Writers Dream, YA Fiction Novelist discusses debut book & more.

Updated April 17

Rockville, Maryland, resident Andre Bradley first realized he wanted to be an author in middle school. Inspired by the television show Murder, She Wrote, he decided to try writing his own mystery. 

His soon-to-be-released debut novel, Trailer Park Prince, is a sci-fi drama that explores issues of queer identities and racism. The book follows twin princes Noan and Jormon, who are pulled from their Kaydan home world and dumped in the American South. They grow accustomed to drones policing their movements and hiding their magic-like abilities. But they never get used to the cross-burning outside their home, which reminds them they are not welcome. 

PrideIndex chatted with Andre via email. He shared his challenges while writing his debut novel, how he overcame them, and more. 

PrideIndex (PI): Briefly tell us about yourself, your Southern upbringing, and how it has influenced your writing.

Andre Bradley (AB): As you know, my name is Andre Bradley. I am the youngest of three boys. I was born in West Virginia, raised in Georgia, and grew up very southern. We lived in a small country town with dirt roads. It was just us, our imaginations, and three TV channels. You really had to be creative to find things that you liked to do. I was a reader, and from reading, I began to write. As a Southerner, I draw so much inspiration from the voices of the many people I’ve met and the feel of the town that I grew up in. There’s something unique about it. I always put pieces of that in my writing, whether through a character, a location, or the entire setting of the book.

I now live in Rockville, Maryland. I am a diplomat for the US government working in the Department of Agriculture. I keep my work and my writing as far apart as humanly possible. The one thing that does spill over and blend between my job as a diplomat and my life as a writer is travel to many different countries. For example, my husband and I, our family, have been living in Mexico City, Mexico, for the past four years. Therefore, a lot of the food, the sounds, and the smells were very inspiring, and though they may not have made it into my debut novel, I have definitely pocketed them all away for a future project.

PI: When did you first know you wanted to become a writer?

AB: I first started writing when I was in middle school. I was in sixth or seventh grade. That was my Murder, She Wrote phase. I used to watch that show every single day. It was in syndication at that time. I just fell in love with mysteries. As I watched, I realized there was a lot of repetition, and I decided to try writing my own mystery to see if I had the chops to do it. I started playing around with trying to write mysteries and short stories. I also participated in writing competitions at school. I used to research different aspects of the stories or the characters I wanted to create. I have always considered myself a good writer, fondly remembering that time. 

My actual AHA moment was when I read Eragon, the first book of the Inheritance Series, and discovered that Christopher Paolini had written it. Christopher was a fifteen-year-old who had graduated from high school early. He wrote the book in his spare time as he awaited coming of age to attend college. If this guy can write something that reads this well, I could give it a go. Fast forward twenty-something years, and here I am, and here I go. But I always knew that writing was something that I had a passion for.

PI: It sounds like Christopher Paolini was one of your influences. Name three people who have had the most influence over your artistic style. 

AB: I would never want to say that Christopher Paolini or his book Eragon influenced me. It inspired me. One of my first influences was Stephen King, whom I’ve read since I was too young to be reading Stephen King. I was probably reading his book IT in seventh or eighth grade. I didn’t necessarily understand the themes or subtext, but I knew him to be a great writer, and I’ve read so much of what he’s produced. Next, David Sedaris. He is a humorous essayist or humorist and a comedian. He has some funny stuff out there. When I write to my friends, in my head, I always hear David Sedaris’ voice and influence. He’s a person who influences how I see the world and picks things out that I can turn into comic or tragic. And finally, I would say, last but not least, is Gregory Maguire, who wrote the four book “Wicked” series. Those were great books, and I admire his writing style. Those three were the most impactful to me.

PI: Let’s talk about your book, Trailer Park Prince, and where you did you the inspiration for it.

AB: I began writing Trailer Park Prince in 2011 while working in Afghanistan. I was on a military base, and we were being shot at. There was just so much stuff going on, and I didn’t have many friends there at the time. I would post up at the Green Bean Cafe with my laptop and write something fun. That’s how Trailer Park Prince began as this fun, lighthearted story about this group of friends who got into some crazy hijinks. It was just a fun thing to write. The friends have powers; they can fly. I then moved back to DC, putting the story aside. I picked it back up after living in DC, where everything is political. This was around 2012, and George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin had just happened, and we were seeing the failures of the justice system in that case. There was so much stuff piling up. When I picked up and revisited the manuscript ten years later, I didn’t want to write a fun story. I wanted to create a real story. I wanted to create characters who were living experiences that people could relate to. I kept some original inspiration about a group of friends and turned it into a story about friendship, family, survival, and brotherhood. I was in the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, so I never got to be open, out, and gay. When I first started entirely focusing on writing, I was newly out of the military, and none of my characters were open, out, or gay and open and that changed. I wanted that change to be reflected in Trailer Park Prince.

PI: How long did it take to actually write your book?

AB: If I erased all of that time that I didn’t sit on my couch watching Netflix and specifically Bridgerton, [laughs] and added up the moments when I was fully creative and put in time day after day after day, it took me about four months to write it. But remember, I began writing the first half in Afghanistan. I put it aside when I moved back to DC. I went to college, received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and then began my job as a Diplomat. I was doing everything but writing this book. Then, COVID-19 started to take hold in the early months of 2020. As we went into lockdown, which meant no socializing or meeting up with friends, it felt like a flashback to being back in Afghanistan without being shot at. I decided to honor my New Year’s resolution and start writing again. Due to the lockdown, I had plenty of time to write and was able to hunker down and be creative. It took a little time to finish the story, but editing is a different beast.

PI: Adding all that up and putting it together, are we talking about a decade or half a decade to complete the book?

AB: I wrote my first word in October 2011 and the last word of my first draft in November 2021. Ten years. Again, it was less than ten consecutive years of writing. It feels like my baby. I’ve had it in my life for over ten years. I love my first book, but I also have other books in the works. I am currently seeking representation for different projects that I have going on. I have finished a middle-grade novel for which I’m seeking representation starting next month. I’ve written half of a third book about five black girls who live in Hazlehurst, Georgia. The more I can tell my story and let people know I’m a serious writer, the better. But nothing feels as good to me as Trailer Park Prince. I’ve had these characters with me forever.

PI: How do you prepare yourself to write? Do you perform any rituals? 

AB: I like waking up, getting a cup of coffee, and walking. While I am walking, I rehearse character dialogue. I am seeing what feels real between those people. I do an assessment of where my characters are. I’m ultimately game-planning. For instance, when I last wrote this scenario, these two characters were mad at one another. What are they going to say next? I walk at least a mile while I workshop the dialogue in my head. Then I get back home, sit down, and try not to get up until I have pounded at least a thousand words. That is typically my ritual for writing for that day.

PI: That speaks to your dedication and passion for the craft. My next question is: What challenges have you faced in completing Trailer Park Prince and bringing it to the marketplace?

AB: My first challenge after I finished writing Trailer Park Prince was my husband and I adopted a newborn. We now have a new baby in the house, and I’ve written this story, which is perfect because it’s my first book. Then, I had to read it and realize how imperfect it was. Then, the editing process began. It went from just me and my husband to now having a family and other obligations. Those were the immediate challenges. Another challenge was finding representation and finding a publishing house for the book. A Black Queer book. While trying to find literary agents, I kept running into scenarios of the Goldilocks syndrome. There was no “just right.” 

Some agents had been interested in it and focused on the way its plot is themed and reminiscent of, or harkened back to, the American Civil Rights Movement, but didn’t quite know what to do with the gay parts. Then there were the agents who wanted to tell the wonderful gay story but didn’t know what to do with some of the content in the book that dealt with the harsh realities that these characters were living. The book is set in America in the US South and opens up during an election year with this blowhard of a President who could potentially win. That’s what essentially drives this story, and as I mentioned, it’s allegorical to the American Civil Rights Movement, told through the lens of these human-looking aliens who live on Earth and are trying to fight for basic human rights. Think Superman, but Black. It is a reflection of times, both past and present. It also reflects what we stand to lose today regarding our rights, survival, and other things.

I’ve worked really hard to get this book published. I had worked seriously with about three agents who all wanted to make changes here and there, and I was trying to keep up. Ultimately, all those relationships fell by the wayside. They’re great people; we are still in touch, but I had to go out and find a publisher on my own. I am happy with where it landed. I started my agent hunt in September of 2022 and ended up signing a publishing deal without representation in May 2023. I was on the grind for a little while on my quest to find a home for this. It feels long when you’re waiting to see if anybody wants to represent or publish you.

PI: Are you currently signed with a traditional publisher?

A: Yes. I went with a small independent publishing house called Tiny Ghosts Press. They are UK-based and were just what I needed for this book. It’s gay-owned. When the Editorial Director read it, he just connected with the material. We had conversations about the story, their press, and my life. I really needed them. I needed hand-holding because this was my first time out of the gate, and I needed someone who could be patient with me, answer all my questions, and be responsive. When I finally sold the publishing rights, I was happy to have a team behind me because I didn’t have the time to do all the other stuff that self-published authors go through. I don’t go out there to market my book or go to different conventions and shows. This very bustling day job keeps me extremely busy, not to mention my family. I’m thrilled to have a publisher handling all that stuff in the background.

PI: What do you like to do for fun when you’re not writing?

AB: When I’m not writing, I am a competitive video gamer. I typically play some type of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) or Super Smash Brothers. There’s a big competitive scene here in the Baltimore area, and I would like to get some of that going. Then, there’s the passive fun of watching movies and TV and doing nothing.

PI: What is the plan for marketing this book? 

AB: What am I going to do to promote the book?

PI: Yes. 

AB: Of course, there’s Instagram (billysgoatgruff) and Twitter (drebrad). I’m not really a huge fan of social media. But I realize that I have to be, so I’ll be out there on the “Gram,” if people still call it that. I’ll also be out on Twitter/X. I have my website, andrelbradley.com. Plus, the publisher has a whole marketing and promotion plan. I’ll listen to and do whatever they need of me. I will have my first book reading and signing on June 18 at Politics and Prose, an independent bookstore in Washington, DC, located at 5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW. I’m very excited to have landed a spot doing a reading and signing event. It’s one of DC’s premier indie bookstores, and I used to live across the street from it; I wrote part of Trailer Park Prince while sitting in the cafe there. It feels like coming full circle to be back at Politics and Prose as an author.

PI: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

AB: If you want to write, please write and get stories out there. I feel there’s an explosion of stories being told by people of color and people within the Queer community right now. It’s a time when there’s so much stuff out there that we can no longer complain about not having Black or Queer protagonists. There’s so much out there now we can get into niches and nuances. Please just write. Flood the scene with good stories so nerds like me can read them.

PI: How can we purchase your book?

AB: Trailer Park Prince is available for pre-order now and is released June 11. It will be available for purchase everywhere. Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Books-A-Million, Walmart, or an indie bookstore near you will carry it. Just ask them about it. 

MEET ANDRE BRADLEY

Andre Bradley is a featured panelist in Artists in the Afternoon 4: Writing For Our Lives. The event will be held on Saturday, August 31, at 250 Williams Street Northwest Atlanta, GA 30303, from 1 PM to 5 PM. Join us for an afternoon highlighting written and spoken word, music, art, and more. This event is free, RSVP here.