Today we'd like to welcome Lee Bantle, author of the acclaimed DAVID INSIDE OUT.
From the publisher: David Dahlgren, a high-school senior, finds solace in running with the track team; he’s a fast runner, and he enjoys the camaraderie. But team events become a source of tension when he develops a crush on one of his teammates, Sean. Scared to admit his feelings, David does everything he can to suppress them: he dates a girl, keeps his distance from his best friend who has become openly gay, and snaps a rubber band on his wrist every time he has “inappropriate” urges. Before long, Sean expresses the thoughts David has been trying to hide, and everything changes for the better. Or so it seems.
In this thoughtful yet searing coming-of-age novel, Lee Bantle offers a raw, honest, and incredibly compelling account of a teenager who learns to accept himself for who he is.
We are thrilled that Lee agreed to answer some questions for us today!
1. How much (if any) of DAVID INSIDE OUT is based on your personal experiences?
Lots of it. Not so much the actual events as the feelings. Like David, I wanted to change myself to be straight. I went so far as undergoing a year of therapy. Like David, I found out it doesn't work. After that, I felt free to follow my heart.
2. Our first thought after finishing this book was that it was a great way to reach out to teens coming out of the closet. Have you heard from any of your younger readers?
I get lots of email and Facebook messages. Many LGBT teens identify with David. They don't want to be gay. But they know they are. David's struggle is their struggle. The book shows their feelings.
Some of the letters are heartbreaking. The writers fear harassment. Or their parents' rejection. They're afraid to take the book out of the library so they have a friend do it or read it secretly at Barnes & Noble. What I want to say to them is no one should be embarrassed about being gay. Or about what they read.
3. What was your road to publication like? Was it harder finding an agent and publisher because of the book's content and themes?
Not at all. My agent, Mitchell Waters is gay and he was behind the book. My publisher, Henry Holt, wanted an LGBT title for their YA line. I think publishers generally ( or at least in NYC) are more concerned about good writing than about a controversial theme.
4. I was so excited to find that our local library system has almost 20 copies of your book in their system because this seems like it would be a great book for kids struggling with identity issues. What has the reaction been from booksellers, librarians and teachers?
My favorite reaction from a librarian was when I told her the book had sex in it. "I hope so!" she replied. That made me laugh and feel comforted. Librarians have written me that they are so glad the book is out there for the kids who need to read it. I haven't had much interaction with teachers. I suspect the book is not going to be in the mainstream classroom on account of the sex. But hopefully, that's why all your readers will pick up a copy. lol.
5. (Ok, this is the big one...) Twizzlers or M&Ms?
Now, you're talking. Definitely Twizzlers. But if I could have what I really wanted, it would be Whoppers.
Thank you so much for taking the time to join us today, Lee! Even better for you guys, Lee has agreed to give away a copy of DAVID INSIDE OUT to one lucky commenter. All you need to do is leave a comment or question for Lee here and we'll announce the winner tomorrow morning!
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