Pride Month Author Interview: A Conversation with KT Hoffman


KT Hoffman, Photo: © courtesy of the author.

This interview was a contribution by Megan Tripp, Associate Director of Social Media, Consumer Marketing. She can be found in her book-filled Manhattan apartment, usually reading books about gay rights and gay wrongs, or on Instagram at @booksnblazers.

KT Hoffman is originally from Beaverton, Oregon and currently lives in Brooklyn. He received his bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University. If he isn’t writing about trans hope and gay kissing, he’s probably white-knuckling his way through the ninth inning of a Seattle Mariners game. THE PROSPECTS is his debut novel.

If you could describe your book, THE PROSPECTS, using purely song titles, which songs would you choose?

The Prospects by KT HoffmanI can’t answer this question without mentioning Kermit’s rendition of “Rainbow Connection,” but also: “The Sporting Life” and “Once In My Life” by The Decemberists, “I Like That” by Janelle Monáe, “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy” by Queen, and “THAT’S WHAT I WANT” by Lil Nas X.

What inspired your love of baseball?

There was a scene featuring a baseball game in another book I was writing, but, having grown up mostly playing soccer, I really didn’t know much about baseball. So, to get a better grasp on it, I started following the Seattle Mariners and fell in love with that team and this sport. In part for the same reason Gene loves baseball—that it is a sport which doesn’t favor any one specific body type, and at which myriad types of people can excel; and in part for all the reasons baseball loves Gene—because it is a sport that loves a try-hard, that loves people who don’t give up, that loves a statistical improbability. Gene is, of course, all three.

What was it about Gene’s story in particular that you felt needed to be written?

Once Gene popped into my head, there was no way I could have written about anyone else. But I get told a lot that this book is escapist. I understand why—it’s not like you can tune in to a baseball game on TV and see a preponderance of trans players; there are no out queer men in Major League Baseball, though queer athletes are everywhere, whether they choose to share that information with fans or not.

Still: everything in THE PROSPECTS could, technically, happen. I wrote this book in the hope of seeing players like Gene—like Luis, like Baker, like Vince—someday, and in the hope that the league could become a safe place for them. Things like that will feel impossible until, someday, finally, they don’t. I wanted to write a book that gives us permission to think of what it could look like, when we get there.

What is the best position in baseball and why?

Oh, man! This completely depends on your definition of “best.” If we’re going objective best, all-around? It’s hard to argue against catcher—there’s a reason Baker is a former catcher, and why the steadiest player on the Beavers is their catcher! You have to be level-headed, stalwart, and plugged into every moment of the game.

But if I’m being biased, I am shamelessly a middle infield guy—which will not surprise anyone who has read this book!—just because your shortstop and second baseman have to be in such good sync, which is so much of what makes baseball beautiful. They’re involved in so many plays, errors can be very high-stakes, and they are often dynamic, quick players. Shortstop is sexiest (the confidence you need to succeed there!), but second base is the most charming (almost all of the pressure with almost none of the praise; also, it’s famously where you stick your shortest player).

What would Gene and Luis’ favorite memes be?

Luis’s favorite meme

In my head, Gene is much more meme-literate than Luis. Luis is very much an “I post a picture of my boyfriend/my dog/a baseball game every other month on my Instagram and then forget to respond to the comments” kind of a guy, while Gene’s Instagram stories would contain some truly must-watch court jestering. Here are some favorites from my Prospects Meme Folder™.

What do you hope readers take away from this book? Is there a specific feeling you’re hoping to evoke?

I want this book to feel like you’re settling in to watch your home team on a perfect summer day, and maybe it’s a little too hot in the stands when you sit down to watch the pre-game activities, but it’s the good kind of sweat, and everyone smells like sunscreen, and the concession stands are opening, and the lines aren’t too long yet, and you’ve got a perfect view of your favorite player, and you have a good feeling right from that very first pitch, and you get to watch the sun set over the outfield stands, and the game may be close, but you’re sort of foolishly certain your team is going to win the whole time anyway, and when that win finally comes, it’s loud and thrilling and perfect.

Gene’s favorite meme

Mostly, I hope readers finish this book feeling like the big things are possible, and it’s worth it to try for them.

What books would you recommend to PRH employees?

Oh, is there a limit on the number of books? I have to limit myself, or I’d go on forever. I’ll do three. Queer books get labelled as found family a lot, so I hope it’s clear how sincerely I mean this, but Alicia Thompson’s WITH LOVE, FROM COLD WORLD (a romantic comedy about two coworkers who have to team up to try to save the winter-themed tourist destination in Orlando, Florida that they’ve both come to consider, in some way, a home) has some of my all-time favorite found family in it. I am always thinking about the entirety of Anita Kelly’s SOMETHING WILD & WONDERFUL  (a contemporary romance about two men who meet while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail; an exploration of the lives queer people build for ourselves and the ways we find beauty in each other), but especially pages 289-319, which reduce me to a blubbering mess every time. Lamya H’s HIJAB BUTCH BLUES (a memoir-in-essays which connects Lamya’s experiences as a queer, Muslim person with stories from the Quran) was the most affecting book I read last year—it feels like every page is rearranging you in the best possible way.

Posted: June 18, 2024