Hey, I can share this full review because I found it online. Check it!
I had the pleasure of attending TeenReaderCon this past weekend, for what is now my third year in a row. It was another phenomenal year of bringing together authors with their audience in a way that simply did not exist when I was a teen. And the teens completely dig the event, which is why I jumped onto the stage for my introduction, and then proceeded to climb things during my presentations, sign foreheads, forearms, and shoes. I tried to provide the kind of energy these kids deserve for showing up on a miserable October day to hang out with us.
One of the highlights for me, beyond this strange tradition I now have of signing foreheads and such, was talking about Look Past. During my presentation, I talk about how I became an author and then about my books, and there’s a lot of laughter and self-deprecation when I discuss Tap Out, Dare Me, and Press Play. Not so much with Look Past.
Both times the room went from what felt like a stand up set, to absolute quiet. The teens and the adults in the room really wanted to hear about this story and how and why I came to it. I was intrigued by how much more open and willing they were to discuss LGBTQ issues. Say what you will about this generation, but at least the teens in attendance this weekend have big hearts and open minds.
I even had an offer from a teen to create a trailer for Look Past and then teens who reached out via Instagram, who finished the novel this weekend, and promised to offer a review on Amazon. That kind of engagement is just unreal and so awesome and I am thrilled to be a part of that energy.
So, thank you to everyone who attended my presentations, bought a books or books, had me sign anything, and just for being all around fantastic people. And a huge thank you goes out to everyone behind the scenes at TeenReaderCon who worked so hard to make the day a success. It was. I’m already looking forward to next year. Thank you.
I’ve been waiting for this day for quite some time, and yet Pub days are a little strange. Look Past is out in the world, which is exciting, but it’s also scary as hell. My story is now under scrutiny and there’s nothing I can do about it but hope people enjoy and share it with others.
However, I also know that many people read a novel and don’t flip past that last page to the acknowledgement section. That’s a bad move. Always read the acknowledgments. You might find out something interesting about the story or the process or the author. Writing books takes a long and the acknowledgements section is the one place an author doesn’t have to get editorial approval 🙂 So, in a preemptive move, I’m going to give you the acknowledgements section for Look Past below. Feel free to read it ahead of time, because without you, there are no books. Readers deserve to be acknowledged. Enjoy.
Also, don’t forget about the Look Past Giveaway
Writing Look Past took place over a three-year span. Along the way people consistently asked why. They wanted to know why I wanted to write a transgender main character. They wanted to know how this was something close to my heart. They wanted to understand why a cisgender guy wanted to explore this topic.
I find it unnerving that no one was concerned that I was researching and writing about murder.
Here’s the answer: I have a boundless interest in humanity. I am intrigued by all facets of life, especially for contemporary teens, who live in a world that evolves at a rate that would shock and amaze Darwin. Additionally, I have connections to transgender individuals. I have watched the struggle for some, who are searching for ways to be who they are, to live life, to fall in love. Bias is real. Outright prejudice is a legitimate danger. Therefore, I think the better question is not why I chose, but rather, why I wouldn’t.
Fortunately, I have had enormous help in connecting with the transgender community. The author Brian Katcher deserves so much of my thanks. He introduced me to phenomenal people like Ethan Hart, who reviewed my work twice and spoke with others in the transgender community about it. My colleague, Jacqueline Grassmann, introduced me to her fantastic cousin, Christian Swomley, who over beers and later through emails, shared with me his story of his transition. As of the publication date, he will be a happily married man. Congrats, and thanks again, Christian. Thanks are also due to Arin Andrews, who I had the pleasure of hearing speak about Some Assembly Required at ALAN. I knew I wanted him to read my work, and fortunately it was good enough that he provided his blurb.
And there are so many other people I have to thank, who never knew we connected. My hours of reading through blog posts and message boards, mining the everyday battles, as well as the heart of the struggle, through words left on the internet, were some of the most enlightening moments for me. There is so much pain. Which makes me think there needs to be so much more humanity to combat it.
Avery Chase’s story is about his transition at the stage where he is. This is not a depiction for how all transgender teens transition. Every path is unique, but I’ve tried to express the universal struggles that are so prevalent.
Once again, I have the great fortune of thanking Kate McKean for her work on this project. It was no easy task. She has the untenable position of seeing my work at its most ugly and then offering suggestions about how it can be improved. The final draft of this manuscript is a testament to how much she now lives in my head while I write. My thanks, as always.
Unfortunately, through this process I lost my partner in crime, Lisa Cheng. She saw me through the early stages, but then followed her own career path in a new direction. Her hand has still left its mark on this work, and I owe her a great debt not only for the time we spent on this manuscript, but for working with me when I was a brand spanking new author.
Fortunately, Andrea Cascardi filled Lisa’s role and our pairing was a natural fit. Thank you Andrea for your keen eye, excellent insight, and precision to the task of storytelling.
Carrie, my wife. This has been the worst year for you, and yet you’ve never wavered in your support of me. How did I get so lucky? Thank you, over and over, for trusting and for caring. This is a talent I’ve honed, but you are the one who supports its growth.
My daughters, Grace and Kaygan. I hope that when you read this story the teenage world in which you will be a part of is even more accepting, even more compassionate, as I already know the two of you are.
To my family, who is so supportive–especially this past year–who never asks the questions everyone else wants answers to, and simply waits patiently as my books and my career roll out, my endless thanks.
Mark Ayotte. Thank you for reading this story in its early stages and seeing the prospect within. So long as you love watching the transformation in my work, I’ll keep supplying you with the first look.
To my friends, who wonder what goes on inside my head, but who are smart enough to just leave me be, thank you for a level of acceptance most people are never afforded.
And thanks to my fellow authors and booksellers and bloggers and everyone else in this community. All of life is a story. Thank you for helping to foster mine.
I’m celebrating the release of Look Past with a week-long giveaway. Enter by using the link to the Gleam giveaway below. There will be five winners and each gets a personalized and signed hardcover of Look Past. Get in on it, and share the news with friends!