Deep Secrets and Hope

A few years ago, I sat down to write a book about Evan Granger, a sixteen-year-old boy who wanted to be a drag queen. The character was inspired by one of my older daughter’s best friends, and the story, which involved not only the boy pursuing his dreams but also him triumphing over bullies and finding love, was one I really wanted to write. That became my novel Nail Polish and Feathers.

It was rejected by the first publisher I sent it to, after the editor who requested it during a Twitter pitch party left his position due to health issues. But a new young adult imprint, Harmony Ink Press, had just come along. I’d spoken with people involved with Harmony Ink at the GayRomLit convention in 2012, and I was impressed with their vision for the imprint and with their marketing and promotions plan, so I decided to send them Nail Polish and Feathers.

They accepted it. And people read and liked it. I was told by more than one reader that I should write a sequel, so I did, from the point of view of Evan’s boyfriend Guillermo Garcia. That was also accepted.

After that, I knew which book I wanted to write next. Jim Frankel, the bully who treated Evan the worst and who was behind a plot to “out” Guillermo, had a backstory I wanted to explore further. The problem was that in addition to Jim’s bullying, he had done something unforgivable to Chastaine Rollo, a secondary character in the first two books. I didn’t know whether Harmony Ink would allow me to write his story, but I pitched it to them.

They gave me the go-ahead, but they wanted Chastaine’s story first because they needed more books about girls. As I wrote Chastaine’s story, I realized I needed her girlfriend Holly’s side as well, meaning an additional book between Chastaine’s and Jim’s. And since I seemed to be working in pairs, I would need a book after Jim’s to mirror his side of the story.

I hadn’t planned to write a series when I sat down to tell Evan’s story, but that’s what ended up happening. At this point, the only book that isn’t yet available is Ball Caps and Khakis, which is the mirror to Jim’s story and features the main character Man-Shik Park, a boy who has developed feelings for Jim despite Jim’s past. Manny’s book will be out in February 2016.