When we last visited with author Alex Sanchez, he was the debut author of Rainbow Boys (Simon & Schuster, 2001)(read an excerpt). The book was a big hit– selected as a: Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association; Blue Ribbon Dissent by the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books; Book for the Teen Age by the New York Public Library; and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. See An Interview with YA Author Alex Sanchez. (Note: my site is being redesigned in fall 2005, so if these links don’t work, simply check the site guide and/or search engine).
What is new in your writing life since we last chatted?
At the time of our original Rainbow Boys interview, I never imagined that story about friendship, love, and growing up gay would become a series. But after publication of the first book, readers fell in love with the characters and wanted to know more about them. Consequently, in 2003 Rainbow High (Simon & Schuster, 2003) was published.
Now, in 2005, the final book of the trilogy, Rainbow Road (Simon & Schuster, 2005)(read an excerpt), follows the three central characters on a road trip across America. In order to write that story, I drove the trip myself. I sold my home, quit my day job, jumped in the car, and drove 8,000 miles across the U.S., following the journey the boys take in the novel. The trip turned out to be tremendously enlightening.
As I visited schools and colleges, it was rewarding to hear how Rainbow Boys and Rainbow High had inspired readers—teens and adults, gay and straight—to take action in their own lives.
All across America, readers told me the boys in the books had become their role models. Many more expressed gratitude: “It’s nice to know I’m not alone.” “Your book became the peace-saver at my school.” “Thanks for helping me accept myself.” “After reading what gay and lesbian teens go through, I decided to start a Gay-Straight Alliance.” “I told my mom to read your book so she could understand me.”
Although every author wants his or her books to move readers, I was amazed my novels could have such an impact. I’d never thought my writing would help anyone but me. Now I’ve discovered a function of my writing I never predicted: as an agent of social change, able to inspire, empower, and change lives.
I’ve come to accept myself as a writer who not only tells stories, but who does so in a way that helps promote social justice. That my books do this ceaselessly amazes me.
Do you have any other new books to tell us about?
In between Rainbow Boys and Rainbow High, I began receiving emails from 11, 12, and 13 year-old kids telling me about their struggles to come out. In addition, teachers and librarians asked for a story about gay-straight themes for middle-schoolers. In response, I wrote the novel, So Hard To Say (Simon & Schuster, 2004), which won the Lambda Literary Award.
What are your writing goals for the immediate future?
Since Rainbow Road concludes the Rainbow trilogy, I feel sad to say goodbye to these characters. I began the first book twelve years ago, so I’ve spent a lot of time with them. But even though I’ll miss the characters, I’m excited about moving on to other stories about young people. And my message will continue to be the same: have courage, be true to who you are, and follow your dreams!
Cynsational News & Links
An Interview With Alex Sanchez, author of Rainbow Boys from ALAN Review. Fall 2002.
On Spies and Purple Socks and Such by CCBC director Kathleen T. Horning from The Horn Book, January/February, 2005. “Reading the gay subtext in Harriet The Spy.”