The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer

Guest: Phil Stamper

May 19, 2020 Marissa Meyer Season 2020 Episode 15
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Guest: Phil Stamper
Chapters
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Guest: Phil Stamper
May 19, 2020 Season 2020 Episode 15
Marissa Meyer
Transcript
Speaker 1:

Hmm

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

hi everyone and welcome to the happy writer. This is a podcast that aims to bring readers more books to enjoy and to help authors find more joy in their writing. I am your host, Marissa Meyer. Thanks so much for listening today. I truly hope you guys are continuing to stay healthy and safe out there. Let's see, one thing that is making me happy this week, it is a small thing, literally Meyer lemons. Um, not just because they're, you know, Meyer lemon. So I feel like I have some ownership of them. Um, but I received a batch of Meyer lemons in our weekly farm box that we get, um, which is cool cause I didn't have to go to the grocery store for them. And I love, love, love lemon desserts. So I got to channel my inner cath from heartless and make lemon shortbread cookies and homemade lemon curd. Um, and it has all been delicious. Uh, and so that is the thing that is brightening, uh, my dreary Baney week here in Washington. And another thing of course, that I am so happy about is that I get to talk to today's guest. He is a debut author whose NASA themed. Why a romance? The gravity of us came out this past February. Please welcome Phil stamper.

Speaker 3:

Hi. Thanks for having me. I also love lemon desserts, so I that would make me just as happy.

Speaker 1:

We already have something in common. I was, I grew up feeling like if it wasn't chocolate, it wasn't dessert. Um, so for a long, long period in my life, I did not give lemon the credit that it deserved. And now it's probably my favorite thing.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I've ignored many lemon cakes in my life and I'm, you know, trying to make up for that. I think in my adulthood

Speaker 1:

we do. We do grow into things sometimes. Uh, you are in the heart of this. You're in Brooklyn. How, how was life in your bunker right now?

Speaker 3:

Uh, it's, uh, it's slow and quiet. Um, yeah, it's weird to see New York city like this. It's, um, you know, there are still people on the streets and you know, there, there are a billion people who live on my block it seems, but, um, we're all being kind of respectful and not going out when we can. And, you know, I go out to take the dog out and that's kind of the only time I see the sun all day. So it's just very odd. Um, but you know, I think kind of like Washington, we've been going through this for awhile, so, um, thankfully we've learned how to make it work best for us, how to like minimize our trips to the grocery store. Um, so we're finally getting good at this. Um, and it seems to be helping, which is great. It's nice to see a little bit of positive news about, um, over the last couple of weeks. Um, especially in New York.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yes, for sure. It

Speaker 3:

is. I think at the beginning of it everyone was a little bit like, why are we doing this and is it worth it? Um, and now that we are seeing the, the numbers start to go down. Um, it, it does feel like, okay, we've made some good decisions. We've, we've worked together, we're going to get through this. Um, so good. Uh, I have to, I have to tell you a little side story about, um, your book. It starts out very traumatic. Um, just yesterday, one of my daughters, I have five year old twins. One of them fell off her bike and got a fracture in her wrist. Um, and which was she is okay. Thank you. Um, she, yeah, she's going to be fine. We're waiting to hear from the orthopedic doctor right now to determine if she needs to have a cast or not.

Speaker 3:

Um, but while we were rushing her to the doctor and she was of course very upset and crying and in pain. And I asked her if she wanted me to read for her for a little while and I had your book, the gravity of us sitting there. And she said yes. And so I started to read to her, um, and it was maybe like a 20 minute drive and she didn't, she stopped crying and she didn't speak the entire time. And I kept like pausing and asking like, are you okay? Do you, do you want me to keep reading? And she guessed, mommy, keep reading. Um, and I don't think she really had any idea what the book was about, other than it included astronauts. Um, and that was enough. That was enough to hold her interest and keep her focused on it. Um, so thank you for that. That's that story. I will always have that memory of reading the gravity of us as we're rushing to the doctor. Well, I'm glad it was able to distract her some and yes. Astronaut's very cool. So that's a good way to distract someone.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Every kid, no matter your age, astronauts, astronauts are always in, I feel. Um, so for listeners who want to know about your book more than it includes astronauts, right? What else is there? It's, it's the number one. No, that's so not true. There's so much in this book. Um, that's wonderful. Uh, tell listeners, what is the book about?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I like to pitch the story as a, um, kind of a reimagining of the 60 space race. Um, so I'm not a scifi author and I have never wanted to be, I love reading it, but it's just always not been something that's been on my radar. I love writing contemporary. It's, but I've always had this kind of passion for the 16th space race for, um, well for the current current NASA programs. Um, anything with space really. And I was just like, okay, these are separate interests. I'm not going to ever be able to bind them. That's great. Um, and then I started reading more, um, biographies about the 60 space race and I realized that there was so much happening on the ground. There's so much like fantastic, terrifying drama that was happening like on the ground with these astronaut families who were kind of forced to uproot their lives, um, and just like give everything up so that they could go with the astronaut husband to, um, kind of become a star, um, in these magazines, which is like not what anyone signs up for. Um, and I just like, I love that drama and I thought there was such a cool way that I could modernize it. So in this story I wanted to make sure that I was, um, I was writing a queer love story and building that into, into it. So it is essentially a queer love story between two teens, two sons of astronauts who fall in love while their parents are kind of buying for the same spot on the world's first human mission to Mars.

Speaker 1:

I really loved the, um, the reality TV aspect of this story. Um, I thought it was such a fascinating twist because you, I'd never thought of the space race like that before. And this idea of, you know, we're all so focused on these astronauts and, and this mission to get to the moon. Um, but you're right, it really, it did put the families in such an interesting position where suddenly they're celebrities. Um, and you took that and ran with it. Where did, where did that idea of incorporating the reality TV show aspect?

Speaker 3:

Um, so I love when people kind of, um, pick up on that because it's really not a, um, it's not quite as random as it seems. Like when I talk about the reality show element of this, um, which, and just to give some background, um, there's a reality show called star watch that is basically like a real Housewives of Houston, Texas that's happening. Um, you know, kind of a TMZ mixed in there. Uh, a very, um, buzz-worthy focused reality show that features the astronauts and they're in their families and, um, kind of brings an excitement to the mission that NASA hasn't seen since the sixties. So that's kind of, that's how I wanted this media element to be kind of, uh, presented. Um, and you'll find out through the story, you know, are they good, are they bad? How do they help NASA, how do they kind of harm them or change the narrative?

Speaker 3:

Um, but at its barest level, it is actually not too far off from what the real astronaut families in the sixties space race actually went through. Um, because they had so many different like overlapping layers of, um, of like different types of media happening all at the same time. So they're like uprooted. They moved to this new house there. Uh, the, the husbands are being, you know, assigned to flights, things like that. And then all of a sudden they have massive news coverage from local news vans like parked all day on their, um, in their yard. Um, they have all these local reporters, writers wanting quotes, calling all the time. Um, and that all kind of makes sense. Like you, you look at that time and obviously like network TV news, um, or organizations, local news and um, and like the New York times and big papers, um, as well as local papers.

Speaker 3:

They all wanted to cover what was obviously one of the biggest things happening around that time. But also there was this element that time magazine life magazine at the time, um, built into it where they actually got a contract to, uh, um, to basically have access to all of the astronaut families lives. And this, they gave them a lot of money for it, which is great and unusual because they were government workers. Um, but it offered them a bit of a reprieve from the media coverage that was happening outside. So it was kind of a, okay, we'll invite you into our homes. You can take pictures, you can have exclusive interviews. Um, and that gives us a reason to say no local news, Chuck, you can't record in here. You can't bang on my door at four in the morning. That kind of stuff. So it was a really precarious situation.

Speaker 3:

And, um, oftentimes life magazine and all of the different types of media that were happening at the time were competing against each other. And I thought in modernizing that, that how would NASA, how would they achieve that? And one of the ways that like came to me immediately was a reality show element. And then I started thinking of other, um, kind of other ways of media that are, sorry, other types of media that would work in this. And uh, obviously there's gonna be a more traditional media element to it, but the, today's traditional media is a little bit more focused on, you know, buzzy things just like social media and everything else is. Um, but then also I really wanted to, um, pit all of that against the main character who is a social media journalist and he offers a kind of, um, Cal, my main character offers a kind of transparency and really a, um, he has a very strong moral character, we'll say, even if he's not right.

Speaker 3:

He thinks he is all the time. Um, exactly. Um, but he's able to do that because the social media journalism becomes a way that he can, he can tell the real story, his mind, what the real story is. So you pick something that's like real and authentic and coming from the voice of the team who's using his voice for, um, for what he presumes is good. And most of the time it is at least it's well intentioned and then you kind of pit that against, um, the more buzzy, um, reality show element. And so that offers just a conflict that carried the entire book. Like there are a ton of different plot lines in there, but that's one that like that from the beginning it starts off pretty stressful and it ramps up all the way through the end.

Speaker 1:

It does. No, and I thought it was so well crafted. Um, and I loved, I mean especially at being of course a, a book that you have Cal who's a teenager who's, you know, kind of a social media phenomenon in a way and kind of opposing this very successful adult run TV show. Um, and it felt very timely. You know, obviously fake news is a word that gets bantered around and has now for a number of years. Um, and it kind of would be so easy to interpret, you know, Cal and his social media following as just, you know, buzzy and, and fake and just going for the hits and the watches and whatever. Um, but you really turn everything on its head in a way that, uh, that I thought was really well done and really fun to read about.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And I actually, so that was inspired kind of specifically from some of the, um, some of the, so I was actually after the 2016 election, I was running it around that time. And so I saw a lot of teens kind of starting to use their voice, um, in a more impactful way. And the way they were getting traction was through social media. And so that's why we're just really made sense in this way, book that like, if someone is going to use their voice for really anything they're passionate about, regardless of topic, um, they're not gonna be writing up ads for the New York times. Like they're not going to be, um, producing reality shows. They're going to be on social media and they're going to be, you know, young at their phone the whole time. Um, and like that's, that's how you do it and that's, that's what works. And so I really wanted to show that, you know, we start off, he's already in his stride. He's not building his following. He is, he's in it. Um, and I really liked playing with that kind of dynamic.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And it was a great reminder too that everybody does have a voice. Um, and, and if you can get your voice out there and, and get your, your people tuned into what you're saying, uh, that everyone is in a position to make a difference, uh, in this day and age, which was a really cool message. And I think something that probably a lot of your readers love to see and love to hear. Um, so do you think that if reality TV had been a thing in the sixties, would they have done a reality TV show because it seems so believable.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I don't know. I can't imagine they wouldn't have some sort of element like that. And that's, I think, I think it makes more sense now because there are so many competing form, there's so many things out there that are competing for your attention. Um, like even just normal, like do I watch a movie or do I pick up a book? That's why I never read books because I have eight other things like pulling my attention away. I do read books, I read a ton of books, but I feel like I should be reading more as an author. Um, so like you have all these things fighting period attention and so what captures your attention more than like the ne, the next like real Housewives installment. Like that is a kind of energy that like totally makes sense to use in an environment like that where it's like, yes, this is a governmental thing, this is space, this is something that's very important.

Speaker 3:

Um, and when Cal sees that he's kind of averse to it, not specifically because he hates reality shows or anything like that. He doesn't really have anything against reality shows in general. He does have, um, he does have some feelings about like clickbait and things like that that's kind of separate from his feelings on reality shows. But it was not that his bonds were like reality TV in general is something that he doesn't like. It's more that he saw so much about the project that he loved that was rooted in science and um, kind of exploration and the experience of like getting to the moon for example, was not something that we liked because the astronaut families were perfect and charming and like were, had really well written pieces in life magazine that obviously helped it. Um, and it helped the program in general. But like if you look back on it, you're, you're, you are amazed at the fact that we made it to the moon, that it was a huge technological moment.

Speaker 3:

It was a huge scientific moment and achievement. And so he wants to bring that back because NASA had a weird balance back then, but they at least had a balance of like the focusing on the science. And so when Cal enters, he kind of, he feels that they've lost that. And so he's, and NASA also kind of feels like they've lost it throughout because they are a little bit more desperate for, um, for funding and you can't have funding without support and you can't have support without attention and you can't without. So it's like, it's one of those, um, issues where it's even happening right now. They're trying to gain momentum and support for, um, the Artemis project that's happening right now and it's, you know, maybe they need a reality show. I will ask, have you pitched to NASA? I have an idea. I have a solution for you while I'm waiting for the perfect time because literally like, I think it was like a month before the book came out early, very close to my release date, they, um, they announced that they were, um, they were opening their candidates search for astronauts for the Artimus project for um, like throughout the, anyone with, uh, it was like anyone with a masters in science could apply basically.

Speaker 3:

So they were like really broadening their scope for astronauts. And like that's kind of something we enter into with story that I wrote four years ago. It was just so weird. It's like, it's bizarre when those things happen, but, um, anyway, I'm going to pitch the reality show to them very soon. I'm waiting for the first ones to be selected so that, um, so that we really know what's going to work.

Speaker 1:

Right. So I hope they pick very interesting personalities. I'll wash them. That'd be nuts. If it actually happened. I would love that. Yeah. But then of course the nutty thing is it doesn't seem that nutty. It totally seems like something that they would do. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Cal and Leon are there in NASA, um, and they meet a character named Carmella who it's like her job to design the simulations, um, that the, to test the astronauts. And if this goes wrong, now what do you do? And okay, but now this goes wrong. Now what do you do? Um, and it opened the scene into a really great conversation in which Callan, Leon are asking each other, which side would you want to be on? Do you want to be the person creating the simulations or do you want to be the person, uh, the astronaut trying to figure it out and that greatness, um, you know, a great kind of window into both of their personalities. Um, and so it made me want to ask you which side would you want to be on?

Speaker 3:

Oh God. Oh, that's such a good question. And nobody's asked that. And that's like one of my favorite moments in the book because I mean it's been, it's one of the nerdiest moments.

Speaker 1:

[inaudible]

Speaker 3:

literally it was just like put everything cool into lunch. I mean it's all cool. But like that was, that was loaded with um, nerdy stuff. Um, cause they're trying to balance like a lot of the real science that would be happening. Stuff that you know, that I saw from the Gillian documentary is from the Apollo missions, like that kind of stuff. Um, and you know, I wanted to, to highlight that role and Carmela is amazing and the little time she has on on screen will say, um, she kind of steals the show.

Speaker 1:

It's funny cause she's not a huge character, but she, I came away from the book with her being one of my favorites. Like I just want to be buddies with Carmella.

Speaker 3:

I, yeah. And I just got a tweet actually like this morning, I think that was like somebody standing Carmela and I was like, Oh my God, like good, good taste. But like I just, I was just kind of amazed that like, you know, you write these side characters and you want them to have developed stories and you do it the best you can, but you know, they don't have enough page time for you to really get into like any of these characters could be their own book. Um, but yeah, no, I mean I love, this is all just by the way me stalling so that

Speaker 1:

I did kind of feel like, you know, but you haven't answered my question and I like tap on the screen.

Speaker 3:

No. Um, I think I, I hate to cop out but I think have to be a mix of both because I am both sides of that conversation. And that's why it was so easy to write that scene because I do want to be like, I am an author, I'm very good at branding and leading and like that kind of stuff. I like to be the face of things. I would love to be the one in there solving problems, taking care of things. But then on the flip side, I really love the intellectual aspect of like, here are a hundred things that could go wrong. I'm going to make that happen so that if it does happen in real life, you can pull it from that knowledge. Because I think one of the most fascinating like kind of stories from the research, um, that I found was like there were, um, Oh my God, which I forget which launch it was.

Speaker 3:

It was basically there was a, there was, um, a pretty critical moment in one of the Apollo missions where, um, kind of the difference between failure and success and you know, whether that meant like landing on the moon or just a successful mission. Um, there was one moment where a, one of the astronauts had to recall, um, one of the hundreds of training exercises that they did refer to a manual that they created for that. So that back in Houston they were able to find that manual flip to the right page and then give them measurements or something that they could use as a way to fix it. So it wasn't even the exact issue that they had gone through before, but it was just like you had to have so many wrong things happen or like happened in your mind, um, that you had to plan out all these things that could go wrong just so that they had this huge resource, like you were supporting pastor Johnson in a way that like no other in such a unique way. And so I always, I love that, but I guess I would have have to, I prefer to be the astronaut. I really liked the attention.

Speaker 1:

Now that I've said all that, I'm just going to scrap that. I love that. The reason you want to be the astronaut is not like for space exploration and to further mankind. You just want the attention.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I mean I'm not really looking forward to like the whole pooping in a tube for a week, but like I like these, I like the attention, you know, a lot of cameras out there, you know,

Speaker 1:

that's fair enough.

Speaker 3:

Like, like 17 astronauts come from Ohio or something like, so it's, and I'm from originally, so I think it's just in my blood. Yeah. I'm from Dayton, which is the birthplace of aviation and according to our, uh, license plates, um, cause Orville and Wilbur Wright were born there and lived there. Um, and then they like took a drive to city hall or kitty Hawk once and they went North Carolina's where climbing was invented even though they built everything in Ohio.

Speaker 1:

Is, is the, that having the ties to aviation, is that why you think so many people from Ohio are inspired to astronauts? Like what's, is there a connection there? Yeah,

Speaker 3:

I really don't know. And I think there, I think part of it is because there's such a big military connection in Ohio and I think there's just a lot of people join the air force and a lot of people in the air force at the time just kind of wanted to push their, push themselves to the limit and that was just a good option. Um, so I think most of it was just circumstantial and a lot of people from the military voluntarily joined where, um, just have to be from Ohio compared to some of the other States. But I also think, um, I dunno, I, me personally, what I've always loved is just like no as, as raised like stargazing and like I, I missed that in New York and I love, um, you know, I love just like looking up at the stars and like being like, wow, we landed on the moon. And like, it's just something that's always been a part of, um, a part of my interests. And I don't think that's an Ohio specific thing, but like, who doesn't like to look up at the stars kind of wonder? And I did a lot of that as a kid. So I think that definitely had to lead to this in some way.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I think when you really do stop to appreciate it, it is very magical to think about, um, when you were talking about the astronauts and have it the training that they went through and all of the things that they, that went wrong in these simulations again and again, and also in the book, you know, talking to Carmella and her laying out like the work that she does. Um, I couldn't help but feel like there's a ton of parallels there to being a writer. Um, and how like one of our jobs as a writer is to make things go wrong again and again and again, and then see, watch the characters kind of scramble to get it right. Um, and I think that was one of the reasons why I, I connected so much with Carmella to is there,

Speaker 3:

there's connection and I've never, I'm sorry, I don't know if you're about to ask this specific thing, but I've never actually drawn that conclusion myself and, um, but it does make so much sense that like, you know, that's what we do. We, we write, we rewrite, we think ahead. Um, and we have to plan for eight different outcomes and then when the ninth outcome comes, we have to be ready for that as well. And we have to adapt and it's just kind of the perfect role for her right pair. And it totally makes sense that you kind of see that process in her work.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. You know, writing and being a NASA scientist, very similar occupations. That's what I've learned. Was there any DNS done, sign off on that. Um, were there any characters that you felt like you struggly connected with more than the others?

Speaker 3:

Ooh, yeah. So my, my favorite character, which is not like a popular answer. Um, but my favorite character is Kiarra who is the jaded star watch journalist and producer. Um, and I loved writing her more than any other character on there and like even CA, I mean obviously he's up there, but like there's sometimes when you're like working with a side character and you really get to push them and challenge them throughout the book, um, throughout the like edits and like the development of the book that like, I just like I, I got closer with her. She was kind of a cardboard cutout when I first wrote the book and it was really nice to see her grow and I don't think she has a redemption arc and I don't think she's a great person. I want to point that out there. But I do think that, um, she's, she's kind of like a 23 year old version of Cal and that's how I really wanted to ride her.

Speaker 3:

Like she was the top of her class, top of her class. She did everything right and she gets stuck with a job. She doesn't really like doing things that she doesn't really agree with, but she has to do them. And then she's, she's having her own battles throughout the story of like, you know, her journalistic integrity while she has this team who's telling her that she has no journalistic integrity and it's such like a challenge for her because she does want to help. And there are times that she helps Cal out and throughout the book, and again, not in a like redemptive arc, but it does show that there is a lot of Def depth to her. And I'm really, I love characters like that, especially with those with like careers that move on beyond this. Um, because you know, she's gonna figure it out and she's going to be an awesome 25 year old or an awesome 30 year old.

Speaker 3:

And I really have that faith for her. Um, so I see a lot of myself in that cause like, you know, when you, I don't know about you, but when I, when I was 22, 23, I have no idea what I was doing and I was in jobs that I didn't particularly like or I liked them enough but it didn't really believe in. And I was like, why did I work so hard in college for this? And then, um, so I got to kind of unpack all that even though like this is a why a book most of the readership is aimed at, or people that you know are teens and have not yet gone to college. And I have not yet become jaded and I don't want to like steer them wrong. But I do think that, um, she was just such an interesting character and I wanted to just show that like being an adult is weird and even when you're an adult and then you become 23 and you're like, wait, I'm, I'm even more of an adult now, technically, but I still have no idea what's going on.

Speaker 3:

And like just, I mean actually through this whole book, there's different pages of people saying they don't know what's going on with their lives. And that's, that's always a great thing, like a refreshing thing for me to see cause it always feels like everyone has it together. Um, and so I guess my second answer for that would be Becca, which is cow's mom because I wrote a lot of my experiences with anxiety into her character, um, because I really wanted to see her anxiety on the page normalized. And I also wanted to kind of speak back to the 60 space race at the same time for all of the astronaut wives who did not get that opportunity and weren't able to be kind of honest and, you know, work with therapists or anything like that because it just wasn't really a time where people could do that. Um, and it was to a lot of the wives and families, um, kind of damaged a lot of their, um, relationships and their ability to kind of process things. So that was another character where I put a lot of myself into. But then also she, um, um, she was a good reflection of, of her her time versus the sixties, which I thought was fun.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I think, you know, both with, with Kiarra and Becca and really kind of a lot of the characters actually in the book, you, you've really balanced, um, you know, the, the, the character weaknesses, they're not bad people. Um, you know, and we can really see that trajectory, um, of, you know, you can have flaws and still be a human being and still be doing things in your life that, you know, trying to do your best.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, exactly. And I love, I love writing kind of in the nuance of like not totally bad, not totally good. And it's so hard to do that sometimes. Cause we're also so used to two books where you open the page and there's, there is your antagonist. And like sometimes that works for a lot of stories, but I think in, especially in contemporary as it gets harder and harder because sometimes there's no clear antagonist or the conflict just is changing as it happens. Um, so that's something that I always love to play with. Um, and it doesn't always read perfectly to everyone and not everyone enjoys that. And that's totally, I totally get that. Like, like I, I do not, if you read Kara and you hated her, you're also right. Like I don't want to say that like, my interpretation is the only one that's just kind of what I was being for. Um, but yeah, there's a lot of, like, there's a lot of nuance with these characters and I wanted to make sure they were developed and kind of real. Um, and, and yeah, and how Cal deals with each one of them is different and he's learning along the way, which is also kind of, it's, it's fun. It was fun for me to have a character who was like so stubborn, but also totally open to learning and becoming a new person in the run.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, you do. There's a lot of great arcs in this. And you, you mentioned before that Kira doesn't have a redemption arc. I'm not sure I agree. I kind of feel like she does have a bit of a redemption moment. Um, that, that I thought was very true to her character and her storyline. Um, so I

Speaker 3:

a redemptive moment at the end, but I wanted to make sure that I didn't lean on that too heavily because I didn't want people to come away from that to be like, Oh, she was good all along. Cause like she, she certainly was not, but she, you know, she made choices as we all do. A lot of them are bad, some of them are good. Um, and, and yeah, I did want to have that moment for her because I felt like her character, it would have been to leave it how it was, I think was perfect for Cal. Like he was totally happy with how they left their relationship or their friendship, we'll call it. Um, and then having, you know that, that at the end, which I mean, no spoilers for anyone. So thing happens at the end of the epilogue. Um, and you can get to learn a little bit more about what she's been doing since just a little bit. So a little touch to confuse you. So if you're already angry at her, then you're like, wait, should I be angry? When you get more angry, whatever. It doesn't matter.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. No, but it felt, it was a really great little moment. It didn't have that feeling of like, Oh, we're just trying to put a happy little bow on anything. Like it just felt like, yeah, that is a very natural outcome of everything that happened. Um, what are you working on next?

Speaker 3:

Oh, a lot of things. I'm not getting much friction, but thankfully I'm working on a lot of things. Um, so I have a lot of projects that are, um, in the works, can announce, can't talk much about. But my, uh, sophomore novel actually comes out, uh, February of next year. Um, well that's the plan. Obviously things change a lot in this climate, so, um, I hope you'll follow me along with whatever changes happen. Um, but yeah, my second book comes out and it's another, uh, gay contemporary Yia. Um, I was able to like finally say the title, which is as far as she'll take me. Um, and I'm really excited about it. Do you want me to tell you a little bit about it?

Speaker 1:

Please do. I absolutely would love to know more about it

Speaker 3:

cause I'm allowed to like talk about these things now, which is great cause you spend so long, like not talking about things. You're like, wait, can I,

Speaker 1:

I know, I know.

Speaker 3:

Wrote years ago now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Then in between period can be very soon.

Speaker 3:

Um, so yeah. So as far as you'll take me, it, uh, it follows a 17 year old named Marty Pierce who is, um, he's an anxious gay teen, which is apparently all right. Um, but you know, it's authentic. Um, he's an anxious gate in who, um, graduated high school early so he can flee kind of a not so welcoming environment and rural Kentucky. Um, so he has like very religious parents that much of a support group there, um, any, and he ends up moving to London to pursue his dream of being a professional. Um, and what I really love about it is that it becomes somewhat of a found family story where he falls into this wonderful friend group. Uh, he did some boy for the first time, they go on Euro trips together, which, um, a wish fulfillment just in general, your favorite trips are great.

Speaker 3:

Um, and these are all like things he's just never gotten to experience before, but it's not all shiny because his new boyfriend isn't exactly the best and his anxiety kind of gets in the way a lot. Um, and he's just really kind of struggling where he to find out kind of where he fits into this new world and how he can stay true to himself, but also, you know, find out how to enjoy being himself for once. Um, and I actually, I lived in, um, so I lived in London for a year and I, um, I mean the story is fictional of course, but, uh, the places they visit, I, um, I use a lot of our travel as inspiration for like the places they go and describing the settings and things like that. And that was kind of a fun way for, um, for me to memorialize like my, um, my travels during that time.

Speaker 1:

So you get to use travel as research? That's my favorite. Yeah. Yeah. I should have, yeah, I should have done that on my taxes years ago. If only we'd known. Everything sounds, it's research. I'm a writer so that works. Okay. We are going to finish this off with a happy writer. Lightning round. Question one. What book makes you happy?

Speaker 3:

Ooh, um, I would say, uh, running with lions, um, by Julian winters is an amazing, uh, queer Yia book. Um, and it makes me happy every time I even think of it.

Speaker 1:

What do you do to celebrate an accomplishment?

Speaker 3:

Um, champagne. Um, I have champagne. It depends what it is, but we try to celebrate with either like champagne or we'll like get carry out of, it's like I'm sending a contract or something that like I don't want to do too much about. Um, or if it's big, then we'll go to dinner, like have drinks with our friends, that kind of thing.

Speaker 1:

How do you feel the creative? Well.

Speaker 3:

Um, I do try to disconnect a lot, so I'll play video games, um, which I love. And, um, I will watch TV with my husband. Um, I will have, I will take a break from social media. That always helps me, um, creatively as well. Um, so that's, that's mostly what I do.

Speaker 1:

What advice would you give to help someone become a happier writer?

Speaker 3:

Um, I think set boundaries is my biggest advice for everyone. Um, I think, I think it's hard. It's set boundaries first for yourself of, you know, I'm going to write for two hours and then I'm going to stop or I'm going to write, I don't really like doing this for word counts, but, um, if that's how you like to operate, then a thousand words short, um, and then give yourself a break the rest of the time. Because if you do set up those times for yourself where you're like, I'm going to be productive now, um, or in an hour and you do that, then you will feel accomplished and then you won't go kind of be like, Oh God, I never did. I never wrote. Um, but I was going to write today. They didn't. And then I kind of feel bad about it now and you won't be so hard on yourself.

Speaker 1:

That's really good advice. Lastly, where can people find you?

Speaker 3:

Um, so I'm Phil stanford.com I'm on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. If you search Phil stamper. Um, I always say that I am the Phil stamper who is not a pro wrestler and that actually, so that's, that's uh, that's somehow a different person. I know. Um, but yeah, it's good to share a name with someone who is, um, who is also of notoriety in a very different way because we get each other's notifications from time to time and it's just the best thing when he gets tagged in like this weirdo writer thing and I get tagged and like WrestleMania or something and I'm like, I'd like something drunk here, but thank you.

Speaker 1:

Oh, funny. For the longest time people would confuse me with Marissa Mayer. Like the Yahoo Google VPP. Yeah. I used to get a lot of people like really angry tweets from people about their Yahoo email network. Oh my God. Anyway, that's not quite as awesome as being confused with the pro wrestling.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, no, I mean it is very fun to get those sweets. I like to show them sometimes. So follow my Twitter and you might see some things that are not meant for for me because they're really fun to talk about.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome. Um, alright, thank you so much for joining me Phil. It was really great to talk to you.

Speaker 3:

Thank you for having me. This is awesome.

Speaker 1:

My pleasure. Uh, readers make sure to check out the gravity of us, which is available now and follow Phil on social media, not the pro wrestler. Um, although I guess you can follow up. Yeah, you could follow in both. Why not? Um, and now of course more than ever, we encourage you to support your local indie bookstore. If you can, please be sure to subscribe to this podcast. So you will always be in the know about new episodes and you can find me on Instagram at Marissa Meyer, author and at happy writer podcast. Until next time, stay healthy. Stay cozy out in your bunkers and whatever life throws at you. Today. I do hope that now you're feeling a little bit

Speaker 2:

[inaudible].