by Bryce Bentley-Tales
About the book:
In their hometown in Ireland, thirteen-year-old Colton and his best friend Jade spend their free time investigating a local urban legend about an old abandoned house which seems to be genuinely haunted. At the same time, Colton has developed a crush on American foreign exchange student, Dylan, who is visiting his aunt. Turns out, Dylan isn’t your average American kid--he's a werewolf. When Dylan's aunt disappears through a portal inside the house Colton and Jade have been investigating, the three of them set out to save her from the magical realm on the other side of the doorway.
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“I have loved haunted houses for as long as I can remember,” recounts Bentley-Tales. “When I was kid I was hooked on the Scooby crew who were always going into haunted castles, houses, amusement parks, museums. Heck, you name it, it was haunted!” These sweet-scary childhood memories fueled Bentley-Tales’ storytelling in this book, his first YA horror story. And certainly, developing the story through the eyes of a young gay boy allowed the author to offer a special, inclusive point of view. And while masterfully creating tension and fear through the dark fantasy conflict, the navigation of young love is another great strength Bentley-Tales displays. “There’s a part in the story where Erin wants to make Colton jealous by telling him how much attention Dylan is giving her. I get a good chuckle when I re-read it, as it’s such a typical young love triangle!”
Diversity and the Empowered Reader
The word “diversity” gets thrown around so many times nowadays I think we sometimes forget what diversity means, or why an author such as myself likes to incorporate it into his writing.
When I was young reader, the stories I read were mostly about white male heterosexuals. Stephen King – I do give him credit – did often include strong female characters in his stories, and he often had a black character (albeit someone with a mild role).
Even though I didn’t grow up under a rock, I was raised in the suburbs of Wichita, Kansas, and that’s really misleading, because I actually grew up in a home out in the countryside. My school was predominantly white; we had one black student and a couple of Asian students. As for my neighbors, well, I didn’t have any of those. Exposure to diversity came in the form of real life experiences of later working with worksites such as a juvenile detention center, or living in different cities such as the San Francisco Bay area and Bangkok.
When I completed my Counseling Psychology master’s degree, I still remember when my instructor gave example after example of white male characters being portrayed in TV commercials, films, sit-coms, books, and what bothered me was how had I never noticed this before? By the grace of the great universe, I had been raised by open minded parents. My mother often spoke with fond memories and nostalgia of that time when they lived in a predominantly Latino community in New Mexico where my father worked as a math teacher for one year.
No matter, I been so color blind for a good stretch.
The seed started then, and before our modern era came where females starred in films like Wonder Woman or we had a worldwide popular hit like Black Panther, I vowed I’d write stories with a cast of diverse characters. And I’d honor my youth, a time when I uncomfortably questioned my attractions towards other males, and never saw myself reflected in any of my readings. Every book would have a gay character and then later this evolved, and I vowed I’d represent the spectrum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender characters. This continues to evolve in my writing and I had a transgender Merlin in a previous gay erotica adult book.
Diversity does more than remind us that we live in a world with a complexity of cultures and backgrounds. It empowers us readers. We have overlaying identities that range from socioeconomic status and political orientations, to religious beliefs and ethnic identities, to gender and sexual orientations... and the list continues. Diversity represented in books empowers us as readers and lets us know how complex we all are.
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