Several people have wondered/asked about/were annoyed or confused with the #nocancer hashtag I have affixed to the synopsis of Full Tilt. No, I'm not going to take it down, as I put it there for a specific reason but I will explain that reason to hopefully clear up any of the above confusion or upset.
Firstly, a (hopefully unnecessary) disclaimer: It's not a knock on other "cancer books". There are many powerful books written where one (or more) of the main protagonists are stricken with the disease. I have read the first three that probably come to mind if you're a romance/YA reader, and have loved all three. I didn't put the #nocancer in there to thumb my nose at any other book that might tackle such a subject. That should go without saying but I'm saying it anyway.
That's NOT why that hashtag is there.
Here's why it IS there.
Cancer is an epidemic. It may not sweep through cities like a plague but it's prolific enough that most of us know at least one person who has been touched by it, directly or indirectly, up close and personal or anecdotally, a family member or friend, or friend of a friend... It's fucking awful. It takes many insidious shapes and forms, and the warriors who battle it are brave and heroic, and numerous. Because it is so endemic, I didn't want to write about it. I wrote Full Tilt as an homage to the people who love and are loved until their last breath, and I hoped that because Jonah's illness is something a little more rare, a little more removed from the norm, it would help to give a cushion for readers who might already be dealing with life and death scenarios. My intent was to tell a love story that says, "Any one of us, no matter where (or when) we are in life, deserve love" and to do it honestly. To not shy away from grief or the terrible reality that sometimes the illness cannot be defeated, but to at the very least make that illness a sort of a stranger instead of the common phantom cancer seems to be.
There's another hashtag in my synopsis: #tearjerker
This is there to dispel the notion that because this book has #nocancer it is does not deal with death. It does. It is both a book that has no cancer, but is also a tearjerker and I had hoped--maybe naively--that this would indicate to readers what kind of a story they were getting in to. Maybe it didn't work. Maybe adding #nocancer somehow negated the effects of #tearjerker? I don't know, but I do know the number of people who have told me they were glad this book was cancer-free despite the ending outnumbers those who are upset about the hashtag. However, as I'd prefer that NO ONE be upset over a hashtag, I'm offering this explanation.
And lastly, I did not set out to write a book where someone dies specifically NOT from cancer. It was not premeditated; the hashtag and everything you just read was born out of the fact that Jonah had--and had always had--a heart condition. The story comes first. The ramifications come second. So while everything I just explained about why #nocancer is true, it also comes AFTER the fact. The story comes first. I'm always going to tell the story I need to tell. The hashtags were my effort to NOT dupe the reader into embarking on a journey that might be too difficult straight out the gate. Maybe the message failed some people but my intentions were good, I promise.