Friday, May 12, 2023

Erik J. Brown Interview - Lose You to Find Me

Photo Content from Erik J. Brown

Erik J. Brown (he/him) is an award-winning writer based in Philadelphia, PA.

His debut Young Adult novel, ALL THAT’S LEFT IN THE WORLD, was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award, shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and won the UK reader’s choice Books Are My Bag award.

In 2021 he was selected as a Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow.

When not writing, he enjoys traveling, collecting disco compilations on vinyl, remodeling his haunted house with his husband, and embarking on the relentless quest of appeasing his Shiba Inu, Charlie. His next book, LOSE YOU TO FIND ME, comes out May 2023.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
When I was in Kindergarten, I realized that people actually wrote books and that’s what I wanted to do, but I thought it was one of those things that would never happen. Thankfully, I have very supportive parents, who also noticed my talent, and encouraged me to chase that dream.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Every time I get an email from a reader thanking me for writing a book. It’s usually from someone who wants to see themselves more in genre fiction but doesn’t get to very often. It’s so fulfilling to know that what I’ve actually set out to do—write queer genre stories—is so important to kids who just want to see themselves in the genre they like.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Open yourself to feedback and criticism. Not from random readers—don’t read reviews—but from other writers, agents, and editors. I know a lot of authors who have fought hard for things in their books that are inconsequential or even weaken their stories. No one is perfect, but having other eyes on your work helps you find your own shortfall. If multiple people are providing similar feedback, even if you disagree, there is something missing. Try to figure out how to keep your vision and help them see it by connecting those dots.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling helps people be more empathetic. When we connect with a fictional character it helps us see a different point of view and lets us empathize with them. Especially with characters who are very different from us. I love nothing more than hating a character but slowly seeing why they are the way they are and suddenly understanding and connecting with them.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
I don’t think I will ever feel that level of excitement again—though I do hope to! It felt amazing because it was a decade of work and trying to get published and I finally had a book deal. But! The only downside is, we always hear about how quickly things in publishing can fall apart—books get cancelled, publishers close, etc. So I only let myself feel that excitement for a little bit before I started worrying about what might happen in the future. I don’t think it was until I had the book in my hands I actually felt that again. I hope to feel it in the future with less worry!

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from LOSE YOU TO FIND ME
There is one scene that’s not even in the book anymore that I loved writing because it’s based on real life. I actually read the scene for the Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellowship, so you can find it on YouTube. But it’s a scene where Tommy is delivering food to a resident who never goes down to the dining rooms and there’s a very specific way the food has to be delivered to her apartment. When I was working at a retirement home in high school I remember being told how we were to deliver the food and thinking it was creepy.

Scenes that are actually still in the book that I enjoyed: there’s a scene when one of the queer elders, Al, and one of the floor managers, George, get into a shade off. Every time they see each other they throw shade, and I just loved writing these bickering old gay guys lovingly mocking each other. I also enjoyed coming up with pun ice cream flavors for Oscar’s Ice Cream Shop—a shop where all ice cream flavors are named after Oscar winning or nominated actresses. And there’s a cute Gift of the Magi scene. And also a really great scene involving lemons and standing up for yourself.

What is the first job you have had?
I worked at a dollar store! It was pretty bad and looking back on it, I know now they were taking advantage of me and violating a whole bunch of employment laws! But that’s corporate America for you! I left the dollar store to work as a server at a retirement community which is the basis for Lose You to Find Me!

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
The book I’m working on. I like to brainstorm and think about what I’m going to be writing the next day.

At a movie theater which arm rest is yours?
Both! I am alone. It’s Tuesday at 11:15am and no one else is here because I checked ahead of time and this movie has been out for a month. I am at peace.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
The song “Losing My Religion” by REM. It was playing on a radio the day my mom took me to sign up for swim lessons as a kid and I was terrified of swim lessons. Now every time I hear it I have flashbacks, even though I love pools and water now.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
I’m a realtor, so I’ve seen a LOT of weird stuff in people’s houses. I think the weirdest was a large wooden doll that was very clearly haunted. And a few years after seeing it, another YA author posted a picture on Twitter of that same doll, in that same house. We had both toured the same house at different times and were absolutely disturbed by that doll.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
My partner and I were in Lisbon on New Year’s Eve one year. We had been traveling around Portugal for a few days and the flight home was the next day so our plan was to go to dinner, then just back to the hotel. But at dinner we got talking with our server and she liked us so much she left the restaurant to walk us to another bar where her friend was hosting a party. She told the bouncer to let us in without making us pay the 150 Euro cover, and took us up to a rooftop bar overlooking Lisbon where we could watch synchronized fireworks being launched on both sides of the river while drinking free Mo√ęt. Be nice to your servers.

A romantic, heartfelt, and hilarious queer coming-of-age story from All That's Left in the World author Erik J. Brown, perfect for fans of What If It’s Us and If This Gets Out.

Tommy Dees is in the weeds—restaurant speak for beyond overwhelmed. He’s been working as a server at Sunset Estates retirement community to get the experience he needs to attend one of the best culinary schools in the world. And to make his application shine, he also needs a letter of recommendation from his sadistic manager. But in exchange for the letter, Tommy has to meet three conditions—including training the new hire.

What he doesn’t expect is for the newbie to be an old crush: Gabe, with the dimples and kind heart, who Tommy fell for during summer camp at age ten and then never saw again. Unfortunately, Gabe doesn’t remember Tommy at all. The training proves distracting as old feelings resurface, and the universe seems to be conspiring against them.

With the application deadline looming and Gabe on his mind, Tommy is determined to keep it all together—but what if life isn’t meant to follow a recipe?

You can purchase Lose You to Find Me at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ERIK J. BROWN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Lose You to Find Me by Erik J. Brown.