Author Jeff Garvin talks genderfluid characters and life in general with Wildcats

Author Jeff Garvin speaks to hundreds of students at Redlands East Valley High School on April 1. (ALISON BRADSHAW/ Ethic photo)


“Author’s are my heros ‘cause they make heros,” said Redlands East Valley librarian Korrie Khrohne, who organized a visit from author Jeff Garvin on April 1 in the Blackstone Theater.

With there being only a few novels focusing on genderfluid characters, Jeff Garvin quickly gained recognition when his debut book, “Symptoms of Being Human,” was published in 2016.

“Meeting a published author was very exciting,” said Khrohne, who wanted to share this opportunity with REV students and staff.

REV teachers had the opportunity to sign up their fourth period classes to attend this event. In addition, students were also able to preorder the book in order to have it signed by Garvin.

“I enjoyed listening to Jeff Garvin as an English teacher because I loved to hear about his writing process, how he developed his characters and all of the other writing related aspects,” said REV English teacher Crista Bross, “but I really enjoyed listening to Jeff as an educator because his ability to relate with his audience and to share valuable life lessons was really incredible.”

Jeff Garvin spoke to students about his experiences leading up to becoming an author. Garvin said that it’s okay not knowing what to do after high school.

(ALISON BRADSHAW/ Ethic photo)

Garvin considered not attending college and simply wanted to go straight into acting, but his parents forced him to go to college. He ended up attending Chapman University in Orange, California where he earned a Bachelors in Fine Arts in Film.

Garvin shared that, before he became an author, he tried entertainment. For fifteen years, he acted as small guest roles in TV series, such as “The Wonder Years” and “Roseanne.” Garvin was the lead singer of a band called 7k. which released three albums and toured the United States. In 2011, the band dissolved causing Garvin to switch paths and take on writing. Garvin had always enjoyed writing about wizardry, being a big Potterhead.

Author Jeff Garvin shared some of his small guest roles prior to becoming an author. (ALISON BRADSHAW/Ethic photo)

Garvin concluded by talking about and reading a short excerpt from his new debut book, “Symptoms of Being Human,” which is about a gender fluid teen named Riley who establishes an anonymous blog to deal with the conflicts at school and home. The book is unique in that it is not clear to the reader whether the main character is a boy or girl, as some days Riley identifies as a girl and other days as a boy. Garvin admitted that this was a creative challenge when using pronouns in writing the book.

“Symptoms of Being Human” was published on Feb. 2, 2016 and has received much recognition, including being a Lambda Literary Award Finalist and an American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Adult Sections.

Garvin also co-hosts a podcast, “The Hero’s Journey,” with friend Dan Zarzana. According to the Jeff Garvin website, “he and his partner examine classic and contemporary books and films through the lens of Joseph Campbell’s iconic hero’s journey framework.” The framework is a series of twelve steps that takes a character from beginning to end.

Despite his fame and accolades, Garvin was relatable with the students and asked them many questions making his presentation interactive.

“Jeff Garvin was so down to earth,” said Khrohne.

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