In less than a month, BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE will go on sale. For now, you can pre-order it in ebook and hardback formats. Paperbacks will be available on the release date. This isn’t the sole purpose of the post today–to beg everyone to pre-order my book. But, like, seriously, pre-order my book. I think you’ll really love this one.
What I wanted to write about today is genres of books. Recently, A SURPLUS OF LIGHT came out on audiobook, narrated by the incomparable Brian Lore Evans (another plug for one of my books – you can find it on Audible, on Amazon, and iTunes) and I noticed that Audible put it in the “Romance” category. That kind of struck me as odd.
ASoL has romance in it, sure, but it starts when the characters are thirteen/fourteen years old. The story is more LGBTQ+ YA or coming-of-age than it is about romance. In fact, most of the story is about overcoming a rough childhood, seeing others for who they are instead of what they present to the world, looking beyond the physical appearance (not judging a book by its cover–ahem), allowing a person the time and space they need to become who they are supposed to be, and realizing that we all have invisible, untold stories that no one but us knows about. It’s also about self-discovery and allowing oneself to bloom without fear of what one might might look like as a finished product. Acceptance of oneself and others for who and what they are, taking the time to see what’s beyond the surface, and a lot of love, understanding, and patience. I hope that’s what people take away from the story. The romance is just a bonus to the other elements.
It has always been frustrating for me, as a writer, to choose 2 or 3 of the most accurate genres or categories for my books. For me, I feel that some of my books are best placed in the “General Fiction” category, even though they have LGBTQ+ elements. Other than the JACOB MICHAELS IS series, most of my books cannot be labeled just one thing. They all contain LGBTQ+ elements (write what you know, right?), and romance elements. However, any of my books could have the genders and sexual orientation of characters swapped and it wouldn’t matter much. The romance elements aren’t super important in some of them, either. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever written a straight-forward romance in my life. Probably because that hasn’t been my experience.
Life and blossoming romances are laid out like train tracks, constantly intersecting at points. When two people start to fall in love, it’s glorious, but life keeps butting its head into the mix. Whether or not a romance survives those things is what makes it interesting and human. Fairy tales are fun–especially if you can keep a level head about them–but they are definitely not a paradigm of what it means to truly fall in love. Life is messy. So is love. I write about both.
Super messy. *jazz hands*
So, in categorizing BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE, I was tempted to place it in the “General Fiction” category. Why? Okay, so half of the book is about a night two men spend together, exploring the city of Montreal, eating food, sharing secrets, talking about their lives, contemplating God, fate, and what the universe is doing to interfere with their lives. Romance, right? Well, you don’t find out until the very end if there is a true romance in the works. The other half of the book is about what it means to be “other.” To be an immigrant. To live in blended families. To feel disconnected from one’s cultural and ethnic heritage. To experience loss and grief at a very young age. To be poor and unwelcome in a new homeland. To be on the precipice of Giving Up and looking for anything to persuade you to keep holding on–by your fingernails, if that’s what it takes.
The story is about how one night can change a person’s life, while watching the history of a poor, grief-stricken, lonely immigrant unfurl. We watch the past crash into the present. We watch grief, loneliness, loss, hunger, cold, and desperation get mashed together until out pops hope. Not a lot of hope, but hope, in small doses, is powerful. When it is combined with kindness that is freely given, a life can be transformed.
I don’t know if anyone remembers this blog post, but I hinted at the upcoming unveiling of ENZO back in July. I changed the names of the characters in the book just in case things fell through (Enzo was Daniel, Peter was Patrick), but I was talking about ENZO then. Honestly, I didn’t know if I wanted to follow through with ENZO then because I didn’t really know what it was in regards to genre. After developmental editing, it started to come together. A manuscript that was 220,000 words got hacked down to a tight 70,000. Yeah. It was whittled down to a third its original size–and I couldn’t be happier.
And I ended up placing it in LGBTQ Genre Fiction and Gay Fiction. Because I think that gives a potential reader the best idea of what to expect. I like to put my books in the categories that best describe them so readers will be satisfied when they read them. If you also like a touch of romance, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you want realistic fiction, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you want to read about family, loss, grief, spirituality, and finding where one belongs in the world…you’ll be thrilled. And if you want to have your heart alternatively broken and mended throughout a book–look no further. ENZO will check all of those boxes for you.
In closing, I think the movie industry has a leg-up on the publishing world. One, movies are visual, so a trailer really gives a viewer an idea of what to expect and to hook them. Books are more difficult because all a writer has is a blurb and a genre category to hook readers. Maybe that’s why book trailers are becoming so popular?
Tremendous Love & Thanks,