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Monday, June 3, 2013

Featured Author & Giveaway: Bill Konigsberg

Bill Konigsberg
Bill Konigsberg is an award-winning young adult author and journalist. His debut novel, Out of the Pocket (Dutton), won the Lambda Literary Award in 2009. The novel was an Indie Next pick for 2008, and made the ALA’s Rainbow List and the New York Public Library’s Stuff of the Teen Age list for 2009. His second novel, Openly Straight, was published by Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic) in the summer of 2013. It was an Indie Next pick as well. Bill’s sports writing has appeared in The New York Times, New York Daily News, Denver Post, Arizona Republic and for The Associated Press as well as He is currently working on his third novel, The Porcupine of Truth. He is also creating curriculum for an online certificate program in Youth Writing for the Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. Bill lives in Chandler, Arizona, with his partner Chuck, and their Labradoodle, Mabel.

Connect with Bill Konigsberg on Twitter @billkonigsberg or visit his website:

Q&A with Author Bill Konigsberg:

  1. If you could swap places with one of your fictional characters for 24 hours, who would you choose to be? Why? And what would you do that day?

    I would switch places with Rafe Goldberg, the main character of Openly Straight, and I’d CALM THE HECK DOWN. He is a character with a lot going for him. Great, fun parents, a lot of cool friends, good athletic and social skills, yet he’s a mess because he spends too much time in his head. If I were Rafe for a day, I’d go have a big adventure with Ben, Albie and Toby somewhere in the wilds of Massachusetts. Maybe go apple picking or take them skiing, and I’d laugh and have a good old time and try to stop being so self-conscious.

  2. Tell us something about your character from Openly Straight that we won't learn from reading the book.

    When Rafe was in 9th grade, his best friend Claire Olivia asked him if he wanted to make out. Just to see what it was like with a girl. Since Rafe was gay, he wasn’t so sure, but since he loved Claire Olivia, he said, “Sure.” They kissed, and Rafe liked it fine but got no charge out of it. Claire Olivia said she didn’t either, but soon after went home, and Rafe has always wondered if she actually did like kissing him more than she would admit to him.

  3. When Rafe from Openly Straight transfers to a new school, he starts over with a clean slate. If you could go back to when you were in high school, would there be anything you would wipe clean or would you keep everything as is? And would your answer be different if you went to high school today?

    If I could change one thing about my high school experience, it would probably be asking for help. I was depressed in high school, and I wish someone had noticed and gotten me the help I needed. Instead, my entire high school experience was really challenging because I had this knot of despair in my gut most of the time. Not a great way to live. As for my answer if I went to high school today? Probably the same. High school hasn’t changed as much as some teens think it has in 25 years. It’s the same with newer gadgets.

  4. What part of the story was most fun to write? The most challenging?

    I loved writing the “bromance” scenes between Rafe and Ben. I loved the intensity of their feelings for each other, and the energy it brought out in Rafe. I believe I wrote 105 pages of the first draft in three days, and those were the “bromance” pages. The most challenging part was the part where Rafe has an epiphany at the end. I think part of the challenge was that I was learning the same thing Rafe was as I wrote it, so it was very raw. The other tough part was that he was learning by writing it out. It’s tough to write in another person’s voice, and have an epiphany in his thinking at the same time, and not have it come off as contrived. I think it worked out well, or as well as it could.

  5. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    Mostly I want young readers to come away feeling good about who they are. I think that’s the most important thing. My books aren’t “message” books, I don’t think, but I want readers to see themselves in the books so that they feel connected to a character. For some young LGBTQ readers, feeling connected to other people can be hard. If they can connect to my characters, that’s a good thing.

Read our True Colorz review of Openly Straight HERE.

Now Available from Bill Konigsberg:

Openly Straight A funny, honest novel about being out, being proud . . . and being ready for something else.

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He's won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he's gay. He's been out since 8th grade, and he isn't teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that's important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys' boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret -- not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn't even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.

Out of the Pocket Star quarterback Bobby Framingham, one of the most talented high school football players in California, knows he's different from his teammates. They're like brothers, but they don't know one essential thing: Bobby is gay. Can he still be one of the guys and be honest about who he is? When he's outed against his will by a student reporter, Bobby must find a way to earn back his teammates' trust and accept that his path to success might be more public, and more difficult, than he'd hoped. An affecting novel about identity that also delivers great sportswriting.

Openly Straight Giveaway!

Bill Konigsberg has generously donated a free autographed copy of Openly Straight for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address.


  1. I adore Bill Konigsberg! Can't wait to read this book.

    1. Ohh! And my email:

  2. Sounds like a very interesting book!


  3. Surprised and delighted to see you here today, Bill. I was just on another site yesterday that does "spotted" book (as in they are seen at the store, not ones with spots!) posts (, and OPENLY STRAIGHT was on there. It was the first time I had seen the cover (which I love, by the way), though the title was familiar to me. So, it's great to have read that blurb yesterday (and been intrigued) and then see this interview today.

    The premise of the book struck me as original, and I thought it would be a great one to share with my teens. Reading what you had to say about what readers could take away from the book, I think so even more now.

    Thanks for sharing with us through the Q&A and giveaway!

    An aside: THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH reminds me of our fellow Arizonan, mystery writer Betty Webb's zoo series, but in a much nicer/less deadlier way. She may have koalas, llamas, and anteaters, but you've got porcupines!

    caroaz [at] ymail [dot] com

  4. The story sounds interesting. I haven't read a plot like that before.


  5. It truly is a unique plot! Also fun! I'd love to read it.

  6. Having loved Out of the Pocket, which I bought in hardback, I am going to have to read this and add it to my REAL library, so winning the autographed giveaway would be an added buzz. Thanks

  7. Really want to read Openly Straight after reading Madison's rec. Please count me in!

  8. I've been looking forward to reading "Openly Straight"! I love the blurb. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

  9. Thanks for the giveaway! I enjoy reading the interview and I hope I can read the book too.

  10. Hi all,

    I just wanted to thank you for stopping by and let you know who the winner was. Congrats Carey! Bill will be in touch with you shortly. Have a great week all.