As a young man, James Klise wrestled with his sexual identity, so he's more than familiar with the misery of bullying in high school.
As a librarian, he used words to express his experiences during a time of intense peer pressure to conform, coupled with a driving urge to fit into acceptable slots.
His debut novel is out from Flux and it's speaking to gay teens everywhere.
Mr. Klise uses fiction to present the problems faced by a fictional young man who we assume is a stand-in for the author himself. And like his own life, he can say that it does get better with time.
So much better that Mr. Klise forgot what it was like to be a gay teen in high school until he took a job as school librarian and the memories came back.
In Love Drugged, the author brings the reader into the head of a gay teen who doesn't want his secret discovered, and it's Mr. Klise's real life experiences providing the air of authenticity that resonates with his readers. But this is a book for young adults and kids today don't want preaching, so the author uses a touch of dark humor to ease the sting of reality.
While Mr. Klise would be happy if his novel helps gay kids deal with the stress of being different, he's hoping that straight kids will find the book informative as well. At least if they develop a better understanding of how hurtful an offhand remark can be to someone not like them, there might be less insult and more consideration.