Cale Dietrich is a YA devotee, lifelong gamer, and tragic pop punk enthusiast. He was born in Perth, grew up on the Gold Coast, and now lives in Brisbane, Australia. The Friend Scheme is his second novel.
Can you tell us a bit about your initial inspiration for The Friend Scheme?
Sure thing! So for book two, I really wanted to write a book about the son of a villain who questions the path his father has set out for him. My absolute favourite thing to do when writing (besides maybe kissing or fighting scenes) is to use a sort of speculative / genre framework to explore an issue I think is relevant to gay teens / people. So I thought a book about the son of a villain would be a good way to explore how it feels to have a parent have a life planned out for you that you know doesn’t work for you – that idea was the initial inspiration.
What do you hope readers take away from this story?
First up, I hope people have a fun time! That’s one of the biggest things for me. I also hope queer teens feel empowered, because I always want that. I also wanted to try and take some of the shame out of sexual attraction, specifically for people figuring themselves out. I think there’s still so much shame out there, and I wanted to try and combat some of the shame young queer people sometimes feel when figuring out their sexual orientation. I just want people to know it’s awesome for a guy to find another guy super hot! Haha.
Writers go through many stages: drafting, editing, rewrites, more editing. How long from start to finish book, did it take for The Friend Scheme? How many edits did you do as a writer?
OH MAN. Everyone always says second books are the hardest (we could do a whole different interview on this topic alone) and this was very much the case for me. I rewrote TFS nearly ten times. It was wild. I’ve never struggled to write that hard-core before, and don’t think I will again, as the draft of three came together super smoothly. So yeah, nearly ten rewrites, and a LOT of editing. Time-wise I was working on it for about two years, and I wrote a draft every few months before scrapping and starting again. It was a lot of work but it was just what I had to do, and I think I’ve grown a lot from the process, which is good!
What were the biggest challenges in writing The Friend Scheme? Were there any moments that surprised you?
I think the biggest challenge for me was adjusting to writing after you’ve had a book published – it’s so different and can really mess with your head. The pressure gets way more intense and suddenly you have all these extra voices telling you what works and what doesn’t, as well as the pressure of not wanting to let your agent / editor / readers down, all of which I took really seriously. All this can be super difficult to balance with being creative. Which is definitely not a bad thing! It was just a challenge for me to adjust to writing in a very different environment, but I definitely think I’ve learnt how to manage it!
I’m curious about what kind of reader you were as a kid. What were your favorite books growing up, and how did they shape you?
I love this question!!! I read a lot as a kid, it’s probably not shocking but I was OBSESSED with Harry Potter growing up. I still am (Hufflepuffs for life). I can remember the day Deathly Hallows coming out being one of the most exciting days of my life, although I had to wait until my sister read it first, because we only got one copy. I also loved The Saga of Darren Shan, and The Bartimeaus Trilogy. But I’d read any genre if the premise sounded cool.
What is the best book (any genre) you’ve read in the last year and why?
Ahh I’m so bad at picking favourites! A few really good ones I’ve read recently are: THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US by Tricia Levenseller, THE GRAVITY BETWEEN US by Phil Stamper, CAMP by Lev A.C. Rosen, ONLY MOSTLY DEVASTATED by Sophie Gonzales, A MATCH MADE IN MEHENDI by Nandini Bajpai and SURRENDER YOUR SONS by Adam Sass. I’m also finally reading Mason Deaver’s extraordinary debut, I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST, and I’m obsessed with it!
About The Friend Scheme:
Part thriller, part romance, The Friend Scheme is another twisty #ownvoices YA novel from Cale Dietrich, author of The Love Interest.
High schooler Matt’s father is rich, powerful, and seemingly untouchable—a criminal with high hopes that his son will follow in his footsteps. Matt’s older brother Luke seems poised to do just that, with a bevy of hot girls in tow. But Matt has other ambitions—and attractions.
And attraction sometimes doesn’t allow for good judgement. Matt wouldn’t have guessed that when he makes a new friend, one who is also carrying a secret. The boys’ connection turns romantic, a first for both. Now Matt must decide if he can ever do the impossible and come clean about who he really is, and who he is meant to love.
INTERVIEW : YA SH3LF