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Pride Month Reads in The New Quarterly

Copy of issue 166 of The New Quarterly (consisting of a black and white photo of an undisclosed outdoor location) against a brown wooden surface.

I’m delighted to share that The New Quarterly included my short story “Condolence” (published in the spring 2023 issue) in its Pride Month Reads online collection last month. Also included in this collection is “Homebodies,” a creative non-fiction essay by my partner, who writes under the name J.P. Letkemann.

In addition, the journal recently published a blog post I wrote as a contribution to its “writing spaces” series.

The Pride Month Reads collection will be freely available on the The New Quarterly’s website until August.

“Condolence” in The New Quarterly

Copy of issue 166 of The New Quarterly against a brown wooden surface. The cover consists of a black and white photo of the shadow of a person checking their phone in an undisclosed outdoor location. The photo appears below the following text against a blue background: "The New Quarterly / Canadian Writers & Writing / 166 / WHAT IS UNSAID: in which we search for the good in bad parenting, find connection at the expense of a barn owl, take a bus trip to learn the truth, watch the apocalypse from a condo / + shortlisted stories from our Peter Hinchliffe Fiction Contest / + new essays from Andrew Westoll and Susan Glickman / + new fiction from Emma Hooper."

He considered himself agnostic, which in his case meant he had zero interest in religion and figured that the realities of the afterlife should remain a fun surprise. Even so, he listened respectfully to the eulogy, opened his heart to the family tributes, went along with the kneeling and the sitting and the standing and the crossing, and responded to every part of the liturgy automatically in spite of the fact that he hadn’t set foot inside a church in years.

One of the highlights last week involved receiving a copy of the spring 2023 issue of The New Quarterly, which includes my short story “Condolence.”

This story, about two friends who carpool to the funeral for the father of their shared ex, has lived in my imagination for quite a number of years, so it’s quite a treat to see it in print, especially in the pages of a prestigious journal that is published here in Kitchener-Waterloo and that I’m so proud to be part of.

This issue will be out in stores soon and can be also be purchased from the journal’s website. For updates about this short story and about the rest of my work, please subscribe to my blog (which simply means you receive future blog posts over email) and follow me on Facebook and on Instagram!

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La musica di Dale Released Today!

Cover of LA MUSICA DI DALE, by Benjamin Lefebvre. The cover art features two young men with their backs turned, the one on the left with reddish hair and wearing a red hoodie, the one on the right with darker hair and wearing a blue shirt.

I’m thrilled to announce that La musica di Dale, an Italian edition of In the Key of Dale translated by Silvia Mercurio, is now available from Gallucci. I’m including the delightfully Heartstopperish cover here, and you can read a sample from Gallucci’s Issuu account.

Here’s the back cover copy as it appears in Italian:

Dale Cardigan ha sedici anni ed è un genio della musica. È orfano di padre e da un po’ ha capito di essere gay, ma il problema principale della sua vita non è tanto questo, quanto la timidezza e l’incapacità di stringere vere amicizie. Gli unici momenti in cui non ha paura di farsi vedere dagli altri per com’è veramente sono quando suona o canta, ed è proprio in una di queste occasioni che Rusty si accorge di lui. È l’inizio di un’amicizia o di qualcosa di più? A Dale in realtà non importa. L’unica cosa che conta sono le sensazioni che prova quando è insieme a Rusty, quelle che pensava solo la musica potesse regalargli: leggerezza, appagamento, felicità. E più di ogni altra cosa: libertà.

I was curious about how the Italian translator had summarized the plot of the novel, and thanks to Google Translate, the fact that I don’t understand Italian turned out to be a minimal problem:

Dale Cardigan is sixteen years old and a musical genius. He is an orphan of a father and for some years he has realized that he is gay, but the main problem of his life is not so much his sexual orientation, but his shyness and inability to make true friendships. The only moments in which he isn’t afraid to be seen by others as he really is are when he plays or sings, and it is on one of these occasions that Rusty notices him. Is it the beginning of a friendship or something more? Dale doesn’t really care. The only thing that matters to him are the feelings he feels when he’s with Rusty, the ones he thought only music could give him: lightness, contentment, happiness. And most of all: freedom.

The Italian edition is available in paperback and ebook formats. It can be purchased directly from the publisher or from bookshops such as Amazon (Italy)Giunti al PuntoLaFeltrinelli, and Mondadori Store.

Thanks to the fine folks at Arsenal Pulp Press (Vancouver) and at Otago Literary Agency (Bologna) for making this happen!

Gallucci is also the publisher, in two volumes, of the Italian translation (by Angela Ricci) of my edition of L.M. Montgomery’s The Blythes Are Quoted, which appeared as Racconti dall’isola: Prima della guerra [Stories from the Island: Before the War] and Racconti dall’isola: Dopo la guerra [Stories from the Island: After the War] in 2021.

Return from Vancouver Writers Fest

Photo of Benjamin Lefebvre, a forty-something white man with dark hair, dark glasses, and a grey beard, wearing a blue coat and beige pants, smiling for the camera and holding a purple pen in his left hand as he signs a copy of his book, /In the Key of Dale/, surrounded by piles of books and flanked by a leafy plant behind him.
Photo courtesy of Book Warehouse

I had a wonderful time last week at the Vancouver Writers Fest, where I participated on a discussion panel with Malinda Lo (moderated by Tanya Boteju), met three groups of Grade 10 students at a North Vancouver high school (the earthquake drill halfway through my visit will make that experience unforgettable!), and got acquainted with fellow writers of all ages.

Thanks so much to Book Warehouse on Granville Island for asking me to sign copies of In the Key of Dale (Arsenal Pulp Press), for taking this photo of me, and for everything it does to support writers, especially those participating at this festival.

Judging by the amount of books I bought and lugged home, all I can say is I’m grateful that the festival tote bag is made of reinforced material!

Panel at Vancouver Writers Fest

Square graphic surrounded by a blue border and consisting of the following text: "34. YA Stars: Coming of Ages," "Vancouver Writers Fest," "2022 Festival," "In Person or Virtual," "October 20," "Grades 8–12," "Moderated by Tanya Boteju," and "Register Now at" These textual elements surround a square collage of four images: a photo of Malinda Lo, the cover of Lo's novel /A Scatter of Light/, a photo of Benjamin Lefebvre, and the cover of Lefebvre's novel, /In the Key of Dale/.

Am leaving soon for the Vancouver Writers Fest, where I’ll be appearing, alongside Malinda Lo, on a panel called YA Stars: Coming of Ages, moderated by Tanya Boteju and held on Thursday, October 20 at 1:00 p.m. (Pacific). I’ll be reading from In the Key of Dale and talking about the process of writing the novel, but I’m especially looking forward to talking to Malinda and Tanya about their most recent books, A Scatter of Light and Bruised, both of which are just amazing.

I’ll also be visiting a tenth-grade composition class at a high school in North Vancouver, which should be a lot of fun.

I’ve been to Vancouver only a few times before, so I’m hoping to spend some time getting acquainted with it. And although it wasn’t so long ago that I was complaining about the heat wave here in southern Ontario, I’m looking forward to some warmer weather than what’s being forecast here!

The Vancouver Writers Fest panel can be attended in person or via livestream, and tickets are still available.

Book Launch(es) for In the Key of Dale

[ID: Event info text on the left-half of the image and a skewed mockup image of the book’s front cover on the right-half, all overlaying a pale red background with lighter coloured brush strokes texture. Text alternates between a bold red and a dark indigo, which match the colours of the book, and essentially reads, “Words Worth Books presents _In the Key of Dale_ a book launch and reading with Benjamin Lefebvre. Saturday, October 15, 2:00 PM ET, Trillium Lutheran Church, 22 Willow St, Waterloo, ON. Join us to celebrate the release of Benjamin Lefebvre’s pitch-perfect YA novel, _In the Key of Dale_! Books available for purchase.” Surrounding the text are three illustrated musical note graphics, and underneath are the logos for Words Worth Books and Arsenal Pulp Press, along with the URL “”. On the book mockup is a pale red and white circular sticker-like graphic that reads “FREE EVENT”. In the top-right is a review blurb excerpt that reads, “By turns snarkily funny and wrenchingly poignant, Benjamin Lefebvre’s debut novel is a pitch-perfect paean to the geeks, loners and musical prodigies you knew—or were—in high school. —C.E. GATCHALIAN, author of _Double Melancholy: Art, Beauty, and the Making of a Brown Queer Man_”. Book cover ID: Three graphic red piano keys take up the full width and height of the cover. The black keys and spaces between the red keys are dark purple. The words “In the Key of” are stacked on the middle key. The word "Dale" is in large handwritten letters across the full width of the book. The author's name is in dark purple below the title, stacked in the middle key. /end ID] (Alt text provided by Arsenal Pulp Press)

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, there will be two launches for In the Key of Dale this weekend that are open to the public. An in-person event will be held on Saturday, October 15, at 2:00 p.m. in the fellowship hall at Trillium Church (22 Willow St. in Waterloo, Ontario), and a virtual event will be held on Sunday, October 16, at 2:00 p.m. (EDT) over Zoom. (Meeting ID: 840 7192 8925. Passcode: 117790.) These events are free, open to the public, and suitable to people of all ages.

Both events will consist of me reading short excerpts the book, offering a behind-the-scenes look at my writing process, and answering questions from the audience. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the Saturday event from Words Worth Books in uptown Waterloo.

“When It’s Over” in Plenitude Magazine

Photo of a blurry figure entering an office in the middle of an otherwise empty hallway.
Photo by sittered (Flickr), licensed under CC BY 2.0.
“I’m thirty-one. I own two pairs of pants and I live in a dungeon. In so many ways I don’t feel like an adult.”

I have so much to be thankful for this weekend. By an odd coincidence, my first published short story, “When It’s Over,” appeared yesterday in Plenitude Magazine (an online literary journal showcasing the work of queer writers), just three days before the Canadian release of my first novel, In the Key of Dale, from Arsenal Pulp Press.

“When It’s Over” is about academia, although I hadn’t planned to write about academia when I began writing it. This story started as an exercise for the Story Course offered by the Sarah Selecky Writing School, which I undertook in the fall of 2020 and which I cannot recommend enough to anyone interested in jumpstarting their approach to creative writing. (It certainly did the trick for me!)

One exercise required us to write a scene that included one of two phrases—“What I’ve never understood is…” or “What I’ve always wanted to know is…”—and a later sentence that started with the word “Now” to mark a return to the story’s action. A few weeks later, after receiving great feedback by my fellow group members and by the group facilitator, I had the chance to expand that scene into a full story, uncovering the remaining elements as I wrote. Then, after the course ended, I revised and revised and revised and started sending it out, and eventually I received an acceptance from Plenitude!

I should mention, too, that while the story is about academia, it doesn’t reflect at all my own experience as a Ph.D. student. My doctoral supervisor was and remains an amazingly supportive person, and one I still feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with.

“When It’s Over” is one of several short stories I’ve been working on about queer characters facing the ends of relationships (professional and personal). Two more stories will appear in literary journals in the next few months and more are in progress, so stay tuned!

T Minus Ten (or Thirty) Days

Today is October 1. Most years this day is significant to me because it’s the day that all the Anne of Green Gables “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” memes come crawling out of the woodwork. (They seem to peter out the rest of the month, almost as though what Anne really said was “I’m so glad I live in a world where there’s an October 1st.”) This year, though, today is significant for another reason, which is that my debut novel, In the Key of Dale, will be released ten days from now, on October 11 (at least in Canada; the official publication date in the rest of the world is November 1). It also means that a lot has been happening lately behind the scenes!

First, I’ve been able to add a few more items to my media page over the last little while: In the Key of Dale was featured in Quill and Quire’s 2022 Fall Preview: Books for Young People—Young Adult and in CBC Books’ list of 22 Canadian YA Books to Watch For in Fall 2022, both of which totally made my day. And it’s been nice to see the novel mentioned in other contexts as well, including a Publishers’ Weekly article on Canadian small presses that I can’t read because it’s behind a paywall and a Book Riot article on audiobook production that quotes Michael Crouch, who narrated the audiobook version of the novel, which will also be published on November 1 by Orange Sky Audio. (I’ve listened to a short sample on Apple Books, and it’s really trippy to hear my character come to life!)

Poster featuring a photo of Benjamin Lefebvre and the cover of his book /In the Key of Novel/ alongside the following text: "YOU ARE INVITED! / A launch for / Benjamin Lefebvre's debut novel / IN THE KEY OF DALE / In Person / Saturday, October 15, 2022 / 2 PM / Trillium Church / (Fellowship Hall) / 22 Willow St. / Waterloo, Ontario / in partnership with Words Worth Books / On Zoom / Sunday, October 16, 2022 / 2 PM (EDT) /"

Second, I can now share the details for some events, including a launch that will occur the weekend following the official Canadian release in two formats: an in-person event on Saturday, October 15, at 2:00 p.m. in the fellowship hall at Trillium Church (22 Willow St. in Waterloo, Ontario) and a virtual event on Sunday, October 16, at 2:00 p.m. (EDT) over Zoom. (Meeting ID: 840 7192 8925. Passcode: 117790.) Both events are open to the public and are suitable to people of all ages. And on Thursday, October 20, I’ll be appearing, alongside Malinda Lo, at the Vancouver Writers Fest on a panel called YA Stars: Coming of Ages, moderated by Tanya Boteju. To say I’m looking forward to being part of a conversation with these well-respected fellow authors is certainly an understatement!

I’ll have more news to share in the coming weeks—behind-the-scenes materials (including deleted scenes and a Spotify playlist if I can ever figure out how to set that up), information about more events and media, as well as other publishing news—so to ensure you stay in the loop, please subscribe to my blog and/or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram. (I’m afraid I’m not on TikTok! I just can’t.)

And even though the book’s official publication date is still ten days away, my local independent bookstore, Words Worth Books (which will have copies of the book for sale at the Saturday launch), is already selling copies it has in stock. So one day this week I stopped by on my way home from work to sign some copies and take some photos!

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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 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 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.