Today, YA author Terry Trueman is stopping by the blog to talk about his LGBTQ YA novel, 7 Days at the Hot Corner.
My fifth novel, 7 DAYS AT THE HOT CORNER (7D), published in 2005, tells the story of a homophobic 3rd baseman on a high school baseball team and his friendship, since the 2nd grade, with his best friend who has recently been booted out of his parents' home . . . for being gay. Hopefully we have come far enough since 2005 when I published this story to where the prevalence of such occurrences is much less. But I'd submit that gay kids in some families, in some communities still face this kind of fear and intimidation and prejudice. Things have changed a lot since 2005, but we're not finished yet. We have work left to do.
What few people know is that I started writing the story that became 7D the very same day, in January 1997 on which I began writing my much better known, Printz Honor winning novel STUCK IN NEUTRAL. This is not an exaggeration. I sat down one morning, six months behind on my mortgage payments and deeply in debt, and decided I'd take one last shot at the whole writing game. I didn't know which of these two stories I wanted to pursue, the homophobic baseball piece wherein the homophobe learns the error of his thinking, or something inspired by my son Sheehan's profound developmental disability--I ended up, after a couple hours work, going for the latter story first, with every intention of returning to the 7D novel. It took me three intervening novels and six years to get back to 7D, but the first several pages of the novel are the same as they had been years before.
Again, things have changed greatly in the last few years. I live in one of the dozen states where gay marriage is now a right. I'm happy to see my many gay friends able to be more fully themselves, living open and happy lives than they might have once felt safe doing. I feel proud of my country and especially my state of Washington for the progress we've made towards full inclusion of our LGBTQ friends into the larger society. Of course, there is much left to be done, much left to accomplish.
In an essay written for a book about Mark Twain, writer Russell Banks asserts that literature never changes things from the center out, but from the edges moving in. Twain's Huck Finn, with its seminal moment where Huck recognizes the slave Jim's humanity and asserts a willingness to 'go to hell' rather than betray Jim is arguably the single moment that made Mark Twain an immortal of American literature and a presence of moral authority for all time. If my little book 7D played any role, or may in the future play any role in advancing an understanding of the necessity of our continuing to struggle towards full acceptance of one another, perhaps helping to defeat homophobia in the same way that Twain's Huck Finn helped defeat racism, I'll have achieved more than I ever dreamed I could achieve, that cold January morning when I first sat down to tell that story.
Thank you, Terry, for such an awesome guest post! Be sure to check out Terry's website and 7 Days at the Hot Corner!