Ask the Author: Phil Stamper (As Far As You’ll Take Me)

What is your book about?

In As Far As You’ll Take Me, seventeen-year-old Marty moves to London to follow his dreams of being a professional oboist. Along the way, he grapples with his anxiety, finds friends who quickly become family, and falls in love for the first time…with the wrong boy.

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

Generally speaking, I loved writing all of the European travels into the book. There’s such a sense of place in As Far As You’ll Take Me, and I really enjoyed giving readers a snapshot of London, Cardiff, Brighton, Florence, and so on throughout the book.

But there’s one scene I wrote much later—probably the last scene I ever wrote during edits—that became my personal favorite, and it has nothing to do with travel! In this scene, Marty slowly pieces together his oboe in a practice room at the Academy, and as he starts to play, we learn that for as much as he struggles with organized religion due to his upbringing, music has essentially become his religion. It’s a really sweet moment, and one of the first ones where we fully see Marty in his element. I think all of the musical scenes are really sweet, but this one will always mean the most to me!

What has been your inspiration for writing it?

I took a lot of inspiration from my own life, which is why it’s such a personal story to me. As a queer teen, I always felt like I needed to escape my conservative rural village, and I was able to do that in college, studying music, falling into a group of wonderful and accepting friends who became family. 

But even though I could finally be myself for the first time, I really had to come to terms with my anxiety, I fell in love with the wrong guys, and I struggled with a ton of body image issues. I lived in London for a while, which is what inspired the setting. So, putting all of that together, I was able to fictionalize a lot of my own experiences and bring them into the dazzling environment in London and across various European travels.

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