Today we are chatting with Jay Coles, author of
Things We Couldn't Say!
Read on for more about Jay, his book, and giveaway!
Meet Jay Coles!
Jay Coles is a graduate of Vincennes University and Ball State University. When he’s not writing diverse books, he’s advocating for them, teaching middle school students, and composing for various music publishers. His debut novel Tyler Johnson Was Here is based on true events in his life and inspired by police brutality in America. He resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, and invites you to visit his website at jaycoleswrites.com.
Meet Things We Couldn't Say!
From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine.
There's always been a hole in Gio's life. Not because he's into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio's life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he's started to get his life together, she's back.
It's hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio's started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio's not sure . . . especially because he's not sure what he wants from anyone right now.
There are no easy answers to love -- whether it's family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn't Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity -- hoping at the other end he'll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
There are many ways I can answer this question. First, I don’t know many other books about a bi Black boy. It sucks that it feels like I’m one of the first to do it. I wrote it for all the QPOC who’ve been waiting to see themselves in books. This book, though it isn’t necessarily a love story, it’s a story about love and all its complexities.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Aside from Biscuit (the family’s cute Yorkshire terrier), I would say my favorite character in Things We Couldn’t Say is David. I loved writing David, getting in his head, and learning his backstory. I put a lot of the traits from all of my crushes into his character (But ssshhhh! That part stays between us). David has a baller Shakespeare tattoo, wears a cool leather jacket, and drives a motorcycle! Come on? Again, David is the best!
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
Not gonna lie, I’m not the best at titles. I wish I was one of those authors who titles a book, and it sticks all the way through to publication. For this book, the novel came first and went through several title changes before landing on Things We Couldn’t Say.
YABC: Do you have a favorite writing snack?
I looooooooove matcha! I probably had spent 25% of my book advance of matcha lattes. My usual Starbucks order is a matcha latte with almond milk, a pump of peppermint, and a pump of vanilla. So good! You can also usually find me eating peanut butter M&Ms. I ate a lot of them in the process of working on this book.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
The most important thing I’ve learned as a writer in my journey so far is to pursue self-care—have healthy rhythms of rest and work. I want to love writing for a long time, so I need to prioritize time away to recharge and regenerate, so that I can take my craft seriously.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
EVERYTHING! I love the beautiful Black boy on the cover, I love the gold teardrops, I love the color scheme—everything. It’s hard for me to narrow it down to just one thing I like most. I will say, however, I’m most looking forward to Black boys picking this book up and seeing themselves reflected on the cover of a story about love, family, friendship, and bravery—and not just about the struggles of being Black, racism, or police brutality. Those books are important and necessary, but I’m so glad to be able to write about a soft Black boy living his life!
YABC: What’s on your TBR pile?
Indivisible by Daniel Aleman, The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass, The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe, You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao, Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas, and The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver.
YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
I am OBSESSED with Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve. I also really loved Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant, Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas, One of the Good Ones by Maika and Maritza Moulite, and As Far as you’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper. I can scream about all of these wonderful books forever! Highly recommended.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
I want to answer this badly, but I would spoil the book for you. I’ll just say moment Gio’s face to face with his mom. I had chills writing it, imagining what it would be like to be in Gio’s shoes. It was equal parts poignant and heartbreaking for me as the author.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Gio’s mom. It was hard for me to really understand her as I was writing—she felt like a mystery, a puzzle I was trying to piece together as I wrote.
Things We Couldn't Say
Author: Jay Coles
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publish Date: September 21st, 2021
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