Courtesy James Brandon
James Brandon is the author of “Ziggy, Stardust & Me”, a novel set in 1973 about a gay teenager with a great deal of stress going on in his life, and his incredible imagination that helps him cope.
Q: Who/what inspired you to become a writer?
A: What really inspired me was the fact that queer history isn’t taught in school and, having been out for over half of my life, I didn’t know my own history. I was ashamed of that so I decided to write about our history so everybody else can learn too.
Q: How has writing and being part of that community impacted you?
A: It has me a deeper sense of belonging that’s allowed me to hear my voice more strongly and more authentically because I’m with people who have had the same experiences as me.
Q: What was the greatest challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
A: The thing I constantly deal with—and that I think we will always deal with—is rejection. You think that you’re just going to get everything in life and it’s really hard when you don’t. I’ve learned over time that the things you don’t get are always the things you need, but the things you do end up getting are the things you actually want.
Q: Who is your favorite writer at the moment and why?
A: I would say Jason Reynolds because he uses poetry and prose in a way like no other writer and he’s incredible, he’s an inspiration.
Q: What do you hope to bring to the Los Altos community by participating in Writer’s Week?
A: For me, it’s about bringing an LGBTQ+ perspective to young people who identify on the spectrum. They can see themselves on the page and the stage.
Q: If you could recommend one book to Los Altos students, what would it be?
A: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Q: What is the best writing advice anyone has given you?
A: Find your voice, trust it, hone it, live it authentically and just keep writing.