Author Rey Terceiro and illustrator Bre Indigo join Jeff & Will for this Pride 2023 episode. Rey and Bre are the creators of the Northranger, the young adult graphic novel retelling of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Rey discusses how he approached this adaptation and Bre tells us how she brought the story to life through the artwork. Bre and Rey also talk about their solo projects, and share what Pride means to them in 2023.
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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.
- Episode 423 – Fights, Rewrites and Spreadsheets: Creating a YA Fantasy with Anna-Marie & Elliott McLemore on Big Gay Fiction Podcast
- Rey Terceiro & Bre Indigo Interview
- Rey Terceiro / Rex Ogle website | Twitter | Instagram
- Bre Indigo website | Twitter | Instagram
- Northranger by Rey Terceiro & Bre Indigo
- Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy by Rey Terceiro & Bre Indigo
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
- Northanger Abbey (PBS Masterpiece Theatre) DVD on Amazon
- Creature from the Black Lagoon on Amazon Prime Video
- Scooby-Doo Where Are You? on Max
- This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
- Bloom by Kevin Panetta
- It Follows on Netflix
- Alien on Amazon Prime Video
- RuPaul’s Drag Race on Paramount+
- DC Pride 2023 anthology
- Jamie by Bre Indigo on Tapas | Webtoons
- Dead Ringers on Amazon Prime Video
- It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
- Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
- They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
- Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
- Space Boy Volume 1 by Stephen McCranie on Amazon | Bookshop.org
- Kaiba on Amazon Prime Video
- Altered Carbon on Netflix
- This is Not Fiction by Nicole Manino website
- Swan Lake Quest for The Kingdoms by Rey Terceiro
- Four Eyes by Rex Ogle
- The Dog Knight by Jeremy Whitley & Bre Indigo
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast Links
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, author Rey Terciero and Illustrator Bre Indigo are here to talk about the graphic novel “Northranger.”
Will: Welcome to episode 426 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of queer romance fiction. I’m Will, and with me, as always, is my co-host and husband, Jeff.
Jeff: Hello, Rainbow Romance Reader. It’s great to have you with us as the Super Summer Bonus Episodes continue throughout Pride Month.
As always, the podcast is brought to you in part by our remarkable community on Patreon. If you’d like more information about what we offer to patrons, including a monthly bonus episode that you’ll find nowhere else and the opportunity to ask questions to our guest, you can head on over to patreon.com/BigGayFictionPodcast.
Now, we love a good remix here. Take something classic and present it in a new way. Just a couple weeks back in our interview with Anna-Marie McLemore, we actually talked about their amazing “Great Gatsby” retelling. Today we’ve got the creators of a graphic novel called “Northranger,” which is a remix of Jane Austen’s gothic romance, “Northanger Abbey.”
Rey Terciero tells us what he loves about the Austen story and why he wanted to set it in modern day Texas and make it very gay. Bree Indigo talks about bringing that story to life in the artwork. We also hear about their solo projects, including a story that Rey has in the just released “DC Pride 2023” collection.
Rey Terceiro & Bre Indigo Interview
Jeff: Rey and Bre, thank you so much for coming to the podcast. It’s wonderful to have you here.
Bre: Thank you so much for having us, Jeff.
Rey: Yeah, thank you.
Jeff: I’m so excited that we get to talk about this amazing graphic novel called “Northranger” but before we dig into this book, I’d love for you both to introduce yourselves and, Rey, I’ll turn it over to you first.
Rey: Okay. I’m Rey Terciero. And I’m a Leo who loves long walks on the beach and playing Mario Kart with my friends. Oh, and I’m the author of a bunch of graphic novels, including the one we’re here to talk about today, which is “Northranger”.
Bre: Well, since we’re talking about astrology, I’m a Cancer, emotional as ever. My name is Bre Indigo. I’m a sequential,and character artist, and I currently live in Southern California with my wife and my cat and about 15 plants I have no business taken care of with my busy schedule. I’m the illustrator of “Northranger”, but also “Meg, Jo, Beth, & Amy” which was also by Rey, the “Dog Knight” by Jeremy Whitley, and my own webcomic “Jamie,” which is published for free on Tapas and Webtoon.
Jeff: Fantastic. It’s so awesome to have you both here. And you mentioned, Bre, this collaboration that you and Rey have done before on “Meg, Jo, Beth, & Amy” which is, as it might sound, a “Little Women” adaptation. What brought you two together to collaborate and work on these adaptations?
Rey: I was working as a book editor at the time at Little Brown for Young Readers, and I was tasked with coming up with IP, so like intellectual property. Well, the 150th anniversary of “Little Women” was coming up and I loved that book as a kid just because I grew up pretty poor and it was nice to see poverty reflected in a book. So I thought we need to turn this into a graphic novel, but a straight adaption wasn’t calling to me, and I mean straight in both senses of the word. So I wanted to change it up and put my own spin on it. So I reimagined it as a modern story and a modern queer story. Another piece of the puzzle was that we were working with a digital webcomic platform called Tapas, and Bre was already on there creating her own web series, “Jamie,” as she mentioned a second ago. And when I saw her art, I absolutely fell in love and thought she’d be perfect for “Meg, Jo, Beth, & Amy”.
Bre: That makes me so blushy. Thank you. So, I mean, I have nice things to say about you too because honestly “Meg, Jo, Beth, & Amy” was like my first job in the publishing industry, like not just webcomics, but like taking that step to the next level. And Rey was just so knowledgeable, and kind, and warm and I just felt so at ease even though it was such like an intimidating first job for me. But yes, like he said, I was working on Tapas for free. Like I was just like, you know how YouTubers post their videos is similar but just with comics. And I think it was Michael’s son who was working for the company who came to me and just introduced me to the idea. Yeah, that’s about that.
Jeff: And you liked working together so well, you’ve come back to do it again for “Northranger”.
Bre: Yeah. It was really nice working with him.
Rey: Yeah, same. I mean her art’s just so amazing and she’s such a pleasure to work with and she’s so good at taking the manuscript and just bringing it to life.
Bre: Oh, thank you.
Jeff: So “Northranger” is an an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey.” What inspired tackling that work?
Rey: For me in high school in English class, I got assigned to read a Jane Austen novel. We can read any of the four that she’d written. I was in the closet and I didn’t want anyone catching on. So I felt like I needed to dodge the bullet somehow. Well, when it came to the least popular Austen novel, I did some digging and found out it was a parody of gothic horror and just like Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, which were two of my favorite books at the time, so I started reading and sure enough it was right up my alley and it wasn’t “Pride and Prejudice,” it wasn’t “Sense and Sensibility,” it wasn’t “Emma.” So I didn’t feel like I would be caught reading a “gay book” or anyone finding out that I was a fairy, which I was so scared of being called and even though I was, I mean I was clearly gay, but as an adult author, I wanted to reimagine old classics with the modern and queer twist like I did with “Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy” so to give me and young readers the gay classics, none of us had growing up. Plus graphic novels rule. And I guess last but not least, I wanted to write something special. With “Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy” , it was very much a love letter to New York City and Louisa May Alcott. And so for “Northranger” it was very much my love letter to Texas and Jane Austen.
Jeff: It’s interesting that you picked this because right before I heard that this was coming out, I had watched “Northanger Abbey” for the very first time. Like it wasn’t even on my radar as a Jane Austen book, even though I’ve seen all the adaptations of the other three. It’s what is this thing? But then I was like totally fascinated with it because it’s totally different in my view from anything else that are in those books. So I love the fact that you picked it and how you picked it to hide behind because it was so radically different.
Rey: Yeah. And I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t actually seen… Where did you watch it? Because I know it’s on a streaming service somewhere. I just don’t know where it is.
Jeff: My husband bought the Blu-ray because he wanted to see it and I don’t think it was on a streaming service that we have. And so that came in the house and I’m like, what is this? This is Jane Austen? We have to watch this because I’m curious. That whole horror tilt on it, but still having some of the romantic ties that the other books have was utterly fascinating to me. And like, how have I missed this all this time?
Rey: Yeah, I haven’t read, I think I read “Sense and Sensibility” or maybe it was “Pride and Prejudice” in college, but I didn’t really discover my love of Jane Austen until later in life when I was out and proud. And watching those movies was just…I love a period piece. So I haven’t watched “Northanger Abbey”, but I need to go back and watch it because it sounds awesome.
Jeff: Yeah, it’s totally worth it.
Bre: I will take both your word for it because I still need to read/watch. I went into a book completely like blind because I didn’t wanna be like compare it, you know what I mean?
Jeff: What was it about “Northranger” as it was being adapted that intrigued you from an illustration standpoint?
Bre: Oh well, it was like so unlike any of my other work that I’m currently making and while that was intimidating at first, after reading the script, I felt like my style could really complement the juxtapositions in the plot and characters like pretty well. I hope that’s the case.
Rey: It is.
Bre: Yay. Yeah, it just was just like Rey said right after “Meg, Jo, Beth, & Amy”, I was just like in such a New York headspace. And then the other books I’m working on are also all really claustrophobic. I don’t know another word off the top of my head. And so getting to work on this was just like, it was really nice. It was just really nice to just take a step into the country life and romanticize it through the art if I could. And I hope I did it so much justice because I’ve never had a chance to visit Texas, but I lived in the South and North Carolina for a minute and so I just kind of channeled all those memories and tried my best.
Rey: It counts. North Carolina counts.
Bre: Yeah, I think so.
Jeff: How do you approach an adaptation when you’re taking an author who everybody knows, whether it’s Jane Austen or in the case of “Little Women”, and then take something also that people know so well from films? I mean there’s been so many “Little Women” adaptations and I don’t think there’s been as many “Northanger Abbey” adaptations as there have been the other Austen work. But I mean, if people are fairly familiar, how do you decide what to do and how to break it apart from a storytelling standpoint?
Rey: Yeah, I was gonna say, do people know “Northanger Abbey” well? Because that makes me LOL. Like I don’t think a lot of people have heard of it. It feels like one of those books that people should know but they haven’t heard of. As for movies, like I said, I’m ashamed to say I haven’t seen it, but obviously “Meg, Jo, Beth, & Amy” everyone knows what that is. “Little Women” has been remade so many times as movies and TV shows and, etc. As for approaching the adaption, I think the best way is just to let the source material act as an inspiration. I don’t go back and take copious notes or reread it a thousand times. I let it be super, super, super loosely based off of rather than a straight adaptation.
That’s also why I set it in modern times and put my own queer twist on things. I want it to be different, classic for modern times, which I know probably sounds arrogant, but it was just something that I felt like growing up. I didn’t have a lot of queer literature or any queer literature for that matter. And now there’s more and more of it every day, which is just really awesome. But I think having it in graphic novel format will definitely reach a big audience.
Jeff: And how did the collaboration kind of work between the two of you? Between the words that would end up on the page because you could only fit so much in any particular dialogue bubble, for example. And keeping in mind how many other pages you want to have in the book, and the drawings that would go with that. And in some cases, the drawings that would stand alone without necessarily any words inside those panels.
Rey: Essentially, you know, when I started writing, it’s like a movie script. I’m taking all my ideas, putting them down on paper. I also put the words down and I try to be as quick as possible with my words because I want Bre’s art to really breathe. So I try to put in a lot of moments just to let her do what she does because it’s magical. So what I put down is basically the skeleton and that’s for her benefit so that she can kind of come in and flesh it out and, yeah, she just does such a good job of nailing it every time.
Bre: I’m so happy. Essentially. I mean, one of the biggest help that like Rey does is includes like copious amounts of references in the scripts. And I love that because like some other people I’ve worked with didn’t. And I just was like, oh my God, I appreciate this so much. But even something just like, who literally it was so funny. I’m reading a script and Rey is just, “Yeah, so in case you don’t know what horse poop looks like, here you go.” And I’m just like, thank you. I love that. Anyway, so to start the process, I’ll just read the script once all the way through without trying to imagine it too hard. And then when I’m going through the second time, it’s to like think how am I gonna tackle this? And the only way I can really describe it is I’m literally imagining like a movie set on my head.
I’m imagining where the camera’s gonna be, the lighting, the character’s body language and facial expressions because they’re all very important. And then you have to decide what you’re not gonna include because it’s all important, but what’s most important. And so with the first steps, I’ll usually like paste because he’ll say like how many panels he’s envisioning on a page. And that helps me from the beginning because then I can just go and like do some generic layouts so I can place things first and I kind of feel like I’m like molding it like clay as I go because, oh, all this panel needs to be a little bit bigger, da da da. And then placeholder bubbles with the text in it. So then I know where the art can really shine and where it kind of needs to leave space. I try to have that in mind as early as possible because you don’t wanna get to the end and then have to squeeze a bubble somewhere or move it around. You wanna make sure that the bubbles are reading in order. But, yeah, that’s essentially the biggest aspect of like translating from script to paper.
Rey: I was just gonna say it’s a game of telepathy. Like I’m very much trying to convey something to her so that she can convey something to the reader. It’s a game of telephone and I think the best partnerships, it’s a seamless process and I don’t think it’s always seamless, but I try to make it as easy as possible and Bre just knocks it outta the park.
Bre: Well, it really helps that you do include references even if you might think that they’re silly at times because what you don’t put in writing, I need to see visually and then I need to merge them into a Frankenstein. What am I gonna make out of these two like sources, you know what I mean? And also because a lot of the real places that you included, I really wanted to make sure I paid respect and captured like their essence, you know what I mean? Like the Paramount Theater. I really wish that I could have even done better, but I’m still happy with what I produced.
Rey: Why? You did great.
Jeff: Are there aspects of the work that you start while the script is in progress, and I’m thinking here like creating the look for the characters, do you start to build that while the script is in progress?
Bre: Yeah, if I remember correctly, Rey had delivered the description of the characters a bit ahead of the script or around the same time. I can’t remember for sure. But, yeah, essentially like it was just like the, a basic bio, like boy, age, hair color, just the basics. And even then it’s just like really, really like it gives me a lot of room to play around with it. I can’t remember correctly. Maybe you can remind me, Rey, but like when it came to Cade’s design, did we have to go back and forth on it often or were you like, did you like it like the first time? I can’t remember.
Rey: I liked it the first time and then I think you gave him a ponytail at one point and I was like, don’t put him in a ponytail for the whole book. Yeah, because I was trying to base the character a little bit on me and even though I had longish hair, I never did a ponytail, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But, yeah, I think we had an excellent compromise when he was working, you put him in a ponytail and…
Bre: Yeah. Because I try to think about that. I try to like, okay, well if I’m out in the sun, I’m not gonna have my long black hair on my neck. That would be really sweaty. So I like pull it up and not like a really nice ponytail, but just get it outta my face, you know what I mean? And I try to have like little strings of pieces still left out. You show that Cade’s not all like detail-oriented.
Bre: So it was very cute.
Jeff: How did you approach the look for the story? Because I mean, even this kind of brown kind of reminds me of a sepia tone sort of that you’ve got going here. But it also makes me think of dusty Texas ranch when I look at it. How did you approach the overall look of the finished product?
Bre: So when it comes to the colors that were decided on, those were decided before me, right? Like before I think it was decided by the publisher itself. I can’t really remember, but I think we decided on that color because you could perceive that color like in a creepy way and also like a warm way. It’s like a really nice color. And then when it comes to the texture of the art, it’s a lot grittier than my other work, which is usually more polished and friendly. So I was really trying to make sure that, how do I wanna put it? It’s like I wanted it to be warm. I wanted the art style to be warm, like my art, but not so warm that like serious moments, like just kind of for some people don’t have the same like weight.
And then I also didn’t want it to be such a gritty art style that like when there are soft moments that like they’re just kind of distracted by like, man, those guys are covered in dirt. I don’t know, I don’t want it to be too distracting or not tender enough. So straddling that was really tough. Then there’s also just the paying attention to contrast. I hadn’t really done anything this large of a project in black and white essentially, where you just have the two values to really play with. So I watched “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and my friend who is like a movie buff watched a few movies I’d never even heard of. I can’t even remember the names anymore. But we just watched ’em and I paid extra attention to like how the directors are like building anticipation, how the characters’ like internal perception of their own environment changes how it’s being shown to the audience and stuff like that.
So I tried to play with that in moments, for example, when everyone arrives at Northranger, the home, like they’re going through the hallway and I wanted it to feel like kind of creepy. And so I did a fisheye lens, you know, stuff like that. Just playing around with it. I did do a couple of trope-y things like because I think that like when he’s into like old movies that’s when the tropes kind of came to be. So of course we can use them. So just the tall looking up at the, at the big house and like the bats flying over the moon and it’s all creepy and I’m just like, yeah, gimme that “Scooby-Doo.”
Jeff: That’s exactly what I thought of in that moment too, was “Scooby-Doo.”
Rey: Yeah. I think also there’s so many good YA books out there, like “This One Summer” by Mariko Tamaki and Kevin Panetta’s “Bloom” and those are one-color books. And I think there’s something about it that just makes it feel a little more mature because if we went full color like it just feels a little bit younger. So by going with the sepia tone, which again, I think it’s the perfect mix between like romance and gritty, you said it’s very much like Texas dusty. So I think it works out really well.
Bre: Yeah. Especially because like with those two, for example, like the color that they ended up using is just such a light and airy. Like “Bloom” is like a really light and airy green-blue color. And even we play with the same values of like dark to light. It’s just the whole book just feels so light. And like literally we do the same thing with the red and it just brings down the mood. You know what I mean? It’s just such a wonderful use of color for mood. And like you said, like when you do full color, it’s like the intention is completely different. And while you said mature, I also just say like more flexible. Like people might think that like black and white or monotone is really like restricting, but it’s so flexible.
Jeff: From the story standpoint, you’re balancing a romance, which was really sweet with all the miscommunication that’s happening and creating this kind of horror, thriller vibe. What was your thoughts on how you put those together because I felt like it hit a lot of the traditional romance speech? There’s the dark moment because poor Cade really misread the situation, but then you’ve got this kind of suspense thriller vibe going on too is just trying to piece together what’s happening to this family at the ranch. How did you decide to balance all that to pull the story together?
Rey: Ooh, that’s a good question. It was hard to balance it because I wanted the reader to run the whole gamut of emotions. I wanted them to feel, I wanted them to laugh a little bit. I wanted them to be scared a little bit. I wanted them to feel the romance. And, of course, like you said, the thriller aspect, it was kind of a hard way to balance the tone. Yeah, I mean, honestly I just went with my gut instinct. I knew the tone would be a bit of a rollercoaster.
Jeff: And you dive into some big issues along the way too because there’s homophobia, there’s the way that immigrants are treated, there’s some pretty serious mental health things that are going on here as well. You took on a lot in this book. Did you feel like that at times it was too much that you had to pull back? Or did you really just kind of go for it?
Rey: I went for it. I put that trigger warning in there because I thought of it as with movie trailers, you kind of get a feel for the movie. And so just from reading the summary, it wasn’t necessarily enough. So you get glimpses that ride are in for, but without giving too much away. And the trigger warning keeps the readers from being too surprised. Initially, I didn’t want the trigger warning, but my editor really pressed me for it. And more and more these days, I think we need to take care of our reader sensitivity so that they aren’t upset when they’re done with the book. In every book, you never know how someone’s gonna react to it. I still watch movies sometimes and I leave feeling crummy. And that’s a horrible feeling. So hopefully people are prepared to read our book. Hopefully it’s not too triggering.
Bre: Yeah, I mean it’s tough, especially if you like, really like chew on it. Because I know some people like to say graphic novels don’t have much to take on. And I’m just like, nah, man. You know, if you read it and actually look at it and feel it and stuff like that, there’s plenty there. And I think it’s really moving. I like that. I just love juxtaposition in general with stories and art of all types. So this was definitely up my alley. And so I really like that not only do we have so many conflicting emotions, we have conflicting emotions with the characters, conflicting in like actions. Because Cade is closeted, there’s a lot of this gaslighting that’s constantly going on. And it’s not just him that’s dealing with that, almost every character is dealing with their own, like, trauma.
And all while trying to just act like everything is normal. I think a lot of people are gonna relate to that feeling nowadays. And I also think that hopefully with the art, like the art style being like right in the middle of that, like, gritty and warm and even how like the two locations or three, there’s three locations, but how Northranger and even the ranch, like they kind of represent different vibes. Like you’ve got the ranch, which is just like wide open space. You would think that people would be very carefree, but instead who is it being run by and what kind of atmosphere does that person give everyone?
And then when you have Northranger, that is a place that’s supposed to have good memories. Why does it feel so suffocating? You know what I mean? So all of those things I noticed either by you intending to bring attention to or not, there’s just a lot and it plays like at every level, I don’t know the word, there’s another dissonance or something like, there’s something wrong. There’s the things aren’t matching and it gives you anxiety throughout the whole story.
Rey: I never even think of stuff like that. So it’s amazing that you did because you make me sound so much more intelligent than I really am.
Bre: Oh, okay. Thanks for being honest. But I think that there’s a lot there. I’m just saying, I think there’s a lot there. I think if I was growing up with this because I was one of those kids that got really obsessed with things that inspired me, right? If I read it, I’m just like, shoot man, my art style is going after this. My storytelling is going after this, I’m obsessed with cowboys now suddenly. And, you know, there’s a lot to like, I think. And so anyway, I’m totally off topic now.
Jeff: No, you’re not at all. No. And I will say I appreciated the trigger warning. Just because I very much these days like to kind of know what I’m getting into and that there are days I can’t take too heavy. And this, even though I knew what it was adapted by, the way that the story approached some topics, it was good to be braced for what I was going in for. And I think readers will appreciate that. It’s good for that kind of guidance. I think in a format too where, as one of you said, sometimes it’s thought those graphic novels don’t carry the heavyweight, but they really can put out some very important topics to the readers.
Bre: Right. Because even if it’s not touched on word for word and ugly, like exhaustive way, it’s gonna spring something up in person’s mind, and who knows where that’s gonna go. But like the trigger warning, I’m glad that we included it because it’s pretty normalized on the internet. I used to spend a lot of time on Tumblr, spent a lot of time on Tapas and Webtoons. And the online community has already kind of embraced trigger warnings for storytelling because it’s not, like you said, you don’t have to give a spoiler and it just gives people an idea of like, oh, I don’t wanna get in on this, I’m too tender today.
Rey: Yeah. And I think that’s smart. The reason I didn’t want the trigger warning at first was basically because I didn’t want to give away anything in the book. But I think of horror movies, I watch a lot of horror movies and some of them are great, like “It Follows” which is like a metaphor for STDs, which I just think is a fantastic movie. But then there’s other movies like, well, I don’t want to call them out because I don’t want to sound like I’m badmouthing them. But that they’re metaphors for much deeper stuff like child abuse or suicide. And those are really, I go in with horror movies expecting a fun time. And I say fun time because I like to be scared. But to go in and to have to deal with a very triggering emotional response, it kind of brings me down.
Jeff: Is it fair to say that the movies that are referenced in “Northranger” are your favorites?
Rey: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, I love debating horror movies with my friends. And one of those things is like, considering “Alien” a horror movie because everyone’s, no, that’s sci-fi movie. I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, it’s definitely a scary movie. So yeah. Going through and just like writing those scenes were some of my favorites.
Jeff: And speaking of favorite scenes, I’m curious for both of you what a favorite, either a scene from a writing perspective or an illustrating perspective, or both kind of are for each of you. And since Bre’s making that face, I’m coming to you first, Rey.
Bre: It’s hard. It’s so hard.
Rey: There’s so many good ones. I don’t know if I can say that, but I don’t wanna sound arrogant, but Bre did such an amazing job bringing my words to life that there are really so many good parts. I do think one of my favorites from like her original sketches, I was just like blown away by this one part is where the gang goes fishing and we see how different Cade and Henry are in approaching that. Cade is squirming when Harry baits the worm on the hook and Henry is all matter-of-fact saying everything dies. And it’s a single panel and it’s just so exquisitely drawn that it just captures the moment so completely. And there’s so many times in the book where that happens that it’s really, really, really cool.
Bre: Thank you. I was literally gonna come up with the same scene because I like… So it’s not only the lake but also just the aftermath. I love that this is the turning point. This is where everything is…oh, it’s just a good shift in tone by the end of everything, my heart is racing and there’s so much emotions, but it’s not overdone and then it’s bam. You know what I mean? So does that make any sense?
Rey: Yeah. I also like all the ranch scenes. I mean, you did such a good job. I mean, drawing horses is not easy. I feel like horses is one of the hardest things to draw. I mean, I can’t draw, I can draw sticks.
Rey: Oh, cars. So the trucks were hard for you then.
Bre: Oh my God. Because they’re real things. I mean, I know horses are real things. Okay. Horses are obviously real, but they’re so organic. Like, you get it good enough and it’s just like it’s stylized, but like stylizing a car while making it still like something you can recognize and that doesn’t look like wonky, it’s like if you draw a car wrong, it’s very obvious. It’s so obvious.
You know, if I ended up going in there with like cartoon cars if I didn’t get the cars right, it would, I think, completely break the tone. If the cars are like super goofy looking, then someone’s not scary. Look at those silly little cars.
Jeff: I have to say that the favorite piece of art that I’ve got, and it’s towards the end when Cade has gone to find Henry and we find him at the place where Henry goes to think. Just that as he’s kind of sitting down next to him and they’re, I think if I remember right, it’s like totally like from a distance back,we’re seeing them sitting together with, you know, essentially sunset in front of them. And I’m just like, huh. It’s like, I totally want that as a poster. Just to be like, oh, because it’s just nice. And you kind of know you’re headed towards like the end there and the ending you’d want the romance book to have.
Rey: Yeah. It feels like a breath of air. You’re just like…
Jeff: Yeah. It’s like this is actually going to be okay now.
Rey: There’s a lot of nature in there, which I think is important because Texas, especially rural Texas has a lot of, I mean it’s beautiful. Like I know Texas has a lot of issues right now, but it’s a beautiful state at least in terms of nature.
Bre: Yeah. It’s like the land is always separate from the people sometimes, but there are good, there are good and troublesome people everywhere. I feel like Texas is gorgeous. I really was happy to get to take some time and appreciate it while working on this.
Jeff: And, Rey, you mentioned you’re a native Texan.
Rey: I am.
Jeff: I know you don’t live there right now, but do you have a sense on how things are on the ground for queer people in Texas with all this anti-queer stuff happening in the legislature right now?
Rey: Well, I was born and raised there, but I moved to New York City in 2004 and spent 15 years there. Now I live in Los Angeles, but I go as much as I can to visit my brother, sister-in-law, my nephew. And it’s one of those things where it’s, even when I go with my husband like I don’t wanna hold his hand. That’s just so deeply ingrained in me that the idea of holding hands in Texas is just, in my head, a bad idea.
Bre: It’s terrifying.
Rey: It is. As far as all the anti-gay stuff happening, it’s not just in Texas, but in Florida and elsewhere, I don’t know what to do other than encourage people to vote Democratically. I would encourage people to donate to charities like the Human Rights campaign and, of course, get online and see what else you can do. Maybe connect with someone in one of those states and become a social media pen pal so they know they aren’t alone and that others are rooting for them. I think anything that anyone can do just to reach out and let young Texans know that it’s okay. And I mean protests do that. Anything that can just put it out there visually, something that they can see to let them know that it gets better.
Bre: I think it’s really important that, I mean, just everybody, but especially people who are feeling so targeted right now, like for no reason just to practice like self-care and self-love. I know that that sounds corny, but I’m only speaking from experience. That stuff goes miles. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to have a respectful environment, to be respected, and to be amongst people that care about you. You deserve that. So demand it from the people that are around you when you can. You know what I mean? We have to advocate for each other and we have to advocate for ourselves because, I mean, as you see, like there are gonna be hateful people that try to stifle you at every turn, so…
Jeff: So well said. What do you hope people take away from “Northranger” as they read it?
Rey: First, I hope that the book gets banned.
Rey: Just kidding. But also kind of, because I think that the books that are getting banned are really important books, and I think that when a book gets banned, it gets the attention of more readers, more librarians, more teachers, and hopefully, those are the gatekeepers that are getting these books. And not hopefully, I feel like every time I go to a library convention like these librarians are so amazing at wanting to put these books into the hands of the youth that need it. So I do hope readers take away a sense of hope. Cade and Henry are characters, grow up in rural Texas, which isn’t exactly the friendliest place for queer youth.
So I try to address the struggles that are very real when growing up gay in most rural places in America. It’s just not as accepted as it is in the cities. So I wanted youth to know that it gets better, especially once you’re older and you’re more confident in your own skin. I don’t know if there’s a lot of books that are written about rural America, and I don’t know that this book will reach rural America, but I hope it does.
Bre: Yeah. I hope so too because it’s like you don’t even need to be gay to empathize with the character. I mean, I wish people would just comprehend that on its own, but you don’t. There’s so many other characters that are also dealing with issues in this and when I was reading it, I just felt like, gosh, if everyone just was nice to themselves, then no one would have any problems in this dang book. You know what I mean? It’s just, there’s a deep level of human love and respect that I think we need to learn and finally just accept as a part of our, I don’t know, just the way we wanna move forward. So I hope that that encourages people.
Rey: Yeah. I’m hoping with this next generation things get better just because “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is apparently very well beloved by young girls, which I think is, I mean, like, I went to RuPaul’s Drag Race DragCon when I lived in New York, and it was, oh my gosh, it was so many young girls and I was just like, maybe this will help turn the tide. I mean, hopefully, they weren’t all city girls. Hopefully, some of them come from rural America and are watching the show just because I think that drag queens show that gay people, we’re people too, and we’re not just someone to hate. We all have these issues that are often deep-seated, and we come from really rough lives, and it’s not easy in that like you said, we’re all deserving of love.
Jeff: And kind of a tangent almost to this question, and certainly connected to it, is this episode is airing in Pride Month. What does pride mean to you in 2023 on a personal level?
Rey: I mean, pride means love through and through. No matter who you are or who you love or who loves you in return. Love is a consensual union between two people, and no one should have a say in that, except those two people, in my opinion, at least. Love has been around since the dawn of humankind, and it’s taken many shapes over the centuries and millennia. And I find it ridiculous that we’re now in a state where we’re so evolved, and yet at the same time, so intolerant. I mean, there have been civilizations in the past who were okay with homosexuality, had no problem with it. And then there have been some that had lots of problems with it. But, you know, you would think in a society where we can build something as complicated as AI that we’d be okay with something as simple as queer love.
Bre: For me, pride has a lot to do with just self-acceptance because that’s the first step in love. You know, like you’re gonna have a hard time finding love that you can maintain and pour into constantly if you aren’t at least accepting of who you are, and then also spreading love and acceptance. So it’s just a reminder to do that. And then also it’s just a nice reminder that we are all here. We are allowed, we exist, we belong here just like anyone else. And we have a purpose on this earth and we’re not gonna let hatefulness. And just, if you really think about it, like, the opposite of like all of this is just denying yourself yourself.
Jeff: Why don’t we talk about a couple of other projects of yours, Rey. During June, under your alter ego of Rex Ogle, you’re gonna have a story appearing in “DC Pride 2023” that you collaborated on with Steven Sadowski. It’s called “The Dance.” Tell us a little bit about that story.
Rey: So, yeah, first you’re probably wondering about the name difference. Rex Ogle was my real name, but Rey Terciero is a nickname that my Abuela called me once, which means third born king because Rex is Latin for king. And I’m the third Rex in my family. So when I started writing, I was still working in publishing and I needed a pseudonym, so there wasn’t a conflict of interest between writing and editing. So thus the pen name. So I write a lot of graphic novels under Rey Terciero, especially my classic reimaginings. And then I write comics and other books under Rex Ogle.
As for the “DC Pride” story, an old friend of mine, Michael McAllister, who is an editor in DC reached out and asked if I wanted to do it. And, of course, I said yes because I grew up reading Batman and I loved X-Men. So any chance I get to write comics, the answer is yes. I used to work at DC Comics and that was like a dream job to have. I interned at Marvel, that was like my first gig in college and it was just a dream come true. So there’s something about comics that I just love, and that marriage between words and art is just so exquisite. It’s one of the reasons that I was drawn to graphic novels. As for the Ghost-Maker and Catman story, it was very much, I’m a huge fan of Catman. I just think he’s so cool and the fact that he’s a bisexual character and same with Ghost-Maker, I really wanted to do a story with him and it’s hard to write a story in 10 pages, but I’d like to think that I did well with it.
Jeff: And, Bre, tell us a little bit about “Jamie” so that our listeners know what else you’re up to with that and can go check that out as well.
Bre: So essentially with “Jamie”, I started it so many years back. I don’t even know how many years anymore. I’ve been working on it since about middle school. That has turned into a million different versions at this point. But it follows a little boy named Jamie. He’s 14 and essentially he is experiencing his first real crush. The synopsis is at his aunt’s wedding. Jamie, a young, hopeless romantic, bumps into Aiden, a socially inept pretty boy who unintentionally steals his heart.
After discovering Aiden goes to his school with the help of his sister, Vicky, Jamie decides to find the quickest way to win him over gaining unforgettable friendships and important life lessons along the way. Jamie’s impact on Aiden and his group of friends creates a rippling effect that changes everything. So it kind of just started as like a story for me to process my own feelings, and now like that I have aged past the characters, I’m now looking at it in a completely different perspective. And now it just kind of just needs to get done, you know what I mean? I just need to finish it.
Rey: Yeah, you need to wrap it up so that you can turn it into a book.
Bre: Like during making the first like couple chapters, I didn’t even know how I wanted it to end, so it was just kind of like a living comic. And that’s also pretty cool because my art style changes over the years, my pacing changes, my skills develop, it’s a weekly comic, but it also it is living and that adds an aha aspect of it for readers. They get to engage every week. They get to leave comments, I respond back, and sometimes their comments will even clear up like misunderstandings that I have to make sure to correct in the future or to even redo. Because I’m not a writer, I’m an illustrator. So I’m learning this as I go. It’s incredibly, I don’t know the word, it’s just not very traditional how I’m doing this.
Jeff: But it sounds awesome, especially that you’ve been running it for so long and to see that evolution in style and content.
Bre: Yeah, I mean the first version was done in middle school and it was because me and my friends, essentially, we would each make a character and then we would just write different alternative universes with them. And I was just like bored of all the chaos. I was just like, I’m just gonna do a slice of life. And I gave the idea to a friend and then she did NaNoWriMo and wrote out a little tiny novel and we passed it around everyone in school and everyone’s writing notes in the margins. I don’t know if y’all ever had like moments like that with Fanfic, but we would straight up just print it, put it in a binder, and pass it around. And so that’s how we treated our book. And the first comic version of “Jamie” came out in 2014, but this is the second version of it, the second comic version. And now I’m not going back, no more redos. We’re just going full speed ahead.
Rey: Nothing is ever perfect. Sometimes you just have to move forward with it.
Jeff: That’s right. Exactly. So we’d love to get recommendations, of course. What have you two been reading or watching recently that you think our listeners should check out?
Rey: Always the hard question. My mind goes blank, but I am watching “Dead Ringers”, which I think is streaming on Amazon, maybe, I don’t know where it’s streaming, but “Dead Ringers” is so good. Rachel Weiss is a revelation and the queer representation is beautiful. Even if everything in the show is totally twisted, it’s definitely up my alley because it’s like a psychological horror. Lot of horror. It’s dark. As for reading, I’m reading “It Ends with Us” by Colleen Hoover, which is not gay at all. But I wanted to see what all the hulabaloo was about because I feel like everyone’s talking about it. So it’s a guilty pleasure for sure, like watching “The Housewives of Beverly Hills.” But I really wish there were more books like “Red, White and Royal Blue” which is the last really like gay romance I read. Kevin Penetta’s “Bloom”, which I mentioned earlier, and I’m dying to read “They Both Die At The End” which has been on my to-do list forever. But I think before I do that, I’m gonna go back and reread Madeline Miller’s “Song of Achilles” which is not only a super gay, but a beautiful story.
Bre: Oh, yeah, I’ve been meaning to pick that up too.
Jeff: Those are all awesome suggestions.
Bre: Yeah, So many good ones.
Jeff: Bre, how about you?
Bre: So I have three and they all kind of…I guess I was still thinking about this like the juxtaposition with “Northranger,” so it kind of kept me on that plane. So one of my favorite webcomics is “Space Boy” by Stephen McCranie. Two of them are gonna be web comics and one is an anime. So “Space Boy” by Stephen McCranie. The synopsis for that is a girl who belongs in a different time and a boy possessed by an emptiness as deep as space. A story about an alien artifact and mysterious murder and the love that crosses lightyears. I picked this up because the art style was adorable. I stayed because it broke my heart and I love that. I love having my feelings hurt. So it is completely free to read on Webtoon and I would definitely recommend it.
It is the second most painful recommendation. The first most painful recommendation is “Kaiba”, and that’s the anime. And that one is by Masaaki Yuasa. Essentially that synopsis is in a futuristic, dystopian world where memories are literally stored, bought, and sold and the rich have all the privileges, a young amnesiac is trying to find out who he is. So that plot might sound similar to a Netflix show, what was it called? “Altered Carbon” I think, that came out. And that made me so mad because that is the exact same story as “Kaiba”, but it’s live acted. Anyway, check out Kaiba because the art style again is beautifully adorable.
And then the story will rip your heart out. And then last is a webcomic called “This Is Not Fiction” by Nicole Manino. I’ve been following this one for about 10 years, just about as long as I’ve been working on “Jamie” because it was the comic that finally pushed me over the threshold to make “Jamie.” And that one is also a slice of life and as the creator has developed with it, like it started to settle into what it wanted to be and its identity. And it is also something that will take you on a few like roller coasters. But it’s a really fun time. It’s really genuine and sweet. It is about a boy named Julian who gets obsessed with wanting to meet his favorite author and it’s coming to an end like next month. So we all get to see how that turns out.
Jeff: Excellent, good recommendations. What can each of you tease us about what we should be looking out from you coming next?
Rey: So I took a few years off of work to just write, so I have quite a few irons in the fire. Under Rey Terciero, I wrote “Swan Lake Quest for The Kingdoms”, which came out last year. It’s middle grade. It’s very queer-coded, not overtly. And so that was really fun.
But the next queer, young adult graphic novel I have coming out is “Dan of Green Gables,” which you can probably guess which classic it’s based off of. It’s a love letter to Tennessee where my father’s family is, as well as L.M. Montgomery who wrote the original. Like “Northranger,” it’s a modern day retelling with a super queer twist. The title will probably change because I hear that Montgomery’s family is very litigious, so the title will probably be changing.
But aside from that, under my own name, Rex Ogle, I had a book come out in May called “Four Eyes” about me getting glasses in sixth grade. It’s also a graphic novel. It’s the first in a trilogy, the second one’s called “Pizza Face” which is about me going through puberty. And then the third installment is called “Weirdo” which is about me coming out.
Bre: Ugh. I love like you have, you have so many books come out in such a short amount of time. I was just like, shoot, look at him go.
Rey: Yeah, I’m exhausted.
Bre: Yeah, I bet. Alongside “Northranger” for me, I have another graphic novel titled “The Dog Night” that’s coming out written by Jeremy Whitley. It should be out May 15th. So it’s coming out soon. And that is the first of three books as well. It is about a non-binary kid who gets chosen by a league of super dogs to protect the world essentially. And it was incredibly wholesome and wonderful to work on. It was very healing for my inner child as well. Yeah, I think that’s really all I have going on right now because like I said, it’s three books. So I’m now working on book two.
Jeff: Rey, and Bre, I can’t thank you enough for coming here talking to us about “Northranger” I wish you all the success with it and I guess, I suppose maybe we hope that it gets banned too somewhere just to throw more of some attention onto it. Happy Pride Month to you both. Yeah. Thank you for bringing us so much good stuff.
Bre: Thank you.
Rey: Yeah, thanks for having us.
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. We’ve got links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Jeff: I enjoyed “Northranger” so much, and even more so coming so closely on the heels of me seeing the film “Northranger Abbey” for the very first time. I really loved hearing how Rey and Bre adapted the story.
And a quick note on “DC Pride 2023,” which as you heard, I had gotten a copy of right before I sat down to do the interview with them. I have to admit that I don’t know the characters that are featured in Rey’s story, “The Dance,” but I loved that story so much. It’s a super fun enemies to lover sort of thing with a big fight that leads to these two in bed together. It was fun and it was sweet, and it has an ending that will give you a lot of feels too.
And you’ve heard about me talk about Superman a lot on the show recently and the Jon Kent comics that have been coming out over the last couple of years where he is out as queer. “DC Pride 2023” has a story that has Jon Kent helping out John Constantine, and it is such a good story. I’m also not super familiar with the Constantine character, but what went down in this story was kind of funny and a lot heartwarming. So there’s a lot of great stuff in that “DC Pride 2023” if you’re a fan of comics.
Will: All right, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up next Monday, Dominic Lim is going to be here and talking about his queer debut romance “All the Right Notes.”
Jeff: I can’t tell you enough how much I absolutely adore this book. “All the Right Notes” ticked all the right boxes for me. It is by far my favorite book of the year, and I loved talking to Dominic about this second chance, friends to lover’s story about a composer and a Hollywood heartthrob. I can’t wait for y’all to hear this conversation and you’ve gotta go get this book. It is already out. So go pick it up. Go pick it up. Go get it right now.
Will: You have your marching orders.
Thank you everyone so much for listening. We hope that you’ll join us again soon for more discussions about the kinds of stories 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. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.