About two weeks to “Chasing Death Metal Dreams”…
I have heard now that my Don’t Read in the Closet summer free novel, “Chasing Death Metal Dreams” is formatted and ready – it should release on the M/M Romance Group’s Love is an Open Road Stories sometime in the next couple of weeks. (I’ll post when it does, of course, and there will be a download link.)
This book, more than any I’ve written, made me step out of my comfortable space. Carlos and Nate are young gay men – but that’s by now at least a familiar stretch. But Carlos is also transgender, Hispanic, and a metal musician. And those are new spaces for me.
Anyone who writes a story, at least any that isn’t a first-person autobiography, has to move outside themselves and get into the head of a character who is not a carbon copy of themselves. It’s one of the joys and challenges of writing fiction – trying to walk in another person’s shoes.
The challenge is always there in any new story – to be addressed with a combination of imagination, research, empathy, and good advice. (*insert enormous gratitude for generous beta readers here.*) But while some aspects of writing fiction about lives we’ve never lived are more of a technical challenge – historical accuracy, for instance – others are more of an emotional challenge.
When we present a character who belongs to a group that seems marginalized, or at risk, the stakes feel higher. So for Carlos, the metal music scene has its passionate devotees who will no doubt find my mistakes, but I’m not very worried about those errors. They may irritate, but will hurt no one.
The transgender F2M part of the story feels more presumptuous. I had trans beta readers, but I’m still very aware that I’m presenting one, fictionalized, look at a guy who represents a frequently-maligned and misrepresented group. Will I offend someone living the truth of my fiction? Will I perpetuate stereotypes? Cause a potential ally to take the wrong track?
Carlos, to fit the wonderful prompt request, represents the most familiar, easy-to-parse version of trans – the guy who knew from early childhood that he was a boy, and whose struggle is to live that truth as a man. Am I therefore perpetuating the myth that all transgender folk know as kids who they really are? (Many don’t or can’t articulate the incongruity they feel, even as teens or young adults.) Or that they all want to land squarely into the stereotypical center of their identified gender?
And then the Hispanic culture was another stretch. (Again, a huge thanks to my Hispanic beta readers!!) But even with their help, did I get the wrong feel? I surrounded Carlos with Caucasian characters, partly to cut down on dealing with Spanish in emotional scenes. Was that isolation a betrayal by reducing sympathetic minority secondary characters?
Readers will have to see for themselves. As always, my errors will be my own. But it feels more risky than, say, messing up Mac’s police culture, or Daniel’s Navy experiences.
And yet, that’s one thing I love about this summer event – the prompts push me into writing spaces I might otherwise hesitate to try. If we all played it safe, so may good stories would never come to life.
The DRitC crew don’t give out definite release dates for the stories. So I don’t know exactly when my readers will get to meet Nate and Carlos. (And the band, and the cat 🙂 ) But I’m told it will be in the next two weeks. I’m looking forward to it.