Robbie Couch is the author of the young adult romantic-comedy novel, The Sky Blues. His work has been published in HuffPost, Upworthy, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among other outlets. Originally from small-town Michigan, Robbie now lives in Los Angeles, where he remains in constant fear of aggressive birds and on the prowl for his next bowl of noodles.
For those who don’t know, could you start off by telling us a little bit about your new novel, The Sky Blues?
Sky Baker has a massive crush on possibly queer (but possibly not) Ali Rashid and wants to pull off an epic promposal to end his senior year on a high note. But Sky’s long list of promposal ideas gets leaked to the whole school in an embarrassing and super homophobic e-blast hack. Sky needs to figure out who did it — and how he’s going to fight back.
What inspired you to write The Sky Blues?
I wanted to tell a story that centered a young queer character’s fight to be seen and celebrated in a community where some people don’t want his star to shine.
This is your debut novel. How does it feel?
Overwhelming! But in the best possible way. I’ve worked toward getting Sky’s story out into the world for years now, and the fact that it’s finally happening blows my mind!
Describe the route to your first novel being published…
I began writing Sky back in 2016. Once I finished my manuscript, I started submitting to agents looking specifically for stories in the queer YA space. After signing with an agent, it took several more months for Sky to find a home at Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. The process was an emotional roller coaster at times, but a million percent worth it in the end.
Talk to us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
I am a night owl whose creative inspiration kicks in after 9 p.m.! If I can crank out a few paragraphs after my morning coffee, that’s fantastic. But typically, I do most of my drafting and editing after the sun goes down.
What inspires you to write?
I believe stories can be a major catalyst for change, at both a personal and societal level. A good story can move us to laugh, to cry, to challenge the status quo, to change our perspectives, to fight for justice. If any of my books can be that catalyst for even just one reader, every word written was worth it!
Writers often have to face rejection before getting published. Did you? If so, how did you cope with it?
Oh my god, yes (lol). Lots of rejection! I think it’s worth reminding yourself that even the very best writers and storytellers on the planet have their critics (and often, many of them). You’ll want to find an agent or publisher that appreciates and celebrates your work for what it is. And that usually takes time and, unfortunately, lots of rejection in the process!
Is there a book you would have liked to have written?
Hm, this is a good question! On one hand, I’d like to say yes — but I also feel like every terrific book I’ve read is terrific specifically because of the talents and perspectives of the author who brought it to life (aka, not me!).
Final question: do you have any advice for the yet-to-be-published writers reading this?
Impostor Syndrome is real! I know from experience. There may be a very convincing voice in your head suggesting that you’re not gifted enough, or educated enough, or old enough (or WHATEVER enough) to write a story worth telling. Please don’t listen to it. Keep reading, keep learning, and keep writing. Our world needs your story in it!
INTERVIEW : YA SH3LF