Hello, everyone reading this! Thank you so much for stopping by to check out my (drum roll please) 100TH BLOG POST!!! If you've been following me for the past few weeks, you know I've been planning this for a while. And you'll know that this is going to be a long post. So if you make it through to the very end, I salute you!
It's also my muse, Jordan's 18th birthday. He's not all that enthusiastic about it. But he says he accepts praise as well as actual presents. So feel free to leave a comment telling him how wonderful he is. I'm not rolling my eyes right now or anything.
I figured I should keep the introduction short. I now present to you my list of 100 fun facts about my novel. Everything you could ever possibly want to know about my book--how it all started, character details, my writing process. I've put all of the facts into categories just so they wouldn't be all over the place, and there's a "Spoilers!" section in case you want to avoid them altogether. Not that my book is anywhere near being published, but you know.
1. I started writing this as a short story on February 15, 2011. Approximately 9:30 PM. I was riding the train home from my fiction writing class, where I would eventually workshop the short story (with much regret).
2. I wrote the first lines on my iPhone. It erased them somehow by accident (after I typed them onto my computer, of course), along with a poem I was working on.
3. The short story was 19 pages, single spaced, and took me just a week to write.
4. The idea sparked from watching an investigative special on E! about student-teacher relationships. I decided I wanted to write about one.
5. When I started it, I referred to it as my “perverted love story.”
6. The original title was “Saying Yes.” This referred to an understanding between my characters, that literally Jordan saying “yes” would mean they would have sex. I erased this from the novel version so the title doesn’t work anymore.
7. The first people to read the story were three coworkers at the bookstore I worked at. I gave it to a fourth but he never read it. In his defense, he gave me a story that I never read, too. There were just so many typos to get past…
8. I kinda had a nervous breakdown when one of my classmates critiqued my story as “offensive” and “clumsily written.” I even went to my professor to talk about it, but to get some perspective rather than to tattle. This person didn’t write much else so clearly didn’t put much thought into it, and I suspect she did the same with everyone’s stories. I think I was mostly mad that I actually put in some effort when critiquing hers when she clearly didn’t deserve it.
9. My temporary title for the book (that lasted oh, about a week or so) was The Formula.
10. It took me a couple months to finally make the decision to develop the story into a novel.
11. This was the third short story that I’ve developed into a novel. I have some sort of genetic defect where I’m incapable of writing a short story without wanting it to be longer.
Straight Girl, Gay Fiction
12. I did not plan on the story being gay fiction. As I was developing ideas, the characters decided to both be male. And I don’t fight with my characters.
13. I still struggle with my identity as a gay fiction writer. ‘Cause, you know, straight girl. I guess I’m still in my fiction closet (I also can’t decide if this phrase is offensive or hilarious. Definitely one or the other).
14. I actually think my quest toward become a writer of gay fiction started when I was sixteen. I had some ideas but just didn’t know what to do with them. There was also some manga that a friend let me read…*cough*
15. In case you’re wondering, yes, I do get turned on by the thought of two men together. There, I said it. But there’s also something adorable about m/m relationships that I don’t get from reading/writing m/f ones.
16. I do have more ideas for gay fiction stories (and not just the stupid vampire one). But I don’t want to solely identify with this genre because I have other ideas as well.
All About Jordan
17. When I finished the short story and read it back, I realized that my narrator was completely lacking a conscience. This was completely unintentional but it worked. So I say that Jordan is a bit of a sociopath.
18. I didn’t figure out what Jordan looked like until a few weeks after I finished the story.
19. Jordan is a bit full of himself, but it’s not completely unfounded. He is good looking, and girls hit on him all the time. Which he just finds hilarious because he’s gay.
20. Jordan is very skinny, not short but not ridiculously tall, with brown eyes and short brown hair (that’s just a bit long in the front).
21. I originally ended the story with Jordan dating a girl, but people seemed to think that meant he was “going back to girls” which was not my intention at all.
22. If you want to get super technical, Jordan is bisexual. He describes himself as “mostly” gay. I sort of see him dating a couple girls in high school, but by the time he gets to college, he’ll exclusively go out with guys. It’s kind of reflective of the fact that it always takes him a long time to make up his mind.
23. Jordan is a very good singer but he doesn’t realize it until almost the end of the book.
24. I purposely don’t mention Jordan’s first name in the book until Tom says it when they meet.
25. Jordan’s last name is Palmer. In my town, there is a Jordan Dr. next to a Palmer St. I discovered this after I named him.
26. Jordan’s catchphrase is “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
27. It was tricky crafting Jordan’s voice, but now it’s like second nature to me.
28. Jordan is fifteen and Tom is twenty-eight.
29. I really, really hate math. I don’t know what I was thinking having Jordan need a math tutor. I remember absolutely nothing about geometry.
30. One of the hardest scenes to write is a tutoring session where my characters are going over geometric proofs, but flirting at the same time. It still needs serious revision.
31. Jordan is not the only teenage boy that Tom has been attracted to, but he is the only one to make him act upon the attraction.
32. The hardest aspect of the story for me is Tom’s attraction to teenage boys. I didn’t want him to seem ridiculously perverted, and thought about cutting it entirely and just having him be attracted to Jordan exclusively. But I felt their structured relationship wouldn’t work without it. I’ve developed some background info about Tom’s past and his family that helps explain it more, and he comes off as more paranoid than perverted.
33. I’ve done a lot of research on ephebophilia. A lot of this was reading a message board on a psychology site where a lot of people confess to being pedophiles but refuse to act upon their urges.
34. The way my characters’ relationship works is that Jordan will get something (usually food) in exchange for letting Tom be physical with him in some way. It starts out very tame and structured. For example, their first time together, Tom makes Jordan dinner and then they kiss only once. As the story progresses, they change the rules but the basic give-and-take structure is still in the back of their minds.
35. Writing this story has given me far too much knowledge about age of consent laws. It’s seventeen in NY, which is necessary for me to know for the story. But I know other states. It’s sixteen where I live. I’ve brought it up in conversation before.
36. I worry about the fact that I find my characters to be adorable together. Does that make me some kind of pervert?
Subplots & Sidekicks
37. Jordan’s two friends in the book are Brian and Eric. He mentions “other guys” but they’re never named nor do they speak.
38. The subplot is reflective of some issues I had with friends at the end of high school. Since I had to change the actions to fit teenage boys instead of girls, it bears little resemblance to what actually happened to me.
39. The character I’m most like is Eric.
40. I make references to Eric being like the character Moritz from Spring Awakening, my favorite musical (I’m eternally obsessed with it, and anyone involved with it*). He’s terrified of sex and at one point Jordan tells him to call him if he feels like sticking a gun in his mouth.
41. Eric is the one who helps Jordan realize that his passion is for music.
42. Brian beats Jordan up about halfway through the book. He certainly gets revenge, though.
43. Eric ends up having to choose between Jordan and Brian. I would mention this in the “Spoilers!” section, but it’s probably obvious, anyway.
44. The book takes place in New York City. I worry that the setting doesn’t come across very strong because I don’t actually live there.
45. Jordan’s favorite thing to do is just walk around Central Park.
46. The only “on location” research I’ve done is going to The Met. Twice.
47. I wanted The Met scene for the short story but didn’t have time to develop it and fit it in. So I wrote it for the novel version.
48. There are two reasons for The Met scene. One is that when you pay to get in, it’s a “suggested donation,” meaning you can technically decide how much you want to give. I thought this related to my characters’ relationship very well.
49. The second reason is that I could have my characters looking at art from Ancient Greece. ‘Cause, you know, pederasty was a big thing back then. And I’m all about symbolism.
Food, Glorious Food
50. Tom’s job is being a math tutor, but his real passion is for cooking.
51. Some of my favorite scenes to write involve food descriptions.
52. When my characters meet, Tom gives Jordan a key lime pie. It’s kind of a lame joke (Pi! Geometry! Get it?). Jordan ends up eating the whole thing in one sitting.
53. I’ve never made fresh pasta but I could give you step-by-step instructions on how to. Tom makes homemade ravioli for their first “date.”
54. Since my characters make chocolate chip cookies in one scene, I made a batch and took notes while I was making them and when I ate one.
55. I learned why you usually use salt in baking from writing this book. It helps to balance out the flavors and without it, whatever you’re making would be too sweet.
56. Jordan has a big sweet tooth. This also reflects the sort of people he’s drawn to, meaning those people are sort of sweet and innocent.
57. There’s a lot of eating in this story, but Jordan has crazy teenage boy metabolism so he remains the skinny little twig that he was when the book began.
58. In the third chapter, there is a lemon-vanilla cupcake with raspberry filling and raspberry buttercream. Well, of course I’ve made them!
Words, Theme, & Symbolism
59. I make (extremely) vague references to cannibalism throughout the book that most people probably wouldn’t even pick up on. Except for the fact that I keep telling you about it…
60. My book has colors. Yes, colors, like a school or a sports team. Gray and blue. If I have book signings, I will only wear these colors. They’re my favorite colors to wear anyway. My favorite color is gray and it’s all Jordan’s fault.
61. I think I associate gray with Jordan because it’s a blending of black and white, a sort of moral ambiguity. I also usual picture him wearing gray.
62. I’ve got a thing for sexually ambiguous names. There’s Jordan, obviously. The girl he almost sleeps with is named Madison. And in my unofficial sequel, Jordan’s boyfriend is named Cameron.
63. The time frame of the book is from January to July.
64. There are 196 f-bombs in the first draft. The highest in one chapter is 33 in Chapter Twelve. Every chapter before that has 10 or less. I have no explanation for this.
65. I kinda sorta stole a line of dialogue from an episode of Scrubs.
66. I only use the word “love” once in the entire novel. And yes, it is in the phrase “make love.” You’d be surprised how hard it is to not use a word.
67. I also only use the word “pedophile” once. It seemed too obvious and technically, Tom is an ephebophile. But since I didn’t even know that word before I started this story, I didn’t think Jordan would know what it was, either.
68. As of right now, there are twenty chapters. I plan on making the chapters much shorter in the second draft, so there will be more.
69. Actually, there technically are only nineteen chapters. Because I had to edit the first few chapters (for a novel-in-progress contest), things shifted before I went back to where I left off. I didn’t change the numbers for the later chapters, so technically there is no Chapter 7.
70. I have some backwards symbolism in my book. Meaning, I have a few objects that I know could be symbolic, I just don’t know what I want them to be symbolic for yet.
71. The basic theme of my book is that a person can never completely fight off who they are, even if they try to suppress bits of themselves.
72. I call my theme “The Inevitability of Self.” I could totally write an entire AP English style paper on this.
73. The first draft has 70,900 words.
74. I was convinced I would never find a song that would fit my book. I now have a full playlist, as well as playlists for certain characters.
75. The first song I added to the playlist was “The No Seatbelt Song” by Brand New. I’ve always loved this song to death but it was ruined by the fact that I associated it with my first boyfriend. I like to think that Jordan saved the song for me. It’s one of my favorite songs of all time now.
76. Jordan has over 10,000 songs on his iPod.
77. My two favorite CDs to listen to for writing this book were Brand New’s The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me and Duncan Sheik’s Covers ‘80s. I imagine that Brand New is Jordan’s favorite band and Duncan Sheik is my favorite singer (*see #40!), plus the tone of both CDs seem to fit the book in my mind.
78. I can picture an opening title sequence for a movie version set to “Stripped” by Duncan Sheik.
79. The song I imagine during the sex scene is “Handcuffs” by Brand New.
80. By the end of the book, Jordan and Eric have started a band and are writing songs. I know I have to write at least some lyrics. This terrifies me. I have no musical talent whatsoever.
81. I fully intend to write a screenplay version of my book.
82. If my book is ever turned into a movie, I will give the actors gift baskets filled with Chapstick, breath mints, and antacid. Lots of kissing and eating.
83. I don’t have a dream actor for Jordan. This is partially because I haven’t seen an actor who seemed to fit. It’s also because I haven’t tried very hard, not wanting to become attached to someone who would get too old to play the part (should all my movie dreams come true).
84. I have no idea what the sort of legal issues would be in filming a movie like this, but I don’t think I would want the actor playing Jordan to be older than 17 (18 if absolutely necessary). But I also think an actual 15-year-old would be too young.
85. My absolutely perfect, don’t even try to change my mind, dream actor for Tom is Jonathan Groff (*You weren’t paying attention, were you? See #40!!!). After I finished the short story, I realized Tom looked like him and then I was doomed from that moment on. I probably did it subconsciously because even in the depths of my brain I’m still a spaz.
86. I fell in love with the idea of Anne Hathaway playing Jordan’s mom after seeing one of the first trailers for The Dark Knight Rises. I thought she would be able to pull of the combination of cynicism and sarcasm that is necessary for the character.
87. For about eight months during this year, both of my dream actors were actually the ages of my characters (28 and 30). Coincidence? I think not!
88. Jordan kind of gets the idea for his and Tom’s relationship from his mother, who has a similar “get things in exchange for sex” kind of relationship with her boss, who is also about twice her age. She never actually mentions any of it, but Jordan is pretty sure of what is going on.
89. Jordan’s mom was 15 when he was born. I don’t reveal this until about halfway through the novel.
90. There isn’t a single reference to Jordan’s father. He has no idea and doesn’t actually care, so it seemed unimportant to mention. Plus I like not answering an obvious question.
91. I came up with a plot twist (and one of my favorite parts of the book) while having a half-drunk,half-asleep dream about my characters.
92. The twist involves the fact that Jordan and Tom both almost cheat on each other on the same night. But it’s hard to call it cheating since they’re not actually in a relationship.
93. Jordan has to come out to four different people over the course of the novel. One time isn’t actually necessary, since the person already knows. Three of the times it’s completely calculated and to him, serves some greater purpose.
94. Jordan and Tom have a ridiculously intense fight about ¾ into the novel. It upset me writing it and actually gives me chills when I go back and read it.
95. When one of my coworkers gave me back the short story, she said, “I don’t think this was a story about a pedophile and a bi-curious teenager. This is a story about a pedophile and a sadist.” I don’t necessarily think Jordan is a sadist but it was a big sigh of relief for me because she got it. I don’t think anyone in my fiction class understood this.
96. There is a hand job scene in the book and it’s actually more explicit than the sex scene.
97. Jordan and Tom have a rather scandalous conversation via text message while Jordan is at lunch at school. The texts themselves are good, but trying to balance them out with what else is happening in the scene is very difficult.
98. I wanted the sex scene to be a bit vague. Initially I thought this was because Jordan didn’t care about it by the time it happens (this fits the short story), but now it’s more like he’s sad and doesn’t want to admit it, and also is embarrassed to share all the messy details.
99. The last line of dialogue is, “Well, thanks.” It’s what Jordan says to Tom before he leaves.
100. I finished the novel on October 11, 2013 at 11:50 PM.
There you have it! I can't believe it's actually over. I'm thinking I'll take a quick break from blogging, at least for tomorrow. I don't have to stick to my rigid schedule anymore but I do want to stay active. I'll probably be back on Wednesday. I hope you enjoyed all of the nonsense that was my 100th post. Now I just have to come up with an idea for 200...