It’s June and that means it’s time for another year of Pride Month spotlights! I’m so excited to spotlight The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride by Hayli Thomson and share the interview with the author!
Welcome Hayli! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Hello, lovely Stuck in Fiction devotees! I’m an author from Sydney, Australia, and I write novels about candid characters for anybody who ever watched Jo March leap a fence and longed to be her best friend. I have a very soft spot for queer young adult comedies. I work part-time as a high school English tutor, and I like writing in unpretentious coffee shops, and long walks to the theatre.
How would you describe The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride in one sentence?
When a teen is named a finalist in a contest for marginalised writers, she has one month to come out as a lesbian before the winner announcement outs her first!
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride?
Seventeen-year-old Taylor lives and breathes her admiration for funny women. Funny women have taught Taylor to run with a quick-wit, and although her sharp-tongue gets her into trouble in more ways than one, she’s deeply loved for her sense of humour. Pining over classmate Charlotte in Theatre, Taylor describes herself and Charlotte as “like kindred spirits, like those creepy Greek masks hanging above the theater room curtains—I was comedy and she was tragedy.”While Charlotte is blunt, ambitious, and knows what she wants, Taylor is riddled with imposter syndrome. It’s Charlotte’s self-confidence that drives Taylor to want more for herself—and they have chemistry for days.
What representation will readers find in The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride?
We have lesbian rep, bi rep, rep of the ugly biphobia that runs rampant in the LGBTQIA+ community; we have rep of the intergenerational bonds between women, and rep of unlearning all the nastiness you’ve ever been taught to figure out who you are and what you really think.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
Genius Zadie Smith’s lecture on just this plays on a loop in my head. Smith talks about the Macro Planner and the Micro Manager—“Macro Planners have their houses basically built from day one.” I’m a macro planner, so from the first line I know how the story needs to end, and I know the beats I have to hit in every room of the house. But figuring out the way the scenes ‘look’ as I go is the most motivating thing in the world. Should we choose carpet or floorboards for this room of the house i.e. should these girls hold hands for the first time in Boston’s historic Quincy Market, or should their fingers first brush reaching for Fun Home in a queer bookstore?
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
This is a hard one: it’s a tie between Taylor and Charlotte’s awkward first date at Red’s, and the chapter in which Taylor sneaks Charlotte into her wax museum after close. Every time I edited those scenes, I felt like I was intruding on moments that weren’t meant for anybody else’s eyes!
What is something readers will find in The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride that they may not realize based on the synopsis?
Salem is more than just the setting—Salem is its own character.
What’s something you hope readers will take away from The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride?
That we have the power to decide how long the claws of imposter syndrome can grow.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride?
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, and…can I say a film? Lady Bird.
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I’ve just wrapped up revisions on my next queer young adult comedy, which I’m obsessed with. It has summer camp vibes with a twist (I don’t think I can reveal that part just yet—sorry!), and just as I felt about Taylor and Charlotte, I loved these girls to bits, and had so much fun turning taboos on their heads.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride is a queer coming of age story with biting humor about a young lesbian striving to win a spot on SNL.
Taylor Parker isn’t out yet, but she’s keeping an even bigger secret: she entered a sketch contest where the grand prize is an internship at SNL.
When Taylor applied to this opportunity for marginalized writers, she checked the “LGBTQ” box on the application without really thinking about it. But now that she’s a finalist, she realizes she’ll need to be out to win. Whether she’s ready or not.
In the month leading up to the competition results, Taylor befriends Charlotte Grey, whom Taylor’s had a crush on for years. As they spend more time together, they realize they’re genuinely falling for each other—and while Charlotte is willing to take it slow, Taylor doesn’t want to ask her to keep their relationship secret forever. Taylor just hopes she can muster the courage to come out before all her secrets do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hayli Thomson is an author from Sydney, Australia. She writes novels about candid characters for anybody who ever watched Jo March leap a fence and longed to be her best friend. Bizarrely, during her teen years, Hayli was afflicted with a “headache” every third Monday in September, when she was left with no option but to stay home from school and watch her favourite female comedians collect Emmys live on the other side of the world. Her debut YA novel, The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride, hits shelves June 2022. Hayli is represented by Bridget Smith at JABberwocky Literary, New York.