KPU alum breaks labels with debut novel, ‘Skater Boy’

The book hits shelves with a signing session at Indigo - Langley

Anthony Nerada is a KPU alum who is releasing his debut novel Skater Boy on Feb. 6. (Submitted/Austin Kelly)

Anthony Nerada is a KPU alum who is releasing his debut novel Skater Boy on Feb. 6. (Submitted/Austin Kelly)

People can be labelled early in life, and it can sometimes restrict a person by telling them who they are or who they should be. But in Kwantlen Polytechnic University alum’s debut novel, Skater Boy, Anthony Nerada shows readers how a character can break labels and write their own story. 

Skater Boy is a pop-punk music-inspired, 2SLGBTQ+ romance novel that follows the life of Wesley “Big Mac” Mackenzie, the bad boy and a senior at Stonebridge High. Mackenzie is failing his last year of high school due to his temper, “rowdy” friends, and ditches his homework for skateboarding. However, this changes when he meets Tristan Monroe, a ballet dancer in a production of The Nutcracker, reads the summary of Skater Boy on Goodreads

“It’s a contemporary exploration of what it means to live in a world that has constantly tried to dictate who you are, even if you don’t really feel like that’s your place in the world,” Nerada says. 

“Readers follow the story of how he comes to be. He knows he is gay in his heart and mind, but he hasn’t ever had the opportunity to come out to people. … It’s only until he meets this out-and-proud ballerina that he finally understands that this is maybe his moment to come into his own.” 

Each chapter title has a riff off of early 2000s pop-punk songs, which foreshadow what happens in the next chapter, he says.

Nerada’s inspiration for Skater Boy came during a road trip while coming back to Vancouver after working at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for a year in 2019. When he, his partner, and friend were between Arizona and Nevada, “Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne played on the radio, and that’s when Nerada thought of the storyline for his novel. 

“I remember being in the car on our road trip home and being like, ‘That would be an incredible story, if it was a punk who fell in love with a male ballet dancer,’” Nerada says. 

On the car ride home, he asked them to turn off the music, and wrote down 80 per cent of what is in the final version of the novel. When they got home from the trip, Nerada sat at his desk and wrote for eight hours every day for two months. 

As Nerada was sending the book back and forth for feedback from trusted beta readers, he decided to participate in a contest called #DVPit on X, previously known as Twitter, a diverse voices pitch contest where a person summarizes their book in one post and gives them a chance to get connected with an agent for a book deal. Nerada sent his tweet on April 22, 2020. 

His post ended up trending and shortly after got signed with an agent through Soho Teen, an independent book publisher. 

While destroying labels is a major theme in his book, Nerada says another is toxic masculinity. 

“I thought it was really important to show people that men maybe can express anger, but they can also express other things, they are allowed to cry,” he says. “Toxic masculinity was a really interesting thing for me to explore in this book, I never thought that this book was going to be serious.” 

Skater Boy is Nerada’s fourth book, but the first that will be published. He hopes readers want to listen to early 2000s pop-punk music, but also that it’s never too late to be the person you want to be, especially young adults. 

“Those labels can constrict you, tell you who you are, but at the end of the day, high school is a tiny portion of your life,” he says. 

Skater Boy is out today with an “In Conversation” event with book blogger Rachel Sargeant, followed by a book signing at the Indigo in Langley from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. The book will also be available at the KPU Bookstore

Skater Boy to me was like an experiment and the journey of self discovery again, self acceptance, and teaching me as a writer that labels don’t have to be all end all,” he says. “It can be just something that defines you, it doesn’t have to take up your whole personality.”