I spent the last 30 days doing the kind of spell-work that comes most naturally to me—turning something that hurt into something that brings hope.
This rare kind of alchemy is one that I’ve found queer writers especially to be adept at, mostly because we have to do it every damn day. If we don’t use our magic to spin threads of joy from the straws of our trauma, we’d just end up buried alive by it. And during this recent National Novel Writing Month, I decided to use those threads to weave a whole damn tapestry.
The tapestry in question was my newest novel, currently titled HELL AND BACK AGAIN. At the time of this writing, it is only a first draft, which means every single thing about it is subject to (or all but guaranteed) to change dramatically over time. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love the fuck out of these characters and this new story I’m telling, and its because the entire thing was fueled by me trying to set right a wrong that’s been haunting me for the last year.
The wrong, much like what I did to respond to it, was a story. I’ve been a fan of the show SUPERNATURAL ever since 2011, when the show was only half way through its sixth season. Fast forward to last November—the show finally wrapped up after a record breaking *fifteen* seasons total. And (spoilers for the finale ahead if you want to turn back now!!!!) the show’s finale was, to put it mildly, I think the most disappointed I have ever been in a piece of television in my life.
“HELL AND BACK AGAIN became my love letter to all the good things about SUPERNATURAL, but one that allowed it a happy ending—one where queer joy wins the day…”
Why’s that, you ask? Honestly, the list is so long it could very well be a several part blog series unto itself. But by far the biggest grievance I had with it was the show’s absolute disregard for its queer characters. The show already had a problematic history, having buried its gays and fridged its women more times than I can even keep track of. And having spent a full decade watching this series, enjoying and analyzing its many facets, I can attest to it being one of, if not the worst cases of queerbaiting I’ve ever witnessed. Again, this is something I could write about for days, but isn’t the reason for this particular piece. While it is necessary for context, it’s not the heart of this essay.
The long and short of it is that the show’s final swan song left me so enraged, angry, and beside myself that I finally reached a point of acceptance where I essentially said, “Fine! You don’t want to make this relationship canon? I guess I’ll do it myself!”
And thus began a plan for an original story, one which would be heavily inspired by all the things I always loved about the show—its found family and message to always keep fighting, its belief that you design your own destiny, that love is the one thing that trumps hatred every time—and I made my own world.
I came up with my own characters and infused into them the essence of these ones I grew up with: a young man who never believed he was worthy of love, the angel who saved him from hell and loved him anyway, the younger brother who is trying to find his place in a world where he never felt he fit in. HELL AND BACK AGAIN became my love letter to all the good things about SUPERNATURAL, but one that allowed it a happy ending—one where queer joy wins the day and where beloved characters are not killed off needlessly to further some networks corporate agendas.
The experience of writing this book… it was the most joy I’ve felt in years. Even as a pandemic rages on around me, even as I was let go from a job at the start of the month that I had been so in love with, and even though I’m dealing with a thousand other complicated, depressing things going on in my life, this book became a balm. These characters and their love for one another healed me like an angel’s hands over my soul.
Through this story, I was able to turn trauma into something triumphant instead, and got tell a story about queer love surviving in the face of an impending apocalypse.
My plan now will be to throw myself into revisions, and then hopefully one day, traditionally publish this book so that the people like me who felt left out, unempowered, and silenced can instead feel seen and heard in all the ways they deserve.