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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.

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.

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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