Reader Question Friday: In Secret, is Nick Merrick going to be gay for the whole book?

Every Friday, I’ll answer a reader question (anonymously). I’m open to anything (it doesn’t have to be writing or book related), so don’t hesitate to send in a question. Email to or use the Contact tab.

Q: I’ve guessed from the summary that Nick is going to have feelings for another boy in Secret. I’m fine with that, but I love Nick. Is he going to be gay for the whole book?


I actually had a different question for today, but I’m going to save it for next week. The question about Nick being “gay for the whole book” is one I’ve been getting a lot, in many different forms, and now that the book has started going out for review, I wanted to address it here.

Short answer: Yes.

And now for the long answer.

Any time I get this question, I read it in a couple different ways:

1) The person asking is wondering if Nick is going to “experiment,” decide that, gee, he’s not into guys after all, and he’ll see the error of his ways and go back to girls. This is not going to happen. There is no error. There is nothing wrong with Nick being attracted to boys, so I’d never write a book where a character tried it and decided it was wrong. A character can feel conflicted about feelings (and Nick certainly goes through that), but attraction is attraction. Desire is desire. Period.

2) The person asking is wondering if this is going to be a “gay” book, in that the only romantic action will occur between two boys. This is so not the case. This book is told from the perspectives of both Nick and Quinn (just like Breathless). Nick begins a secret relationship with Adam, and Quinn begins a secret relationship with a guy from an earlier book. Both couples share equal screen time, and both relationships are tumultuous and YA-level-passionate.

By the way, there’s a lot of Elemental stuff in Secret, so don’t feel like action falls by the wayside.

I had a male reader email me and ask how he can relate to Nick now that he’s gay. I responded that Nick goes through a lot in this book, and it’s not all related to sexuality. He’s struggling with whether to go to college or stay and help with his family business. He’s still learning how to deal with his powers, and trying to decide whether his secret sets him apart from his family. He’s trying to figure out who he is, and who he wants to be as a young man.

If you’re unsure whether you’ll like the book based on the sexuality aspect, I’d ask you to give it a try. Yes, Nick is interested in boys, but that’s not the whole story, any more than Storm was about Becca dealing with the fallout of a bad experience with Drew, or any more than Spark was about Gabriel dealing with guilt over his parents’ deaths.

If you have further questions about Breathless or Secret, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments. I’m the most open person ever, and I’m happy to respond. If you’d like to ask me a question privately, shoot me an email at



10 thoughts on “Reader Question Friday: In Secret, is Nick Merrick going to be gay for the whole book?

  1. I just have to say, I love that Nick is gay.

    I’m a straight, twenty-three-year-old girl who’s never been kissed and doesn’t overly care, so obviously I’m not going to relate to Nick on the relationship from – but I don’t care. I take every story as a learning experience, and there wasn’t even a question in my mind that this wasn’t going to be the main plot point of the book. It stuns me that some people might have thought otherwise.

    I’m excited for all of the action. I’m interested to see what role Hunter will play in their lives now. And I’m eager to find out both how Nick’s secret comes out, and how people (*cough*Gabriel*cough*) are going to deal with it. Not because he’s gay, but because I love reading about the fall brothers as a whole. I love their family bond, and I love seeing it in action.

    But I also admire you for writing this, because it isn’t something I’ve seen done before. Everybody knows there are tons of YA books out there, and arguably one of the most important parts of them is the romance – every girl wants a guy she can fall for. So to find out that you’ve got somebody for the boys thrills me. =) I loved you for stepping outside of the box, and now you’ve done it again.

    I’m just excited for this book, okay? I can’t do words.

    By the way, I read “Openly Straight” – thank you for recommending it, I thought it was absolutely amazing. It’s easy to see why you were telling everybody to go and read it!

    • Ha!! I just recommended “Openly Straight” to someone else in another comment! I’m so glad you liked it. I just re-read it for the second time. Such a good story. I loved the message.

      Thanks so much for your kind words. Writing Nick as gay felt right for his character. I was just along for the ride, and I hope I did him justice. I can’t wait for everyone to read it. You’ll have to let me know what you think once you do. 🙂

  2. So, Nick’s novella was the best gay-for-the-average-YA-reader stuff I’ve ever read. Lots of gay YA fiction focuses on a gay audience, but yours was for everybody. I felt like it had a some-folks-are-gay-deal-with-it attitude which I liked.
    Plus, as the straight friend of lots of gay guys and a few lesbian gals, I must say that Nick seemed very, very real.

    The implication behind some of these questions you mention — that being gay is “just a phase” — rubs me wrong.

    • Oh, it rubs me wrong too. It was challenging to write this post without coming across as too judgmental, because I want people to feel comfortable expressing their feelings about my characters and their stories, and because I know a lot of teens aren’t sure how they feel about their own sexuality, much less someone else’s. There’s a review of Breathless over on Amazon that says homosexuality doesn’t belong in YA because teens aren’t ready to make those kinds of “choices.” I think that’s simply ridiculous. YA is all about self-discovery, and there’s no “choice” about being homosexual. I really hope you like Secret as much as Breathless. 🙂 Have you read “Openly Straight” by Bill Konigsberg? It was fantastic, and I loved the attitude. You should check it out.

  3. Love the answer! 🙂

    I agree: there’s nothing wrong with Nick being attracted to boys, nothing wrong with being gay. It’s part of who he is, like so many other homosexual people. Readers can relate with him, and I like characters who you can relate with.

    Oh, and I read “Openly Straight” and “Never Let Me Go,” two books you highly recommended to anyone. They were both awesome reads–particularly “Never Let Me Go.” I have gotten “Were You Are” (by the same author of “Never Let Me Go”) out from the library, and I can’t wait to read it.

  4. I just finished reading Storm and really enjoyed it. I love that Chris and Becca got together (they did, didn’t they? I’d love to read more about their relationship) I can’t wait to start reading Spark tomorrow. I decided to do some digging about Becca and Chris and found this. I was shocked when I found out that Nick’s questioning and that he turns out gay… But I LOVE THAT HE IS GAY!!!! I can’t wait to read it! I’m 27, gay, from Vancouver and have been in search of good gay fantasy books lately. I’m so grateful to you for including a gay character in your books (I’d have to read Breathless after Spark but I don’t have an ereader and I’d love for it to be in print instead). I just really want to thank you for making that decision — making Nick gay. Thank you!

    Question though: would you ever print the novellas? I know 0.5 was, but none of the other two are. Also, why are the books in trade paperback? It would have been awesome to have hardcovers (I collect them with the intention of passing them down to my children when I have them some day)

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