Practice English Speaking&Listening with: ? Discussing "I Wish You All the Best" with Mason Deaver! ?

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[Adri]: I'm pretty sure all of you know by now, but my name is Adri and my channel is

[Adri]: I'm pretty sure all of you know by now, but my name is Adri and my channel is

perpetualpages. I am a queer, trans, and non-binary Mexican-American book reviewer

and I have been reviewing books for seven years on the internet, which is *wild.*

And I am *thrilled* to be here with Mason Deaver,

author of IWish You All the Best,” which is available in both hardback

*and* paperback now. So if you are a thrifty person and you would like to buy it

at any point, it is available now.

Thank you so much for being here, Mason, and welcome to Quarantined Pages!

[Mason]: Hi. Thank you so much for having me. This is awesome.

[Adri]: I just want to start by saying it has been a *time* on the internet, right,

to be trans-spec or enby-spec. Especially this last month,

it has been *quite* a ride. So it's just powerful to have this moment where we're

just celebrating our enby selves and enby stories, so I'm really excited.

[Adri]: We're going to start by talking about your debut book, which I just talked about,

I Wish You All the Best”. So for anyone joining us who doesn't know,

how would you describeI Wish You All the Best”?

[Mason]: You would think that almost two years of having to pitch this book,

I would get better at it, but I don't. (laughs) It never once gets any easier.

ButI Wish You All the Bestis about 18-year-old Ben De Backer who comes out

to their parents as non-binary and it doesn't go very well. They are immediately

forced out of their home with not even shoes on their feet or time to grab

their cell phone or anything.

Eventually they find a phone they can use, they call their sister, Hannah,

who they have not seen in a decade, and Hannah takes Ben in.

Just as quickly as Ben comes out, they go back into the closet at this new school.

They only have half of their senior year left, they don't want to cause any moreissues,”

and they just want to stay under the radar. And then that's when Nathan

comes along, and thinks that that plan is not a good one.

He doesn't like it, not at all.

[Mason]: Through the course of their last semester of high school,

Ben comes to terms with a lot of things with the help of Nathan, the people

around them, and sometimes just themselves.

Yeah! It's a happy story, I promise, everyone who hasn't read it yet.

It's a happy story with a kiss at the end. That's it! (laughs)

[Adri]: That is important to know. Because yeah, it does go through

the serious topics and addresses the microaggressions and the struggles

and all that stuff, but it has a happy ending, it is hopeful!

So if that's important to you, take note.

[Adri]: So to start off, “I Wish You All the Besthas become, I would say,

one of the seminal titles when it comes to non-binary rep in YA fiction.

So after you sold it and you were continuing to work on it,

did you have any inkling of how valuable and widespread it would turn out to be,

and did that add any pressure to know that you were going to have one of the few

and, I would say, one of the biggest main- stream non-binary stories at the time?

[Mason]: The thing is that whenever I was writing it, I never once thought

about that in the way that it has happened in this reality. I mean, I didn't even think

about it being a "big deal" until we sold it to Scholastic, because unfortunately

in publishing, whoever buys you has a lot (laughing) to do with how received

your book can be. And I'm glad that I found Scholastic, I'm glad they found us,

glad we found each other. I don't thinkI Wish You All the Bestcould have

had a better home, really, with a better team behind it. Honestly, I never felt

the pressure until probably the cover reveal, which is, I think, when people

started to take (laughing) a lot of notice of the book.

And instantly, I just kind of felt, "Oh, this thing that is deeply personal

to me, that has a lot of my own feelings about gender, sexuality, is going to be

very public and basically just up for purchase." And it doesn't get any

[Mason]: And it doesn't get any easier, (laughs) unfortunately, especially with currently

writing book 2, that stress is still there and it's only building, especially with

how I want to tackle transness and gender feelings in book 2.

It's just always something at the back of my mind. I wish I had a

better way of dealing with it and I wish I had advice out there for anyone who

(laughing) is looking for any, but, I mean, it just kind of comes with the territory

of publishingI don't want to call it a new voice but I guess it kind of is,

because there's truly not a lot of non-binary stories out there.

Thankfully, that's changing.

I feel like almost any marginalized author can tell you the pressure they

feel from having to basically be a (laughs) "spokesperson" for their community,

which is a lot of unfair pressure, but it's there, (sighs)

and what can we do about it?

[Adri]: Truly. Yeah. Especially, like you were saying, when it's a voice that

hasn't been heard before, an identity that's not as represented, it becomes

the expectation for what it is, which we'll maybe talk about a little bit later.

But yeah, you had a whirlwind debut year, it was *wild,* and I don't know

how you survived it. (laughs)

[Mason]: I truly don't either. (laughs) [Adri]: I don't! (laughs)

[Adri]: Kind of related to that, did you always know that you wanted

your first book to be about a non-binary character? Or how did the idea

and concept forI Wish You All the Bestcome about?

[Mason]: Ben and Nathan have been there from the beginning, in my head.

Whenever I first sat down and I wanted to write a story about identity and finding

yourself, Ben and Nathan were always there.

It wasn't a story about being trans. I hadn't discovered that part of myself yet.

Ben was [actually] a cis boy.

I don't talk about this a lot, and it's super embarrassing, but...

[Adri]: (laughs)

[Mason]: The originalI Wish You All the Bestwas a college love story,

still between Ben and Nathan, of course, where Ben was experiencing all these

new things because they only knew their small town home life.

[Mason]: And Nathan was going to be there to, not exactly "teach" Ben how

to come out of their shell but, much like Nathan is inI Wish You All the Best,”

sort of be a driving force for Ben to get their foot out the door and then

discover themselves. And it was going to be Ben discovering their sexuality

and falling in love with Nathan.

[Mason]: I think the only thing that might still be from that original draft,

other than Ben and Nathan's character traits and descriptions, is there was

definitely a rooftop scene in that draft of the book. (laughs)

That was one of those stories that I just kind of fell off of.

So a few months later I changed it to high school.

And in that draft, it was [that] Nathan was a new kid, Ben was charged

with showing Nathan around and being the accountabilibuddy, even

though they didn't want to do that, they just wanted to stay under the radar.

It wasn't even in *that* draft, I think it was in the next draft whenever I

wrote about Ben being new to this school that I discovered my own

transness, my own non-binaryness.

And I was still very confused and I was like, "You know what? Let's just

write out these questions in a book.” And whenever I Googled them to find

these answers for these questions that I *also* had, y'know...

[Adri]: (laughs) [Mason]: I have the answer now! (laughs)

[Adri]: Well, I'm glad through all that, at least you kept the roof scene

because that was iconic. (laughs) Very important,

[Adri]: very essential to the story. [Mason]: It's still my favorite.

[Adri]: That's interesting that you say it started off as Ben being cis.

I feel like [for] a lot of queer authors, a lot of their early work is very cis,

[Adri]: very straight, because they just don't even know that they have permission

to write other things. So (laughs) *that's* wild.

[Mason]: Whenever I first wanted to get into writing, I tried to write a fantasy

series that... Oh God, that was a lot.

[Adri]: (laughs) [Mason]: But it was

[Mason]: I remember it just being the most heteronormative thing.

And I could tell you that if I went back and re-read it, I'd be like,

"Oh, all of these characters are queer- coded and definitely not into each other

in any way other than a platonic friendship.”

But yeah, I didn't see it, even back then. (laughs)

[Adri]: I know. I definitely wrote my fair share of cis, white, gay men

stories and I am ashamed. (laughs)

[Mason]: It's how we grow, it's how we grow.

[Adri]: (laughing) That's how we grow, yes.

[Adri]: You kind of mentioned that your goal wasn't necessarily to write about

transness, but what *were* some of your goals in writingI Wish You

All the Best”, and what were some of your concerns?

[Mason]: My two biggest intentions with the book were things that weren't exactly

even related to transness. I mean, of course, I wanted to write a story where a trans

character gets the happy ending, they get the hints at a future,

they get the boyfriend, they get everything that they deserve

because, y'know, (laughs) tran characters deserve the world.

But the two big things that I wanted to talk about in the book and to

showcase, specifically, were the therapy and then the elements of community

and the internet.

Thankfully, this has died down a lot, but I feel like so much YA from early on

to even late 2000s just vilifies therapy and medication and mental illness.

I didn't like that, because for any teenager, but especially a marginalized teenager

whether it be their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexualitythey're going

through *a lot,* especially (laughing) American teenagers in the current climate.

[Mason]: Therapy can be a life-saving thing for anyone of any age,

but especially teenagers. And I wanted to make sure that was represented.

I wanted to have a doctor that Ben eventually came to trust,

I wanted to show the unease there because it can be so hard to trust

a new person with all these deep issues that are rooted in your life.

It doesn't even come up, but the fact that Hannah says,

"If you don't like this doctor, we can find you a new one"…

Because it's not always a perfect fit the first go-around, sometimes it can

take you months to find the right doctor.

And then the elements of community that I wanted to capture specifically

was the internet and how it can influence teenagers when it comes to

figuring things out about their sexuality or their gender.

Ben only has the vocabulary for what they are and who they are

*because* of YouTube videos and watching Miriam's coming out videos and dissection

videos about gender and sexuality.

It was important to me because that's how *I* discovered these things

about myself. I watched coming out videos, I watched people talk about

sexuality and gender, the intersection of them and how it all connects together.

I feel like it's a common thing to explore in a book that's maybe more

about nerd, geeky, fandom kind of stuff. But it's also integral to a lot of queer people,

finding your community online.

[Adri]: Especially because we are not taught these things in school,

so we sort of have to discover them for ourselves. So online community is huge.

And yeah, I definitely like what you did with therapy in the story as well,

especially because Ben is not trusting at first and they're very hesitant to

give into it. They don't know how it works, like, "Are you going to tell

my sister this? What's confidential, what's not?"

[Adri]: I thought that was really great. I think you did a good job with that.

[Mason]: People would probably tell me that you shouldn't write a scene where

two characters just talk about consent forms. But that actually came from

[Mason]: Becky Albertalli (laughs) [Adri]: (laughs) Mmhmm.

[Mason]: …who was very prevalent in the writing of the book.

And she was just like, "This might be an interesting thing you can discuss

that kids might not know about, that unless you are in immediate danger

to others or to yourself, it's illegal for your doctor to talk about you outside

of the office unless you give explicit permission or they feel like

something might happen."

[Adri]: On a slightly different note, something I see in a lot of reviews for

I Wish You All the Best,” mostly from... cis and non-queer readers, is this

sentiment of, "This story taught me so much about the non-binary experience."

So I'm curious, what are your thoughts when you hear that kind of response?

Is that something you *want* to be the takeaway from the story?

[Mason]: I...have so many mixed feelings about it. (laughs)

I appreciate that it was my work and my words that taught you these things,

I can appreciate that you took something away from the book that you didn't

know before. In the kindest way possible, I do not care. (laughs)

[Adri]: (laughs)

[Mason]: I never once wrote the book for cis readers.

There's so much in the book that I did want to explain and give

context for, but I never wanted to go into it beyond the context that *anyone*

would need to read it. The things that I wanted to discuss, through writing

and through discovering my own transness, from reading books by and

about trans people, watching movies, documentaries, I realized these things

I was writing about were integral to the trans experience, but also they

were integral to *my* trans experience.

[Mason]: I shouldn't be doing this, but the worst take I've ever seen about

my book is someone getting upset with me because whenever Ben tries on

Hannah's pants for the party, they don't have a giant moment of ~realization~

like, "Oh, these women's pants are perfect." I'm like, "No. Because the first

time *I* wore women's pants, I just wore the pants."

[Adri]: Yeah!

[Mason]: It doesn't always have to be a capital-t Thing.

I wrote the book for trans people to see themselves. I wrote the book for

teenagers who might be confused about how they see their body,

how they feel about their body. I wrote it so that they would know

that they're not alone in those feelings. I never, not one time,

considered the opinion of cis people's thoughts about my book. (laughs)

[Adri]: I mean, who needs it, right? (laughs) [Mason]: Honestly.

[Adri]: I didn't ask. (laughs)

[Adri]: Again, it goes back to how it's like, there's only so many non-binary books

[Adri]: out there, so sometimes people approach it as a textbook instead of

I don't know, just an exercise in empathy. Or just like... (gestures)

[Adri]: To get a little bit more into Ben, the story opens up with that

heart-wrenching scene where they've just come out to their parents

and their parents are kicking them out, like you talked about.

So why was that experience of parental disownment important for you to

explore in this story, and even start off with?

[Mason]: So the book originally did not start off with the coming out scene.

My editor wanted me to *explore* the coming out scene. I was like,

"Okay, this is going to be very tough." In my head, the coming out scene

is a violent one. It's Ben being disowned by parents and being mistreated,

and it's a lot of transphobia.

So I never *wanted* to actually write that scene, it's *why* the book

started where it did. And whenever I was charged with basically opening

the book in a very violent way, I was like, "Okay. If they want me to do this,

I'm going to do this the way I want to." I never wanted to show

the coming out. The scene ends just before Ben says the words, and then

the next chapter starts immediately after. And I give allusions to the scene,

but I never wanted to specifically write it, because I didn't want to show that.

[Mason]: It was a personal choice but, also, I knew that if trans people are

gonna read the scene, they'll understand what happened, they'll understand

the build-up and they'll understand the hard cut, and they'll know what

happened, I don't have to explain it to them.

Any allusions I make to it later are just Ben remembering these details.

When it came to the parents, it ended up being sort of an accidental

theme, and it ties back to the community element of the book somewhat.

I wanted to write a story where the main character realizes that forgiveness

does not have to be given. I feel like you can learn to let go of things,

but that doesn't necessarily mean forgiving someone.

Ben's parents kicked them out of the house at the beginning of *January,*

without shoes, without a phone, without anything.

[Mason]: You don't have to forgive that. (laughs) [Adri]: Yeah.

[Mason]: That's one of the worst things you can do to a person, and it's

definitely the worst thing you can do to your *kid.*

[Mason]: And so aboutagain, spoilersbut probably 3/4 of the way through

the book, Ben's parents come back into the picture, and I wanted to make sure

that Ben never forgave them.

I wanted to showcase that even people as close to you as your parents,

people who literally *made* you (laughs) and you are their whole, you don't have to

forgive that. (laughs) Which I feel like is something that trans teens specifically,

but any queer person can learn. If these people wrong you, you don't have to

give them the time of day, you don't *have* to forgive them, you don't

have to let them back into your life.

[Adri]: That's especially true, like, confronting the people who are "closest"

to you in your life can hurt you the most and all that stuff.

Yeah, that is extremely true. And also just this idea of you can be okay

[Adri]: if your parents don't support you. [Mason]: Yeah, exactly.

[Adri]: There's still other people out there, there's still hope, which we love. (laughs)

[Mason]: (laughs)

To talk more about the difficulties addressed in the story, “I Wish You

All the Bestalso shows the very real experience of being misgendered

or being referred to with the incorrect pronouns, especially in casual encounters

with people you don't necessarily know.

And a big part of the story is also how Ben makes the choice to

go back into the closet for their own protection as they start at this new school.

So what drew you to exploring those experiences of never fully being out?

[Mason]: I just did it because it's *my* experience.

I, all the time, in just basic interactions have to decide if it's worth it to come out.

Whenever, I don't know, I order a cup of coffee and the barista hands it to me

and is like, "Sir, he's your coffee." I'm like, "Do I even want to devote

the energy to what is going on here?" [Adri]: Yeah.

[Mason]: And 99.9% of the time I *don't.*

It's whatever. My friends and the people closest to me respect

my pronouns, and that's all I need.

Ben was kind of my outlet for a lot of things, but especially

the misgendering. And whenever I was writing it, I was working a full-time

day job at my hometown's library, where even the people I was *out* to

didn't respect my pronouns. And it was very hard because these people

told me, "We see you and we understand you, yada yada..."

[Mason]: And I was like, "Okay, but you don't.” [Adri]: Mmmmm.

[Mason]:“Don't be two-faced like that. It's either this or that, it's not in-between."

[Mason]: Ben has the same anxiety and depression that I have, in a sense.

They find it *impossible* to correct people, especially whenever they go back

in the closet. It wasn't something I almost purposefully did, it was just

something that I wanted to show, that coming out is a repeat process.

You *have* to do it almost all the time, especially if you are trans or non-binary,

gender nonconforming, genderqueer.

Coming out is a *constant* process with new people you meet and even

[Mason]: sometimes your friends. It's some- thing that I've definitely struggled with.

Again, going back to it, I took these things that I was struggling with

very hard, and I just poured them into a book. It was like this is my free therapy,

[Both]: (laugh)

[Mason]: This is how I [was going to] get these emotions and these feelings out.

[Adri]: I'm always talking about this with my trans friends. But yeah, it's always

like you have to make a choice when you're in public spaces, you have to

choose to be one thing or another, depending on the situation,

for whatever reasons. It could be medical reasons, it could be professional

reasons, whatever it may be. And yeah, you just have to make a choice.

[Adri]: That came up when *I* came out to my parents because they were like,

"Okay, but not everyone's going to know that you use these pronouns."

I'm like, "Okay. Just because I go to the bank and the teller calls me

ma'am, I can't stop living my life. (laughs) I can't correct everyone." You know?

I'm telling you because I care about *you* and the way *you* address me.”

[Adri]: So… (claps) [Mason]: Yes, exactly.

[Adri]: So get on the train or get left behind, (laughs) is my point of view.

[Mason]: Yeah. You have to dedicate that energy to the people you feel like

it's worth it. And sometimes that is everyone you meet and every interaction

you have, and sometimes it's just your parents or just your friends.

And there's no wrong way to handle it.

[Adri]: Another idea the story challenges is this idea of "androgyny" that people

mistakenly associate with being non-binary, which is often very white,

very featureless, very stick-thin, a little bit masc, y'know...

[Mason]: (laughs)

[Adri]: Did you write Ben with the intention of poking holes in that concept,

or how did you approach that?

[Mason]: Again, it all goes back to my own personal dealings with that kind

of thing. Because whenever I first learned of the word 'non-binary', and thankfully this

has changed, but a quick Google search just is super pale white people, no eyebrows,

[Adri]: (laughs)

[Mason]: cheekbones that you could cut something with, a size zero, looks unhealthy,

with bright-colored hair.

[Mason]: I was like, "…this isn't it." [Adri]: (laughs) Yeah, this isn't anything.

[Mason]: This isn't *anything.* First of all, most of these people are probably

models, and this was a photo shoot with Photoshop, so we can take that

out of the bag right now. Secondly, I don't know how it specifically led

to this misconception about people being non-binary and having to present this way.

I mean, one of my favorite parts of the book is whenever Ben is sort of

dissecting these parts of themselves that, if you go by just the definition

of androgyny, it would "misqualify" them from being non-binary. They talk about

the armpit hair, the hair on their chest, and their face, and all these different

features, and it's things that I exactly struggle with.

I go through ebbs and flows, but most of the time I hate having any kind of hair

that is not my eyebrows or my hair on my head, I hate having any of it.

It doesn't *connect* with me, it's the body dysmorphia of it all.

I feel like within the last two years, three years maybe, we've had so many

different people come out as non-binary or gender nonconforming.

It's thankfully been people of all shapes, sizes, skin color.

I think people have finally realized, especially when it comes to being

non-binarybeing *anything* reallythere's no one right way to be something.

So long as you're comfortable in your own body, that's what matters.

[Adri]: And, of course, I want to talk about the relationship between Ben

and Nathan, which is really soft and really sweet, so if you're looking

for that, anyone, it's there.

[Adri]: So their relationship is really a safe space where Ben doesn't feel the need

[Adri]: to explain themself because they just feel seen, in a way. So I want to know

what was your main focus in exploring that relationship between Ben and Nathan?

[Mason]: I like the way you described it, because Nathan *is* the safe space for Ben.

Despite the fact that Ben experiences *most* of their anxiety around Nathan,

I would say, and coming out to Nathan. I, having written Ben's

point of view, know that deep within the back of their head, despite all of

these feelings, they always know that Nathan would accept them.

They knew that Nathan wouldn't be this cruel, unkind person.

It's just that's how anxiety and intrusive thoughts work. Your brain can be very

mean to you and convince you of things that could never, in all your life, happen.

I wanted Nathan to be that person for Ben. Because even despite the worries

about coming out and their attraction to Nathan, Ben never feels unsafe

around Nathan. When Nathan comes along and has this *ultimate* desire to just

protect Ben in any way he can, I feel like Ben latches onto that, and that's

where the beginning of their relationship comes from. No matter how you operate,

I feel like we all want at least some degree of this kinship that we can share

with someone, and Nathan just happens to be that person for Ben.

[Adri]: Now we can move into talking about your *next* book, which I cannot

wait for, and actually Kathy and I were just talking about it. And I know you

recently announced it's going to *officially* be in 2021, and I know it's called

The Ghosts We Keep”, and that's pretty much *all* I know. So can you speak

a little bit more on what the story is about?

[Mason]: “The Ghosts We Keepis about a teenager named Liam who is

(sighs) struggling already because being a teenager is hard. They have this feeling

that their two best friends in the world have begun to distance themselves

as a relationship between the two of them has formed, and they sort of

[Mason]: accidentally become the third wheel.

[Mason]: And they just feel like they're getting left behind.

In the midst of these feelings, Liam's brother, Ethan, is killed tragically one night.

It's a combination of all these different things, mostly Liam having to deal with grief

and losing someone that close to you, as well as these feelings of abandonment

because, with the death of a child, comes a lot of feelings for their parents.

Liam just feels *ignored.*

[Mason]: Mostly it's just grief, it's losing people in a permanent way

and losing them in an emotional way, and perhaps finding out things about

the people that you thought you were closest to, and...discovering new things.

Hopefully, that sold it to anyone still watching. (laughs)

[Adri]: Obviously as you were talking about it, “The Ghosts We Keep

is quite a bit darker thanI Wish You All the Best”, which, to its own

credit, talked about some difficult things. And I know you mentioned it's

going to explore gender identity, possibly first love, and how all that is

tangled up with grief and loss and losing people permanently

or temporarily, like you said.

So what was the bigger picture for you in incorporating those themes?

[Mason]: The book, as most of my stories apparently seem to be,

was free therapy. [Both]: (laugh)

[Mason]: I started writing the book whenever my father was killed in 2017,

and it became a lot more (laughs) than that. As *awful* as it is to say,

a book about a student at a high school dying is a lot more marketable

and more "interesting" than a book about a father dying.

And, also, I was *far* too close to the source material that I was trying to write.

(sighs) When it came to evolving past that and the other story elements like

friendship breakups...I'd gone through many friendship breakups over the last

three or four years, some of them just as simple as drifting apart because

you no longer have anything in common, some of them because it

turned out the people were not the greatest in the world.

I feel like a friendship breakup is not something that's explored a ton

in young adult, which *sucks* because feel like that's probably the age range

where you have the most friendship breakups.

Because you move through different years of high school, through different

classes, you meet new people, you stop talking to the old ones.

And then even whenever you're *out* of high school, you're no longer around

these people every single day for 8+ hours, so you realize,

"Oh, I didn't have as much in common with them as I thought I did."

That's just kind of how life *is,* unfortunately.

So I really wanted to cover the feelings that come with this

abandonment, just from all angles really.

[Adri]: Yeah, I agree that friendship breakups are *not* talked about in

YA fiction as often as they should be, because I feel like it's one of

the most common kinds of loss that young folks experience.

[Adri]: There's just not enough weight given to friendship and platonic

relationships and how they affect our lives.

They have a deep, profound effect on our lives and we never talk

about going through them. It sucks. (laughs)

[Adri]: To return to what we were talking earlier about pronouns,

I saw you posting on Twitter recently about how you really

wanted to write Liam, the main character ofThe Ghosts We Keep”,

as using both he and they pronouns, which is totally valid and totally

a thing that happens in life, even if the ~cis~ don't believe!

But you were concerned that cis readers, especially, wouldn't understand

the nuance of that choice and would use it as an excuse to gender Liam

as a boy when they *aren't.*

[Adri]: So are you still struggling through that choice? And how do you feel

about it now as you're continuing to work on the manuscript?

[Mason]: So whenever you sent me the list of questions as a quick re-read

or like a synopsis of what we were going to talk about, *this* was the one

that I was excited to get to the *most.*

[Adri]: (laughing) Me too! Yes! [Mason]: Because I have *feelings.*

[Mason]: I haaaave feelings.

It was kind of immediately after tweeting that, that I knew my answer.

One would argue that you should not treat Twitter as your diary,

especially your public Twitter, as a diary. [Adri]: (laughs) Yes.

[Mason]: But I was like, "You know what? No. This is something that is

weighing on me." I hadn't recently read the book at that point,

because I think this was maybe a week and a half ago?

Time is blending together and not real.

I think it had been maybe two or three weeks since I last fully read

the book. And it was just sort of sitting on me. I think probably it burst because

I probably was tagged in another Instagram review where Ben was misgendered

or whatever. So I've gotten to a point in my life where I just remove the tag.

If you want me to pay attention to your post then read the book,

the book and process the information that I laid out for you very clearly. (laughs)

[Mason]: But when it came to Liam, I got my answer almost immediately,

which was basically, “Fuck that.” [Adri]: Yeah!

[Mason]: Whenever I wrote Ben, it was always they/them, and the way

they look, and the way they dress. Whenever I wrote Liam, it was always

he/they. For my planned third book, I have two main characters,

one of whom is a trans boy and the other is a teenager who,

through the course of the book, discovers their non-binary identity.

And those characters have always been that way for me, from the get-go,

they've just always been that way. It's just how my mind works.

So Liam, even if I never give a "story reason" for it, has always been

he/they to me, and nothing can change that.

And I *know* that it's going to happen, I know that cis readerslet's just call it

[Mason]: like we see itcis readers are going to see that and any time that Liam

is referred to as "he," by a cis reader, it's never going to feel genuine

in the way that something like that would [feel coming] from a trans reader.

It'll never feel that way because my mind is always going to read it as

they just see Liam being masculine and dressing in a "traditionally masculine" way.

They just see that and go like, "Oh, Liam's a boy who goes by 'they' sometimes,

whatever. He, he, he, he, Liam's a he."

It's another one of those things that comes with the territory of writing

a trans character, especially whenever you're writing a trans character that

doesn't abide by the "rules" that cis people have set up for us

for some reason? I don't know how *that* happened?

[Adri]: (laughing) I don't either.

[Mason]: They're like, "It's got to be he/she/they, it's *nothing* else."

[Adri]: Nothing else.

[Mason]: Like, "It's no other kind of pronoun, and you can only get *one,*

that's it." Which is bullshit.

But then to go back to an earlier answer, I just don't *care* what

cis people think. (laughs) You could not *pay* me to care less about how

cis people read my book. It's there for my trans readers.

And maybe I'm assuming too much, but I feel like whenever a trans reader

reads how I describe gender in the book because... Another thing I wanted

to do was make it a book where the character already *knows* how they

identify, like there's not really a lot of turmoil in the intent about their identity.

They have feelings about how people see them and how their parents see them,

but it doesn't go beyond that. There's no coming out moment, there's no big,

bold statement about gender. Liam is just the way they are, that's how I

wanted to do it. It's already a book that's packed full of a lot of things.

Whenever trans readers read that, I have faith that they'll get it.

And *that's* what I care about, not the cis reader being able to process,

"Oh, how confusing is it to have two pronouns?"

I don't care. That's *your* baggage to sort through, not mine.

[Adri]: Seriously. Yeah. It's like, cis people, who asked you? (laughs)

[Mason]: Like really, who asked for your opinion?

[Adri]: Who asked for your rules? We don't want them,

[Mason]: (laughs) [Adri]: we're not interested. Yeah.

[Mason]: All these made up rules that you've given us

[Adri]: I'm glad that you've gone that way because we definitely

need to see more multi-pronoun non-binary folks, I think it's cool.

I collected a few questions from enby book readers and reviewers.

So first is from Adriana from boricuareads, who wants to know,

What are your characters' BTS biases?" (laughing) And I'm assuming

they mean all of your characters, whether they listen to K-pop or not?

[Mason]: I can *assure* you that Liam listens to BTS.

[Adri]: Good.

[Mason]: Music is an integral part of book 2 for me and Liam makes their

own music and they're trying to produce their own music and write it.

So there's a lot of allusions to a lot of [different] kinds of music.

So I can 100% assure people that probably the three main characters

ofThe Ghosts We Keepall listen to BTS.

[Adri]: Love it. Thats canon.

[Mason]: (laughs)

[Mason]: Maybe V, for Ben, probably because they think V is the prettiest.

[Both]: (laugh) [Adri]: (laughing) Okay!

[Mason]: I wouldn't think that Ben would listen to a lot of music.

[Adri]: I don't think so either.

[Mason]: So, I don't know. I mean, they didn't even know who Troye Sivan was

[Adri]: No. I wanted to be a troll and be like, "Mason, what Troye Sivan song

were they listening to in the book?" (laughs)

[Mason]: Listen, oh my God! It's on my website, it's everywhere I could

think to put it, and yet... [Adri]: I know, I know.

[Mason]: Oh my God, this is actually so tough.

Nathan's *probably* Namjoon, and I don't really have a reason for that. (laughs)

[Adri]: I see it, I see it.

[Mason]: And then we can doThe Ghosts We Keepcharacters next.

So Liam is a Jimin stan, for the same reasons that Ben is a V stan, but Liam

would never *admit* it. They're just ike, "Oh, Jimin's got such a good voice,"

but no, it's also because they think that Jimin's the prettiest.

[Adri]: Very pretty.

[Mason]: Vanessa *probably* likes all seven of them very equally. (laughs)

[Mason]: The way I imagine her mind working is she's very methodical in

the music she listens to. She thinks about it a lot. She wants to dissect each

and every piece because she makes music too, and it's just how her mind works.

So she probably likes all seven of them.

Let's just say Joel's Jungkook. (laughs)

[Adri]: Finally! Somebody had to be, come on. (laughs)

Cait from chaptercviii says, "I'd love to know if there are any characters or

icons from pop culture that have inspired the characters you write."

[Mason]: I like to think that my characters are my own, which sounds

like such a bitchy way to say it. (laughs) But my characters are more

of an amalgamation of different experiences, both ones that I have

lived and ones that I've learned from friends, people around me,

the internet. So I'm *sure* that there are more famous people or pop culture

icons that have inspired my characters, but I don't think I can actually name any.

[Adri]: Right, not consciously. They're just in there.

[Mason]: Yeah. [Adri]: It's all coming in together.

[Both]: (laugh)

R from R Jenson, who's actually here, asks, "Keeping up with the music theme,

do you listen to specific playlists while writing?" And I would add,

what is *on* those playlists?

Are there artists that make reoccurring appearances on the playlists?

[Mason]: I do listen to a *lot* of music whenever I write. It's always kind of

accidental, sometimes I'm listening to music on shuffle on Spotify and

a song comes up and I'm like, "Oh, that's perfect for this."

I guess I don't shout it from the rooftops enough, butI Wish You

All the Besthas a full playlist on Spotify. Each song correlates to

a specific part of the book, and I don't want to ~give it away,~ but it's

all there. The link is always on my website under theI Wish You All

the Bestbook page. There's a direct link that will take you to it

[Mason]: But music plays a big part in what I write. It always feels like

at the end of the day there's a very specific song choice. “I Wish You

All the Best,” in my head, it's a lot of Paramore, it's a lot of Troye Sivan,

some Hayley Kiyoko sprinkled in there. I feel like it's representative

of the story I'm trying to tell.

So theI Wish You All the Bestplaylist is 1 hour and 6 minutes, and then

the playlist forThe Ghosts We Keepis 3 hours and 46 minutes.

[Adri]: Wow!

[Mason]: That playlist is less representative of the story, and I've

more tried to capture the music that Liam is listening to.

So, more Paramore, more Troye Sivan, but [also] American Football,

Lorde, Marina and the Diamonds, Rina Sawayama, FKA twigs, Billie Eilish.

It's *very* emo, it's very Liam, in my head.

It is my plan to have a playlist that someone can listen to while they read

the book, or if they just want to invoke the feelings of the book.

[Adri]: I'm ready. That's the kind of content creation I'm here for. (laughs)

So, at a different note, Cande from iamrainbou says, "Would you be interested

in writing middle grade someday? And if so, what is something

you love about middle grade?"

[Mason]: I have an entire middle-grade novel in my laptop.

[Adri]: I know, I know you do. [Mason]: Saved and ready to go.

[Mason]: I've been told that it is a mess, by my agent, and have been told

the ways to fix it. It's one of those things where I could read every single

word aloud that she said, but putting them together in my head,

it does *not* make any sense.

[Mason]: Having read more middle grade recently, not a ton, but

King and the Dragonfliesand "Hurricane" Childare two *amazing* books.

God, why did I just blank? “Georgeby Alex Gino.

(quietly) Jesus, my brain. [Adri]: Yes! Yes.

[Mason]: You have those books. And I think what I've noticed, and I've

especially noticed it out there, because my agent, Lauren, said this to me,

and now that I've tried to research middle grade, read middle grade, I see

it on the page, is that kids are a lot more *blunt* than teenagers are.

[Adri]: Yeah.

[Mason]: A kid will just tell you how they feel, even if they don't

have the exact vocabulary for it. They'll just tell you how they feel,

whereas I feel like as a teenager, a lot of us are expected to *hide*

the feelings and mask them and sort of put Band-Aids and nice words

over them. That's hard for me to get at. (laughs)

I've never been someone who has been super forward with my feelings,

and it's why Ben is the way that they are, bless their heart.

I'm going to speak this into existence because I believe that one

way to make something happen is to speak it into existence, but I *will*

publish a middle-grade novel, I will clean up the one that I'm writing.

I was planning on starting the editing process of fixing it up on Monday,

when I was like, "I'm not on deadline for anything right now, I'm stuck

inside all day long, this could be something that I could fix while

I'm here. It can be my quarantine project."

And then not only do I get an email from my editor that's like,

"Hey, expect book 2 edits next week," but I finally get my anthology

contract, which to me is a green-light go on, "Write this 5,000-word short

story before the deadline on August 1st." So I have to do the things

that I'm getting paid to do first before I can work on other projects..

[Adri]: That's valid. We want you to make that coin.

[Both]: (laugh)

The last question from enby readers I have is from crescentmoonreads,

who wants to know, "What is your number one dream project?"

And I want to add to that and say, “What is your dream collab

and who would you collab with?”

[Mason]: The dream collab thing is easy because I've talked about them

enough during this interview, but if I got to write anything with Kacen,

it would be *amazing.* [Adri]: We'd love that.

[Mason]: I would hate it for them because they're so much better

at writing than I am, and so I would probably drag the project down a little bit.

[Adri]: Oh, that's not true!

[Mason]: But if I ever got to do anything with Kacen, that would be amazing.

My absolute dream projects, I have three. And perhaps it's time for these

dreams to change because I don't know how they're going to happen,

I don't know when they're going to happen, if they're going to happen,

whatever. [But] I would love to write something for Steven Universe

in any way, shape, or form. [Adri]: Oooooh!

I would love to work on some kind of Spider-Man project.

[Adri]: (sing-song) Yeeees!

[Mason]: Which Disney would *not* want me to do because I would get my

little bisexual trans hands all over Peter Parker and just make him

the bi-est, trans-est character out there.

[Mason]: And then my other dream project is writing absolutely anything

for Star Wars, which is probably the thing that I can see happening, in this reality,

the *least* likely, just because I don't write fantasy, I don't write

science fiction. I *have* written Star Wars fan fiction though.

[Adri]: Ooh.

[Mason]: And if I can toot my own horn, I think it's *pretty good,* but whatever.

I don't think I can add that to my resume and send that to Disney.

[Adri]: (laughs) But it's valid!

[Adri]: So the only audience question I think I'm going to take, thank you Kathy

for watching, but I think the only one I'm going to take is also from

an enby person. It's [from] D and they said, "Have any adult readers

thanked you for helping them see themselves in a way they hadn't

experienced before? You mentioned trans youth, but so many adults haven't

had this kind of representation before either."

[Mason]: I believe that I was in Iowa whenever I met this person.

It was the first time I had ever been asked to speak solo at an event

and I had *no* idea what was happening. But afterwards, there was this older

person who, if I had to guess, [was] between 40 and 50, who came up to me

and got their book signed, and we just had this long conversation about how

whenever they were younger, none of this stuff wasreal,” no one had

the vocabulary. Even so far back as time periods like the '60s, '70s, and '80s,

if you were trans, you were just called a cross-dresser.

[Adri]: Right. [Mason]: And that was it.

[Mason]: You were "secretly a gay man dressing as a woman" or "secretly

a gay woman dressing as a man." It was these shades of black and white

and there was nothing in-between them.

To sit there and have this conversation with this person who had seen so much

more than my two decades...Those two decades aren't even two decades

because I was a *child* for a large portion of them, so I can't even recall.

But to just get there and sit there and talk with them for even just

the 10 minutes that I think we got to talk, it was just such an amazing experience.

I always feel...I don't want to say more empowered and more vindicated

whenever an older person comes up and talks to me about this stuff,

but it is a *special* feeling.

Unfortunately, we as trans people know that not a lot of trans people live to see

late adulthood. It's so dangerous for them to even live and exist.

To see someone who survived all that, it was just special. (laughs)

[Adri]: Trans elders are *so* powerful. [Mason]: Oh yeah.

[Adri]: Because it just lets you know that it's *possible.*

[Mason]: Yeah.

[Adri]: You can live and you can thrive and it's possible and it's beautiful,

and I love it. (laughs)

Before we wrap up, I love asking author guests for their book recommendations.

So what are some past or future books written by enby or trans-spec authors

that you're really excited about?

I was more prepared for this and then I talked endlessly about Kacen.

[Adri]: (laughs)

[Mason]: ReadFelix Ever After.” [Adri]: “Felix Ever Afteris a valid choice.

[Mason]: “Felix Ever Afteris a book that I think everyone should

desperately read. Any book by Kacen, the way that Kacen can balance

*so* many different things, identity, sexuality, romance, and it's all handled

with this almost like deft hand. I'm *incredibly* jealous of how they get to

write so many different things at one time.

[Mason]: It's not a trans book, people have probably heard of it, but I think it's

one that everyone needs to read: “You Should See Me in a Crown

[Mason]: by Leah Johnson. [Adri]: *Yes.* Yes.

[Mason]: It's the *sweetest* story that I *adore* with all of my heart.

It's so good. It's just the story of a young, Black teenage girl who is

queer and trying to figure out how she's going to attend school,

and it's so much *more* though!

Ah, God, I love it. I can't with that book.

[Mason]: Oh, I don't need people to be on the lookout for this, [but] I have

had the privilege of readingOne Last Stopby Casey McQuiston.

[Adri]: Yes, yes.

[Mason]: It is a *superb* book. People are weirdly skeptical about

One Last StopafterRed, White & Royal Blue,” like "Will it live up

to the hype?" I *love* “Red, White & Royal Blue,” I adore that book.

One Last Stopis *so* much better. [Adri]: Oh my gosh. (laughs)

[Mason]: You can just see how Casey's craft has evolved just over the two

or three years between writingRed, White & Royal Blue

andOne Last Stop.” Oh, it's so good. (laughs) It's *so good.*

[Mason]: Not to tempt y'all, we still have to wait until 2021 for that book.

ReadFelixandYou Should See Me in a Crownin the meantime.

[Adri]: So to wrap up here, where can people find you on the internet,

where can they order your book, how can they support you,

are there any future events or virtual appearances you want to plug or

anything else you want to shout out before we dip?

[Mason]: You can always find me online at,

I was very lucky to get that. As far as any buy links, I actually keep various

links to various bookstores on my web- site. So just [go to] masondeaverwrites.

You'll seeI Wish You All the Bestin the little books bar. Purchase now,

you can pick between hardcover or paperback on various stores:

Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, my local indie bookstore,

the site that shall not be named.

You can find me on Twitter, @masondeaver, I was lucky to get

that one too. It's just M-A-S-O-N D-E-A-V-E-R.

Instagram I wasn't lucky, it's @mason_deaver.

[Adri]: Well, that's all the questions I had for you, so thank you so much

again for being here. You've been very generous with your time and your

answers, and it's been really great, and I'm just so glad you were here

to be with us today!

[Mason]: Thank you so much for inviting me. It was so much fun! (laughs)

[Adri]: Yeah! I love it. (fades out)

[♪ "Marutsuke" (Instrumental) by Given ♪]

The Description of ? Discussing "I Wish You All the Best" with Mason Deaver! ?