Glitter Boy - Ian Eagleton
What an absolute honour to be hosting the blogtour for Glitter Boy on its publication day!
A brilliant, moving and joyful celebration of overcoming adversity and bullying, celebrating being proud of who you are and being true to yourself (and Mariah Carey!)
I'm thrilled to have been able to talk to Ian about his experiences writing the book, and to be able to share those here with you today in this Q and A:
How different was it writing Glitter Boy as a longer novel compared to your previous picture
That’s a really interesting question! Glitter Boy actually started off as a picture book called ‘Mr.
Hamilton’s Wedding’, but my editor, Linas Alsenas, felt that its themes would be better suited to a
middle grade book.
My initial response was, ‘NO WAY!’ I’d never written a middle grade before and was used to being
concise and working in the constraints of a picture book format. We’d also just been through the
adoption process and had a 14 month old to look after.
However, after a few days I decided I’d give it a go and put my own anxiety and nerves aside. When
I’m writing a picture book, the story is usually completed in a few days and then I’ll spend perhaps
three to four months, maybe even more, editing and refining. A picture book has to be very carefully
planned so that each page works alongside the illustrations, but it was nice to have more freedom
when writing this story.
I wrote Glitter Boy in a kind of frenzy – it completely took over my life! I was constantly thinking
about James and Joel and knew that if I stopped to think about it, or planned too carefully I’d lose
my impetus and the rhythm of the story. It was definitely a draining, emotional experience, because
the story is so personal and we were going through a lot as a family at the time.
Is James and his experience based on personal ones?
Oh definitely! Whilst Glitter Boy is not autobiographical, and I must stress that, I certainly brought
in my own experiences. As a new dad, I was thinking about the relationship between fathers and
sons which I think features heavily in the book and I was keen to explore James’s relationship with
his father and how the notion of masculinity can define us.
I obviously drew on my own experiences of homophobic bullying, which was both frightening and
degrading, and it was tough to revisit a lot of things I’d blocked out, but ultimately very therapeutic.
Clearly James is a HUGE Mariah Carey fan and so am I, so it was lovely and uplifting to be able to
share this in the book – fans of Mimi are going to have lots of fun spotting all the song titles and pop
culture references. Lots of things are very different. I knew nothing about the LGBTQ+ community
and our history as a child and teenager and so that’s something I wanted to give to James – the
curiosity and bravery to find out about the trailblazers and role models in our community. James also
has something I never had: a teacher who is an out and proud gay man, who treats his students with
respect, and two older friends, a couple called Ruth and Eliana, who take James under their wing and
look after him.
There's a lot going on here in terms of family, identity and friendships....have you got any advice
for young people, like James, who are struggling?
Tell someone if you’re struggling – someone will be able to help. If that person doesn’t listen, find someone else. You deserve to be listened to.
Find your tribe – there are people out there, and it might not be your family, who love you just the way you are.
No one else has a clue what they’re doing – you’re not alone in that.
Treat yourself – life can be grim, and everyone needs a break and a rest and something nice every now and again.
Listen to Mariah Carey’s catalogue of music – you’ll love it!
James is, and will be, a motivation and inspiration to many. Who was/is your favourite
motivational/inspirational fictional character and why?
I was just about to say ‘Mariah Carey’, of course, and then saw ‘fictional’! I immersed myself in
books as a child and teenager so I have a lot of writers and book characters to thank!
Lyra Belacqua taught me to be brave and fearless.
Baruch and Balthamos taught me that love is eternal.
Lucy Pevensie taught me to explore and go on adventures.
Harvey Angell taught me that magic can be found anywhere.
Feodora and Ilya taught me that even children can start a revolution.
Axel Nilsson and Simon Foster taught me that love is possible even in the darkest of times.
What is your favourite Mariah Carey song?
I used to like you, Richard Simpson! How could you make me choose only ONE?! I shall cut it down
to four, and that’s my lowest offer. You must understand, though, that these will probably change
Always Be My Baby might be the most perfect pop song ever written. It’s beautifully crafted, catchy,
cool and breezy. We Belong Together has the most epic, dramatic climax ever recorded. Fantasy is a
bubbly, hip-hop infused banger which will get you dancing. And finally, Outside finds Mariah at her
most reflective – she sings about feeling isolated and alone, and it was the first time as a teenager I’d
ever heard anyone else articulate my feelings of feeling ‘neither here nor there’.
Order your copy here: