My Favorite Questions

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Is AWFC a memoir?

No.


AWFC is a work of fiction and is not in any way based on actual events, people, or places. None of the characters in this story represent me or anyone I know, even the minor people who make brief appearances. Newton Falls is not a real town and is not based on Newton – in fact, I only realized there was a town named Newton long after I’d already named my fictional town. The Pinehurst school is not based on any real school (and I don't know much about exclusive prep schools anyway). There are enough clues (as long as you give me a lot of forgiveness for artistic license) to find Nick and Jeremy's rock, which is a real place. The only other real place is the town in Maine Nick and Brian visited for dinner.

Why did you write AWFC?

It’s much easier for me to list the reasons I didn’t write AWFC than it is to understand why I did. Certainly, I didn’t write it for monetary gain. I have no expectation that my novel will see any major success. I have no interest in fame and prefer to remain comfortably anonymous. In today’s world, fame feels more like a liability. I’m not processing some past trauma, as I don’t have any kind of similar trauma in my background. I didn’t write AWFC as any kind of manifesto, to make direct social commentary, or to start a broader discussion around child abuse. 


I wrote AWFC because Nick demanded that his story be told.


By the time I realized I was actually working on a real novel and not just playing around with some stories, my characters became as real to me as anyone I’ve ever known. They made me finish a complete draft. They insisted on the endless revisions and polishing that it required. And they are making me share it so others can hear their story, and hopefully be moved by it.

How do you feel about Nick and Jeremy’s relationship?

In no way do I condone the abuse of a child, no matter what form that abuse takes. Besides that, I don’t believe in commenting what I believe about their relationship, because I think that judgment is best left the reader. Everyone brings their own experience and peculiar way of looking at the world, and as such, I’ve gotten a wide spectrum of reactions. I’m eager to hear how you look at their relationship, the good and the bad. No matter what, your opinions will only add depth to what I believe, and I’d never poison that process by insisting that my novel is to be understood in a specific way. 

How would you describe your writing process?

As an author, I’ve come to believe I’m only a medium through which a story is told. The rational part of me tells me that the idea of a story floating around in the ether waiting to be grabbed by an author is rubbish, but I’ve conceded that this story needed to be discovered, not created. Perhaps it’s subconscious, or perhaps there is some true spiritual element to all of this. 


I’m not disciplined in how I write because I grab time when I can. I tend to write in spurts when inspiration strikes. I’ve never had success banging my head against a problem until I found the solution. If I give it enough time, the solution always presents itself when it’s good and ready. Sometimes, it took me six months to finish a chapter because I got stuck or needed the perspective to realize I was forcing something that didn’t fit my characters. The last ten chapters were written in three weeks flat. I can’t describe a process other than that.

Were you inspired by any books or films?

While I didn’t draw direct inspiration from any other material, there were only a few books I read that helped shape my understanding of boys’ behavior, especially under similar circumstances. Many of the novels that cover the sexual abuse of boys do so from a very superficial point of view that doesn’t allow for any shades of gray or subtlety of understanding. They either turn abuse into a complete horror show, which it certainly can be, or portray a completely willing participant, which I find harder to believe.


Touched, by Scott Campbell: I can’t heap enough praise on what I have to believe is an under-appreciated novel. Anyone who wants to gain a deeper appreciation of abused children, pedophiles, and the people around them should study what Mr. Campbell has to say. https://www.amazon.com/Touched-Novel-Scott-Campbell/dp/0553378228


For a Lost Soldier, by Rudi van Dantzig: The novel is a brilliant look into the mind of a young adolescent boy sent to live in rural Holland during World War II. I think Mr. Danzig captured the essence of how a child perceives the world, especially the ambivalence that comes with exploration into sexuality. A hard book to find since it’s been out of print for a while, and expensive when it is available. Don’t bother with the film version - all of the subtlety of the novel was lost until it became a simple seduction story with an all-too willing victim.


A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples, by Rind, B, Tromovitch, P, and Bauserman, R - The "Rind Report": Mentioned in AWFC, the full Rind research is available here (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9670820) for a fee. I’m not qualified to evaluate whether this research is valid, and other studies have been released strongly criticizing the results and methodologies. It makes some very strong statements regarding child sexual abuse, particularly between boys and older men, that bothered people enough to earn Congressional attention and a retraction by the APA under pressure. Judge for yourself whether you believe whether Rind was censored because he dared to buck the system, or was bending  the truth to justify the abuse of boys.


This American Life Episode 522 “Tarred and Feathered” (Act 2): This podcast addresses the difficulty a pedophile faces in getting support to help keep from abusing children. There are few resources openly available for pedophiles, which I believe will only cause more children to be abused. I’ve found very few stories or media that dare to humanize the pedophile, and this one is worth listening to. https://www.thisamericanlife.org/522/tarred-and-feathered

Are you working on another novel?

Yes and no. Yes, because I have ideas. No, because they’re not stories yet. And in any event, they will be very different than AWFC if I write them. AWFC took 19 years - hopefully it won’t take as long the second time around.

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Why is the paperback so expensive?

I wish it didn’t have to be, since my goal is to get as many people as possible to read AWFC even if that means I don’t make any money on it. The reality of print-on-demand for a book as long as AWFC (265,000 words, 765 pages) means printing and shipping costs are significant. My royalty as an author for the e-book version at a quarter of the price is actually almost double that of the print book due to those costs. If I can find a way to make it cheaper, I will.