Hello! I’m very excited about this post because it is my first ever author interview! When I saw that Phil had a form for bloggers to fill out for an interview, I knew I had to do it! I’m super excited for Phil’s book THE GRAVITY OF US. If you aren’t hyped up for this book, what are you doing?
“As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.
Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels–fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.
Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.”
Here are some blurbs from authors I love:
“Phil Stamper’s THE GRAVITY OF US is the first love, first launch, astronaut story I didn’t know I needed. I’m so starry-eyed for this wise, romantic gem of a book.” -Becky Albertalli, bestselling author of Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
“A grounded romance that shapes into its own lovely constellation.” –Adam Silvera, New York Times bestselling author of What If It’s Us
“A big-hearted, witty, and intensely relatable debut about reaching for your dreams without losing what grounds you.” -Karen M. McManus, New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying and Two Can Keep a Secret
“THE GRAVITY OF US is a luminous story of family, activism, and love. Phil Stamper shows us a future that burns brighter than a star—and reminds us who it is that will inherit that future.”-Adib Khorram, Morris Award winning author of Darius the Great Is Not Okay
“A debut to remember, Stamper’s The Gravity Of Us draws you in for a journey of family, friendships, and ambition while exploring the power of social media and our own voices. Equal parts thoughtful and heartfelt, this book never misses a beat. Cal and Leon have my heart drifting in orbit. Houston, we have a winner!” —Julian Winters, author of Running With Lions
Now onto the interview!
Space fascinates me and I know you are a space person also. What got you interested in space?
Aah, yes! I’m a huge space person. I think my interest in spaceflight all started the first time I watched Apollo 13. I remember being so engrossed in the story, the drama…both of the mission itself and of the families on the ground. And my obsession grew from there.
But I’ve always been fascinated by space. When you grow up in a rural town, you find yourself surrounded by stars on a clear night. To me, there’s nothing more pleasing than looking up and seeing thousands of tiny dots—stars, planets, maybe an airplane or two!—light up the night sky.
Between both obsessions (space travel and astronomy) I loved that I could take what I loved so much about them, make it relevant for today’s readers, and write the book of my nerdy heart.
Do you have any specific inspiration for your characters?
Yes… and no. My main characters are all amalgamations of pieces of myself, people I’ve known, and fictional characters I enjoy. I put a lot of myself into all of the characters, especially when it comes to mental health rep—drawing from my own experience with anxiety and depression.
Broadly speaking, though, the characters were inspired by the real-life astronaut families of the 60s space race. In this era, astronauts’ spouses and children had to be immaculately dressed, polished, and ready to entertain, all while not knowing if their husbands or fathers would come home alive that night. I was able to take this interesting dynamic and tension and bring it into the setting for THE GRAVITY OF US.
What’s one thing you hope people take away from THE GRAVITY OF US?
Oh gosh, if I read through the book again, I’d probably find 100 or more things I hope people take away from it. But I know that’s not exactly realistic, ha!
I drafted GRAVITY during the 2016 election in the U.S., and I knew so many people (especially queer teens) who just felt hopeless… and still do. My hope is that my main character proves, even if you screw up from time to time, anyone can change the world. I want anyone who reads GRAVITY to take with them the fact they can make a change and, when they use their voice, people will listen.
More about Phil:
Phil Stamper grew up in a rural village near Dayton, Ohio. He has a B.A. in Music and an M.A. in Publishing with Creative Writing. And, unsurprisingly, a lot of student debt. He works for a major book publisher in New York City and lives in Brooklyn with his husband and their dog. THE GRAVITY OF US is his first novel, but he’s no stranger to writing. His self-insert Legend of Zelda fanfiction came with a disclaimer from the 14-year old author: “Please if you write a review don’t criticize my work.” He has since become more open to critique… sort of.
I can’t thank Phil enough for providing this opportunity! Like I said before, I am beyond excited for THE GRAVITY OF US!! The cover is gorgeous and I’m in love with everything about the book.
Thank you so much for reading!! See ya next time! 🙂