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As novel titles go, I kind of like it. Pride Must Be a Place. I thought it spoke to the struggle my latest main character, Ezra Caine, dealt with in his journey to coming out and being out in his high school. Ezra, along with a couple old friends and some new ones, starts a gay-straight alliance club in his high school. Why? Because he’s had enough of the bullshit. Will Severe has attacked Ezra’s friend Alex Mills one too many times. Sometimes, the only way to have things around you change for the better is to create the platform and environment from which that change can eventually happen.

I think there are some fantastic LGBTQ young adult books in the marketplace today. Quite a few of them are amazing. But…there’s not enough. I think there’s room for more LGBTQ young adult novels. The issues facing young people, both in their high schools and at home, are perhaps better than they were twenty years ago…but they’re not good enough. There is still bullying. There is still homophobia. There is still suffering.

I think a great place to begin a dialogue that will hopefully bring about change in the landscape of the future is through literature. We, as humans, have been doing this for millennia. I have been dealing with YA issues for a few books, now…I thought it was time I tackled this particular issue. Like Ezra, I feel that it’s time for a change.

I wrote about half of Pride Must Be a Place at last month’s Muskoka Novel Marathon. It was my eighth such novel writing marathon. I went in with the hopes of some grand story wherein Lorraine Segato of Parachute Club makes a cameo at the end. I was even able to secure her blessing…not to mention the fact that she gave me some great ideas about what her ‘character’ would potentially do.

But then the inciting incident which would have opened the door for that ending wasn’t as big as it had to be in order to make that happen. As is often the case, the story got away from the idea and it went off on a tangent and changed wildly from the original vision. I had to admit to myself that the place where I brought the story to did not allow for Lorraine’s cameo. And it was going to be a legen–wait for it–dary cameo.

BUT! I did keep to the original vision that had my main character, Ezra Caine, obsessed with the 1983 hit RISE UP. That hit was an anthem for so many groups. It was Pride, though, that latched onto it in a big way. Ezra was called to action mostly because of the hassle his friend Alex was receiving at the hands of the bully, but also because of the power of the lyrics of his favourite song.

I finished the novel at the end of July. I’m excited about it…I haven’t yet had the time to worry over its scars and blemishes. It was one of the easier novels I ever wrote…the message was an easy one to write about. But I did face the most difficult challenge the YA author has when dealing with YA-issue story-lines. What’s that? Writing a novel with a message without beating the reader over the head with the message. People want to be entertained. Nobody wants to pleasure read only to find that they are being lectured to. It’s such a thin line to skate…harder when you’re close to the issue you are writing about.

It’s in the vault now…only time will tell if I treated it correctly.

For now, it’s on to the completion of other projects. I’ve had a lazy year and a half-ish. It’s time to finish the three or four other novels on the table waiting for my attention. With the success of getting this out of my system, I think I’ll be good to go on the next, and the next, and the next. To think…two short months ago I was considering the fact that I might be finished as a writer.

But I still have a few stories left to tell. Pride Must Be a Place is only one of them…

Rise Up – Parachute Club