About two years ago, I wrote a three-part post on YA and Sexuality. Mostly it dealt with my struggles and talked about why literature for gay youth is so important.
One of the things I’ve been trying to do in my own writing is be inclusive of different sexualities, different races, different cultures, without drawing attention to that fact. Mostly because that’s how I grew up. I briefly “dated” a black girl in high school and never thought it was strange. Actually, the strangest part of that sentence was that I dated a girl 😉 But my parents never made a big deal out of other races or cultures. I grew up in an environment where those things didn’t matter. So that’s the world I’ve tried to show my readers.
But it’s naive of me to think that people don’t struggle. That gay teens don’t struggle. Hell, I just read another article last week about a gay teen who killed himself. When I was developing The Dark Days of Me and Him, I had some frank conversations with my friend Margie about the story. In a small way, it’s based around the myth of Orpheus and Erydice. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by giving that bit away. I knew I wanted to retell that story of Orpheus losing his love and traveling to the underworld to get her back. From the moment I conceived the story, it was always about Charlie Hudson and Theo Jackson. But I worried that I’d be alienating a huge chunk of my audience if people began to think of it as a “gay romance.” Margie and I went back and forth, and at the end, she told me what I already knew: that I needed to stop worrying about the audience and write the best story I could.
Back when I wrote that post about YA and Sexuality, a couple of people, one in particular who knows who he is, told me that I needed to write MY story. I still don’t think people would be interested in my boring life, but The Dark Days of Me and Him is as close as I’m ever going to get to writing “my” story. It’s about more than Charlie and Theo. It’s about how far someone will go to save a person they care about. It’s about bullying. It’s about fear and small town loneliness. It’s about feeling like there’s not a soul in the world who could ever understand you. It’s about feeling small and falling in love and fitting in and ending the world.
It’s about Charlie and Theo.
It’s about time.
The Dark Days of Me and Him
February 1, 2012