Interview and Giveaway with author A.J. Walkley
1. Greer is such a unique name. How did you come up with it?
I actually knew a girl named Greer back in summer camp when I was a kid. Funny story - she, too, was a swimmer and actually had webbed-toes! I didn't make my character have that quirk, but her name is Greer and she is a swimmer. I thought it was a pretty distinctive name. Plus, it rhymes with "queer" so, it worked well!
2. I think it's great when characters have a particular passion that comes across in the book. Are you a swimmer like Greer? Whether you are or not, is there a particular reason you made that Greer's hobby?
I am not a swimmer, though I was the captain of my ice hockey team back in high school. I loved being involved in a varsity sport and I have wonderful memories looking back on those days. You get a sense of camaraderie from a sports team you can't find many other places, especially in your teenage years. I thought it would be interesting to place Greer on a team, where she might feel that sense of belonging, at the same time that she was coming to terms with her identity and feeling like she didn't belong anywhere.
As far as choosing the swim team specifically, I personally felt I could have been a swimmer myself if I hadn't gotten into ice hockey and lacrosse (among other sports) first. I wanted to explore that sport with Greer.
3. The summary of the book states that Greer is coming to terms with her sexuality. If it doesn't spoil anything, did she have an idea she may like girls before the big move?
Well not to give anything away, but let's just say that Greer has had experiences with at least one girl in the past that she puts out of her mind until she's ready to confront her sexuality after moving to a new state and a new school.
4. Speaking of the move, does the state of Arizona play a large part in the book...and what inspired you to set the story here?
It's kind of ironic that I had Greer move to Arizona and wound up moving here myself some four years after I actually wroteQueer Greer. In the book, Greer's father decides he wants to become a coyote, helping people across the border from Mexico. There is background here - he has a very personal reason for chasing this bizarre dream that you'll find out when you read it. South Carolina is pretty far from Mexico to make that happen, which is why he moves the family to Arizona to be closer to the border. I simply chose Arizona for its proximity to Mexico.
5. What would you like people to know about the book that maybe the summary wouldn't tell them, or if it does, an aspect you really want to make clear?
I'd like potential readers to know that this is a story about more than a teen figuring out who they are attracted to - it's about family, societal assumptions and pressures, the pains of high school, and finding yourself when everyone around you is doing their best to make you into whatever they think you should be. I think it speaks to many aspects of growing up, sexuality aside.
6. What other LGBT novels are you a fan of or would recommend to readers?
I honestly wrote Queer Greer because I felt there was a true lacking of LGBT literature out there, especially for bisexuals. Recently I read Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult, which tackles the coming out process from an older perspective. I think it does a great job of commenting a lot of the legal implications and religiously-based discrimination surrounding LGBT people. I personally haven't found or read anything else recently that jumps out at me, but I'm open to suggestions!
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Open To: Everyone
Prize: a digital copy of Queer Greer, donated by the author
Ends: May 5, 2012
A.J. Walkley is the author of Queer Greer and Choice. She is currently writing her third novel, Vuto, inspired by her experience as a U.S. Peace Corps health volunteer in Malawi, Africa. Follow her on Twitter @AJWalkley and Facebook at facebook.com/ajwalkley.
Link to buy Queer Greer: http://bit.ly/zsnW8Y