Hi! Today, I’m here with an interview with Phil Stamper, debut author of The Gravity of Us!
I’m so excited for this book to release. It’s everything I ever wanted and uGH I need it now. And also possibly one of my most anticipated 2020 releases?? Adfghjkghjk.
Here’s some info about the book:
As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.
Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels–fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.
Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.
I know you’d be lying if you said you wouldn’t already die for this book looking at the breathtaking cover and synopsis . . . because yes.
Anyway, enough of my rambling. To the interview:
I can’t wait to read The Gravity of Us! Who was your favorite character to write, and why? What was your least favorite thing about writing them?
I loved writing all of my characters, but building my main character Cal was by far the most rewarding. I have such a love for the 60s space race that I worried me being nostalgic for this time period would be inauthentic and would make the story feel less relevant as a contemporary story. But then I created Cal, a cynical social media journalist whose life is turned upside down when his dad gets chosen to be an astronaut candidate for a mission to Mars and he’s forced to relocate to Houston.
Seeing the fictional Mars mission and NASA’s reimagining of the 60s space race through his lens actually made me more cynical. He made me want to look for the real story. In the 60s, astronaut families were far from perfect, but when the cameras came around, they had to snap into shape and play their roles. Beyond that, the entire era was marred with sexism, racism, and so on.
At one point, Cal says “nostalgia is a blindfold” and in a way, he kind of taught me that while I wrote the book.
The way Cal and Leon get to meet, then fall in love is so interesting. Were there any scenes featuring Cal and Leon which meant a lot to you?
Oh, so many. In one of their first scenes together, after they’ve just gotten to know each other and have established that there’s some chemistry happening between them, Cal tries to kiss Leon.
Cal is a fixer—he wants conflict and tension to be resolved ASAP. He wants to make people happy, he wants the truth out, and he absolutely hates when anything gets in the way. In this case, he sees Leon struggling with depression, and simply wants to make him feel better.
But as we know, and as Cal learns, he can’t just “kiss away” mental health issues. This scene is really important to me because it shows how challenging it can be to respectfully navigate new relationships. But in this scene, I was able to pull from my experience with anxiety and depression to show that these scenarios exist and show readers their own experience with mental health is valid. You can read the full excerpt in my cover reveal here!
I love the space intrigue + gays concept The Gravity of Us. Do you have any recommendations for books that have a similar concept to it?
I wish there were more books like this that come to mind. Generally when space intrigue + gays come together, it becomes a literal “gays in space” story—which is totally awesome, just not really what this one is about.
But the heart of the story is about two boys falling in love. Some queer stories I read recently—note that these are not all m/m—that have hit that spot for me include LIKE A LOVE STORY by Abdi Nazemian, LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT by Becky Albertalli, BLOOM by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau (Illustrator), and I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST by Mason Deaver.
about the author
Phil Stamper grew up in a rural village near Dayton, Ohio. He has a B.A. in Music and an M.A. in Publishing with Creative Writing. And, unsurprisingly, a lot of student debt. He works for a major book publisher in New York City and lives in Brooklyn with his husband and their dog. THE GRAVITY OF US is his first novel, but he’s no stranger to writing. His self-insert Legend of Zelda fanfiction came with a disclaimer from the 14-year old author: “Please if you write a review don’t criticize my work.” He has since become more open to critique… sort of.
I hope you enjoyed reading this! It’s my first interview on the blog, so I hope the questions I asked weren’t too dumb, lmao.
Is The Gravity of Us on Your TBR? Please tell me it is – or have you read an ARC of it? Let’s talk about it in the comments! 🙂