Ask the Author: Adam Sass
What would you like readers to know about you?
I actually started my writing career in movies and TV, so I shifted out of screenplays and into novels when I started reading YA and fell in love with the imagination and story possibilities I was seeing. Also, I first started writing in the years I was a barista at my local Barnes & Noble. I’d scribble ideas on the backs of pastry bags as I looked out on the bookshelves, imagining my books in there one day.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
SURRENDER YOUR SONS is a queer version of LOST. A gay teen’s summer vacation becomes a nightmare when his religious zealot family has him kidnapped and taken to a conversion therapy camp on a forgotten island. There, he teams up with other kidnapped LGBTQ+ teens to uncover the camp’s dark secrets. It’s my debut novel, and it comes out Fall 2020!
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
SURRENDER YOUR SONS started with my love of thrilling adventure stories like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. I loved the idea of a group of kids in a desperate, isolated situation rebelling and escaping by having to rely on each other despite their differences. I saw similarities with the LGBTQ+ community, which is so vast and diverse, and I wanted to see this same adventure story with a group of queer teens trying to survive. Around that time, Showtime put out a documentary on a real life conversion therapy camp in the Dominican Republic called “Kidnapped for Christ.” It was so emotional and the two ideas collided. I wanted to see these kids fight back and have to work together so they could bring the place down.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
My favorite scenes to write are clue discovery scenes where a character finds something–a secret message, a key, something odd they didn’t expect–and it’s like following a string. It leads them further down the rabbit hole. Either a realization that changes their world or is just another piece of the puzzle that brings them closer to the truth.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
It’s corny, but one of my best friends is also one of my favorite writers. Caleb Roehrig’s thriller “Last Seen Leaving” totally blew my mind and focused my writing when I read it. It made things seem so much more possible: a taut, dark thriller with a sensitive young queer boy as the lead. Thrillers tend to favor straight, traditionally masculine people and sentimentality, so seeing this world upon us was a game changer for me. Also my love YA really began with Andrew Smith’s “Grasshopper Jungle” and of course, Becky Albertalli’s “Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.”
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Get audiobooks. Read everything that you can, but audiobooks are a great backup/add-on, and hearing them read aloud allows your mind to relax and take in the writing in a unique way. You start to think about sentence structure and voice and flow in a different way. Also, you tend to get through a lot more books a lot faster this way, so it gives you additional variety. BUT! Still get traditional books and read those.