The official announcement didn't utilize the full artist's statement I made, however, so here's a bit more info that I wrote up about the book:
This story is close to my heart for a hundred reasons that have kept me cautiously mulling it over for ages, but if I’m ever going to make it, the time is now. Teens who need stories about issues like depression and eating disorders often only have access to very limited perspectives due to what narratives popular media feels it can sell. These perspectives differ greatly from my own experiences, and I hope my book adds some well-needed diversity to what’s accessible.
This book is also partly inspired by the trend of teen suicide stories. I admit to having consumed a lot in that vein pretty indiscriminately; one of the characters in TGT is partly based on someone we lost to suicide in real life, and it’s cathartic to read or watch other people work through a similar situation. But popular media often sensationalizes teen suicide to the point that the character who dies ceases to be a fully-dimensional person and becomes this fetishized symbol of struggle, reduced to impetus for other characters’ arcs. It’s not that stories that explore this issue can’t be done well –– Orange will forever be one of my most favorite series of all time –– but Orange’s strength lies in the fact that it’s not about Kakeru’s death as much as it is about his life. I wanted to push that even further; my book will focus the story on survival and how even small successes in mental health management are worth celebrating.
On top of that, while we’re entering what feels like a renaissance of queer teen lit, I still see a need for more stories that specifically explore bisexuality.
So many aspects of my life as a teen seemed to contradict each other, at least if you believe what popular narratives teach us. I displayed types of disordered eating associated with thin people, but all I did was gain weight. I fell for girls as well as boys, but it was never to seek attention. And despite the fact that I was fat, a broad spectrum of romantic experiences did not elude me –– seemingly against all odds, I was loved. But the fact is, it wasn’t against all odds. This stuff happens all the time, and teens need to know that.
Sophomore year was pivotal in my growth as a human being and The Greatest Thing is a time capsule of these friendships that were deeply meaningful despite their fleetingness. I want to honor the process of learning, growing, and surviving that I learned in that year. Rome wasn’t built in a day, depression can’t be cured with a pill, and personal fulfillment is a lifelong journey.
(I’m also excited to revive my teen zine passions via Gutterglimmers! Each full issue of these kids' self-published comic will be included throughout the graphic novel, like the zines have been tucked into the pages of the book itself.)
^ Concept art for Gutterglimmers, a metaphorical gothic fantasy comic zine series that Oscar, Win, and April create together. Each full issue will be included throughout the graphic novel, like the zines have been tucked into the pages of the book itself.
I'm finishing up Sincerely, Harriet over the next couple months, and then I'll jump straight into thumbnailing this. Exciting!
Note: I've made this post early access, which means you folks on Patreon get exclusive access for five days before it's available to the public!