I will be updating the Blog Tour page, once new links/posts are live ;)
Oct 2010: I’ll also be seeing to my next project, an urban fantasy featuring cyberpunk elves.
This was originally posted on 26 Oct 2010 @ Long Live the Lit (blog is now unavailable).
I’ve pasted it here for now :)
Gender Stereotypes — Guest Post by Jess C Scott (26 Oct 2010)
BOOK SUMMARY: A 17-year-old intern must choose between trusting an irresistibly suave dance instructor — or her instincts. SINS07 is a series featuring lighthearted tales that explore each of the seven sins in order, beginning with lust.
My most recent publication is a YA novel titled, 1: The Intern, part of a SINS07 “seven deadly sins” series. While my first book also focused on the theme of lust/desire/sexuality (EyeLeash: A Blog Novel @ http://eyeleash.wordpress.com), 1: The Intern is more mainstream (the blog novel features blog posts and IM chats throughout).
There are certain elements, however, that feature throughout my writing projects. One is the concept of stereotypes — gender stereotypes, especially.
The girls/females/women in my books tend to not be afraid to think, and/or have an opinion (which does not necessarily mean they’re self-righteous bitches — thinking clearly has nothing to do with how malicious one is, as a person). The ladies I write about tend not to obsess about their weight and/or how skinny they are. They also have sex drives, and aren’t afraid of it (1: The Intern doesn’t contain anything explicit). Having “a man” in their life is not their one and only aim in life.
As for the boys/males/men, the guys I write about generally aren’t afraid to feel, and/or talk about or explore their feelings [which does not necessarily mean they’re gay -- knowing oneself includes being aware of both the masculine and feminine traits in oneself (as the eminent Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung mentions, in his work)]. Stereotypically, “masculine” feelings would include aggression and sexual desire. If I were a guy, I would find life to be very dreary and tense, if I were to live life according to those limitations.
When I was a gawky eleven-year-old (on the brink of teenagedom), I used to bash males for a while. I was very aware of the “divide” between the sexes. Later on in life (maybe once I hit 17 — I’ll turn 24 in September), I started realizing that either gender bashing the other wasn’t really going to help anyone, essentially. This has begun to settle into (what I hope is) an inner wisdom, which allows me to express more generosity/kindness and acceptance towards others (unless they’re really mean-spirited-to-the-core sorts, devoid of any conscience).
One of the reasons I’ve always loved to write is the freedom it allows me — to discover new things, about myself, others, life, love, humanity, and everything/anything in between. Life is a journey toward inner wholeness, and something which I explore and record via the stories I share.
Jess identifies herself as an author/artist/non-conformist. Her literary work has appeared in a diverse range of publications, such as Word Riot, ITCH Magazine, and The Battered Suitcase. She is currently working on the SINS07 series, as well as an urban fantasy project featuring cyberpunk elves. Her novella, The Devilin Fey, hit #1 in Amazon’s “Hot New Releases in Bargain Books” in July 2010.
* Writing that Appeals to Both Genders (Jess C Scott | 16 Nov 2011)
* Male Emotions in the Media (Jess’s guest post for Femmedia | March 2012)
I recently wrote on my main blog that I re-did a couple of outlines for two novellas I’ll be working on very soon.
Before starting work on those two novellas, I decided to re-do the outline for 2: The Heiress as well (there were several aspects that “just weren’t working out,” so I looked at it from a new perspective to “enliven” the plot somewhat).
I may outline the other Sins07 books and do them in random order (I MAY jump to #5, Greed, after Book02 is done!)…and while I would like to work faster, I know I’m not superhuman and have to prioritize which project(s) to see to first.
I’ll be tackling a couple of urban fantasy projects up to mid-2012 (I’d like to try and complete the cyberpunk Elven trilogy by then), after which I should have the time + opportunity to fully focus on the remaining books in this Sins07 series.
I enjoy doing things all the way (not halfway), so I *will* complete the Sins07 series [it may just take a little longer than I ideally envisioned ;)].
I also like to plan things out and have a clear/precise execution, because I feel more comfortable going the slower/steadier route as opposed to rushing to do/complete something faster (which might lead to a shoddier final product/result).
2: The Heiress is the fourth project on my “to-do list” — will do my best to get to it as soon as I am able to :)
Part I: The Heiress (Gluttony)
The second deadly sin is “gluttony.” I initially thought of having a model as the protagonist. I considered having a male model as the protagonist too. Eating disorders came into the picture — but then I took a step back, and remembered the theme/concept I initially had in mind for this entire Sins07 “seven deadly sins” series.
–> Image from Julie Morstad / Tiny Showcase
Right from the start, I’d always wanted an element of fun and light-heartedness throughout the books (“light-hearted” in the “cheerfully optimistic and hopeful” sense — not in a completely carefree, frivolous sense). The whole aspect of eating disorders just wasn’t right, with regards to the concept/vision for the series. I watched almost all the episodes of What’s Eating You? on E! Online (I love that channel — that, and A&E). I know a few people in real life who have suffered or are currently suffering from some kind of eating disorder. There is nothing fun about eating disorders. Most of the time, it is something very miserable, demoralizing, and anxiety-inducing. While I can understand the inner turmoil and the seriousness of eating disorders, I just didn’t feel that it’d be a good fit for this YA series I am currently working on.
My “Plan B” (if I wasn’t going to cast a model as the protagonist) was to feature an “heiress” (which immediately brought to mind: Paris Hilton!). The character could still do some modeling on the side, but she would have more money, power, and control, than a super-thin model working for a modeling agency / in the fashion industry. It would also allow for more interesting possibilities and various plot twists, than if I’d gone the modeling/staying skinny/eating disorders route.
I have always believed in providing/creating the changes I would like to see in real life (instead of whining and griping about “things I don’t like”). The heiress can have friends who are models, or who suffer from quite-severe eating disorders (to up the book’s “relevance”)…but this would not be a “defining trait” of the protagonist herself. If it was (which would be the case, if she were a model who binged and purged on a consistent basis in order to “eat all she wanted” but “still remain thin”)…I would have to compromise a lot of the “fun” element in the plot.
One thing remains the same: the focus on wastage. I believe that is the sinful aspect of gluttony — the actual wastage of food and consumption of too much, when others are literally dying because they don’t have enough.
Part II: Gender Balance
I think the third book will feature a lead male protagonist. To even things out, maybe I’ll have 3 females and 3 males (from Book01 to Book06), and a girl and guy for Book07 (I’m very “diplomatic” that way). I think I was thinking of a bisexual best friend for the lead male in Book03 (Sloth) too — though the protagonist is likely to be more heterosexual than heteroflexible. But I thought it’d be more interesting if his best friend were bi/gay/sexually ambiguous.
It might go along these lines (with regards to the gender of the protagonists):
Book01 (Lust) — The Intern / Suzie Q (17, Female)
Book02 (Gluttony) — The Heiress / Female
Book03 (Sloth) — The Junkie / Male
Book04 (Envy) — Female
Book05 (Greed) — Male (something to do with banking/finance, presumably)
Book06 (Anger) — Male
Book07 (Pride) — Male & Female
I suppose it might come as a surprise that I chose to write a mainstream “seven deadly sins” series [though I do have a darker, more "alternative" version I'd like to play around with in future ;)]. My first two books were multiple-genre-crossing — I don’t intend to experiment too much with the writing style which will characterize the SINS07 series.
What I did have in mind was something lighthearted and humorous (without being devoid of substance — I always aim for some level of substance, according to my standards).
I deliberately chose not to glam up popularity, sex, and drugs [(like in Gossip Girl, etc, so if you enjoy those books, my books will probably not be your cup of tea (you're still always free to check out some excerpts!)].
The psychologist Abraham Maslow studied what he called exemplary people, such as Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt. I think I follow a slightly similar work ethic, with my writing material.
I like to create/write about protagonists who go through a journey, and come out better people — a journey where the character’s true worth isn’t based on superficial traits like one’s physical hotness/drool factor. What makes a real relationship an ultimate experience is the actual interactions between the two people that are supposed to be sharing a love. I don’t subscribe to the notion of “true love” being based on “how hot the person is” — because at the end of the day, there still will be a real, living person underneath the exterior. A beautiful soul and a beautiful body are not necessarily the same thing.
So, as I was saying…I believe there is a lot more to life than popularity, sex, and drugs. And while these elements are common in the subject matter of teen books/products (and aren’t completely left out in the SINS07 series — that would be a little bit unrealistic, especially since it *is* a “deadly sins” series), SINS07 will feature such elements in a fun (and purposeful) way.
I respect my readers that way.
In 1: The Intern, Suzie Q comes from Nova Academy, “one of the finest high schools in the country.” She scored/scores high on Languages and Linguistics.
There are a few phrases that appear throughout the book, in a language other than English. Here are a few excerpts.
1. Hueles rico / Spanish
Excerpt from Chapter 3:
“I speak a couple of languages,” I say, “like Spanish and Mandarin. I think Spanish is a real sexy language.”
“Hueles rico,” he says in fluent Spanish. He leans in. “You smell good,” he whispers.
I don’t know what to think. Is he flirting with me?
2. coureur de jupons (womanizer) / French
Excerpt from Chapter 6:
“Stefan,” she says to him in a sharp, “I-wish-you’d-stop-it” kind of tone as she steps towards him. Both are still hidden by the stage curtain. To the audience, that is. Then she fires off something to him in another language. It sounds French. She says something that sounds like “coureur de jupons,” and tugs on her skirt angrily when she says that.
3. non ije ppajyo borosso / Korean
“Hello.” This is the time Toshio chooses to appear. “How was the Six to Five party yesterday?”
The private party for Jo.Zee’s friend’s new clothing line.
“Okay,” Jo.Zee says to him. “How’s the Rainism dance going?”
“Bad. I trip at the non ije ppajyo borosso part.”
If I’m not wrong, that’s Korean for, “Now you’ve completely fallen in.”
I don’t hear much else because I’m more focused on mentally strangling the brainless, senseless, witless, clueless dude for interrupting a moment of opportunity. I look out to the sea for a while, enjoying the view, then continue to eavesdrop on their conversation.
# # # # #
P.S. Here is a small sample of phrases in various languages (that don’t appear in 1: The Intern, but are interesting nonetheless):
1. ba wo de ai qing huan gei wo / “Return the love that I gave to you”/ Mandarin (a really nice and famous song by Teresa Teng!)
2. Ouçam à vários, falem com poucos / “Listen to many, speak to a few” / Portuguese
3. aut viam inveniam aut faciam / “I will either find a way or make one” / Latin (beautiful language)
4. Mía glóssa then íne poté arketí / “One language is never enough” / Greek
5. maa gridhah kas-ya-swid-dha-nam / “Do not covet others’ wealth / ancient Sanskrit
6. Nôû töøng khuùc ruoät / “Blow my mind” and/or “extreme pleasure” / Vietnamese
7. Raucht Ihnen der Kopf / “Does your head spin?” / German
# # # # #
P.P.S. A smattering of Spanish and Mandarin appear in a couple of my other books (not in the SINS07 series). Wonder what languages I’ll feature next time!
One of the reasons I like love Vladimir Nabokov’s works so much is the attention he gives to “the details,” such as the names of characters. Now while I’m not making any comparisons between 1: The Intern (first book in the SINS07 series) and Lolita, I did spend some time tweaking the names of characters and places (as I always do with all of my writing material — if the names aren’t right, nothing is).
1. SUZIE Q (Intern #1)
Yep, directly as a result of listening to “Suzy Q” on repeat — I like the song, I like the beat, I like the guitar licks. I just wanted the girl’s name to be musically/lyrically linked to a rock-n-roll song :) [it'll make more sense once you link the lyrics to the first page in the book].
2. CHESTER TAYLOR ADAMSKI (Intern #2)
Because I was playing around with his name being “Chester T., and his nickname being “Chas-ti-ty” (he’s referred to as “Chester” mostly, throughout the book), since the theme/concept of Book 1 in the SINS07 seven deadly sins series is “lust” after all.
I changed his name to Chester Evans (based on feedback that the last name “Adamski” was “too weird”), then I changed it back again. I thought it sounded more interesting / better suited the character (no offense to any “Chester Evanses” out there).
3. JO.ZEE (21 year old dance instructor/choreographer)
A.K.A. “Josh/Joshua Zee” — I thought adding the dot in the name was a contemporary touch, like Will.i.am and Linkin Park’s song, Figure.09. Probably subconsciously influenced by a dance student I knew, whose name incidentally, was Joshua. Damn, he was really hot.
4. FUNKY FUNKY (night club)
– Image from Atlanta Exchange.
A dance battle takes place at a club called Funky², in the book (the club is first mentioned in Chapter 2, when the interns are on their way to their hotel). There’s a real club in Seoul called Club Funky Funky (a small club which combines a live band with a DJ who plays anything from rock and funk to hip-hop).
5. TRESOR ACADEMY (Hairdressing Academy)
– Image from Toni & Guy HK.
Trésor means “treasure” in French (mentioned in the book too). This is really a fictitious version of the Toni & Guy Academy, which I practically visited on a monthly basis during my late teen years. They were/are really good.
6. ROXETH (Setting / City)
– Photo by MARKNKL.
Roxeth is actually a real place (in the UK / 5 seconds’ research on Google will tell you where exactly). I liked the sound of the name (something cool, and a little bit edgy). The cities in my writing projects tend to be generic/fictitious cities, instead of the actual names of the real places. I feel there’s more room for variation/reader interpretation, that way.
P.S. I grew up in Singapore (the picture above), so every urban city is always going to have an element of “familiarity” to me, heh.
7. LYSISTRATA MUSEUM (Site of Internship)
I had to always check the spelling of “Lysistrata” at first. It’s a play written by Aristophanes.
* Side Note: The whole idea of the museum internship was influenced by some blog posts I read by a museum intern.