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Acceptance of Differences In All People

Jeffrey Sotto Author Interview

The Moonballers follows a gay tennis star that feels threatened by a straight player that joins their organization. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve been part of a queer tennis league in Toronto, Ontario, Canada since 2003. Back then, we only had queer members, and I always thought it would be funny to see how the league would react when straight people started to join. I then put the idea aside as I worked on my first book. Then in 2016, when Donald Trump was elected president, I thought about this premise again, and started to imagine what my main character would be like – a president who wanted to keep certain types of people out; in this case, keep straight people out of a queer sports league.

Stefan wants to be the best, and when someone tries to take that spot from him, his worst side comes out. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Stefan is toxic masculinity personified; he’s the ugliness of the ego that comes out in all of us when we feel inferior to others, and must compensate by bullying. As I mentioned, I looked at Donald Trump as for inspiration for Stefan; I feel his actions are a response to a threat of being replaced as the “queen bee”; he is driven by his ego and need to feel worshipped as president of the league and the best player. In all his villanry, I tried to make his antics as ridiculously absurd and funny as possible.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted to highlight the consequences of the ego’s response to feeling inferior. But I “flipped the script” by having Stefan, and the league, queer. I wanted to challenge the idea that toxic masculinity is only associated with heterosexual men. There’s sometimes a stereotype that gay men are supposed to be softer, effeminate, and ultimately weaker than straight ones. But as I’ve witnessed in my almost 20 years as part of a queer tennis league, when the competitive juices for superiority — the “need to win” — rears its ugly head, the toxicity that manifests can come from anyone despite their gender, sexual orientation, and all other parts of their identities. In other words, we are ALL toxic as*holes. Lol. Further, there is a message about the need for the acceptance of differences in all people, and the pervasive bias and intolerance in everyone, including those who insist they are “woke.”

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Similar to the tone of my first novel, Cloud Cover, which was a lot more serious and dramatic than The Moonballers, I want to do a modern retelling of the story of Adam and Eve. In this version, the Adam character will be a middle-aged, gay, HIV-positive asexual, and the Eve character will be a young, bisexual and polyamourous woman. Being inspired by Eve’s liberated way of living, Adam will re-enter the dating world in hopes of finding love and connection. Considering the political events unfolding in the United States right now, I want to show their journey together in coming to terms with the outcomes of pursuing their own empowerment and personal freedom, despite what institutional or ideological constraints are placed upon them. This book is still in very early stages, but I’m hoping to publish it by 2026.

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“MAKE TENNIS GAY AGAIN!”

Winter 2016. The Toronto Torches—aka the Toronto Gay and Lesbian Tennis League—had come to a crash under mysterious circumstances.

Spring 2020. A new queer tennis organization has been created in the nearby wanna-be-downtown suburb of Torpedo Valley. Proud and out Stefan “Steffi” Porsche relishes in his dominance as both the President of the league, and—coincidentally—the league’s best player. That is, until strapping and super talented Khalid Adam arrives. But differences threaten to disrupt the order of the gay institution: Khalid is … STRAIGHT, sending Stefan into a neurotic tizzy.

Will the hyper-competitive and heterophobic Stefan maintain his invincibility, or will Khalid dethrone him? Can Khalid—and all those outside the queer majority—be kept from invading the sacredness of the gay tennis league? Or will President Stefan succeed in his quest to “MAKE TENNIS GAY AGAIN!”?

With a colourful cast of characters, campy humour, and dramatic twists à la Pedro Almodóvar, The Moonballers: A Novel about The Invasion of a LGBTQ2+ Tennis League … by Straight People (Gay Gasp!) is an action packed and wacky sports parody about intolerance, love, and the absurdity of socio-political extremes that will hit you like a hard shot straight to the face!

The Moonballers

We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it and stay out of our space! This is the unofficial slogan of the Torpedo Valley tennis organization created by queer people for queer people. The league president is Stefan Porsche, an ace tennis player who is out and proud of his sexuality and superior tennis ability. When Khalid Adam joins the league, Stefan is immediately threatened. Not only because he is a great player but also because Khalid is straight as a board.

The Moonballers: A Novel about The Invasion of a LGBTQ2+ Tennis League … by Straight People (GAY GASP!) written by Jeffrey Sotto is a unique take on how ridiculous it is to harass someone because of who they are. Turning it upside down and showing Stefan Porsche actively trying to push Khalid out of the tennis organization simply because he is straight forces the reader to think. They must grapple with how unfair such behavior is.

Sotto has delivered this message in such a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek way. He does a great job of balancing every person’s negative and positive traits. Sometimes you will despise some characters, but that’s what makes them so believable. Stefan’s behavior is beyond aggravating and downright criminal. He does have some redeeming qualities that readers will discover as they read through the entire novel.

Sometimes, you need to parody the issue to make people see their hypocrisy. People respond to humor more than anything, and Sotto tapped into this factor to deliver this humorous and charming novel. The Moonballers is a delightful, witty, no-nonsense book that is excellently written and is one read you will not want to put down.

Pages: 290 | ASIN : B09VTFQ42P

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