Earlier this year I had the opportunity to read and review the fantastic novel Things We Couldn’t Say. I recently had the opportunity to interview author Jay Coles about how Things We Couldn’t Say came about, what it was like for him to pick music to include in the book, and the importance of having an ally if you are a queer teen.
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TBL: Hi Mr. Coles, thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. Things We Couldn’t Say is a lovely novel that focuses on a Black Queer youth navigating his sexuality and the reappearance of an absent parent. Can you tell me how this novel came about?
JC: Thank you for these kind words. Wow. My heart. Gio story came to me quite easily during the period of time I was stuck in my house in quarantine this past year. I knew that once Gio first popped into my thoughts, that his story was one about love, parental abandonment, forgiveness, second chances, and all the ways that family can hurt each other. Gio’s story is one that I can really empathize with because a lot of Gio is actually, well, me.
TBL: The relationship that stood out to me in Things We Couldn’t Say was the relationship between Gio and his stepmom Karina. How important was it to have at least one adult who accepted and loved Gio unconditionally?
JC: This was very important to me because I wanted there to be at least one adult who Gio could run to. I wanted Gio to have a person, because he deserved it, we all do. We all deserve to have at least one person we can trust with our full heart to know us deeply, even the intimate places we don’t really want to shine light into. I feel like Karina is definitely that for Gio, even though they still have a complicated relationship and dynamic.
TBL: Music (including the old school LUNIZ!) is a huge part of how Gio expresses himself. How did you decide what songs to include on his playlists?
I love making playlists, too, so I really understand Gio in that regard. I chose each song based off of what mood/tone I wanted to communicate for a particular scene. I wanted to show a diversity of music taste with Gio because I feel like my own music taste is literally ALL OVER THE PLACE!
Can you share any projects that you are working on next?
Sadly nope! But some exciting things are in the process! I cannot wait to share more with you!
Thank you Mr. Coles! For those interested here is a full review of Things We Couldn’t Say!