If you're interested in cute love stories between two boys, then "Ready When You Are" by Gary Lonesborough is the book for you.
What was your inspiration behind "Ready When You Are?"
I read a book called "Simon vs The Homo Sapien's Agenda" by Becky Albertalli. It made me realize I would love to read a book like that which featured an Australian Aboriginal character, and that it would have really helped me with my own journey when I was a teen. I had this short film script I wrote years before and had shelved, but reading that book made me revisit that story, which would eventually become "Ready When You Are." The main inspiration for writing the story, though, was that I realized I hadn't read a book about a gay Aboriginal teen boy and that I couldn't find it when I jumped onto Google.
What does "Reading with Pride" mean to you?
To me, reading with pride means being able to read stories about people who are like you, who are going through what you've gone through and that show you reflections of yourself. It's so important for teens and especially queer teens, to be able to see themselves represented in media. For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with me, or that there was no one who knew how I felt. The advancement in representation across young adult fiction these days is great to see, but much more is needed.
Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books and characters?
I guess, building from my last answer, that representation shows you that you're not alone, that there is nothing wrong with you, and that you are not the only person to have felt what you've felt, or are still feeling. I think lack of representation also leads to a lack of desire or love for reading. I know I definitely didn't like reading so much when I was a teen. It would have made such a difference to my teen experience if I could have walked into the school library and picked up a book about a gay Aboriginal teen who was going through what I was going through.
Which character did you relate to the most and why?
Jackson, definitely. Through Jackson, I was really trying to articulate how I was feeling when I was his age. I put so much of my own emotions, frustrations, and fears into Jackson's character and inner monologue, that I had to be very aware of that in the editing. It was a challenge to make sure I was articulating how I felt when I was Jackson's age while not making his character too much like me. I really know what Jackson is going through, and I can really relate, because I've gone through the same things.
What can fans expect from your book?
They can expect (hopefully) a really cute love story between two boys, a great cast of unique supporting characters and storylines, as well as a little glimpse into Aboriginal culture and what it’s like growing up Aboriginal in Australia today. They can expect the story to be funny at times, but also raw and gritty. They can expect to read a unique story.
What’s up next for you in the bookish world?
I am currently working on another YA contemporary book, as well as a middle-grade fantasy, both centered around Australian Aboriginal protagonists.