By Frank Lowe
Originally published on Advocate.com April 23 2014 10:00 AM ET
Forget if you’re a parent or not — if you’re gay, you have to pick this book up. You will be the first to have it on your coffee table, and it will immediately secure you as the trendsetter among your friends. I’m talking about The Princes and the Treasure, a gay fairy tale by Jeffrey A. Miles. It starts off as a typical princess story but then segues into a sweet love story between two handsome princes, who get married in the end. It is technically a children’s book, but it has broad appeal because of its revolutionary concept.
I now read this book to my son among all of his other fairy tales, and he doesn’t make a distinction. It’s just normal to him. If every parent did the same, the next generation of kids would be well-educated on diversity, and homophobia might possibly become extinct. This book is important for many reasons, but it has a nonchalant quality in its charm. I am thrilled to have had this come into our lives, and I’m sure you will feel the same.
Some of the perks:
- two hot lead male gay characters
- lots of bling! (diamonds, pearls, etc.)
- completely accepting kingdom
- supportive princess fruit fly
- tearjerker moments
- positive gay role models
I asked the author, Jeffrey A. Miles, some burning questions about his masterpiece.
The Advocate: What was your inspiration behind writing The Princes and the Treasure?
Jeffrey A. Miles: I was sitting in front of an amusement park castle watching the live-action show. There were four prince and princess couples singing and dancing to wonderful music. I smiled as I remembered reading fair ytale stories as a young boy about princes and princesses. I knew all of their stories. I knew how they met their handsome prince, how they fell in love, and how they lived happily ever after.
I recalled fondly that I had crushes on the handsome princes, who looked so dashing and strong. But then I frowned as I remembered how sad I felt as a child when I realized that the handsome prince only fell in love with the beautiful princess. I knew that I was never going to be a handsome prince because I was never going to fall in love with my own beautiful princess. That story was never going to happen for me.
As I stared at the handsome princes singing and dancing in front of me, I suddenly wondered, Why aren’t there any gay princes or lesbian princesses? Why can’t the handsome prince marry another handsome prince? Why can’t a damsel in distress be rescued by a beautiful princess? When I got home from the trip, I thought, I have to get busy and create my own prince and prince romantic adventure story.
I'm sure gay parents are thrilled with this book. What has been the sincere reaction from straight parents?
Yes, the feedback from gay parents has been wonderful! I was very fortunate to get comments about the story from members of the Sacramento Gay Dads group. They were so helpful with fine-tuning the story. For example, I originally described Earnest as being a “romantic” but the dads said that was too complicated for a bedtime story. They said it would take too long if their child asked them to explain what being a “romantic” meant. So instead I wrote that Earnest “likes happy endings.” That conveys the same idea to children, but has a fun double entendre for the parents!
Straight couples tell me they love the story. They say they didn’t have a good way to talk about same-sex marriages with their little children, and this book has been a great way to talk about it. I specifically wrote the story to be romantic and not sexual. Straight parents like that Gallant and Earnest only hold hands and hug each other. They say the story is just right for little ones since Earnest and Gallant don’t kiss or anything adult like that.
What do kids say about it?
I wondered if kids would comment that the story has two men who get married. I’m happy to say that kids love the story just like the other famous fairy tale stories. Kids see that the story is about two people who fall in love and get married. All of the kids who have read the story don’t find it unusual that the two characters who get married happen to be two men. Kids seem to see that love can happen between two people regardless of the couple’s gender. I’ve been amazed how easy that idea is for kids to understand and how hard that is for some adults to understand.
It's beautifully drawn, easy to read, and the lead gays are hot. Have you considered that every gay person might want this for their coffee table?
I wanted the book to have a timeless quality to it, so I went with a rich, colorful fairy tale style. I love the artwork of J.L. Phillips, so I had to have him create the illustrations. I emailed him my text for the story, and my descriptions of the characters, and he was happy to draw the illustrations. I love how the drawings turned out. They are so beautiful, and really bring the story to life.
I really wanted a story like this when I was a little boy. I knew that stories about princes falling in love with princesses didn’t apply to me and my life. I knew from a very early age that I was never going to marry a princess. So I wrote this story for children, but I also wrote it for anyone who wants to read a fairy tale story of two men who meet each other, go on an adventure, fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after with their handsome prince.
Will this be available in all major bookstores and Amazon? Have you met with any resistance from any booksellers?
Yes, I’m pleased to say that the book is available in 137 countries around the world. It’s available from all major e-book retailers, such as Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Google Play Books, Apple iBooks, and KoboBooks. The hardcover version of the book is available from most every retailer, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Blackwell’s, and Foyles. One librarian recently told me that she totally loved the book and had to immediately order one for her library.
How does it feel to write a unique children's book in a world saturated with children's books?
The children’s picture book market is really crazy and competitive right now. I’m a business management professor, so you’d think that the book market would have been first and foremost on my mind. But for once, I didn’t think about business at all when I wrote this book. I was inspired to write a great story with beautiful illustrations for adults and children to enjoy. I never once thought about the financial aspects of publishing a book. I guess the old adage is true that if you do what you love and believe in it, then the rest will take care of itself. That was certainly the case for this book.
Are the lead characters, Gallant and Earnest, inspired by anyone in real life?
Yes, Gallant and Earnest are each inspired from several real people that I know that I combined into individual characters. Gallant is the tall, strong, handsome one. He tries to solve all of his problems with muscles and brute force. Earnest shows Gallant along the way that all of life’s problems don’t have to be solved with strength and brawn. Earnest is the shorter, cute, less athletic one. He tries to solve all of his problems with his wit and his education. Earnest tends to doubt himself and his physical abilities. Gallant helps show Earnest that he is a strong man who has the power to use his mind and his body to accomplish what he wants. They are a good match for each other — they complement each other well.
I was also inspired by my own handsome prince husband, Patrick Lastowski. We met and fell in love over 10 years ago! We were legally married over five years ago in California and have gone on many adventures together of our own. Our house looks exactly like Earnest and Gallant’s castle — well, at least it looks like that in my imagination.
If this book is a success, will there be follow-up stories featuring them starting a family?
This book is already a success because it was written and published and available all over the world. I wanted to write a children’s fairy tale picture book. A book that was not available when I was a child. Now that it’s done, I couldn’t be happier.
Yes, I have already written a second adventure for Earnest and Gallant, titled The Princes and The Dragon. The story after that one is about the two of them starting a family and raising two twins, a boy and a girl. I also want children to see that two men or two women can create a warm and loving family together. So it makes perfect sense for Earnest and Gallant to start their own family.
How does one get a ticket to go to this magical, enchanted, overwhelmingly gay-friendly land?
Unfortunately, the gay-friendly land where Earnest and Gallant live, called Evergreen, doesn’t exist anywhere but in my story. So the only way to get there so far is by buying a copy of the book.
I guess I hope that in the not-too-distant future, when I go back to amusement parks, there will be a prince and prince couple, like Earnest and Gallant, dancing and singing together along with the other prince and princess couples in front of the castle. I would love for children to see that there are prince and princess couples in the world, and there are also princess and princess couples and prince and prince couples who go on adventures, fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after. When that happens, then I will see the world as a truly magical place.
Final question: Who's the top and who's the bottom?
All I will say is that Earnest and Gallant are both equally talented at what they do, and I will leave the rest to the reader’s imagination. After all, that’s what books are supposed to do, inspire the reader’s imagination to add to the story.
So there you have it! They’re both versatile — indeed a match made in fairytale heaven. Be the first to pick up a copy of this groundbreaking book! (Buy it here.)
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.