Author Matthew Hubbard Shares How Writing The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge Was His Own Act of Defiance

We love a good student rebellion story! That’s why we asked author Matthew Hubbard to share his inspiration for writing The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge. Read on to hear how writing this book became his own act of defiance.

The Rules for Revenge

by Matthew Hubbard, author of The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge

What do you do when the rules aren’t made with you in mind?

I’ve asked myself this question countless times since I began writing my debut novel The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge. While I felt anger over Florida HB 1557, which targets the queer community, I also found hope. The affected students challenged those rules and held walkout protests. Their refusal to hide their existence despite uncertainty was (and still is) inspiring.

I never had that chance growing up in Alabama. The unspoken rule if you were queer was to hide any parts of yourself that weren’t accepted. I adhered to this tactic to the point that it left me feeling isolated and fearful. There weren’t any open LGBTQ+ students in my small-town high school that I could turn to for support. Everyone was too focused on individual survival, instead of community. And that’s the problem with playing by rules that aren’t made with you in mind. They keep us from realizing we’re actual human beings with identities worth celebrating.

In The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge, the main character Ezra receives advice from his father: “When you stand up for what’s right, there will be people who try to make you sit down. You have to keep getting right back up.” Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is trying to make us sit down. Their “rules” are intended to keep us quiet and following along. However, what they don’t want you to know is that they cannot force us to accept their slander. We have every right to stand up for ourselves, whether it’s against these unjust rules or the trolls on social media, so keep getting back up.

Again, what do you do when those rules are made without you in mind? You make your own. We deserve to be angry, to fight back, to raise our voices, and to be happy—the ultimate rule for revenge. To me, this is the true meaning of queer defiance. It’s why I wrote The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge.

When I started writing this story as my own act of defiance, I kept thinking of those young kids affected by anti-LGBTQ+ agendas. It reminded me of my own struggles growing up in that small Alabama town. I graduated high school eighteen years ago, but LGBTQ+ students are still expected to follow those same rules. Now, however, something is different. Students are refusing to hide. They’re finding one another and forming their own community. Their voices are growing louder as they speak out. The strength they exhibit is revolutionary, and I wanted to remind every reader of their own strength as I wrote.

My father, just like Ezra’s, told me that best revenge is believing in yourself. It was all I could think of as events unfolded in Florida and spread throughout the South. This sentiment became my driving force—keep believing, keep believing, keep believing. I chanted this as my characters Ezra, Lucas, and Finley embarked on a journey of revenge that ultimately leads to rebellion. Instead of staying hidden and following those unspoken rules, they keep believing in themselves. This ultimate act of defiance is what I hope readers will take away, a message I wish I had at their age: you deserve to be here, and you have the power to make your own rules.

Read the Book

The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge

The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge

A queer coming-of-age about three teenage boys in small town Alabama who set out to get revenge on their ex-boyfriends and end up starting a student rebellion. Perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Jason June!

Ezra Hayes has always felt like a background character compared to BFFs Lucas and Finley. He would do anything to be seen as a romantic lead, even if it means keeping his boyfriend, Presley, a secret. But when he discovers that Presley is a lying cheater, and his best friends are having boy problems of their own, they want revenge.

Their plans to get even involve sabotaging the largest party of the year, entering a drag competition, and even having Ezra run against his ex for Winter Formal King. Then the school district starts to actively censor queer voices with their Watch What You Say initiative. Taking to TikTok to vent frustrations, Ezra begins “The Last Boyfriends Student Rebellion.”

Between ex-boyfriend drama and navigating viral TikTok fame, Ezra realizes this rebellion is about something more important than revenge. It’s a battle cry to fight back against outdated opinions and redefine what it means to be queer in small town Alabama.

Did you enjoy this exclusive author content from Matthew Hubbard about his inspiration for The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge? Discover more author content here and get social with us at @getunderlined!

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