Author Interview: Phil Stamper

I’m proud to present my first ever author interview! I interviewed Phil Stamper, whose debut YA novel The Gravity of Us is set to come out in February 2020. I know, it’s still a pretty long wait, but this book sounds like it will be so worth it!! I’ve already been looking forward to it for months – the synopsis sounds wonderful and this book just has the most beautiful illustrated cover. You can find the preorder link here!

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.

1. Congratulations on your first novel! What’s your experience as a debut author been like so far?
Thank you so much! I’ve been writing with the goal of publication since 2012, and I got my book deal in 2017. So, up until 2019 began, I’d have said my experience as a debut author was mostly… a lot of waiting. It’s a slow process, and I’ve grown so much as a writer over this time, but because things happen at such a haphazard pace, I worried I’d never really find the time to really take it all in and celebrate.

But then I got to see my cover. And that was one of the most exciting moments of my career. That was followed by seeing the designed interior of my book. Then I got to hold an ARC of my book, at Book Expo, where I then signed 100 copies for a seemingly never-ending line of enthusiastic readers. Amid the chaos of Book Expo, everything started to sink in, and it became clear that after years of rejection and years of waiting: it was so worth it.

2. What does it mean to you personally to have written a novel encompassing part of your own identity?

I always loved reading as a kid. I loved books from the historical fiction diary series Dear America to the creepy sci-fi Animorphs series. Harry Potter was an obsession, naturally. And then I started getting into cozy mystery books by Agatha Christie. You name it, I … probably wanted to read it.

But one thing that always stood out to me was that I never got to *see* myself in these books. Sure, I could relate to Hermione getting picked on for being a bit of a know-it-all—yep, I was that person—but I never saw a gay kid on the cover of any books. I never read a book where the one queer character didn’t tragically die, or wasn’t revealed to be a murderer and then died… tragically. *eye roll emoji*

My experience wasn’t on the page, and for a while, I’d accepted that it just never would be. But now, there are so many fantastic queer books on the shelves, and it means so much to be able to write the books I’d have needed most as a teen.

3. Do you have any strange or funny writing habits? If so, what are they?

Hmm, I don’t think I really have any funny writing habits. Writing is… unfortunately pretty not glamorous and oddly straightforward. Though, I will say that no matter what you hear on Twitter or on writing advice blogs, there’s no one right way to write a book. I wish I could be someone who worked methodically, hitting 1,000 words a day, steadily reaching goals.

But that’s not me. I can draft 8,000 words in one day, but not be able to touch the manuscript for two weeks after. I’ll write 250 words and call it a good day, I’ll write 5,000 words and wish I’d have made it farther. I’ll have six projects open at the same time. Is it the smartest, most sustainable way to draft? Absolutely not! But hey, it works for me. Usually.

In the end, giving myself over to my process was key. So if anyone out there is struggling to fit someone else’s mold, just do what works for you. I promise, it’ll cause you so much less anxiety and you’ll actually be able to be productive on your own terms.

Phil Stamper grew up in a rural village near Dayton, Ohio. He has a B.A. in Music and an M.A. in Publishing with Creative Writing. And, unsurprisingly, a lot of student debt. He works for a major book publisher in New York City and lives in Brooklyn with his husband and their dog. His debut YA novel THE GRAVITY OF US will be out winter 2020 from Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

THE GRAVITY OF US is his first novel, but he’s no stranger to writing. His self-insert Legend of Zelda fanfiction came with a disclaimer from the 14-year old author: “Please if you write a review don’t criticize my work.” He has since become more open to critique… sort of.

I hope you liked this interview! If you did, let me know – I’m definitely hoping to host more author interviews in the future 🙂


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