What kind of question would you like answered?

Q: Am I wrong to think that the book is less about either Will Grayson and more about Tiny Cooper?

Not really. I’ve always been interested in what happens when you give the narrative voice to the sidekick. In a way, WGWG is a novel in which two sidekicks are given narrative voices. (You don’t have to read it that way, of course, but I think you could certainly make the case that Tiny Cooper is the protagonist of the novel.)

Q: Tiny seemed to be almost a caricature of a stereotypical gay person. Did you do this on purpose?

I wanted Tiny to be entirely agnostic toward the stereotypes. I liked the idea that he really, deep down didn’t care if it happened to be “gay” to like musical theater. He just likes musical theater.

After all, he also doesn’t care that it’s “straight” to play football, and he’s the best player on his school’s football team. He just likes football.

That noted, it was also important for us to have characters like Gary, Nick, and will grayson in the novel to present multiple portraits of gay teens.

Q: What was Tiny Cooper’s real first name? Who gave him the name Tiny?

I named him Tiny, and I have no idea what his first name is. Much to the frustration of many readers, I really feel unqualified to speak to anything that is intentionally left ambiguous in the text of the novel. I believe that books belong to their readers, and that extra-textual opinions of authors should not be privileged over other voices.

Q: Will Grayson seemed to have asexual qualities. Why wasn’t he?

He’s physically attracted to Jane from the very beginning of the book—or at least he's drawn to describing her physicality more observantly than any of the other characters.

I certainly wouldn’t think it’s “too much” to have an asexual protagonist in one of my novels. I just wanted sexual love to be one of the kinds of love—but only one—that was celebrated in the book.

Thematically, I suppose this was important to me because I think both David and I wanted to normalize gay sexual encounters by equalizing them with straight sexual encounters.

But mostly I just saw Will’s reluctance to seek romantic entanglements as reflective not as asexuality but by his wrongheaded belief that pain is something avoidable/to be avoided.

Q: The characters in the play dress as White Sox players because they play for “the other team.” Are you a Cubs fan?

I am a Cubs fan, yeah, but that particular line was just meant to reflect that the school is on the northside of town (in the near north suburbs in fact).

The north side is associated with the Cubs; the south side with the Sox.

Q: Why do you use the word “andbutso” multiple times?

It’s a reference to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest meant to indicate that my Will Grayson is fond of that book. Also I just like it as a conjunction.

Q: Can you explain how Schrodinger’s famous cat experiment related to Will/Jane and Will/Tiny?

Well, the reason Schrodinger’s Cat is so famous is not because it was a terribly important thought experiment (although it is a fairly important one), but because it is A. relatively easy to understand, and B. is metaphorically resonant for a lot of people.

Like, for a lot of people, the whole pleasure of being in a state of unknowing is that as long as you don’t know, all possible outcomes (kinda) feel as if they are happening.

When you press for an outcome (i.e., open the box) you get one outcome, but depending on how much you want the cat to be alive, that risk can feel like it is not worth taking.

Q: Was the title “Tiny Dancer” a reference to the song?


Funny story: For like the first 10 drafts, the musical was called “Hold Me Close Now: The Tiny Cooper Story,” and then finally David gently pointed out to me that the lyric was “Hold me CLOSER,” and…yeah. So I changed the title of the musical.

Q: The name Jello Biafra in Will Grayson’s fake ID is a reference to The Dead Kennedys. Are you a Dead Kennedys or punk music fan? Or did you just do research?

This will only disappoint you, but no, I’m not really a fan of the DKs. (Bear in mind that my three favorite bands are The Mountain Goats, The Mountain Goats, and my brother.)

But Will Grayson is not very much like me, and I wanted him to be the kind of guy who goes to a lot of shows and listens to music very broadly, and the Jello Biafra reference seemed like a way to establish that this is a young man who can enjoy both Neutral Milk Hotel and the Dead Kennedys.

Q: Why did you use Neutral Milk Hotel?

I just really like Neutral Milk Hotel, and I wanted the book to start out with these kids being very excited for something that ends up not happening even after extraordinary obstacles (not owning a car, not having a fake ID) are overcome.

I’m very glad if I’ve introduced anyone to their music. They’re pretty wonderful.

Q: Why Holland, 1945? Does the song have significance?

It’s my favorite Neutral Milk Hotel song. I know you guys are used to long discursive answers about all the symbolic resonances that were in my mind when I wrote this or that, but…yeah. It’s just my favorite.

Q: Do you believe that when we love someone (not necessarily romantically), we should tell them that explicitly? Why is it hard for us to confess love when it’s not romantic?

It’s very interesting to me how frequently romantic partners in the US tend to say, “I love you,” and how infrequently friends and certain family members say it. Like, I do not find it at all hard to tell my wife I love her, but I find it very hard to tell my brother I love him.

Of course, I do love my brother, and I don’t think he ever feels unloved by me or anything.

But for Tiny and Will, there is a need to say it, because I don’t think either of them has really accepted that they love each other until they say it. It’s a hard thing to accept, that your best friend is the most important person in your life, but for many of us, it’s a reality, and one to be celebrated.

Q: Are you an Elton John fan?

I don’t ever think about Elton John one way or the other, really, to be honest with you.

I just thought Tiny Cooper would like Elton John.

Q: Do you think that Tiny Dancer would be a great musical if it was staged?


I mean, I am not expert in the field of musical theater, but I think as original high school musicals go, it would kick major ass.

Q: Do you believe in the morals represented in the book, such as, “You can trust that caring as a rule ends poorly”?

Well, it’s worth remembering that Will Grayson says that at the very beginning of the book, and that it is precisely this worldview that gets him into all kinds of trouble and leads to his many miseries, and that only abandoning this rule eventually allows him to have a fulfilling relationship with Tiny.

Q: Why did the Will Graysons meet in a porn shop?

I guess I kind of wanted to force David’s hand here, because I really wanted to write a story that celebrated all different kinds of love, that talked about love between friends and between kids and parents, and that wasn’t just another love story in which the only kind of love was romantic.

And it seemed to me that part of our weird obsession with romantic love is a weird attraction/repulsion to our sexuality, which is inevitably going to be at play any time you write about young homosexual men and women, because there is still so much prejudice against them. (I knew I wanted to write about a friendship between a straight male and a gay male.)

So I thought it would be interesting and resonant to have these two guys have this aggressively unsexual and unromantic encounter in a place (a porn store) we associate so closely with sexuality.

Q: Why did you pick “Grayson” as the last name?

Grace in.

Q: What was the specific writing process like?

I wrote chapter one while David was writing chapter two. Then we met at my apartment in New York City and read our chapters out loud to each other. (Sarah was also listening.)

After the first chapters, we were convinced we could turn the thing into a book. I wrote chapter three while David wrote chapter four, and then we met to read those aloud to each other. This process continued over more than a year. We discussed plot occasionally—especially the stuff that happened with the two Wills together—and we discussed the overall shape of the novel (we wanted it to be shaped like an X), but mostly we just read to each other and then kept going.

I don’t think I actually saw David’s text until the first draft was finished. It really was a story made to be read aloud (the audiobook, incidentally, is fantastic), and although there were years of revision working to make the story cohesive, we had a hell of a lot of fun making it.

Q: How much of yours and David’s development of the two Wills was done together as opposed to separate? How much did you know about the other’s character when you were developing yours?

Well, when we were doing the initial character development, neither of us knew anything, because I knew absolutely 0 about David’s Will Grayson (except for his name) while writing my first chapter, and David knew absolutely 0 about mine.

But once we read our first chapters to each other, we knew there were enough connections between WG and wg for there to be a book. The challenge was having their problems and pleasures sync up in a way that made for a single, cohesive narrative, but if there hadn’t been some points of connection thanks to pure serendipity, we could never have made it into a book.

Q: Was co-authoring a book easier or harder than writing one on your own?

Well, it was easier because I knew exactly who I was writing for: I was writing for David. That feeling of specificity was really liberating. I just wanted to impress David and make him laugh, etc. etc.

All in all, I definitely think it was easier (I mean, David did half the work, except he really did more than half the work, because most of the major plot points fell in his chapters) than writing a book on my own.

Of course, collaborating is challenging, too, particularly during the years of revision when we were trying to mold the book into a single coherent thing.