Author Matthew Hubbard on YA Debut ‘The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge’ | 5 Questions and a Rec

In this Q&A series, SLJ poses five questions and a request for a book recommendation to a debut YA author. In the latest installment, Matthew Hubbard shares about The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge.

In this Q&A series, SLJ poses five questions and a request for a book recommendation to a debut YA author. In the latest installment, Matthew Hubbard shares about The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge.


1. Congrats on your YA debut! How would you describe your book to readers?
Thank you so much! In The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge, Ezra, with his friends Lucas and Finley, set out to get revenge on their ex-boyfriends but find themselves silenced by a fictional school district agenda called “Watch What You Say.” As their revenge schemes unfold, they soon realize who the real villains are—corrupt people in power. Instead of being quiet like the school superintendent wants, they refuse to let their voices go unheard and ignite a student rebellion that spreads like wildfire.

Matthew Hubbard portrait2. What drew you to YA to tell this story?
The idea to capture the essence of The First Wives Club for a YA audience came about during a movie night with my husband. The nuanced storytelling of characters evolving from revenge to starting a nonprofit to help women sparked my creativity. As someone who has been heavily involved with nonprofits, the ending of the movie left me feeling hopeful because I knew the good these characters would do after the credits rolled. That sense of hope is what I wanted to give queer teen readers—the same ones being affected by Florida House Bill 1557 and other hateful legislation like it—and have my characters challenge the anti-LGBTQIA+ initiative in their school and find the strength to fight back.

3. What, if anything, surprised you while writing it?
The thing that surprised me the most was how much fun it was! While tackling the pressing issues of social injustice was crucial, I discovered how much joy it brought me to write the more fun parts of the story. My only focus was allowing these characters to not only feel joy but also live it when so many don’t want their real-life counterparts to experience it. Personally, I’ve spent 11 years dreaming about one day being a published author. The moment writing changed for me was when I let myself have fun with my words like I did with The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge. I pushed out all the doubt and all the times I was told I wasn’t good enough to make room for my own joy. It was such a game changer for my perspective. 

Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge book cover4. Tell us more about the characters. Which character do you most identify with and why?
My main character is Ezra, and his two best friends are Lucas and Finley—the last boyfriends! These characters were so much fun to write, too. I started off by taking parts of myself to create them, and then I explored stereotypes that are so often used to label queer individuals. They begin the story exuding all the roles forced upon them as though they’re “bad” things only to break out of those molds. This was my way of showing readers that we get to define ourselves, that hate doesn’t get to own our identity. 

When I started writing, Ezra was the character I most identified with. He was exactly who I was at 17. However, as I worked my way through the story, I realized that I was old enough to have a 17-year-old son. Shock aside, it made me consider what I would tell him if he was dealing with these issues. I began writing my adult self in as Ezra’s father, giving him advice and love that my inner child so desperately needed. It felt like a full circle moment, as though I was reaching back in the past and holding out a hand to the lost boy I was in rural Alabama.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope readers take away how important it is to believe in yourself, especially when others want you to doubt your existence. The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge not only shows readers how important it is to take a stand but also the importance of queer joy and friendship. I feel like the students being targeted by real-life politics are being robbed of their true coming-of-age experience. They shouldn’t have to be concerned with fighting to exist—they deserve to be teens—and I hope readers will embrace this journey and continue to believe in themselves.

The Rec: Finally, we love YA and recommendations—what’s your favorite YA book you've read recently?
This is such a tough question, but I have to say it would be Trish Lundy’s debut YA novel The One That Got Away with Murder. She captures that edge-of-your-seat thrill that I both love and find creatively inspiring. Amidst the murder-y twists and turns, queer characters are so effortlessly interwoven with care for their representation and, most importantly, acceptance.

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