On writing gay books and why it’s so much fun
I didn’t plan to write a gay novel. In fact, I didn’t plan to write a novel at all.
Locked in a room in Toronto, cut off from friends and family, I moped around the house for months, distantly aware of the passage of time outside my window. I consumed media thoughtlessly, which led me to an unexpected fascination with The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. I know, I know, Marvel. Yet it was Marvel that for the first time in 10 years sparked the desire to write.
If you’ve ever loitered around fanfiction, hung out at forums and subreddits filled with people obsessing over details and easter eggs, if, to put it simply, you’ve ever been a fan of anything, you know the itch. The itch to have a story you dreamed up in your head come to life. The unresting desire to make the imaginary real, quenched only when it’s out on the page, in a serif typeface, and gets upvotes from other people who are just as happy as you are. Sam and Bucky, Harry and Draco, John and Sherlock. We’ve consumed so much fanfiction in my life I don’t even remember what the canon was for a lot of these fandoms.
I remember looking at the wonderfully written novellas based in a familiar made-up world, thinking to myself, I’ve read so many books that are worse than fanfiction. I’ve seen so much trash published and on the shelves, I’ve witnessed Fifty Shades of Grey on its nauseatingly steep ascend from a Twilight one-hand-reading fic to a best-seller, despite it being terrible.
People liked my fanfiction stories. I liked writing them. What if I could have a story, as gay as I want it to be, as juvenile and honest, as filled with my own childhood as I want it to be. I felt almighty, with a power to wield the fates of characters as I please. I could give them a happy ending, I could make the trash people have reasons for their trashy actions, I could give them motives that make sense, I could rewrite everything that was wrong with my post-soviet adolescence.
What I ended up with three months down the line, was a sweet gay romance, very pure and childish in some places, and full of mature grief in others. A Juvenile Country is a book that made me happy while I wrote it. I hope it makes you happy too if you read it. It’s a book filled with so much sun, and hope, and joy, and sea salt, that I’m sure you can smell and taste it as you turn the pages. It’s an anthem to the teenage now-or-neverness, it’s a war cry against despair and adversity.
I wish this book was available to teenagers as it’s written about them. Amazon believes that if your book contains swearwords, it’s not a fit for teens. I call major BS on that. Have you ever met a 16-yo who didn’t swear? Not while talking to you, while talking to their buddies. If you have, and they’re not in a cult, you have an extraordinary specimen on your hands and I would consider calling the Nature Red List people. In my experiences, teenagers swear. Amazon doesn’t believe me. Fine.
That being said, if you’re not a teenager and you have Amazon, do read A Juvenile Country and let me know what you think. I’m eager to know because after all, this book was written for you. ❤