One of the core themes in my writing has been the value of friendship. You’ve seen it in Founder’s Mercy with Adan and Bo, two ride-or-die compatriots who’ve got each other’s backs no matter what. The cornerstone of their relationship is their mutual understanding of each other’s value simply for existing. You’ll also see it in my upcoming project, which focuses on themes of friendship, chosen family, and young, queer love. Both stories take place in fictional worlds where relationships like that are allowed to flourish. Where people who share similar struggles overcome those difficulties by standing together no matter what. I know that’s an idealistic perspective. But they’re my worlds, so I can make them however I want.
Of course, those worlds are a reaction to this one. Except for a privileged few, this is a brutal world to live in. One challenge for me has been reckoning with the idea that many pre-pandemic relationships were based entirely on the value of what I provided. And how, when I had to shift gears and look after myself more, those friends all disappeared. I’d expected that from my casual friends and acquaintances. But I was surprised when people I’d known for years seemed to forget me.
Part of that must be wrapped up in the differences between how I and others look at relationships. I see vulnerability as something to be encouraged and rewarded, and I write my characters from that perspective. All of my characters are aspects of me, which is why even the supposedly bad ones have some empathy and understanding for others. It’s why the friends in my book talk out their misunderstandings and differences. It’s why there’s lots of smiling, hugging, and crying. But my real-world relationships don’t always work that well. I have a tendency to be too open and overshare. I tend to read social cues wrong, assuming a level of connection that isn’t really there. You can ask the people who were surprised to discover they were on dates with me about that. I’m aware of the reasons for these differences. The why doesn’t matter as much as the challenges of fitting myself into a world that looks at things differently than I do. But writing about people who succeed at this has been rewarding.
I’ve thankfully had the long-time support of a loving partner and a handful of close friends throughout my reinvention as an author. And if you’ve read my books looking for a world where relationships matter, know I’m right there with you.