Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Q&A with Rey Terciero




Rey Terciero, also known as Rex Ogle, is the author of the new young adult graphic novel Northranger, a modern update of Jane Austen's classic Northanger Abbey. His many other books include Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. He lives in Los Angeles.


Q: What inspired you to write a YA graphic novel based on Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey?


A: When I read Northanger Abbey in high school as a class assignment, I immediately loved the gothic take on first loves, which are hard, and sometimes a little scary. Of course with Austen’s work, it's compounded by the strange going-ons. 


When I co-created Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, it was very much a love letter to Louisa May Alcott, but with a modern and queer twist set in New York City. With Northranger, I knew I wanted to do the same thing, but as a love letter to Texas, where I grew up.    


Q: How did you create your character Cade Muñoz, and how would you describe the dynamic between him and Henry?


A: Cade is very much based on me. I was born in Abilene, and am also both queer and Latinx. I also very much love horror movies. So it wasn’t a far stretch to create a character so like myself.  It made a lot of the process much easier. 


As for Cade and Henry, I would say it’s like any young love. There’s a lot of push and pull, and getting to know someone, which includes confusing feelings and events that can’t be explained without context. But at the end of the day, despite their differences, there’s a really strong connection between the pair.   


Q: As you were writing the book, what did you see as the right balance between Austen’s original characters and your own creations?


A: Well, I haven't read the original since high school, and I purposely avoided reading it again, because I wanted my take to be fresh. So while I definitely borrowed from the story arc and the characters’ overall journeys, I very much found it important to make these characters my own. 


I wanted to re-imagine the story in a new, queer way. After all, for centuries, heterosexuals have had stories written for them. I think now is a great time to retell stories for a new (queer) generation.  


Q: What do you think Bre Indigo’s illustrations add to the book?


A: Bre’s art adds everything! After all, this is a graphic novel, and art is more than half the battle. Her technique and palette is so on brand for a YA OGN [original graphic novel], and her art has only gotten better since we collaborated on Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. We have such a good working relationship, and it’s only been forged stronger by what she can do. 


I thought her art was good before, but it's only matured since she started working on Northranger, especially the way she captures every emotion of the characters.   


Q: What are you working on now?


A: A few things. Four Eyes just came out, which is a middle grade graphic novel about me getting glasses. It's very sweet, and a fun departure from my other writings, but written under my real name (Rex Ogle). 


But I’m returning to writing under Rey Terciero with another queer graphic novel retelling with Dan of Green Gables, which takes place in Tennessee and explores the relationship between a teenager and his estranged grandparents.    

Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’m over the moon with excitement that Northranger is coming out in time for Pride month. It's a work of love and very much delves into the gay experience of growing up in rural America. It’s easy to come out in some places, but in others, it’s still a struggle. So I couldn’t be more excited that queer literature and graphic novels are having a moment. And even better, that they're being combined. 


I hope people will check it out, especially if they like cowboys or scary movies.  :)


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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