Angelo Surmelis was raised in Greece until he immigrated to Illinois at the age of five. He currently lives in Los Angeles. An award-winning designer, Surmelis has been featured on over fifty television shows, including the Today show and Extra, as well as in magazines such as InStyle, TV Guide, and Entertainment Weekly. He has worked as a host on networks like HGTV and TLC.
ANGELO! Ich habe nicht gewusst dass Du in Deutschland geboren bist! Ich komme aus Deutschland! Sprichst Du Deutsch? 🙂
I was born in Germany to Greek parents who eloped from Greece. I was barely a year old before we were back in Greece. I took German in high school, but I speak veeeery little. I understand more.
Can you tell us a bit about your initial inspiration for your book?
The reason main inspiration for THE DANGEROUS ART OF BLENDING IN came from a therapist I was seeing asking me to keep a journal. I couldn’t get past writing a paragraph before feeling paralyzed by my past. One day, on a hike with my best friend (Jennifer Niven author of All The Bright Places & Holding Up The Universe) I asked her how she was able to write such a personal story without losing it. She suggested I give the story to a character. That night I started writing and Evan Panos showed up.
During your own teenage years, would you have identified more with Evan or Henry? Why?
Definitely Evan! Evan is pretty much me in high school but more confident and braver than I was.
YA lit has made some exciting strides in terms of highlighting LGBTQ+ stories and voices. Why is it important for you to write queer-centered stories specifically for a teen audience?
Where YA Lit is today and where it’s headed is thrilling! We need to continue to tell all kinds of studies from our community. People say to me, “why bother with coming out stores? We get it. You’re gay. Most of the world is okay with it.” But the world isn’t. A day does not go by that I don’t hear from teens (all over the world) dealing with abuse, discrimination and shame. We need all LGBTQIA voices represented and telling their stories. I won’t stop writing about queer characters until our lives and experiences seem just as average as those of our straight counterparts.
Can you tell us something about your upcoming books?
I am working on my next YA book that deals with an equally tough subject, as The Dangerous Art of Blending In does. I can’t say much, but it will ultimately be a story of hope and friendship. I’m also working on a children’s book that I’m looking to illustrate as well and a design book.
About The Dangerous Art of Blendin In:
Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict immigrant Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend, Henry, has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.
Tired, isolated, scared—Evan finds that his only escape is to draw in an abandoned monastery that feels as lonely as he is. And yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. Henry, who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he deserves more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse.
But as things with Henry heat up, and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by being silent.