I’m madly obsessed with Hanya Yangihara’s A Little Life. It’s one of the saddest, but most compelling, books I’ve ever read. Everything is turned up to eleven, making you feel closer to these four men.
Fanfiction Spun into Gold
My newest fantasy novel started out as fan-fiction.
Yes, I went that far into my obsession, writing about these characters, trying to create happier lives for Jude and Willem–a world where there would be no untimely death, a place where Jude would be able to connect on a physical, sexual level with his boyfriend. He would have been adopted much earlier in my version of the tale by Harold and Julia. There would be no child prostitution, there would be no childhood rape. I toyed with the idea of keeping Caleb, although I thought that I’d introduce him as a bad first relationship of Jude’s in college. This way, I thought, Jude could heal through his relationship with Willem.
I’ve personally healed through my current relationship with my boyfriend, so in a sense I kind of knew what I wanted to do by keeping Caleb in the narrative. My boyfriend Rory has fixed the stigma of my own trauma from past relationships with men who were not good fits for me, men who were not particularly good to me.
As a writer, I like to push my boundaries. For example, I am a woman, and yet I find myself drawn to writing about male characters. This has been my creative preference for as long as I can remember.
Yes, I’m a feminist. Yes, I believe that women’s voices need to be heard as much as men’s, if not moreso, on the page and in the classroom.
But, I’m drawn to men. I find their culture and their minds interesting. Men can be just as unpredictable as women. Men can have mental health issues and suffer from mental health stigmas. Men can cry, and can show more emotion than just stereotypical anger, or a general okay-ness. Men are just as susceptible to being cast aside as women because of how they are policed for their emotionless demeanor.
I’m not saying that I am sexist. I’m trying to say that men are judged in our society for showing emotion, especially for being emotive, whereas it’s more socially acceptable for women to be more emotional. There are many double standards, and this is just one of them that both women and men experience. Men suffer from emotional stigmas as often as women.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men died by suicide at a rate of 3.54 percent higher than women in 2017.Why Many Men Have a Harder Time Seeking Treatment for Mental Illness
It’s important to amplify and help men get the mental health resources that they need, because it’s killing them. In the article “Why Many Men Have a Harder Time Seeking Treatment for Mental Illness”, depression and suicide is one of the leading causes of death among men, and yet they are far less likely to seek the mental health treatments they need.
In my fantasy novel, my main character suffers from flashbacks and trauma due to his unhealthy first boyfriend. This stems from my own experiences with cohesion into doing something I didn’t want to do with my own first college boyfriend. (He was in his late twenties, I was nineteen. Already that comes across as a potential red flag to me. He also had a poor track record with girlfriends, and had poor mental health.)
In my own way, I draw from my own experience with past boyfriends–particularly my first boyfriend–as well as the trauma that Jude deals with in A Little Life. His trauma and life was much more extreme; he never learned how to talk about his trauma or his experiences. After a while, he didn’t want to try, until Willem gave him an ultimatum.
A Prince with a Past
Prince Judeaus (Jude for short) is a young man who has lived in a castle all his life. Despite have staff that serve him, despite his cushy lifestyle, he longs for adventure. He craves a loving, honest relationship. His story is one of an adventure, coming of age, and revenge–but not in the way I originally planned.
When a traveling caravan shows up, he ends up developing an unlikely relationship with Desmond, the adopted son of his aunt and uncle. With magic, a romantic subplot, a shady magician, and an jealous ex-boyfriend, I’m sure that this novel will be my best yet.
A huge shout out to my sister, Abbie, who will be drawing the map for my fantasy world. She’s an excellent budding artist. (You should totally go follow abbiecb321 on Instagram!) While she doesn’t post the creations that she paints and draws, I’ll keep pestering her because I love her artistry. She deserves to be recognized for her artwork, even if she will sometimes copy stuff off of Pintrist for practice.
What inspires you as a writer?