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Letting Go

Image of part of a sheet of paper, the first in a stack, featuring the following textual elements: In the Key of Dale / Benjamin Lefebvre / Arsenal Pulp Press / Vancouver

Over the last few weeks, In the Key of Dale has started to appear in more and more places online. Although it won’t be out until mid-October, it can now be pre-ordered directly from the publisher, Arsenal Pulp Press, or directly from the distributor, University of Toronto Press Distribution, or from numerous chain and independent bookstores located all over the world. I’ve started author accounts on Facebook and on Instagram (in addition to my existing account on Twitter) and would certainly encourage you to follow me there. And I recently had an energizing marketing meeting with three of my wonderful colleagues at Arsenal Pulp Press. All of these developments are helping me realize that my long-term ambition to publish a novel is finally about to become a reality.

Another clear milestone for this book involved correcting the page proofs, which involves reading a PDF of the novel the way the text will be laid out on the page in the printed book and marking up final corrections and adjustments. Because I tend to change my mind a lot when it comes to my own writing, my work typically goes through an unusual amount of revising and tinkering before (and sometimes even after) I’m ready to show it to anyone else. That’s both a blessing and a curse, because after a while this focus on small details can get in the way of me being able to see the big picture—or to work on something else. So when my editor emailed me the proofs as an attachment, I approached the task of reading them with some trepidation. What would I do if the temptation to keep revising proved irresistible, knowing that at this stage the only changes that should be made involve correcting typos, other errors, and formatting problems?

I read through the whole novel twice, and I was relieved to discover that for the most part, I was happy with my writing the way it was. I’m taking that as a sign that I’m finally ready to let go of this project, both in the sense of putting down my proverbial red pen and in the sense of releasing it to the world and seeing what happens. And what I’m discovering is that the best part of letting go of one writing project is that it frees your mind to start thinking of new ones—including, possibly, a follow-up to this one at some point in the future. And that’s definitely something to look forward to.

In the Key of Dale on Amazon

Detail from an email with the following text below the Amazon.ca logo: "Hello Benjamin Lefebvre, / Based on your recent activity, we thought you might be interested in this," followed by a thumbnail of the cover of /In the Key of Dale/, Lefebvre's own novel.

I just received an automated email from Amazon.ca recommending my own book. Why, yes, I am interested in In the Key of Dale! And if you are interested in it also, you can now pre-order it from Arsenal Pulp Press, from your local independent bookstore, or from several Amazon branches worldwide.

Cover Reveal: In the Key of Dale

This week has been really exciting—and distracting—because In the Key of Dale has started to appear online in advance of its release next fall from Arsenal Pulp Press. So this seems like the perfect time to reveal the cover and the synopsis!

Cover of /In the Key of Dale/, a forthcoming novel by Benjamin Lefebvre. The image depicts a close-up of five piano keys (the white keys reddish-orange, the black keys a dark purple), with the title in white letters and the author's name in black letters.

Part comedy, part grief narrative, In the Key of Dale is a disarming coming-of-age novel about a queer teen music prodigy who discovers pieces of himself in places he never thought to look.

Sixteen-year-old Dale Cardigan is a loner who’s managed to make himself completely invisible at his all-boys high school. He doesn’t fit with his classmates (whom he mentally renames), his stepbrother (whom nobody at school knows he’s related to), or even his mother (who never quite sees how gifted a musician Dale he might be), but they don’t fit with him, either. And he’s fine with that. To him, high school and home life are stages to endure until his real life can finally begin.

Somewhat against his will, he befriends his classmate Rusty, who gets a rare look at Dale’s complex life outside school—but their friendship is made awkward when it seems his growing attraction to Rusty is doomed to remain one-sided. Still, it’s to Rusty that Dale turns when he stumbles upon a family secret.

An epistolary novel written in the form of letters to his late father, In the Key of Dale is a beguiling, pitch-perfect book about growing up, fitting in, and finding a way out of grief and loneliness toward the melodic light of adulthood.

So looking forward to introducing Dale and Rusty to the world next fall! The book is already available to pre-order from several online bookstores (including your local independent bookstore) and is listed on Goodreads, and if you’d like to receive more information about this book in the months ahead, please subscribe to this blog to receive blog posts by email.

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Announcing In the Key of Dale

I’m thrilled to announce that my first novel—entitled In the Key of Dale and telling the story of a queer sixteen-year-old music prodigy who starts writing letters to his late father—will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in fall 2022! The deal was arranged by my agent, Chris Casuccio of Westwood Creative Artists, with whom I signed as a client this past February. News of this deal appeared on the Publishers Marketplace website yesterday.

Publishers Marketplace Deal Report (International rights: Canada Children’s), July 20, 2021: Benjamin Lefebvre’s IN THE KEY OF DALE, a debut YA novel about a queer sixteen-year-old music prodigy who starts writing letters to his late father, to Brian Lam at Arsenal Pulp Press, in a nice deal, for publication in fall 2022, by Chris Casuccio at Westwood Creative Artists (world English).

This book has been in the works for a number of years now, and I wrote it as part of a long writing apprenticeship. As I write this blog post today, I can’t help but feel grateful to all the friends, family members, colleagues, writers in residence, editors, and instructors who encouraged me and who gave me supportive and challenging feedback on my writing. I think of the many authors of queer teen novels in Canada and elsewhere who preceded me with their amazing work. And I also recall the boy I was long ago, who started writing fiction as a way to make sense of everything around him and who wasn’t able to find much affirmation in the fiction he had access to.

I’m so looking forward to begin collaborating with my new colleagues at Arsenal Pulp Press, whose list is one I’ve admired for a long time because of their commitment to publishing innovative work by authors in under-represented communities, including LGBTQ2SIA+ authors and BIPOC authors. I feel incredibly proud and humbled that my novel will be part of their list.

In the months ahead, I plan to blog more regularly about my book as it moves through the production process, so please subscribe to my blog if you’d like to receive updates in your inbox. I intend to start being more active on social media as a fiction writer rather than simply as a Montgomery specialist, but for now, you can follow me on Twitter.

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Announcing Becoming L.M. Montgomery!

Becoming L.M. Montgomery (never released)

I’m thrilled to announce the forthcoming publication of my next book, Becoming L.M. Montgomery, by University of Toronto Press in September 2018! This book has been several years in the making and has involved extensive research in archives and rare periodicals, including three trips to Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. It is the first of several volumes to gather Montgomery’s extensive periodical publications and make them available to twenty-first-century readers. So looking forward to sharing this new material with L.M. Montgomery’s readers!

Years before she published her internationally celebrated first novel, Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery started contributing short works to periodicals across North America. While these works consisted primarily of poems and short stories, she also experimented with a wider range of forms, particularly during the early years of her career, at which point she experimented with several authorial identities before settling on the professional moniker “L.M. Montgomery.”

In Becoming L.M. Montgomery, leading Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre collects the majority of these so-called “miscellaneous” pieces and discusses them in relation to the English-speaking women writers who preceded her and the strategies they used to succeed, including the decision to publish under a gender-neutral signature. Among the highlights of the volume are Montgomery’s contributions to student periodicals, a weekly newspaper column entitled “Around the Table,” a long-lost story narrated first by a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage and then by the man she wishes she had married instead, as well as a new edition of her 1917 celebrity memoir, “The Alpine Path.” Drawing fascinating links to Montgomery’s life writing, career, and fiction, this volume will offer scholars and readers alike an intriguing new look at the work of Canada’s most enduringly popular author.

UPDATED 12 JUNE 2018: This new book will now appear as the first volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library under the title A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, coming in September 2018!

Anne of Green Gables: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition

Cover of /Anne of Green Gables/ (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

I’m pleased to announce the release yesterday of the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Anne of Green Gables, a new edition of L.M. Montgomery’s best-selling novel with a foreword by J. Courtney Sullivan, an introduction and additional contributions by me, and a bonus essay by Montgomery. Although there are innumerable editions of this book currently on the market, most trade editions in North America reprint a version of the text that was modernized in the mid-twentieth century and that Americanizes spelling, updates hyphenation and punctuation, and makes a number of additional small changes to the text. The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition is one of the few that includes the full text of the original 1908 edition, with fourteen corrections that are listed in the section entitled “A Note on the Text.”

Indigenous Texts and Young People

I’m so looking forward to participate this morning in a roundtable I organized on “Indigenous Texts and Young People” for the Association of Research in the Cultures of Young People, which meets today at the 2017 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, held at Ryerson University, my home institution. The panel will consist of the following presentations:

  • “Who Is a (Métis) Author: Race, Métisness, and Children’s Literature,” by Jennifer Adese (Carleton University)
  • “The Weight of the Absence at the Centre of the Text: Responding to Missing Nimâmâ,” by Katherine Bell (Wilfrid Laurier University)
  • “Shifting the Grounds: Witness, Knowledge, Complication,” by Louise Saldanha (Douglas College)
  • “Show and Tell: Indigenous Crossover Texts,” by Benjamin Lefebvre (Ryerson University)
  • “Nineteenth-Century Indigenous Child Printing Programs,” by Jane Griffith (University of Toronto)

For those of you at Congress, this session will be in Ryerson’s Student Learning Centre, room 508, starting at 10:30 this morning. It will then be followed by ARCYP’s Annual General Meeting and two additional roundtables. Please join us!

CFP: Indigenous Texts and Young People (deadline: 31 March 2017)

Roundtable for Association of Research in Cultures of Young People annual conference, 30 May 2017

Organizer: Benjamin Lefebvre (Ryerson)

Galvanized by the theme of Congress 2017, “The Next 150 on Indigenous Lands,” this roundtable seeks to take stock of Indigenous texts for and/or about young people in the twenty-first century. Whether depicting past injustices such as the residential school system, continued hardships under neocolonial policies, or the possibilities for Indigenous identities in contemporary culture, these texts as a collective are produced within a complex system of shifting priorities. Concerns about accuracy and authenticity are sometimes in competition with the priorities of publishing as a business, especially when it comes to books published by mainstream/settler presses and intended largely for non-Indigenous readers: a manuscript is accepted if it is deemed to have the potential to sell sufficiently for the publisher to make a profit, and a book needs to sell sufficiently to stay in print. And while the publication of Indigenous-created texts for young people has been steady since the 1970s, the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada have granted such texts more visibility in the mainstream media and have promoted these texts as opportunities to share and celebrate Indigenous histories, identities, and knowledges.

I welcome proposals for ten-minute presentations on any aspect of Indigenous texts for and/or about young people across the age spectrum, from alphabet books and picture-book texts to book-length fiction and graphic novels and also including texts for adults about young people. Topics could include but are certainly not limited to the following:

  • The politics and economics of publication (texts published by Indigenous presses and texts published by settler presses)
  • Alternative forms of publishing in the Web 2.0 era, including multilingual and multimedia texts
  • The politics of historical fiction (granting voice to survivors of the residential school system while potentially introducing settler readers to this historical event)
  • Texts and target markets (Indigenous readers and/or settler readers)
  • Questions of witness, empathy, and appropriation (such as Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel Secret Path)
  • Revising or dismantling Western histories, literary conventions, and understandings of land, family, community, and knowledge
  • Indigeneity and activism
  • Media coverage of Indigenous texts for young people
  • Stories of Indigenous young people aimed at adult readers, including memoirs of Indigenous childhoods

Please submit a proposal of 250 words, along with a bio note of 50 words and a statement about any A/V needs, to Benjamin Lefebvre (benjamin.lefebvre@ryerson.ca) by 31 March 2017.

The Blythes Are Quoted to Join Penguin Canada Modern Classics

I’m thrilled to announce that my edition of L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, which Penguin Canada published in 2009, will be republished in October 2017 as part of the Penguin Canada Modern Classics imprint! It can be pre-ordered through the Penguin Random House Canada website and through all book vendors.

Given that 2017 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Montgomery’s death, and given that the typescript for the book was apparently delivered to her publisher the very day of her death (which was interpreted by her family as a suicide), I am especially pleased that the book will be released again during this anniversary year.

More details about this new edition, including cover art, will be published here as soon as they’re available!

[Also, although I’ve been blogging for well over a decade, I believe this is the very first time I blogged on all four of my websites today: this website, L.M. Montgomery Online, The Little House Archive, and The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Archive.]