Arts News

Local author takes on queer suicide and depression

For 20-year-old Royal, an openly gay Utah author, adversity is no stranger. At a young age, he loved writing. He wrote a story about adventures with Cat in the Hat at the park and swimming in his flooded bathroom that was published in a local paper. Yet, despite his creativity and drive, he had to overcome a learning disability that would stop most writers in their tracks. Royal is dyslexic.

Despite the challenges, Royal’s second novel, Jitters, is set to be released Jan. 23, on National Reading Day. The story follows Jens, a man in pursuit of fame and fortune who stumbles into a coffee shop, not unlike Greenhouse Coffee on 3300 South and 900 East in Salt Lake City. While there he finds the solution to his problems, or so it appears.

“The book is really about facing and overcoming challenges,” Royal said. “I think it’s something everyone can relate to, especially LGBT youth and adults who faced difficulties while growing up a little different.”

The story follows Jens as he interacts with others searching for their inspiration, including sometimes-suicidal Lance, who is gay. Along with being attracted to members of the same sex, Lance stands out because he has a switch on his chest that can be flipped, ending his life – flip the switch back and Lance comes back to life.

“Lance’s story is inspired by all the recent viral project, ‘It Gets Better,’ videos. Sometimes Lance just can’t take it anymore, but inevitably someone comes along and flips his switch back on and he sees that it really does get better.

This battle symbolizes that suicide is never an option,” Royal said. “Lance embodies those battles with depression and suicide that so many people face today, especially within our LGBT community. I think we need more positive portrayals and role models in literature and other media.”

The book, while dishing out metaphors by the handful, also explores love and relationships. And just when Jens thinks he has all he ever wanted, he discovers his goals may not be what he needs to achieve happiness.

Royal’s second novel is his first adult book. Drawing on his life experiences growing up in Magna, Utah, the book is designed to challenge the reader in overcoming difficulties and pushing boundaries.

For more information and to purchase his works go to

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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