Khushboo Malhotra works as a freelance journalist, digital marketing &…
Hello again, book bees! As you all know, we at THP adore diverse books and authors. And since it’s Pride Month, we’re highlighting some of our new favorite LGBTQ+ books and authors. One of those is Kevin Christopher Snipes’ debut novel Milo and Marcos at the End of the World.
We’ve been eager to talk to Snipes about Milo and Marcos’ tumultuous romance, and now we can share our chat with all of you! Spoiler alert: we get to dig really deep in this one.
Congratulations on the upcoming release of your debut novel Milo and Marcos at the End of the World! What would you say is the most important thing you want readers to take away from this book?
Thank you! I’m excited to be chatting with you about my book. When I was growing up as a closeted queer teenager in Florida, there were very few (if any) books, movies, or tv shows featuring queer characters or queer love stories. It was like the entire entertainment industry was saying people like me did not/should not exist. It was incredibly demoralizing, and it made it very difficult for me to accept myself. So it’s my hope that my book can provide gay and queer teens with the visibility, validation, and support that they deserve and that I wish I’d been able to experience in my youth.
For new readers who are just hearing about your book, how would you best entice them to pick up a copy?
My book is a love story that plays out over the (possible) end of the world. So if you want romance, it’s got romance. If you want a supernatural mystery, it’s got bizarre twists and turns. If you want awkward teenage shenanigans, it’s got that too. There’s a little something for everyone.
How much of Milo and Marcos’ experiences can you relate to?
As someone who constantly feels like the world is ending, I can relate all too well to Milo’s anxiety. Sometimes the world can be a very scary place, especially for queer people, but one of the reasons I wrote this book was to remind myself and others that even in our darkest moments, there’s always hope.
Are there any characters who are inspired by the people in your life?
Milo is very much based on me and my own experience growing up queer and closeted in Florida. The book is by no means an autobiography, but I’ve definitely cannibalized a lot of my teenage experiences and put them into the story. For instance, like Milo, I was once sent off to a Bible camp where I ended up developing a crush on one of my fellow campers. I was also forced as a teenager to attend a bizarre religious rally at a baseball stadium, just like Milo. So there’s a lot of my own history in Milo’s story, just like there’s a lot of my personality in his character.
If you get an opportunity to switch places with one of your characters, who would that be, and how do you think the story of Milo And Marcos At The End Of The World would have changed?
Since I’m basically an older and (hopefully) wiser version of Milo, instead of switching places with him, I wish I could pop into the story and tell him to stop worrying so much about what other people think and to enjoy life more. Milo spends so much time in the book freaking out about his feelings for Marcos when he could be using that time to enjoy life with Marcos. He’s wasting valuable kissing time! So I would definitely encourage him to kiss more and worry less. I’m not sure how that would change the trajectory of the novel. I guess there would be more make-out scenes.
In a romance like Milo and Marcos’ where it feels like the universe tries to keep them apart, how do you know when love is worth the struggle or worth the optimism?
That’s exactly the question that Milo is struggling to answer throughout the course of the book. He is very much aware that there will be severe (possibly world-ending) consequences for falling in love with Marcos, so he has to decide whether following his heart will be worth the potential fallout. I don’t want to spoil the ending by revealing the conclusion that Milo ultimately reaches, but I will say that a love that allows you to fully be yourself is always better than a conditional “love” that forces you to hide a part of yourself or diminish yourself.
The topic of growing up LGBTQ+ in a religious environment and the struggles and trauma that result are often not talked about enough. How do you think readers who are in these situations can start their journey toward self-acceptance? What’s the crucial first step?
Organized religion has inflicted (and continues to inflict) a great deal of trauma on queer people. Intentional or otherwise, the discriminatory nature of most religions tends to foster a lot of intolerance and bigotry that makes it difficult for straight people to accept queer people and for queer people to accept themselves. So perhaps the most important step we can take as a society is to start holding religious institutions accountable for their actions so that they are no longer able to inflict their hatred or prejudices on the communities they claim to serve.
As for queer readers who find themselves struggling with self-acceptance due to the trauma inflicted on them by religion, one of the most important steps they can take to heal that trauma is to make the deliberate choice to love themselves. I know that may sound corny and simple, but learning to love yourself and embrace your identity can often be the most difficult thing a person will ever do. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that despite what a particular religion might tell you, you are not “wrong” or “broken” or “sinful.” You are beautiful and good, and you deserve love. And if a religion doesn’t acknowledge that, then it’s the religion that’s flawed, not you.
While we’re on the topic of today’s youth, what would you say to someone who’s grappling with the pressure of defining their identity to themselves and explaining it to friends/family/potential partners?
Wow. You’re throwing all the difficult questions at me today, aren’t you? Well, first off, no one should ever feel “pressured” to define their identity for someone else. Our identities develop over time and are always evolving. Gender and sexuality are fluid. It can take time to figure out who we are and what we want. If you are someone who feels strongly about your identity and who wants the world to accept and celebrate that identity, then by all means, you should tell people. But no one should ever pressure you into declaring your gender, sexuality, or identity if you’re not ready to tell them or if you’re still figuring yourself out. You’re allowed to take as much time as you need in order for you to feel comfortable in your own skin.
We at THP are celebrating Pride Month by highlighting diverse books and authors such as yourself. What are some things about you that you feel most proud of?
I’m extremely proud of my podcast, The Two Princes. As far as I know, it’s the only show aimed at young people that provides kids and teenagers with positive queer role models. As a queer writer, I consider it my mission to provide queer kids with the kind of representation and validation that I could only dream about when I was growing up. So I’m proud that I’ve used my voice and my talent to try and make the world a better and safer place for queer kids. I hope I’m making a difference.
Could you describe your transition from playwriting and creating The Two Princes podcast to writing Milo and Marcos at the End of the World? How similar or different are all of them?
The transition from playwriting to podcast writing wasn’t all that difficult because both mediums are driven by dialogue. Words are what matter. They’re really the only tools you have at your disposal to tell your story. Of course, in theater there’s still a visual element, so you can have an exciting sword fight or a deeply romantic kiss, and that’s great fun to watch. In a podcast, though, you can’t really do either of those things because it’s not really fun to listen to a sword fight or hear a kiss. You have to find other ways to convey action and romance that aren’t visual. That’s always a fun challenge to crack.
When it came time to write my novel, I continued to draw on my theater background and approached the book as if I were writing a very, very long monologue. Since the book is told entirely through Milo’s POV, I decided to write it almost as if I was writing a 380-page solo show. In fact, while I was working on the manuscript, I actually had some of my theater friends read the book to me out loud as if it were a play, so that I could hear how Milo’s voice came across on the page. It was very helpful in terms of knowing where the humor was working and where I needed to make revisions.
What types of genres are your go-to for reading? Do you prefer angsty, heart-wrenching stories or sweet, heart-fluttering ones?
I love an unabashed queer romance where everything ends happily ever after (like Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper). Books like that provide a much-needed dose of joy and hope to a world that is not always hospitable to queer people. That being said, the books that tend to stay with me the longest and that tend to make the greatest impression on me are the stories with bittersweet or heartbreaking endings. When I read a love story and the couple doesn’t end up together, I often find myself haunted by that story for a very long time (in a good way) because I’m forced to ask myself difficult questions about the nature of love and why it doesn’t always work out.
What’s the most Y/N moment that has happened to you?
Oh, wow, I wish my life was magical enough to have Y/N moments. Sadly that’s yet to happen.
We’d love to see our favorite stories coming alive on the screen as a movie or show. If this were to happen, do you have a dream cast for any of the characters?
There are so many brilliant young actors, but if I had to pick one to play Milo right now, then I’d probably pick Uly Schlesinger. He was fantastic on Generation, somehow managing to be both adorable and anxious at the same time. I’ve no idea who I would cast as Marcos. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!
Do you have any favorite upcoming or currently released YA contemporaries that play similar to your trope and you’d like to recommend us as we celebrate Pride Month?
I have a real fondness for queer YA with a twist, by which I mean contemporary love stories that focus on real-world dilemmas but that also have a slight sci-fi or fantasy or speculative fiction element. Adam Silvera is probably the master of this genre with books like More Happy Than Not and They Both Die at the End. Of course, the book that I always return to whenever anyone asks me for a recommendation is Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle. It’s the book that first ignited my love for YA and that made me want to try my hand at becoming an author.
Are you currently working on anything new, and if so, is there anything you can tell us about it?
Yes, I’m about to start work on my second YA novel for HarperTeen. I can’t say much about it, but as you might suspect from my previous answer, it’s going to be a contemporary queer love story with a twist. I’ve also been working on a collection of original nursery rhymes (also with a twist) that I’m excited to get out into the world.
You can order Milo and Marcos at the End of the World right here!
We had an incredible time chatting with Kevin Christopher Snipes about his debut novel Milo and Marcos at the End of the World. What would you do if nature tries to keep you and your crush apart? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP! You can also check us out on Facebook and Instagram!
Want to read more bookish interviews? You’re in luck!
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT KEVIN CHRISTOPHER SNIPES:
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