Cassie Interviews Camryn Garrett, author of FULL DISCLOSURE

Article by Cassie

Camyrn Garrett’s debut novel is one hell of a feat. Heartfelt, informative, musical, and memorable, FULL DISCLOSURE sticks with the reader long after the last page. I read an advanced copy way back in March this year, and I practically counted down the days until it arrived on our shelves. In FULL DISCLOSURE, Simone is expertly navigating her new high school when the unthinkable happens - someone threatens to tell the whole school that she is HIV+. This coming of age story features a diverse cast with LGBTQ+ representation, the stress that comes with exploring new friendships and budding romance, and enough musical theater to get “Rent” stuck in your head for days.

I was lucky enough to chat with Camryn Garrett about her and her debut!

 

Cassie Schulz: First thing’s first, thank you so much for answering my questions! I adored FULL DISCLOSURE from the first page. What inspired you to write FULL DISCLOSURE?

Camryn Garrett: I go through weird phases of obsession with different topics, like the science of IVF or the history of orphanages. A few years ago, I was really into international adoption, so I read a lot about Angelina Jolie. One of her kids was adopted from an orphanage where most of the kids were HIV positive. Her kid was the only one who didn’t have HIV.

I started wondering about how the adoption process for HIV positive children would be different, so I read a lot of adoption blogs written by parents who adopted positive children, watched documentaries on Netflix, and read articles online. I also had the help of my mom, who is a nurse, and is used to answering weird questions. 

Eventually, I started wondering what it would be like to be a horny teenager with HIV. I wanted to create a really confident, young woman who knew exactly what she wanted, especially regarding sex. That’s where Simone came in. 

 

CS: You absolutely succeeded. Simone is all of that and more! I really appreciated how educational this novel was. I learned a lot from Simone and her friends, especially about people living with HIV. What was your research process like to make this book as authentic as possible?

I did a ton of research. I actually wrote about this in an essay published in Zora. I read books from the AIDS Crisis of the 80s/90s, articles about HIV today and the people living with it, about the demographics most impacted by it. I read this one series in the Washington Post about a ten year old Black girl who has HIV and it was really impactful. I watched fictional movies, like The Normal Heart, and read plays like Angels in America. I watched documentaries. The manuscript was read by readers who actually have HIV. It was this whole process, but I really enjoyed it, because I was genuinely interested in learning more. 

 

CS: Thank you for all the articles and recommendations. I’m definitely going to be checking them out myself. Were there any scenes that didn’t make it into the book that you really wish had?

CG: It’s interesting, because when I was writing the book, I was the type of writer who wrote really sparsely and sort of struggled to come up with more scenes and moments (it wasn’t the case with my second book, which I found really odd.) I think everything I wanted is in the book. There are parts of a scene that got cut out; Simone and her friends go to a sex toy store and my editor and I agreed it was too long. But it was so much fun to write!

 

CS: We know what Simone’s favorite musicals are, but what are yours?

CG: Ah! So my favorite musicals that I actually saw on Broadway are Hamilton, Wicked (which I’ve seen three times), and The Prom. I also love movie musicals like Hairspray and Rocky Horror. Unlike Simone, however, I really love the film adaptation of Les Mis. She’d be mad at me about that. And you didn’t ask this, but I really want to see Hadestown! 

 

CS: I love all of those shows, too! I really like musicals that are weird and different on top of the classics, so I’ve currently been listening to Six and Lizzie. What do you hope readers take away from Simone’s story?

CG: This is a basic message, but I really hope people remember to respect people who are different from themselves. I also really hope that people my age or younger learn more about the AIDS Crisis and HIV in general, since I wasn’t taught about them in school and really learned about both while researching for this book. I also hope that readers without HIV educate themselves further in order to do our part in ending the stigma, and that readers with HIV see themselves reflected positively. 

 

CS: So you’re currently in film school. If the opportunity presented itself, would you want your book to be adapted into a TV series or a film? Who would be your dream team?

CG: This is wild! I feel like this could work really well as a movie or TV show. This sounds a bit pretentious, but I think a limited series is my favorite happy medium; it’s longer than a TV show, but I know it won’t go on forever and stretch out the book until it’s unrecognizable. My dream team is honestly just talented Black women.  

 

CS: Yes! That sounds perfect. I would absolutely watch that. I read that you started this book during National Novel Writing Month, which is this month! Any tips for those of us participating in NaNoWriMo?

CG: I don’t know if my advice is very helpful, because I basically ignore everything else until the book is done. I would definitely recommend changing your story if it isn’t working; I’ve been halfway through one story and not feeling it before deciding to change in the middle of the month. It’s kind of crazy, but I had more fun. I also wouldn’t put so much pressure on yourself. It’s supposed to be a fun experience! Gather some of your friends (I mainly do this with Internet friends) and do it together. Make it into a ~thing~.  

 

CS: I’m always down to turn writing into a ~thing~. Thank you again for answering my questions! Before we go, answer me one more: What’s next for Camryn Garrett?

CG: Finishing out the semester! Going to London in November! Editing my second book! Trying to sleep at some point! It’s all very exciting. 

 

Purchase your copy of FULL DISCLOSURE from us in-store or through our website!

Full Disclosure Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781984829955
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - October 29th, 2019

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