Metro Weekly

Another Dimension of YA Author Mike Albo

New York writer/performer Mike Albo's new YA novel hinges on his hometown Springfield, Va., haunts.

Mike Albo - Photo: McNatt
Mike Albo – Photo: McNatt

There are so many ways you might know Mike Albo. Perhaps you read his 2021 Town & Country cover interview with John Waters. You may have caught one of his monologue performances or performing with his Unitard trio at New York’s Joe’s Pub. You might’ve read one of his novels — maybe The Underminer, co-written with Virginia Heffernan. One of his online offerings, such as Spermhood: Diary of a Donor?

If you’re from the D.C. area, of a certain Gen X age, you may have even been a classmate at West Springfield High School. If so, he’d offer that’s not much of a guarantee you’d have ever known him.

“I get so embarrassed about seeming uncool,” he easily admits. “Which is sort of the theme of my entire life, I guess.”

While Albo seems amused by the self-abasement, memories of the awkward discomfort of adolescence have been a central part of his life in recent years. Those memories have been a crucial ingredient in his latest creation, his first Young Adult novel, Another Dimension of Us.

“In 1986, Tommy Gaye is in love with his best friend, a budding teen poet Renaldo Calabasas,” begins the book-jacket excerpt. “In 2044, Herron High student Pris Devrees jolts awake after having a strange nightmare about a boy named Tommy and a house in the neighborhood the locals affectionately call ‘The Murder House.'”

The teaser rightfully prepares readers for a gripping sci-fi/horror novel, but the real juice of this teen terror is the emotions Albo’s characters navigate. Another Dimension is an adventure across time and astral planes, but the literary conflict sits in Pris and Tommy’s psyches. And the fictional setting of Herron High is absolutely nonfictional Springfield adjacent.

No wonder, then, that returning to those same high school halls was intense.

“It was as nerve-wracking as I thought it was going to be, but also really wonderful at the same time,” says Albo, who spoke to WSHS creative-writing students in January. “I did get kind of teary….

“The funny thing to me was how much it hadn’t changed, in terms of cliques. On the good side, there was a lot more color. It was great that there were a lot more people of color. It was great to see such a wide variety of people. But there were still the cool kids slouching in the back of the classroom. Still the artsy kids, the funky ones in the corner, the good students sitting up front. It was — oh, my God — nothing changes. A theme in the book is that our views of gender and sexuality and race might evolve, but there will always be popular people. There are always going to be popular people.”

Albo will return to the area this month to share another flavor of Another Dimension with a more aged audience. For his April 27 reading at Lapop in Adams Morgan, he’ll be a bit less focused on Tommy and Pris, a bit more on the Springfield-inspired setting he’s given them. While this D.C. suburb might seem like any other, Albo expresses an unusually sweet sentiment for his hometown, where his parents still live in the house of his high school years, his two older brothers still in the area.

Mike Albo – Another Dimension of Us

“I’m very attached to Springfield,” he insists as earnestly as a Simpson. “I’m going to read from the book and I’m going to talk about the area…. It’s grown so much and it’s so strange. The library that I went to, Richard Byrd Library, inspired the library in the book. The fact that it’s still there just intrigued me.

“I want to express how supernatural and strange and eerie the Northern Virginia suburbs are. How that ‘suburban gothic’ aesthetic informs the book.”

Come April 28, expect a lighter mood, as Albo drops in on the Homo Stanzas performance series hosted by Regie Cabico and Casey Catherine Moore. Anyone who’s seen Albo perform might guess he’ll be right at home at “a spoken word extravaganza of comedy & poetry.”

After all, there’s a time — or two, as detailed in Another Dimension — for adolescent angst, and a time to showcase how all that teen trauma can percolate, transforming into quality comedy.

Still, looking at both ends of that evolution, Albo says creative expression is the constant, and that’s what he hopes to convey with his new novel.

“I think I was put on this Earth to try to encourage other people to express themselves and be creative,” he says. “I love talking to people about that kind of stuff. The big message of the book, to me, is your feelings have been felt by other people throughout time. All these stormy feelings you’re feeling have been felt by other people in other times. I hope that is conveyed. I hope that’s comforting.”

To learn more about the book, visit

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