i just made this announcement over on twitter, but like, let’s be real, i’ve been on this horrible blue hell site since i was 16 - and i’m turning 24 on sunday, so that’s essentially a third of my life, yikes - and you guys are wonderful and i love you and you deserve to hear it here first. so.
as most of you know, i finished my first manuscript earlier this year, and i’ve been reservedly liveblogging the absurdly nerve-wracking process of querying agents and throwing my novel out to the wolves.
and i’m so happy to finally be able to tell you that i’ve accepted an offer of literary representation from brooks sherman of janklow & nesbit associates.
i first became aware of brooks a couple of years ago when my best friend lena, who was loyally and devotedly beta-reading one of my early drafts, suggested i check out becky albertalli’s “simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda.” she thought simon was an exemplary gay ya romance, exactly the kind of thing i was hoping to do. and she was right: simon instantly became one of my favourite books, and becky became one of my favourite authors. i pledged to myself that when i finally worked up the nerve to start talking to agents, i would talk to the guy who helped make simon happen.
but it took a long time. like, a long time. i started writing “teenage victory song” - the name of my novel, a contemporary gay YA love story, hopefully coming soon to a bookstore near you! - back in 2013. specifically, during an 11:30 PM gchat with grace on wednesday, december 11, 2013, which i have archived for historical preservation. so grace is getting the dedication when this thing goes out, naturally. but, yeah, i started writing it in 2013, and only just finished it this spring, and only with the help of some truly incredible people and loyal friends and family - way too many to name here, but you know who you are, and thank you. i love you. if i hadn’t had your love and your support to battle the little grey cloud of depression and trauma and persistent economic instability that hangs over me 24/7, i’d never have gotten this far. writing this book, and keeping myself mentally healthy and happy enough to finish it, is the hardest thing i’ve ever had to do.
i also need to thank benjamin alire saenz, andre alexis, dennis bock, anne michaels, and mallory ortberg for reading various permutations of this manuscript and believing in it and giving me their writerly advice on it. i love all y’all. and, of course, major, major thanks to the lambda literary association, who do so much incredible work for so many lgbt authors, and to whom i will be forever in debt.
i just don’t have words for the fact that brooks read my manuscript and said yes, that he said wow, that he believes in me and in what i’m trying to do with my writing. he represents so many authors whose work i’ve been continually blown away by, and it is patently ridiculous and surreal that i get to stand next to them now? i’ve already mentioned becky albertalli, whose work has done so much to humanize young lgbt people and to normalize gay love for a mainstream audience. or adam silvera, who just put queer boys of colour on the new york times bestsellers list with “they both die at the end,” which i am presently reading and crying over and having my internal organs ripped out by. and last, but definitely not fucking least, angie thomas, who wrote “the hate u give,” very possibly the most important young adult novel of the last twenty years, a heartbreaking and compassionate and warmly funny complete and total masterwork that i inhaled in less than two days. like, i really don’t. have words. these are people who have been heroes of mine for so long. i just started actually crying so i’m going to have to wrap this up lmao.
i grew up in an intensely homophobic and conservative christian household, and when i was probably eleven or twelve i somehow came into possession of a copy of “a great and terrible beauty” by libba bray. i don’t remember anything about it except that it had a subplot involving two girls who kissed each other on the mouth, and when they kissed each other on the mouth, i was so viscerally horrified that i started bawling, and i stood up, walked upstairs to the garbage disposal, and tore the book apart with my bare hands. watched the pages filter down into the garbage. and i don’t, like. i don’t like to damage books. i don’t even fold corners because i don’t like to crease the pages. i still remember it all these years later because my first reaction upon recognizing myself in that kiss was to literally destroy it. and i had to keep that part of myself buried for so many years. reading lgbt ya and fanfiction was some of the only escape i had. i wasn’t able to come out until i was eighteen years old, and when i did, it ultimately meant becoming estranged from my mother forever.
i have so much love and tenderness and compassion for all those previous, wounded versions of me, who went through so much, who hated themselves so much, who spent so much of their teens and early twenties being depressed and closeted and suicidal and dreaming of the day when they might get to be an author. you fucking did it, buddy. i love you so much and i am so proud of everything you did to survive and keep creating.