Raise Your Voice 2016 with Cale Dietrich

Raise Your Voice is a special annual month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader whose purpose is to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in literature, with a particular emphasis on #OwnVoices stories. In it, authors recommend books with sensitive, positive and accurate representation that will help to create a resource of diverse books that marginalized readers can turn to when they need them most. Your voice matters. Raise it! For a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates, click here.

About Cale Dietrich

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.

Find Cale on: TwitterInstagramGoodreads

(You can add Last Seen Leaving to your Goodreads shelves Here!)

I’ve always been a huge fan of thrillers. This love has always been there, but it really caught fire in high school, when I discovered a show called Veronica Mars. It was one of the first shows that I ever became really, truly invested in, to the point where I looked up theories online, and spent a lot of my time thinking about it. And even now it’s one of the few pieces of media that I continually go back to and always enjoy.

I mention Veronica Mars here because what made Veronica Mars so compelling – a fantastic mystery, great writing and complex, loveable characters – are all evident in Caleb Roehrig’s extraordinary debut, Last Seen Leaving. On top of all of those things, I think they both have something in common – a protagonist that isn’t the norm in their respective genres. And I think it’s worth noting that in both Veronica Mars and Last Seen Leaving, having an unexpected protagonist is a big part about what makes the stories so original, interesting and exciting.

Last Seen Leaving is a thriller, but it’s a thriller told from the perspective of a gay teenager who is coming to terms with his sexuality. This combination of things is honestly so freaking compelling, and I have no idea how this hasn’t been done before. Thrillers rely on tension and secrets, and Flynn isn’t yet comfortable telling people about his sexuality, so he has a bit of a secret. Police officers get a sense that he’s keeping something to himself, and thus focus in on him, putting a big spotlight on him when he really doesn’t want it there. They ask questions he isn’t ready to answer – so he struggles to be helpful while still keeping one card close to his chest. It’s a tense situation, one that makes for the kind of squirmy, edge of your seat storytelling that keeps you turning the pages to see how the character will get out of this situation. In a word: it’s thrilling.

The diverse books movement has been making huge strides, and now we are seeing lots of new books with leads who aren’t white and cishet. This is so important to so many on a personal level (I will never underestimate how important it is to see yourself represented in stories). Knowing that, it almost feels a little bit strange to talk about the stories themselves in regards to entertainment value rather than the weight or importance of them, but I think I’d like to do that in my time here. Like Veronica Mars mined new ground by telling a noir story with a teenage girl as a protagonist, Last Seen Leaving mines new ground by centring a thriller on a gay teenager – and it’s really, really entertaining.

It’s all about the character’s perspective – by starring a character that is atypical to a genre, the story is spun in a totally new direction. And as it still feels like early-ish days for diverse stories, there is so much potential out there for diverse characters to twist tropes of genres to provide new and amazing stories that are unlike anything before. Reading Last Seen Leaving made me realize this more than anything – I love diverse books not only because of their weight and importance, but because they are really good, original stories.

And now I want more, and from more and more perspectives. Like, what is a horror story like from the perspective of a black teenager? Where’s my romantic comedy with asexual leads? Those are just examples (and if they exist already, recs please!) but my point is that I personally engage with stories best if I find them entertaining, and I find things more entertaining if they are unlike anything I’ve read before. I feel like there is so much storytelling potential here, and if Last Seen Leaving is any indication, I think publishers are figuring this out as well, which I am so thrilled about.

Title The Love Interest
Author Cale Dietrich
Pages 384 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Romance, LGBTQ
To Be Published May 16th, 2017 by Feiwel & Friends
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

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