Join Prism Book Alliance® as Christopher Koehler goes Outside the Margins today.
Harmony Ink Press released Poz on January 8, 2015. I found out on January 11, 2016, that the American Library Association has selection it for its Rainbow List for 2016. This surprised me, as I had no idea Poz had been nominated. Surprised, but delighted.
We really have no idea what will happen when we release our creations into the wild, and while I had high hopes for Poz, I wasn’t entire sure what to think. I knew Poz was special and certainly the best novel I’ve yet written. For me, Poz was no mere story. It was ripped from me, a cry from the heart as HIV infections among young gay and bisexual men skyrocket. Folks, we’ve been here before.
I had an agenda when I wrote Poz, and in consultation with my publisher, I made the decision to place it with a YA imprint rather than one aimed at adults. I wanted Poz to have a crack at libraries. Low and behold, the ALA came through in a grand way. It’s very humbling.
Many people liked Poz, although few have reviewed it—as of writing, there are seven on Amazon. Amazon’s review system remains opaque to me, but I read somewhere that Amazon requires a minimum number of reviews before a book joins the crawl along the bottom of the page. While that strikes me as backward—would not a struggling book need the exposure more—only once I’ll make the plea that if you liked Poz (or any other book), consider leaving a review.
I hope this recognition by the American Library Association will allow me to make my main points.
One, according to the CDC, the demographic with the most new infections is gay and bi men aged young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24 years). That group accounts for 72% of new HIV infections among all persons aged 13 to 24, and 30% of new infections among all gay and bisexual men. New HIV infections increased 22% among young (aged 13-24) gay and bisexual men and 12% among gay and bisexual men overall. The rates of new infections and—this is critical—awareness of HIV status vary according to racial demographics. (The CDC last checked its webpage in late 2015 http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/index.html)
It doesn’t need to be this way. It’s not the death sentence it was when I was in junior school when the plague first struck. Medicine now treats it like any other chronic disease, like asthma or diabetes. But it’s not a mystery how HIV is transmitted. We need to get the word out about prevention and about PreP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis. PreP works.
That said, and my second point, no one gets to judge. It’s not, or at least shouldn’t be, the stigmatizing condition it once was. As Julia Sugarbaker said, “If God was giving out sexually transmitted diseases to people as a punishment for sinning then you would be at the free clinic all the time and so would the rest of us!” It’s long since past the time to stop using words like “clean” to describe a negative HIV status, because that implies that those who’re poz are dirty. They’re not. They have a virus, and we all carry viruses of one sort or another.
We can only love and support, because truth be told, we all have an HIV status. Some people happen to know that theirs is poz.
Author: Christopher Koehler
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publication Date: 01/08/2015
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Genre: Young Adult
Remy Babcock and Mikey Castelreigh are stalwart members of the Capital City Rowing Club’s junior crew, pulling their hardest to earn scholarships to rowing powerhouses like California Pacific. Just a couple of all-American boys, they face the usual pressures of life in an academic hothouse and playing a varsity sport. Add to that the stifling confines of the closet, and sometimes life isn’t always easy, even in the golden bubble of their accepting community. Because Remy and Mikey have a secret: they’re both gay. While Mikey has never hidden it, Remy is a parka and a pair of mittens away from Narnia.
Mikey has always been open about wanting more than friendship, but Remy is as uncomfortable in his own skin as he is a demon on the water. After their signals cross, and a man mistakes Remy for a college student, Remy takes the plunge and hooks up with him. After a furious Mikey cuts Remy off, Remy falls to the pressure of teenage life, wanting to be more and needing it now. In his innocence and naiveté, Remy makes mistakes that have life-long consequences. When Remy falls in the midst of the most important regatta of his life, he can only hope Mikey will be there to catch him when he needs it most.
I hadn’t lied to Mom when I told her I saw Mikey at the boathouse. We just ignored each other in a painfully obvious fashion. Even Lodestone noticed it one morning before practice. He only raised an eyebrow in comment as the gentlemen’s crew prepared for the morning’s row.
I shook my head. “Don’t ask. It’s too stupid for words.”
“At least you recognize it. Do I want to know?”
“Not unless you find it amusing that he doesn’t want to go out but doesn’t want me to see anyone else.” My voice might’ve dripped a certain amount of contempt.
Lodestone made a face while my teammates tried to stifle their laughter.
“Yep, that about sums it up.”
“So…. Throwing yourself into sculling, are you?”
I raised one eyebrow. “You noticed.”
“You’ve gotten a lot faster lately, for what it’s worth.”
I saluted him. “Right now? Everything.”
“I’m sorry you’re going through this,” Lodestone said, putting a hand on my shoulder, “but if you’re up for it, I’ll keep doing everything I can to help you transmute this lead into gold at the Nationals.”
“I’m all yours, Coach.”
He smiled at me. “You always have been, you know.”
About Christopher KoehlerChristopher Koehler learned to read late (or so his teachers thought) but never looked back. It was not, however, until he was nearly done with grad school in the history of science that he realized that he needed to spend his life writing and not on the publish-or-perish treadmill. At risk of being thought frivolous, he found that academic writing sucked all the fun out of putting pen to paper.
Christopher is also something of a hothouse flower. Inside of almost unreal conditions he thrives to set the results of his imagination free, and for most of his life he has been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who encouraged both that tendency and the writing. Chief among them is his long-suffering husband of twenty-two years and counting.
When it comes to writing, Christopher follows Anne Lamott’s advice: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” So while he writes fiction, at times he ruthlessly mines his past for character traits and situations. Reality is far stranger than fiction.
Christopher loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he’s especially fond of romances, because it is in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be discussed publicly, are laid bare.
Writing is his passion and his life, but when Christopher is not doing that, he’s an at-home dad and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and other ways people behave badly.
Visit him at http://christopherkoehler.net/blog or follow him on Twitter @christopherink.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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