Interview with Julian Winters, Author of Running with Lions

Julian Winters is a former management trainer who lives in the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia and has been crafting fiction since he was a child, creating communities around his hand-drawn “paper people.” He began writing LGBTQ character-driven stories as a teen and has developed a devoted fan fiction following. When he isn’t writing or using his sense of humor to entertain his young nephews, Julian enjoys reading, experimental cooking in the kitchen, and watching the only sports he can keep up with: volleyball and soccer. Running with Lions is his first novel.

First of all, can you tell us 3 random things about Julian Winters.

Three random things…. Hmm. (1) I’m a huge comic book nerd. And I read them all—DC, Marvel, everything. (2) I’m a massive klutz. I fall, trip, accidentally bump into things all the time. I can’t eat anything without spilling crumbs or ketchup on myself. BUT I’ve been fortunate not to break anything or have any major surgical procedures. (3) I hate seafood. Passionately. The smell makes me incredibly nauseous.

What inspired you to write Running with Lions? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?

I was inspired to write Running with Lions because there just weren’t any YA sports books available, especially not any starring LGBTQ+ characters. And if there were, they weren’t inclusive and usually the queer character ends up being bullied or shamed. I wanted to change that. I also wanted a story with an LGBTQ+ protagonist that wasn’t about coming out or tragedy. One that normalized diversity. Something other LGBTQ+ teens can see and know they deserve the happy ending. The great romance story. They deserve to be the hero instead of the stereotypical sidekick or comic relief.

That’s what I draw my inspiration from when I write—things that I want and hope to see more in everyday life. LGBTQ+ people being recognized as more than just a sexuality. We’re strong. We’re brave. We mess up, fall down, get our hearts broke, and slay dragons.

When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?

I realized late I wanted to be an author, but I’ve secretly always been a writer. In my head, mostly. My first foray into writing was fanfiction. If I didn’t like the way a storyline ended, how a TV series portrayed a character, I’d change it. If I didn’t see enough of me in these worlds—black, gay, clumsy, someone who loves easily but fights fiercely for his friends—then I knew fanfiction was the place I could create these things.

I always, always look back on my fanfiction days fondly. Fandom is such a wonderful place to be yourself. To discover yourself. And there are great support systems in it. I still keep in contact with fandom friends. If it wasn’t for my fandom readers, I would’ve never pursued being an author. They’re the ones who made me supremely confident in what I could do with words.

Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?

Yes! I have a few projects in the pipeline. I can’t talk about them all, but I can tell you my next YA book is coming out next year. It’s called How to Be Remy Cameron and I hope it does a lot of things for a lot of people. It’s truly a story from the heart and the kind of book I wish I would’ve had growing up. The one with a queer black main character who’s learning to be confident in the person he’s always been.

What are you reading at the moment?

Nothing! Because I’m working on my next book and have a deadline, I haven’t had a chance to do a lot of social reading. It’s been kind of sad.

I did recently finish some great books though. Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram is the must-read book of 2018. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom were amazing! I’m still reeling from those two. 2018 as been filled with so many great books and 2019 is going to blow our minds.

More about Running with Lions :

Running with Lions (print edition)


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