Why have the Little J and Roger books been moved into a vault and replaced by Julian’s Private Scrapbook? Simply, it is a scheme to keep them available to readers who can handle their content. They may be “ahead of their time,” so to speak.
You are invited—encouraged—to read this explanation and then decide whether you are interested in reading the books themselves. Apologies for the length of this, but it is not a simple issue.
Sometime in 2006 or 2007, a local TV news item was handled with typical sensational blast. Its formulaic holier than thou clucking was more offensive than usual. It was clear that the reporter or writer of the feature was out for scandal mongering above all, and that the true story was not a concern. Tabloid trash, pure and simple.
Those stories are rarely if ever treated honestly. In the first place, concern for the victim is not the motivator. In the second, they are eager to trash an alleged offender regardless of the true facts. Peoples’ lives are damaged in the process, and the social fabric is smeared rather than cleansed.
The media had once again played prosecutor, jury and judge in a kangaroo court that allows no defense. The innocent are not protected, and the guilty may or may not have been discovered and punished. But those were never the purpose of the reporting.
I have known individuals who have been victimized by the media, and am always offended and outraged when I see what may be yet another abuse by our so called free press. That was the original motivator for writing Little J and Roger.
I created two characters to illustrate a story that might have been told if the media were out to tell the truth. It was extrapolated from real persons and their experiences. It was not meant to tell any particular person’s story, so it was thoroughly fictionalized. The nature of the relationship itself is the issue, not the persons.
Character 1: The predator: an adolescent develops a crush on an adult.
Character 2: The victim: a vulnerable adult gets caught.
The story: how does the adolescent plan and achieve his/her seduction objective? That was the original core of Little J and Roger. The story set out to explore the characters and examine how and why they functioned as they did. No pre-judgments or moralizing was allowed. These characters were examined in their own terms and on their terms. They were treated with sympathy and support, for the most part. The story could have been either heterosexual or homosexual. The latter was chosen; the whys of that decision is another subject altogether and will not crowd this essay.
So: Little J and Roger is about an illegal relationship: what is its nature, how did it come about, and what would its outcome likely be? It was placed in a setting that allowed time and opportunity to focus on aspects that are never otherwise examined. It was looked at directly and indirectly. Contrast and comparison with other relationships provided a context that maximized opportunities to consider love as a theme as well as a topic.
A secondary or companion issue was needed to give the main story depth and dimension. The issue of teen suicide provided an ideal base. The number of adolescents that end their lives because of self-identity problems and social bullying is appalling. The media, of course, fails to take or get credit for its role in helping to create the hostile world that the teen can’t cope with.
In Little J and Roger a variety of personality types and circumstances were assembled to illustrate the coming of age process as it governs what boys do. The context in which they were placed, a summer camp, was chosen because it was a convenient way to remove the social prejudices of the everyday world and maintain an illusion of plausibility. The setting enables these characters to be seen as they are and as they could be. These are the boys that in the real world become the victims of bullies and prejudice.
Placing them in a happy place is a bit of a novelty, perhaps, but it serves the purpose of keeping the focus on the characters: what they need and are doing rather than on the usual fare of mean, hostile forces and the often tragic outcome of their story.
Shortly after the final eBook in the series was published, offers to put out print editions were received. The process of preparing both hard and paperback versions was begun. Such open candor about this subject caused an unexpected reaction in some quarters. There is an essay in the blog section that goes into detail about the problem that followed. [an odd thing happened]
The result was a decision to rewrite the story with one key element removed: the involvement of the adult in the sexual relationship. The story is changed substantially as a result, of course. That is why it is renamed as Julian’s Private Scrapbook. It is now a portrait of one side of that relationship, and the weight of the story has shifted to the secondary topic, the Coming of Age of Julian and his friends. About eighty percent of the original material remains unchanged. The new version is somewhat longer, because the changed relationship came with its own requirements. There are no new characters.
In a nutshell, then: Little J and Roger is a love story, and Julian’s Private Scrapbook is a Coming of Age story. The characters are the same, but the books are substantially different. Both are valid subjects to explore; combining them was a bit more controversial, shall we say, than was anticipated.
Some persons have the view that under no circumstances ought an adult have an amorous relationship with anyone underage. I do not wish to argue that point. It is a legal and societal regulation that, though rigid in our time and place, is not universal. I do not wish to argue that either. I did and still do see a value in looking at such a relationship since they do happen, and often. That is what LJR set out to do, and that is why it will remain available to qualified persons: adults who know what they are choosing to read about.
Little J and Roger is sufficiently innovative and controversial to locate it separately. The door to reading it will open to anyone who has read the above commentary. They are now forewarned.
For the time being, both versions are available via Smashwords, including Apple iBook, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony and Kobo. The plan at this time is to leave them in place until requests to withdraw them are made. A print edition is not being planned at this time.
Most of the submenu items are the same for both series. Those that differ from Julian’s Private Scrapbook are marked with an asterisk. (*)
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