A #TTBF Q&A with Author Gabby Rivera
What’s your writing motto?
My therapist really nailed it when she told me: Gabby, remember you’re the writer, not the editor. All you need to do is write. Don’t do anyone else’s job.
And I was like daaaamn, that’s true. Also, if I’m writing and it’s not fun, making me laugh, or honest then I’m not writing the right thing.
If you could choose one super power, what would it be and why?
My one super power would be to zap greed from people’s hearts, spirits. And if I could fly and be invisible while doing that I’d so happy.
What’s on your writing playlist?
Omg! That playlist is called “be soft, G” and here are the top five songs:
Honest by Pink Sweat$
Are You in Love by James Blake
Night Drive by Ari Lennox
In My Dreams by Kali Uchis
Summertime in Paris by Jaden and WILLOW
Juliet learns so much about love, friendship, feminism, intersectionality, identity– and so much more!– in your novel, Juliet Takes a Breath. What is one thing YOU learned while writing Juliet’s story? And what is one thing you would tell younger Gabby if you could go back in time?
Writing JULIET TAKES A BREATH taught me that I have the right to exist. Cuz if I’m sticking up for her and proclaiming that Juliet’s story needs to be told, then I must do the same for myself, no bullshit. And do it with bravery and much respect.
I’d tell younger Gabby that she’s worthy of love, joyful soft beautiful healing love. I’d tell her to love her body more and be destructive less. I’d tell younger Gabby that she’s free to move in the world exactly as she is. She will overcome all things and build/slide right into her path.
We believe Juliet’s story will resonate with a wide array of young readers. What story resonated the most with you as a teen — or was there a story you wish you had back then?
Back then I’m not sure if anything resonated with me on a personal, authentic-narrative level. In school we read The Old Man and The Sea, The Black Pearl, The Good Earth, The Scarlet Letter, Macbeth. Some of it was beautiful and some of it made me never want to read anything ever.
Nothing said, “Hi Gabby Rivera, this was made for you,” you know?
But I still read all the time, mostly thriller/slasher teen novels like Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series, Anne Rice, all the wild, weird, kinda spooky stuff. I wanted to be thrilled, scandalized. Taken out of my super strict, Evangelical Christian household and into other worlds, you know?
In my 20s, I fell in love with Cristy Road’s Bad Habits: A Love Story. It’s just this raw, gorgeous, gritty graphic novel about her experience as a young, queer, punk, Cuban-American kid trying to figure out life the hard way. And it blasted me wide open, and reimagined for me what it meant to be a writer. You could write about the world around, in your voice, on your terms and it would be fucking incredible.
If you could choose three books to include on our official “Read Everything” book list for 2019, what would they be?
Bad Habits by Cristy Road
The Stars and The Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
The Tertiary by Raquel Salas Rivera