Author Spotlight: Aiden Thomas

September 4, 2020

We are excited to feature author Aiden Thomas and their highly anticipated YA novel, CEMETERY BOYS (Swoon Reads, September 1, 2020).  Enter to win a copy!

Cover design by Liz Dresner; art by Mars Lauderbaugh

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.

Hello! I’m Aiden and I’m a queer, trans Latinx YA author. I’m a weeb jock and dog enthusiast. I was born and raised in Oakland, CA but moved to Portland, OR a few years ago. I’ve sold two books so far — CEMETERY BOYS, which came out on September 1, and LOST IN THE NEVER WOODS, which is currently slated for March 23, 2021! I started writing by getting into fanfiction, and then just stayed in the age category because I love it so much. YA fiction is so much fun, especially when it comes to genre-bending, and I love connecting to young readers!

Congrats on your debut YA novel, CEMETERY BOYS. Tell us about the story & what inspired you.

CEMETERY BOYS is a contemporary paranormal fantasy about a trans boy named Yadriel who is trying to prove to his family he’s a brujo. He decides, in order to do that, he’s going to summon the spirit of his cousin, Miguel, who died under mysterious circumstances and release him to the afterlife. Unfortunately, he ends up summoning the spirit of Julian Diaz, the resident bad boy of his high school. The two have to work together to find out what happened to Yadriel’s cousin and Julian’s friends the night he was killed. As they go about trying to solve these mysteries, Yadriel develops feelings for Julian and that complicates everything.

CEMETERY BOYS was inspired by a writing prompt I saw on Tumblr — “What happened if you summoned a ghost and couldn’t get rid of it?” My main character, Yadriel came to life first. He's transgender, Cuban/Mexican, and gay. I really wanted to explore and showcase Latinx culture, and the plot aligned perfectly with Día de Muertos! 

Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

I’d say somewhere in between. My journey has definitely been the old adage of “Hurry up and wait.” I had to write the first draft of CEMETERY BOYS in 6 weeks, which was beyond hectic! The writing and editing process was fast, but then COVID-19 happened and suddenly everything came to a screeching halt. My original debut date was June 9, 2020, but that got pushed back to Sept. 1, 2020. Now that it’s finally out, it feels surreal because for a while there, it felt like it would never happen!

What are some recent favorite YA reads?

I recently finished reading SURRENDER YOUR SONS by Adam Sass and fell head over heels in love with it! It’s a YA thriller about queer teens escaping a conversion therapy camp. The last third of the book was an adrenaline rush and I sobbed through the last chapter (which is saying something because books NEVER make me cry!).

I’m also in the middle of Mark Oshiro’s EACH OF US A DESERT, which is beautifully lyrical and incredibly romantic!

What projects are you working on now (and can you concentrate)?

Right now I’m kind of dabbling in a bunch of different stuff! My second book, LOST IN THE NEVER WOODS, is already ready to be published so I’ve been taking time to explore my writing and different genres I’m interested in. I’ve been working on a trans romcom, as well as a Maya myth retelling, and I’ve also got a dark fantasy idea that has to do with kids cursed by Aztec death gods. I’m going to have a lot of fun figuring out what my next book will be!

What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?

I would definitely give my younger self and aspiring authors the same advice: FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT! I feel like writers always ask for advice when it comes to improving their story, but you have to get that rough draft down before you can make it better. The hardest part is finishing that manuscript, and you can query or get published until you have a completed draft to work on!

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

That’s I’m really tall! People are always shocked when they meet me in person because I’m 5’11” and for some reason they always expect me to be short? I have no idea why!

Where can people find you online?

I’m on Instagram and Twitter at @aidenschmaiden and my author website is at !

Aiden Thomas is a YA author with an MFA in Creative Writing. Originally from Oakland, California, they now make their home in Portland, OR. As a queer, trans, latinx, Aiden advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media. Aiden’s special talents include: quoting The Office, useless trivia, Jenga, finishing sentences with “is my FAVORITE”, and killing spiders. Aiden is notorious for not being able to guess the endings of books and movies, and organizes their bookshelves by color.

"Thomas marries concept and execution in a romantic mystery as poignant as it is spellbinding, weaved in a mosaic of culture, acceptance, and identity, where intricately crafted characters are the pieces, and love — platonic, romantic, familial, and communal — is the glue."
Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review "Aiden Thomas' debut novel can't help but charm and captivate readers of all ages, though teen readers will invariably identify with and appreciate the highjinks and emotional vulnerability that make each character and scenario deliciously enchanting.”

Booklist, Starred Review
American Booksellers Association - Indies Introduce List Summer/Fall 2020 Teen Vogue - "Cemetery Boys" Is Normalizing Queer, Latinx Representation in YA Novels Remezcla - 15 Books by Latino & Latin American Authors to Add to Your 2020 Reading List
Book Riot - Most Anticipated Books of 2020
Bitch Media - 25 Most Anticipated YA Novels of 2020
Good Reads - The 38 Most Anticipated YA Novels of 2020
Entertainment Weekly - “This groundbreaking (and paranormal) YA novel explores trans Latinx identity”

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  1. I am excited for this book. Have been seeing this book all over Twitter since couple of months and this seems pretty good from everybody's reaction.

  2. I've heard nothing but good things about this one and its already weeks out on the library hold list!

  3. This book is one of my most anticipated reads of this fall. I can't wait! Congrats on your books--the cover for your 2021 release is gorgeous.

  4. Really looking forward to Cemetery Boys. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.


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