This was supposed to be the blog post for November 16th. However, things happen. I didn’t want to use this blog post then because I felt it wasn’t ready. I hadn’t explained well what I wanted to say then. However, it’s a brand new blog post day and, hopefully, I finally got everything “right.”
I’ve kind of hinted at what I’m writing about today in this blog post, but I felt that I needed to expound on my feelings. Addressing the future of Chase Connor Books is also important to me. The reason for this is that I have been blessed to have “met” many wonderful readers–many of whom have been with me since my first published book. I feel like we’ve been on a journey together for the last 3.5 years. We’re like family now. I feel that if I plan to make a change in my writing life, I want them to know about it.
Young Adult changed my life. When I published JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE in June of 2018 (my first published book), I had no idea what I was doing or who I was as a writer. I just had stories and a dream. Fortunately, those stories and my dream are doing okay. That book (and its two eventual sequels) made me who I am today.
GAVIN’S BIG GAY CHECKLIST, A SURPLUS OF LIGHT, GINJUH, THE GUY GETS TEDDY, WHEN WORDS GROW FANGS, A MILLION LITTLE SOULS…they’re all stories I am incredibly proud of and I’m glad that I wrote and published them. I have no regrets.
SENDING LOVE LETTERS TO ANIMALS AND OTHER TOTALLY NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIORS will be released on December 3rd, 2021. I’m incredibly proud of it, too. As its writer, I feel it’s a great story, has great characters, a solid plot, it’s fun, it has a wonderful message, and many people will love it. If you have any interest in YA, it will be perfect for you.
It will be my last Young Adult novel for a while. Maybe forever.
Well, let me expound even further.
I don’t plan to write romantic LGBTQ+ Young Adult novels, coming-of-age, or anything like that anytime soon. Writing stories with the focus being solely on coming-of-age, coming out, finding teenage love…it’s not where I am as a writer–or a person–anymore.
I will turn 30 next year. I’ve learned a lot as a writer.
Both personally and professionally, I’m interested in New Adult, Adult, Lit Fic, Contemporary, and paranormal/fantasy stories more. I’m even finding that I enjoy writing erotic/romance more. Writing for teenagers is not where my heart is any longer. Don’t get me wrong–I know that a lot of my audience is comprised of adults and even senior people. Older queer people have been so good to me. I love all of the messages I’ve gotten from older members of the LGBTQIA community about how my stories meant something to them because my stories are how they wish their lives had been growing up. There aren’t words for the weight I give those sentiments.
To know that I’ve written anything that helped an LGBTQIA person feel that being an LGBTQIA teen doesn’t have to be the traumatic experience they had makes me very happy. I am nothing short of honored and humbled.
Honestly, I struggle a lot with whether or not I deserve to be in the company of these people. While my youth wasn’t without struggle, knowing that it was so much easier for me, standing on the shoulders of those who came before me, I feel unworthy of writing something that represents our collective experience. However, I feel that I am a better and more worldly person having “met” many of these older members of our community. Even the ones I only know through their social media or emails have given me pieces of them I will carry with me forever. I am truly honored.
So…I do not regret writing Young Adult. I will never regret writing it. I love my YA stories and will always be proud of the time I spent writing them. However, getting back to JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE–I wrote that story (by hand) when I was in my mid-teens, confused, with a world of worries on my shoulders, and the belief that I would never be happy or find love. I just wanted to daydream about finding my happily ever after. I published it when I was 26 years old. I’m turning 30 in 4 months. I’m married. I’m so happy.
It’s not difficult to understand that I am a much different person now, yes?
I want to write things that, even if they have teen characters in them, are more “adult.” Or, at least, appeal to a wider age range of readers. I don’t want to focus on first love or any of that as much–or, at least, not make it the central focus of the story. I don’t want to write about high school experiences. I want to write about universal human experiences (but still with LGBTQIA characters–I will never abandon centering my stories in the LGBTQIA experience). I want to write more plot-driven books–or at least books where the plot and the characters are on an even playing field. I want to write more prose. I want to challenge myself. To stretch my legs (or fingers–I am a writer, after all) and see how tall I can stand.
In the future, my hope is that I will write more things like BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE, JACOB MICHAELS IS…, THE GRAVITY OF NOTHING, A SURPLUS OF LIGHT, and even BRIEFLY BUDDIES. I have books written and planned for publication that have teenage main characters but are not standard YA offerings.
If that makes any sense whatsoever.
I think I’m at my best when I write things like BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE, A SURPLUS OF LIGHT, A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF NORMAL, writing about the complexities of life and the human experience, or just allow myself to come up with the most fantastical stories possible. Writing within YA has become limiting for me. That’s not the genre’s fault–it’s a wonderful genre–it just does not serve me anymore. And I do not want to do the disservice of continuing to write YA stories if I feel that my heart is not in it.
And, in listening to my readers, I think they’re ready to grow with me. They want more of the types of stories I’m referencing here. They want more A SURPLUS OF LIGHT. HA! They want to say: “this is the same writer who wrote Just a Dumb Surfer Dude???”
Painfully, this has led me to make the difficult decision to talk to my publisher and scrap two projects I had planned for the future. I AM NOT BEAU BREWSTER and VISITING MUSEUMS WITH PETRUCHIO were two traditional YA novels I had written and had ready to publish sometime in the future. We’ve decided to shelve those novels. Fortunately, my publisher has been supportive of my decision. They’re enthusiastic to see me grow and challenge myself.
Now, this is a scary step for me. The more “adult” novels I’ve mentioned have done well. SURPLUS, ENZO, and NORMAL have been my best-reviewed books so far. But let’s not ignore the obvious–Young Adult has been my bread and butter for 3.5 years. Okay, at least the bread. Leaving it behind might change everything for me as a writer. Maybe I am shooting myself in the foot?
But what is life without risk and trying things that scare you? It’s a life half-lived. I can’t half-live. I can’t write that which does not excite me and about which I am not passionate. I can’t be a good writer if I don’t stretch.
In summation, don’t expect me to remove teens from my books or ignore the teen experience. No age range is safe from me! What I’m saying is…expect more prose. Expect deeper emotions and plot-heavy books, complex human experiences, examining the human experience even when it’s difficult and there’s no black or white moral ground. Expect some spice from time to time. Not everything will be centered around romance and finding first love. Love is all you need…unless you’re an author trying to write a compelling story.
So…if you’re one of my readers, and you’ve been on this journey with me, I hope you are ready for the next leg of the journey. I promise it will be exciting. We’ll have a lot of fun. Plenty of great characters will be joining us and we’ll join them on their journies. This move might cause me to lose a huge chunk of my readers, but I hope not. I’ve come to love and respect so many of you over these last few years. I would miss you if you left the cult. Anyway…you’re more than welcome to stick around. I hope that you do.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,