The Gravity of Us author tells a story about queer friendship in new book Golden Boys.

Phil Stamper wanted to write a book that was similar to classic narratives about young people but centered queer characters. Inspired by the "classic contemporary YA" of his own teen years, he wrote Golden Boys (out Feb. 8), a book about a group of best friends made up of four LGBTQ teenage boys who each go on their own adventures the summer before their senior year of high school.

"I'm thinking like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," Stamper tells EW of the stories he looked to as inspirations. "Like summer exploration, vacation kind of vibes. They always resonated with me. And I was thinking about how we don't have enough queer friendship stories."

Golden Boys, he explains, "provides a new take because when you introduce queer dynamics to a friend group it can get a little more complicated."

Those who read and fall in love with Gabriel, Reese, Sal, and Heath are in luck because Golden Boys is the first part of a duology. "The first book is about establishing the characters and giving them all fun, aspirational journeys and it's just as compelling to see what happens when they come back home," Stamper teases.  

Phil Stamper, Golden Boys
Phil Stamper and the cover of his book, 'Golden Boys.'
| Credit: Eileen Meny; Bloomsbury

While Stamper works on the next part of the quartet's story, he answered our burning questions about his history with the written word and more about Golden Boys.

What is the first thing — ever — that you remember writing?

When I was 14, I did write Zelda fan fiction and it was bad. It was really bad. I'm a big fan of fan fiction in general, but mine was bad.

What is the last book that made you cry?

I don't cry reading books often. I remember kind of tearing up when I read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab because I was enthralled by the story and the world she built. That's not something I usually do. If you have a violin score in the background then I might be more apt to cry because music always gets me.

Which book is at the top of your current to-read list?

Since I'm drafting right now my to-read list is dozens of books long, but I would say the first one I'm going to grab is definitely going to be Right Where I Left You by Julian Winters. Everything that Julian writes is full of love and passion. It feels like you're reading this breezy summer rom-com, but he's also able to infuse these heavy storylines and just balance it so well.

Where do you write?

I used to live in an apartment in Brooklyn and I was doing all of writing at a kitchen table, and I absolutely hated it. Since I've moved to the suburbs of New York and have a house to work in I have an office and that's been wonderful. I've been so distracted trying to write this book that yesterday I found myself writing at the kitchen table again.


Which book made you a forever reader?

It has to be Agatha Christie. I was not a huge reader when I was younger – I mean I read all the Animorphs series when I was in middle school. In high school, I didn't really connect with the require reading, but then one of my friends recommended I read an Agatha Christie book. I read And Then There Were None. That would be the one that made me a forever reader, I was just so captivated reading for pleasure.

What is a snack you couldn't write without?

Coffee. I know that's not a snack, but I usually write in the mornings with a lot of coffee. It's probably a basic answer, but it's vital.

If you could change one thing about any of your books, what would it be?

I feel that your next book should always be your strongest one and it can only be your strongest one because you learn from the things you wish you'd done in previous ones, but I will give you an anecdote. In my debut, The Gravity of Us I mentioned that one of my characters had a basement and it was set in Houston where they don't have basements. The amount of emails from distraught Houston residents I have gotten, I wish I could delete that or just change it to garage.

What is your favorite part of Golden Boys?

How I was able to do a friends to lovers storyline, which I haven't really been able to do in the past, and at the same time have a lovers to friends storyline with two other characters, which I don't see often. They're going from friends with benefits to being separately physically but also emotionally separate from each other, and learning how to be friends again. I found that compelling while I was writing and it was super rewarding. It's cool to have those two storylines happening simultaneously on the page.

What was the hardest plot point or character to write in this book?

There are four characters in Golden Boys, so four main characters and four POVs. The story bounced back and forth from the four different characters, so I would say the beginning was the hardest part for me. I needed to establish these characters and make them separate on the page. I knew when they broke out for their summer vacations in four different areas it was going to be a lot clearer.

Write a movie poster tagline for your book.

I'm stealing this from my marketing team because it's perfect. "Four boys. One summer. Everything will change."

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