TNA: Hi, Perie, thanks so much for joining us here at The Novel Approach today. It’s great having you with us. Why don’t we start off by having you tell readers a little bit about yourself?
Perie: Thanks for having me 🙂 Well, not to give out too much, I’m just gonna say that I’m a simple 29-year-old gay guy who is trying to pursue his dreams. Profession-wise I’m a computer science major and also a screenwriter/author with 10 years of writing experience behind my back.
TNA: When did you realize you were destined to be an author? Was there one great epiphanous moment, or is writing just something you’ve always done?
Perie: No, I actually never wanted to be an author. What I always wanted to be was a movie director. I wanted to be making movies since I was a little boy. But I never had an opportunity to go to the film school or anything like that. So I decided (foolishly) that maybe if I wrote a great screenplay I could break into the industry. And that’s how it all began.
I started writing screenplays when I was 18. It took me a while to learn how it’s done professionally (like 4 to 5 years or so just to learn how it’s done) and it’s actually much much harder than I ever expected. And you have to understand that when you’re a newbie in the movie business you’re expected to write a freaking Oscar-nominated screenplay, no less (and those summer-blockbuster movie scripts are written by folks who have already been in the business for years, and you can’t write the same sh*t they do, because nobody is going to take you seriously). I guess Hollywood is all about double standards. So in 10 years I’ve written about 40 movie scripts (sci-fi, comedy, horror). But since movie business is a tough nut to crack(and majority of screenplays end up dusting in a desk drawer) I still don’t have a lot of credits to brag about 🙂 But if you want an example of my screenwriting endeavors, you can check out an upcoming sci-fi/alien-invasion flick Dark Harvest.
So, I was mostly busy writing screenplays, but I would also try to write a book every once in a while because I guess writing was growing on me. All in all I’ve written 3 books in 10 years (science fiction books that is)and I’ve sold about 100 copies altogether (so not particularly successful). That is until last year when I decided I should finally give MM genre a try, being a gay guy and all. That’s how Turning 16 series came to be and that is the first book that was somewhat successful (selling more than 2000 copies) and I have to say I’m really proud of it.
TNA: What was your first published novel? Tell us a little bit about what you experienced the moment you realized it was going to be “the one”.
Perie: Well, I guess there’s no simple answer to that question because I’ve started with self-publishing and that wasn’t particularly rewarding. And I’m not talking about the money aspect here. Every writer needs an audience. When you’re writing a book, you want people to read it eventually. But with self-publishing sometimes it so happens that only a few will read it and it can be really frustrating. After I wrote and self-published 2 books (and that was the time when self-publishing was only first established and it wasn’t as viable as it is right now) and I’ve experienced the said frustration, I just went back to screenwriting and stifled the desire to write books for quite a while. Then, last year, I began working on a book that was very personal to me, and writing that book was more of a self-help and I didn’t really intend to publish it or anything. I’m talking about my sci-fi novel Presence. That book was my way of dealing with depression and hard times. But it was actually pretty interesting too, so when I finished it I emailed a bunch of publishers and one of them offered me a contract. It wasn’t a big publisher though. But I was so excited to be even offered a contract (which rarely happens) that I signed it anyway. As a piece of advice to other aspiring authors, don’t do that! :)Believe me, you will be better off with self-publishing.
So, Presence was released last year and sales were very disappointing (less than a 100 copies sold and you have to understand that the publisher takes up to 90% of the profit). I was about to swear off writing books altogether and return to screenwriting, but suddenly I thought that maybe I should give the MM genre a try. I always wanted to, but I guess I never had a right idea for it, one that would captivate me. This time I had an idea though. I always wanted to pay a tribute to Sixteen Candles movie and I just thought why not do it with a gay book 🙂
TNA: If you could go back in time and give yourself a little bit of advice as you’re writing the book, what would you say?
Perie: An advice to me and every other aspiring author is not to expect to go big with your very first project, whether it’s a book or a screenplay. You need to give yourself a chance to learn first, learn how writing is done (and not just how you understand it’s done, but how professionals really do it). You gotta have patience and if your project fails, just embrace the failure, learn from it and move on. Beginners tend to cherish this “one” idea that they came up with and they don’t want to let go, even if that idea is a sinking ship. Then they get frustrated and mad and usually stop writing altogether. So you better take it as a rule that if one idea/project doesn’t work, you better move on to another one. Everybody goes through that and the sooner you accept it, the better. Later on, you will have dozens of ideas and projects and it will be easier to accept failure, which happens to the best of us every so often anyway.
TNA: Let’s talk about your series Turning 16 for just a bit. You’ve said it pays tribute to some of the great John Hughes movies we all know and love. How so, and why John Hughes? What drew you to his films in particular?
Perie: Sixteen Candles has always been the #1 romantic comedy in my life. It’s just perfect. I watched it literally hundreds of times. I can’t help but love it. Great respect to other John Hughes movies as well. And as a screenwriter/author I always wanted to create something within that universe so to speak, something with the similar feel to it. I was looking for a way to do it for years. But that whole “they forgot my birthday” situation is so distinctive that it’s hard to come up with anything without plagiarizing and plagiarizing is not something I wanted to do. I had this image in my head, a teenage boy waking up to a wet dream, a dream about a hot guy like Jake Ryan from the movie. I had this picture in my head for years but I just couldn’t think of the way to expand on it without it being a rip off of Sixteen Candles. That is until last year, when the “light bulb” suddenly went on in my head… why not turn the birthday thing around… Samantha Baker was pissed that everybody forgot her birthday… why don’t I make my MC pissed with people not forgetting about it… the birthday curse! 🙂
And after that “revelation” the story basically wrote itself. I’ve actually written a small article about how I came up with Turning 16’s idea. If you want to read more about how it happened, you can read it on my website HERE.
To Download A FREE Copy Of Turning 16, CLICK HERE.
TNA: Which is your favorite John Hughes film? Why?
Perie: Sixteen Candles is ultimately my favorite. I guess what I mostly love about it is that it gives a sense of hope, I mean in the romance department. It’s not a secret that it’s not easy for gay guys to find love in this world. And sometimes when you get tired of Internet dating and stuff like Grindr, you just want to allow yourself to dream about this perfect guy and the fate bringing the two of you together. Sixteen Candles is a visualization of that. I guess that’s why I love Sixteen Candles. Breakfast Club would be my second favorite, and I will pay tribute to it as well in the next installment of the T16 series.
TNA: Does the newest book in the series, Turning 17 continue on with the Hughes homage, or have you moved on to other classic movies from that generation? Which ones, and why how did you decide which to choose?
Perie: Yes and no. I do continue to pay homage to Sixteen Candles, but majorly the inspiration behind T17 is the movie Dirty Dancing. When I was writing T16 I already had an idea in my head to what was going to happen next (I do that, I plan miles ahead). I wanted the 2nd book to be set in a resort and when you think about a romantic comedy from the 80es set in a resort, it’s Dirty Dancing, duh. It’s also one of my favorite classic movies, and I believe I’m not the only one who loves it. In the next installments I’m planning to pay tribute to such movies as Breakfast Club, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Back to the Future, My Best Friend’s Wedding… these are all my favorites and I decided since I was paying a tribute to a classic movie in the first T16 book, I might as well continue doing that with the rest of them. Luckily, there are so many good movies to pay tribute to 🙂
TNA: What is it you love most about writing about those angsty and agonizing teenage years?
Perie: The thing I love the most about teenage years is that it’s a beginning of your journey through life. It’s the time when you’re about to make this first step and set the direction and embark on a magical journey. It’s this feeling that everything is possible and there’s little to no fear. When you get older and maybe wiser, you tend to rationalize and you tend to be more careful with your choices and think things through and you stop being spontaneous and it’s all understandable. That’s the order of things. But I just like to go back to those teenage years in my books and feel that freedom again and overdramatize about nothing the way teenagers do. There’s certain magic to it and I guess you only see it when you get older.
TNA: How many books do you have the series planned out to? Will readers see Sam “Turning 20”, or will he remain forever 19?
Perie: Well, I planned about 5 books for far. I’m not sure for how long readers are gonna be interested, but as long as there’s an audience for the series, I’m gonna keep writing, I guess. In the next installment we’re going to skip a year and catch up with Sam when he’s 18 and turning 19. It’s gonna be his First Days in College and then Christmas with Mitch (both are short stories) and then a third book, which I still don’t have a title for. But I know for sure that it’s not gonna be titled Turning 18 (as I planned earlier), because I want to drop the “turning” thing (so not to bore people to death with catching up with Sam only on his birthdays). As to Sam’s age, I plan to follow his life through until 28, skipping some periods of his life along the way. So I don’t plan to write about every year in Sam’s life until he’s 62 or something 🙂 But I will write about some significant moments in his life from this point onwards.
TNA: Would you like to share an excerpt from Turning 17 with us?
Perie: Yes, this is one of my favorite scenes, because in his attempt to break free and have fun Sam makes some bad choices, but it’s really fun and he will learn from it later on anyway.
Blurb: Sam is turning 17 this year and he is being pushed towards adulthood too fast. He has a whole bunch of grown-up problems on his hands now. Like how to make a distant relationship with your boyfriend work? Or how to stop yourself from cheating on your boyfriend with a hot friend who wants to be more than friends? Or how to disattach yourself from your parents and follow your dreams independently? But all that is just too much for a seventeen-year-old to handle. So Sam finds himself gravitating towards Eric, a little daredevil who introduces him to fun things, like stealing, lying, drinking, smoking, and having sex.
But we know that things like that can lead you into trouble. Sam doesn’t know about that though, and he is headed towards a disaster. Somebody is just gonna have to show him the right way.
Excerpt: After the movie ends, I suggest we go for a walk. We spend good fifteen minutes wobbling between the trees as it was my idea to make our way towards the lake straight through the tree line. Not a great idea, I gotta admit. I didn’t count on my legs being so shaky. Eric is not holding up too well either. So we stumble and fall every other step, laughing and supporting each other the whole way.
We stop in a small clearing and decide to take a breather. I can see the lake through the trees now. It is well-lit in the moonlight, and completely deserted. On the other side of the tree line I can see the lights of the main complex peaking through the branches and tree trunks. We can hear voices coming from that direction, but they are distant and muffled. We are completely alone out here.
Eric lights a cigarette and I suddenly want to take up smoking.
“Give me one,” I say. My voice sounds weird, but I don’t really care about it.
He chuckles. “That’s the adventurous Sam I remember.” He hands me the pack. After about two minutes of trying to get one cigarette out of it, I finally succeed.
I stick a cigarette into my mouth. Eric, who has been chuckling all along, is now laughing out loud. He approaches me and pulls the cigarette out of my mouth, turning it around before sticking the other end back in.
“There you go,” he says, handing me a lighter.
“Are you trying to make fun of me?” I ask indignantly. It took me whopping two minutes to take a cigarette out of a pack. How much time does he think it’s gonna take me to work the lighter?
“Okay, okay,” Eric chuckles. “I’ll do it.”
He puts the flame to the end of my cigarette as I’m trying not to move. Although my efforts are definitely less effective than they would have been if I was sober. Eric is skilled at lighting cigarettes though, so he manages to light it even with all of my wobbling.
“Now inhale,” he says, watching me closely.
I take the semi-sweet smoke of tobacco into my lungs. It’s a very weird and unusual sensation, for sure, but it’s not painful as I imagined it to be.
Then it scorches my throat and I start to cough, loudly, bringing Eric’s laughter upon myself once again.
“You knew it was gonna happen?” I ask between coughs; my voice is all rough and jagged.
“Everybody coughs the first time,” he says. “It’s gonna get better the second time around, I promise.”
I have to trust him on this one. After all, he was right about the Jack Daniels. So I inhale again and this time I cough less. The third drag goes almost smoothly.
“I told you it was nice,” Eric says. He picked up on the fact that I started enjoying the feeling of a cigarette between my fingers. It does make me feel kind of grown-up. I wonder what else I’ve been missing out on.
And then it hits me.
There is one thing that I haven’t tried alright. Sex!
If Mitch was here right now, I promise there would have been no hesitation on my part. Eric is here though…
I approach him slowly, trying not to stumble along the way. He doesn’t avert his eyes, just reaches out and takes the cigarette out of my mouth. He sticks it into his own mouth and inhales. He does it almost professionally, if that term can be applied to smoking. He takes one last drag, drops it to the ground and puts it out with his foot.
“See,” he says. “We are being responsible.”
We both laugh at that. Yes, we have just enough common sense left not to set the woods on fire. That’s about it though. There’s such a heavy shroud of haze covering my mind right now that I barely understand what I’m doing. I think there are only the primitive instincts left of what used to be my consciousness. I don’t think I can stop myself from kissing Eric at this point.
And as that thought hangs in the air, I find myself making one jolting move towards him. Surprisingly, I manage not to bump heads with him as my lips find his.
I think the mere thought of kissing him was enough to set my body into motion. And it was a motion alright. I think I caught Eric completely off-guard. His lips are not moving and he is dumbfounded. It takes him a second to figure out what’s happening and react to it.
He shoves me hard in the chest and almost sends me flying. I’m surprised that I manage to keep myself standing. Eric is looking at me indignantly. No, not indignant… furious!
Terror floods my veins. Fuck! Looks like Melissa was right.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he shouts.
I mumble something incoherent in response.
“Are you a faggot? Are you a fucking faggot?” The rage that I catch in his eyes sobers me up instantly. I get ready to defend myself, however weak my case may be. He is definitely going to beat me up.
He leaps towards me and I shut my eyes, getting ready to receive a punch, but he stops himself just inches away from my face.
“Answer me!” he yells. “Are you a fucking queer?” Okay, I’m so scared now that I’m about to wet my pants.
“Answer!” he repeats. Some of the spit from his mouth lands on my face. There’s nothing else I can do now but answer his question.
“Yes!” I shout, heart pounding erratically. Anger has momentarily leached away my terror. “I’m a fag! I’m queer! I am!”
He is taken aback with my strong reaction, but only for a second. Emboldened, I use that second to plant another kiss on his lips.
He is as surprised by it as I am, but then the rage comes. I can see his fist clenching, ready to land a blow. I was imagining his small cute hands touching my skin just half an hour ago, but I didn’t think it’d be by the way of crushing my jawbone.
Then, to my surprise, his anger melts into amusement.
“Well, so am I,” he says and bursts out laughing.
My stomach sinks. What? Was it all a joke?
“Sorry,” Eric says through his laughter. “I just had to do it. The expression on your face was priceless.”
“Oh.” I turn so that he can’t see my face.
“Sorry, sorry,” he says and comes closer. “It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
“You’re a little fucker!” I shout, giving him a shove, desperately trying to mask my relief with anger.
“I’m sorry. Don’t be mad with me.”
I look at him. He is smiling adorably, as if he doesn’t have a care in the world. I can’t tell if I find it infuriating or endearing. Probably both.
After a long, sulking moment I shake my head and smile. He comes closer, eyes locked on mine. The smiles gradually fade away from both our faces as we just keep looking into each other’s eyes.
And then he leans in to kiss me.
This time his lips are alive and moving, exploring mine with a passionate fervor that I’ve never quite experienced before.
Alas, I am only able to enjoy the kiss for about a couple of seconds before I feel a strong physical urge that doesn’t leave any room for kissing.
I pull away from Eric as quickly as possible and manage to take a few steps in the opposite direction before I hurl.
I hear Eric laughing behind my back.
“And that is how you know you had a wonderful time, my friend.”
TNA: What new writing projects are you currently working on that you’d consider sharing some info about with us?
Perie: Yes, there’s lots of new and exciting project that I’m working on. In 10 years of my screenwriting efforts I have accumulated lots and lots of ideas. So I have a wide variety to choose from at this point. I want to go back to science fiction but mix it with MM now.
The next book to be released is a sci-fi ya book titled Force. It’s an interesting story about a group of young adults creating fake crop circles, trying to prove it to the world that there is no such thing as UFOs, that is until some unexplained things start to happen to them.
So far, I have about 10 sci-fi/mm books planned for future release. To name a few, Lights – a story about two film college students and underwater UFOs in the coastal Californian town; It Came From Planet GRRR – a sci-fi comedy, inspired by some earlier sci-fi movies and also such movies as Gremlins and Critters; Anomaly – a cool sci-fi story about two farmer boys falling in love while witnessing unexplained anomalies happening on their farm. Well, I still have to write them first, but the ideas are already in place and that is really the most important thing, I believe. So stay tuned 🙂
TNA: Thanks again, so much, for taking the time to be here with us, Perie. Would you share with readers where they can find you on the internet?
Perie: Please feel free to visit my website, which I designed and programmed myself, thanks to my major in computer science, and I’m really proud of that website too, so go check it out.
On my website you will find all my social media links as well.
Thank you again for having me and thank you for the interesting questions!