Stacey Chomiak is writing and illustrating a book she wishes had been around when she was coming of age as a young, gay, Christian.
“I struggled for about 13 years trying to change myself – as I was really engrossed in my faith– and the only message I heard was, ‘You have to change,’ and, ‘God doesn’t love you,'” she said.
Still Stace: My Gay, Christian, Coming-of-Age Story will be the first book for Chomiak, who has been a full-time animator for ten years.
Getting into publishing was always an interest of hers, and in 2020 she finally decided to share her own life story of reconciling her faith and sexuality.
“On a whim, I started sketching some concept art for it,” she said. “And then I wrote a really short manuscript.”
Chomiak pitched the idea to a few agents, heard back within a day, and within a few months, got a book deal to publish her young adult memoir.
“It’s grown from a picture book into a full novel,” she said. “Which I didn’t see initially coming, but I think it’s pretty cool.”
The novel has been cathartic to write so far, the first time author pointed out.
“But it was definitely emotionally exhausting at times,” she added.
“I’ve still got a lot of people in my life who aren’t necessarily affirming, or super celebratory of my lifestyle, so it’s always a risk to put myself out there, but I felt it was something I had to do… and I feel super grateful to be able to do that.”
Growing up was, “really scary and lonely,” for Chomiak.
“But eventually I did find peace with myself and my faith. I’m fully who I am now, and I always thought I wish there had been a book out there that I could have looked to for a bit of help,” she said.
“I hope this can be it for somebody else for sure.”
Still Stace will be published by Beaming Books on October 12, 2021, but pre-orders for the book are available now.
For readers who cannot wait, Chomiak has also illustrated Rainbow Boy, a book about breaking gender norms.
“Right after I signed with my agent, an editor had reached out to her saying they were looking for an LGBTQ illustrator,” Chomiak said.
“They had this kids book and they really wanted someone from the LGBTQ community to illustrate it.”
The editor had seen Chomiak’s website, and thought her drawing style fit perfectly with the author’s written content.
“I loved the idea. I have young kids and obviously being gay ourselves, we find it’s really important that gender’s not stereotyped,” she said.
“It’s a really cute little story.”
Rainbow Boy is available Tuesday, Jan 19.
Chomiak will also be taking part in a webinar where she will discuss her recent publishing work on Saturday, Jan 23.
It will be hosted by SheLoves magazine. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.ca.