Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Dahlia Adler

Dahlia Adler is an editor of mathematics by day, the overlord of LGBTQReads by night, and a Young Adult author at every spare moment in between. She is the editor of several anthologies and the author of seven novels, including Cool for the Summer. Adler lives in New York with her family and an obscene number of books.

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

This book was always called Cool for the Summer and I honestly would not have let it go to publication with any other title. If you're a queer teen reader, you're almost definitely aware of the Demi Lovato song it takes its name from, and not only was that song an inspiration for the book, but it's also at the center of major plot points. The book itself is meant to echo the song, almost as if they're in conversation, so if you know the song, you know what you're getting into: sexual identity exploration, secrecy, the emotions (including shame) that can come along with that... If you don't know the song, I bet you'll check it out first thing when you finish the book, or even a certain scene.

What's in a name?

I don't put enormous amounts of stock in name choices as far as things like meaning go; the most important things to me are A) reflecting the character's background and B) what other people call those characters. Larissa, who goes by Lara, is of Russian descent, so what was primary with her name was it being a reflection of Russian culture and using that to show her personality. She's a casual, friendly girl who's inclined to get close to other people, so having her go by the diminutive of her name was a conscious choice, as is her rejection of other nicknames (that are not further diminutives). Generally my names come from people I've known in life, or celebrities who remind me of them. Larissa was probably the most inspired by Larisa Oleynik, and also by a former coworker of mine from a million years ago whose name I happened to like.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

Very. I didn't read a YA novel with LGBT main characters until I was in my twenties, so the idea I would've written one and gotten it published would be completely unfathomable to me. I wrote a lesbian side character when I was around twenty-six and it felt so daring somehow. And now I'm releasing a novel that's entirely about bisexual-questioning journey.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I find beginnings easier to write for sure, but I also change them more often because I don't always start in the right place. I don't write a book without knowing the beginning, even if I turn out to be wrong. But I've absolutely written books without knowing the exact ending.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

My characters usually have something of me, but my debut had far too much of me in the main character and I learned from that to pull back. Personality-wise, I have almost nothing in common with Lara from Cool for the Summer, who's much more of an extrovert, but I did make her an aspiring romance author.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Music, definitely, as anyone can see from the title of this book, which was pulled from the Demi Lovato song. I'd say watching a lot of teen TV shows has influenced me as well, because I didn't grow up with a football team and cheerleading squad etc. etc. so everything I know about what normal suburban public school is like comes from TV and other books. And research! Can't forget research...
Visit Dahlia Adler's website.

The Page 69 Test: Cool for the Summer.

--Marshal Zeringue