Brian Sloan is the author of A Really Nice Prom Mess (which we reviewed, search March) and Tale of Two Summers. He also makes films such as WTC View.
1.Since your book A Really Nice Prom Mess just came out in paperback, I have to ask about your own experiences at prom. Was it anything remotely like the craziness in the novel? How did you first come up with the idea for Prom Mess?
My senior prom was a lot of fun actually. I had a girlfriend at the time(!) and we went on a double date with a friend of mine from the Drama Dept.(!!) and we all had a really great time. I was totally into all the 80’s hits so we danced a lot that night. (Some friends of mine now say that should have been my date’s first clue, right? :) ) My idea for PROM MESS came from another dance I went to in high school where I asked this girl who I had met at a party. I didn’t know her well and, when I arrived to pick her up for the big night, she was a bit tipsy. So I sorta took that initial situation as a starting point then let my imagination run wild.
2.You have two novels out at the moment, which both feature gay characters. When you were growing up, did you read any books similar to yours or did you find a lack of novels featuring GLBT teens?
When I was a teen, I was a big fan of all the S.E. Hinton books. Even though I wasn’t out to myself at the time, I really connected with these books which often were about very close and intense male friendships. I remember particularly being obsessed with THAT WAS THEN THIS IS NOW, because it reminded me a lot of the dynamic I had with a close friend of mine during my sophomore year of school. If I knew of any gay books, I probably would have sought them out. However, there just wasn’t much available “back in the day”.
3.Nowadays, there is obviously a lot more books available. What are some that you personally enjoy or recommend, whether YA or adult?
I am a big fan of Ellen Wittlinger’s books, particularly HARD LOVE and HEART ON MY SLEEVE (which was a big inspiration when I was working on TALE OF TWO SUMMERS). I also love all of Rachel Cohn’s books as they are the first YA books I read when I embarked on my novel-writing journey a few years ago. My editor gave them to me to show me what the current YA genre was all about. Also, it turns out that Rachel and I grew up in the same town (Bethesda, MD) and have become friends since!
4.Are you currently working on any books or plan too in the near future?
I do have some ideas for new books. But right now, I’m working on my third feature film as a writer/director. It’s a high school comedy called PROM QUEENS and it will be shooting this summer in NYC. It’s a script I’ve been working on for a while, since before I started writing the books actually, and I’m thrilled that it’s finally coming to fruition. Movies take a little longer than books to pull off, as I’ve learned.
5.Are there any soon to be released books from other authors that you are eager to read?
I’m always so backed up in my reading list that new books for me tend to mean something that came out in the last year. But one book which I’m excited about (and is next on my list) is Michael Chabon’s novel THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION. He is one of my all-time favorite authors, ever since I read his first book MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH when I was just starting out.
6.Besides being an author, you make movies as well. For those that might not know, what are some of the films you’ve made about? Do you have any other projects in the works?
I’ve directed two features and a couple shorts, all of which are available on Netflix or Amazon. My first feature is I THINK I DO, a screwball wedding comedy about a gay couple attending a straight couple’s wedding. It stars Alexis Arquette…as a boy! :) My second feature is a little more serious, entitled WTC VIEW. It’s about life in lower Manhattan in the weeks after 9/11 and it stars Michael Urie, also known as the fabulous “Marc” on UGLY BETTY. The shorts I did are in the BOYS LIFE series of films; POOL DAYS, in BL1, is a coming out story set at a health club where a teen gets his first summer job, and BUMPING HEADS, in BL4, is about a complicated relationship between an older guy and a younger guy set in crazy downtown NYC.
7.What would your advice be to anyone who has yet to come out or who might be having trouble with the fact?
It’s hard to give advice to someone in that situation because everyone’s coming out is different. I can say, though, that my life got about 100% easier once I came out to my friends and family. It takes a lot of time/energy/effort to hide who you are and once you free yourself up from all that, you can do so much more with your life…like write a book or go to film school (which is what I did). Another advantage to coming out is that people will know you’re single and looking.
8. In general, do you feel that GLBT characters in various media outlets are portrayed in the right way? What do you wish would change, if anything?
It would be great to see more gay characters on TV and film integrated into the real world. Often gay men and lesbians are seen in their own ghettos, like on QUEER AS FOLK or THE L WORD. While those shows can be fun, I think that people need to see that gay people are involved in their lives too, whether they’re living in Kansas or Texas or Idaho. Gay people are everywhere and it would be great to have that reflected in the media, and not just see them living glamorous lives in NY and LA.
9. If you were to wish a REAL shooting star, what would you wish for?
I would wish for inspiration to write more books! Oh—and to find a boyfriend too.:)