I was asked why I wrote such violent stories. I was asked why I made Tell My Father so triggering. I was asked why Lighthouse Gone Out portrayed celebrities as liars. I was asked why I described so much sickness in Broken Angel. I was asked why I made Catholics look good in The Crash Artist. I was asked why I made gay relationships seem fine in Gay Kids Go To Hell. I was asked why Thymyhn Gold was so sexually explicit. I was asked why the strongest character in Caged to the Ground was a prostitute.
Why the violence, why the hate, why the self-harm, why the depression—most of all why the sex scenes?
I'm not surprised there are people who wonder these things—I'm not surprised there is a person with the gut to accuse me of writing pornography novels. But I can tell you, when I was writing Thymyhn Gold and Caged to the Ground, my greatest fear was that someone would read them as erotica material. I was so afraid of people misunderstanding the purpose of these two novels, I went so far as to publish censored versions of both on Wattpad. When I first outlined my plans for the story of Victim 39, I wasn't even intending to put any sexually explicit scenes in the books.
But then I realized…you miss the point if it's not there. There is a certain channel of readers who could understand the meaning of these two novels. Everyone outside will miss it. Either they will read the original version and they will assume I'm some lustful jerk who just wants to write about all the erotic thoughts that circulate through my head all day—or they read the censored version, and they miss the story.
My purpose in writing these two stories was to allow that certain channel of readers to absorb strength from my characters as I had in writing them. There is no way such a connection is possible without understanding the pain of each character. If you don't see Jade's hurt and shame, you will never know how much he bears. If you never see Britney's exposure, you will never understand how much she copes with.
I did not write Victim 39 as entertainment. If you drench yourself in pornography all day, if you read erotica in your free time, if you indulge in robbing people of their sexuality while their backs are turned, you will be immune to the power of these two novels. Undoubtedly, you will grow lustful of the protagonists, and thus lower yourself to the dirty level of Conrad Harper—after all, you will be sharing in the same dehumanizing pleasures of his abhorrent habits.
I wrote Britney as such a strong character—though I will not say she is actually stronger than 'Thymyhn' as their strengths are so different, they are hard to compare—for a very simple reason. You don't have to be the Texas beauty queen to be worth something. You don't have to be the president's wife to make a difference. You don't have to be the pastor's girlfriend to be strong. Even the dirtiest, poorest, ugliest girl in the world can be stronger than Miss America. Britney didn't have a perfect record, she didn't have a high position, she didn't have people to mentor or care about her. Yet she built respect from dust. Even in her deprivation, she sacrificed what she had to protect others. It goes with that old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover." But it also means more than that. Even if you're that helpless prostitute in the hands of a ruthless pimp, you can still be strong, heroic, and worthy of admiration. As for Tell My Father being triggering…I understand that those mildly seeking entertainment through any of the four books of Jade Leeman's Story may find them triggering. I don't blame these people. They have not seen the things I have, they have not felt the things Jade has, they will never understand either of us. Through no habit or fault of their own, will they fall into this category. These are the people who get "triggered" by one of these four stories. These are the people who have thought little and seen nothing of what lies within the lines of Tell My Father. These are also the people who will obtain little from these novels. No offence, but I did not put the time into writing all four of these for such an audience. Although you may sometimes see Tell My Father categorized as a horror story, my intent was never to shock, scandalize, terrorize, or trigger anyone.
Portraying gay relationships as fine in Gay Kids Go To Hell and why I shed light on Catholics in The Crash Artist walk hand in hand. First let me ask this—why shouldn't I? What secret things do you know about Saffie Jerome that make him so terrible, a relationship he's attracted to has to be bad? What gruesome things do you know about Catholics that dirty Jackson Gillahend's hands if he dares to call himself one of them? Nothing. There is no guild of a sect, or religion, or orientation, or nationality that every person of that group is guilty of. By making Saffie Jerome appear to be a good guy does not even go so far as to compliment falling into gay relationships—obviously, by saying Saffie is a good guy, I am not saying every gay person is a good person. If I said I like the color blue, that by no means should lead you to assume that everyone in my family likes the color blue. Likewise, Jackson Gillahend is a good Catholic. I'm not saying every Catholic is as good as he is. I'm not even going so far as to say it's a good thing to be Catholic.
Now the question about Lighthouse Gone Out is similar. "Why are celebrities portrayed as liars in Lighthouse Gone Out?" I portrayed a grand total of two celebrity liars in Lighthouse Gone Out. Two celebrities, Amber Kakaya and Jade Leeman, who both happen to be in the same band and both happen to be fictional. I didn't mention Demi Lavoto, I didn't mention Britney Spears, I didn't mention Ben Barns, or Justin Beiber, or Dove Cameron—I didn't even say, "Most celebrities are liars, by the way." I even put "negative depiction of celebrities" in the warning notes! How can you still ask that question?
As for sickness in Broken Angel…That's like asking, "Why did you mention 'Barbie' so many times in your 'Barbie Goes Shopping' story? I don't like that name. It was really disgusting to have to read it so many times."
Pretty obviously, I didn't write for the mainstream. I never wrote hoping I would one day be famous for my writing. I don't even see myself as a really good writer. I'm not intending to publish and sell my work. I don't have one of those cute little notes on my novels that say, "Preview only—full book available on Amazon." I have a purpose to what I write. There's a reason I put so much work into it. But if you have never been where I, as well as so many others, have been—you will miss the point.