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Gabe Cole Novoa releases first novel under his real name

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Gabe Cole Novoa — Photo courtesy of the author
Gabe Cole Novoa — Photo courtesy of the author

While author Gabe Cole Novoa may not be new to publishing, his latest release, The Wicked Bargain, is a first for him.

"It's my first published novel under my name," he said. Novoa's three previous novels were written under a pseudonym.

"The Wicked Bargain is the first book I wrote and published already knowing I'm Trans, so it was the first book I knew was going to be published under my actual name," he said. "It felt important for me to be able to publish under my name. I felt more attachment to it and more pride behind my name."

Image courtesy of Random House  

Not only does the name on the front of the novel represent Novoa's authentic self, but the protagonist, Mar, is also the first Trans lead character Novoa has written. "I was more nervous than I was with my prior books, because I put a lot more of myself into it," he said.

Latino pirates and Queer and Trans themes
Novoa has always been a fan of fantasy novels, so writing a Trans pirate adventure seemed like a no-brainer for him, though, as he analyzed the genre, he started to notice something strange. "Being a Latino person, it seems very weird to me that all the pirate stories I've seen and read were all about white men. It just seems impossible to me that there weren't any pirates that were Latino?"

He dove into research to figure out what life was like for Latino pirates. "I found there were Latino pirates, and that also inspired me to want to write Queer pirates at that point," he said.

Novoa also learned more about Mexican folklore. "I was researching Mexican mythology, and amid that, I came across a bunch of 'deal with the devil' stories, and it all started to come together in my head."

The Wicked Bargain uses magic as a metaphor for struggles Queer and Trans teens face. "I was halfway through the manuscript when I realized what I was writing about Mar's magic and their initial reluctance and fear of being caught... was a perfect allegory for queerness," Novoa said.

"It was interesting to play that, because I never wanted The Wicked Bargain to necessarily be about coming out. I never wanted Mar to be scared of homophobia or queerphobia in the world. But I still wanted to write about queerness in a way that is relevant to today, so I was able to do that through Mar's magic."

Novoa wanted to make sure the story was accurate to the period as well, which was difficult when depicting Trans characters in a time before modern terminology and medication. "What does it feel like for this character, who in the 1800s doesn't have access to the same kind of medication I would?" Novoa asked himself.

Upcoming novels
Novoa once said he'd never write historical fiction, but now he has two more coming out next year. His upcoming novels, The Diablo's Curse and Most Ardently, will also feature Trans protagonists — a trend he will continue throughout the rest of his work.

Once again, his period pieces about Trans guys have raised difficult questions for him. "Both my [upcoming] books ... are historical books that take place roughly in the 1800s, so I had to think carefully about where exactly I wanted to be in terms of my characters' transitions. Again, there's only so much that's available to them," he admitted.

Most Ardently is a Queer and Trans retelling of Pride and Prejudice. "The second eldest Bennett is a Trans boy, and Darcy is a Gay teen," Novoa explained. "I didn't want to do the initial discovery of figuring out they were Trans. I wanted him to already know that. He wants to present himself masculinely and be seen as a boy."

Fans won't have to wait too long for Novoa's third book to be released. Just a month after Most Ardently, a companion novel to The Wicked Bargain will hit shelves. The Diablo's Curse is the tale of a gender-fluid demon and the cursed boy who hates them. "That was fun because I got to play with one of my favorite characters from The Wicked Bargain and give them a whole book to flush them out," Novoa said.

Novoa hopes fans are as excited for his upcoming books as he is, but no matter what sales look like or what critics say, he knows one thing is certain: "This is my name, and these are my books."