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Debut Author Interview: Anthony Nerada and Skater Boy Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Anthony Nerada here to share about his contemporary YA romance Skater Boy. It sounds like a real page-turner that tugs at your heart. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Here’s a blurb:

In this YA pop-punk debut about queer romance and destroying labels, a teen risks everything to write his own story. Perfect for fans of Sonora Reyes and Adib Khorram.

Stonebridge High’s resident bad boy, Wesley “Big Mac” Mackenzie, is failing senior year—thanks to his unchecked anger, rowdy friends, and a tendency to ditch his homework for skateboarding and a secret photography obsession. So when his mom drags him to a production of The Nutcracker, Wes isn’t interested at all . . . until he sees Tristan Monroe. Mr. Nutcracker himself.

Wes knows he shouldn’t like Tristan; after all, he’s a ballet dancer, and Wes is as closeted as they come. But when they start spending time together, Wes can’t seem to get Tristan out of his head. Driven by a new sense of purpose, Wes begins to think that—despite every authority figure telling him otherwise—maybe he can change for the better and graduate on time.

As a falling out with his friends becomes inevitable, Wes realizes that being himself means taking a stand—and blowing up the bad-boy reputation he never wanted in the first place.

From a debut author to watch, Skater Boy delivers a heart-wrenching, validating, and honest story about what it means to be gay in a world where you don’t fit in.

Hi Anthony! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

Sure! I was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands of the Coast Salish Peoples. I’ve spent my whole life writing—whether that was doodling picture books as a kid or writing screenplays in my high school Film & Television course—but I really started taking writing seriously after I finished my first full-length novel way back in 2010 and pitched the idea to a literary agent at a local writing conference. After that, it took me nearly ten years to land an agent, and another two years to get a book deal, but I like to think I was always preparing to become a writer (it just took me a little longer to get there).

2. I'm definitely taking longer to get there too. Where did you get the idea for writing Skater Boy?

After a year of working at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, I was driving home to Canada with my partner when Sk8er Boi by Avril Lavigne came on the radio. Instantly, I was brought me back to a time when I used to secretly change the pronouns to all my favorite songs so that I could picture myself (and my own lived experience as a gay male) within the lyrics I so loved as a kid. For the rest of the drive home, I couldn’t get the idea of an angry gay skater boy falling in love with an out-and-proud ballet dancer out of my head and the rest is history.

Your Writing Process

3. How long did it take to write the first draft and then revise Skater Boy before you began querying? What part of the process did you enjoy more? Why?

Upon arriving home to Canada, I sat down at my desk and was able to pump out the first draft of Skater Boy in two months. I really did treat it like a full-time job. After that, I shared my manuscript with a handful of trusted beta readers and spent the next few months editing and revising the story before participating in #DVPit; an annual pitching event (then hosted on Twitter), that gives unagented, marginalized voices the chance to pitch agents online.

As weird as it sounds, while I do enjoy the initial writing of the story, I absolutely love the editing process because it’s like a huge puzzle you have to solve and gives you the opportunity to really hone in your voice and writing style. When you edit, it’s almost like you can watch your story getting tighter and stronger in real-time.

4. I can’t believe you wrote Skater Boy in two months. I love the editing more too. From reading reviews, it sounds like Skater Boy is a page turner. How did you keep increasing the tension? What tips do you have for writers writing a contemporary story for writing a fast-paced story?

No matter what I’m writing, I always tend to visualize my projects as movies in my head. That way, by putting my story on the proverbial silver screen, if I ever get “bored”, I know there’s still work to be done to fix it.

To increase tension in Skater Boy, I just kept asking myself; how would Wes feel in this moment? What would he do that may differ to how I would react right now? Most of the time, it meant putting Wes in situations where he was forced to grow or learn something about himself.

I am in no way an expert, but my tip for writers wanting to write a fast-paced contemporary story would be to visualize your story as if you were in the audience at a movie theater and—if you feel yourself becoming bogged down by the details or feel like a scene is dragging on when it doesn’t need to—to kill your darlings!

5. That’s a great tip for all genres to think of your story as a movie. Wes’ journey is not only about accepting that he’s falling for Tristan. It’s also about the changes and stands he takes in other aspects of his life. Share a bit about how he developed as a character and what you learned about character development in general from writing this story.

What makes Wes’ journey really beautiful to me is that he starts off as this angry, kind of lost, hot-head, but by the end of the book, he’s more receptive to those around him and maybe even a bit gentler—without ever really losing that initial anger. I always like to say that we, as humans, contain multitudes so our characters should reflect that on the page as well. Perhaps what I learned most about character development when writing this story is that it’s okay to have your characters not know all the answers and it’s okay for them to make mistakes because that’s just part of the human experience and ignoring that would be a real detriment to readers looking to find themselves within a story.

Your Road to Publication

6. Maria Vincente is your agent. How did she become your agent and what was your road to getting a publishing contract like?

My road to publication was slow and long! I went out on submission with Skater Boy in 2020 at the onset of the COVID pandemic—when the publishing industry came to a roaring halt. After two years on submission, I wasn’t even sure if it would ever sell (and questioned my own writing ability every day) before Soho Teen came in with an offer. I’d like to think of it as a blessing in disguise though because, if it hadn’t taken as long as it did, I never would have worked with my incredible editor (and I wouldn’t have traded that for the world)!

I actually signed with Maria earlier this year after leaving my former agent (because that does happen and it’s perfectly okay/all part of the process when it does) and am so excited to see what we accomplish together!

7. Share what you learned about the craft of writing and how to make your story stronger from working with your editor.

In the short amount of time that we spent together, my editor at Soho Teen (Alexa Wejko) taught me so much about the craft of writing. Because I had spent so much time in Wes’ head before selling Skater Boy, I mistakenly assumed readers would understand him the way I intrinsically understood him to be. What Alexa did beautifully is that she taught me to pause and really look at my book from an outsider’s perspective to identify where the gaps in Wes’ perspective might be. In doing so, I was able to deep dive into his psyche and further explore his thoughts and feelings on the page, which I hope resonates with readers when they pick up Skater Boy.

On Marketing Your Book

8. What are you doing to promote your book for its release and in the upcoming months? How are you marketing in the U.S. when you live in Canada?

In this day and age, anyone can tell you how hard it is for an author to get noticed on social media, but that doesn’t mean we’re not out there doing everything we can to promote our work! In the coming months, you’ll find me embarrassing myself on Tik Tok, highlighting some of the amazing blurbs I’ve been fortunate enough to receive from some of my favorite YA authors on Instagram, launching my pre-order campaign for some exclusive Skater Boy swag, and heading out on a 5-city Pacific Northwest book tour.

Being perpetually online does have its perks and I’ve been able to make some really great connections with readers and book influencers across North America (and beyond). A lot of what I do to promote Skater Boy is just talking with people, making videos I hope will resonate with the larger YA audience, and trying my best to put my name out there in the lead up to my launch date.

9. It sounds like you have a great marketing plan. You have a publicist at Soho Teen and Penguin Random House in Canada. What has it been like working with your publicists? What advice do you have for other debut authors about working with a publicist?

It’s been great! Both my publicists at Soho Teen and Penguin Random House Canada have been so wonderful throughout everything. During a publicity meeting earlier this year, they laid out what to expect in the coming months and opened the floor for me to ask questions and provide feedback on any preliminary ideas they had planned. It’s been a super collaborative partnership and I cannot wait to see what they will do leading up to Skater Boy’s release.

My advice to other debut authors working with a publicist would be to come prepared with any questions you may have and a rough idea of what you’d like to see happen leading up to your publication date. Of course, there are no guarantees when it comes to publicity and every author’s journey looks different, but in my opinion, it never hurts to shoot for the stars and see where you land. That being said, if you have any local media connections or know of any review publications that might be a good fit for your book, bring your ideas to the table because you never know what could happen.

10. What are you working on now?

Without giving away any spoilers, I’m currently in the middle of writing/editing a Young Adult romance/contemporary that pays tribute to one of my favorite musicals of all time. Growing up, I always wanted to be part of the musical theater world, but never really had the opportunity, so this is very much my way of exploring what could have been. The story itself is campy and full of emotion with a cast of characters I absolutely love, and I cannot wait to hopefully share it with the world one day (fingers crossed).

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Anthony. You can find Anthony at @AnthonyNerada (on Instagram, TikTok, X, Threads, and Bluesky) or www.anthonynerada.com.

Giveaway Details

Anthony’s publisher is generously offering an ARC of Skater Boy for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by February 3rd. If your email is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter or Anthony on his social media sites, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This ARC giveaway is U.S.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Monday, January 29th I have a guest post by author Shutta Crum

Wednesday, January 31st I have an agent spotlight interview with Laura Gruska and a query critique giveaway

Thursday, February 1st I’m participating in the Heart 2 Heart Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, February 7th I have an interview with debut author Marc Gregson and a giveaway of his YA dystopian Sky’s End

Monday, February 12th I have a guest post by author Sherry Ellis as part of her blog tour and a blog-tour giveaway

Wednesday, February 14th I have an agent spotlight interview with Stuti Telidevara and a query critique giveaway

Friday, February 16th I’m participating in the Wish Big Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 26th I have an interview with debut author Megan Brennan and a giveaway of her MG graphic novel Kira and the (Maybe) Space Princess

I hope to see you on Monday!

 

 

 

18 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I've heard movie visualization can really help when putting a book together. Congratulations on Skater Boy!

Amanda said...

Looking forward to reading Skater Boy! Currently #amquerying and seeing a lot of agents want high stakes and fast pace and I've been wondering how to make that happen with my sort of navel-gazing MS -- thankful for the tip!

Amanda said...

oh, and I reposted on Twitter!

Kasey @ The Story Sanctuary said...

Oh my gosh! Skating AND pop punk AND ballet--- HOW did I miss this one?? Haha. I'm adding this to my reading list right now. I love the description and Anthony Nerada's notes on the writing process and the story's journey only made me more interested in the book. Thank you for sharing this. :)

Tonja Drecker said...

This sounds like such an interesting mix! I'm going to keep my eyes open for it. And the insights on marketing/promotion were great to read. It is such an uncertain battle, but it sounds like you're doing great.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Best of luck to Anthony!

NCardenas said...

Looking forward to reading your book! Thank you for the nuggets of knowledge.

Liz A. said...

I prefer editing, too. When I heard the title Skater Boy I immediately thought of the song.

Danielle H. said...

Thank you for the interview--I still sub out pronouns in songs so they apply to me. I think this book will help so many readers feel seen and I can't wait to read it. I shared this post on tumblr, follow Natalie on Twitter, and follow the author on Instagram.

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Sandra Cox said...

Fascinating interview. Wishing Anthony much success.

Nick Wilford said...

Great interview! This sounds like a lot of fun, and it's something different for sure.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Congrats on the release!

Kate Larkindale said...

Sounds like a great read! Best of luck with the release.

Fundy Blue said...

"Skater Boy" sounds awesome, Anthony and Natalie! I have nephews on both sides of my family who are gay, and friends I've known for many years as well. I know something of their struggles. It's hard enough to grow up and find love without the complications of being different. I would love to read this book! Good luck with it!

C. Sheer said...

Anthony, I love your 'shoot for the stars and see where you land' attitude! Would love to win Skater Boy, Natalie. I subscribe via email.charlotte.sheer@gmail.com

Jeryl M. said...

I would love an Amazon gift card. jeryl dot marcus at gmail dot com

Michele P. said...

great interview! Look forward to checking out the book! micaela6955 at msn dot com is my best email!