It’s the third week of January, which means that it’s the 2022 Hunt For Happiness Week! What exactly is that you might ask? In short, it is a time to remind us all to look deep at what makes us happy, and go for it.
Since middle school, I knew I wanted to write books. It wasn’t until later that I knew that I wanted to write specifically Young Adult Books, but once I did, I noticed a glaring problem. There were hardly any gay books to read. Seriously. Where were all of the LGBT Teen books? I could count the ones I easily found on one hand.
Now it’s a different story. There are so many LGBT teen books out there! And not specifically in its own genre. Young Adult Books the industry over feature LGBT characters across the board. And that’s wonderful.
But it still didn’t click with me that I could write that. At this time of publishing history, nine out of ten LGBT teen books were authored by straight, cis women. Oh, and Adam Silvera. But here’s the thing: no one is Adam Silvera except for Adam Silvera. We already have him. We need more household names in LGBT fiction. We need so many that young LGBT kids can’t keep count. When pride month rolls around, we need to be flooding our bookstagrams with so many pride books that aren’t the same three or four chosen titles that our heads spin.
To make a very long story short, when I sat down to write The Prince and The Puppet Thief, it was not a gay fairy tale. It still had not occurred to me that I too could be a real-life, authentic gay author of gay fiction.
No, but really. There was nothing gay about it. Actually, The Prince wasn’t even part of it. I was writing a story ala the stageplays I’d been working on while the playwright in residence of a theatre company, just trying to see if I could make up my own fairytale for fun, and maybe do it as a skit show between adaptations of straight stories like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella.
And then the thief ran into the minor character of the prince and— chemistry. I couldn’t keep them away from each other. Looking back, I honestly think this story was pure escapism for me, as well as a bit of rebellion against where I was in life at that time. My teen fantasies funneled into Simon’s worldview. My ‘run from the problems’ mentality went straight into Marco. My anger became The Maestroa.
And thank god! My stupid, silly, jokebook with a storyline literally made me stop and decide not to continue the passing-for-straight life that I’d been boxed into. It reminded me that playing along is worse than anything. Writing it eventually destroyed my life as it was. Then it rebuilt it better. And it made me laugh again.
I didn’t intend to publish The Prince And The Puppet Thief. I saved the file in a dark corner of my laptop and continued on with life and writing other (now gay) things. I didn’t think anyone would care for a Young Adult book that, actually, is more of an aged Middle Grade, with cartoony characters and a running joke about a rat shepherd. But, luckily for me, I was wrong. And according to the emails I get from the gay teens who do find it and take the time to let me know, I helped them a little bit, too. Now how can you possibly not find happiness when that happens?
So, purely by accident, I hunted for (and found) happiness.
This week, I challenge you to try something in your hunt for happiness and bonus points if it scares you. You automatically win if it’s something against what you think you want. It might save you, too.
Click Here To Read The Prince And The Puppet Thief