Edd Tello’s debut title Only Pieces is now available from West 44 Books!
Edd Tello is a bilingual writer of children’s and YA literature with a master’s in creative writing from the University of Seville, Spain, as well as an English business certificate from the University of Washington. Since then, Tello has become a popular ‘bookstagrammer’ with publishers including the Rosen Publishing Group, Penguin Random House for the Spanish market, Harper Teen, and many others.
In addition to his writing, Edd currently works as a bilingual teacher in Mexico, which has acquainted him with young adults and how to connect with them through diverse stories.
Describe your debut title in your own words.
Edd: Only Pieces takes place in Arvin, California. At the center of the story is a Mexican-American sixteen-year-old, Edgar Jimenez, who struggles with anxiety and low self-esteem because his mother rejects him being gay. With a mom who doesn’t accept him and a schoolkid who sent him an offensive note, Edgar feels like he doesn’t fit anywhere. Things get harder when Edgar’s macho father returns home after months away, and the house erupts into fighting and simmering tension. But one day, he meets the charismatic Alex Cisneros. Edgar, who is shy, carefully takes the risk, and their friendship starts to bloom. Edgar believes that Alex might help him pick up all the broken pieces of his heart and start over again. Ultimately, Only Pieces is a story of growing up, introducing teen readers to a world of sexual identity, self-acceptance, and hope.
What inspired the idea behind your book?
Edd: When I studied for my master’s, a professor said, “Write the book you want to read.” I remember thinking it would have been easier to come out if during my teenage years I had had access to all those wonderful YA books. Coming out in a Mexican family is not easy, especially when you’ve been raised in a small town. Sadly, I have witnessed this same experience with my students. The fear of being rejected. And that is what I wanted to portray in Only Pieces.
I also decided to write about a Mexican-American kid who wants to be a poet because there is still a lot of stigma about people of color dreaming of being writers. I wanted to give Edgar a voice so other Latinx kids could relate to his story.
What do you hope that readers take away from your book?
Edd: Neither your sexuality, nor your skin color, nor your background defines you. Be who you want to be and dream big.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Edd: This is a hard one! Some of my favorite authors are Adam Silvera, Nina LaCour, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I love how their books tackle important topics like sexual orientation, race, family, and cultural beliefs without sugarcoating them. They are written honestly and authentically.
Anything else you would like to share?
Edd: Coming from a small town in Mexico and a traditional family, I would never have imagined, not even in my wildest dreams, I could have the opportunities I have had, especially to write for a U.S. publisher. And I am very grateful for that.