Jun. 11—JP Brammer didn't feel like he had a clear identity as a child.
"I didn't know what I was good at and was sort of looking for something to attach myself to," the author said.
He had no idea that his adolescent search would lead him to his debut book, ¡Hola Papi!, and establish his name as a published author. The book was released through Simon & Schuster on Tuesday.
If You Go
What: Toledo Lucas County Library Authors! hosts JP Brammer
When: 7 p.m. Monday
Admissions: $18 for a copy of ¡Hola Papi! and a secured Zoom link; presentation is free via the library's Facebook page
The road to becoming an author, and fulfilling a long-time dream along the way, has been more of a marathon than a sprint. Brammer laid his editorial foundation as an advice columnist helping others find their footing amid love, heartbreak, and questions of self-acceptance in his advice column, also called ¡Hola Papi! and published on Substack.
Brammer, 30, who has been called the "Chicano Carrie Bradshaw," set the stage as LGBTQ Mexican advice columnist from the Great Plains who had a desire to connect with the world through a transparent exchange of experiences. It's an exchange he hopes to continue with local readers during his Authors! event through Toledo Lucas County Library on Monday.
The virtual event begins at 7 p.m. Participants can secure their spot by either tuning in for free through the library's Facebook page or purchasing a copy of the book for $18, including Eventbrite fees, and tuning in via a secured Zoom link which will be released following the purchase. Authors! is presented by Library Legacy Foundation, The Blade and Buckeye Broadband.
"My whole career was bent towards wanting to make a book one day," Brammer said.
It was in early high school that Brammer decided that writing was the path he wanted to pursue.
"Writing was always something I kind of had a knack for, but I didn't get super into it until high school. I went to a really rough high school where we didn't have enough desks, scantrons, there were always paper shortages and fights in the hallways.
"We had a really great English department," Brammer continued. "I had an English teacher who we called Doc because he had a Ph.D. Doc was super keen on introducing us to statewide and national writing contests for poetry, speech, and essays."
After winning a few contests, Brammer began to see a future in writing and pursued a career in digital media.
"That was the first time I thought, 'Wow, I can make my way out of my environment, out of rural Oklahoma, and get a job in this, and I started pursuing writing from there with the goal of becoming an author," he said.
Following his experience freelancing for media outlets including The Guardian, NBC News, and Teen Vogue, Conde Nast, Brammer launched his advice column in August 2017.
"In the book, I talk about how the advice column was just the vehicle for me. I didn't set out to be an advice columnist necessarily, I set to get my voice out there and I think ¡Hola Papi! [the book] represents the trajectory I took while trying to get myself to the next step. It's very much rooted in an online advice column that happened to take off. It was multiple happy accidents," Brammer said, adding that those "accidents" ultimately culminated in his childhood dream of both finding a sense of belonging as well as becoming an author.
"It wasn't like, 'Oh, I can't wait to be a gay Mexican Dear Abby.' That was just a joke that got taken really really far and now it's a book," he said.
While he credits the column for opening a new creative door, he said the genius is rooted in the transparent exchange he has encountered with readers — an exchange he hopes will continue with the release of his book.
"One of the great things about the format of advice columns is that it carries a degree of intimacy that is hard to replicate in other formats," he said. "A lot of my writing for ¡Hola Papi! has sort of taken on what I see as a medicinal element. I'm trying to use words to soothe someone or make them feel heard and understood.
"My goal is not to be an expert and say, 'With my infinite wisdom, here's what you should do.' I think I'm a good emotional translator and conjugator and that's primarily what I love to do with language," he said, adding that thus far he believes the book is on a good trajectory in regard to providing comfort to readers.
"I am so enamored with being Hola Papi and seeing the way people have reacted to this book so far and have taken in my voice. It's such a sacred thing to me because I firmly believe that people's attention is not guaranteed. It's a very precious resource and for someone to give it to you, they have to really want to be there. It's something that's really hard to fake, and I have something very real in my hands here and I want to honor that," he said.
Contact Bri'on Whiteside at: email@example.com.