Author Feature: Paul Coccia

Cub: In the gay community, a young, husky man is known as a “cub” Seventeen-year-old Theo fits the definition perfectly, but he is very self-conscious about his body. So when his best friend signs him up for a cooking competition at Heat, the city’s newest trendy restaurant, Theo is nervous. He’s confident in his baking ability, and dreams of opening his own bakery one day, but he’s not a chef, and he hates being in the spotlight.

As Theo survives round after round, he gains the admiration of both the audience and the restaurant owner, a sexy celebrity chef known as KCC. When the owner makes it clear he is more interested in what Theo might do outside the kitchen, Theo has to decide how far he is willing to go to launch his career.

Where did your inspiration for Cub come from?

This book was driven by Theo and the idea of diverse bodies. From there, sexuality, power, and misconduct became larger themes for Theo to deal with.

What’s the best surprise you had in the process of writing this book?

I really enjoyed writing, going through the editing process and working with my editor on this book as well as writing a hi-lo novel. Other than how great this process was, I was surprised by the secondary characters, Di and Mama Bear, as well as some tertiary characters who had lives of their own.

Do you know who you would want to play your protagonist in a movie?

Since Theo is tall and stocky, I think a new talent with a new look would be a good fit.

What was your favorite book when you were your protagonist’s age?

I have always been a big reader, but at Theo’s age Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban had been released and that was a big deal.

What question would you pose to readers of your book?

There’s some fairly heavy issues Theo deals with in Cub and a large one is understanding who he is. Theo’s cooking/baking helps him do this. My question for readers would be: whether a cook or an eater, how does food fit into your identity?

Is there a question that a reader has asked you that surprised you or stood out to you?

I’m eagerly waiting for some questions! I was asked what happens next to Theo and Benji and I’d love to hear thoughts on that.

Which other authors would you recommend to readers or teachers?

Brooke Carter and Sarah Tsiang are both really talented authors and have amazing books, including some in the Orca Soundings series. I also always enjoy Maggie DeVries, Jean Little, Susin Nielsen and Susan Juby’s writing.

What types of conversations do you hope will come out of your book?

I’d love to see conversations concerning body image and also sexuality and power. We all want to feel attractive and desired, but those feelings can be complicated especially when others are involved. I think there’s a lot to talk about here especially since Theo is a male-voice in this conversation.

Cub is available now!

Paul Coccia has an MFA in creative writing from UBC. He is a great cook, although he prefers to bake. His specialty is cupcakes, but he has also experimented with animal-shaped macarons and flooded cookies. Paul lives in Toronto, Ontario, with his family and two dogs.

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