If you thought being fifteen and asking someone out was hard, imagine being in Sam's shoes. Created by hard knocks from his family and society, Sam knows nothing about kindness or the good life, but he knows what he likes. He likes guys, one in particular at the moment.
Sam is the narrator of the book Freefalling. Though his eyes a brutally honest story unfolds about what it's like to be an outsider in your own world.
Laura Jarratt (Lallie) says there is nothing interesting about her, it's the book that matters. But there is something interesting about Laura because her book, Freefalling deals with a sensitive subject so beautifully that one can't help wondering if she speaks from experience.
I promised Laura that I would not ask personal questions, but we can talk about Sam, sexual orientation, love and the Amazon "glitch".
Sam is discovering love, and the question has been asked...How can you write about such an experience without having been in the situation? Personally, I think you can, so I ask... Do you feel love and the inner turmoil it brings is a universal no matter what your sexual orientation or sex?
Good question! When I set out on the journey of writing this book, I began merely with a character who had a story to tell. However, what I wanted this book to do was highlight the similarities between us all. I really believe that when you understand people you break down prejudice. It's very hard to judge and condemn a person if you know how it feels to walk in their shoes.
Every one of us experiences love in a unique way that reflects our personality and circumstances, but we also share great parallels in terms of our need for it and the effect it has on us. Sam's craving to be loved was never, for me, about his sexuality - that is merely one facet of who he is.
A great deal of the neediness that you see in Sam is a reflection of the lack of affection he has experienced throughout his life. He would never admit it to anyone but he desperately wants someone to see past his mask and to love and accept him for himself.
That is something I think is universal to all of us. And it is particularly relevant to someone of Sam's age. We all struggle to work out who we really are and hide our insecurities from our peers, and we all feel alienated from the world in some way. To that end, Sam could have been a girl or he could have been heterosexual and it would have made little difference to a lot of the feelings he has. But I do try as well to keep it real in terms of him being fifteen, a boy and gay.
Jake (Sam's crush) is far less needy. He comes from a stable and loving family. He's also a very different person from Sam and when the reader learns more about him as the book progresses, there is a useful contrast in terms of ideas about masculinity and expression of sexuality.
I learn about characters from people. I talk to them a lot and I listen more. Every character in the book is entirely fictional, but I think we channel what we have learned about people into our characters, so in some ways they are everyone the writer has ever met.
I agree Lallie.
You did a wonderful job of showing how a person can be transformed by love. Sam struggles with this change because he's not sure he can keep up the act, if it is an act. Is it human nature to want to change for the one you love?
In Sam's case, Jake arrives at a time when he is beginning to question what he wants to be. He has the answer inside already but he's not been able to recognize it. His age is absolutely crucial because he has reached that self-absorbed point of adolescence where he is attempting to discover who 'Sam' is.
He's taken a look at what is around him and he doesn't like it but he lacks the skills to be able to see an alternative. He also lacks the belief that he is worth more. So when Jake arrives, Sam sets him on a pedestal.
A major test for Sam will be when he has to make choices for himself and not rely on Jake being there as his model for how to act and feel. The latter half of the book sees him struggling to cope with that.
I think love can change you, particularly in Sam's case where he has been scarred by lack of it. He is still young enough not to have been so badly affected that he is beyond help. Much of the time Sam isn't sure if he is acting or whether the changes in him are real. He won't find that out for sure until he has to stand on his own feet.
There are a lot of young bullies and kids in general who can would benefit from a story like Sam's. But it would be an especially great resource for kids struggling with issues of sexuality and coming out. Do you think the Amazon glitch will deny kids from finding books that will help them work though sexuality issues?
I am personally very annoyed about the 'glitch' because of the message it sends out to people. Loading the book on Authonomy has given me an amazing opportunity to communicate with people with who have had personal experience confronting prejudice directed at them or their families. They have shared their responses to the story and the characters with me.
When I wrote Freefalling, I hoped it would be challenging to readers with little experience dealing with sexuality issues, but I also wanted it to be a story that those going through sexual orientation issuse could relate to. It's been wonderful to hear that people feel the book could be of value to kids in his situation.
I fervently hope that Amazon resolve this soon. I live in the UK and I cannot see our bookshops taking a stance like that. However there are some young people who would prefer to buy a book like this online. To de-list book on the basis that they are 'adult' material when they may contain nothing of the kind is something I find scandalous.
Thanks Lallie. You're a lovely person with an empathetic heart. I won't soon forget you or Sam. I wish you both the best:)
You can read the first ten chapters of this YA novel Freefalling at Authonomy. It’s free to join, but you must be a member to read.
Authonomy gives authors a space to create, promote, and have their work critiqued. Authors also compete to have their polished materials earn a chance to land on the editor’s desk of HarperCollins for review. And yes, as in the real world, promotion is key.
The first four chapters of my book, Kate, Blue Jeans and a Single Shot are also up for suggestion.
And for those that have the song Freefalling stuck in thier head right now.