas: At kind of where I was vaguely planning on ending up. So like a year before I met Kirt, I had been working jobs here and there. A lot of like factory work. I ended up working at my father’s company for a pretty long time and it just got to a point where I got to do something more creative. I got to do something more artistic.
And I decided that I was just going to sign up for an acting class. And it was just a one-on-one thing. I met with a teacher. Thought that I had a bit of talent, from however much I can believe that, but, she signed me up for just a little local Christmas play, and that was a ton of fun to do as well.
And then the person who ran the company that was doing the play actually was the one who told me about the book reading at the bookstore. So I was like, yeah, sure. Why not? I’ll do that. That’s kind of where I wanted to end up being anyway, because acting is just not quite for me. It’s just too many eyes really staring.
But I love audio books. I listen to so many audio books. That’s basically what I listen to while I’m at work and just the emotion and being able to like go into like other worlds and be that voice that brings those worlds to life, just always fascinated me, always interested me. So when Kirt came up to me after my reading. I was just like, I can’t believe this is happening. Of course. And it just went off from there. Honestly, this whole past two years, it just felt unreal.
Jeff: It’s hard to believe it’s that long ago. Cause I was trying to track back in my head when I heard this from Kirt and it was sometime, last summer, last fall in there somewhere because we were definitely in pandemic times when I heard about it and I’m like, well, that’s pretty amazing. It’s the old school, getting discovered off the streets somewhere.
Silas: Exactly. I cannot believe all the things that had to happen for this to be happening.
Jeff: And I should have asked you because Julian kind of cited that what I think is his favorite moment in the recording. What’s your favorite moment that you recorded in that book?
Silas: Honestly, I think it’s gonna have to be at the end of the book when he’s talking with his dad, because honestly, that hits so hard because… it just reminded me of my family in a way, like my dad and he, he’s a very stoic man, but he’s always willing to talk. And sometimes you kind of look at your father, I mean, some people at least, and you forget that, yeah. They’re always there to talk to you. Like, no matter what, no matter how old you get, you always feel like you have to handle your problems on your own. And that’s not true, so yeah, that moment for sure. I love that moment.
Jeff: Well said, I think that’s similar to how the moment kinda, resonated for me too, thinking about my parents and things like that. So yeah, absolutely.
How did you prepare to record? Because it’s one thing to do, demo reels with, Remy and Rio and just a couple of people, but there’s a few people running around in this book.
Silas: I would definitely have to say coming up with voices for every character, it was a little bit of a challenge for me. But honestly, I’ll read the book once through over, just so that I kind of have an inkling of where it’s going, what the characters might be going through. And then, as I’m going, I’ll kind of think ahead of what’s going to be coming up and just kind of play around with the voices and how maybe I would kind of imagine that they would sound.
And of course, Candysse was also a big help with that. Whenever I had a question, I could just email her and be like, Hey, do you want to just take a quick listen to this? Or if she thought that maybe that wasn’t the right direction, she would definitely let me know. I’d definitely say the voices were kinda a little bit more tough for me to get through, especially because, I mean, they’re all in high school too. So it’s hard to tell like, my favorite parts of Remy throughout the book his voice will crack.
Silas: That just brought me back to, but…
Julian: I felt so bad. And I apologize to any future narrators for my books because when I’m writing a book, I just, I love an ensemble cast. I love having like a lot of characters in the way they interconnect and whatnot, but as always listening to the audio book, I was like, oh my gosh, what did you put this poor person through, because there’s like seven characters in this one scene at the lunch table, and he’s got to like flip voices between, every other sentence and whatnot. And it’s it was a lesson for me that maybe less is more when speaking about book characters.
Silas: Absolutely not. I want you to take that thought, throw it away, because that is all part of the job. I needed to be able to do that, and it was wonderful practice for me. I loved it. And getting to really know all the individual characters and really get into that feel and just, what they would be thinking. So absolutely no. Keep the characters in the books. Keep, go, keep going, write as many as you want.
Julian: I appreciate that.
Jeff: If any narrator ever gives you grief over that, Julian, you’ve now got this as proof that you got permission from a narrator to do that.
But, Julian, I have felt the same way when I was prepping the “Winger” series for Kirt I’m going through and like, here’s all these characters and I’m also trying to say, this character from book one comes back in book four. So make it a voice you can actually refer back to later,
Jeff: But then I’m like, I put a lot of people in this books. He didn’t make me apologize for it though. So that was all good.
Silas: Yeah. That’s the one thing I’ve learned for sure, whenever I do any characters, as soon as I’m done doing that first one, and I know that’s what I want them to sound like. Cut them right out, save that for reference later. I can’t tell you, like earlier on whenever I’d be reading other books and I come across another character that maybe I haven’t seen in like couple chapters that is the worst having to go back and trying to find out. It’s like, okay, what voice did I give them? What did I do?
Jeff: Was there a voice in Remy that was particularly difficult to find?
Silas: I can’t say there was one that, that was extremely difficult in particular. I had a little bit of problems with, oh, I’m so awful. I can’t remember the character’s name. Remy’s older friend, who’s on the, I believe he was on the football team,
Silas: Yes, Brook. At first. I don’t know what I was doing. The first voice I gave for him was some sort of surfer dude. And Candysse came back to me and was like, and she was so nice about it, she was just like, okay, I see what you’re doing here, but I don’t think this is really the voice for him. Yeah, I had to agree with that.
So that one just took me a little bit more to get into and get to, but once I figured out how I really thought that character would feel and sound. It became a lot easier. I mean, once you get into there, it’s just smooth sailing from there.
Jeff: Maybe save the surfer character. If you get to do the audio for “Summer of Everything,” since that’s in Santa Monica.
Do you still have that clip somewhere?
Julian: I know exactly who that should be.
Jeff: Now you’ve done a few other audio books. As we record this, you’ve got four other ones out there. You’ve done some narration for J.A. Rock and Lisa Henry, Susi Hawk and Crista Crown, Neve Wilder, Joycelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott. So in a short time, you’ve also experienced a number of sub genres in here too, within gay romance. First of all, has it been fun or has it been kind of a challenge to hop around, as your kind of, getting settled into the narration business?
Silas: No, honestly, it has been so much fun. I did not expect to be in this world that I’m currently in and I’m enjoying every moment of it. I mean, every book that I’ve read so far has just been absolutely great. It’s been a great experience. And I honestly, I cannot thank Kirt enough. I mean, he’s really helped me with introducing me to some authors and other people. I mean, I love this job. I love all the genres I’ve had. I really have not had a problem balancing back and forth.
Jeff: Cause you’ve done contemporary now and you’ve done paranormal too. So you’ve already experienced the world of shifters a little bit even.
Silas: Yeah, that was a fun one. I will say that, that was an interesting one. I was not prepared for that one, but hey, it was, I still had such a blast with that.
Jeff: That’s awesome, and you’ve worked with Kirt now, too, cause two of these books you’ve done as a co-narrator with you. How was it to split up the narration?
Silas: That’s been very interesting. I really do enjoy, especially working with Kirt. It’s a lot different of a challenge because instead of me recording every bit of the book, I mean, it’s just from a certain character’s point of view. So I have to make sure that whatever emotions I’m putting into this character.
I have to keep in mind of everything that’s happened in the chapters that, I didn’t record. I have to always keep that in the back of my head. I mean, a lot of the times, I think in the one that I just got done doing, some chapters will end and begin just switching characters, just like that. And I have to be able to fall right into that character and be able to experience the emotions that they’re going through from something that just happens that I didn’t record.
Jeff: How’s it been having to do things like, whoever Kirt’s portraying, you’re going to have to voice that character when it’s in the chapters that you’re in. How are you to kind of balancing, like, this is what my characters are sounding like, and then this is how I’m doing what your characters are doing.
Silas: Yeah, and he’s helped me a lot. I mean, he held my hand through the entire process. What we basically have been doing is he’ll take like an excerpt from a character that will be showing up throughout the book and that’s something that I can just listen to. Now he did the voice and then I try my best to get as close as I can to how he made the character sound.
Obviously it’s not going to be perfect, but it was quite an experience. And I was able to make it work. I mean, he was really there through the whole time. And honestly, communication is also key too, when it comes to that. Whenever I came across a new character, I would always record send him a sample of that one before I went any farther, and that worked perfectly. So it was just instant back and forth communication with that.
Jeff: Yeah, and I guess that’s what you have to do too. Cause there’s going to be a characters who introduce first in your chapters that then he’s going to pick up at some point down the line. So have you built the whole studio in your house yet? I know cause Kirt has one that he’s had in his apartment. He’s had it in his house for a while and then it moves into an office space for him, and have you built all this stuff out?
Silas: Well, I am putting together my studio currently, but I do have a very nice booth that is currently in my basement and I will not be moving from my basement because that thing oh my goodness, it was heavy. I cannot believe it.
Jeff: Given what you’ve worked on already, Silas, what would you like to be working on? Like what’s your wheelhouse and your joy? Like, I really want to narrate this kind of book.
Silas: I love anything sci-fi, fantasy stuff like that. Got the whole like star wars t-shirt right here. So I mean, those are the books that I usually I go to. But I will say that being introduced to the LGBTQ book community and audio community, it’s just been so awesome. Like I’ve read books, listen to books that, I mean, I never really would have looked at and I feel so much better for it. They’re all just been fantastic so far. I love being in this community in this world, so.
Jeff: Yes, sci-fi people need to come after you, now. They’ll know..
Silas: Oh, yeah.
Jeff: Cause there’s plenty of Sci-fi romance out there. There’s an entire Queer Sci-fi website and community out there.
Silas: Perfect. Yeah, that’d be awesome.
Jeff: So Julian, while we’ve got you here, we really have to talk about your story that’s in “Black Boy Joy,” the recently released anthology that actually has made the New York Times bestseller list, which is so incredibly wonderful. “The Legendary Lawrence Cobbler” just touched my heart so, so much. Tell us a little bit about that story and where its inspiration came from.
Julian: Gosh, I really… it’s funny, cause I remember when Kwame, the editor, Kwame Mbalia is the editor for the anthology and also has three really great stories in it, and I remember when he messaged me and said that he had this concept and would I be interested in doing it?
And I was like, oh my gosh, one, I’ve never written middle grade, ever. Not even like for fun. Two what kind of story would I want to tell that encapsulates black boy joy. And I just remember growing up and wishing there were more stories with a father, son kind of story where involved someone who was dealing with identity and who they are, what not, and just more joyful ones more stories that made you feel like, okay, I can do this kind of thing.
And I was like, oh, well, gotta do that. Gotta make sure. It’s like a generational thing because someone who grew up in a black family where everyone was in the kitchen all the time I knew I wanted to have some, something like that included in there. And then from there, I remember doing research for middle grade novels and trying to find ones that featured queer black characters.
I only found one. I researched and researched. I was on all these different websites. I was like, where can I find one, I can only find one. And that’s what really sparked it for me was I knew that was a story I had to tell because I knew I wanted to see more of that. And that’s why I also love about this collection is that it definitely features black voices from from across the board.
Jeff: Yeah, there’s so many amazing authors in here. I’m kind of spending one essay a day just to like take them in because they’re really short. Each one of them is really short and easy to sit down and spend a few minutes with it.
Julian: Yeah, we only had 3000 words, so they are all very short.
Silas: Oh, wow.
Jeff: Wow, and that’s a challenge too. I didn’t realize they all fit that very narrow window of words. Three thousand. Wow. Kudos to all of the authors then, cause I know I have a hard time writing that small, that tightly to tell that much of a story and that’s amazing.
Julian: Yeah, it was a new challenge.
Jeff: I love that you’ve incorporated food which ties back to “Remy,” so well. I could see Remy, wanting to make these very recipe alongside of his dad and his sister.
Julian: Yes. Yes, and then, and his dad inevitably messing it up, yup.
Jeff: Yes, exactly.
Do you have recipes also? Cause I kind of want to eat this stuff between the peanut butter cookies that are hinted at and the cobbler.
Julian: Yeah the cobbler.
Silas: Get on it.
Julian: I actually spent time with my mom in the kitchen. Cause she makes this great cobbler that like the whole family loves and I had never made it with her. So as part of the research for the story, I was, okay, we’re going to sit down and you’re going to make your cobbler and I’m going to do it side by side, but you would see if I can get this and learn this.
It was just a wonderful experience because I’ve always spent time with her in the kitchen and she’s passed down so many of her recipes to me kind of thing. And so I definitely made sure to be as accurate as possible with the depiction in the story of that recipe.
Jeff: Okay. If we ever meet up in person and I want you to make me some cobbler, please.
Silas: Me too.
Jeff: I have to compliment this one line in the book that resonated with me so hard, and it’s not a spoiler for anything, but it is this line that says, “fear is nothing but forgetting everything is all right.” I actually had to sit there with that for a minute because that’s so profound of a statement, especially in the times that we live in right now.
Julian: Right. Yeah. I remember just writing down notes when I went to include this story and I wanted that moment between them because Jevon is dealing with his own fears, but his dad is too. I wanted to play off how parents always instilled these wise words to you and how sometimes you can turn it back around on them.
And I don’t know how I came over that I was just like fear. And I just was looking at the word and I’m like, ah, I can’t turn to something, and when it came with it, I was like, I really love this because it is so true that, our fears are usually from a space where we’ve forgotten that everything is all right.
Jeff: Yeah. I wanted them to plaque somewhere on my wall to be able to look on it periodically and go and take that breath, like, yes, everything is really all right. And I’m being a little irrational right now, or, whatever that is. So thank you for that.
Julian: No, thank you for bringing that line up.
Jeff: So I’d love to know from both of you something you’ve read or listened to recently that you would recommend to our listeners and Silas I’ll come to you first.
Silas: Yeah, sure. So I haven’t actually been listening to anything recently, but one of the books I’ve been reading is. I don’t know if you ever heard of Mercedes Lackey “To Light a Candle”. It’s a fantasy book. It’s a little bit on the older side, but definitely down my wheelhouse. It’s got unicorns, elfs, dragons, can’t go wrong with it.
Otherwise other books, if you love a quick read, can’t go wrong with “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I absolutely love that. I read that from time to time. I will never not just push that book. But yeah, that’s it, that’s about it. That’s all that’s going on with the books around me.
Julian: See, this is all the more reasons why we need Silas to read “The Summer of Everything”, because mentioning, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” it’s mentioned in the book, it’s just meant to be.
Silas: Oh, what is this? What’s going on?
Julian: I don’t know.
Jeff: I see emails to Candy happening shortly after this interview is over.
Silas: Standing by my phone.
Jeff: And Julian, you cost me so much of a book budget because you’re so active on Twitter saying, this is great, this is great, this is great. What are you going to tell our listeners that they should be picking up?
Julian: I am so sorry! I am making up for years and years of not enjoying reading, so I’m sorry to everyone where I just like bombard you with book recs. But what have… I just finished and it’s not out yet so I’m just going to say to pre-order, but I just finished Adib Khorram’s “Kiss & Tell” and it’s so good. It is so good. It is a young adult book about a boy band, and one of the main character is an out gay boy band member. And it’s about his journey through what that’s like to be in a spotlight. And it tackles so many things within and outside of the queer community that I spot on enjoy.
And as far as audio books, one that I go to like continuously is “Charming as a Verb” by Ben Philippe, and is narrated by James Fouhey. He does such an amazing job narrating that book and you fall in love with the characters in the story so quickly, because he is so good at telling the story in a way that makes you feel like he wrote the book.
So those are two that I definitely suggest you pick up.
Jeff: Fantastic. And then what’s coming up next. Julian, I know we’ve we had to go through summer without a book from you this year.
Julian: I know.
Jeff: You have had some short stories out there which has been great, but what is the big thing coming in 2022?
Julian: I have my next book coming out March 15th, 2022.
Jeff: Springtime. Yay. A little early.
Julian: Yes. I know. It’s my first spring book. It’s called “Right Where I Left You.” Super excited about it. It is the geeky, queer book of my dreams seriously because it deals with not only friendships and things like social anxiety and separation anxiety, but also deals with representation in media and comic books and things like that.
It also deals with complicated families and it’s got this super wonderful romance happening. It’s like almost like a slow burn, but also did you not see it all along kind of thing? So I really enjoyed writing that and I’m really hoping people are just going to fall in love.
Jeff: Excellent. And Silas what can you tease us about what audio books are on the way from you?
Silas: Well, I don’t have anything coming down just yet. I’ve been working on the dual narrations with Kirt. That’ll be the newest one that’s coming out. It’s the “Blind Warrior.” but besides that I will be continuing to work on that series with Kirt. But I don’t really have any projects at the moment.
Jeff: Okay, authors, you heard that Silas is available, so hit him up.
Silas: Hit me up.
Jeff: And how can people keep up with you guys online, Silas? Where can people find you and get in contact if they want to get engaged with you as a narrator? Well, I have my Instagram, my Twitter. Those are the ones that I’m starting to get into the most. I’m so bad at it, but you can follow me on Instagram it’s narrator_SilasW, and then Twitter is just @Whitaker_Silas. My website is silaswhitaker.com and that’s just going to have my samples, little bit of info on me and that’s what I’ve got.
Cool. And everybody be aware of Julian’s Twitter. I tell you your book budget will regret it.
Julian: It will, I often think sometimes, start a separate book blogging account, but I just, I can’t. On Twitter you can find me @julianw_writes, cause unfortunately Julian Winters was taken. And on Instagram you can find me @wintersjulian, but you can find my website, JulianWinters.com.
Jeff: Fantastic. We will link to everything that we’ve talked about in our show notes so people can find the books and the websites and everything else.
Silas and Julian, thank you so much for being here. So excited that “Remy” is out on audio and Silas. It’s great to have you in the narrator community now.
Silas: Yeah, thanks for having me, honestly. I love being here.
Julian: Thank you.
Will: This episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the conversation for yourself, head on over to the show notes page for this episode at biggayfictionpodcast.com. Don’t forget, the show notes page also has links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Jeff: And on the show notes page, you’ll find links to the audio books that are available from Libro.fm, including “How to Be Remy Cameron.” Libro.fm is the place that when you buy an audio book, you’re also supporting a local bookstore of your choice. Listeners to the Big Gay Fiction Podcast have the opportunity to get a two month audio book membership for the price of one. For details, and to take advantage of that offer. Simply go to biggayfictionpodcast.com/librofm.
And thanks again to Silas and Julian for coming by to talk to us about the audio release of “How to Be Remy Cameron.” I cannot wait to find out what else is going to come from Silas after this initial batch of books. I think he’s going to be a really exciting narrator for all of us to listen to. And just in case you were wondering, that particular line out of Julian’s “Black Boy Joy” story that I said I wanted to have a plaque on my wall. Well, I actually did put that very sentence up on my wall. Even bought a special board to put it on. So I get to look at that every single day now.
Will: All right, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up next on Monday in episode 334, we’ve got a lot of recommendations for you as we welcome back Jay from Joyfully Jay and Lisa from The Novel Approach.
Jeff: Yes. Lisa and Jay are back and as always you’ll need to hang onto your book budgets. We’ve got something for everyone coming up in that book chat
Will: On behalf of Jeff and myself, we want to thank you so much for listening and hope that you’ll join us again soon for more discussions about the kind of stories that we all love, the big gay fiction kind. Until then keep turning those pages and keep reading.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Production assistance by Tyson Greenan. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.