Kheryn, what was your inspiration for writing THIS IS KIND OF AN EPIC LOVE STORY?
My inspiration was a series of books I read over the years. BOY MEETS BOY by David Levithan was the first time I read a book with a queer main character where homophobia wasn’t the main or only conflict in the book. ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVERS THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE is an incredible, beautiful novel where, for the first time, I saw queer people of color fall in love with each other, and had their own happy ending. Finally, SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA was the first queer rom-com I’d read, that also had a love interest who looked like me.
I wanted to write a book that encompassed all of the above: a novel with queer characters of color where homophobia and racism weren’t conflicts; where queer people of color could fall in love and have a happy ending; and a novel that was also fun—romantic and cute and funny and would just give me all the feels.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
It’s ironic, but when I first started writing THIS IS KIND OF AN EPIC LOVE STORY, I was actually similar to my main character, Nathan Bird: I didn’t believe in happy endings. I think it’s hard to believe something like that when I haven’t seen many examples of QPOC falling in love and having their own happily ever after’s. Writing EPIC LOVE STORY was cathartic as I explored my own fears and insecurities of letting go and allowing myself to fall in love, and by the time I finished writing, I’d realized that epic love stories are not only possible for other queer people of color, but they’re possible for myself as well.
What are you working on now?
I’m BEYOND excited to be writing another rom-com YA featuring a trans character named Felix. I can’t say much about the novel itself yet, but while writing EPIC LOVE STORY, I’d begun my own journey of discovering my trans identity and beginning my transition, and I’m really excited to introduce Felix, and a piece of my own identity, to the world.
ABOUT THE BOOKThis Is Kind of an Epic Love Story
by Kheryn Callender
Balzer + Bray
Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings. Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.
Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.
After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kheryn loves playing RPG video games and watching soul-sucking reality TV shows in their free time. They really wish they had a dog.
Have you had a chance to read THIS IS KIND OF AN EPIC LOVE STORY yet? Do you explore your own fears and insecurities when you write? Do you share a piece of your identity through your characters? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
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