You just experienced your first auction, what was that like?
Professionally speaking, it was f**king bananas. Like any writer, I’ve dreamt about being in a highly competitive auction and I’ve even acted it out in my apartment a bunch of times with costumes and everything, but it didn’t prepare me for the reality of it. It was very exciting, and I’m very grateful, but there’s something stressful and whiplash-y from previously only having one bidder in my first book deal to suddenly having all of them. I hate disappointing people, and the inevitability of that took up a lot of space alongside my excitement as I started to make my decisions. So in summary: it was dreamy and incredible yet also disorienting.
You’ve written fantasy, contemporary, and now horror. What’s up with the range?
I simply have a lot of stories I want to tell, and if I want to tell them all I can’t waste time worrying about consistency in genre. What’s consistent in my writing is an unabashedly queer point of view, and I want readers to read for that point of view whether I’m writing about magical drag queens, costume contests, or honeybee-themed horror. If I wrote a book about thermodynamics, it would be queer. That’s the whole point of my career, I feel.
Let’s talk villains, because we all know you’re the authority. Who wins in a witchoff? Maleficent, or Lillith?
There is something so pleasingly petty about Maleficent cursing a baby shower because she wasn’t invited, and said curse upon the princess is a fascination with old-timey sewing machines. So I’ll say her, because that’s a very ‘me’ thing to do. My fav witchy villain though would be Queen Nehelenia from Sailor Moon. She’s driven to madness by her OWN BEAUTY, said madness leads to her founding a circus of all things, and she then uses her evil circus to kidnap a magical gay horse. And after all that, the thing that eventually takes her out is a pineapple. Incredible!
Please say more about the intrinsic creeping horror of east coast suburbia.
In the USA, the east feels old. The modern world is built atop layers and layers of older worlds, much of it still buried in plain sight. The thick vegetation of the northeastern United States easily enshrouds things, too. Growing up, we used to hike into the woods to find old, abandoned highways, or derelict factories abandoned to the moss and ivies. Rotting monuments that made the present day feel doomed to decay, too. It was an interesting childhood.
The term “camp” is one of those words that can mean a place, a style, a vibe. It kind of feels like each of your novels so far has taken a single aspect of this concept and made it a core element of its vibe. (For example: in Reverie, it’s a team, in Be Dazzled it’s a style/vibe, in The Honeys it’s a literal place, etc.) Is this intentional? If so, what other aspects of campiness can we expect to see from you in the future?
I love camp! But believe it or not the campiness I deliver isn’t that intentional. I often have no choice but to be associated with the term camp, because I sort of exist at the helm of this very campy, heightened persona I’ve spent my life crafting. Being larger than life is how I forced myself to outgrow the confines of my would-be bullies, and that’s true for many of my characters, too. So maybe it is intentional? At a subconscious level. But consciously, I’m just writing what I know, and what I like. I hope I get to keep exploring the intersection of camp and darkness or horror. Camp is often bright and flashy, but I want that dark eccentricity, highly-funded costume department camp of, like, Jennifer Lopez in The Cell.
What is your favorite word? What is your least favorite word?
Uncouth. What a devastating thing to be called. It just drips with dismissal. So that word, or maybe lucidity. I like the way it sorta feels like casting a spell. As for least fav word: Flesh. I hate it!!!
What sound or noise do you love?
My favorite background noise is anime. Not even kidding. I’ll set something up to play, in Japanese, while I cook or clean or whatever. That or NPR.
What sound or noise do you hate?
I actually have misophonia for the sound of chewing. I mostly have this under control as an adult, but it used to drive me to tears as I kid. Even now If someone tries to eat while talking to me on the phone, I hang up on them. Sometimes when I tell people this they experimentally smack their lips to see if I’ll react, and I usually go for their jugular. Please never test this with me! I cannot afford the lawsuit.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I’ve been thinking about making the switch from ‘author’ to ‘mysterious and inspiring host of an elite salon in the opium dens of Victorian Paris.’ Or maybe a cult leader.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Oh I know this one actually. Before I enter Heaven, God is going to sit me down and make me watch a supercut of all the times I applied cheap chapstick like it was expensive lipstick. I think a lot of gay children grow up imagining themselves as The Other Woman and so I was absolutely riddled with small rituals like this–applying lipstick, pretending to smoke with pretzel sticks–and I feel like God got it all on film.
Ryan La Sala grew up in a quaint suburb of Connecticut with his three siblings and three parents. He studied Anthropology and Neuroscience at Northeastern University, and now works in digital design and development atop an antique movie theater in Boston, Massachusetts. He now lives in New York. His is the place with Christmas lights up year round, and his is the window looking into a room festooned in costumes and theme party decorations.
Ryan is the author of Reverie and Be Dazzled. His YA Horror Debut, THE HONEYS, was recently announced/sold to Scholastic in a two-book deal, in a preempt to a planned 13-imprint auction. He is also the author of many bad tweets, most of them accompanied by photographic evidence that you really can wear shorts to any occasion, if you’ve got the nerve.
In high school, Ryan was voted Prom King and Prom Queen at the same prom. He’s got the nerve.
Ryan (and/or his writing) has been featured in WBUR, Tor.com, Paste Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, NERD Daily, Write or Die, and the Barnes & Noble YA Podcast. He is also co-host of the podcast Celebrity Book Club with Claribel and Ryan. A complete list of recent featured roles in various media outlets can be found here.