This week marks the release of what is currently planned to be the final book in my Deep Secrets and Hope series from Harmony Ink Press. I say “currently planned” because about two and a half years ago, when the first book of the series came out, there was no series planned. People read that first book, Nail Polish and Feathers, and asked for more. And so it expanded from there.
The series definitely has its dark points, and one of the darkest is the plot arc concerning Jim Frankel. Introduced in the first book as a bully, Jim was revealed at the end of the second book to have done even worse. Book five, Work Boots and Tees, is Jim’s story from his own point of view.
That novel has elicited its share of controversy and comments. Some people hate the character; some are sympathetic to him. Not to mention what some readers have said about me, not realizing, perhaps, that the beliefs and opinions of my characters don’t necessarily reflect my own. If I only wrote about people I agree with, who believe only the things I do, my books would be pretty boring.
Ball Caps and Khakis takes place following the events of Work Boots and Tees, and is told from the point of view of Man-Shik Park, or Manny, the boy who tries to become Jim’s friend after Jim is “exiled” to live with his cousin in Michigan. Knowing what Jim did back home in Massachusetts, Manny is cautious about him, but he also believes Jim, like almost anyone else, deserves a chance at redemption. And he defends Jim, even when he isn’t sure he should.
Manny is also asexual and homoromantic, meaning that although he doesn’t experience sexual attraction to anyone, he does experience romantic feelings toward other guys. While much of Ball Caps and Khakis is devoted to Manny’s perspective on Jim’s struggles, some is also about Manny accepting his own orientations and trying to explain them to his parents.
The official release day for Ball Caps and Khakis is this Thursday, February 25, but some advance ratings and reviews have already popped up on Goodreads. And it looks like readers are going to have some pretty strong reactions to this one just as they did to Work Boots and Tees. We’ll see.