Posted in 2022, Author Interview, Felicia

Fight + Flight | Author Interview | Pride Month

It’s June and that means it’s time for another year of Pride Month spotlights! I’m so excited to spotlight Fight + Flight by Jules Machias and share the interview with the author!

INTERVIEW

Welcome Jules! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?

 Thanks so much for interviewing me! I’m Jules Machias, author of Both Can Be True and Fight + Flight. I write books I wish had been available when I was in middle school.

How would you describe Fight + Flight in one sentence?

Fight + Flight in one sentence: An active shooter drill gone wrong compels two middle schoolers to face their fears in very different ways.

Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of Fight + Flight?

The main characters are Avery Hart and Sarah Bell. Avery has recently been diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects connective tissue and can cause problems with joints, such as dislocations and pain. She’s healing from shoulder surgery after a dirt-bike wipeout and her arm is strapped to her torso for most of the book. Avery is sassy and brash; she’s used to being physically active and is frustrated that she can no longer do a lot of her favorite activities. Sarah is grieving the recent loss of her favorite aunt, and her cousin/best friend has just moved away. She’s been experiencing panic attacks multiple times a day and is struggling in school. She uses art to cope with her panic. She’s a lot quieter than Avery, and she’s naturally a peacekeeper.

What representation will readers find in Fight + Flight?

Through Avery, readers can find representation of chronic illness, particularly Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and the ways chronic pain can grind a person down. Avery struggles with coming to terms with a diagnosis that means she won’t be able to do a lot of what she loves to do—drumming, dirt biking, being active in general—and with facing the reality that her condition will get worse as she ages. Avery is pansexual and she has two moms, one of whom is trans. Her best friend is black.

Through Sarah, readers will find representation of panic, anxiety, grief, and a struggle with faith. Her parents don’t think she really has a problem, so she actively works on her own to find ways to handle her anxiety and panic as the book goes on. Sarah’s family is Catholic; she has an older brother who is gay. Her best friend is Latina.

Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?

I always know how the books will go because I plan them out meticulously before I start writing, crafting the plot, setting, structure, and each character’s journey to best communicate the novel’s theme. As I write, though, characters often surprise me with their emotional reactions and their quirky personalities—which can be a delightful experience!

Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?

Favorite scene: I love chapter 21, when Avery and Sarah open up to each other about their deepest fears. I’m a huge sucker for moments of genuine connection, especially between two people who seem very different on the surface. I’m also really happy with how the art came out and how it reflects Sarah’s thoughts and emotions as she moves from a place of fear and anxiety to one of self-confidence.

What is something readers will find in Fight + Flight that they may not realize based on the synopsis?

I’m always looking for opportunities to include queer and trans characters that don’t center those characters’ experiences on their queerness/transness—basically to show that us queer/trans folks are human beings going through our days and living our lives just like everyone does. I hope readers enjoy watching Tuney, who is trans, trying her best to parent her wild-card daughter Avery.

What’s something you hope readers will take away from Fight + Flight?

I hope this story will help young readers gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of honest communication and connection. Too often, we bury how we feel out of worry that we’ll disappoint others or make them turn away from us if they don’t understand where we’re coming from—which can cause all sorts of problems. When we’re brave enough to be vulnerable with one another, our connections can grow deeper and stronger, which helps us feel supported and loved.

What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed Fight + Flight?

“Too Bright to See” by Kyle Lukoff
“Middletown” by Sarah Moon
“Those Kids from Fawn Creek” by Erin Entrada Kelly

What’s next for you? Anything you can share?

I’m working on quite a few books, and all of them include art. I have in-the-works projects for the adult market, the YA market, and the picture book market. I can’t wait to share more about them!

ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: Fight + Flight
AUTHOR: Jules Machias
RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2022

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

Synopsis:

Avery Hart lives for the thrill and speed of her dirt bike and the pounding thump of her drum kit. But after she’s diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a disease that affects her joints, Avery splits her time between endless physical therapy and worrying that her fun and independence are over for good. Sarah Bell is familiar with worry, too. For months, she’s been having intense panic attacks. No matter how much she pours her anxiety into making art, she can’t seem to get a grip on it, and she’s starting to wonder if she’ll be this way forever.

Just as both girls are reaching peak fear about what their futures hold, their present takes a terrifying turn when their school is seemingly attacked by gunmen. Though they later learn it was an active shooter drill, the traumatic experience bonds the girls together in a friendship that will change the way they view their perceived weaknesses—and help them find strength, and more, in each other. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jules Machias is an author, editor, artist, and athlete who loves dogs beyond all reason. Both Can Be True is inspired by their combined passions for rescuing animals and breaking down society’s gender norms to create a more inclusive world. Jules has worked at a veterinarian office, a construction company, a car-parts warehouse, and a middle school for kids with disabilities. They now own and operate an editing and proofreading business for clients in publishing and marketing. Jules lives in Cincinnati with their family and three rescue dogs: the world’s happiest pit bull, a sweet Chihuahua with congestive heart failure, and a paralyzed terrier with a whole lot of sass. To learn more about Jules and their dogs, visit http://www.jules-machias.com.

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