Timothy Janovsky is a queer, multidisciplinary storyteller from New Jersey. He holds a degree in theatre and dance from Muhlenberg College. His work as a humor writer has been featured on Points in Case, The Broadway Beat, and Well Mannered Grump, and his fiction short story debut was published by Voyage YA Journal. When he's not daydreaming about a young Hugh Grant, he's writing the queer rom-com he wished he had as a teenager. His latest novel is New Adult and recently talked about it with Daryl Maxwell for the LAPL Blog.
What was your inspiration for New Adult?
New Adult was inspired by the classic 2004 rom-com movie 13 Going on 30. I love the lightly magical whimsy it has and the way it interrogates the pains and triumphs of growing up. It's one of my favorites of all time. I wanted to take the tropes of that film, queer them, and then live inside them through my main character, Nolan Baker.
Are Nolan, Drew, or any of the other characters in the novel inspired by or based on specific individuals?
While none of my characters are ever based on specific individuals, Nolan is a bit of a what-if character for me. Before the COVID pandemic hit, I was a working actor and comedian. Right before the industry shut down, I dipped my toes into the stand-up comedy waters. I think I wrote Nolan as a budding stand-up comic to explore what my career might've looked like had I gone down that path (sans time travel, of course!).
How did the novel evolve and change as you wrote and revised it? Are there any characters or scenes that were lost in the process that you wish had made it to the published version?
This novel is one where I played by the standard romance rules while I drafted and then broke them as I edited. This is a friends-to-lovers-to-enemies-to-friends-to-lovers-to-friends-to-lovers romance. Suffice it to say, the expected beats weren't going to naturally flow with the various time slips that occur in this novel. I focused on grounding these characters in their otherworldly circumstances as much as possible so that these changes ebbed and flowed.
The biggest evolution this book underwent was breaking it into "parts" named after the magical healing crystals that Nolan uses to time travel. As I was editing, I started seeing these little mini-arcs happening for Nolan and the characters around him. I realized the themes of each of these arcs matched perfectly with the suspected benefits of using specific healing crystals. It was a bit of a happy accident, but I think it's a fun one for readers to explore alongside the unfolding story!
Was Doop inspired by a real company (or companies)?
Doop is inspired generally by celebrity-led "wellness" brands. I became really interested in the commodified idea of "self-care." I went down a rabbit hole of podcasts both for and against "wellness" as an industry. My main interest sparked around how these companies use controversy as publicity and how they take snake oil lawsuits (litigation pursued when products don't actually do what they're advertised to) in stride.
While considering how the time slip element might come into play in New Adult, I was hit with a big, lingering question: "What if those miracle wellness products actually possessed magic?" Nolan finds out in an extraordinary way!
Do you have a favorite time travel novel, television show, or motion picture?
My favorite by far is 13 Going on 30, but if I had to pick a runner up, I'd say Big starring Tom Hanks. It's not so much time travel as it is a magical metamorphosis of sorts, but I'm intrigued by this very Kafkaesque idea where you wake up in a body that's yours but also not! How do you navigate that? Who do you turn to? I also recently loved Ashley Poston’s latest novel, The Seven Year Slip. It's all about a magical apartment, and it's super dreamy.
If you had the chance to time travel, would you go to the future or the past? Is there a specific place/time/event you would want to witness? Something you would want to change?
Having explored a lot of time travel media to prepare for this book, I have to admit that I'm pretty anti-time travel now! I know how silly that sounds, but it's true. Since I write from the first-person present tense and I have a background as an actor, writing Nolan's story in New Adult was a bit like living through it—all the highs and terrors. Time travel—especially unexpected time travel—is a bit of an existential nightmare when you really think about it. Like Nolan, I'd be too worried I was going to rip a hole in the space-time continuum or get stuck in a life I didn't recognize. My anxiety wants me to stay put right where I am!
You are a romance writer; are you also a romance reader? If so, do you have any favorite authors?
Absolutely! I love the romance genre dearly. It provides me with so much comfort and reassurance. My favorite authors working in the genre right now are Alison Cochrun, Kosoko Jackson, Rachel Lynn Solomon, TJ Alexander, Anita Kelly, and Meryl Wilsner. They make me swoon the most while reading their work!
Do you have any favorite stand-up comics? If so, who are they?
My favorite stand-up comic is Mike Birbiglia. I've seen him live a bunch of times! He's an expert storyteller and really knows how to land a joke. I listened to his podcast Working It Out a lot while writing New Adult. I highly recommend it if you're interested in the field or how comics craft their sets.
New Adult would make a marvelous film or series. If you were able to cast the production of New Adult, who would your dream cast be?
If I could cast a production of New Adult, I'd cast internet comedian Benito Skinner as Nolan Baker. He's hysterical. I know he'd capture Nolan's drive and voice really well. For the love interest Drew Techler, I'd love to see Larry Saperstein from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series tackle the role. He's not quite as tall as Drew in the book, but some platform shoes and clever camera angles could fix that easily!
What's currently on your nightstand?
A bookmark that reads "My mind turns your life into folklore" that was gifted to me by my best friend, a copy of Judy Blume's Summer Sisters because I need my late-summer nostalgia reads in this muggy August heat and a white noise machine to help with focus and better sleep.
What is the last piece of art (music, movies, TV, more traditional art forms) that you've experienced or that has impacted you?
I Adored the Barbie movie directed by Greta Gerwig. I've seen it twice in theaters already! It is pure, pink-soaked joy. It reminds me of 1930s/1940s screwball comedies and old soundstage musicals in the absolute best ways.
It impacted me most because it's this massive event where huge groups of friends show up decked out in pink. I'm an avid movie-goer, and I haven't seen crowds and excitement like this outside of Marvel movies (which I admittedly don't have much interest in) in years.
Also, shout-out to the character of Alan! He's incredibly queer-coded, and I really related to his journey of understanding where he fits in in Barbieland.
What are you working on now?
I'm about to begin editing a grumpy/sunshine, high-heat male-male romance called You Had Me at Happy Hour. It's about a budding sommelier and a TikTok-famous mixologist who butt heads as they try to launch a series of happy hour events to help the struggling bar and restaurant where they work. It's my first dual-POV romance, so I'm really excited to share that with readers. It'll be out July 2024!