All Kinds of Other
by James Sie
Published by Quill Tree Books
Releasing on May 4, 2021
YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Contemporary, LGBT, Romance
In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts to protect themselves, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears.
Two boys are starting at a new school.
Jules is just figuring out what it means to be gay and hasn’t totally decided whether he wants to be out at his new school. His parents and friends have all kinds of opinions, but for his part, Jules just wants to make the basketball team and keep his head down.
Jack is trying to start over after a best friend break-up. He followed his actor father clear across the country to LA, but he’s also totally ready to leave his past behind. Maybe this new school where no one knows him is exactly what he needs.
When the two boys meet, the sparks are undeniable. But then a video surfaces linking Jack to a pair of popular transgender vloggers, and the revelations about Jack’s past thrust both Jack and Jules into the spotlight they’ve been trying to avoid. Suddenly both boys have a choice to make—between lying low where it’s easier or following their hearts.
JAMES SIE is the author of STILL LIFE LAS VEGAS (St. Martin’s Press, 2015), a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best Gay Fiction, and the YA novel ALL KINDS OF OTHER (Quill Tree Books, 2021) He is an award-winning playwright of literary adaptations, receiving a Joseph Jefferson Citation for his adaptation of ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS, and an After Dark Award for the original work THE ROAD TO GRACELAND. He has contributed essays for The Rumpus, Pen USA, FSG’s Book Keeping and The Advocate. In addition to writing, Sie can currently be heard as a voiceover artist in animation and audiobook narration.
In one to two sentences, tell readers what ALL KINDS OF OTHER is about?
All Kinds of Other is a coming-of-age love story between two high school boys, one cisgender and one transgender, who are both leaving behind their old lives to start at a new school in Los Angeles. There is an instant attraction between the two, but when a video surfaces that links one of them to a pair of popular trans vloggers, their relationship is tested by the unwelcome interference of friends and family, as well as their own fears and insecurities.
What was the inspiration behind ALL KINDS OF OTHER?
An old friend from my theater days in Chicago asked if he and his son could stay with my family for a few days while he found a place to live in Los Angeles. He was going to try his luck as an actor for six months, and his son, who the year before had come out as trans, was going to use the opportunity to experience what it would be like to go to a high school where no one knew him as anything but a boy. As I got to know this boy and what his transition had been like, it made me wonder what would happen if, during his stay, he made some strong relationships. Would that change his plans? And… what if he fell in love?
Do you have any writing quirks or superstitions when it comes to writing?
I am a really, really slow writer, but I’ve come to understand that even though my daily word count may be low, doesn’t mean that I’m not working on my book. It’s just simmering in my brain. I have found that long walks with my dog is super helpful, because it’s during those walks that, without even trying to, I can work out a story problem, or a sentence to launch me into the next section. Those walks bring out all the subconscious work my mind has been wrestling with behind the scenes. I dictate the inspirations on Notes on my iPhone, and that launches me when I sit down to do the actual writing.
Oh, and popcorn. Popcorn is essential.
When it comes to authors, who inspires you?
For story structure and how to create instantly indelible characters, I read Charles Dickens and John LeCarre. For beauty of language and sentence structure, I return to Margaret Atwood and Edith Wharton time and time again. For audacity, I’ve really been loving Akwaeke Emezi. And for YA inspiration, you can’t do better than Becky Albertalli and Rainbow Rowell.
Favorite childhood book?
Aaaagh! Too many to choose from! I’d say the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Dune series really made an impression on me that lasts to this day. Oh! And Bread and Jam for Francis, because of all the descriptions of food!
Favorite all-time book you will read again and again?
The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton. She is peerless in her crystalline writing and her sharp eye for society’s foibles. And I will always come back to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, because there is always something new to discover in the story and illustrations.
What is the take-away message you want readers to know about ALL KINDS OF OTHER?
There are two groups of readers that I was thinking about when I wrote the book. The first are trans teen readers. I want them to know that they are seen, they are affirmed, and that, despite the many obstacles thrown in their path, they will emerge stronger in spirit and with a surer sense of self than many of their cisgender counterparts. And that who they are is enough to be accorded respect, and consideration, and love. The other group of readers are those who might not be as familiar with the trans experience, and to them I try to say with this book— Be open. Be kind. And learn! Part of being an ally is doing the work to understand. There are all kinds of “other” in this world, and we are all richer because of it.
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