Colors is an experimental novel I created based on my life, and the lives of my friends, back when I was in high school. Don’t worry, it’s had (massive) reworks done since then, but at the heart of it, it’s retained a lot of the emotional turmoil we were dealing with. I wanted to focus on this idea that, much like school, our lives were separate stories that happened to intertwine at certain times and places, that we then chose to weave closer together by choice. That is why Colors comes in six parts, stories from different perspectives, different narrators, even different styles and themes, with the only connection being the world around them and their bonds with each other.
Mental illness has a large presence in the story because back then it was clear that our emotional and mental states were going to extremes that arguably were not “normal”. I would never self-diagnose or diagnose someone else, but as my friends and I often discussed, it was a very strong possibility that we were on some spectrums for things like depression or anxiety. Regardless of actual diagnosis, I felt our stories would resonate with people with these mental illnesses and so I used a lot of symbolism to have this “presence” of mental illness without making the character’s entire identity be that mental illness.
I thought other representation was important as well. As a gay Mexican man I rarely see myself portrayed in media, let alone as something other than the stereotypes. With my group of friends being so diverse, I thought we would make a great cast of characters for the story without having to change much at all. Again, our heritage or sexual orientations didn’t have to take center stage, but being able to include even one sentence of Spanish in the story really felt like it added depth to the characters without feeling forced. This idea of subtle representation mattered so much to me that the identities of the characters for the first story, Gray, are hidden until the very end because the themes are about love and depression and those are both universal.
On a final note, if you enjoyed reading about it then consider buying the book. It is available on Amazon, I’ll leave a link to it here. The following is one of my favorite excerpts from the book:
“Who is that?” She whispered.
My eyes stayed focused on her as I turned my head to follow her line
of sight. When I did, I felt a sickening panic in the lowest part of my
stomach. There was a man standing there. At least it was in the shape of
a man, but he had a dreadful shroud of darkness wrapped around him.
“Are you okay?” Her voice was barely recognizable. I felt a hand
grab my arm. I could barely recognize her touch. I was so deep inside of
my mind trying to hide from this being. That wasn’t a man, that wasn’t
even human. That thing, I couldn’t remember where I saw it before. It
looked so familiar though. We had to get away! Why couldn’t I run?
The shadowy creature raised its human-like arm. There was
something in his hand; it was pointed at me. “We have to go! Come on!”
She was shaking me, but her voice disappeared, drowned out by my
mind’s scattered thoughts. I could tell she was trying to pull me away,
but instinct told my body to curl up into a ball on the ground.
This creature radiated hostility. Maybe it wasn’t this specific creature
that was hiding at the edge of my memory, but another just like it; a
person who had lost all their humanity.
That thought triggered a reaction in me. I had run into another
creature like this. Why couldn’t I remember where, when, or what had
happened? I had all these scraps of thoughts rushing through my mind
piecing together. Finally, in a fit of panic I pushed my love back to
There was a loud noise in the distance and a thud on my chest
shattered my panic. The force of the impacts sent me backwards and
made me lose my balance. It didn’t take long for me to hit the ground.
The intense pain gave way to numbness, my hands grabbed around
trying to get a sense of my body. Darkness began washing over my eyes.
Had this happened to me before?