This weekend I had one of the most unique and special experiences of my career; I had the chance to SKYPE with a book group and talk about Roving Pack. Now this wasn’t just any book group, this was a youth book group at SMYRC – the Sexual minority Youth Resource Center in Portland Oregon, the same queer youth center where I grew up as a queer teen. To have this kind of partnership with the agency where I was an alumni was incredible.
This summer, the youth at SMYRC and an LGBTQ group at Outside In – an amazing homeless youth serving agency and clinic (where I got medical care for years as a teenager) read Roving Pack. I was so excited that the youth and staff at SMYRC wanted to read Roving Pack! Roving Pack is fiction though pieces of it definitely are based on who I was as a youth in Portland, and QYRC the fictional Queer Youth Recreation Center definitely bears a strong resemblance to the SMYRC I knew in the early 2000’s. I was so curious what the SMYRC youth of today would think about the novel, its themes and what kind of questions they would have for me!
The youth at SMYRC asked some of the best and hardest hitting questions I’ve ever gotten about the novel. They wanted to know about so many things including:
How much of the book is based on truth
If I had been concerned about writing a book with so much BDSM content
How I felt about the Daddy/boy relationships in the book not always being healthy or positive portrayals
What the writing process had looked like
How people I’d known as a youth in Portland had responded to Roving Pack
Why I ended the book the way that I had- what happens to Click
If I’d been concerned straight people wouldn’t understand the queer language/themes
I also learned about what their favorite scenes from the book were, or scenes that had otherwise stayed with them in some way and was interested to se that some of them were some of my own favorites.
SMYRC has moved twice since I was a youth, the space is completely different, and I was so grateful to be welcomed back into the new SMYRC and to have the chance to answer questions about Roving Pack and to talk with the current generation of youth who call SMYRC home. I’ve been so blessed that in the last year I’ve had a number of opportunities to connect with youth in Portland from keynoting the Oregon Queer Youth Summit in the late Spring to now getting to have a much more intimate conversation with youth.
Before getting on SKYPE Saturday night I was more nervous than I normally am before I talk to readers. I’m always nervous before I meet readers, but this was different, it felt like such a tremendous full circle to be visiting SMYRC the place where I wrote my first stories, where I built my first queer families and honestly I was terrified that the youth might hate the book, or not have related to it. It was so exciting to have such an engaging conversation with the folks at SMYRC, to have the chance to go back and visit them, to talk to youth who had read Roving Pack was an incredibly special experience for me not only as an author, but also personally. I owe my life to SMYRC in so many ways and it’s a tremendous honor to now be able to connect with the SMYRC youth of today.
Has your book group read Roving Pack? If so please get in touch I’d love to join your group via SKYPE!