Camp is due to ‘come out’ this month in the U.K. and i luckily got the chance to ask Lev some questions about his new book. It’s been a while since our last interview, and i always find him a delight to talk to with really interesting answers to questions. Thank you hugely to Lev for answering some questions for us, and to Simon from Penguin for organising!
Was it easier to write an all gay cast of characters or harder?
I don’t know if it was easier or harder, exactly – the same challenges are there, regardless of sexual orientation: how do I make sure everyone feels completely human, and not symbolic? How do I give them their moment to shine? How do I get them to the next part of the story? But it was a lot more fun, because I know the queer community (or at least my queer community) and I got to show the best parts of it off.
Do you have any real-life stories behind Camp? That are okay to share with us at least…
I went to a summer camp, too… but it was a Jewish summer camp. Kinda conservative. I did not do much making out at the boathouse, despite my best efforts.
We have a series on our blog called The Book Shop Series. If there’s one LGBTQ+ book shop you think people should visit, which is it?
In the UK? Gays the Word. I visited there on my Jack of Hearts tour last year and it was a real pleasure – warm, knowledgeable. Highly recommended.
Last year, we talked about the change in YA and especially in LGBTQ+ novels in YA. You commented that you will be happy with the progress of LGBTQ+ literature when there are the same amount of queer protagonists as straight ones in the history of literature. Have you seen an improvement in the amount of queer literature in the last year?
Oh absolutely. Not hitting that particular goal yet, sadly, but the amount of queer books coming out since last year has gone up by a good 50% at least, so that’s some nice progress. Here’s to next year it being ONLY queer books. It doesn’t have to be like that forever, just a year or two. There were a lot of years with only straight books, after all.
Is there a topic or something you’d like to cover when writing in the future?
Camp is inspired by those old sixties screwball sex comedies, so I’ve been thinking a lot of about historical queerness, and reclaiming history. I do it a little in Camp – I have the history classes – but I feel like since we are seeing a rise in queer fiction and queer stories, it’s time to start taking back history, too. We’ve always been here, we just weren’t allowed to tell our stories. Let’s do that now, let’s catch up.
Thank you again to Lev for answering our questions, and being one of the loveliest guys in publishing at the moment! I love chatting to Lev and i already cannot wait for his next book.
Remember to pick up your copy of Camp, ‘coming out’ on the 28th of May!