Author of the Gay Youth Chronicles series of books, Mark A. Roeder, has quite a following among the queer teen to early 20′s something set – both gay and lesbian. Interestingly, he also has a strong – if not stronger – following among the gay male set between 30 and 60! No, there are no pedophile connotations there…get your mind out of the gutter, please. His books and story lines have appeal over such a wide range of ages because in Mark’s characters many of these men, and boys who would be men, see themselves.
Mark writes what he knows like most good fiction writers do. His two main characters in the book that was the origin of the series, Ancient Prejudice, Break to New Mutiny…, ”Mark” and “Taylor”, he admits portray a lot of his own background, personality and traits. Characters in his other books in the Gay Youth Chronicles series (24!) do as well. Too, his stories are set primarily in small town Indiana in the made up town of Verona. Mark grew up in a similar small town in southern Indiana (which he has since returned to) and he spent some time in a like area in northern Indiana.
Ancient Prejudice… was, as mentioned, the 1st book in what would later become the series. It has since been reworked and then re-titled as The Soccer Field Is Empty. Ancient Prejudice… is actually no longer considered a part of the series but it is still available for sale. Roeder doesn’t explain why he changed the book but, a look at the reviews for the original story will lead you to guess that his intent was to silence the “older” critics in the crowd. The “bad” reviews all seemed to come from people who felt that the book was written in a style that effected the unpolished work of a 16-18 year old writer. While that may have been Roeder’s intent, pleasing your audience (both of them; young and old) is the only way to keep selling lots of books.
More popular books in the series include the 2003 book, This Time Around which features two gay teens in a battle with a televangelist over gay youth centers, And the mystery/suspense/thriller themed books like Outfield Menace, Someone Is Watching and Masked Destiny among a few others.
The most recent book in the series is the January 2011 book, A Better Place which has a gay teen romance theme that features the school outcast and the popular, “has it all” captain of the football team. Mark Roeder promises more books soon.
These books all have their negative adult critics but, overall, reaction to the work from adults is positive. Reactions from the teenage core audience are extremely positive.