I'd like to start off with a big thanks for having me on the blog today to promote the release of my first Young Adult novel, Hideous. I jokingly pitch it as "a sweet little book about a boy and his demon." The more accurate version is: a twisted tale of a boy whose demon-possessed father severed off one of his hands and gouged out one of his eyes. Years later, the demon returns to possess him.
My protagonist, Luke, is a young, gay man. He bears the mark of the demon that possessed his father. Those who bear a demon's mark are forced to work for the state so they can be monitored, as they're more likely than most to become possessed themselves. Luke works at an all-boys high school, where he has to watch all the other boys getting to go on dates and to school dances. Being gay, this is what much of high school felt like for me. I was an outsider. I could watch all the other guys go on dates and to the dances with their girlfriends, but how did I fit into that system? At the time, I harbored a lot of self-hate and anger about the attraction I felt for guys, and it didn't feel fair that I didn't get to walk along the easy path that everyone else seemed to have carved out for them. If I felt attracted to a guy, I didn't get eager and excited. I got worried and fearful. What had I done wrong? Was this a punishment from God? Surely, it had to have been. Otherwise, there wouldn't have been such severe stigmas around it.
It was more than just what I felt around my peers, though. The absence of gay representations in media seemed to indicate that, not only was it abnormal to be gay, but it was something that people didn't want to look at. I gradually came to believe that being gay meant that I didn't matter to the rest of the world and that somehow being out about my sexuality would mean I was agreeing to be shunned and ignored--which was something I desperately feared. I kept my secret through high school. In fact, I didn't even start acting on my attraction to guys until I was twenty. This certainly isn't as long as it is for some people, but it was a long time to bottle up emotions and denial, and it took a toll on me emotionally. Fortunately, I discovered some great people who supported me as I started accepting who I really am, and for that, I'm so appreciative.
Looking back, I realize it didn't help that there were no gay role models I could look to--nothing to help me with coming to terms with my sexuality as a teenager. I'm glad to say that isn't the case today. Teenagers have more access to gay heroes and gay representations than ever before, and it's a great step in the right direction, because it's a smoke signal--an indication that "Hey, you're not alone, and we can get through this together." When I wrote Hideous, I wanted to create a story about a young, gay man who felt the sort of lonely isolation that so many of us push through in our formative years. I wanted to be able to reach out to someone who experienced something similar to let them know we're all going to get through this together. And fortunately, gay heroes in YA stories just keep coming. Publishing companies are becoming more and more accepting of gay characters, and I think we're going to see a big shift in the next few years. Of course, it’s not just gay men who aren’t being represented. The entire spectrum of the LGBT community isn’t getting the attention that it deserves, and this needs to change.
Publication date: June 19th 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Eight years ago, Luke Retter witnessed the brutal murder of his mother and sister at the hands of his demon-possessed father. He survived but lost a hand and an eye. The demon also burned its emblem into his skin, marking him as a cursed. Those who bear this mark are at risk of becoming possessed themselves, so they are monitored and enslaved by the state-run UCIS. Working as a slave is hard, but Luke prefers it to the possibility of being controlled by a demon.
One night, Luke wakes to find his worst nightmare coming true. His father’s demon has returned. In a panic, he runs to the only person who might be able to help: Zack, a cursed who ran away from the state and created an underground community to protect other fugitive curseds. Zack helps him suppress the demon. But the city’s become a time bomb, and Luke’s demon itches to escape.
With the UCIS closing in on Zack’s underground operation and Luke’s demon crafting its own, nefarious plot, Luke realizes that he must take a stand.