Friday, May 13, 2011

Author David Ferraro on Gay Teen Paranormal Romance

Today my guest is David Ferraro.  He's written a Gay Teen parnormal romance called Twice Bitten.  I'm very interested in promoting diversity in speculative fiction.  Several of my Immortyl Revolution characters are gay or bisexual.  When David and I talked about his post topic, I suggested he share information on his book and tell us a little about his genre.  So, here's David!  Enjoy.

Teen books have exploded in recent years, thanks in part to Stephenie Meyer’s "Twilight Saga," and the titles available for a teen audience have slowly become more varied. When I was reading young adult books sixteen years ago, the genre was very new and consisted mostly of "Teen Fiction" and "Teen Thrillers," which were mostly slasher novels. Things have come a long way since then, fantasy and paranormal romances booming and becoming quite the presence in teen literature.

There are few taboos left in teen fiction that haven’t been touched upon, from drugs to sex, and even incest quite early on in V.C. Andrews’ "Flowers In the Attic" from 1979 (before young adult literature was really even recognized as such). You would be hard-pressed to find something that teens can’t really handle in today’s market, yet gay novels moving into the realm of the teen paranormal romance genre seemed to take a while to happen. The thing about teen fiction is that it’s the perfect place to tell stories about coming out and discovering who you are. Teenage years are formative years, and a teen audience is sure to gravitate toward books that reflect what’s happening in their own lives. We’ve seem a variety of excellent books on gay teenagers from authors like Alex Sanchez and Peter Cameron over the past decade, but gay characters haven’t really moved into the realm of fantasy in young adult books until the past few years. Gay characters had certainly made appearances in teen paranormal romances, such as Cassandra Clare’s "Mortal Instruments" series, but as the lead character, it was basically unheard of.

In adult literature, there seems to have been little hesitation for gay characters to star in paranormal romances. They’re out there in droves. But even straight paranormal romances took awhile to make their way to teen books. You would find paranormal romances in the adult science fiction section of bookstores, like with Laurel K. Hamilton’s "Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter" series. Only a handful of titles, like L.J. Smith’s fairly wholesome "The Vampire Diaries" were shelved alongside other teen titles. Recently, a slew of racier teen books like P.C. Cast’s "House of Night" have paved the way for a category that’s all but exploded in recent years, and sex is becoming an ever-growing presence in young adult fiction, even in fantasy titles. And now sexual orientation is slowly becoming part of the equation, with gay characters making the leap from the sort of coming out stories we’ve seen in the past, to star in the books of a booming genre. I’m frankly surprised that so few have been released yet. Certainly if sexuality is addressed in more realistic fiction, gay teens must be ready to see themselves reflected in other genres that they love, especially if the fan fiction devoted to romances between popular characters like Edward and Jacob, or even Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, are any indication. This is in part why I decided to write "Twice Bitten," a gay teen paranormal romance about a teen celebrity caught between the love of a vampire and a werewolf. This past year has actually seen a few gay teen paranormal romances trickle out: Michael Griffo’s recent vampire title "Unnatural," and Brent Hartinger’s book about astral projection, "Shadow Walkers," come to mind. And there have been a few that have been released in the past few years before them as well. Gay teens need more of a voice, and not just when it comes to the usual coming out stories that there are plenty of out there. I even made a conscious effort to write a book about a character who has already come out, and address the fact that he’s gay very little, instead going forward with the mindset that he’s a teen celebrity who happens to be gay, instead of a gay character who is a celebrity.

It might be that publishers didn’t think that audiences were ready for gay teen paranormal romances until recently. Even now, there are issues with Amazon taking down yaoi (manga featuring romances between two boys, mostly marketed toward women) content from their digital bookstore, while leaving boy-girl manga with sexual content mostly untouched. When it comes to teenagers, sex can be a touchy subject, but sexual orientation doesn’t mean that it’s a book about sex. And a book with a gay protagonist doesn’t necessarily need to be about sexual orientation. I would like to see more books out there in a wider variety of genres featuring gay protagonists.

Link to the first two chapters of "Twice Bitten," through David's blog:

                                                                        Twice Bitten

Jesse Hartwick is a teen celebrity, recently out of the closet, and just beginning to take off as the next big thing in Hollywood. Distanced from his only family, Jesse puts his all into his career, leading a lonely life in the spotlight.
Everything changes one day when he meets Kurt, a cute mysterious stranger who saves him from a mob of fans, beginning a romance that will change things forever, but is Jesse's celebrity status the only thing that Kurt is interested in?
When Lane comes into the picture, it just confuses Jesse more, but he can hardly deny the strong feelings he has for him, especially since he didn't even know that Jesse was a celebrity when he met him, making him all the more appealing.
Shortly after meeting these two men after his heart, Jesse is attacked by a werewolf, then saved from certain death by a vampire, changing him into something altogether new. With his new abilities, he doesn't know who he can trust, let alone how to balance the spotlight with this aspect of himself that he must hide. But in the end, he must decide between the warring factions within: Vampire or werewolf? Kurt or Lane?

A very big thanks to David for visiting today!  Please leave him a comment or question.

If you'd like to enter to win a Cara Mia t-shirt, scroll down to either of my "Cedric Speaks" posts and leave a comment. I will be holding the drawing on 11 PM, May 31st.

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