Interested in stories about a journey filled with comedy, drama, and heart? Then check out "Time Out" by Todd Milliner, Sean Hayes, and Carlyn Greenwald.
What was your inspiration behind "Time Out"?
Todd: Sean Hayes and I have been working in the TV business for so long hopefully telling other folks’ authentic stories. A couple of years ago we sat down to talk about our slate for the following year and we thought, “why haven’t we told our own authentic story?” So, we sat down to write a television pilot loosely based on our childhoods and tried to figure out a story to tell that would not only reflect our own journey, but a story not often explored in the LGBTQ landscape. And what kind of modern story would childhood hero John Hughes want to tell? When we realized it might be better as a novel, we found the best partner in Carlyn to make this dream a reality.
Carlyn: Once Sean and Todd showed me the concept for "Time Out," I really connected with the desire in the words and concept to show that while we’ve made all kinds of progress forward for LGBTQ+ teens, there are still going to be ones that realize their sexuality and come out in less than ideal environments. It became so important to me to show that those kids can still find themselves and love and hope for their futures.
What does "Reading Rainbow" mean to you?
Carlyn: I love the metaphor of the window and mirror — that books with (what I define as) “good” representation will show an LGBTQ+ person a character that looks like them, acts like them, thinks like them, has an experience like them. Good queer rep can be a character that only one other queer person relates to or is relatable to a wide swath of people. In contrast, that same LGBTQ+ book will show cishet people the humanity and complexity in its queer characters. I think reading with pride means all kinds of queer characters within every genre imaginable, from the fluffiest of escapist romcoms to the grimmest of horror. As long as it speaks the truth to a queer person, writer or creator, it’s a valued addition to the canon. I personally love reading across genres to all sort of role models and not-so-role-models in queer characters and can’t wait to see the canon grow.
Todd: I’m sure “Reading Rainbow” means something different to every reader. Are we proud of the story? Proud of the journey of our lead characters? Proud to find a little bit of ourselves that we can identify with? I find, for me, reading with pride means reading something that says something fresh, says something that finds heart in the drama, love in the comedy, courage in the darkest times. Mostly I’m proud when I read and I’ve identified with the material and feel I’ve grown from reading it. Thank you to all the authors who make me proud.
Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books?
Todd: When I was growing up I didn’t see a lot of me on TV, in movies, or books. But, probably more in literature. There’s great comfort in knowing we aren’t going down the road alone. Everyone deserves to see themselves in media. Everyone deserves the reassurance they aren’t on the journey alone.
Carlyn: I think it’s simply that this world is full of a variety of people who all deserve to feel seen and have some piece of their experiences reflected back at them. For them to think “I’m not alone.” For every time someone’s incredulous about there being a character with too many marginalizations, there are probably thousands of real-world people who are exactly that. The more we understand how vast the world is, the better off we’ll be.
Tell us a little more about "Time Out" and why you decided to write it.
Carlyn: "Time Out" is a YA Contemporary that’s kind of "Heartstopper" meets "Friday Night Lights" about a teenage basketball star who decides to come out as gay in his not-so-progressive hometown and loses his popularity and place on the team as a result. As he tries to rediscover himself, he joins his best friend’s voting rights club and falls in love along the way. When Sean and Todd brought the pilot to me to work on a novel adaptation, I really connected with the nuanced view on the world any LGBTQ+ teen grows up in and I loved the themes of self-discovery and acceptance the protagonist goes through along the way. Plus, the side characters were so fun and so distinct from the protagonist, so writing their dynamic was incredibly satisfying. Plus, as someone who never did sports growing up, it was such a cool process of finding where the love lied in someone for whom sports was their life and passion. Writing characters different from me is one of my favorite parts of writing.
Todd: With the fear of sounding a little redundant, I think we decided to write it because our most compelling tales are authentically us. Sean and I hadn’t truly told a story that was so strongly rooted in our own histories. And Carlyn expanded the origin story into something we are very proud of.
What can fans expect from "Time Out"?
Todd: Fans can expect a journey filled with comedy, drama, and heart. I think the story is so relatable for anyone who has played competitive sports, struggled through some teen angst, and anyone who has ever been in love.
Carlyn: An emotional roller coaster, for sure! There’s grief, personal growth, humor, and swoons in this one, so prepared to feel everything. Also, expect to fall in love with Amy. I did, anyway.
What's up next for you in the bookish world?
Carlyn: In the adult world, my adult romcom debut Sizzle Reel is out in 2023 with a second adult romcom out in 2024. Beyond that, I’m hoping to sell another YA in a whole other genre, so we’ll see what the next while looks like.
Todd: We are back to our television, film, theatre, and podcast business. That keeps us pretty busy. Sean is on Broadway this year and we are searching for the next story that we want to create together. In the meantime, we are going to produce stuff that we want to watch. And, just like Barclay, we should probably find time to enjoy the journey.