As the Codename: Winger series comes to an end with Netminder (releasing May 28), it’s a time to look back. Some may have heard this story before, so here’s the short version. The series was conceived during GayRomLit in Chicago as I talked with Z.A. Maxfield, Clare London and Will. On the trip home, I wrote the prologue of Tracker Hacker and high school hockey player/secret agent Theo Reese was born.
That’s nearly five years ago now (wow!).
Jump forward to GRL 2015 in San Diego where I pitched the four book series to Poppy Dennison, who was then marketing director of Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink Press. Sometime after GRL—and the date is a bit fuzzy on this—I got the green light.
Just in time for GRL 2017 in Denver, Tracker Hacker debuted.
When I convinced the Winger series, I wanted something different. I’d recently wrapped up the Hat Trick series which was my spin on the coming out/first love story and I didn’t want to do one of those again. Theo is the opposite of Simon & Alex in Hat Trick. He’s already an out and proud teenager with a boyfriend and a life that’s pretty extraordinary. I wanted to give young adults a gay teen story where being gay wasn’t a central theme…and in fact it’s probably Theo’s most boring attribute.
I’m thrilled this resonated for at least one young man I know.
Just before Schooled came out in Spring 2018, a mom messaged me on Facebook to ask if I thought Tracker Hacker would be okay for her then eleven-year-old son. Bobby (not his real name) had recently come out to his class and it had been rough. His mom wanted him to read something that showed things would get better.
We talked about the techo thillers he was already reading and I told her what was in Tracker Hacker (if it was a movie, I think it’d be rated PG-13). She said it’d be okay for him to read.
Bobby loved the book—even more so because Theo was a combination computer geek and hockey player just like he is. It was the book he needed in that moment. He’s gone on to devour Schooled and Audio Assault. Bobby’s become a one-man street team for the books too, lending them out to his friends and encouraging them to read Theo’s adventures.
Netminder has been with Bobby for a few weeks now (yes, I got Theo’s #1 fan an early copy!) and I’ve heard he’s been hesitant to start it because once he does it’ll be over soon after. I understand that sentiment when it comes to reading the last book of a series that I love. I do hope he likes how the series ends as much as he’s enjoyed the rest.
Nothing makes me happier as Codename: Winger concludes than to know it had a positive impact on Bobby. I can hope other teens have gotten something similar from it, but to know Theo helped one young man through his coming out process is more than enough.
A note about Hat Trick. I’m revising the series and it will start re-releasing in late 2019/early 2020. I’ll do a post specifically about that soon. However, It’s worth noting that Theo and Eddie have a brief cameo in the new Hat Trick during a scene that takes place during Christmastime… just days after the adventure from A Very Winger Christmas. I loved putting Theo, Simon and Alex in the same place!