Collaborating on ‘Edgy’ YA Fiction about Transitioning Gender
by Hazel Edwards
Collaborating on an ‘edgy’ novel , online via Skype has been fun. Ryan is an IT techie but I’m very much an online apprentice. So the way we have worked has been a fast learning curve for me. As well as the ftm content. We’ve actually enjoyed the plotting, and speed of story change, but the 18 months (and 40 drafts) with Ryan Kennedy my co-author of the YA novel f2m: the boy within has been one of the most challenging books I’ve written.
Co-writing fiction about transitioning gender and punk music, when you’re crossing countries (Australia and New Zealand), generations and cultures (music and gender) is like going on an expedition into the world of new ideas. Ryan has been a great co-author, and an interpreter for me.
In Feb , our novel f2m; the boy within is released by Ford Street Publishing, and that’s pretty exciting because it’s the first international YA novel about transitioning from female to male, co-written by a trans author. There is one other ftm YA Parrotfish (Less common than mtf: from male to female) but not by a trans writer. Also Luna (great book!) which is about mtf (male to female) transition.
Our book is Ryan’s first novel. I’ve written quite a few others, (including Antarctica’s Frozen Chosen, from the perspective of a 21 year old male scientist) OK, I’m not male and I’m not 21. But writing believably from the perspective of a character unlike yourself, is the greatest challenge for an author.
We’ve known each other as family friends since Ryan was an 11 year old girl. He’s now a man in his early thirties. New Zealand-based Ryan lived as female until his transition to male at twenty seven. Ryan works in IT and is a passionate environmentalist and musician.
In f2m; the boy within, the central character is an 18 year old, a crucial age for ID and also a ‘coming of age’ period when vital decisions are made about work, friends and lifestyle, especially if there is a difference between the person inside and the outside.
Character Skye plays guitar in all-female Chronic Cramps punk band but now she's presenting as a male called Finn. Her family find it difficult to accept losing a daughter.
That’s why our metallic cover with the Russian dolls within dolls was so carefully chosen. And our title of f2m, rather than ftm, the medical term for female to male, indicates our process of collaborating on the writing of this novel, because our process of collaboration has been equally fascinating as the content.
People always ask, how do you manage to co-write? And especially fiction! And on such a taboo subject. If you write about a controversial subject, the tone must be appropriate and the language was the first challenge. I had to learn a new vocab. Both for punk music and for transitioning. f2m is fiction, based on genetic fact.
And it has been a satisfying book to write, because it is needed to provide a compassionate and funny perspective on a taboo subject.
f2m: the boy within book launch
When: 2pm, Sunday 14 February
Where: Richmond Library, 415 Church Street, Richmond, Vic
RSVP by 10 February: email@example.com
f2m:the boy within
f2m: the boy within