It’s June and that means it’s time for another year of Pride Month spotlights! I’m so excited to spotlight This Is Why They Hate Us by Aaron H. Aceves and share the interview with the author!
Welcome Aaron! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
I’m honored you reached out! I’m still in the stage of my career where interview requests still make me giddy haha. My name is Aaron, and I’m a young adult novelist, shorty story writer, and professor at UT Austin.
How would you describe This Is Why They Hate Us in one sentence?
One messy bisexual teenager’s summer of self-discovery.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of This Is Why They Hate Us?
Enrique “Quique” Luna is is the aforementioned messy bisexual. He’s a 17-year-old Chicano growing up in East LA. Full of self-deprecating humor and anxiety. He falls in love every five seconds and has never once been chill about anything.
What representation will readers find in This Is Why They Hate Us?
Readers will find a diverse array of ethnicities and sexualities in TIWTHU. Quique’s best friend Fabiola is Afro-Cuban/Puerto Rican and bi. His other close friend and crush Saleem is Palestinian-American and Muslim. Other characters in the book are Black, Vietnamese, gay, and straight.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
So I’d almost finished three books before TIWTHU, and I knew the ending to each of those books. But with this book I wrote it chronologically, not knowing where I’d end up until I got there.
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
I think my favorite quote has to be, “What a horrible weight it is to be silent when you want to shout, to hold back when you want to reach out, to freeze when you want to melt.” It’s a bit of accidental poetry that perfectly describes how painful inaction when you’re in love can be.
What is something readers will find in This Is Why They Hate Us that they may not realize based on the synopsis?
So based on the synopsis, readers will assume the book is a fun, comedic sex romp–and it is–but there’s also a lot of darker themes in the book. Quique suffers from mental illness, specifically suicidal ideation, so at certain points it can get pretty heavy. Those scenes are usually remedied with a quick dose of humor (a conscious effort on my part), but it can get emotional!
What’s something you hope readers will take away from This Is Why They Hate Us?
Honestly, I just want queer teens of color to love themselves even more after they read it. I want them to laugh, roll their eyes, cry, and blush in a safe space.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed This Is Why They Hate Us?
Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa, Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian, and Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram.
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I’m trying to write my next YA right now, which would be about high school journalism, something I was obsessed with when I was a teen. But I’m actually further along with a short story collection and novel for an adult literary audience. We’ll see which project (if any!) get picked up first!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Enrique “Quique” Luna has one goal this summer—get over his crush on Saleem Kanazi by pursuing his other romantic prospects. Never mind that he’s only out to his best friend, Fabiola. Never mind that he has absolutely zero game. And definitely forget the fact that good and kind and, not to mention, beautiful Saleem is leaving L.A. for the summer to meet a girl his parents are trying to set him up with.
Luckily, Quique’s prospects are each intriguing in their own ways. There’s stoner-jock Tyler Montana, who might be just as interested in Fabiola as he is in Quique; straight-laced senior class president, Ziggy Jackson; and Manny Zuniga, who keeps looking at Quique like he’s carne asada fresh off the grill. With all these choices, Quique is sure to forget about Saleem in no time.
But as the summer heats up and his deep-seated fears and anxieties boil over, Quique soon realizes that getting over one guy by getting under a bunch of others may not have been the best laid plan and living his truth can come at a high cost.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aaron H. Aceves (he/him) is a bisexual, Mexican-American writer born and raised in East L.A. He graduated from Harvard College and received his MFA from Columbia University. His fiction has appeared in jmww, Epiphany, and them., among other places. He currently lives in Texas, where he serves as an Early Career Provost Fellow at UT Austin, and his debut novel, This Is Why They Hate Us, will be released August 23rd by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. He can be found on Twitter/TikTok @aaronhaceves and Instagram @aaronaceves.