Author Bill Konigsberg hopes his forthcoming novel will encourage readers not only to get swept away in a youthful romance but also to reconsider their biases around gender stereotypes.
HuffPost got an exclusive first look at the cover of The Music of What Happens, Konigsberg’s first gay-themed romance for young adults. Due out in January 2019, the book follows two teenage boys, Max and Jordan, in suburban Arizona. The sporty, confident Max may seem like an odd match for the poetic, introverted Jordan, but together, they prove chemistry can be found between total opposites.
The Arizona-based Konigsberg has repeatedly incorporated LGBTQ themes into his work, including 2013′s Openly Straight and its 2017 follow-up, Honestly Ben. The Music of What Happens, he said, ups the ante considerably as a love story between two fully formed queer characters.
“The first thing that comes to mind is that this book is utterly NOT about coming out. This is the story of two characters who happen to be gay, living in the suburbs of Phoenix,” he told HuffPost. “To me, that’s what we need more of now ― stories where LGBTQ characters are already out and living their lives.”
That isn’t to diminish the power of coming-out stories, of course. “It’s just been done,” the 47-year-old author explains, “a lot.”
The Stonewall-, GLAAD Media- and Lambda Literary Award-winning scribe said The Music of What Happens fits into a lot of forward-thinking discourse about LGBTQ people in that it “makes readers think about masculinity and femininity and balance.”
“As I wrote this book, I became very aware of my own biases and beliefs in terms of masculinity and femininity, and it really helped heal some of my own internal conflicts. In the end, we’re all both,” Konigsberg said. “We all contain multitudes, and it was so cool to watch my more feminine character ― Jordan ― find his inner warrior, and my more masculine character ― Max ― lean into a vulnerability he’d never experienced before.”
But that doesn’t mean readers shouldn’t be reaching for their tissues, too, “because, like Truvy Jones in ‘Steel Magnolias,’ laughter through tears is my favorite emotion,” Konigsberg quipped.