Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Caroline Hanlin author of Something Like Freedom from the new Summer Love short story collection from Duet.
Hi Caroline, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hi, I’m a full time statistician, a part time stage manager, and an avid sports fan currently living in Boston, MA. In "Something Like Freedom," my story in the Summer Love Anthology, Eli, a musician dealing with a recent breakup, meets and gets to know Gabe, who has recently left home after his parents found out that he's gay.
1) Describe your story to us.
Something Like Freedom is the story of two young men during one summer where both of their lives are changing. Eli is sure of what he wants to do with his future, but his long time girlfriend has just broken up with him. Gabe left home after his parents reacted badly to finding out that he is gay and is now trying to figure out what his life is going to be. For me the story is about learning to understand both yourself and the people you care about.
2) Have you ever read something that made you think differently about your genre? Can you tell us what it was?
The book (or set of books) that really made me think the most about Young Adult fiction was actually The Hunger Games. I’ve been very into Young Adult fiction my entire life, but by the time I went off to college, it sort of felt like I was too old. I still read YA novels, and I really frequently re-read my favorite YA novels, but I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable walking into the YA section of a bookstore anymore. Even though I still loved them, I thought I was supposed to read grown up books.
I didn’t know much about Hunger Games when it came out, but all of a sudden, while I was in grad school, I started seeing interesting, smart, well read women that I respected raving about it. I ended up getting the audiobooks of the whole series to listen to while moving and driving home that summer. It made the work bearable because I was so into the book that I was actually happy to be driving or packing. And all of my friends were falling in love with the books and talking about the books constantly all at the same time. It was the first time since High School that I really felt like Young Adult was actually meant for me, too. Like it was a genre that I could discuss with the smartest people I knew, and I didn’t have to be ashamed of reading it. And I’ve been reading proudly ever since!
3) Tell us about your character’s family life?
I think the story itself covers a lot about Eli’s family life, so I’d like to talk about Gabe’s family before he left home. Gabe had a very traditional childhood. He grew up in a big family with a lot of kids where they all went to church together and ate dinner together every night. Part of what Gabe misses about his family is that they understood the way his brain works and the way he communicates. But of course, there were also things they didn’t understand about him at all.
4) Compare yourself to your main character.
Since Eli is my perspective character, I'll compare myself to him. Eli and I are both bisexual, both only children, and both extroverts. In the story, we also see that Eli is very outspoken and that he struggles with feeling like even the people who care about him think he's annoying. That's definitely something that is drawn from my own insecurities.
5) Describe your past week as a type of landscape or a weather forecast.
Think about that very last week where summer is still just holding on. Where you can tell it’s about to be fall, but you’re not quite ready, so you pretend that things haven’t changed. And then the first real day of fall hits. There’s a chill in the air and you finally have to wear a jacket, and so you take a breath and accept it. Summer is over. And once you do accept it, you remember that fall is really your favorite season. Maybe you were clinging a bit to summer, but only because you’d gotten used to it. But fall is going to be amazing.
That’s what my week was like.
SUMMARIES & AUTHOR BIOS
A campaign volunteer is assigned to assist his high school’s Gay Straight Alliance for the Pride Parade, forcing him to face the students he had previously avoided, and the truth about himself.
Author: Rachel Davidson Leigh is a writer, educator, and small town native who tells stories she wishes she could have read as a teen. Beautiful Monsters is her first published work of fiction. She lives in Wisconsin with her family and two dogs who are spoiled out of their tiny minds.
The Willow Weeps for Us
Jack, the young son of a grocer, falls for a charming piano teacher at the dawn of World War II.
Author: Suzey Ingold is a writer, linguist and coffee addict, currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Brought up in a household where children's books are quoted over the dinner table, literature has always had a strong influence on her life. She enjoys travelling, scented candles and brunch.
The Fire Eater’s Daughter
When a traveling carnival comes back to town, Ruth must choose between caring for her mother and a life with the beautiful and mysterious Constance, the fire eater’s daughter.
Author: Amy Stilgenbauer is a writer and aspiring archivist currently based in southeast Michigan. She is the author of the novelette series, Season of the Witch, as well as the Young Adult novel, The Legend of League Park. When she isn’t writing, Amy enjoys all things bergamot and tries to keep her cats away from her knitting.
Logan just wants a summer where he can be anonymous and fit in without labels, but that all changes when he meets out-and-proud Dave at summer camp.
Author: Ella J. Ash is a lawyer by day and an author by night. She has been a writer in online fan communities since 2006. She also enjoys dance parties with her family and cooking experimental vegetarian cuisine. She lives in Toronto with her partner, three daughters and four tropical fish.
My Best Friend
In a letter to his best friend, a young gay man reminisces about their relationship.
Author: H.J. Coulter lives in Winnepeg, Canada, where she works as a respite worker and studies music, in hopes of one day becoming a musical therapist. My Best Friend is her professional writing debut.
What the Heart Wants
A young student discovers attraction and desire through her experience drawing figures in her summer art class.
Author: Naomi Tajedler was born and raised in Paris, where art has always been a part of her life—including painting, restoring books, and working in auctions. She started writing in online fan communities in 2009.
The Most Handsome
Carter, a Cape Cod boy who recently came out as transgender, meets and falls in love with a college student visiting for the summer.
Author: S.J. Martin lives with his partner and their cranky, rotund cat in Washington D.C. He’s a barista by day and a writer by night. He makes a mean cappuccino and lives for good coffee, good books, and good company. The Most Handsome is his first published story.
Something Like Freedom
A boy finds a safe space from which to imagine a new future after leaving his conservative parents’ home, thanks in part to a new friend.
Author: Caroline Hanlin is a full time statistician, a part time stage manager, and an avid sports fan. She currently resides in Boston, where she enjoys writing during her commute. Something Like Freedom is her first published short story.
On the Shore
A young woman retreats to her parents’ beach house to nurse a broken heart, but instead meets a vivacious girl who helps her find joy again.
Author: Rachel Blackburn is a writer, musician and librarian based in central Ohio. When free from work, she enjoys cuddling with her cats, drinking tea, and baking more cupcakes than necessary. On the Shore is her professional writing debut.
Excerpt: (From Beautiful Monsters)
By Rachel Davidson Leigh
“Glad to see you could join the party,” Terrence deadpans, pressing a rainbow bandana into André’s hand. André grabs a second bandana out of the bag, stuffs one in each of his back pockets, and then goes in for a third.
“Cody was checking out the parade route,” André replies, in a smooth lie. “It turns out we’re still walking six blocks through absolutely nothing and then calling it a day.” Terrence laughs, and, as he turns away, André presses a handkerchief into Cody’s hand. “Use it wisely,” he whispers into Cody’s ear. “You’re one of us now.”
One of us. He’s never been part of an “us.” Cody stares down at the lines on the handkerchief and then at the two patches of color on the back of André’s jeans as he walks toward the arriving cars.
Cody expects panic, but it doesn’t come. Maybe he isn’t ready to be Gay with a capital G, but if “us” can mean being one of these idiots, then maybe he’s ready to have people of his own. As he watches the sharp sway of André’s hips, the heat rising up his neck doesn’t feel like fear. It feels like... clarity, as though the run put everything in perspective and now he can’t stop seeing André in crisp, dazzling color.
Someone presses a sign into his hand and guides him toward the parade staging area with the rest of the crew. Once again, he can’t hear himself think over the din, but it’s different now. At the meeting, and for years before that in the hallways, he felt like an invader locked out by a wall of sound, and now he’s somehow wandered inside.
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