By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
The popular BOYSTOWN book series is the continuing story of several couples living in Chicago’s famed Boystown neighborhood. Peach caught up with author Jake Biondi to talk about the strength of the books, and how it could possibly make the jump to become a TV series.
BOYSTOWN was born online, and then you made the jump from online to publishing the stories in book format. What made you choose publishing and books over for instance TV or web/streaming?
I originally wrote the first chapter of BOYSTOWN and posted it online to see if anyone would read it. My original plan was to release one chapter a month online if people seemed interested in the series. Much to my surprise, people started to read the first chapter right away, and I immediately received emails from people demanding that I release the next chapter right away because they wanted to find out what happened next to the characters. As a result, I started writing installments much more quickly than I originally intended and posted them online so readers could continue following the lives of the characters. It was actually the readers who suggested that I stop publishing them online and publish them in book form instead. So, I published the first ten chapters as a book and then continued to release books, each containing ten chapters. The eighth book was just released on Valentine’s Day.
Because of the popularity of the BOYSTOWN book series, several TV producers have approached me about turning the series into a TV show or web series. I am currently working with a few producers to do exactly that.
Your cast of characters is very diverse and recently also includes a transgender character – do you create your characters with diversity in mind?
Absolutely. Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood is a very diverse community that is constantly evolving. It’s important to me that the book series reflect that diversity so that readers get to know and celebrate Chicago’s diversity as well as the diversity of its famous gay neighborhood. BOYSTOWN’s cast of characters is diverse in terms of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, and sexual identity – and I’m very proud of that.
The way you present your book series is very much like a TV show (plus the series would fare really well if ever made into a TV/web series) – do you think that has helped the success of the books?
I have always been a huge fan of televisions dramas such as Dynasty, Knots Landing, Revenge, and Melrose Place. My writing style reflects that. I understand that it takes some readers time to get used to my writing style because it is not the style that appears in most novels; however, readers have told me that after reading a chapter or two, they get used to it and really love it. Because the series is written like a TV show, the plots move more quickly than in a traditional novel and readers have come to savor the twists and turns that are the hallmark of the BOYSTOWN series. I think that in addition to the writing style, readers from all over the globe have connected with the series’ characters. They love them or “love to hate” them and, therefore, they are eager to find out what happens next.
What do you see as the greatest strength of BOYSTOWN? Why is it so compelling to readers?
As I mentioned before, I think the greatest strength of BOYSTOWN is its characters. I hear from readers all the time who are invested in these characters and, of course, have their favorites. I’m always interested to hear which couples the fans are rooting for. For example, fans of “Kemmett” (Keith & Emmett) were really upset with me when their relationship began to get rocky. When Cole and Derek got together, some readers loved it and others felt really sorry for Derek’s wife, Joyelle. Then there’s Justin, who readers have watched evolve from a bitter, angry man into someone more sympathetic. So, while BOYSTOWN fans celebrate all the crazy plot twists and turns that the stories contain, I really think it’s the characters that keep people connected to the series.
Would you accept the offer of Boystown being made into, for instance, a Netflix series?
Of course! That would be a dream come true. And that’s precisely what the TV producers that I’m working with are trying to accomplish. I have already written the TV scripts for the entire first season of a TV version of BOYSTOWN, and we are working to bring together an amazing production team to shoot the series and bring it to TV.
What’s up next for Jake Biondi? New projects? New installment of Boystown?
I’m focused on three things right now. First and foremost, the TV producers and I are really making a push to get the TV series made. So that’s my top priority at the moment.
I am also working on the launch of my brand-new book series called MAJESTY. It’s a period piece about a royal family called the Chamberlains. Like BOYSTOWN, MAJESTY will have amazing characters and tons of twists and turns to keep the audience’s attention.
Finally, I am already working on the ninth BOYSTOWN book, which will most likely be released around Christmas. So, I’m a busy guy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
The BOYSTOWN series is available in paperback, audiobook, and all e-book formats. Autographed copies of the books are available at BosytownTheSeries.com.