Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.
Pride Month is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where during the month of June, queer authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being queer, queer books, and their experiences of being a queer reader. Find the introduction post for Pride Month at The Quiet Pond here.
Pride Month can mean different things to different people. For all the nuances and complexities that come with Pride Month, I think at its very heart, Pride Month is about love and joy. For this reason, I love books that celebrate queer joy and love in all forms – and when I think of a recent book that I have read that encapsulates that, it would be It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland.
It Goes Like This is a sincere and heartfelt story that an all-queer teen pop group who have to reconcile their messy breakup and reunite for a benefit concert that has devastated their hometown. The story explores a plethora of things, but what I loved about It Goes Like This is that, at its center, it celebrates queer love. Adjacent to this is how the story explores the friendship between four queer teens and the love they have for one another, a queer romance where a second chance means loving oneself and each other bravely, and also the love for fandom and how, sometimes, queer identity is not only liberating for oneself but also a connection to others.
Friends, I am so excited to have Miel Moreland, the author of It Goes Like This visiting us at the Pond, and she visits us as a grey cat donning a scarf, glasses, and headphones! I loved the interview that I did with her, and I cannot wait for you all to read it. But, in case you haven’t heard of It Goes Like This before, allow me to introduce you!
It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland
Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph used to think their friendship was unbreakable. After all, they’ve been though a lot together, including the astronomical rise of Moonlight Overthrow, the world-famous queer pop band they formed in middle school, never expecting to headline anything bigger than the county fair.
But after a sudden falling out leads to the dissolution of the teens’ band, their friendship, and Eva and Celeste’s starry-eyed romance, nothing is the same. Gina and Celeste step further into the spotlight, Steph disappears completely, and Eva, heartbroken, takes refuge as a songwriter and secret online fangirl…of her own band. That is, until a storm devastates their hometown, bringing the four ex-best-friends back together. As they prepare for one last show, they’ll discover whether growing up always means growing apart.
Author Interview: Miel Moreland
CW: Hello Miel! A big and warm welcome to The Quiet Pond; it is so wonderful to have you joining us at the Pond for Pride Month! For all of our friends out there who are only meeting you for the first time, can you tell us about yourself?
Miel: Thank you for having me (especially this month)! I grew up in Minneapolis, attended college in Los Angeles County, and have now settled in Boston. When I’m not writing, I’m probably reading, making spreadsheets, or listening to pop music.
CW: Your YA debut, It Goes Like This, was such a gorgeous story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved that the story centered on a queer teen pop group. What was the inspiration behind writing this story? (Is there a story behind the story?)
Miel: For a year or two before I started writing It Goes Like This, I’d been casually researching the music industry and writing music-focused short stories. I had just graduated from college, so I was also thinking a lot about ambition and how friendships change over time. And of course, I wanted to write about queer love. Once I realized that my central question was “does growing up always mean growing apart?” I knew I had to focus on a queer band, and everything came together.
CW: What I really enjoyed about It Goes Like This was how the characters offer a unique perspective – where the characters are world-famous and live celebrity lives – but I enjoyed the balance of how relatable and ‘human’ their stories were. What interests you about famous people, and what was your hope when writing a story about famous queer pop idols?
Miel: I don’t consider myself interested in famous people per say so much as I am interested in creative people—just like you asked me what the story behind the story was, I’m curious about what the story is behind the song, and the story behind that story, maybe one that’s not disclosed clearly or publicly. In writing It Goes Like This, I got to imagine that the private story behind Grammy-winning pop songs—my favorite genre—was about two girls in love.
I chose to write about a famous queer band for a few reasons. First, I wanted to write myself, my friends, and our love into a musical genre where we haven’t always been openly represented or respectfully welcomed (although that’s continuing to change and improve). I also wanted to write about what happens after a friend group falls apart, and a band was a way to heighten the stakes involved. I am admittedly much more interested in fandom and fans than celebrities (even artists) themselves—in the meaning and communities fans create. So perhaps I made a famous band just so I could make the joy of their fandom. My hopes for the story remain tied to all of the “human” aspects: navigating second chances and changing dreams, just with a backdrop of an art form beloved by many of us.
CW: I felt like the main characters are a huge pull of the story – and I loved them all. Gina, Steph, Eva, and Celeste felt like these stunning, realised characters and their desires, their doubts, their joys, and their struggles felt so, so real. How did you approach crafting each character and writing and developing their stories? (Whose perspective did you have the most fun writing?)
Miel: I started off with a simple grid: what they each wanted at three key moments in time, so I could begin to imagine their character arcs. Then I set them loose. Although this didn’t begin intentionally, after I signed with my agent, each revision (with her and then with my editor) seemed to focus on developing one character per round. This helped me to dive deep and really track who they were, how they changed, and what they needed.
As for whose perspective was the most fun to write—Gina’s, no doubt. She was also the most difficult for me to write, because she’s so complex and I wanted to do my best to respect that. But her voice is so clear to me, and her ambition comes directly from my own. She’s a planner, a schemer, deeply ready to love and so worthy of love herself.
CW: I loved how It Goes Like This is just unapologetically, beautifully queer, and it felt like It Goes Like This was a celebration and love letter to being queer. What does it mean to you to write a story that centers queer characters?
Miel: I wanted to write a book that was just bursting with queer love on every page, and one where queerness was rarely the cause of the characters’ problems. I wanted to write a book that felt like coming home: the anxiety you don’t even notice you carry is lifted, and you can fully, deeply relax. American culture has shifted significantly (albeit not uniformly) in the last decade, but I spent my teen years completely paranoid, wanting to read queer books and stand up for queer rights, but all too aware of the homophobia that existed even in my “liberal” area. Under those circumstances, it’s not a shock I had to move to Southern California and join anonymous online spaces (more on that later!) before, at twenty-one, I could understand that I was bi and feel something other than stress. Writing queer central characters meant I could craft a narrative where their identities are both cause for celebration and completely normal. And that combination means the world to me.
CW: I also felt like It Goes Like This was a love letter to fandom and fandom culture. How has fandom shaped your own life, and was there a particular reason why you balanced your storytelling with perspectives from the main characters and their fans?
Miel: It Goes Like This as a love letter to fandom is exactly right. While I’d read some fic in high school, almost accidentally, I really came into fandom “late,” in college. And I immediately fell in love. It was a marvelous creative space for me, full of queer stories and queer communities. I wasn’t ready yet to write queer main characters into my own original fiction, but I could as a fan. Moreover, being in spaces where queerness was the norm helped me become ready to explore and then name my own identity. Without fandom, I’m not sure when I would have figured out I was bi, and I’m almost certain it wouldn’t have been a discovery of such joy and rightness, because in college I didn’t have an in-person queer community.
In the short stories I wrote in the two years before I started It Goes Like This, the main characters were almost always fans, and I wanted to honor that in the novel. I also wanted to take the opportunity to show a side of fandom I’d seen but is perhaps less well represented in fiction: smart, generous, queer, joyful, and welcoming. That’s certainly not always the case, but it’s just as real as the more toxic fandom spaces. By including the fans’ perspective in the novel, readers gain an outside perspective on their fame and band’s history, as well as the joy that to me is so intrinsic to music.
CW: What are you working on next? (Can you tease us? A vague clue?!)
Miel: My hands-on research for It Goes Like This involved a semester of piano lessons. My hands-on research for my next project included a button-maker. Hopefully I’ll have more to share soon!
CW: Miel, thank you so much for visiting the Pond! (‘Til the moon crashes into the sea! <3) My last question is: What is a food that reminds you of ‘home’ – wherever or whoever that may be?
Miel: Chocolate chip cookies—but only if they’re made using my family’s recipe!
About the Author
Miel Moreland was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. With time spent in California and France, she has a Midwestern heart but wandering feet. She studied English, Politics, and French in college, and has spent most of her career working in education. When not making pop music references and celebrating fandom, she is likely to be found drinking hot chocolate and making spreadsheets. She currently resides in Boston. IT GOES LIKE THIS is her first novel.