Firstly, can you tell us how did you come up with this title for your book?
SR: I came up with so many horrible titles before landing on The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School. Ultimately, my cousin was the one who came up with the title! Her version was The Marimacha's Guide to Catholic School, and I decided to change it to Lesbiana so that people who don't speak Spanish would know it's about a lesbian!
Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with something you had in mind?
SR: I decided to write this book only a few short days before National Novel Writing Month, and I knew I wouldn't be able to write any of my fantasy or sci-fi ideas, because I didn't have time to build a second world or magic system. So, I decided to write something I knew intimately, that I'd be able to talk about A LOT. And The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School was born!
Was there any movie/book or TV series that inspired you to write your YA debut?
SR: Actually no! It was mostly inspired by my own experiences and those of my sisters and some other people that I know that went to Catholic school.
Sonora Reyes on The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School
Who was your favourite character in this book and why?
SR: This is such a hard question because they are all my babies! But if I had to choose, I would have to say Cesar. I put the most of myself in him, and relate to him the most out of all the characters, personality-wise. He is the babiest of all my babies!
When did you start writing your debut and what advice would you give to a first-time author?
SR: I started writing this book in November of 2018! The advice I would give to a first-time author is that revision saves lives! Expect to do a lot of it and then more. At the same time, know what to put your foot down about and hold firm on your values. Also, don't be afraid to ask your agent or publisher questions. They are on your team, and they want to help!
If a film were made of your book, who would you cast in the leading roles?
SR: I would actually prefer for all of the younger characters to be up and coming actors, virtually unknown. I always love watching movies with unknown actors! It makes it easier to picture the characters as real people.
Listen to a playlist curated specially for The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School.
What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
SR: That if you're in the closet, it's okay to take your time coming out. It's okay to do this all on your own terms, and that doesn't mean you're not being authentic or that you're "living a lie." All it means is that you're surviving the best way you know how. And for anyone not in the closet, I hope they also take this message to heart and don't think to pressure anyone to come out before they're ready.
Are there particular themes or motifs wrestle with or address in your story?
SR: The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School has themes of found family, mental health, self-love and radical self-acceptance. Immigration, racism, inpatient hospitalization of a side character, and homophobia are also addressed in the book. I've done my best to portray these topics with care and sensitivity.
The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School is available online and at your local Dymocks store.