It’s June and that means it’s time for another year of Pride Month spotlights! I’m so excited to spotlight Out of the Blue by Jason June and share the interview with the author!
Welcome Jason June! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Absolutely! I’m Jason June (it’s a two-name first name without the hyphen or the Olsen twin), and I love to write LGBTQ+ stories full of love and lust and gay shenanigans. I’m robsessed with merpeople (as you can probably tell by my next book) and always have been. I live in Austin, Texas with my hubby and Pomeranian, Pom Brokaw (also I realize the wording is funny, but to clarify: my hubby and Pomeranian are not the same being), and my career dream would be to someday be cast to play Laura Dern’s sister in anything.
How would you describe Out of the Blue in one sentence?
Totally disenchanted merperson, Crest, has to come on shore to help a human when they meet cutie lifeguard, Sean, and agree to fake date so that Sean can win his ex back.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of Out of the Blue?
Crest (pronounced in mer like the actual sound of a cresting wave, but since humans can’t make that sound, Crest is given the name Ross on land) has to go on land for a month in a mer tradition that they are totally not excited about. Crest is disgusted by all things human, so when they pop up on land they have all kinds of quips and sassy things to say about human life. But despite being pretty sarcastic to their core, they’re also a big believer in everyone getting to live their best life. Like most mer, Crest doesn’t prescribe to gender as humans define it, and identifies most closely to nonbinary identities you find on land.
Sean is a lifeguard who loves rom-coms and can’t wait to direct them someday. He lives in Los Angeles and loves his city for being the hub of movie-making. Sean is such a lover, and wants to constantly give of himself to help make others happy. This has its pluses and minuses, the biggest of the latter being he doesn’t see the breakup from his boyfriend, Dominic, coming at all. He’s a hopeless romantic, and will do anything to win D back. Which just so happens to coincide perfectly with the arrival of Crest on land.
What representation will readers find in Out of the Blue?
Readers will find gay, nonbinary, and chubby inclusivity in this book!
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
I know from the beginning. I am a hardcore plotter (it’s the very Type A Virgo in me!), so I write pages and pages of outline before I begin. Endings are also my absolute favorite part to write, and more often than not are the things that don’t change in revision.
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
Without giving too much away, my favorite scene is the ending. It’s very action-packed, but doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, and I think it ties in the heart of my two main characters nicely. I also love so so so much that the final word in the whole book is “blowholes”.
What is something readers will find in Out of the Blue that they may not realize based on the synopsis?
They’re going to find gentle explorations of mental health (I only say gentle in that this is still at its core a light-hearted book, but does have moments where we discuss serious issues) and making tough decisions when you’re desperate to stop someone else from making a choice that you perceive as a massive mistake. This comes through Sean’s BFF Kavya, who is really freaking amazing. She’s blunt, at times crass, and is all jokes, but she shows us that even jokesters have their own loves and worries and stories to tell.
What’s something you hope readers will take away from Out of the Blue?
I hope readers take away the fact that even if you fall for someone hard and fast when you’re young, it doesn’t make those feelings any less real or valid than if you fall for someone over time. I know I’m preaching to the choir to teen readers on this one, but I think sometimes, especially as we grow older, people can trivialize teenage relationships because they often seem to come on so quickly, but those intense bursts of love and feeling have such a lasting impact on us.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed Out of the Blue?
IN DEEPER WATERS by F.T. Lukens! We’ve got merpeople in both, and both of our books have a focus on queer joy!
THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER by Jen Wang! We both explore gender and the arbitrary rules society says we need to act within to “correctly” display our identities.
KISS & TELL by Adib Khorram! If you’re into the movie references Sean gives a lot of in OOTB and want more pop culture, read K&T for a lot of music behind-the-scenes action! I loved how Adib so perfectly weaved together pop culture and how we discuss queerness and queer artists!
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I’m currently working on my next YA with Harper, a contemporary stand-alone called RILEY WEAVER NEEDS A DATE TO THE GAYBUTANTE BALL. I’m in love with this story so much and its explorations of what it’s like to be femme in the gay world that can often link your worth to your ability to present as “traditionally” masculine. It’s still light-hearted and fun, especially as we focus on just how gay and chaotic the Gaybutante Society is, but I’m hoping it helps a lot of folks feel seen.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Crest is not excited to be on their Journey: the monthlong sojourn on land all teen merfolk must undergo. The rules are simple: Help a human within one moon cycle and return to Pacifica to become an Elder–or fail and remain stuck on land forever. Crest is eager to get their Journey over and done with: after all, humans are disgusting. They’ve pollluted the planet so much that there’s a floating island of trash that’s literally the size of a country.
In Los Angeles with a human body and a new name, Crest meets Sean, a human lifeguard whose boyfriend has recently dumped him. Crest agrees to help Sean make his ex jealous and win him back. But as the two spend more time together and Crest’s pespective on humans begins to change, they’ll soon be torn between two worlds. And fake dating just might lead to real feelings…
This instant New York Times bestselling novel from Jason June dives into the many definitions of the world home and shows how love can help us find the truest versions of ourselves.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
You’ve come here wondering, “What is the meaning of life?” Er, I mean, Jason June’s life. Jason June (it’s a two-name first name, like Mary-Kate without the hyphen or the Olsen twin) is a genderqueer writer mermaid who loves to create picture books that mix the flamboyantly whacky with the slightly dark, and young adult contemporary rom-coms full of love and lust and hijinks.
When not writing, JJ zips about Austin, Texas. He loves dinosaurs, unicorns, Pomeranians, and anything magical that takes you to a different world or time. JJ is a tried and true Laura Dern stan, and he is actively looking for an Andalite friend.
His picture books include WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE, illustrated by Jess Pauwels, and PORCUPINE CUPID, a queer-inclusive Valentine’s Day story, illustrated by Lori Richmond, both from Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster. For under-the-sea whimsical adventures, check out the MERMICORN ISLAND chapter book series from Scholastic! And get ready for JAY’S GAY AGENDA, Jason June’s debut YA, queer rom-com, coming June 1, 2021 from HarperTeen!