We’re back today with the second part of the conversation between Amy Spalding (author of The Summer of Jordi Perez) and Britta Lundin, whose Ship It just released yesterday! Here’s the scoop on Ship It and where you can buy it:
Ship It by Britta Lundin (1st)
Claire is a sixteen-year-old fangirl obsessed with the show Demon Heart. Forest is an actor on Demon Heart who dreams of bigger roles. When the two meet at a local Comic-Con panel, it’s a dream come true for Claire. Until the Q&A, that is, when Forest laughs off Claire’s assertion that his character is gay. Claire is devastated. After all, every last word of her super-popular fanfic revolves around the romance between Forest’s character and his male frenemy. She can’t believe her hero turned out to be a closed-minded jerk. Forest is mostly confused that anyone would think his character is gay. Because he’s not. Definitely not.
Unfortunately for Demon Heart, when the video of the disastrous Q&A goes viral, the producers have a PR nightmare on their hands. In order to help bolster their image within the LGBTQ+ community-as well as with their fans-they hire Claire to join the cast for the rest of their publicity tour. What ensues is a series of colourful Comic-Con clashes between the fans and the show that lead Forest to question his assumptions about sexuality and help Claire come out of her shell. But how far will Claire go to make her ship canon? To what lengths will Forest go to stop her and protect his career? And will Claire ever get the guts to make a move on Tess, the very cute, extremely cool fanartist she keeps running into?
And now, let’s get to the interview!
Ship It is your first YA novel – how exciting!! I know that the story was originally a screenplay. How did the journey take it to book form, and what was that whole process like for you?
Yeah! I’m a screenwriter and TV writer (I write on the show Riverdale), so I originally imagined Ship It as a movie, but when the cool people at Freeform Books read the screenplay, they thought it would make a great YA novel. I’ve literally been reading young adult books since, well, BEFORE I was a young adult, so I was stoked for the chance to write a book, even though I had literally never written prose fiction before (aside from fanfic, lol). It’s been scary at times, and other times it’s been, well, really scary. But mostly it’s been a fun, rewarding way to write.
I love that the book is told in two points-of-view. It really gives this great 360 approach to the idea of fandom and what actually goes into a TV show. But what was it like juggling these two POVs, particularly —something that’s always intimidated me —writing from a guy’s perspective??
Ahhh the great unknown: men. Haha, no, I kid. I actually think women can be good at writing men because we’ve been trained from a young age to think about them and consider their feelings, and consume their narratives. So that didn’t intimidate me too much. I come from fandom, and I currently work as a TV writer, so I felt like I was sort of uniquely positioned to write this book with two perspectives, Claire, who operates from inside fandom and Forest, who lives inside the Hollywood machine. I wouldn’t trust that many people to tackle this topic unless they’ve really experienced both sides of the fandom divide.
What are some of your favorite classic ships, and what’s your favorite current ship?
My first ship was Mulder/Scully on THE X-FILES. I discovered the show in 7th grade and loved them hard and quickly. And I remember specifically the day, after reading a hundred Mulder/Scully fics, I stumbled across a Mulder/Krycek fic (Krycek, if you’re not familiar with the show, is another male character) and it was the first time I had read someone writing fic that was a) gay and b) certainly never going to be canon. It was A Moment for young Britta. Since then I’ve had a million favorite ships, but my current one is probably Kat/Adena on The Bold Type. (Bonus: it’s canon!)
I know that when you sold your book that you were just about to begin work writing on the first season of Riverdale, which was your first TV writing gig. Did anything end up changing about Ship It based on actually being in a writers room on an everyday basis?
The broad strokes remained the same, but there are certainly some details that were adjusted based on seeing how the sausage gets made from the inside. I’ve also discussed celebrity, PR, marketing, and TV production with literally dozens of friends in the entertainment industry and a lot of the stories they told me went right in the book. So I’m not saying that Ship It is exactly 100% accurate (there’s still some details that had to be fudged to make the timeline work) but there are a lot of real world details in the book that I hope will be fun for readers to learn about.
One thing I really loved about Ship It is that it does a great job of walking someone inexperienced with fandom, fanfic, convention life, etc., through everything and letting them gain a quick understanding, but it also definitely tackles issues, such as queerbaiting, that are perhaps bigger discussions within fandom right now. How did you juggle keeping the book accessible but making sure hardcore fandom people felt heard and represented as well? (MAGIC??)
Oh, thank you! This was one of my biggest concerns when I started writing. I wanted the book to feel authentic to the fan experience, and so as part of that, Claire uses a lot of slang and inside jokes and jargon that fandom folks will know, but outsiders might not. So I try to balance it out with explanations where possible so that someone who’s coming to the book from outside the fan community will find it approachable. In the first 20 pages, there’s a scene where Claire is explaining what shipping is to her mom. The entire purpose of that scene is to bring people who don’t know anything about fandom up to speed so they can follow the book. It’s helped by the fact that Forest (one of the POV characters, who is an actor being shipped in a gay ship), is also totally new to fandom, so he asks a lot of Fandom 101 questions that the reader may also be asking. The biggest compliment is when friends of mine read it and say, “I didn’t know anything about fandom before I started, and now I feel like I not only understand it, but I respect where they’re coming from.” That’s my goal!
There’s an incredibly sweet queer romance at the heart of this story. What was your favorite part about writing this arc, and how did you make sure it got its attention via only one of the two POVs and with so many other plot points at play? (AGAIN, WAS IT MAGIC?)
Amy, thank you! That was incredibly important to me in writing this book. It’s funny, because there’s also some sexy scenes in the book (nothing too terribly graphic, and most of it is fade-to-black, but it’s hard to write about fanfic and not at least allude to some sexy stuff). I frequently write in public at coffeeshops, and writing the sexy scenes was a very humdrum thing, but writing the first kiss scene had me like, blushing and pulling my hood over my eyes and trying not to let anyone see my screen, haha. I hope that people feel that way reading the scene! The romance isn’t the main plot of the book, it’s more of a subplot, so it doesn’t come up too often in Forest’s POV scenes, but it does get mentioned, and I hope it feels earned when it happens.
What’s next for you? Any spoilers you can reveal?
Riverdale just got picked up for a season three! And that’s super exciting that these stories we’re working on get to continue. On the book side, I never thought I would ever be a YA author, but now that I’ve done it, I kind of rather like it, so maybe you’ll see more from me down the line…
Amy Spalding grew up in St. Louis, but now lives in the better weather of Los Angeles. She has a B.A. in Advertising & Marketing Communications from Webster University, and an M.A. in Media Studies from The New School. Amy studied longform improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.By day, she manages the digital media team for an indie film advertising agency. By later day and night, Amy writes, performs, and pets as many cats as she can. She is the author of five young adult novels, including her latest, The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles).