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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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