Ask the Author: Angelo Surmelis

What would you like readers to know about you? 

One of the questions I get a lot is “How do you find the inspiration to keep writing, or creating when you’re not feeling it?” I want readers to know that I don’t know of any writer that doesn’t struggle with sitting down to write. It’s my biggest challenge. Self judgement, and sustaining your belief in your story is something I battle with every time. No matter what I’m writing. There are moments when I think, “This is the best thing I’ve ever written–that ANYONE has ever written.” Then in an instant you look at it again, everything flips and you think, “This is the biggest piece of crap ever put down, and it should never see the light of day.” Just know that if you’re going to create something, keep going. Go through your doubt because there’s something positive waiting on the there side of it all. 

What is your book about for those who haven’t read it? 

It’s about a young Greek boy (Evan Panos) who comes back home after spending time at summer camp, and his best friend (Henry) all of sudden is hot. Evan struggles to be himself in a strict, conservative home while trying to pretend everything is fine. Ultimately, it’s about finding the power is standing out as you are. 

What has been your inspiration for writing it? 

It’s the story I needed when I was a teen. Like Evan, I grew up in a Greek, strict, abusive, very religious home. As an awkward, insecure, Greek gay boy who had immigrated to America with his family at the age of five, I struggled to find my way. I knew that I couldn’t be myself at home, and I didn’t see anyone, at the time in literature, or media that looked, or felt like I did. I wrote THE DANGEROUS ART OF BLENDING IN not only for me, but for all the other teens that are struggling to feel accepted as they are. You are not alone. 

What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write? 

Oh man, that’s a tough one. To be completely honest–there were a lot of tears writing certain scenes. So when there were scenes between Evan and Henry, those moments felt like an escape. Writing those moments was uplifting, and hopeful. So, that’s a long way of saying–it’s probably the Evan & Henry scenes, especially the ice cream/monastery scene early on. 

What books or authors inspired you to become a writer? 

I’m really lucky because my best friend of over twenty years is Jennifer Niven, the author of All the Bright Places, Holding Up the Universe, and her new book, Breathless. She has been a huge inspiration for me. Plus, most of the people I know are brilliant authors, and they are inspiring every day–Kerry Kletter, Jeff Zentner, Kacen Callender, Abdi Nazemian, Tehlor Kay Mejia. Also, one of my all time favorite books is The Secret History by Donna Tartt. There are so many other authors and books–this sections would be the length of a not so short story if I mentioned them all.  

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book? 

I’d repeat the first answer. Keep going. Don’t stop writing. It’s okay if it sucks–it always does at first. You can always edit, but you can’t edit a blank page. Also, find your small tribe of other writers you trust to give you honest, caring advice. Not folks that love everything you do, but writers that can be objective and kind. Also, read. Read as much as you can, and read outside the genre you’re writing in. Other great writers can inspire and motivate you to be better. I started out as a fine art major, and one of my most challenging classes was a mandatory structural anatomy drawing class. It was all about understanding the skeleton and nervous system of the body. How it moved. How it all worked. What the body looked like under different light, different poses. I wanted to draw, paint and sculpt lovely things—this class felt like science. I wasn’t into it at first, but I learned more about creativity through studying something outside my comfort zone. Something that was challenging and didn’t come easy for me. It made me a better artist. Be uncomfortable in your art.  

The book can be purchased here: 

https://bookshop.org/books/the-dangerous-art-of-blending-in/9780062659019

Instagram:  

https://www.instagram.com/angelo_surmelis/

Twitter: 

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