If you're interested in thrillers with secrets and betrayals that have Riverdale vibes, then check out "Retro" by Jarrod Shusterman and Sofía Lapuente.
What was your inspiration behind "Retro"?
Jarrod: We are so excited about this interview with you, so thank you! Our inspiration was the technological world at large. Considering all the cookies and apps, do we really have control over our own thoughts and opinions? Around year 2000 marked the biggest change in human technology since the advent of fire. Smart technology! So we wanted to write a story that talked about how it relates to us. And in our story we ask the question, could you take the Retro Challenge and go one year without your smart devices? In the book if you can, you get the scholarship of your dreams. But when contestants start going missing, it’s up to our protagonist and her friends to figure out who is sabotaging the Challenge or maybe they’re next! We wanted to convey the message that behind every screen is a person with feelings and a beating heart, something we often forget. We also wanted to include music in our book, which is why every chapter title is a Retro song, and the index is a playlist so you can listen as you read along!
What does "Reading with Pride" mean to you?
Sofía: For me Reading with Pride means raising you’re reading with an open mind. It’s reading without judgment, no matter what color, class, creed, sex, or gender your characters may be representing. And it’s closely related to the sensation I feel when I write with pride. It’s about having the courage to be unabashedly yourself, whatever that may mean. It’s about not putting characters in boxes, or typecasts. They always say that writing is the art of "exclusion," where there are a thousand ideas you could have and you have to choose the right few. And all though that may be true technically, I like to see it as the art of "inclusion" where everyone should read and feel represented in some way in our work! Writing is raising your unique voice — and that’s why there’s much Hispanic representation and LGBT representation.
Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books?
Sofía: For us it is cardinal. Instead, because the very diverse world that I live in is LGBT and Hispanic rooted I felt an obligation to bring my culture to YA literature, because it is just so underrepresented. I love to break stereotypes, and I hate it when people try to categorize me or put me in a box. And as an adult it’s nice to be seen and heard and feel like you’re there in the pages or included in the conversation. But where it really matters is for young people. To believe that they can be that superhero. Because as authors, it’s our job to make you empathize and connect with characters, and we have many tricks to get you to do it. That way the character becomes a conduit for your experience, and you really feel like that is you. When we cut adults off from that it’s sad because it’s a failed opportunity to connect and communicate (which is our main job) but when you go out of your way to deprive young people of the chance to connect and feel represented, it’s just cruel. This is why in Retro we feature characters across the entire spectrum of life!
Tell us a little more about Retro and why you decided to write it.
Jarrod: For us it all started because the world has been in a weird place lately, and we decided that we needed to write a fun guilty-pleasure thriller with Riverdale vibes that would make everyone laugh, cry, and be addicted to the pages!
What can fans expect from "Retro"?
Jarrod: You can expect a really light-toned, FUN thriller with twists and turns, lies, secrets, and betrayals. But you can also expect to fall in love with a ton of characters. You’ll meet our main character that was inspired by Sofi’s personality, Luna! She’s a funny, smart, strong Hispanic protagonist who grows into the hero of our story. Then you’ll meet Mimi: the quirky queer, pink-haired, lizard-loving, brutally honest (to a fault) best friend — and Darnell is loud and proud and has been Retro way before the challenge even began. Then there’s Samantha, the pigtailed princess who was bullied really badly and then turned consummate strong survivor. And the list goes on! Our goal was to introduce you to your new best friend group, and we can’t wait for you to meet them!
What's up next for you in the bookish world?
Sofía: We are in the process of finishing up our first adult novel, which we’re going to start shopping for publishers this year, so we’re really excited about that! It’s a dramedy inspired by my crazy life, and my friends’ lives, as Immigrants in the USA. Because there are difficult things, but also a lot of warm-hearted moments with friends full of love and laughter. Life is multifaced, with tons of highs and lows — and for us we want our books to always be entertaining — with just the right amount of chili peppers. We’re even developing the second YA novel as well, which we are really amped to write. But it’s a secret project at this point, about a dangerous, crazy game on the dark web, based on real life. It’s a thriller that starts off fun, but then gets freaky! We’re always giving updates and doing giveaways and contests to put our readers' names in our books (five fans are in RETRO) So feel free to follow us on IG and TikTok: @sofiandjarrod for fun behind-the-scenes author content. We promise to entertain you! Thank you so much and we can’t wait for you all to read RETRO!
You can buy the book here.