Two queer love stories. Two time periods. One mystery.
DON’T TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS
by Raphael Simon and Philip De Léon
(via The Gernert Company)
Fifteen-year-old Noah lives with his father in New York but is spending the summer with his mother in Venice, CA. An indoor, city sort of person, a RuPaul fanatic, he’s miserable in the sun – until he meets Tomo, a surfer who works in his father’s vintage store. Tomo hands Noah an old composition-style notebook, filled with steamy diary entries by its teenaged owner, Diego, in addition to ephemera from the 1980s. Noah reads about Diego playing footsie in history class with closeted surfer (another surfer!) Casey until one day after school it becomes something more. Noah is enthralled. And there’s one more notebook at the store, but that’s it – Noah and Tomo have no idea what happened to Diego and Casey. And as they set off to find the much older surfer, the two boys find romance of their own…but can Noah keep from sabotaging the first good thing in his life?
Not quite a graphic novel, not quite a traditional prose novel, DON’T TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS is an enchanting story and story-within-a-story in the form of two sequential scrapbook-style diaries that include drawings, photos, concert tickets, flyers, and other memorabilia from the late 80s – a fantastically fulfilling romance, mystery, and coming-of-age novel.
Better known as Pseudonymous Bosch, Raphael Simon is the not-so-secret author of two bestselling middle-grade series, the Secret Series and the Bad Books, as well as the ALA Rainbow-Listed Unbelievable Oliver chapter-book mysteries. Most recently, Raphael published The Anti-Book, the first novel to appear under his own name (“a surprisingly powerful, formula-breaking coming of age story” per the New York Times).
Prior to writing books, Raphael wrote screenplays for film, television, and video games, and was a staff writer on Nickelodeon’s Rocket Power. In recent years, he has contributed essays and reviews to the New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Harper’s Bazaar.
As a visiting author, Raphael has shared his work with students at schools all across the country, as well as at bookstores and book festivals, theaters and museums, universities, summer camps, and once, memorably, trapped in a cage. More formally, he has taught creative writing at Occidental College and a queer mystery class (“Closet Cases”) at CalArts.
A graduate of Yale, Raphael holds an MA in Comparative Literature from UC Irvine. An LA native, he lives in Pasadena with his husband, two daughters, and two dogs.
Textile designer and illustrator Phillip De León began drawing as soon as he could hold a pencil.
First working as a creative in the advertising world, Phillip joined forces with his design partner and sister Nicole and their father Marcus to form the De León Design Group, and to direct the Los Angeles-based textile house, Alexander Henry Fabrics, Inc. A queer artist who spent his childhood dancing to disco and foraging the pages of GQ, Phillip has long incorporated a gay sensibility into his artwork.
A native Los Angeleno, Phillip De León grew up in the San Fernando Valley, earning his BA degree in Comparative Literature from UCLA. Designer and illustrator by day and jazz singer by night, Phillip now lives with his husband and their twin daughters in Pasadena.