Since starting this pen name I wanted to focus on something that I thought was missing from the literary landscape of 2020 and beyond.
When I look at the vast majority of young adult literature there is a tilt to one side that poses some questions and leaves room for what I'm hoping is an underappreciated market to write to and something that's sorely needed in today's world of books. It's a big deal to write a book that changes someone's lives and without exception, there have been many that have changed mine that fit this bill but when I look at the wider picture I can't help but notice this theme and its potential importance to the culture at large.
That theme is the unambiguously and morally good, straight, male, character.
I know this is a hot take and a lot of readers and writers would take offence with this thought, but what I'm hoping to do is fix that knee jerk reaction in the long run.
How many male characters in YA literature are there that aren't special because of something they received that changes their fundamental abilities as a young man for the reader to consider? Let's take this all the way back to some early 2000's YA lit and talk about vampires. Excusing the fact that Edward Cullen is over 100 years old in the books, his portrayal as an angsty teenage boy comes at a cost of him being a superpowered vampire with a super-powered family. One with superhuman strength and speed and everlasting life. His counterpart for the rest of the love triangle Jacob Black is a shape-shifting werewolf with his own set of powers that made him special. Eragon from Chris Paolini's Inheritance Cycle is awash with magical powers and gifts that propel him through his journey a much as he does himself. Percy Jackson is a demigod. Harry potter is rich and magical. While I realize people don't want to read about boring dudes, something else is being overlooked here.
Throughout the genre, there is a need to make boys something more to make them valuable to the reader. It happens to the girls too and even when we step out of the more fantastical settings of Hogwarts and the Hunger Games. But the idea of a morally good, heterosexual young man seems to grate against the rising popularity of nearly everything else.
But I don't want to make this a post and more importantly the direction I want to take my books about what I'm against. Instead, I want to be unapologetically for this theme. To write stories that show how young men struggle, how they triumph and how they do so with the realities that confront us all. Not with Chosen one magical powers or circumstance. But a raw and real take on what it's like growing up to be a young man these days. On how to be masculine in ways that aren't toxic, including some ways which get slanderously heralded as such. To capture the emotions and motivations of a demographic that all too often gets relegated to tokenism or worse, moral ambiguity for the sake of being the base of a love triangle plot device.
Somewhere out there, there are stories that don't shrowd themselves in impossibility to tell of how young men can solve problems, fall in love, make and keep friendships, take chances, and suffer mistakes. One that doesn't give them a fantastic power to cope with the world's need for their potential greatness or if it does it shows the toll for such power and the need all the same.
Somewhere out there there are characters, begging to be put into the written word that shows healthy and probably more importantly the transition from unhealthy relationships, sexual ethic, attraction and affection.
I think that world existed at one point. One where Aragorn knew what it was to run from his crown and how to return to it. where Edmond fell for the tricks of the Witch's candy once only to stop Caspian and Peter from doing the same later. Where Sam Gribley finds his mountain, Alfred Brooks throws his first punch and Miles Halter learns that you don't mess with swans.
These things while present in today's literature seem to be partial or missing or even muted. And I don't think this is because of a preference for the views on gender or sexual orientation as if these were a bad thing. What I would never want is fewer stories out there, about any topic, simply because I don't want to or feel capable of writing from a certain perspective. What I want to do is write as clearly I can about the things that are important to me.
Stories about young men, for young men. But perhaps not exclusively from young men on the page.
More on that later. But at least you understand the use of commas in the title now, right?