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Nicolas DiDomizio on queer representation and his newest novel “Nearlywed”

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Nicolas DiDomizio’s latest novel, “Nearlywed,” is a witty queer rom-com challenging the pressures of being a couple on the verge of marriage, set to release on May 21. Clinically sardonic millennial gossip writer Ray Bruno and his level-headed Gen X doctor fiancé Kip Hayes collide during their pre-wedding honeymoon vacation that tests the limits of their relationship as they hurdle toward their special day. 

Ray and Kip, polar opposites through and through, are heavily inspired by DiDomizio’s own 10-year relationship, complete with generational differences from an age gap of their own. In the opening chapter, a bird flies in through their window, causing Ray to scream and panic, while Kip keeps a calm and solution-oriented demeanor. 

“That whole first chapter is pretty much verbatim something that happened in real life,” DiDomizio said in an interview with the New University. “When I thought about introducing [Ray and Kip] to the reader and each of their distinct roles, I just went through the stories in my head, and I was like, ‘Oh the bird! That’s the perfect way to show who is who in this scenario.’” 

“Nearlywed” has been a long time in the making. The title came from a recommendation for his previous book, “The Gay Best Friend,” and while the title wasn’t right then, DiDomizio never let it go. With the tentative title in mind, he got to work building the story around an impending wedding and the concept of an “earlymoon.” 

DiDomizio started writing very young but stopped throughout middle and high school because it wasn’t considered “cool” amongst his peers. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in music from Western Connecticut State University, he started reading Chelsea Handler, David Sedaris and other nonfiction humor material. 

“From there, I just started writing,” DiDomizio said. “I was writing constantly. I started a blog, you know, all that stuff. So it’s weird. I feel like I was born with [the ability to write], and then I just never used it for several years.”

DiDomizio had already made the decision to attend grad school at New York University (NYU) for music business when the professor of a senior-year writing course took an interest in his work and urged him to pursue writing. The summer before NYU and 14 years before finally getting published, DiDomizio wrote his first book. 

“Before the first one got published, it was actually the third book I had written, and those first three I wrote, those were just me writing whatever I wanted to write, not really thinking about what section of the bookstore it would be in or what type of publisher would want it or who the readers were,” DiDomizio said. 

His understanding of the publishing industry didn’t come until after the release of his first novel, “Burn It All Down,” when he began to consider possible reviews, what readers wanted and how to write for specific genres. 

“You start hearing reviews in your head. So you got to try to tune that out a little, but keep some of it if it helps you understand what readers like and don’t like,” DiDomizio said. “It’s a delicate balance, and you start to feel [that] it can get loud. You gotta start tuning out the noise and just letting enough of it in to be intentional.” 

As “Nearlywed” enters the growing lexicon of queer media, DiDomizio recognizes the importance of telling realistic and relatable stories for queer people to identify with. He cites Larry Kramer’s “Faggots” as a turning point in his understanding of the importance of representation. 

“It just blew my mind because it was so gay. And so relatable, even though it took place in the ’70s. So many gay stories are like only about AIDS. I remember reading a ton of stuff from the ’80s and ’90s and sobbing but not relating to it in an immediate kind of way,” DiDomizio said. “I think even if it’s good, bad, ugly, any kind of representation; if it’s well done and it shows truth and humanity, it can really change someone’s life.” 

As a journalist in the novel, Ray is able to navigate conversations about queerness quite naturally through his essayist internal monologue and obsessive overthinking. Exploring Ray and Kip as characters has reopened the door to discourses DiDomizio hasn’t considered in years, like internalized homophobia and shame — “You know, all of the greatest hits of queer life.” 

“No matter what I’m working on, whether it’s a novel or a screenplay or regardless of genre, the two questions I’m focused on most are: is it truthful and is it interesting? If you cover those two, you’re gonna end up covering all kinds of stuff that is meaningful to conversations that are happening.” 

As DiDomizio prepares for his four-stop East Coast book tour, he is already hard at work on his next book, which is entirely new. 

“It’s not a rom-com by any stretch. It’s a very dark thriller-slash-tragedy-type thing. My head’s been like a dark place writing that, so I am excited for [“Nearlywed”] to come out so I can feel a little light for a minute.” 

Lillian Dunn is a 2024 Managing Editor. She can be reached at lbdunn@uci.edu

Edited by Kamilla Jafarova and Jaheem Conley