True Colorz is your web source for all things YA in the LGBTQ community! Our blog features new releases, featured authors, interviews, and reviews/recommended reading.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Skye Allen

Skye Allen has had short fiction published in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal and Of Dragons and Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds and poetry in Insomnia and Sinister Wisdom. She works as a singing teacher and occasionally performs Irish music around the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her wife, two cats, and four chickens. Pretty Peg is her first novel.

Connect with Skye Allen on Twitter @eppiemorrie or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Skye Allen:

  1. In what way is your story unique compared to other books in this genre?

    The obvious answer is that the hero is a girl-loving girl! I love all the YA fantasy novels with strong teenage girls in the lead, but most of them are straight. I really wanted to see someone like Josy in the kind of book I love – a fast, emotional adventure where the magical world meets the familiar world.

    Beyond that, though, Pretty Peg goes into some heavy topics. The plot was inspired by a traditional Scottish song called “The Bonnie Banks o’ Fordie,” which is about incest. I’ve always been fascinated by the way the three sisters in the song handle the situation, and how the youngest sister seems fearless and heartbroken at the same time. One thing I love about YA is the freedom to go deep into the gnarliest places in the psyche and to confront some of the biggest horrors we live with -- whether they take the form of vampires or werewolves, or of other humans in a position to do harm.

  2. Which of your characters is most like you?

    I’m definitely in everyone in the book. I’m just as snarky (and as secretly vulnerable) as Josy, I get just as distracted by a good music practice session as Laura, and I’m just as much of a rule-follower as Neil. But I share the most real-life history and articles of faith with Margaret. I spent a long time believing that working for social change would help me hush the demons in my head – it did, and still does. But I’ve also learned that you still have to take on your demons face-to-face and find a way to coexist, which Margaret never got the chance to do.

  3. How do you research for your books?

    I have a whole shelf of books about the U.S. war with Afghanistan that I collected to help me navigate Margaret’s story. And even though I’ve lived in Oakland, I had to consult my wife (who was born in the East Bay) about some local geography I wanted to keep intact. I did change some parts of the map where the story needed it. I also relied on my brilliant, talented teenage voice students for authentic dialog and fashion!

  4. Do you have a nervous habit when writing?  A guilty pleasure when writing?  

    Caffeine. Definitely caffeine. I wrote the first draft of Pretty Peg for NaNoWriMo, and it was All! Coffee! All! The! Time! I was working full-time in a stressful admin assistant job and I wrote early every morning and late every night for that one crazy month. Now I try to rely more on green tea for my writing binges. I also have a weird problem where I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I’m writing, not even in a language I don’t speak. I’m a singer, and I get too distracted by vocal music. I have a 3-hour playlist that’s mostly artists like Django Reinhardt, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Yo-Yo Ma – fantastic music that I could never play myself.

  5. Are there any LGBT charities or resources that are near and dear to you that you would like to give a shout out to?

    I’m really moved by the work of Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco. They work with homeless teens, many of whom are LGBTQ+. They’ve offered respect and the beginnings of stability to a lot of kids who had no place else to turn over the years.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    That you are gorgeous exactly the way you are! My main character, Josy, is plus-sized, and one of the lessons she learns is just how desirable she is. I heard Nomy Lamm say at a show once, “Fat and pretty go together like peanut butter and chocolate,” and that’s true!

Now Available from Skye Allen:

Pretty Peg High school senior Josy Grant already had plenty on her plate before she found the magic puppet theater her murdered sister left behind.  Despite Josy’s grief, the responsibility of taking care of her family falls to her, and being queer doesn’t make dealing with school any easier. Things only get worse when sexy new girl Nicky tells Josy her sister died at the hands of a mysterious figure from the Faerie Realm called the Woodcutter, and if they can’t stop him, Josy and her remaining sister will be next.

They have just days before the Woodcutter strikes again on the autumn equinox, so Josy follows Nicky into the Faerie Realm to hunt him. Along the way, she discovers Fey gifts of her own and answers to the questions that have driven the Grant family apart. Nothing comes for free when dealing with Fey, though, and those gifts and answers might come at a terrible price.

Pretty Peg Giveaway!

Skye Allen has generously donated a free copy of Pretty Peg for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on June 15th.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Amy Dunne

Amy Dunne was raised in Derbyshire, England. She attended Keele University and graduated in 2007 with a BSc in Philosophy and Psychology. After graduating she worked for a while with vulnerable young people. She is currently setting up her own speech writing business and concentrating on her writing. She is married to her beautiful wife, Lou. They have two gorgeous cats and a mischievous dog. 

Connect with Amy Dunne on Twitter @giftofthegaborg or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Amy Dunne:

  1. In what way is your story unique compared to other books in this genre?

    Secret Lies is unique in that it doesn’t shy away from the slightly darker issues that some young adults experience. I worked for a number of years with vulnerable young people and it really impacted on my life.

    Self-harm and abuse both play a pig part of in Jenny and Nicola’s lives. I wanted to raise awareness of these subjects but also give an insight that some people might not otherwise see. It was difficult getting the balance just right. In no way did I want to make either subject gratuitous, but I did also want to do them justice. I hope I’ve gotten the balance just right.

    The story also explores how Jenny and Nicola overcome these issues. That’s a really important part of the book. No matter how scary and dark things become, there’s always help and support available.

    I should probably point out that the story isn’t all doom and gloom. Far from it. The experience of first love is a wondrous thing. There’s laughter and drama all thrown in the mix.

  2. If you could travel back in time and tell the teenage you one thing, what would it be?

    “Amy, you’re a lesbian. Surprise!”

    Well, maybe I’d not say it in quite that way. Knowing my teenage self as I do, I wouldn’t have listened anyway. In my head I was still thinking about becoming a Catholic nun. My reasoning at the time was as follows: I’d watched Sister Act too many times, I didn’t have to go near guys, and I’d be locked away with a bunch of repressed women. Thank goodness I finally saw sense.

    What I’d really say to my teenage self is, “Everything’s going to be just fine. You’ve got some amazing things to look forward to and a few difficult times ahead as well. Just keep on being you and follow your heart. It’s worth it in the end.”

    What would my teenage self say in return? I imagine it’d be, “Err, okay. Thanks. Do I really put on that much weight?”

  3. Is there anything from your own teen years that has been placed into your books?

    Yes, there are a few things.

    Jenny confesses to watching Sister Act repeatedly as a child. I did that but took in one step further and genuinely considered becoming a nun.

    Jenny’s parents are Irish. Both sets of my grandparents are Irish and a lot of the mannerisms are the same. Such as: feeding large portions of home cooked food, the nosiness, the great sense of humor, and the closeness / importance of family.

    Home cooked food is important in Jenny’s family home. It was important in my family home too. Perhaps it’s the Irish in us, but we’ve always had lots of mash potato. I drive my wife crazy because it’s still one of my favorite foods and I insist we have it at least twice a week if not more.

    Nicola is an avid reader, (Like me) and for her coursework she’s reading, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This is one of the books I read and wrote an essay about when I was in college.

    Nicola isn’t a huge fan of drinking alcohol but in the end she quite likes cider. I drank cider occasionally as a teenager and I still drink it to this day.

  4. Which of your characters is most like you?

    Would it be cheating if I said both? Well, I’m going to say it anyway.

    Jenny is fiery and has a bit of a temper. She feels like no one really knows her and she’s terrified of being seen as different. Accepting her attraction to Nicola is a huge deal. She’s also incredibly caring and protective beneath the surly exterior.

    My teenage self was pretty much the same with the exception that I totally ignored my feelings for women and buried them deep down inside. I didn’t come to terms with my sexuality until I was in my mid twenties. So, I have huge respect for characters like Jenny and all of the young people who are brave enough to accept who they are at such an early age.

    Nicola is great at listening and is sensitive to other people’s emotions and feelings. She loves reading and devours one book after another. When she starts to think she might be gay she buys lots of lesbian themed books and DVDs online.

    I did this too. I spent a small fortune one night and then had to hide them all around my room so no one would find them. They opened my eyes to what life as a lesbian was really like and went on to help me accept who I was. I’ve also always been sensitive to other people’s emotions and feelings. My sister and mum are the same. Even today we still have people telling us their deepest darkest secrets. Thankfully, like Nicola, we’re all great at keeping secrets.

  5. Tell us about your cover design. Is there any symbolism from the story reflected in the cover?

    Bold Strokes Books has an incredibly talented graphic artist named Sheri. I was curious to see what she’d come up with. A number of varying designs were e-mailed to me and this one stood out among the others. It far exceeded my expectations. I love it as much today as I did when I first saw it. The girl on the front looks like how I described Jenny. The intense expression on her face, the tussled hair, and the interlinked fingers all show that she’s considering something serious. The jagged tear down the front suggests something dark and broken. The red text emphasizes the title and in conjunction with the image sets the mood perfectly for the story. It’s dark and gritty. Have I mentioned that I love it? Because I really do.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    Firstly, I’d like young readers to enjoy reading my novel. I hope they feel represented in the characters, story, and the emotions that are explored.

    When I was a young adult I remember reading everything I could get my hands on just to see if I could relate to the story and characters. More often than not, this wasn’t the case.

    This was the driving force behind writing Secret Lies. I wanted to give an honest portrayal of what life can be like for queer youth today without shying away from some of the serious issues. As a result the story is a little gritty and deals with some dark themes such as abuse and self-harm. It also explores the positives that come with experiencing first love, sexuality, and self-acceptance.

    I hope readers take solace from Jenny and Nicola’s story. No matter how dark and difficult life can seem, this won’t always be the case. For young people who are experiencing self-harm or abuse don’t be afraid to seek help. There are resources and support available. Never give up on yourself or your dreams. Never apologize for who you are and who you love. There’s a wealth of support, love, and incredible opportunities in the world, just waiting for you.

Now Available from Amy Dunne:

Secret Lies Would you face your biggest fear, to save the one you love?

Nicola Jackson escapes from her abuser, only to realize that she has no one to turn to and nowhere to go. In a twist of fate, she accidentally bumps into Jenny O’Connor, the most popular girl at school. They strike up an unlikely friendship. As their trust in each other develops, they share their darkest secrets, and their relationship blossoms into a secret romance.

Jenny loves Nicola, but she is fearful that if their secret relationship is discovered, she might lose her family, friends, and seemingly perfect life.

Nicola confronts her abuser and blackmails him to leave for good, but things go terrifyingly wrong. Jenny is left with a life-changing dilemma: should she face her fear and accept who she is, or let Nicola take the blame and pretend their relationship never happened?

Secret Lies Giveaway!

Amy Dunne has generously donated a free paperback copy of Secret Lies for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on June 8th.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

New Releases for June 2014

Featured New Releases:

Freak Camp by Jessica V. Barnett

Freak Camp by Jessica V. Barnett

self-published by author

Thirteen-year-old Celeste Jardine has one priority for the summer: to identify her source — earth, air, water, or fire. Only then can she register for one of the four public source schools and avoid being sent to Fluidity, the local private school for unidentified teens. Things explode the last day of school when Celeste learns that her perfect best friend, May, is going away to earth camp for eight weeks. To add insult to injury, Celeste's mom has decided to send her to summer camp at the very place she has been trying so hard to avoid ... Fluidity. Celeste resolves to try anything under the sun—or on the Internet—to get into source school in the fall. But, after rekindling a friendship with her estranged neighbor, Rainie, Celeste must confront startling new truths about who she is, who she loves, and where she wants to be when fall classes start..
Home for Wayward Ladies by Jeremy Blaustein

Home for Wayward Ladies by Jeremy Blaustein

Published by Dress Circle Publishing

When used correctly, friendship is the most powerful weapon known to man. Fresh out of Mackinaw Conservatory’s School of Theater, Eli, Hunter, and Nick have relocated to Manhattan’s Upper-Upper West Side bound by an oath that friendship shall conquer all. Amid bitchy brunches and failed one-night stands, these friends- as promising as they are promiscuous are on a quest to have their voices heard over the roar of the city.When they get a chance to work in summer stock, this “family” is forced to find out the hard way what it takes to become the ultimate anything: a somebody. Day jobs pay bills and hand jobs stroke the ego, but handling betrayal with grace is the best way to prove who is a true Lady. “The Home for Wayward Ladies made me laugh out loud, but with a lump in my throat for those funny, warm, real and delightful characters. They're your brother, your son and your friend and it's a treat to hang out with them and hear their very honest and smart voices. I wanted to adopt them all.” - Iris Rainer Dart (Beaches) "The Home for Wayward Ladies isn’t just funny. It’s laugh-out-loud, read-out-loud-to-your-friends, snort-a-cocktail-out-your-nose, lose-bladder-control kind of funny. A gem of a debut in the effervescent tradition of P.G. Wodehouse, Patrick Dennis and Armistead Maupin" - Marc Acito, (How I Paid for College) .
One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

Published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Why bother, when their home cooking is far superior to anything "these Americans" could come up with? Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshmen year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan. Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. When Ethan gets Alek to cut school and go to a Rufus Wainwright concert in New York City’s Central Park, Alek embarks on his first adventure outside the confines of his suburban New Jersey existence. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again. Michael Barakiva's One Man Guy is a romantic, moving, laugh-out-loud-funny story about what happens when one person cracks open your world and helps you see everything—and, most of all, yourself--like you never have before.
Pretty Peg by Skye Allen

Pretty Pegby Skye Allen

Published by Harmony Ink Press

High school senior Josy Grant already had plenty on her plate before she found the magic puppet theater her murdered sister left behind. Despite Josy’s grief, the responsibility of taking care of her family falls to her, and being queer doesn’t make dealing with school any easier. Things only get worse when sexy new girl Nicky tells Josy her sister died at the hands of a mysterious figure from the Faerie Realm called the Woodcutter, and if they can’t stop him, Josy and her remaining sister will be next. They have just days before the Woodcutter strikes again on the autumn equinox, so Josy follows Nicky into the Faerie Realm to hunt him. Along the way, she discovers Fey gifts of her own and answers to the questions that have driven the Grant family apart. Nothing comes for free when dealing with Fey, though, and those gifts and answers might come at a terrible price.
Shoulder Pads and Flannel by Jo Ramsey

Shoulder Pads and Flannel by Jo Ramsey

Published by Harmony Ink Press

High school football star Guillermo Garcia can count himself among the popular kids—for now. Although he secretly dates Evan Granger, who is openly gay and badly bullied for it, Guillermo doesn’t dare let his teammates, classmates, or close-knit family learn about his sexuality. But Guillermo witnessed an attack on Evan, and now the school bullies plan to out Guillermo in retaliation. In their small town, word spreads rapidly, so Guillermo must make a quick choice—come out now on his own or risk having someone else do it for him.
Sink or Swim by Zoe Lynne

Sink or Swim by Zoe Lynne

Self-published by author; FREE Read

When Jason's parents decide to the pull the plug on their marriage, Jason's father forces him to go to a camp that'll turn his son into a strapping young man and not some fairy like Jason's theatre camp does. He hates it there, but the cool kids love him. Thomas Carroll isn't one of the cool kids, not by any stretch of the imagination. He's a chunky boy with bright freckles and hair the color of a copper penny, but somehow, he manages to befriend the cute new boy at camp. Only, the cute new boy only acknowledges their friendship in private. One boy's fear of drowning and hunger to swim leads to an eye-opening experience, and one boy will admit to having feelings and attractions he never would've admitted to otherwise.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Andrew Demcak

Andrew Demcak is an award-winning poet and novelist whose work has been widely published and anthologized both in print and on-line, and whose books have been featured by The American Library Association, Verse Daily, The Lambda Literary Foundation, The Best American Poetry blog, The Nervous Breakdown, and Poets/Artists. His first Young Adult (YA) novel, GHOST SONGS, was published March 13, 2014 by Harmony Ink Press. His first literary novel, If There's A Heaven Above, was published January 5, 2013 by JMS Books. His fourth book of poetry, Night Chant, was published by Lethe Press, 2011. His other poetry books are: A Single Hurt Color, GOSS 183::Casa Menendez Press, 2010, Zero Summer, BlazeVOX [Books], NY, 2009 and his first poetry book, Catching Tigers in Red Weather, three candles press, 2007, that was selected by Joan Larkin to win the Three Candles Press Open Book Award. He was a 2010 Finalist for The Crazyhorse Poetry Award. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Lambda Award, Thom Gunn Poetry Award, both the California and Northern California Book Awards, Best of the Web, and others. He has an M. F. A. in English/Creative Writing from St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA. 

Connect with Andrew Demcak on Twitter @andrewdemcak or visit his website:

Q&A with Author Andrew Demcak:

  1. In what way is your story unique compared to other books in this genre?

    Ghost Songs is genre bending in two ways: first, it's a GLBTQ YA novel that’s not a romance. The lead character, Todd, doesn’t spend all his time pining over some boy or worrying about his sexuality. It’s a ghost story and not someone’s diary entries. The second way is: Ghost Songs, as M/M fiction, has extremely strong female characters. Todd’s best friend Jennifer, and Todd’s mother, Eddie, are not just decorations in the background – their stories are as important as Todd’s.

  2. What are your writing goals for the next five years?

    I’ve got two more unpublished novels finished: another GLBTQ YA novel, A Little Bit Langston, which is a speculative fiction coming out story (read: coming out = super powers) and my adult literary fiction, Limboville (it’s a farce about the most famous pulp fiction romance writer going through a divorce and cancer treatment – I know that doesn’t sound funny. But it is, as well as being very touching.) Plus I have two more completed poetry collections, Lazarus and The Excitable Gift, both ready to go. I am currently finishing my new poetry collection, Crytopedia, which is an encyclopedia of the weird and strange, all the prose poetry cut-up from Wikipedia articles.

  3. Do you believe in ghosts?

    Yes. I grew up in a haunted house. The ghost used to jingle keys down the hallways and come and sit on the edge of beds during the night. Creepy, but totally harmless. It was like the loop of an old film that kept playing.

  4. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?

    Ahhh, that’s the theme of my new GLBTQ YA novel, A Little Bit Langston. The lead character James always seems to give off a green spark of electricity when he touches his best friend Paul. I wonder what that could be all about?

  5. What other interests do you have outside of writing?

    Knitting, collection 20th century American art pottery (Love Grueby, Rookwood, and Rose Cabat’s work), jogging, hiking, camping with my partner Roland (he’s an ex-Marine and is into all that stuff, too)

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    The takeaway is a real sense that they are Okay as they are, and they do not have to do this alone. We are a large supportive community. Also, I like to think my books impart a kind of hope, or at least, a positive outlook, in spite of their heavy-duty subject matter.

Now Available from Andrew Demcak:

Ghost Songs It’s not easy being Todd Williams, a fourteen-and-a-half-year-old gay musical prodigy. The bullies, Bob and Ari, at his fancy private school make his life a living hell. Todd’s drunken, irresponsible mother, Eddie, constantly embarrasses him and puts his artistic future in jeopardy. And now, his best friend, Jennifer, who plays clarinet with him in the orchestra, isn’t speaking to him. Maybe Leroy, Todd’s friendly poltergeist, knows what’s going on with her. To top it off, he can no longer rely on Jennifer's help in the race to solve a puzzle that could lead to a buried treasure. Todd must learn to stand alone. He’s finding out that growing up is far scarier than he ever imagined.

If There’s a Heaven Above (18+) (Nominated by The American Library Association for its 2014 Rainbow Books List) "If There's A Heaven Above" takes the reader on a tour of the Southern California demi-monde Goth scene of the mid-1980s, as seen through the eyes of 18 year-old club-kid, Matt. Andrew Demcak combines innocence with experience, sex and drugs, Love and Rockets, with just the right touch of poetry. It is a thrilling ride along the freeways and turntables of that era: when AIDS was new, Reagan was King, and hope was a wounded kitten, cared for by the creatures of the night.

Ghost Songs and If There’s a Heaven Above Giveaway!

Andrew Demcak has generously donated a free copy of Ghost Songs and If There’s a Heaven Above for two lucky winners. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on June 1st.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Krissy Bells

Krissy Bells was born and raised in the Detroit metro area. A former school secretary, she now spends her days as a stay-at-home mom. She is passionate about her family and friends, her Dachshund named Harry, and anything topped with cheese or chocolate.

Q&A with Author Krissy Bells:

  1. If you could travel back in time and tell the teenage you one thing, what would it be?

    Not to worry so much about what other people think of me and to stand up for myself. I still have to remind myself of those things daily.

  2. Do you have a nervous habit when writing?  A guilty pleasure when writing?  

    Snacks are absolutely involved in all of my writing sessions. I’m a procrastinator for sure and unfortunately chocolate is the perfect stress reliever for me. At least until I realize, I’ve say, emptied an entire bag of Dove chocolates or as I like to affectionately refer to them, Dovies.

  3. Is there one genre of YA that you would love to write but haven’t?

    I totally hope I can write a fantasy novel one day. When books are able to take their reader to an entirely new world, I think it is truly amazing. Getting lost in a place filled with creatures and words and things that you have never even heard of before is a magical experience.

  4. What season do you like to write your stories in most or do you love writing in all of them and why?

    Fall is the perfect time to write. It is my favorite time of the year and always brings me my greatest inspiration.

  5. If there is one message you would like to get out from your book, what would it be?

    I hope that there are several that are present in the story of Aaron Garrett. More than anything I want readers to consider the ways in which their actions may unknowingly or even unintentionally affect others. I was inspired to write this story after the Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty controversy occurred. I was shocked to see the outpouring of social media support for such ludicrous statements. It made me want to put myself in the shoes of someone struggling with their sexuality on the other side, maybe having to see their loved ones post support for the comments. Especially with social media, it has become much easier to hurt others without even having to look at the other person or be accountable. Whether it is memes with racially insensitive jokes or pictures of scantily clad girls being passed around and promoted. I just wanted to remind people that there are individuals that those things affect and hurt. There is a gay teen somewhere that saw that stupid meme you posted with homophobic content or a girl struggling with her body image that is constantly seeing people like and share pictures of women with unattainable physiques. I think social media insensitivity is unfortunately a problem that will continue to impact our future generations.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    That acceptance and love are the most amazing of gifts.

Now Available from Krissy Bells:

Fag Aaron Garrett is many things in life: he is a son, a friend, a student, and caring boyfriend to his lovely girlfriend Leigh Ann. In these roles, he is kind, hardworking, smart, loving, dedicated, and considerate. At Jefferson High School, he is a leader, a football star, and well-respected by his peers. Aaron’s life is perfectly on track, he is pursuing a college scholarship and hopeful for the future, except for just one thing: Aaron Garrett is gay. When a former child star from Aaron’s small Southern town saturates the national media after making homophobic comments, Aaron’s life is turned upside down as supporters rally around the sentiments. Social media attention begins to swell nationally and locally until it begins to eat away at every part of Aaron’s existence.

Fag Giveaway!

Krissy Bells has generously donated a free copy of Fag for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on May 25th.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Alex Norris

Alex Norris
Alex Norris is an author and undergraduate at the University of Cambridge.

Connect with Alex Norris on Twitter @AlexSNorris or visit his website:

Q&A with Author Alex Norris:

  1. What part of the story was the most fun to write? The most challenging?

    I always enjoy writing no matter which part of the book I’m focused on, but there were certainly parts of this story that were harder to write than others. Anyone who has read the novel will know that it contains some fairly gritty scenes and some rather unpleasant events and these were, at times, very hard for me to write about. On one hand, I was keen to portray the events in the book in as realistic a way as possible, but on the other, I was cautious not to stray into giving overly explicit descriptions. There were times when I was unsure of how much sexual detail would be appropriate for certain scenes, but ultimately I think I struck a fairly good balance.

  2. What are your writing goals for the next five years?

    Ideally, I’d like to release a new book every year. At the moment I’m sticking to that goal and am planning to release my second novel this summer. As I’m currently in my final year at university though, the future is a little uncertain at the moment. I don’t know where I’ll be in a year’s time or what I’ll be doing, but whatever it is, I will certainly make sure I have plenty of time for writing.

  3. Which of your characters is most like you?

    My main character, Lewis, is based very heavily on myself. At first I was cautious of creating a protagonist based on so many aspects of my own personality, mostly because I worried people would take the story as a memoir rather than a work of fiction. However in the end, I decided that the most important thing for me was to include a strong sense of realism. I decided that by drawing from my own emotions and experiences (some of Lewis’ memories are almost indistinguishable from my own), I would be able to create a character that was both convincing and relatable.

  4. Is there anything from your own teen years that has been placed into your books?

    I put lots of myself into my writing purely because I want to write realistic fiction that is heavily based on real life. Throughout the entire novel you can find references to popular culture taken straight from real life as well as the odd episode that I have loosely adapted from my own experiences. I find it’s very easy to fall into clichés when writing about certain themes and so I try to depend on my own experiences as much as possible. At one point of the book, Lewis is dogged by memories of a boy he was infatuated with, but who let him down. The whole episode is taken more or less word-for-word from my own experience. It is quite cathartic to talk about such difficult experiences through the prism of fiction – it gives you some distance from the events and lets you assess them objectively. Ultimately though, the aspects of my own life that are in the book are not necessarily specific to me, but are experiences and emotions that most people will have gone through, or will go through, at some point. I hope that people will be able to relate to what I write, and understand that much of it doesn’t come from imagination, but from memory.

  5. How do you research your books?

    Before I started writing this book I was wary of tackling such difficult issues as homelessness and prostitution. I was therefore very keen to do some good research so I could write about these themes convincingly. I volunteered with a local organisation that feeds people without homes or on low incomes, and it was my experiences there that inspired much of the story. I also talked to shelters about the problems facing homeless people and made sure I did abundant research online.

For the sexual aspect, my inspiration simply came from the slew of messages that I, as well as a lot of gay men with an online presence, receive from people soliciting for sex. I thought it would be interesting to ask what would happen if I was ever to accept such an offer. Although I never went as far as meeting any of these men, I was fortunate enough to talk to people who had met with men in exchange for money. Their experiences helped me get an idea of what it’s like to have sex for money, outside of the clichés we are often subjected to in films and on TV.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    I would like to change the way all people, regardless of age, view homelessness. So often we encounter homeless people, especially in big cities, but think of them as little more than inconvenient distractions from our own comfortable lives. I would like to think that after reading the book, people will reassess the attitudes they have towards people who have fallen on difficult times. 

    In terms of sexuality, I would like young readers to appreciate the fact that in the case of the novel’s protagonist, his being gay is very much a non-issue. Unlike a lot of LGBT literature, this is not a coming out story. This is a story of a young, gay student whose sexuality does not define him or dictate his experiences of university. It does, however, provide him with a unique idea of how his status as a young, gay man might help him raise money for his new homeless friends.

Now Available from Alex Norris:

Angel Cambridge University isn't everything Lewis wanted it to be. Still hung up on a lost love affair from the past and surrounded by friends he loves and loathes in equal measure, Lewis' life takes a dramatic turn after a chance encounter with homeless Rosie. Desperately seeking meaning among the vacuous student lifestyle, Lewis embarks on a quest to help those without homes and without voices.

Through a string of secret and sordid affairs with strange men he meets online, Lewis tries to raise money for his new homeless friends. Along the way he'll encounter a transvestite with the lips of Brigitte Bardot, a gorgeous French traveler, and a slew of lonely men willing to pay for satisfaction.

But as Lewis delves further into the depraved, secret life of Cambridge's backstreets, his faith in humanity and hope for his own future decline rapidly. How low is he willing to sink to make some cash?

Angel Giveaway!

Alex Norris has generously donated a free copy of Angel for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on May 19th.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New Releases for May 2014

Featured New Releases:

Chasing My Dream

Chasing My Dream by Jeff Erno

Published by Top 2 Bottom Bookstore

Sixteen year old Nash Adams feels like the token gay guy in his small, northern Michigan high school. When his boyfriend dumps him on the very night they're supposed to go to the carnival together, Nash wonders if he'll ever find the guy of his dreams. Later that night, beneath a full moon, Nash gazes into the midnight sky and sees a shooting star. At the urging of his best friend Cala, he halfheartedly makes a wish. A few miles away, Caleb Cummings lies on the beach staring up at the sky when he notices a star that seems to be moving. He makes a wish of his own. When Nash and Caleb fall asleep that night, they wake up together. Though at first confused, it doesn't take long to figure out what has happened. They've entered each other's dreams. Initially they're each convinced the other is a figment of their imagination, but when the phenomena continues to occur, night after night, Nash wonders if there might be a way to find Caleb in real life. It shouldn't be difficult to find someone in this modern, technological age. But as he begins his search, he faces numerous frustrating obstacles. Eventually he has to decide if it is even worth the effort to keep searching for an imaginary friend. Maybe he should give up on his dream guy and look for someone in the real world..
Angles and Curves

Angles and Curvesby George Berger

Published by Queerteen Press

Steve is a student at a rural Montana high school who is taking twelfth grade for the second time. There he meets Heather and Gretchen, two elves in a relationship who are outcasts just like him. Though elvish kingdoms are formally recognized by the federal government, the Supreme Court doesn’t see elves as human, so they don’t benefit from the same basic rights that others do. Steve is transgendered, and can empathize with the elves’ plight. Friendships are forged between him and the elves when they realize all three have had problems with a bully named Melvin and the jocks at school, who are known to sexually assault elves. Despite his age, Steve lives alone, and has to produce a “parent” for parent/teacher day. He enlists the help of his elvish friends to hire an adult, but their scheme backfires when they’re caught soliciting an undercover policewoman named Sara Raimi. However, with their newfound connection to Sara, they look to find a way to catch Melvin and his cohorts. Angles and Curves is a fresh and enticing story about racism, sexism, and sexuality, and what it means to be human after all..
For a Price

For a Price by Hallie Burton

Published by Harmony Ink

At seventeen, Charles “Trey” Maddox Taft III has had better years. His father ran off with a younger woman, and with no alimony or child support, his family has to move from affluent Coconut Grove to a rough neighborhood near Miami’s Little Havana. It’s a completely different world, but Trey is determined to make the best of a bad situation, if only no one finds out he’s gay. On Trey’s first day in his new territory, he’s saved from being run over by local bad boy Bobby Cruz. Bobby is an unabashedly gay, sexually active high school senior who’s tired of one-night stands. After meeting preppie Trey, Bobby decides to try something new. Things go well at first, but being in a relationship is tricky and might take more work than either wants to do..
Grave's End

Grave's Endby Hayden Thorne

Published by Queerteen Press

It isn’t business as usual for Maelwine when a new family moves into Grave’s End House. With the old, great house standing untenanted for quite some time, being a house shade attached to it has turned the hours dull for Maelwine. He has no family to entertain him, no variations in his daily duty, which involves the rousing of shadows in every room when the sun goes down. Things change when the Villar family arrive, however, and Maelwine is finally happily caught up in the comings and goings at Grave’s End. That is, until he notices Royden Villar, a young boy with a secret that depresses his spirits and touches Maelwine in surprising and alarming ways. The more Maelwine studies Royden’s behavior, the more he glimpses the other boy’s heart, and, suddenly, new paths reveal themselves to Maelwine -- paths that are as muddy as they are dangerous. As a house shade, Maelwine is immortal and enjoys certain benefits that can only come with immortality. Not once has he questioned his situation. It is, after all, as Nature has always intended. But with Royden’s arrival, Maelwine’s forced to face difficult answers to unsettling questions about the nature of his existence. He’s only a house shade, after all, and nothing more. He doesn’t have a heart, doesn’t feel loneliness in the shadows of his world. Things should be easy, but Royden Villar has set certain wheels in motion, and there’s simply no turning back..
Little Black Dress

The Little Black Dressby Linda Palund

Published by Harmony Ink

Carmen is the most beautiful and desirable girl Lucy has ever known, and when Carmen is savagely murdered, Lucy’s teenage life crumbles. She is devastated by the loss of her first love, and when it appears the killers might never be found, she vows to solve the murder herself. Together with her best friend Seth, who is not only a master computer hacker but also the son of LA’s new Chief of Homicide, they gain access to the gruesome autopsy reports. They learn the true extent of the horror inflicted on Carmen, and Lucy gets closer to understanding the secret behind Carmen’s little black dress. After another beautiful girl is murdered, they uncover the brutality lurking within the corridors of their privileged Los Angeles high school. They put their lives on the line to come face to face with the murderer himself..
This Is Not a Love Story

This Is Not a Love Story by Suki Fleet

Published by Harmony Ink

When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him. Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough. This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy).