Hi everyone, I’m so happy to present author Chase Night and his book CHICKEN! Without further ado, here’s the interview!
About the Book
Chicken by Chase Night
Casper Quinn has a secret.
Brant Mitchell has two.
Hickory Ditch, Arkansas – July 2012
Popular fried chicken chain Wings of Glory is under attack from homosexual activists, and Harvest Mission Pentecostal Church is ready to fight back.
Caught in the crossfire of a culture war in which they never enlisted, Casper and Brant will each have to find his own answer to the age-old question: Am I really what I eat? Because if they could find the courage to tell each other their truths, they might discover there really is life after the Ditch.
CHICKEN is a Southern Gothic YA novel with an infusion of magical realism. It’s a raw, honest, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant look at falling in love in a place where angels and demons are believed in without question, but the human heart is always subject to suspicion.
About the Author
Chase Night was born and raised in Arkansas, which he claims is both far better and worse than everything that has been said. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a B.A. in Creative Writing, a mere thirteen years after first enrolling. He lives in Arkansas with his wife, three dogs, one cat, and an immortal garden snail. CHICKEN is his debut novel.
Q: Please describe your book using any five words!
Southern! Sweet! Sexy! Magical! Infuriating!
Q: I have to ask, how did you come up with the idea of combining fried chicken and a m/m romance?
It was inspired entirely by Mike Huckabee’s Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day in the summer of 2012. I think a lot of people sort of laughed it off because it was all so absurd, but my local Chick-Fil-A experienced record sales that day. So many conservative Christians showed up to “defend their freedom of speech” that policemen had to be called in to direct traffic because the cars were spilling out of the drive-thru onto the highway. I was stopped at the intersection and I could see all the families waiting in line. All I could think about was how much it would suck to be the kid in that line who knew they were gay. I thought it might make a good literary short story. And then after I got started, I thought it would make a good novella. I probably worked on it for a year before I said, “Okay, well, I guess this is a YA romance novel.”
Q: Music and religion play a large role in Chicken. How did you combine these two different elements?
For me, music and religion have always been tangled up together. I was raised in a Pentecostal church where music accounted for at least 75% of every service. Sometimes as a kid it felt like the sermons were just nice intermissions between all the singing. There’s a strong expectation of exuberance during a Pentecostal song service, and that was very stressful for a shy kid like me. I didn’t want to lift my hands in praise or do silly motions or run around the pews every time we sang “When The Saints Go Marching In.” It’s been over a decade since I set foot in a Pentecostal church, and I can only remember snippets of a handful of sermons, but I’ll never forget the music. So that’s why you’ll find a lot of important moments taking place while Casper is listening to someone—usually his crush—singing. It was also very important to me that Brant—the crush—sing real songs that a real boy in a real church would be singing in the real summer of 2012. Some of them are mentioned by name and others I just allude to, but they were all carefully selected for lyrics that I felt would drive the boys’ emotional journeys. You can find a list of all the songs mentioned—as well as others that only appear on the soundtrack inside my head—at unbridledexistence.net/playlists/chicken
Q: Is there anything you’d like readers to learn from Chicken?
I don’t like to think about what I want them to learn as much as what I want them to feel, which is ALL THE FEELS. I tried my best to tell a story that people would experience in a very emotionally visceral way because when you are sixteen every emotion is visceral. And none more so than love and fear, which are the two warring forces at the heart of this novel.
Q: If you don’t mind me asking, why do you write diverse books?
Well, I’ve only written the one, and my next novel is about an able-bodied, straight, white, cis guy, so for now I can only speak to why I wrote Chicken. And I guess the shortest possible answer is that I wanted to tell a story that would honor these kids’ pain and joy equally. I’m no longer a religious person, but there’s a verse in the Bible that talks about giving those in distress “beauty for ashes” and that was sort of my guiding principle for the three long years I spent with these characters, and I hope that comes across to readers caught up in similar situations.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to find more of in diverse YA?
Oh, yeah, I’d love to see more love stories between diverse characters.
What did you think of the interview with Chase Night? Have you read CHICKEN or have you added it to your tbr yet? Let’s discuss in the comments