Themes in Something Beautiful – Love and Complex Friendships

Hey everyone, I’m Amanda Gernentz Hanson, and I’m guest blogging here today. My book, Something Beautiful, is forthcoming this spring (hopefully!) from Pen Name Publishing. My cover reveal was just a couple of days ago - if you missed it, you can find it here. I’ll be talking about some of the themes in my book today.

I would argue that a reader could find a bunch of different subjects and themes in Something Beautiful, but the main theme that I was exploring when I wrote the book was that of love and complex friendships. And I got involved in the traditional way—I was just… living. And once the story fell into my lap, I knew I had to tell it.

It started when I fell in love with one of my friends. Now, don’t get too excited—I’m not delving into that story here. It’s for another time. But I was in the throes of pining for a good friend of mine when I wrote the first draft of Something Beautiful, and I think that shows in the writing. I was able to find both sides of the story—the piner and the pined after—because I’d had several discussions with said friend about how our feelings weren’t equal. I went into the story with that in my head—how can I show how much I’m hurting? What kind of happy ending would I want, if I could have it all? And from that, the central theme of Something Beautiful was born.

There’s a lot more to the story, as you’ll see if (when!) you read it. Aside from the theme that I discussed here, I was also inspired by two other things—the 2012 down-ballot election in my home state of Minnesota, and my childhood best friend.

Declan, one of the central characters in Something Beautiful, is based on the boy who grew up across the street from me, who came out when we were both away at college. We’re from a small town, and I know it was hard on him—people there are… old-fashioned, we’ll say. I think he was nervous to tell me, which, looking back on it, is silly. I knew him better than anyone else in my life, except maybe my sister. Was I surprised when he told me? No. Did it change the way I viewed the world? Definitely. My relationship with him has always been a little complex in itself, and combining him with the friend I fell for unintentionally made Declan into the character that he is.

For those of you who didn’t live in Minnesota in 2012 (probably most of you), one of the items on the down-ballot was an amendment to the state constitution that would legally define marriage as only between a man and a woman. To say that I was appalled is the understatement of the decade. I didn’t feel like I could do much, although I actively volunteered with a group encouraging people to vote “No” on the amendment throughout the election cycle. I kept thinking back on my childhood friend, this person I grew up with, this person who fought battles for me and defended me and offered to take me to senior prom if I didn’t have a date. He deserved all of the same rights that I didn’t have to fight for, since I identify as cishet. And I got mad. I got so mad that I sat at my computer and I wrote. I wrote and I wrote and what became of that anger is what you will have the opportunity to read in the near-ish future. Something Beautiful is born from the world of the complicated, from love and from pining and from a rage burning deep inside me at the injustices of the world.

I guess what all of this is trying to say is that I got involved in the theme of my book while I was living my life. It comes from those around me and from what is within me. It comes from my life. Something Beautiful is probably the project that I hold nearest and dearest to my heart. And I can’t wait for y’all to read it.