Pride Month Author Interview: A Conversation with Becca Grischow


Becca Grischow, author photo credit: J. Churchill Morris.

This interview was a contribution by Brianna Lopez, Associate Production Editor, Penguin Publishing Group.

Becca Grischow is a Chicago-based content creator, gossip, and ghostwriter for celebrity memoirs. She grew up in Geneva, Illinois, and the middle school rumors about her bisexuality were absolutely true. You can find her at your local coffee shop or sharing writing advice on TikTok and Instagram @BeeGriz.

Your novel I’LL GET BACK TO YOU (Penguin Books) is a queer rom-com set around the holidays, which can be a very romantic time for some people, but also a very tumultuous time for others, specifically in the queer community. What inspired you to set the book in this part of the year, and how do you navigate this contrast?

Setting this book over the holidays was actually more of a side effect of my one true goal: writing a queer rom-com that started on Blackout Wednesday, the unofficial drinking holiday celebrated the night before Thanksgiving. I wanted to write a love story between two former classmates: one who is well established in their queerness and one who has come into that identity more recently. In college, being home for the holidays was always a game of “Guess who’s gay now?” and Blackout Wednesday was the equivalent of the Super Bowl.

From there, Thanksgiving became the center of this novel, and in my family, I associate Thanksgiving with rushing against the clock and running behind on cooking. Isn’t that the heartbeat of the queer experience—and the experience of everyone in their twenties, really? Rushing and feeling anxious that you’re running behind? That feeling reappears throughout this book.

Why was it important to you that your debut novel feature queer characters, and that it is so rooted in queer identity? How are the relationship dynamics in the book reflective of your own experience in the queer community?

Everything that I do is rooted in queerness, and it always has been. In the fourth grade, I was drawing boobs in the corners of my math homework. Since then, I don’t think I’ve put a pen to paper without a little rainbow showing through. My queerness shows up like fingerprints on everything I make, and I think it always will. All of this is to say that it wasn’t just important to me for my debut novel to be queer; it was impossible for this book to be anything else.

So far as the relationship dynamics in I’LL GET BACK TO YOU, I drew heavily from my relationships with both my straight and queer childhood best friends, all of whom remain some of my closest friends today. I came out when I was very young, but I didn’t understand until adulthood the ways in which my queerness affects my relationships beyond just the romantic ones. I have always loved my friends really intensely with a passion and level of commitment that my peers seem to reserve only for their partners, and when my straight friends started dating in college, it felt like I was demoted, like they didn’t have enough of that wild and expansive love to share with anyone other than their partner. I’m not polyamorous, but to me, bisexuality means having more love within me than can be contained to one person or one gender, so that love spills into my platonic relationships. I’ve never subscribed to the “my spouse is my best friend” mentality. My spouse is my spouse, my best friend is my best friend, and being bisexual means that I can love twice as much.

Early in the book, Murphy talks about her own coming out experience. “Coming out was just another portion of puberty for me, and as hard as it was to be the only gay kid in my grade, there are perks to knowing who you are from the get-go.” What made you want your narrator to be a queer person who knew they were queer from a young age, and how do you think the book might have been different if Murphy had been in the early years of her queer experience?

I’ve known I liked girls since I was eight years old, and when I learned the word “bisexual” in fifth grade, I instantly knew that’s what I was. Coming out young has had two side effects that majorly influenced this book. The first is that, because I came out so young, nearly every aspect of my life and identity has been rooted in queerness. My writing, my romantic life, the way I move through the world…it’s all queer. This isn’t something I see represented a lot in queer media. There’s usually a coming-out story or a “wait, I didn’t know I liked girls” moment. I wanted to create a character that my younger self could relate to.

Murphy knows who she is, but she’s figuring out what she wants. Her love interest, Ellie, knows what she wants, but she’s still a bit newer in her identity. They both have what the other person needs, and that’s what makes the fake relationship trope work. If Murphy were in the early stages of queerness, her character would be too lost. She’d need multiple books to end up where she does in the epilogue!

What sentiments or messages do you hope people in the queer community leave the book with?

You might figure your life out at a slower pace than your straight friends, and that’s okay. There’s a very heteronormative path that most people in their twenties are expected to go down: go to school, get a job, get married, and have kids. That’s the path that Murphy’s straight best friend, Kat, seems to be going down, and from my experience in the real world, it’s a path that a lot of straight people wander down without even realizing other paths were an option. Being queer invites us to sidestep that path, if we choose, and see possibilities outside of the norm. Who might you be? Where might you live? Who might you love? It’s a challenge and a privilege to see a broader range of options for your life, and it means it might take you longer to choose where you’re headed. You’re not behind. Straight people are just on autopilot sometimes.

You are a ghostwriter for memoirs and a content creator who gives writing advice on social media platforms. How did you pivot from those creative experiences to writing fiction?

My first ghostwriting gig was writing romance novels for a very successful indie author. I ended up working for quite a few romance authors, and I pivoted to writing celebrity memoirs from there, but I knew I’d write a romance novel of my own someday. There was never a pivot so much as constant juggling. I was writing this book as myself while also working on other projects as other authors…and creating content at the same time. When you’ve written so many books as other people, there comes a moment where you need to confirm you still have your own voice—and not just a voice that can make videos about writing. A voice that can tell a powerful story of its own.

What books, films, or podcasts would you recommend to PRH employees for Pride Month?

First and foremost, it’s homophobic if you don’t add my book to your “Want to read” on Goodreads this month. Beyond that, BLACK QUEER HOE by Britteney Black Rose Kapri and THERE ARE TRANS PEOPLE HERE by H. Melt are two of my favorite poetry collections from queer, Chicago-based writers. Fellow PRH author Ira Madison III is my North Star when it comes to queer cultural commentary. His book PURE INNOCENT FUN is forthcoming from Random House in 2025. Listen to his podcast Keep It or read his Substack Frank.


Posted: June 14, 2024