WA author Holden Sheppard heads to Busselton and Bunbury to discuss his novel Invisible Boys

Author Holden Sheppard will be discussing his book Invisible Boys at Alan's Cafe on Wednesday November 20 as part of Dymocks' Books in Bars events.
Author Holden Sheppard will be discussing his book Invisible Boys at Alan's Cafe on Wednesday November 20 as part of Dymocks' Books in Bars events.

Invisible Boys is the highly acclaimed debut novel from author Holden Sheppard who drew on his own experience of growing up gay in regional WA.

Hailing from Geraldton, Sheppard was raised in a strict Catholic-Italian-Australian family in a blue collar environment.

Sheppard worked for his dad as a labourer and as a storeman in a supermarket - both really blokey environments where there was no messaging that it was okay to be gay or different.

"It was incredibly isolating, lonely and traumatic but I did not really notice it at the time," he said.

"I was just so focused on surviving that I did not register it was a painful thing until years later when I was a really angry man and an alcoholic.

"I really loathed myself, my story is really one of shame, I felt really ashamed for a really long time about being attracted to boys and being gay.

"I did not want to be on the planet anymore, I wanted to take my own life and get out of here."

Sheppard's book Invisible Boys is a contemporary young adult novel which follows the story of three different 16 year old boys who are all struggling with their own sexuality.

"It is very much drawn from the emotional truth of what I went through growing up gay in Geraldton as a teenager," he said.

"It is not so much a story of being seen as gay or being discriminated against or bullied, it is more about being passed as straight.

"The is a story about hiding your sexuality and trying to survive by keeping it a secret."

The novel tells stories from the perspectives of Zeke a geek, Charlie a punk and Hammer a jock, who are all gay.

"Between those three perspectives there are a series of anonymous letters from one of the boys who is about to take his own life but we do not know which boy is writing them," he said.

Sheppard said while the story line was heavy, the book was also a lot of fun with a lot of larrikin humour.

"There is a lot of banter, like the way boys are," he said.

Sheppard will be in Busselton to discuss his book at Alan's Cafe from 6pm to 8pm on Wednesday November 20 as part of Dymocks' Books in Bar events.

Tickets are $15 which include a drink on arrival and nibbles. Food can be purchased and BYO is welcome. Please contact Dymocks in Busselton on 9754 4410 to purchase tickets.

If you, or anyone you know, needs mental health support, please call Lifeline 13 11 14; beyondblue 1300 224 636; Rurallink 1800 552 002; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467; The Samaritans Crisis Line 08 9381 5555; QLife (LGBTI+, 3pm to 12am) 1800 184 527; Child and Adolescent Health Service urgent mental health support line 1800 048 636.

This story Growing up gay in regional WA first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.