I happily gave it 5 out of 5 stars, and you can know why I did so by reading my review. I am so thankful that I got the chance to have a correspondence with Cale even before I finished reading his book. He turned out to be a nerdy Feminist like me, so I dare say that we get along well. Haha. I am still very happy that he granted my request to have a bookish partnership with him. I hope that this interview will persuade you to read TLI when it comes out on May 16, 2017.
1. Who or what inspired you to write TLI? Is there a special story behind it?
“What a great question to start with! Also, I must say I’m super happy to be doing this interview with you, I’m a fan.
“To answer your question, TLI was very heavily influenced by the feelings I was going through at the time of writing it. I’m super wary of those ‘it came to me in a dream’ type things, but the truth is I really did wake up one morning with this idea of a training academy for the dreamy love interests of YA fiction. So that’s how I came up with the plot.
“But I think the thing that makes the book what it is are the feelings I was having at the time of writing. I was feeling very tokenised and sort of shelved – like, because of my sexuality, everybody around me had this crystal clear idea of who I am and what I am capable of, which seemed to undercut the potential I felt I had. It’s hard to explain, but I really felt that people had lowered the bar on their expectations from me because I’m gay, and that made me so frustrated and upset and I kinda aimed those feelings into my writing and the end result was The Love Interest. I like to think of it as my Fight Song. Not sure if that makes sense, but I hope it does!”
2. What made you decide to write the story from Caden’s POV? Is he the character whom you most relate to? (I would also have loved to read from Dyl’s and Juliet’s perspectives.)
“I think it’s about the voice! Caden’s just happened to be the voice that was in my head, demanding to have his story told. As for character I most relate too, I think I can relate to them all to some degree, but Caden and Juliet are in particular so much like me. I think if you mashed those two together you’d get pretty close to what I’m like. And aww thanks!”
3. TLI pokes fun at major tropes and gender stereotypes in YA literature. With that in mind, what tropes and gender stereotypes do you dislike/hate the most?
“It sure does! Believe it or not, I don’t hate love triangles! I’m a fan of them when they’re done well (#teamPeeta for life). I’m not the biggest fan of tropes like the Gay Best Friend, where the gay character doesn’t have agency and just seems to exist to serve their straight friend. I also hate that horrible trend of killing LGBTQIA+ characters to advance a straight character’s narrative, because that’s so messed up. As for gender stereotypes, is it okay to say all of them? I just wish people would chill out a bit and let people be who they want to be.”
4. If you were a Love Interest, would you be a Bad, a Nice, or something in between?
“Omg, I like to think I’d be a Nice, but I’d probably be terrible at it! There’s just no way I could be a Bad, I’m not very brood-ey.”
5. What is the impact of Feminism on your work? Would you describe Juliet as an empowered female character?
“Ohhhhhhh tough one, and I love this question so much. It’s hard to say exactly, because I am a feminist and I feel that just impacts my writing without me even thinking about it. Like with Juliet, I’m getting a lot of comments about her as a feminist character, but it wasn’t a conscious decision to make her who she is, that’s just the way she appeared to me. And I would like to say that she’s an empowered female character (I hope she is) but I think it’s best to leave that up to women to decide, because I’m a man and I’m not the right person to make that call. So, I think it’s safe to say feminism has shaped TLI, but it’s hard to identify exactly how, as being a feminist is just naturally a part of who I am and that influences everything I do, including my writing.
“Btw, you did an EXCELLENT feminist dissection of TLI, and the things you pointed out are all things that matter to me. I like letting readers come up with their own theories about the meaning and stuff, but yeah, I think you pointed out a lot of the things I was trying to achieve re: Feminism.”
6. What did you want to be before you became an author? (Or did you want to be an author since you were a kid?)
“I always wanted to be an author! I’m 24, so I was super lucky to kinda fall into this career pretty much straight out of college. I’ve worked a bunch of retail/hospitality jobs to support myself while writing, but I’ve never had like a serious career outside of this.”
7. TLI is a YA novel, but what would you say to encourage adults to read it?
“Another great question! Hmmn, I’d say that it’s an unapologetically gay novel that is also fun and will possibly make you think a bit. Hopefully that’s a good pitch!
“Thanks so much for such thoughtful questions! They really made me think, and were super fun to answer.”
About the author:
Cale Dietrich is a YA devotee, lifelong gamer, and tragic pop punk enthusiast. He was born in Perth, grew up on the Gold Coast, and now lives in Brisbane, Australia. The Love Interest is his first novel.
Visit Cale’s website