Welcome to another installment of my TMI blog posts. This one is timely, because I haven’t figured out what to do with the dedication page of my first novel. I have time, it won’t be released until later this summer, but since i have exactly zero ideas that doesn’t seem like much!
I never know quite what to do with the dedication page—which is a strange way to phrase it since Curious Sustenance is only the fourth book I’ve had this “problem” with—but there it is.
This time I wanted to dedicate the book to my daughter, and that meant I had to talk to her about it first. It can be a little surreal talking to her about my stories anyway, even though she’s in her mid-twenties, but I still do. She’s been my cheerleader, beta reader, and sounding board since the beginning, and even though she does less reading for me in this genre, I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now without her.
She also had a heavy influence on this story in particular. Ross Jenson, the main character, has an agenda that’s near and dear to my heart: trans-inclusive health care in the workplace. The City of Portland added trans-inclusive healthcare for all City workers not too long ago but it doesn’t seem to have caught on in the private sector—here or anywhere else. While many activists are celebrating same-sex weddings and the benefits that come along with them, the trans community is paying out of pocket for all of their health care. I try to celebrate every baby step, but that’s a challenge when it’s your child who’s struggling.
Curious Sustenance isn’t too politically-charged, but Ross’s dedication to his agenda is an important part of who he is. He wants life to be fair for everyone, and isn’t afraid to do the work himself. I like to think he gets that from me but he probably gets it from my daughter. The dedication says it all:
To Carin, the bravest person I know—daughter, cheerleader, caller of bullshit, and creator of plots and agendas. Thanks, Kiddo.
Here’s an excerpt that shows Ross’s agenda helping his life along in a surprising way. He’s in Powell’s to get a few books to help with a presentation on trans healthcare and why it makes sense for employers, and gets a little more than he’d expected.
He found the books on the second floor, in the purple room, and then headed down to the orange section and the cookbooks. Almost everyone he’d met in Weight Watchers had gone to the internet for their recipes, but Ross was old-fashioned in that he preferred to hold a cookbook in his hands. Cooking was such a tactile activity and, if he were to be honest, cooking healthy food wasn’t always stimulating to his senses. Janet knew her way around the kitchen, but he was still getting used to not being able to run out for Thai food or have a pizza delivered any given day of the week. If he didn’t get back into cooking soon, he’d be sure to undo everything.
The realization that he was more interested in the club he’d been to last weekend than wondering if Brad was back yet or if he’d been with anyone while he was away—because of course he had been—straightened his back and forced out what he considered his “ah-ha” sound. He moved farther down the aisle and sensed someone to his left. Instead of bumping into them, he turned to look and came face-to-face with the mysterious rope artist. Ross just stood there with his mouth open, suddenly very aware of his torso and points south that woke right up. A strange thought raced through his mind, that maybe he should act as though they’d never met, that it was somehow against the rules to say hello without permission. But the face in front of him appeared to mirror what he felt in that moment. And not only the surprise.
After a few tense moments, Ross was able to close his mouth, and his movement seemed to break the spell.
Ross took the offered hand and smiled. “Ross.”
They both started to speak at once, but Ross smiled and nodded for Miles to go ahead.
He shook his head helplessly and returned the smile. “I’m looking for a birthday present for my sister. Um, have you found anything good?”
“Well, what does she like to cook?”
Miles frowned the tiniest bit, and Ross waited for aliens to land on the roof or the cacophony society to stroll through the store. Christmas had been almost four weeks earlier, but neither would be any more unexpected than finding the one person he’d been thinking about right there in front of him. And speaking as though they were any two men. Nothing odd about meeting in the diabetic cooking section of Powell’s. Ross tried to be sly and look him over—jeans, a T-shirt, and light jacket would have to reveal more than his suit had—but soon realized he was failing miserably and stopped before he got caught. Although, getting caught might not be the worst thing. Maybe he’d have to be punished—