Thursday, July 21, 2022

Kevin Christopher Snipes Interview - Milo and Marcos at the End of the World


Photo Credit: Maggie Marguerite Photography

Kevin Christopher Snipes is a New York-based writer who was born and raised in Florida. He spent his early career in the theater writing such plays as A Bitter Taste, The Chimes and Ashes, Ashes. Later, for Gimlet Media, he created the queer fantasy podcast The Two Princes. He can generally be found watching reruns of Doctor Who and The Golden Girls in his spare time. Milo and Marcos at the End of the World is his first novel.

      
  

Greatest thing you learned in school.
I before E except after C or when sounding like A as in “neighbor” or “weigh.”

Alternatively, I guess I also learned how to believe in myself as a writer. But that didn’t come with a clever rhyme.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Walking into my local Barnes and Noble here in NYC and seeing my book displayed on their wall of “New and Notable Releases” was a pretty cool moment.

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Ha-ha! “My youth.” You make it sound so far away! I guess it was. Oh well… Anyway, to answer your question: As a teenager I loved to write stories. Especially plays. Theater was my passion, but I always thought of it as a hobby. It never occurred to me that a person could actually be a playwright because all the playwrights I knew of had lived long ago and were now dead (Shakespeare, Wilde, Shaw, etc.). Then one month I happened to attend back-to-back productions of Patrick Marber’s Closer and David Auburn’s Proof at the Hippodrome State Theater in Gainesville, Florida. I got to experience two incredible contemporary plays grappling with contemporary life, and it was like a light went on in my brain. I suddenly realized, “Oh, these are NEW plays, which means they must have been written by NEW playwrights, which means playwriting is an actual profession that still exists!” So I became a playwright. Then later on I branched out into writing podcasts like The Two Princes and novels like Milo and Marcos at the End of the World.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
That’s a touch question. Unlike form and structure, voice is not something that I believe a writer can be taught. Which is rather ironic considering it’s incredibly easy to teach someone how to mimic another writer’s voice, especially if that voice is as unique as Tennessee Williams’s or Oscar Wilde’s. But finding and developing your own voice is something that only the individual writer can do because no one else can tell you who you are.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’ve just started work on my second YA novel for HarperTeen. I can’t say much about it, but like Milo and Marcos, it’s going to be a contemporary queer love story with a sightly fantastical twist. I’ve also been working on a collection of original nursery rhymes (also with a twist) that I’m excited to get out into the world.

In your newest book; MILO AND MARCOS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Milo and Marcos at the End of the World is about two teenage boys who fall in love in Florida and who then have to keep that love a secret from their very religious parents and conservative community. Things get even more complicated when a series of unprecedented natural disasters strike their city whenever the boys touch. This leads Milo and Marcos to consider the seemingly impossible possibility that maybe God is punishing them for being gay and that if they don’t stop seeing each other, their love might just bring about the end of the world.

TEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT MILO AND MARCOS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
  • 1. The Kanapaha Botanical Garden that Milo and Van visit in the book is a real place in Gainesville, Florida, and it does indeed feature freely roaming alligators. They do not, however, sell gator-shaped popsicles. I made that up so Van could have a treat.
  • 2. The Jackie Robison Memorial Baseball Park that Milo and Marcos visit is also a real place. As far as I know, it’s still standing in Daytona Beach despite the events depicted in the book.
  • 3. Van Silvera is named after one of my favorite YA authors, Adam Silvera.
  • 4. Milo’s teacher Ms. Snook is named after my college English professor. Like her fictional counterpart, Dr. Snook also had her class adapt Shakespeare scenes into contemporary vernacular.
  • 5. Like Marcos, I too have a cool uncle who’s in a band.
  • 6. Pat Benatar is one of my favorite singers which is why Ms. Silvera’s ringtone is “Love is a Battlefield.”
  • 7. Originally, the character of Caleb Yates only appeared in Chapter 30, but he ended up being such a funny, clueless dude that I decided to expand his arc and weave it throughout the book.
  • 8. Milo’s love of Betty White isn’t the first time that I’ve created a character with a fondness for The Golden Girls. In my first play, A Bitter Taste, the character of Talker is obsessed with Bea Arthur.
  • 9. Milo’s school, Spruce Crick, is based on my own high school Spruce Creek. I altered the name slightly because I took a few creative liberties in the way I depicted the campus. Though I stand by my comments about the cafeteria food being inedible.
  • 10. Milo’s favorite restaurant, Holloway’s Downhome BBQ, is not a real place, which is sad because they’re world-famous curly fries sound really good.
What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
When I was growing up as a closeted queer teenager in central Florida, there were very few (if any) books, movies, or tv shows featuring queer characters or queer love stories. It was like the entire entertainment industry (along with the entire world) was saying people like me did not/should not exist. It was incredibly demoralizing, and it made it very difficult for me to accept myself. So it’s my hope that my book can provide queer teens with the visibility, validation, and support that they deserve and that I wish I’d been able to experience in my youth.

What part of Marcos and Milo did you enjoy writing the most?
Chapter 42. I don’t want to ruin the plot with spoilers, but Chapter 42 is where the book suddenly veers off in (what I hope is) a spectacularly surprising direction. As someone who loves sci-fi, I really enjoyed getting to inject something so fantastical and unexpected into the story, especially as up until that point the book is a pretty traditional coming-of-age love story.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing MILO AND MARCOS AT THE END OF THE WORLD?
As I mentioned earlier, theater was my first passion. I originally moved to NY to become a playwright and I had been working in theater for many years when I decided to take a stab at writing Milo and Marcos. In those early days, I had no idea what I was doing. I was really branching out of my comfort zone by writing a novel, and I was pretty sure it was garbage. On a whim, though, I brought the first five chapters of the book into my writers’ group to get feedback from my fellow playwrights. I figured they would confirm that I had no idea what I was doing and tell me to get back to writing plays. Instead, their enthusiasm for the book and their demands to know what happened next made me realize that I might not be as hopeless at writing fiction as I feared. It certainly gave me the encouragement to keep writing.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
One of my all-time favorite YA novels is Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle. It’s a queer love story set during (yet another) potential apocalypse, so I think Milo and Marcos would have a lot in common with the characters of Austin and Robby. They could swap survival tips and dating advice.

TEN REASONS TO READ MILO AND MARCOS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
  • 1. A loveable if anxiety-ridden narrator.
  • 2. A possible apocalypse.
  • 3. A journey to self-acceptance.
  • 4. A journey to sex.
  • 5. A surprising amount of Golden Girls references.
  • 6. Van Silvera: the best friend a boy could wish for.
  • 7. Caleb Yates: the most clueless boy in the universe.
  • 8. Very clever chapter titles.
  • 9. Lots of twists and turns that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster.
  • 10. It’ll piss off Republicans.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
Deciding to write a book despite having no formal education in fiction writing seems pretty crazy to me.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
I think everyone should read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion. I can’t think of two books that have shaped my understanding of the world so completely as these seminal texts. I would make them required reading in high schools if I could, though I suspect they are far more likely to be banned from classrooms on account of their critiques of capitalism, religion, and imperialism.

Best date you've ever had?
Yikes. Given than I have been perpetually single for my entire life, I don’t think I can claim to have ever gone on a date that wasn’t a total disaster. But I live in hope!

What is your happiest childhood memory?
When my family would go on long car trips, my father used to make up funny stories to keep me entertained. Most of these stories involved the Muppets (whom I adored), and they would usually be engaged in battle with these bizarre alien creatures called Kissy-Woos, which my father invented. Kissy-Woos were basically giant pairs of lips that could fly through space and kiss you to death by sucking the flesh off your bones. I know that sounds a bit gruesome, but bear in mind that their only real victims were Muppets, so I was thoroughly entertained.

If you could be born into history as any famous person, who would it be and why?
Historically, the past hasn’t been a great place for someone to be gay, so I think I’ll stay in the present. Then again, considering everything that’s happening in this country right now, the present isn’t so great either. Can I go to the future?

What were you doing at midnight last night?
Binging Heartstopper on Netflix for the third time. It’s such a feel-good show. I put it on whenever I start to despair about the world. It sooths my soul.


When Marcos moves to town, Milo is forced to acknowledge the feelings he's kept hidden, especially from his religious parents. But as natural disasters begin to befall them the closer they become, Milo and Marcos soon begin to wonder if the universe itself is plotting against them in this young adult debut by playwright and creator of The Two Princes podcast, Kevin Christopher Snipes.

Milo Connolly has managed to survive the first three years of high school without any major disasters, so by his calculations, he’s well past due for some sort of Epic Teenage Catastrophe. Even so, all he wants his senior year is to keep his head down and fly under the radar like the quiet, well-behaved, churchgoing boy that everyone thinks he is.

Everything is going exactly as planned until the dreamy and charismatic Marcos Price saunters back into his life after a three-year absence and turns his world upside-down. Suddenly Milo is forced to confront the long-buried feelings that he’s kept hidden not only from himself but also from his deeply religious parents and community.

To make matters worse, strange things have been happening around his sleepy Florida town ever since Marcos’s return—sinkholes, blackouts, hailstorms. Mother Nature seems out of control, and the closer Milo and Marcos get, the more disasters seem to befall them.

In fact, as more and more bizarre occurrences pile up, Milo and Marcos find themselves faced with the unthinkable: Is there a larger, unseen force at play, trying to keep them apart? And if so, is their love worth risking the end of the world?

From debut author Kevin Christopher Snipes, Milo and Marcos at the End of the World is a new coming-of-age novel about finding the courage not only to love others but also to love ourselves.

You can purchase Milo and Marcos at the End of the World at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you KEVIN CHRISTOPHER SNIPES for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Milo and Marcos at the End of the World by Kevin Christopher Snipes.

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