Brooke Carter is launching her first novel for teens.
Another Miserable Love Song is a fictional punk rock love story involving LGBTQ characters.
It tells the story of Kallie Echo, a bi-sexual teenager who is scared to take a chance on life. When her father dies, her dreams die, too, until a punk band asks her to be its singer. She has to decide whether she has the heart to front the band of rocker chicks that includes a trans-sexual boy on the drums.
Most challenging to the Maple Ridge author was making sure elements in her story reflect what a real teenager’s life is like today.
“What’s it like to deal with social media, to deal with gender issues, to deal with racial issues? These are all things that teenagers are facing and I think I have a responsibility to portray those things accurately.”
Carter started writing 20 years ago. Initially, she thought she was going to be a poet. But she needed money, so in addition to freelance magazine work and teaching professional writing, she started a copywriting business.
She has a bachelor of arts degree in creative writing and in 2009 decided to go back to school for a masters of fine arts.
“I just started producing tons of material and getting serious about publishing, instead of writing and not sending it out into the world,” said Carter.
She started writing poetry, screen plays, young adult fiction and adult speculative fiction.
It was her teacher for her creative writing masters program who encouraged her to focus on young adult literature.
She realized that, until then, all of her writing focussed on young adults.
“All of the short stories I was writing had child or teenager protagonists,” said Carter.
“I was actually obsessed with this age group of 12 to 18. I just find teenagers fascinating,” she explained.
“Maybe I’m still stuck at 17 perpetually myself. I think I might be. That’s probably why.”
Carter also loves to read young adult stories. When she goes into a book store, she is drawn to that section.
What she likes about the genre is the feeling of not quite being an adult.
“Where the world is open to all these possibilities, but it’s also terrifying,” she said.
“But teenagers are still young enough to believe in their dreams. They haven’t become bitter or jaded yet. Just that hopefulness for the future, combined with the intensity that teenagers feel things,” she continued.
“Like when you fall in love, you really fall hard. And when you’re hurt, it’s devastating,” Carter added.
She is obsessed with the book The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, a story about a group of misfit teens who form their own family. The Outsiders is referenced throughout Carter’s novel as a structural thread and provides the framework for the book.
The main character in Carter’s novel is also obsessed with the book.
“I just really wanted to tell the story about somebody who had nothing, who was afraid to continue on in life and who’s friends lifted her up and helped her go for her dreams,” said Carter.
She also doesn’t try to be too moralistic in her writing.
“I like to write books for young adults that aren’t necessarily about being gay or about being trans, but whose characters happen to be that,” Carter said.
“I think it’s important that teenagers of all genders and sexuality pick up a book and see themselves reflected in the story without it necessarily being about, say, coming out or without it being an issue story,” said Carter, adding that there is not enough young adult literature with diverse characters reflected in the publishing industry.
“How reassuring might it be to see that if Kallie and Jamie can find each other and fall in love, there is going to somebody out there for me, too.”
Another Miserable Love Song is a story that, first and foremost, Carter wants people to enjoy.
But it also shows that, even though bad things can happen to a person, by making good decisions you can overcome the negative and achieve what you want to in life.
“And if you want to rock out, you should rock out.”
The publication date for Another Miserable Love Song was Aug. 30 and it will be available in all book stores.
Carter will be launching the book at Black Bond Books in Haney Place Mall at a free event from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 17.
Carter will be meeting people and signing books. She will also be giving some informal readings of passages from the book.
Carter has another book coming out in the spring of 2018 called Learning Seventeen. She also has a book of poetry called Poco Loco.