Gays Reading

Pride Upcoming/Up & Coming feat. Justinian Huang, KT Hoffman, and Myriam Lacroix

June 06, 2024 Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Justinian Huang, KT Hoffman, Myriam Lacroix Season 2 Episode 55
Pride Upcoming/Up & Coming feat. Justinian Huang, KT Hoffman, and Myriam Lacroix
Gays Reading
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Gays Reading
Pride Upcoming/Up & Coming feat. Justinian Huang, KT Hoffman, and Myriam Lacroix
Jun 06, 2024 Season 2 Episode 55
Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Justinian Huang, KT Hoffman, Myriam Lacroix

In this Pride edition of Upcoming/Up & Coming, Jason and Brett talk to Justinian Huang (The Emperor and the Endless Palace) about living life romantically, KT Hoffman (The Prospects) about how anyone can play baseball, and Myriam Lacroix (How it Works Out) about a twist on autofiction.

Born to immigrants in Monterey Park, California, Justinian Huang studied English at Pomona College and screenwriting at the University of Oxford. He is now based in Los Angeles with Swagger, a Shanghainese rescue dog he adopted during his five years living in China. The Emperor and the Endless Palace is his debut novel.

KT Hoffman is originally from Beaverton, Oregon and currently lives in Brooklyn. He received his bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University. If he isn’t writing about trans hope and gay kissing, he’s probably white-knuckling his way through the ninth inning of a Seattle Mariners game. The Prospects is his debut novel.

Myriam Lacroix was born in Montreal to a Québécois mother and a Moroccan father, and currently lives in Vancouver. She has a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and an MFA from Syracuse University, where she was editor in chief of Salt Hill Journal and received the New York Public Humanities Fellowship for creating Out-Front, an LGBTQ+ writing group whose goal was to expand the possibilities of queer writing.


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**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

What are you reading?
Send us an email or a voice memo at gaysreading@gmail.com

Show Notes Transcript

In this Pride edition of Upcoming/Up & Coming, Jason and Brett talk to Justinian Huang (The Emperor and the Endless Palace) about living life romantically, KT Hoffman (The Prospects) about how anyone can play baseball, and Myriam Lacroix (How it Works Out) about a twist on autofiction.

Born to immigrants in Monterey Park, California, Justinian Huang studied English at Pomona College and screenwriting at the University of Oxford. He is now based in Los Angeles with Swagger, a Shanghainese rescue dog he adopted during his five years living in China. The Emperor and the Endless Palace is his debut novel.

KT Hoffman is originally from Beaverton, Oregon and currently lives in Brooklyn. He received his bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University. If he isn’t writing about trans hope and gay kissing, he’s probably white-knuckling his way through the ninth inning of a Seattle Mariners game. The Prospects is his debut novel.

Myriam Lacroix was born in Montreal to a Québécois mother and a Moroccan father, and currently lives in Vancouver. She has a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and an MFA from Syracuse University, where she was editor in chief of Salt Hill Journal and received the New York Public Humanities Fellowship for creating Out-Front, an LGBTQ+ writing group whose goal was to expand the possibilities of queer writing.


Gays Reading is sponsored by Audible. Get a FREE 30-day trial by visiting audibletrial.com/gaysreading

**BOOKS!**
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page:
https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading | By purchasing books through this Bookshop link, you can support both Gays Reading and an independent bookstore of your choice!

Join our Patreon for exclusive bonus content!

Purchase your Gays Reading podcast Merch!

Follow us on Instagram
@gaysreading | @bretts.book.stack | @jasonblitman

What are you reading?
Send us an email or a voice memo at gaysreading@gmail.com

Jason Blitman:

Happy pride.

Brett Benner:

happy pride all month. It was LA pride this past weekend, but, um, sadly I didn't even realize it until I came back from the desert and, uh, and then I found out it was pride.

Jason Blitman:

Oh,

Brett Benner:

Yeah. And you know what I would say to that? Be like, I love that story.

Jason Blitman:

Good story.

Brett Benner:

good pride story, but so all you Angelenos, I hope you had a wonderful pride is what I'm trying to say.

Jason Blitman:

I hope everyone's having a wonderful

Brett Benner:

Well, yes, as, as it rolls out across cities, Palm Springs is always like late. It's like October or

Jason Blitman:

October, November.

Brett Benner:

Yeah. Cause of the heat. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

I've relistened to our last episode and I was like, how am I going to keep up this energy for all of pride? Because I was so enthusiastic. I'm still enthusiastic, but

Brett Benner:

I have faith in you. I have faith in

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, because again, like this today's episode, we just have so many fantastic authors.

Brett Benner:

do.

Jason Blitman:

though, another queer book that we have to shout out, that we have forgotten to shout out, is Experienced by Kate Young, a sexy sapphic romantic comedy about a newly out bet who's in love for the first time in her life. Finally everything makes sense until it doesn't. There are too many books. Can we push pause?

Brett Benner:

know. I know. Stop trying to do all the things. They just need to like, stop for a little bit, even for a month. The rollout, it's the summer rollout. It's

Jason Blitman:

I know.

Brett Benner:

It's a lot. And now we have three more for people to add

Jason Blitman:

three more, and again, there are these terrific debut novelists. Uh, on today's show we have the, I, I don't, I'm not going to say the lovely, because then I'm going to have to say something about each of them. Um, they're all lovely. Everyone's lovely. We have Justinian Huang talking about his debut novel, The Emperor and the Endless Palace. We have K. T. Hoffman talking about his debut novel, The Prospects, and we have Miriam Lacroix talking about her debut novel, How It if you like what you're hearing, share us with your friends, follow us on social media. We're at Gay's Reading on Instagram. You can follow us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And if you could give us a five star review, it's greatly appreciated. And thanks to those of you who have already done so.

Brett Benner:

it helps so much with the algorithm and for pushing our content up so more people will find us

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, that's a great drag king name, algorithm. For those of you who are coming back to us, welcome back. We're happy to have you. If you're new to Gay's Reading, welcome. We're happy to have you too. We have merch, we have a Patreon, and we have our bookshop. org page where you could find every book that we talk about on the show. The links to all of those things, can be found in our show notes and in our Instagram link tree. We also are doing a ton of Pride giveaways, so make sure you're following us and following along to enter those!

Brett Benner:

Absolutely,

Jason Blitman:

I'm Jason,

Brett Benner:

and I'm Brett

Jason Blitman:

and enjoy this Pride upcoming and up and coming episode of Gays Reading. You for joining us this morning. We always like to start off with an elevator pitch for the book. Do you have a, what's your, one liner or in quotation marks?

Justinian Huang:

one liner for this, very well practiced at this point, is that and the Endless Palace Is a romanticy thriller that spans 2000 years and is about two men who keep reincarnating as doomed lovers. And it's inspired by real history, which was that in four BC, there was a emperor in ancient China who fell in love with one of the men in his courts and then handed his whole kingdom to this boy. And so much so that when they both died young and mysteriously, the first Han dynasty fell with them.

Jason Blitman:

and very well

Brett Benner:

very succinct.

Justinian Huang:

I know. It's just I'm like. It's like the first clear sentence I've said all day. Sort of Like now just muscle memory, right?

Jason Blitman:

Your playlist for the book on Spotify each song, it's very mood driven. It's very atmospheric.

Justinian Huang:

So my book has three different time periods, right? In this iteration or in this first book, what's meant to be a trilogy, we cover three timelines and I just wanted them to each feel very different. And the way I accomplished that was by having a soundtrack for each for each timeline.

Brett Benner:

More or that you enjoyed writing more than the others?

Justinian Huang:

Oh, when I was, I always, so because it's based on this true story of this emperor, I always loved going back to that because I felt like that was the. That was when, that's like their meet cute, really, right? They were, these two souls, that's when they first met, and I think I did write pretty deep into it before I started wrapping the other two timelines around it. The one that takes place in the 1700s with the fox spirit, and then the modern day one, which opens At a circuit party in LA, but at, I wouldn't say I have a favorite, I will say that the river storyline is based off of just boys I know, right? Just like boys I know like the river and Joey are very much two boys I dated in my twenties, so that was fun just to bring them to life on page, But I don't really have a favorite. I love all of them. It's fun to hear, because now people Oh gosh, this is the trippiest thing about having your first book out is that complete strangers reach out to you, and talk to you, just about your book. And that's, it's, that's, I love that. And then everyone's very eager to tell me which one's their favorite. And it seems like it's a pretty, it's a pretty even split between this Endless List storyline, like the original storyline, And the modern day river storyline. I think a lot of people relate to the modern day river storyline because it just is, it's about young people,

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Justinian Huang:

making mistakes. And I think that a lot of people can relate to that.

Jason Blitman:

Learning that david henry wong and is an influence of yours and a mentor of yours and learning that your background is in animation. It was interesting to see like how theatrical a lot of your scenes were and how like intimate dialogue scenes played almost like a play. Was that intentional?

Justinian Huang:

You said, my background is in film. I've been in a film exec. I've been working in film development, creative development, working with screenwriters since I was like 20 I started with my first mentor. She like plucked me off of a golf cart on Paramount lot and Linda Oaks. She helped some of the most classic rom coms of all time. Like how to lose a guy in 10 days, sleepless in Seattle. She was nowhere. Everyone's best friend. So I so I was very much like my very first gig was just like reading rom com scripts. Her reader and I think that definitely fits into me Not necessarily yes Definitely just like how like the intimate moments between two people realizing they're in love for sure But also just a big respect for the romance genre, but I would say that I would say that if this book reads like a play or like A screenplay, like that's definitely just because I've just been immersed in it my whole life for sure. David Henry Huang Yes is a huge mentor of mine. I when I told him I was writing this And I was like David, I feel like it's so niche because it's like i'm just gonna go so deep into like my own experience He told me he was like you should go as deep as possible Because the more specific you get It's The more universal it becomes and I was like holy crapola that is so deep but so true because I feel like at the end of the day, and this is something that I had this, I was like in Southeast Asia, and I had a special milkshake, if and then I was like thinking, I was like thinking about this book, And then I realized I was like, Oh my gosh, we're actually all the same soul trying to love ourselves, I, I know that I've gotten feedback from readers at this point. I know that a lot of people a lot of people have strong thoughts about whether it has a happily ever after or not. But I will say that romance can also be about learning to love yourself and to stand up for yourself. And my characters do that in very specific contexts, but hopefully it's relatable for people, even if you're not queer Asian, like hopefully it's still, the story still elucidates a journey that, that anyone can relate to because it's really just about self love actually. Another thing that I really wanted to accomplish with this book was I really wanted to write Asian men in a way that was like, not just sexual, sex positive, but like sexually swaggering. I grew up with this concept that, we're all nerdy, desexualized, all these things, you know, and that's that's just not the reality. I know, like I, I know spicy Asian men and I wanted

Jason Blitman:

You're like, that's not the reality. I know I am hot as fuck.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Justinian Huang:

did not say that, but I have dated hot as fuck Asian men, and I wanted to pay homage to that, like like to go back to like how it's really difficult and especially in the West for Asian men to find each other, to date each other. So I feel like the book also speaks to that not overtly, but it's implied the way that they relate to each other, Yeah.

Brett Benner:

It is spicy, but I was like, I was really waiting for some hardcore and it gets there. It certainly gets there. But I will say I'll never refer to my genitals other than anything other than my influence from now on.

Justinian Huang:

Oh my gosh. It's so funny. Like, A lot of people were upset that I referred to body parts as peaches and plums. That's actually historically accurate. Our most famous Chinese erotica, which is I think from like the 7th, 1600s maybe, or I think during the Ming Dynasty, but it's called plum in the golden vase. Using fruit metaphors for like penises and butts is just That's just like the way that Chinese people used to refer to their parts. But the influence I will take credit for, I just I don't find the word penis very sexy. And I just, and it sounds so sex ed class. And this boy, to give a little context, there's like this medieval fuck boy, right? In the Endless Palace in this original 4 BCE timeline who sets out to to seduce the emperor and he's He knows he's not the brightest, but he knows he's really handsome, and he knows that he's he has sexual talents, right? So he is, he's fucking his way through the Endless Palace right now. He's slowly fucking his way up so he can get to the Emperor. And then I knew he had to refer to his penis as something, and, like, men naming their penises, I think is age old. I just imagine we always have,

Jason Blitman:

hilarious, because when you say how to lose a guy in 10 days, that is, is absolutely a plot point in that movie.

Justinian Huang:

Oh my God, I forgot about Make that connection. Oh my God. That's hilarious.

Jason Blitman:

Yes.

Brett Benner:

It'd work.

Justinian Huang:

So I just brainstormed what would you, what would this kid call his, what would a kid with no, I said, no power at all. Call one thing that he thinks is going to get him to power. And then that's where it got influence. I was like, this is not going to fly, but it just stayed in. It was like a placeholder that just became part of the actual final product, but yeah.

Jason Blitman:

that's really funny.

Justinian Huang:

Oh my gosh.

Jason Blitman:

So this is your debut novel. Do you have other new books that are coming out that you're excited about that you'd want to shout out to our listeners?

Justinian Huang:

Ocean's Gadorian by Elaine Yu Cho is so good. It's a space opera. But it's also this like slow burn romance and Elaine and me are like, We graduated the same time our books came out on the same time. So we're just at a lot of the same events together. And I just, I'm obsessed with her book. I think it's so she has, she just has this way of writing that. I don't know. It's just uniquely her and it's so inviting and you just feel like you're like watching. A bingeable Netflix drama. And the way her,

Brett Benner:

opera.

Jason Blitman:

I know. I can't wait to see what space opera means in book form. So

Justinian Huang:

know. It's great. It's I love that sort. Lactic cut. It has that vibe to it.

Brett Benner:

Original or remake.

Justinian Huang:

I've only seen, I think I've only seen the remake, sadly, I don't think I've seen the original, which,

Brett Benner:

You don't need to see the original. I, it was in the seventies, like Dirk

Justinian Huang:

Oh yeah, no I

Brett Benner:

No, you're talking. Yeah, exactly. And probably like you could find it on VHS. Yeah, way back.

Jason Blitman:

funny. Are you a romantic yourself?

Justinian Huang:

So on paper, people, I've never, they would, I've never been in a really like a, I've never been like a traditional this is my boyfriend's like relationship, but I've lived my life very romantically, I would say yeah,

Jason Blitman:

distinction.

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

Justinian Huang:

yeah, because I've been in love many times. I can fall in love in one weekend. And then be swept off my feet and just be on the back of a scooter with someone amazing, like traveling over an island, desert like dirt roads. Like I, I live a very romantic. life. So I would just, I would say that my greatest romance has been with myself, but I am ready. I am ready for that next step. So

Brett Benner:

Do you believe in

Justinian Huang:

do I, yes, I do. I absolutely believe that there's people out there that you are inclined to fall into each other for sure. Yes, absolutely. I believe in that. I've dated a few of my soulmates and then it was just so intense that it didn't work out. And that's where you're starting

Brett Benner:

At least not in this plane. Maybe the next one.

Jason Blitman:

You're working some shit out in the book.

Justinian Huang:

absolutely. I am. And this book was super healing for me to write.

Jason Blitman:

Good.

Justinian Huang:

Yeah, it was super healing. Yeah, I was I wrote it during the pandemic lockdown. I'd spent five years in China as head of development for DreamWorks is this Chinese studio. And when the pandemic happened, my career disappeared overnight. So I was in my mom's attic wondering what had happened to me and now the world, right? I wrote this book because it was the one thing that kept me from drinking too much. So

Jason Blitman:

wait, back to you. You were about to say, if any of your listeners dot, dot, dot, I am an aspirational matchmaker what, tell me what are you looking for?

Justinian Huang:

I like people who are very confident and not too clingy and have their own lives. And but no one to turn on the romantic switch because when, I'm very Capricorn, I'm very like organized in the way and compartmentalized. So I just, I'd say it just needs to be that we're good at reading each other. And I also like somebody who don't like them like quiet and brooding. That's like my vibe. Can't tell the way I crafted Joey. Commander Jijin, like they're like more like mysterious, quiet types.

Jason Blitman:

Okay. Confident, mysterious, quiet. Sure. Yeah. Can be assertive.

Justinian Huang:

When needed.

Brett Benner:

be at times.

Jason Blitman:

And can do a really good job seaming stick on wallpaper.

Justinian Huang:

That's number one. That's clearly the most important.

Brett Benner:

This was a delight.

Justinian Huang:

my gosh, this was so delightful. I'm, I like, you've woken me up. I'm like ready for, what's

Brett Benner:

Ready for the day. For a gray Thursday.

Justinian Huang:

Oh my gosh, this was such a pleasure. I'm Really honored to talk to y'all. I really appreciate the support,

Jason Blitman:

course. So happy to meet you. The book is something everyone should check out and we can't wait to see what's next.

Justinian Huang:

which I appreciate it.

Jason Blitman:

Justinian, thank you so much. Don't forget to check out his book, The Emperor and the Endless Palace. And now, let's hear from K. T. Hoffman, talking about his book, The Prospects.

Brett Benner:

Hello.

KT Hoffman:

how's it going?

Brett Benner:

Good.

Jason Blitman:

Good. How are you?

KT Hoffman:

Doing well. It's, I'm like directly in the sun in here, so I'm a little blown out from behind. I'm so sorry.

Jason Blitman:

So am I. Don't worry. We're in this together.

KT Hoffman:

Okay.

Jason Blitman:

I'm so excited to talk to you about your book.

KT Hoffman:

thank you guys for having me on. I'm so excited to be here.

Jason Blitman:

Thank you

Brett Benner:

We're excited to have you. Oh

Jason Blitman:

It, I'm sorry it took us so long to have you on. The book has been on my shelf and I've been so excited to read it. And then a dear friend of mine, Ashley, shout out to Ashley, friend of the pod has, she's on her third read of it. She read

KT Hoffman:

shout out to Ashley.

Jason Blitman:

She read it once via net galley long ago and then read it again in anticipation of it coming out. I think she read it like the day before it came out, and now she's doing a listen of the audio book with her mom.

KT Hoffman:

Oh, stop.

Brett Benner:

God. That's

Jason Blitman:

She loves it so much, so big shout out to Ash. She's, She's like the prospect Stan.

KT Hoffman:

Wow. Big thank you to Ashley. Also,

Jason Blitman:

For our listeners who have not had a chance to read the prospects yet, what is your elevator pitch or your walk up three flights of stairs pitch?

KT Hoffman:

I was like, as I was waiting to sign on to this podcast, I was like, I should just write one because every time I like panic and I'm like, let me try. Here we are trying again. I didn't write it down.

Brett Benner:

We can always edit. So

KT Hoffman:

Okay. The prospects is about a trans minor league baseball player who's former college teammate and current, we'll say rival, but I don't think they're really like traditional rivals gets traded to his team and about the two of them having to learn to play together again. And I'm falling into friendship and love along the way. I always say like it's friends to lovers and arrivals to lovers, trench coat.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, sure.

Brett Benner:

That's great.

Jason Blitman:

All this is, you said is now on, they're on each other's team. Where is, has baseball been like in your world forever? Are you a huge baseball fan? Yeah.

KT Hoffman:

now, okay, now I'm a huge baseball fan, and I think people who know me now find this really surprising. But I did not grow up watching baseball at all. I played soccer as a a little kid. I quit because I was, like, gay and trans, and I was like, I'm gonna do theater even though I can't sing to save my life. But then when I was in college, I was writing, and I was writing this historical fiction book, and it took place in like the mid 20th century. And I was like, you know it feels old timey and like mid 20th century. Baseball. So I like, had one of the characters play baseball. He wasn't like a professional baseball player or anything but he did play baseball. And I got through, I don't know, three or four very long drafts of that 500 page book that I had researched so thoroughly. But then we got to, like, I graduated, and I'm like, I might be trans. And I'm, like, very lost, and I don't know what I'm doing. And also, I just graduated college, and I have a job, but it's not permanent. And I'm living in my boss's house, and I don't know what I'm doing. Let's edit my book. I was like, maybe what would help is if I watched one baseball game, that might help me write baseball. So I started watching the Seattle Mariners because I'm from Oregon, like originally I'm from Portland. And if you're from the Pacific Northwest or have spent any time there, like the Mariners are really the only team there. There are minor league teams, but the only major league team. within a thousand mile radius is the Mariners. So that was going to be the team I watched. Also I always say that I googled teams with the least annoying fans because my experience, especially like men's sports, is that they're very homophobic and they're like, sexist and shitty. So it's I don't want to put myself In a room with all the men I'm scared of. I want to be with like nice fans. So I googled that and everyone was like the mariners because they always lose so like their fans aren't annoying so Yes. So I started following the Mariners and I ended up just completely falling in love with it, both like the sport and the team. And, I don't maybe if I had known how attached I would get to it, I wouldn't pick a team that was like, famous for breaking their fans hearts. But I also love that about them, because then when things go well, it's like,

Brett Benner:

the true underdogs.

KT Hoffman:

magical. Got just really into it that summer. I was like, watching every game on my laptop and seeing if I could, I didn't have a car I also don't have a driver's license but I was like living in the Bay Area and I was like, can I get across the bay to go to Oakland and see a baseball game? Who am I? What has my life become? And that wasn't, I had never been to like a major league baseball game before. I mean, now I have obviously, the Mariners are actually in New York right now, so I'm going to one this week.

Brett Benner:

I just want to know what that first experience was like the first time you walked into a live game. How was that?

KT Hoffman:

so I actually, I didn't end up going to one in Oakland, which I really regret because they're leaving they're moving. They're not going to be in Oakland anymore. They're going to be in Vegas. And I'm, a friend and I are like seeing if we can go before, this is their last season in Oakland. We're going to see if we can go see a game there before. But I didn't go that summer because again, I didn't have a car or really any money. I ended up not going to one until I moved to New York. And my first game that I saw them play was like against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. And. Yankee Stadium is a weird one to go to first because it is quite famous and full of Yankees fans. I was, I got like really nosebleed seats because I was 23 and in a very entry level job and paying New York rent for the first time, so it's Okay, we're gonna get cheap seats, but we were up in the bleachers and I was zooming in my phone on all my favorite players. I have little ant sized pictures of Mitch Hanegar. It's very funny. And then it was so cool, and then it got rained out. Which felt very Pacific Northwest to me, and very appropriate, and, It was just really magical and special to get to see them in person. I got to go to a game in Seattle. Like, when my book came out, we like, went to Seattle before we went down to Portland. Getting to see them like at home in, obviously I'm not from Seattle, but Seattle and Portland are very similar. And if you're from one of them, you do feel a certain kinship and also a little bit of bitterness towards the other city. But I love Seattle and it does feel in a way like home and familiar to me. And it was just really cool to get to celebrate like the book coming out

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. How fun.

KT Hoffman:

bummer, I had to wait six years, but also really made it worth it.

Jason Blitman:

Absolutely. And something that you talk about in the book and the way you qualify baseball, quantify baseball, the way you describe baseball as a sport that demands optimism in the face of steep odds. And I read that and I was like, Oh, I like baseball. more now, just changing my perspective of how to think about it. I appreciate it because it's a relatively easy game to follow.

KT Hoffman:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

And now that they've changed, they like added the like countdown clock for the pitcher. And I went to a game not long ago, and it was like, so speedy, comparatively, I think it was like three, maybe three hours, but it could be six or seven hours of a baseball game, but that doesn't happen anymore because of this new countdown clock. But just thinking about it as this, national pastime where the odds are not in your favor. And so doing well and succeeding is exciting. And I've never thought about it like that. So thank you for changing my perspective

KT Hoffman:

That's the best thing. That's the best thing you could tell me. Thank you.

Jason Blitman:

Discovering your love for baseball, paired with writing this book, paired with writing this story of queer trans joy. Can you talk a little bit about what that the journey of connecting those dots for you was?

KT Hoffman:

When I started writing the book part of what and this is in literally the first paragraph of the book, so this is not a real big spoiler, but part of what Like gene loves about baseball is that you can look pretty much anyway and be good at baseball Which is one of if you look at a baseball team You almost can't even guess what position people are gonna play the shortest guy is probably the second baseman, but like other than that You can't really guess, and I think that's there are fat baseball players who are really good, there are like, beanpole baseball players who are, it's really cool, and it's special to me. And that felt very in communication with if I want to write about a trans athlete, this is a sport that makes sense. And obviously, There are trans men who are like 5'10 and really muscular, but I'm a trans man who's 5'1, so I wanted to write about a trans person who really like, looked like a trans man, like he's, no one's going to be surprised when they find out he's a trans man, And I think that was a different kind of story than writing about an athlete who maybe wouldn't have had to be out. I wanted to write about someone who was out and was really like, Living a trans life, because to me that's it changes the questions you're asking in a book, and what the, What the themes of the book are going to be and what kind of life he's going to be living, and so as I was writing it, I think I maybe mentioned earlier that I had just started coming out as trans in 2018 when I started writing this book. The first few drafts of the book, I think, were, like, A, they weren't, it wasn't a romance novel. So that was very different. But I think it was really meandering and a little bit sad and I was a historical fiction author so it like took place in, and I'm sorry to say that this is historical fiction now, but like it took place in the 90s, which is, I hate that's historical fiction now, but like

Jason Blitman:

But it is.

KT Hoffman:

It is.

Jason Blitman:

Huh.

KT Hoffman:

so it took place in the 90s and Gene was like, passing as a cis man. I hate the term passing, but there's no way to say it better. So there were like, there was a scene where he had to tell Luis that he's trans and that's a different kind of book than what I ended up writing. And as I was out longer and Meeting more trans people and living as a trans person myself longer, and interacting with other people more as a trans person, not as a closeted trans person. I started thinking, I don't really want a book where Gene has to explain himself to people. I really wanted a book where he just got to be who he is, and sometimes I think that sounds so twee I'm like, oh, he just gets to be himself, but that does make a huge difference in the tone of the book, and what he's dealing with,

Jason Blitman:

It's not a coming out story.

KT Hoffman:

exactly,

Jason Blitman:

It's a trans person living their life story.

KT Hoffman:

yes, and he's also out as gay for the whole book he has, his best friend is also out and gay, and obviously Luis does come out at one point during the book, but I don't think it's ever a secret that he's gay. I think Gene knows that he's gay and is not really surprised by it. And I wanted to write, I wanted to examine queer athletes who see each other. Because I think a lot of the time books about especially gay men playing sports, this doesn't happen as much in Books about queer women playing sports because it's quite common for queer women to be out in sports. But often when you read books about queer men playing sports, the huge thing is like he's closeted and like he's pretending to be straight and I'm like, Luis is technically closeted but he's not pretending to be straight and like he, you can see these moments where he like wants Jean to know and ask him because they want to see each other and that's really me. It was special and important to me to get to write about queer people who are not asking straight people to understand them, they're like, trying to understand each other.

Brett Benner:

I love that.

Jason Blitman:

There are realities that queer people face, that trans people face, that are present in the book, but that's not what the book is focused on. How do you, how does that make you feel? The sort of legacy that you're leaving For KT.

KT Hoffman:

I mean I do I do want to like stop and say Red White and Royal Blue is like why I, this book is a romance novel now. Because I didn't, like when I picked that book up in, I've said this I think I'm sure many times, and I, when I picked that book up and I like went to the store to buy it, I went to the YA section because I didn't know it was about adults. Like I didn't know that book could exist about adults. And I'm really grateful for what YA has done and how it has evolved and pushed other genres forward. I don't think my book would exist if Aiden Thomas wasn't doing what Aiden Thomas is doing in YA. And I'm very grateful to them. For what they have done for transmasculine people and trans men in literature. That's so incredible. But also by the time Cemetery Boys came out, I was like 25. I was like, I don't really want to be reading about 16 year olds forever. So when I went to that store and I could not find the book. And then I like looked up and I was like, Oh, it's about adults. That's why. And then I like read it. I was like, Oh, and like adults who have sex. That's, and not in a traumatic way. They're like having fun. That's, it is very radical to me. And getting to now in this genre. And I think, in a genre that like, we don't really always think about trans people living past 18. The image of trans people in our culture is very much focused on the very political concept of a trans teenager. And I I was not out when I was a teenager. So that's not an experience I have. And I want us to get to talk about it. And also, I want us to be able to imagine futures for trans people that are, like, varied, and joyous, and complex. Because When I like found out that trans men even existed, I was like, oh, but it's it's too late. I can't be a trans man, like I'm 22. It's wild that like 22 would be too old for anything. So to be able to write those books and hopefully someone will pick it up and be like, oh, like this is possible. And we can tell stories about queer people whose lives are, I always have mixed feelings about people who really want books about queer people than, and they're like, but I don't want it to be about being queer. Because I'm like, so much of my life, even if it's like not about being queer, is so impacted by the fact that I'm trans and the fact that I'm gay. I can't escape those things, nor do I want to.

Jason Blitman:

Right. The act of walking out the front door is making a statement, is being political, is being is talking to the world in a way that, a certain most of the population doesn't experience

KT Hoffman:

Exactly. Like the way I look and the way I talk is. Seen, it is seen differently than it's, the way a cis person looks or a straight person looks and talks. And I like, have complicated feelings about the concept of a queer book that's not about being queer. Because I'm like everything in my life is about being queer in some way because everyone else has made it that way.

Jason Blitman:

Well. And also I have a husband. And so if I write it about, if I just acknowledge that I have a husband, like suddenly I've made it queer,

KT Hoffman:

Exactly. I, my roommate is my lesbian ex girlfriend, who I have lived with for almost a decade. I'm like, that is queer. Like we're not dating, obviously, like we are both gay.

Jason Blitman:

Is that book next?

Brett Benner:

I just say the same thing I was like, and currently I'm writing it.

KT Hoffman:

and that's my next book.

Jason Blitman:

KT, I want to read that book.

Brett Benner:

actually sounds like a sitcom to me. So

KT Hoffman:

and like, when I do, when I tell people that they're like, oh, like that does sound like a one liner concept for a show. And but it feels so normal to me,

Jason Blitman:

Yeah,

KT Hoffman:

and I think that is what I mean, when I say, I want books where the queerness is within the text of the You could I could not have written The Prospects and been like, except for now Jean is gonna be a cis man who dates women. He's gonna be a cis, straight man. It wouldn't be the same book. The whole backbone of the book would be gone. Even though I don't think the book is about and here's how Jean's life is really hard. I think it's, you can write books where the characters are queer and it's crucial to the DNA of the book without writing the kind those books that you're talking about, I love this book, but it is about AIDS. And so I can't read it without feeling traumatized in some way. I wanted a book. I like, I'm really honored to be in this like lineage of authors who are doing this, like queerness is part of the DNA of the book and the queerness is bringing joy to these characters. It's making their lives bigger Because that's how I feel about being queer. It makes my life bigger.

Jason Blitman:

yeah. I love that.

Brett Benner:

I think we all need it. think we all do. Really. I do. I think it's and I've said that before too, like Jason and I have talked about this a lot because I'm at the place where I want to read things that are representative without being the story necessarily. It's just something different. So

Jason Blitman:

You talked about other authors. Are there other, you're a debut author, congratulations, we're so excited for you. Do you have other books, other new authors that you want to shout out? Oh

KT Hoffman:

I did prepare for this because I always like panic. So I, my go to always like Anita Kelly is incredible. And I will recommend Anita Kelly to anyone. They have a new book coming out that they are self publishing in June. And I'm like currently reading it. Because it's Anita Kelly, it's brilliant. And then I haven't read this one, but I'm really excited for Rachel Brunia Katz's second book, Whenever You're Ready, that comes out in September. I read Rachel's first book and loved it and think they're very talented, so I can't wait. I am always really fascinated, maybe it's because I'm writing my second book, but I love author's second books. There's this idea of the sophomore slump, but I almost always like author's second books are my favorite of their books because it's a different I feel like sometimes authors get a little weirder with their second books. And I really enjoy that because you don't have to pitch it like a debut.

Brett Benner:

sure.

Jason Blitman:

Katie, this has been lovely.

KT Hoffman:

It was so nice to talk to you guys. Thank you so much for having me.

Jason Blitman:

Thanks, KT. Everyone, check out The Prospects by KT Hoffman. And now we have Miriam LaCroix talking about her book, How It Works Out. For our listeners who are unfamiliar. Can you tell us your elevator pitch for how it works out?

Myriam Lacroix:

Yes I can. Okay, so how it works out is a sort of relationship multiverse in which each chapter offers an alternate outcome to the relationship between Miriam and Allison, who are a queer couple. So the relationship hypotheticals begin with kind of dreamy, rose tinted kind of hopes that we have for our relationships early on. And as we get to know the characters, relationship gets a bit more complicated and the hypotheticals become definitely more surreal, absurd, and dark.

Jason Blitman:

I'd love that you say as you move on, because

Brett Benner:

Number two is, I

Jason Blitman:

like

Myriam Lacroix:

Oh, yeah, that's true.

Brett Benner:

straight up

Myriam Lacroix:

Yeah, okay. Actually funny. One of my thesis advisor, actually, Dana Spiotta, she was asking me one time so that second chapter, that's one of the bad outcomes, right? And I was like, oh, no, they end up together. That's a good one.

Brett Benner:

yes, it's a whole thing of taking, fully absorbing your partner.

Myriam Lacroix:

so what if people get a little hurt in the meantime? You're having great sex.

Jason Blitman:

Your first line of the book alone is just so funny and sets a tone of we are in for a ride. And that line is, they planned on getting beer from Toby's, but instead they got a baby and they were not unhappy about it. And that's just I just like laughing from page one. It's just like dark and absurd. Ridiculous. It's a surreal but also very thoughtful relationship story. How did this come to be for you?

Myriam Lacroix:

So it was kind of fun. Kind of A long process that spanned my 20s and early 30s. So I think I'll start with describing how the style came to be. It is a bit of an unusual kind of autofiction. And I think, part of the reason for that is that I started writing this way when I was young and I didn't even really know what autofiction was. So I thought I was like super smart and had invented this whole genre. But how it started was with this was in my early twenties was when Instagram was blowing up and social media was taking over our lives and, people were branding themselves. A lot of people were really good at that. And I realized I was really not good at that. I was in. anxious introvert and it like, it really alarmed me that I had to be perceived at all and I'm like, talk about myself. And so in this kind of felt like rebellious way at the time, I was like I'm going to write about myself in this self aggrandizing mytholo Like self mythologizing way. Really it's going to be like completely absurd. And I'll just like test, I'll tell you like all these things that have happened to me. I'll test the limits of how much people will believe me. Which was fun and hilarious, but at the same time ended up being a little deeper than I had anticipated. And. I think the reason for that is that I had never actually written about myself before. I had been doing the fiction thing where you just completely invent characters, completely invent plots, and to me that was real fiction, and then suddenly I was writing. Tongue in cheek, but I was writing about myself and myself in relationship to the world that I was in, and that kind of, yeah, that brought up some truths that were hard to grapple with in some ways and that I had to grapple with by writing. Cut to, I'm writing like this, I'm in my early 20s, and I meet someone, I fall in love, it's my first queer relationship. And as also a bit of an anxious introvert, I had never actually really imagined myself being in a relationship before. I, yeah, I grew up with a single mom too. I didn't really have that as an example. It wasn't like, it wasn't part of my own self mythology to be in a couple. So I had to that in what I And what I did was that I started writing these basically these hypothetical outcomes to my relationship. At the time, there were these little of poetic micro fictions that I was writing for, I don't know why I was writing them. And those were the earlier, dreamier Like, Oh, could I have romance in my life? But unfortunately the relationship did not really live up to those dreamy expectations, which was. Really big life lesson and another big life lesson was that I have mental illness and that I can be really triggered by intimacy. And yeah, when my relationship took a turn for the worst, I didn't write for several years. I was, having an extremely hard time and mental health was extremely challenging. And all I could do was write these pro and con lists of should I stay in this relationship, should I leave, and I, in some ways I was dysfunctional that I didn't feel like I could leave, even though I was trying to. In a super dark place, but so eventually the relationship ended. And I remembered that before being like crazy and obsessed with this relationship, I had wanted to be a writer and I realized MFA applications were coming up. The, this stuff was the only stuff that I had written. I looked back to those possibilities that were so dreamy and I was like, how did I get here? And so I used that for my MFA application to Syracuse University. The first chapter was like my application story, that's how I got in and I spent, the next three years during my MFA developing all the possibilities and then adding to them to capture what had actually happened in the relationship.

Jason Blitman:

hmm. There are auto fiction. The idea of it is that you take elements of real life and am amalgamated into this thing. Was it cathartic to sort of, and therapeutic to play out these not scenarios, that's an a reductive way to put it, but to just put it all on the page in using real pieces of your life and of your relationship but through the lens of these super surreal things, I am, was putting that sort of distance on it helpful.

Myriam Lacroix:

Yeah, I think it was it cathartic? I think it was really painful, but maybe that can be cathartic too. It was kind of like, I was, as I said, in a really hard place in my mental health and it, and always in this spiral loop. And I had to like, really just dive in and be like, what is happening? It was necessary and it was necessary to come out on the other side of it. It was necessary to be done. And to be honest, I wish I'm pretty meticulous. Reviser took me several years just in the revision phase. towards the end, I was like, it would be healthier if I was done with this project. If I was not every day putting myself back in this super difficult relationship. But, then. You suffer for the art and whatnot.

Brett Benner:

You also have A tremendous sense of humor and there is so much humor and Jason was speaking about it in the beginning.

Myriam Lacroix:

So glad.

Brett Benner:

I was screenshotting clips that I was sending to my business partner and we were laughing so hard. I just have to tell you that. So I want people to know that You are, it's very funny. I don't know. That's just a,

Jason Blitman:

Do you consider yourself a funny person? Yeah.

Myriam Lacroix:

quietly funny. Maybe

Brett Benner:

and I know, I feel like some of it's probably self deprecating, which again, I can completely appreciate it. That comes out, but I do think you have a very funny take on a lot of things.

Myriam Lacroix:

Thank you. Yeah. I think part of it is being like absurd is that, I didn't really know how to make sense of things. Yeah, like it wasn't, like it, I think it would have been hard to write something that was like, and then everything was hard and everything was even harder, it was really hard, but like kind of the only way that I could deal with it was making a joke out of it and being as playful as I could be and not taking it too seriously. I also was like, When I was writing it, I was coming out of a hard time where I didn't laugh very much, and I was like reconnecting with laughing, and it felt like, when you have gone through this phase of life where you couldn't laugh very much, and suddenly you're laughing again, it feels euphoric, and you just, you get addicted to it, like you want it more and more. It was cool to have that in my art.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. That's so cool. I imagine all of this is very hard in general, like the podcast interviews prepping for the book launch, talking about the book, let alone the revision. It's still like very much in your world, not only because of what you said you went through, but also So you said you don't like talking about yourself so this is probably your least favorite thing in the world. What are you doing here?

Myriam Lacroix:

It is hard for me to talk about myself, but I like it. I like a challenge. And I think I've actually, I think I like come from roots of being like very introverted, but when I do connect with people, especially through art, it's it's very validating and energizing. And I'm like, Oh, I guess I could be this person, yeah. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, that's cool.

Brett Benner:

you're also a a French teacher and you're a translator and you also tutor and teach, which I think is also fascinating because again, that kind of interaction.

Myriam Lacroix:

Yeah, I think, you know, everyone says this, but it is so lonely to write sometimes and yeah, I do think that I have that extroverted part of me that I can dig out, especially when I can be like nerdy about words and literature, that's my true self. Oh,

Jason Blitman:

So speaking of, can you talk to us a little bit about Outfront?

Myriam Lacroix:

Yeah. So out front was this queer writing group that I started. I started working on it before the pandemic and I launched it before the pandemic, but it kind of, yeah, the pandemic hit like shortly into it. It did become like this very positive thing that I was clinging to in a hard time of isolation. I was ambitious in my art, but I didn't know how to be ambitious, like in the world. And I found it pretty alienating at times. And I, recalled the communities that had felt like really healthy for me, which was my, Queer communities, which were always like creative in some way or another. So I wanted to create something like that. And I did, I just created this, opportunity for people to bring all of their own art and all of their own ideas. And we, and, experiment with whatever we wanted to experiment with as a group. Everyone had a voice, everyone was being supported and taking whatever risks they wanted to take. And nourishing and lovely.

Jason Blitman:

In your bio, it says that the goal of the group was to expand the possibilities of queer writing. And we've talked a lot on the show about queer possibilities. That word possibility has popped up so much in the last few weeks, especially as we're, getting gearing up for pride. What does that mean to you? What is, what are the possibilities of queer writing? Yeah.

Myriam Lacroix:

I think possibilities really open up when you stop needing to justify your existence, is I don't know. That's I call me a dreamer, but I would like that part to be over at some point. And I know it probably never will fully be, but I want to write as if it is, because that's, it feels like I'm actually Respecting myself as an artist and I, yeah, like when I think of, like queer writers have always been like absolute trailblazers, and I think now we're in a really good place, but like, when I think of 10, 15 years ago, and I was trying to access queer literature and it was like, you had to like, hunt down the small press that would, publish any trans writer, for example, like that doesn't feel like where we should be. When I, when I was in Syracuse, I was, I studied with George Saunders and he taught this class called one city, 10 years where we had to zero in on one city for a decade, any city, any decade. And I chose Paris in the thirties. Which, I don't know if you guys know, but it was very gay at that time And what I found fascinating, I'm not saying that they had it all figured out, homophobia was definitely a thing, but all the biggest writers at that time were queer, and were writing about queerness, and they were not quote, queer writers, they were just the great writers of their time. And they were, completely inventing movements and taking all the risks when we think of Proust it's not oh, that queer writer, it's like that incredible writer. And, even people like Colette, who was queer, she's been credited with being the mother of autofiction basically. Inventing it, and she was one of the great writers of her time, cook Tofu was like, huge in the Surrealist movement, is known for being a very creative Surrealist. I wish we were there sometimes.

Jason Blitman:

It's crazy, because you said, I wish we were there. And yet, we, at some, in some pocket of the world, many, almost a hundred years ago now, we were there. Which is crazy.

Myriam Lacroix:

I know, like it's, yeah, there's, it's not like this linear Oh, queer people didn't exist and were hidden and now we're so lucky, you know? like it just seems to come and go in, in waves and it's good to realize where we are at in the

Jason Blitman:

I love that. Speaking of where we are in waves.

Myriam Lacroix:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

You are a debut author. Congrats on your debut. Do you have other books that are coming out, other debut authors, anything you want to shout out this wave?

Brett Benner:

Ha.

Myriam Lacroix:

I have to shout out my friend Frankie Barnett and her novel, Mood Swings, because it's coming out today. Uh, so. Yeah. And I pre ordered it. I haven't received it yet. So I can't say what it's like other than I've just read her work and I know that she's incredible. We went to Syracuse University together, but I did pull up the little blurb.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, sure.

Myriam Lacroix:

it goes in a pre apocalyptic world, not unlike our own, a young Instagram poet starts an affair with a California billionaire, Yeah. Who's promised a time machine that will make everything normal again, whatever that means. I think there's something like the animals are rebelling against global warming and start attacking the humans, and there's like this war between humans and animals, and then some of the characters in the book are making money by impersonating people's pets that have died in war. I don't know, it just sounds like, wacky and incredible, and she's such a Beautiful right around the line level. So I'm so excited.

Jason Blitman:

cool. I'm just stuck on in a pre apocalyptic world, much like our own. I'm just like, the fact that we're calling our present world pre apocalyptic is horrifying, but not wrong.

Myriam Lacroix:

Oh yeah, so good.

Jason Blitman:

Miriam, this has been lovely.

Brett Benner:

so lovely.

Myriam Lacroix:

Yeah. Lovely for me too.

Jason Blitman:

Fantastic. We can't wait for folks to read the book.

Brett Benner:

Congratulations.

Myriam Lacroix:

Wow. Thanks guys.

Brett Benner:

Thank you, Miriam.

Jason Blitman:

so many TBR books. LGBTQIA TBR. Look at us go. thanks Justinian, KT, Miriam for being here with us today. Happy Pride to all of you, to everyone that's listening, and we will see you next week. for our Pride episode, for our big Pride episode part two. Then after that, we have our upcoming and up and coming episode part two. Got a lot of, a lot going on, a lot going on. I'm still jazzed. I still got it.

Brett Benner:

you still got it. You

Jason Blitman:

All right. Bye