I’m up extra early this morning to stop by the Scott-Palmers holiday cottage on the Cornish coast, in the hope of snatching a private word with Theo, the novel’s nineteen-year-old love interest. I find him seated alone at a table on the terrace, pencil in hand, a sketchpad open in front of him. I pull out the chair beside his and sit down.
I’m on a private beach on the Cornish coast, catching up with Luke, the novel’s seventeen-year-old hero, to find out how his holiday’s going so far. He’s huddled on the sand, knees drawn up to his chest, head in his hands. I drop down to sit beside him.
I’m thrilled and extremely humbled to announce that Caught Inside has been named as the winner of a 2017 Rainbow Award, both for Best Gay YA Novel and in the Best Gay Debut category. It’s an honour to join the ranks of so many talented authors, and to have been a part of such a wonderful showcase for LGBT+ literature. I was particularly touched by some of the comments from the judges and wanted to share them with you.
As anyone who has read Caught Inside will know, guilt and pleasure go hand-in-hand . My heroes, seventeen-year-old Luke, and Theo who is two years older, know what they’re doing is wrong, seeing each other in secret. Luke has a girlfriend, Zara, who also happens to be Theo’s cousin. Their relationship, when discovered, has the power to hurt people and destroy friendships. But they’re young and in love, and the attraction they feel for one another is too strong. They simply can’t help themselves.
One of the things that made Luke, the hero of Caught Inside, such a fun character to write was his refusal to conform to any stereotype. First and foremost, he’s a surfing fanatic, and is every bit as cool and laidback as you might expect the stereotypical surfer to be. Yet, beyond the shaggy hair, he doesn’t exactly look the part. As well as being a wave junkie, he’s massively into heavy metal music, so instead of the typical board shorts and tank tops you might imagine him to wear, can usually be seen sporting ripped jeans and band T-shirts.
What a surreal day this is turning out to be! For the past several years, I’ve been an avid follower of the Lambda Literary Awards, awaiting the announcement, first of the finalists and then of the winners, with mounting excitement. I’ve taken enormous pleasure in cheering on the books I’ve read and loved, and of course in discovering new favourites. The Lammys have celebrated among its winners and finalists such talented authors as Benjamin Alire Saenz, J.H. Trumble,
and Jay Bell, to name just a few. Never did I imagine I would one day be able to count myself among them…until today.
I heard this morning that my debut novel Caught Inside has been named as a finalist in the 29th Annual Lambda Literary Awards
for Best Gay Romance, and I haven’t been able to stop grinning! This truly is a dream come true for me. I couldn’t be more honoured or thrilled to be nominated alongside such amazing authors as Garrett Leigh, Lisa Henry, Marshall Thornton, L.A. Witt,
and so many more. I can’t say a big enough thank you to everyone who helped make this possible, not least Debbie McGowan, my wonderful editor and publisher at Beaten Track, and I wish my fellow finalists all the luck in the world.
This might sound strange, but all through the process of writing Caught Inside’, I gave very little thought to my hero’s sexuality. At Seventeen, Luke is the kind of young man who takes most things in his stride and who isn’t generally prone to self-analysis. Looking back, I realise that I was far more interested in exploring his emotional journey than I was in putting a label on his feelings.
I’m thrilled to be able to tell you all that I’ve recently signed my first ever contract! I’m indebted to Deb at Beaten Track Publishing for believing in my manuscript and giving me the chance to unleash it on the world. The novel is going through the editing process as we speak and I’m hoping for a summer 2016 release, but I will of course let you know as soon as I have a firm date.