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Book of the Month > Thrilled

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael Barakiva Hey guys - thanks so much for making OMG the October Book of the Month. I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you have, so just fire away (and let's hope that I can figure how to navigate back here and answer them).

Yours,
mb


message 2: by Kaje (last edited Nov 02, 2014 04:03PM) (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments Michael wrote: "Hey guys - thanks so much for making OMG the October Book of the Month. I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you have, so just fire away (and let's hope that I can figure how to navigate..."

Hey Michael, thanks for stopping by! I had fun reading your book. I have to admit, the first question that came to mind was, "Is your family Armenian?" despite not having the classic "-ian" name? Because that part of the story had such a personal love/hate feel to it and some of the jokes seemed like they had to come from inside. If not, then you did an amazing job of making the MC feel real that way.


message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael Barakiva Kaje - I wish I were a good enough writer to fake that kind of stuff. My mother is Armenian and my father is Israeli (talk about genocide). I was born in Israel, where my mom's family ended up after fleeing the genocides in Turkey. Most of my mom's immediate family lives in the Northeast with us, so most of the Armenian stuff is autobiographical (hyperbolized for comedic effect, of course, but maybe less than you might imagine). Thanks for asking, and please feel free to ask away! I'm doing a reading of OMG at Abril Books, an Armenian bookstore in LA, on Monday, November 10th at 7:30PM. Most Armenian institutions are closely linked to the Orthodox Church whose views on LGBTQ issues are - what's the right word? - antiquated, so this invitation from an Armenian establishment is very meaningful to me.


message 4: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments I'm so glad they invited you to do that. I hope your book charms your audience as it did me.

I figured those parts were at least somewhat from personal experience. They had that feel - exasperated, amused, long-suffering but with affection underneath.

Did you have any hesitation having the guys move to some level of sex plot-wise within the book with Alex only 14, and to Ethan hinting at having had full-on sex at 15? Did your publisher have concerns? I think it was well and tastefully done, and from what I hear from most of the gay guys I know, quite realistic. But teens having sex in YA books, on page or not, especially under age 16, seems to be a bit of a publisher hot-button.


message 5: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16521 comments I've moved this to the Book of the Month folder for the moment so people will see it.


message 6: by Iuri (new)

Iuri (iuriau) | 31 comments I just finished the book (for real, five minutes ago) and I'm still awnnn-ing to all the cute stuff on it.
I'd never had any real contact with Armenian culture before (I'm always saying we don't teach world's culture for real in schools here in Brazil), so it's was a nice discover.
By the way, I must mention the Armenian names on the book sound all so strong and roll very nicely on my tongue, I could keep saying Aleksander and Andranik the whole day!

Overall it was a really nice reading. Thank you Michael for sharing your story with us ♡


message 7: by Michael (new)

Michael Barakiva Kaje wrote: "I'm so glad they invited you to do that. I hope your book charms your audience as it did me.

I figured those parts were at least somewhat from personal experience. They had that feel - exasperate..."


Kaje wrote: "I'm so glad they invited you to do that. I hope your book charms your audience as it did me.

I figured those parts were at least somewhat from personal experience. They had that feel - exasperate..."


Dear Kaje - Well, how to deal with sex in YA is really the thing, isn't it? You can't ignore it, since sex (at least in imagination, often in reality) is such a large part of the teen experience. And you don't necessarily want to appear to be condoning teen sex and promiscuity (which are of course different things), but by the same token, you don't want to appear prudish. Also, of course, dealing with gay characters and gay sex is different.

Basically, what I decided, was to "save up" all of my racy points to deal with the sex stuff. So no swearing, no drinkings, no drugs - I let everything else in the novel be PG so that I could afford to be at least somewhat realistic about the teen gay sex experience precisely because it is a gay YA book. I wanted scenes with the boys kissing, because I think the more we become accustomed to these things (in life, in literature), the closer we get to eliminating homophobia. Ethan's sexual experience felt important to me because he was older and more experienced about everything (life, New York).

My editors and publishers (Joy Peskin at FSG, Macmillan) were great about all this stuff. They never dictated, and simply explained how including the F-word, for example, might affect the book's position. But they let me make all the final decisions.

The short of it was that having sex scenes in a gay YA novel felt incredibly important to me. Great question!


message 8: by Michael (new)

Michael Barakiva Kaje wrote: "I've moved this to the Book of the Month folder for the moment so people will see it."

Thanks - I'm still figuring out how to navigate the wonderful world of Goodreads.


message 9: by Michael (new)

Michael Barakiva Iuri wrote: "I just finished the book (for real, five minutes ago) and I'm still awnnn-ing to all the cute stuff on it.
I'd never had any real contact with Armenian culture before (I'm always saying we don't te..."


Iuri - thanks so much for your kind words. I don't know if you know this, but OMG has just been picked up by LeYa Brazil, so it'll be translated in Portuguese and released some time soon (I don't know exactly when, actually).

I've never been to Brazil, but my husband says that Rio is one of the greatest cities of the world and we're dying to visit. I also directed a beautiful play called The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl that has a Brazilian maid that speaks in Portuguese for much of the play - the play opens with her delivering a long joke in Portuguese. So hopefully, I can use the OMG book launch to visit your country!


message 10: by Iuri (new)

Iuri (iuriau) | 31 comments Michael wrote: "Iuri wrote: "I just finished the book (for real, five minutes ago) and I'm still awnnn-ing to all the cute stuff on it.
I'd never had any real contact with Armenian culture before (I'm always sayin..."


This is great news, in fact! Since John Green's novel got a big of a hit here, the editors are starting to open up a little to LGBT YA. We finally had David Levithan's "Boy Meets Boy" released here last month, and we're probably having "Naomi and Eli's" as well.

Not many people read or speak English here, so it's important to have Portuguese versions of good books. I write my stories mainly in English, but I'm Always worrying to translate it sometime.

A bunch of my friends are going to be thrilled to know OMG is coming to us! And you totally should come here and hang out with us Brazilian folks!


message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Barakiva Iuri wrote: "Michael wrote: "Iuri wrote: "I just finished the book (for real, five minutes ago) and I'm still awnnn-ing to all the cute stuff on it.
I'd never had any real contact with Armenian culture before (..."


Thanks, Iuri. I met another wonderful reader on this site from Brazil, so maybe I'll come down and make you guys show me and my husband around your beautiful country!


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