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“The Witches of Silverlake” Author Simon Curtis Talks LGBTQ Represenation, Witches, and Chosen Family in Debut Graphic Novel

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Gay multihyphenate artist Simon Curtis first appeared in Nickelodeon’s Spectacular!, and released his viral album, 8Bit Heart, in 2010. Now, Simon has over 111 million plays and 500,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, as well as almost 1 billion plays across YouTube. His debut novel from Simon & Schuster, Boy Robot, was released in 2016, and the sequel, Robot Army, will arrive later this year.

The Witches of Silverlake, Simon’s debut graphic novel, is set to hit shelves on May 14 and is available to pre-order today! Find the official trailer below.


Illustrated by the Seoul-based artist Stephanie Son, the novel tells the story of Elliot and his new group of friends. Elliot has had a rough year. His dad died, he had to move across the country, and now he’s about to start high school at LA’s prestigious Saint John the Baptist Academy. He’s quickly taken in by the school’s outcasts, who immediately let him in on their little secret…they are witches. Elliot is eager to join them in their world among the crystal stores and occult shops of Silverlake. Just as he feels he has finally found a sense of family with his new coven, a full moon initiation ceremony goes awry and unleashes a demon with a thirst for SJTBA student and faculty blood, whose gruesome killing spree reveals that forces much bigger and darker than their worst nightmares have had their sights set on Elliot all along…

With the fun and games of playing with crystals and candles over, the coven now realize that magic is powerful, real, and that it might be more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.

The Witches of Silverlake is subversive, funny, shocking, and witty. It’s a captivating story of friendship and family wrapped in queer magic and terrifying demons. I adored it from start to finish. The only drawback is that I can’t hang out with this fantastic coven in real life.”

–David M. Booher, Writer of Ghostbusters, Dungeons & Dragons, Killer Queens

GLAAD had the opportunity to talk to Simon about the vitality of bringing nuanced, complex LGBTQ narratives to life in YA novels and beyond. 

How does your previous experience as a singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor inform your work as an author? 

I believe any artist, at their core, is a storyteller, no matter the medium. Having explored and worked in so many mediums myself feels like it’s only expanded my capacity for imagination, and ultimately, that’s what any story is: imagination brought to life. Creating anything always feels like such a miracle, like giving birth in a way, and I feel really lucky and grateful to be able to have so many babies! 

Tell us about the overarching themes of chosen family and sanctuary; how they connect to your own life and their importance in mainstream media. 

As someone who survived being kicked out of the house as a teenager after being outed to my parents against my will, the importance of chosen family and sanctuary are deeply ingrained in me. When that happened, in 2004, there was almost nothing in mainstream media that could have made me feel seen or accepted, and I so love the idea of offering something to the world that might help anyone feel comforted, seen, and like they’re not alone. It’s such a tremendous gift and privilege. 

Out of Elliot’s diverse group of queer friends, who was the most exciting to bring to life and why?

Of Elliot’s coven, Tobias always feels like the most fun to write. I love how deeply he embraces his own willingness to play with the construct of gender, and how powerful his confidence is. It’s so funny knowing that I wrote him, but I truly look up to him so much. Also, Alex represents such an important figure to me: a sensitive gay boy’s best girl friend. Girls who become pillars of support for boys like Elliot deserve all the recognition in the world, and Alex is my love letter to them all. 

Discuss the inherent queerness in the concept of magic and how you wove these topics together.

Conceptually, magic, super powers, and queerness have always seemed to be linked in everything I’ve loved since childhood. The notion that something born inherently different inside us could catapult us into our own hero’s journey. X-Men, Harry Potter, everything that captivated my imagination in my youth drove it home over and over again. Even in the real world, there is something magical about queerness. Typically, queer people don’t get the luxury of remaining safe in the nest of a small hometown or family unit, and are forced out into the world whether they like it or not. I love the idea that even if our road might oftentimes be more difficult, we have something bigger than ourselves protecting us, some larger, mysterious force guiding us. A magic just for us. 

At the beginning of the novel, Simon is dealing with immense loss and mental health struggles while entering a new chapter in his life. Yet, Simon’s difficulties have nothing to do with his identity as a gay teen and there is no ‘coming out’ scene. Discuss this important distinction and the decision to embed queerness into the fabric of this world.

In my first book, Boy Robot, I wrote countless versions of the traumatic coming out scene. Kids whose differences caused them to be nearly crushed by the world, before discovering some great power that saved them. With Witches, it was important to me that the cast’s queerness would almost be a non-factor. Even though the coven is a collection of school misfits, their queerness plays no part in what makes them feel like outcasts. Almost immediately, we meet the most popular guy at school, who is the quarterback of the school football team, and openly gay. One of the coven is trans, but we never see anyone in her vicinity mention it, because she simply is who she is: a part of their family. When Elliot meets them, these kids simply are who they are, and even if it is completely unrealistic, I wanted to write a school in a fantasy world where kids can simply exist, exactly as they are, without any trauma to get there. 

You cite horror movies, Miyazaki films, and Goosebumps books as a strong source of inspiration for this project. What other pieces of media inspire you as a creative? 

Music and musicians will always be such a deeply embedded part of my identity. Britney, chief among them. For the last several years, Kacey Musgraves has become almost the only thing I listen to. As a Pisces, she taps into something that lights up my soul in ways I can’t describe. The 80’s fantasy movies I grew up watching over and over again on VHS will always captivate me: The Neverending Story, Legend, Krull, The Last Unicorn, The Dark Crystal, all of them. Return to Oz and The Witches are the best examples of this sort of children’s horror/fantasy genre that seemed to only exist briefly in the 80s, and I love them so much. There was nothing more thrilling as a child than seeing magic powers while being terrified at the same time. I so wish people would make movies like that again. There was a fundamental sadness and melancholy to them that I think people are afraid to offer to young people in art or media any more, and I think that’s such a shame. 

As book bans continue to sweep the nation, discuss the importance of LGBTQ representation in media for teens and young adults.

It’s remarkable to think that representation in media is now such a controversial topic, and that we live in a country actively banning and burning books. There is nothing more important and vital to the fabric of a world than storytelling, and I only hope that the pushback simply results in more and more people standing up to tell their unique stories. Unfortunately for bigots, queerness has a powerful ability to shine and flourish all the more it is oppressed. So, enjoy seeing even more of us, trolls!

Tell us about your experience working with the talented artist Stephanie Son.

Stephanie is such a stunning talent. I found her online after I read The Song of Achilles and googled Achilles and Patroclus fanart while sobbing my brains out. I found some of her pieces and they took my breath away. Legendary pitched a few artists to me, but I knew from the beginning that it needed to be Stephanie, and fortunately, she said yes. So much of this process has been so joyful simply because I get to see an artist like Stephanie bring my words to life. It’s like shooting a film blindly and getting the footage back later. Every time she sends colors for a chapter is like this stunning, awe inspiring experience that leaves me feeling so lucky. 

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What can readers expect from Volume 2? (without any spoilers!)

Volume one is very much left on a cliffhanger, with Elliot, who is already the new kid at school, being mistakenly positioned as the primary suspect for the murders committed by a bloodthirsty demon terrorizing the staff and students. In volume two, Elliot has to navigate the isolation and anxiety that brings, while also handling mounting friction with his coven, his mom, and the mysterious forces of evil that are seemingly after him. Volume two has more magic, way more action and suspense, more angst, tons of terrifying entities of evil, new spots in Los Angeles, and answers to all the mysteries surrounding Elliot and his new coven.

Buy your copy of The Witches of Silverlake Volume One on May 14; pre-order today. For more information, follow Legendary and Simon Curtis!


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