Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Bookanistas: An Interview with Author Lee Bantle

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!

And be sure to check out what our fellow Bookanistas are up to today:

Elana Johnson is spreading some cover love with BAD TASTE IN BOYS
Christine Fonseca is dishing about TELL ME A SECRET
Scott Tracey is gushing over PARANORMALCY
Beth Revis is spreading some cover love with XVI
Carolina Valdez Miller is raving about FIRELIGHT
Myra McEntire is loving SIREN
Shannon Messenger is digging THE DUFF
Michelle Hodkin is embracing the awesome of THE REPLACEMENT
Shelli Johannes Wells is adding to the buzz about MATCHED
The Plot This Belles are adoring THE HEALING SPELL


Lenny Lee said...

hi miss laura and miss lisa! this was a cool interview. mr lee is real lay back. i use to buy mostly hot wheels with my allowance but now cause of neat interviews like this im saving up and buying books or going to the library lots more. being just who you are and being ok with it is soooo important not just for gayness but for everything.
...smiles from lenny

Matthew MacNish said...

Powerful. Great work LiLa and thanks so much for answering their questions Lee!

BTW, does everyone love Lenny as much as I do? I've only being seeing his comments on blogs I read for a week or two, but so far they have brightened my day every single time.

Candyland said...

Great little interview. I could go for some Whoppers right about now.

Jamie Manning said...

Gonna have to run out and pick this one up...sounds great, thanks for the interview!

Jennifer said...

Okay, this one's on my TBR list--and on the list of books that sound like good reads for a few of my friends. Can't wait to grab a copy!

Meredith said...

I can already tell I'll love this book. And what an awesome interview! So heartbreaking that kids don't feel comfortable checking it out of the library.

Jemi Fraser said...

I haven't had Whoppers in years - I love them!!

This sounds like a really good book - there aren't enough books dealing with these issues.

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent review. I just looked this book up and will be getting it.

Laura S. said...

Great interview, ladies! I think it's terrific Lee wrote this novel. I'm sure it'll be a comfort for teenagers struggling with their identity fears.

Marsha Sigman said...

Hard not to love a man that loves Whoppers.

I am so glad a book with this kind of message is out there for teens trying to come to terms with their feelings. It's hard enough growing up without the added pressure of feeling like something is seriously wrong with you. Gotta learn to love and accept yourself before you can others.

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Oh, this one is definitely one I want to read! It sounds like a really touching book. I love to see books that really reach out, even if they aren't meant to do so. I know there must be a large number of teens who will find solace in this kind of book. Great interview, ladies!

Christine Fonseca said...

Love the interview! And realy looking forward to reading the book.

Shannon Messenger said...

Awesome interview. Loved his answers. But is it sad that I look forward to the Twizzler question? Wait--don't answer that! :)

Myra McEntire said...

Excellent interview. And I like stale Whoppers. I know, I know.

XiXi said...

Whoa this idea is really unique for a coming-of-age story. I can't wait to read this book.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

wonderful interview! I'm glad you enjoyed the book too! :-)


Cara said...

This sounds fantastic! A great book and a fantastic interview. :D

ChristaCarol Jones said...

Great interview!

Carolyn V. said...

I love the interview. Plus I agree with Lee, Twizzlers all the way! =)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

this sounds like a powerful book with a great message.

mo said...

Oh, this book sounds great!

I love books with emotion and inner conflict, so this one is definitely on my list to read. Plus the author seems very sweet and laidback, which makes it all the better!

Great interview LiLa, and great answers Lee! Thanks for the giveaway!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Sounds like an amazing book. I'm glad there are more LGBT books coming on the market.

Shooting Stars Mag said...


Thanks again for hosting Lee. I'm glad people liked the interview as well. :-)

Just wanted you to know that I have an LGBT entertainment blog set up:

Fun things to come,


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