Today on the blog I am lucky enough to be hosting one of my friends and one of my all time favorite people: Julian Winters!!
About Julian Winters:
Julian Winters is a former management trainer who lives in the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia and has been crafting fiction since he was a child, creating communities around his hand-drawn “paper people.” He began writing LGBTQ character-driven stories as a teen and developed a devoted fan fiction following. When he isn’t writing or using his sense of humor to entertain his young nephews, Julian enjoys reading, experimental cooking in the kitchen, and watching the only sports he can keep up with: volleyball and soccer. Running with Lions is his first novel.
About “Running with Lions”:
Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them.
About “How to Be Remy Cameron”:
Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-gay, super-likable guy that people admire for his confidence. The only person who may not know Remy that well is Remy himself. So when he is assigned to write an essay describing himself, he goes on a journey to reconcile the labels that people have attached to him, and get to know the real Remy Cameron.
Now that you’ve read a little bit about Julian’s books let’s get onto the interview!!
Gryffindor Books: Thanks so much for agreeing to do this with me!
Julian: Thank you for asking me to do this! I love stuff like this.
Gryffindor Books: Who or what got you into reading?
Julian: I read a lot of required stuff in high school, but I could never find books that I loved or reflected me. Comic books are what got me into reading when I was younger. But as far as who truly drew me in to where I am now—Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. That book inspired me a lot of levels.
Gryffindor Books: How did your love of reading influence you to start writing?
Julian: Actually, it was all the books that didn’t reflect me that brought me to writing. I needed stories where I saw my different identities—person of color, member of the queer community—and that’s why I started writing. To give myself the happy endings I deserved but never saw in books assigned to me.
Gryffindor Books: How did you come up with the idea for “Running with Lions”?
Julian: I really wanted a feel-good book! There was a lot of great YA out, but I had trouble finding the queer YA books that were just happy while looking at real issues. And there were very few sports-related queer YA too. Books that relayed the message of “You can play sports, be amazing at them, and your identity doesn’t decide that.” I thought of the sports I enjoy watching—soccer and volleyball—and the ideas kind of bloomed from there.
Gryffindor Books: Why did you decide to base “Running with Lions” around Soccer?
Julian: I loved watching it! I also love the family dynamic of team sports. This feeling of support on and off the pitch. Where your teammates challenge you while also embrace you for who you are. A lot of high school is finding where you fit. Who are “your people” and team sports is a great outlet for that.
Gryffindor Books: How did you create Sebastian? Is he based on anyone that you know in real life?
Julian: Sebastian is not based on anyone I know, outside of the parts of myself he embodies. I wanted a protagonist that makes mistakes. Who’s clumsy, bad at flirting, is unsure of his future, tries almost too hard to be the perfect friend… all these stages I think we all go through as teens—and adults!
Gryffindor Books: Now that we have talked about Sebastian let’s talk about Remy Cameron!! How did you come up with Remy?
Julian: At his core, Remy is me. He’s a piece of my heart. But I hope he’s a little bit of every reader too. Someone who is growing into confidence but still questioning. Remy was the character I knew I needed to write but was terrified to because he required analyzing a lot of things I’ve avoided in order to make it day-to-day.
Gryffindor Books: Did anything or anyone that you have met since “Running with Lions” was published influence who Remy is?
Julian: I think a lot of how I approached Remy was influenced by the honest characters I found in books by Becky Albertalli, Adib Khorram, Kelly Loy Gilbert, S.J. Goslee. Books that allow their characters to discover themselves while also having nerdy moments. I’m very much a geek at heart and their books reminded me that we can go on journeys that are tough but are still filled with laughter and happiness and truly nerdy moments.
Gryffindor Books: After “How to Be Remy Cameron” releasing 10 September 2019 what can we expect from you and your imagination?
Julian: Who knows! Whatever it is, it’ll be humor-filled with a lot of love. I’ll be in the All Out Now: Queer We Go Again anthology in 2020. I also have a third book in 2020. I’m always thinking of ideas—I just need to write the stories.
Gryffindor Books: Thanks so much for doing this with me!
Julian: Thank you for having me!
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All cover images and author bio and book descriptions were acquired from Goodreads!