Today is a very exciting post and I’m so excited that this is actually happening! It is an question time with the author of the incredible novel, The Gravity of Us and the upcoming novel As Far As You’ll Take me, it is Phil Stamper! I am a huge fan of Phil and I adored his debut novel, so I cannot wait for this! Thank you so much to Phil for spending the time to answer my questions, I appreciate it a lot! Without further ado, here is my question time with Phil Stamper!
Phil Stamper grew up in a rural village near Dayton, Ohio. While it could be seen as a boring lifestyle to some, he kept himself entertained through playing the piano and writing stories that stretched his imagination. He has a B.A. in Music from the University of Dayton and an M.A. in Publishing with Creative Writing from Kingston University. And, unsurprisingly, a lot of student debt.
When he first left his home state, he landed in Washington, DC with no job prospects, $800 in graduation money, and the promise of a walk-in closet to live in. Not long after—and he’s not totally sure how—he was jumping headfirst into a career in non-profit PR and sleeping in a real bed. He loved writing for a living, even if he was writing press releases and news stories… and hundreds of emails to annoyed journalists. But after a while, the dry writing started to get to him, so he thought he’d finally work on that book he always wanted to write…
Years later, with a new degree and two new cities under his belt, he works in publishing development for a major book publisher in New York City. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband and their dog. That book he always wanted to write never sold, and neither did the second or third. But at the intersection of hard work, talent, and luck, his bestselling debut novel, The Gravity of Us, was first published by Bloomsbury YA in February 2020. His sophomore novel, As Far As You’ll Take Me, comes out February 2021.
P: Phil Stamper
L: What were your inspirations behind The Gravity of Us and As Far As You’ll Take Me?
P: For The Gravity of Us—I’m a huge nerd when it comes to space exploration. As I learned more about the 60s space race, one thing always called out to me in the background of every astronaut story I read. The astronaut families essentially became the celebrities of this era, frequently gracing the covers of magazines and giving interviews for national news outlets. This meant the astronauts’ spouses and children had to be immaculately dressed, polished, and ready to entertain, all while not knowing if their husbands or fathers would come home alive that night. In The Gravity of Us, I wanted to capture this brilliant tension while also showcasing a contemporary queer love story.
For As Far As You’ll Take Me—I took a lot of inspiration from my own life, which is why it’s such a personal story to me. As a queer teen, I always felt like I needed to escape my conservative rural village, and I was able to do that in college, studying music, falling into a group of wonderful and accepting friends who became family.
But even though I could finally be myself for the first time, I really had to come to terms with my anxiety, fell in love with the wrong guys, and struggled with a ton of body image issues. I lived in London for a while, which is what inspired the setting. So, putting all of that together, I was able to fictionalize a lot of my own experiences and bring them into the dazzling environment in London and across various European travels.
L: What messages do you hope to spread through both of your books and why?
P: In both of my books, I wanted to share the message of hope. In The Gravity of Us, you get a really fun, aspirational love story set amid the drama of a human mission to Mars; In As Far As You’ll Take Me, you get a found family story and a first love story set against an intriguing backdrop of European travels. Both stories give you messages of hope—of hope for the fates of these characters, but also hope for the reader. We’re all going through a lot right now, but despite it all, reading joyous queer YA stories can really give you hope.
L: What topics, issues and themes would you like to discussed / discussed more in YA?
P: I think YA is a little more progressive when it comes to the issues discussed and experiences represented on the page, which I’m very thankful for. I’d like to see that extend a bit more to MG in the future—we’re just hitting a wonderful stride in regards to intersectional queer stories in that space, but I think we can push it a bit farther, so young readers can see themselves represented on the page from an early age.
The Gravity of Us
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.
All buy links can be found at https://philstamper.com/buy/
As Far As You’ll Take Me
Marty arrives in London with nothing but his oboe and some savings from his summer job, but he’s excited to start his new life–where he’s no longer the closeted, shy kid who slips under the radar and is free to explore his sexuality without his parents’ disapproval.
From the outside, Marty’s life looks like a perfect fantasy: in the span of a few weeks, he’s made new friends, he’s getting closer with his first ever boyfriend, and he’s even traveling around Europe. But Marty knows he can’t keep up the facade. He hasn’t spoken to his parents since he arrived, he’s tearing through his meager savings, his homesickness and anxiety are getting worse and worse, and he hasn’t even come close to landing the job of his dreams. Will Marty be able to find a place that feels like home?
All buy links can be found at https://philstamper.com/as-far-as-youll-take-me/
I loved asking these questions and hearing Phil’s answers it was a lot of fun! Thank you so much to Phil for this opportunity!