Aurora: Please describe for us your latest book and what can readers expect from it.
Alex Sanchez: You Brought Me the Ocean is a graphic novel—graphic as in illustrated, not sexually explicit—LOL—although the kissing scenes are quite steamy! The book is a fun and exciting combination of teen superhero origin story, gay coming out dramedy, and an oh-so-romantic first love story.
What was your inspiration behind the book?
When DC asked me to come up with a story, I immediately thought, what a great opportunity to show a gay teen boy superhero falling in love with another teen boy. I love to write romance. But I also love coming out stories about being true to who you are. And I love superhero origin stories. Tying them all together was so much fun! I hope audiences enjoy reading the book as much as I did writing it.
What character You Brought Me the Ocean do you most relate to and why?
I put bits of myself into all my characters. Jake, the protagonist, is shy and insecure—definitely a part of me. Jake’s love crush, Kenny, is a rebel outsider—that’s me, too. And Maria, the third side of the love triangle, is loyal to a fault, which I can also be. My hope is that by bringing those universal traits into the characters, readers will also find pieces of themselves in the story.
Why do you think graphic novels with powerful and unique characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?
I think the graphic novel boom is part of our culture’s communication becoming so visual. Graphic novels provide a bridge between traditional books and visual images. Actually, I wrote You Brought Me the Ocean in a movie script-like format with descriptions for each panel as if they were movie scenes. The panels were then illustrated with so much passion and romance by Julie Maroh, the New York Times-bestselling author and illustrator of Blue Is the Warmest Color, which was made into the award-winning movie.
What’s next for you in the comics and graphic novel world?
Julie’s amazing illustrations for You Brought Me the Ocean inspired me to return to my childhood love of drawing. Now I’m sketching pictures to accompany the text to a memoir I’m working on—the book will be an illustrated memoir.
Who is your current favorite writer? Why?
I don’t have a single favorite, but some books I’ve read recently and loved include Delia Owens’s Where the Crawdads Sing; Mariko Tamaki’s Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (a graphic novel); and Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn. I love romance-relationship stories, and all of these kept me glued to the page.
Any writing advice for aspiring writers and artists?
Learn your craft by studying the greats. Reach out for help—there are so many awesome resources online. And surround yourself with people who encourage you. Quality work is hard, and it’s the people who encourage me that keep me going.
About the Author:
Alex Sanchez has published eight novels, including the American Library Association “Best Book for Young Adults” Rainbow Boys and the Lambda Award-winning So Hard to Say. His novel Bait won the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Book Award and the Florida Book Award Gold Medal for Young Adult Literature. An immigrant from Mexico, Alex received his master’s in guidance and counseling and worked for many years as a youth and family counselor. His full-length graphic novel for DC Comics titled You Brought Me the Ocean comes out in June. He lives in East Rochester, New York and can be found at www.AlexSanchez.com