RUFUS + SYD, the story of a lifesaving friendship written by two friends
April 18

RUFUS + SYD, the story of a lifesaving friendship written by two friends

In 2011, my friend Julia Watts and I, having wanted to collaborate on a book for many years, finally knew what it would be; but first a little background: In 2004, Julia was my student at Spalding University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program, which is based in Louisville, KY. I live in the Boston area, and Julia lives in Knoxville, TN, but this is one of the (many) beauties of the program—writers from all over the country (and in some cases the world) meet up and work together. Julia was already an award winning YA novelist at the time, having received the 2002 Lambda Literary Award for Finding H.F. We had a great semester together, and at the end of it Julia asked if we might correspond. Thus our friendship began, sustained largely through letters, with occasional in-person meetings. Flash forward now: as I mentioned, we had wanted to collaborate for years but were unsure of what the vehicle would be. In late 2010/early 2011, domestic headlines were dominated by stories of the bullying and suicides of gay and lesbian teenagers. Both Julia and I are gay; both of us grew up in what we describe as "rural hell-holes”; and I had been bullied mercilessly throughout my school years. Now we knew we had our subject: we would collaborate on a young adult novel for LGBT teens, to give them hope. How did we collaborate on a novel living 927 miles apart? Read the novel, and I think you’ll see how; and a part of the novel is in epistolary form, too, i.e. letters, to honor our own correspondence. Thus, in the end Rufus + Syd is a novel in which real friends create fictional friends. Indeed, the book is dedicated “to the friends who save us.”

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