At 24, Raziel Reid became the youngest winner of the Governor General's Award for English-language children's literature with his debut YA novel, When Everything Feels Like the Movies (Arsenal Pulp $15.95) about a teen tragedy that was inspired by the real-life death of Lawrence Fobes King in a California high school.

In 2008, as a 15-year-old gay student who wore high heels to school, King asked 14-year-old Brandon McInerney to be his Valentine in front of a bunch of jocks. A few days later, McInerney brought a .22 rifle to school and shot King twice in the head.

Raziel Reid extrapolated from this news story to fashion a edgy and non-sugarcoated novel, full of gender-bending teen glamour, mischief and melodrama. High school in his novel When Everything Feels Like the Movies is likened to a film set with the "Crew"; making things happen, the "Extras"; filling empty spaces and the "Movie Stars"; everyone wants to be with.

The openly gay protagonist Jude Rothesay doesn't fit into any of the groups. He doesn't get invited to the cool parties and people are not hoping to have him appear on their Facebook pages. But as a self-professed "flamer," he's not about to be sidelined from the action. In fact, he's willing to set the whole show on fire: He's determined to get Luke Morris to say yes to the Valentine's Day dance.

Reid was shy in school and says Jude is not a self-portrait. He recalls learning about the California tragedy as a high school senior at home watching a tearful Ellen DeGeneres plead for tolerance in its aftermath.

"Every young gay guy I know wants to be famous," Reid told Pat Johnson of Xtra in an interview, "or thinks they are famous. It's this weird thing; it's like a cultural disease, almost, that we all have. Social media amplifies it, but I feel like it's rooted in insecurity. A lot of gay people were not very popular in high school, and picked on, and so they dream of sort of showing everyone that they are special. That was certainly Jude's goal--just prove all of his haters wrong.";

When Everything Feels like the Movies was also selected as a finalist for CBC Radio's Canada Reads 2015 competition themed as "Books That Break Barriers."; [Other nominees: And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier; The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King; Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes by Kamal Al-Solaylee; and Ru by Kim Thúy] His book's representative for the panel debates held March 16-19, 2015, was Elaine "Lainey" Lui, co-host of CTV's The Social. For the same book, Reid was shortlisted for a Lamda Literary Award and the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction by the Publishing Triangle.

A self-described "anti-social columnist, anti-fur fag"; and creator of the pop culture blog Blitz & Shitz on DailyXtra.com, Raziel Reid grew up in Winnipeg and relocated to Vancouver. As a graduate of the New York Film Academy, Raziel Reid had performed off-Broadway, worked as a go-go dancer, and written and acted in the short film, End Point.

from Arsenal Pulp Press. It was inspired in part by the 2008 murder of gay teenager in California. Optioned for a movie, published in the U.K. and Germany, and selected for inclusion in the 2015 edition of Canada Reads, Reid's debut novel gained him a teaching job at UBC Creative Writing. Now Reid has jumped ship to a larger, Ontario publisher for a novel about high school called Kens (PRH $21.99), described as "the gay Heathers meets Mean Girls."; 9780735263772

BOOKS:

When Everything Feels Like the Movies
(Arsenal Pulp Press 2014) $15.95 978-1-55152-574-7

[BCBW 2014]