James Ramos wanted to write a book about dealing with the pressures of conforming to societal norms, so he wrote "The Wrong Kind of Weird."
What was the inspiration behind your most recent book?
The inspiration for "The Wrong Kind of Weird" came from my own experiences growing up and trying to be someone and something I wasn’t for the sake of being accepted by my peers. I was convinced that in order to be liked and popular I had to change who I was and be like everyone else. It wasn’t until a long time later that I finally realized that even if I succeeded, it wasn’t worth it and that it was much better to be true to myself.
What does “Reading with Pride” mean to you?
Reading with Pride means celebrating queerness in all its variety and nuance in what we read.
Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books?
I believe it’s important because it reflects the reality of the world we live in. I think a lot of the hate and prejudice we see comes from this sense of otherness, and people thinking that other people are so fundamentally different from them that it allows them to comfortably hate them. If we chip away from that otherness by having stories featuring all types of people, we chip away at the prejudices and biases, which in turn I think goes a long way towards truly embracing our fellow humans.
Tell us a little more about the book and why you decided to write it.
The book is ultimately about the choice many of us have to make, about whether we be true to who we are or compromise for the approval of other people. When I was young I thought peer pressure was something you didn’t have to deal with once you grew up, but it doesn’t go away really. There’s always some form of societal pressure to conform, especially for us queer folks, so I wanted to write about dealing with that pressure and the idea that it can be more worthwhile to be true to who you are.
What can fans expect from your book?
"The Wrong Kind of Weird" is definitely for geeks. I did try to make it accessible for people who aren’t into some of the nerdier things that the characters are into, but it was really important for me that I didn’t shy away from the nuance, because I think that even though so much of pop culture now comes from things that used to be considered fringe or ‘for nerds,’ there’s still this stereotype about what a geek or a nerd looks and sounds and acts like, so I wanted to show that there’s no monolith, and especially so for kids of color. Hopefully people will be able to see themselves in these characters and be able to laugh with them and connect with them.
What’s up next for you in the bookish world?
At the moment I’m in the revision process for my next book, which will be another YA coming-of-age novel that I’m super excited about!