What convinces someone to write a gay romance that centers around an eating disorder, an anxiety disorder, and countless wedding dresses?
If you said insanity, ding, ding, you got the right answer.
And if you need proof, pick up a copy of my latest novel, The Imperfection of Swans.
Honestly, this book scared the ever-loving crap outta me. And I had to write it so that it would be over. Several years ago, I took a photo of my best friend, which is the picture on the cover, and it screamed at me to write a story to go along with it. Every time I tired to come up with a storyline to match the photo, nothing worked. Finally, I gave in and asked my bff if I could use his struggle with anxiety, an eating disorder, and his life-long dream of opening a wedding dress shop for the basis of a novel. I’m some best friend, huh? Not only do I want to use his picture, but I also want to use his deepest, darkest moments for the entire world to read. You know, I ask for the easy stuff…
However, it was those reasons that made the book so difficult for me to write. One, knowing and loving the real Kevin. I’d never written anything so directly based from someone I know. Two, it was an eating disorder, an anxiety disorder, and a ton of wedding dresses. Things I know NOTHING about. Sure, I know anxiety (I’m a writer praying for royalties, I know anxiety), but nothing like the kind Kevin lives under. And an eating disorder? Talk about a recipe for disaster. I was convinced I was doomed to get it wrong. And, I’m sure I did. While I’ve gotten messages from people who have an eating disorder that have told me I nailed it, I know there will be three times as many people with eating disorders who say my portrayal is nothing close to what their life is like. That’s just part of writing, part of life. Hell, in two of my books, I set the location in the small town I grew up in and I have some reviews tell me how it matched their experiences growing up in similar situations and others that swear I must have never even been in a small town in my life. Something as personal as an eating disorder seemed a bit like career suicide, especially in a romance.
I must say, the messages I’ve gotten from this book have meant the world to me. As I write this post, Swans has been published for exactly two weeks. Thus far, the feedback I’ve received has been rather glorious. Astoundingly so. Enough that I realize that the opposite is on its way and I need to get read. That’s always the ebb and flow of things, and that’s all right. Regardless, there is nothing that can compare to getting a message from someone who is able to see their own struggle in those of your characters. If you can help someone feel a little less alone, for them to be a bit more ‘seen’? I mean, really, that is the biggest gift an author can have from his readers. It’s beautiful. I’m very thankful.
Given the heavy topics in this novel, I set out to counterbalance those issues by making the writing and storyline softer, lighter, and a bit more fun. I didn’t want to beat anyone over the head, nobody likes that. Like in everything else, I have no idea if I succeeded in this endeavor or not. People have commented on it being one of my lighter reads while others have stated that they have to take breaks in the reading of it in order to finish it due to how heavy the book is. If you’re considering reading Swans, I’d love to be able to promise you one way or the other, so you would know what to expect. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to figure out the link between readers who experienced the book in certain way.
I’m aware this is rather a strange post when an author is hoping to convince new readers to try his words. There’s no excerpt or character interview. I appreciate you allowing me to try something different. I wanted to take you a bit behind the scenes of the writing of the novel, as well as offer up my reflection of the experience after it has been out and about in the world for a bit. Thank you for the indulgence.
More information about The Imperfection of Swans can be found here: http://bit.ly/1TDBBwx
The Rainbow Book Reviews review is here: http://bit.ly/1ngb0JK