In the recently concluded Fully Booked Chats featuring David Levithan, we had the chance to speak with the award-winning author as he talked about his latest book, The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother).
Levithan takes young readers on a fantasy adventure through truth, family, and belief with The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S., as a missing boy returns home and tries to convince people about his whereabouts from when he was gone with a story that’s too far-fetched.
During the interview, Levithan not only walked us through his creative processes as a writer and the thrilling experience of writing a middle-grade novel for the first time, but the 48-year-old novelist also shared important sentiments concerning the LGBTQIA+ community and his view on queerness in literature.
As we celebrate Pride Month this June, here are some notable snippets from the interview with one of the most loved YA authors in today’s time with the hope to inspire readers and writers alike.
You mentioned one of the characters [Aunt Brandy] in The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) is transgender. Is there anything you considered when writing her character or writing LGBTQ+ characters? Is there anything you considered on how you tried to write them?
Being gay myself and obviously, most of my books are queer or have major LGBTQIA+ representation, so that’s something that’s really important to me. It’s very much a part of my world and I wanted it to be part of my book’s world.
So, a lot of times with Aunt Brandy, it makes sense. One thing I was very hesitant about is that I did not want Aidan and queerness to be part of the mystery. I didn’t want it to be, “Oh, Aidan’s gay so he disappeared.” I didn’t want that to be a plot point. I don’t want to give anything away, but Aidan, whether he is queer or straight, does not play a part in his disappearance. And I wanted that to be separate from whoever he is.
It’s interesting because my next middle grade, which hasn’t been announced yet, so I’ll be very vague about it… It is extremely gay! It is, perhaps, the gayest book that I’ve ever written. So, I think that is the book everyone would’ve expected me to write in middle grade.
But this book, again, it’s totally there. And it’s just a part of the life of this family, which I love because again, for most of us, that is what our queerness is. It is one thing about us and it is part of the life of our family.
I think that’s also something I appreciated about the story: that the queerness was just a fact — it was very a matter of fact, that wasn’t anything that needed a spotlight or any special treatment or whatever. I guess that’s what representation really is.
Yeah, it is. It’s making sure that you tell all sorts of different experiences within a queerness. Certainly, I don’t want at all to put down coming out stories because that’s a natural part of identity and not the only narrative that should be there.
So I do find that a lot of the stories I’m writing next take place afterwards or take place after the identity has already been formed. I do have, which has finally been announced, a book with Jennifer Niven, my next YA book is coming out.
“But this book, again, it’s totally there. And it’s just a part of the life of this family, which I love because again, for most of us, that is what our queerness is. It is one thing about us and it is part of the life of our family.”
I know you guys are familiar with Jennifer Niven and my character in that, again, he is gay and he has a boyfriend but that does not at all central to the plot. It’s just who he is. I love writing a character who has already been out and has a boyfriend and has been living openly queer in high school for a couple of years. Again, the story doesn’t hinge on that at all. It’s just very much a part of who he is.
This is a question from Joseph, one of the fans tuning in. In your own humble opinion, where do you see your new book in the narrative of the LGBT acceptance but not tolerance where kids are involved?
Wow, interesting question! I think that, again, I like that this particular book really is one way… Or the queerness and the identity of the characters is woven into the story. Hopefully, seamlessly in a way that it is just like life. I think that that is part of the continuum that literature is on.
Again, I think there are some great stories where queerness is at the heart of it and my next book is very much about that. But I think, it is great that there are so many books where it is not the main event as it were, it is just a part of life and I think queer readers… I know queer readers would want that too. I’d want books where I am represented and part of the story.
But the fact that I am queer is not the thing that is the conflict or the thing that’s driving it. I think that’s where you’re getting at your question, that being gay does not have to be a conflict or something that is a fuel to the plot. It can just be who the characters are.
What are your tips for young writers who want to explore the LGBTQIA+ genre?
That’s a great question and I hope you’re doing that in your writing because we need more and more people writing about the LGBTQIA experience.
I think it’s just, be honest on the page — that it is putting yourself out there as much as you’re comfortable doing that. Any aspect of somebody’s identity is only one part of them; that if you’re writing a queer character, obviously, queerness can be very important to them, but it should not be the only thing that the reader knows about them.
“I’d want books where I am represented and part of the story. But the fact that I am queer is not the thing that is the conflict or the thing that’s driving it... Being gay does not have to be a conflict or something that is a fuel to the plot. It can just be who the characters are.”
You should know a lot of other things to give them a full humanity. You should do that for all your characters, obviously. I think that’s it. If you are not queer yourself and you want to write queer characters, I think you certainly still can. But certainly, do your research. Talk to queer people in your life. If you don’t have any queer people in your life, go online and read first person stories— true stories —from queer writers or queer youth. So you have some idea of what they’re going through, instead of presuming that you know, without any first-hand experience. I think that’s really important.
Everybody can write any story that they want, but I think it is making sure that you are honest, if you can’t contribute your own honesty onto the page, again, making sure that you talk to enough people or read enough stories that you feel that you can portray that honesty in a right way.
Watch the full video of the Fully Booked Chats with David Levithan and discover more about the author and his latest book The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother).
The sequel to the New York Times bestseller Every Day, now a major motion picture starring Angourie Rice.
In Someday, David Levithan takes readers further into the lives of A, Rhiannon, Nathan, and the person they may think they know as Reverend Poole, exploring more deeply the questions at the core of Every Day and Another Day: What is a soul? And what makes us human?
Get Someday (Trade Paperback) by David Levithan and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.
When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it.
Get Boy Meets Boy (Paperback) by David Levithan and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the PhilippinesLearn More
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
School Library Journal Best of Children's Books 2012
Kirkus Reviews Best of Teen's Books 2012
Booklist Best of Children's Books 2012
“[A] wise, wildly unique” (Entertainment Weekly) love story from the bestselling co-author of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Will Grayson, Will Grayson about a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.
With his new novel, David Levithan, bestselling co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.
Get Every Day (Hardcover) by David Levithan and other fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
John Green and David Levithan
Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage.
Get Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Paperback) by John Green and David Levithan and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Just in time for Valentine's Day comes a confection from David Levithan that is sure to have fans of "Boy Meets Boy "eager to devour it. Here are 18 stories, all about love, all kinds of love.
From the aching for the one you pine for, to standing up and speaking up for the one you love, to pure joy and happiness, these love stories run the gamut of that emotion that at some point has turned every one of us inside out and upside down.
What is love? With this original story collection, David Levithan proves that love is a many splendored thing, a varied, complicated, addictive, wonderful thing.
Get How They Met and Other Stories (Paperback) by David Levithan and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
Named to the National Book Award Longlist
A Lambda Literary Award Winner
A Stonewall Honor Book
Based on true events—and narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS—Two Boys Kissing follows Harry and Craig, two seventeen-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record.
Get Two Boys Kissing (Paperback) by David Levithan and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
The New York Times bestselling author of Every Day, Someday, and Two Boys Kissing is back with a short story collection about love--perfect for Valentine's Day or year-round reading!
19 Love Songs, from New York Times bestselling author David Levithan, delivers all of these stories and more. Born from Levithan's tradition of writing a story for his friends each Valentine's Day, this collection brings all of them to his readers for the first time. With fiction, nonfiction, and a story in verse, there's something for every reader here.
Get 19 Love Songs (Paperback) by David Levithan and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
New York Times bestselling author David Levithan takes young readers on twisting journey through truth, reality, and fantasy and belief. Aidan disappeared for six days. Six agonizing days of searches and police and questions and constant vigils. Then, just as suddenly as he vanished, Aidan reappears. Where has he been? The story he tells is simply. . . impossible. But it's the story Aidan is sticking to.
Get The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S.: As Told to His Brother (Hardcover) by David Levithan and other intermediate books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Bestselling author David Levithan (Every Day; Boy Meets Boy; Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) treats the tragic events of September 11th with care and compassion in this novel of loss and grief, but also of hope and redemption.
Get Love Is the Higher Law (Paperback) by David Levithan and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
Sixteen-year-old Elijah is completely mellow and his 23-year-old brother Danny is completely not, so it's no wonder they can barely tolerate one another. So what better way to repair their broken relationship than to trick them into taking a trip to Italy together? Soon, though, their parents' perfect solution has become Danny and Elijah's nightmare as they're forced to spend countless hours together. But then Elijah meets Julia, and soon the brothers aren't together nearly as much.
Get Are We There Yet? (Paperback) by David Levithan and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
David Levithan, Jennifer Niven
Subject: You. Missing.
Ezra Ahern wakes up one day to find his older sister, Bea, gone. No note, no sign, nothing but an email address hidden somewhere only he would find it. Ezra never expected to be left behind with their abusive stepfather and their neglectful mother—how is he supposed to navigate life without Bea?
Bea Ahern already knew she needed to get as far away from home as possible But a message in her inbox changes everything, and she finds herself alone in a new city—without Ez, without a real plan—chasing someone who might not even want to be found.
As things unravel at home for Ezra, Bea will confront secrets about their past that will forever change the way they think about their family. Together and apart, broken by abuse but connected by love, this brother and sister must learn to trust themselves before they can find a way back to each other.
Get Take Me With You When You Go, Export Edition (Paperback) by David Levithan, Jennifer Niven and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
"I know this is going to sound strange, but would you mind being my girlfriend for the next five minutes?"
Nick frequents New York's indie rock scene nursing a broken heart. Norah is questioning all of her assumptions about the world. They have nothing in common except for their taste in music, until a chance encounter leads to an all-night quest to find a legendary band's secret show and ends up becoming a first date that could change both their lives.
Get Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (Paperback) by Rachel Cohn and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
A New York Times Bestseller
Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.
Get Another Day (Hardcover) by David Levithan and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
It’s Tiny Cooper’s turn in the spotlight in this companion novel to New York Times bestseller Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
Jazz hands at the ready! Tiny Cooper (“the world’s largest person who is also really, really gay”) stole readers’ hearts when he was introduced to the world in the New York Times bestselling book Will Grayson, Will Grayson, co-authored by John Green and David Levithan.
Get Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story (Paperback) by David Levithan and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
A Zoella Book Club Pick!
New York Times bestselling authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan are back together with a life-affirming holiday romance starring Dash and Lily. Just in time for the series release of Dash & Lily on Netflix!
Dash and Lily have had a tough year since readers watched the couple fall in love in Dash & Lily's Book of Dares. Lily's beloved grandfather suffered a heart attack, and his difficult road to recovery has taken a major toll on her typically sunny disposition. Lily's spark has dimmed so much that Langston, her brother, has put aside his grudge against Dash to team up and remind Lily what there is to love about life.
Get The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily: Dash & Lily, Book 2 (Paperback) by Rachel Cohn and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.
Nina Lacour, David Levithan
A special edition of the critically acclaimed LGBTQ+ romance, now with bonus material from bestselling authors Nina LaCour and David Levithan.
You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.
Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour, author of Watch Over Me, We Are Okay, Hold Still, and The Disenchantments, and David Levithan, author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green).
Get You Know Me Well (Paperback) by Nina Lacour, David Levithan and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More