Jamaica Plain resident Laura Hughes had her first novel, “Don’t Ask,” published by Prizm Books this spring, about two queer teenagers coming to terms with their sexuality in very different ways.
The young adult novel focuses on two queer best friends, Cat and Mike, whose paths diverge upon entering high school in fall 2010. Cat joins the gay pride group of a fictional Rhode Island high school, while Mike joins the military club, attracted by its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
“When I was growing up, I loved books and TV shows about high school hijinks and first love, but I was frustrated that LGBT [queer] characters were always either absent or tragic. My friends and I had a slightly different set of romantic problems from our straight peers, but they were just as interesting and confusing and funny,” Hughes told the Gazette.
While Cat is welcoming of her sexuality, Mike has a few more problems accepting it, said Hughes, who is bisexual.
“Mike starts from a place of fear, denial, and knee-jerk anti-gay rhetoric. Growing up, I was more like Cat: proud to be queer, to like girls, to be different,” Hughes told the Gazette.
Hughes wrote the bulk of the novel in an intense month-long “frenzy.” The Forest Hills resident has been previously written scripts, a picture-book and comics, experiences she said were helpful in honing her skills.
“Writing for comics is about ruthless editing. Comic scripting honed my joke-craft and word-chopping skills like nothing else,” she said.
That said, Hughes said she’s been writing since she can remember, including a five-page novel dictated to her brother at the age of 5. This is her first published novel.
“I was thrilled to be picked up by Prizm. Sending out unsolicited manuscripts is a demoralizing business,” she said.
“I view this book a bit as a gift to my teenage self. I’m proud that I was able to use her ideas and make something of them. I think she’d really like this book. I hope it reaches someone like her,” Hughes added.
“Don’t Ask” is currently available online at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Prizmbooks.com.