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My favorite reviews from Loving Lakyn before it was published ~
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+ What part of the book stood out the most for you? Why do you think it did?
+ What questions did you have from Just Juliet that Loving Lakyn answered?
+ Do your views about Mr. James’ parenting style in Just Juliet change with the background that Loving Lakyn provided? Why or why not?
+ Do you feel as if Mr. James made the right decisions as a parent? What would you have done differently?
+ If you could read the book from another character’s pov, who would you choose?
+ What parts of the story could you most relate to?
+ What are your opinions of the characters? Did they change between Just Juliet and Loving Lakyn? Do you feel as if you understand them more or less?
+ Did the book change or alter your thoughts on mental illness or therapy?
+ Do you feel as if the book accurately explored the topics of mental illness and substance abuse in teens?
+ What do you think it was about Dr. Hoar that made Lakyn open up to her?
+ What did you think about the way Scott came out? Were you surprised?
+ Did you know there were gay penguins?
+ What is the significance of the title?
+ What surprised you most about the book?
+ What disappointed you the most?
+ Did you agree with Scott’s decision to go home after being kicked out the way he was?
+ How did the tone of the book change from beginning to end?
+ How did the characters change by the end?
+ How have you changed by the end of the story?
+ What did you learn or take away from the book?
+ Did you enjoy the ending? How do you think it could have ended differently?
IF YOU SEE ANY OTHER REVIEWS YOU THINK I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT, PLEASE TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS
A question that I get asked a lot, especially after the release of Loving Lakyn, is why there aren’t any smut or sex scenes in Just Juliet. I often answer this in person, usually to the response of eyerolls or huffs or ‘well you could have done better’s. Sometimes this issue rolls right off my shoulders, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter to me, Just Juliet is my book and I wrote it how I wanted to.
Other days, it leaves me feeling insecure and like I did something wrong. Like I hurt myself, my fanbase, and the community of queer girls. Today, I was asked this question again, and this time it prompted me to write an answer to everyone who has ever wondered why I made the decision I made.
First – I was a young writer when Just Juliet was born. I had practice, but the majority of it was amateur. Outside of a few college classes, I had no real idea what I was doing. What I knew was that I had a story in my head and I wanted to put it on paper. I wasn’t prepared for the idea of writing anything above a PG rating. I’d never even thought of trying.
Second – the idea that Juliet and Lena would have a sexual relationship never personally occurred to me. A lot of people will remark that they’re ‘teenagers girls who are attracted to each other of course they’d be banging’ as if teenage females have absolutely no control over themselves whatsoever and must jump the first attractive person they see. But that wasn’t a thought that ever crossed my mind.
I could possibly blame my own highschool experience on this outlook. I am from a very small town, and my graduating class had a grand total of 17 people in it. Out of my entire class I’d say at most 4 of them had had sexual relations before graduation, but can only confirm 1 because he had a baby to prove it xD Regardless, no one really talked about it. We were kids. Young and awkward and acne covered. There were boyfriends and heavy make-out sessions and ‘so, he touched my boob’, but that was about it.
Third – There is a certain comfort level that you must have when writing smut and I simply didn’t back then. In case it’s slipped anyone’s attention, the words in Just Juliet come straight from my own mind. I know a lot about sex, any kind of sex, I find it interesting and fascinating and I collect so many facts that married people will come to me and ask me about things. But the thing is that I view sex as this scientific, factual thing. To take this knowledge that I have, pour it into two 17yr old characters, and then compose it in a way that is either heartwarming and emotional or hot and steamy is just not … simple. Especially when you feel like said characters don’t have that kind of range.
Which brings me to my last few points.
Fourth – Anyone who has been with Just Juliet from the very beginning remembers it’s Wattpad days and remembers that there was a fade-to-black heavily implied sexual scene. I didn’t write this because I wanted to, but because I felt pressured by my readers. Everyone was asking for it, and I spent many nights messaging readers I had become close to and calling my sister and crying. I was stressed because I didn’t want to write smut, but I felt like I owed it to everyone to do so. Thus, I compromised. And of course, people still weren’t happy, so it was all for not.
Fifth – I wrote Just Juliet for closeted teens, for anyone struggling with coming out and wanting a book a little more cheerful to turn to for help down that path. It wasn’t meant for girls that were already there and ready to jump their girlfriends, it was meant for the girls still sneaking looks from the shadows. I could check my demographics on Wattpad and see who was reading, and my largest age range was 12-15. Why was I trying to please the handful of older readers when the younger ones were my audience? Who writes smut for 12yr olds with a clear conscious? No one good. (or ya know, other 12yr olds.)
Sixth – The characters. Juliet wasn’t a virgin when she met Lena, but Lena was. Not only that, but she’d never dated another girl before, nor had she ever been in love. The girls had a year together, but if you take out the summer that they spent ‘broken up’ and the months before they were dating, it was maybe half that, which isn’t really a lot of time.
I feel like the reason people get upset with me for my decision to not include smut or sex or implications in the published version of the book is because women deserve the right to be sexual beings. And they do. But with this specific book where is the line between that being the point I was trying to make, and it becoming ‘girls can’t really be queer unless they’ve had sex with another girl.’?
So why then is there sex in Loving Lakyn? I have points for this too, so settle in.
First – I started just Juliet in 2014, I started Loving Lakyn in 2016. It’s just two years, but it’s two years of being a published, professional author, and growing within my writing. By the time LL came along, I felt like I was ready to try my hand at writing smut. And I had a lot of help with this. Have you guys noticed the acknowledgement? I didn’t throw all that down by myself.
Second – Despite the main character’s ages, LL isn’t a typical YA book, the darkness of the material described warranted it a higher rating, which meant that I could include sex scenes without alienating a huge chunk of my readership.
Third – I knew from the get go that Lakyn and Scott’s relationship was sexual. Neither of them were virgins when they met, and neither of them expected anything romantic either. They very much had a friends-with-benefits start and that had always been a thing.
Fourth – No one is questioning their sexuality. Closeted as he was, Scott was very sure he was gay, and Lakyn was out. There’s no confusing feelings about what they want. And it’s a bit sexist, a bit stereotyped, but also biologically proven that males are more sex driven then females. I also feel it’s noteworthy to mention too that Scott and Lakyn aren’t always having sex in the most healthy of ways, and that their relationship has always been very different from Lena and Juliet’s.
TLDR; There’s no sex in Just Juliet because Lena was a questioning teenage virgin who wasn’t ready and her girlfriend respected that, while there was sex in Loving Lakyn because Scott and Lakyn are ho’s and very gay for each other.
Character’s Full Name: Matthew Esteban Alvarez
Name Origin: Matt’s parents made a list of names and didn’t pick one until he was three days old when they decided on one that fit his personality the best. .
Nicknames: Matt, by most people; Matty Boy, by Scott and sarcastically by Lakyn.
Birth Date: February 28
Religion: Matt was raised in a non-religious home but doesn’t treat people who are religious any differently. He lives by his own morals and desire to be a good person.
Physicality: Matt’s written as tall, with tan skin, dark curly hair, and a cricked smile. He used to be a little self conscious about that smile, but eventually decided he looked better smiling than not smiling, and as long as he was happy who cared? He’s got a bit of a taste for name brands, but generally dresses like every other teenage male. He used to wear socks with sandals and his gym shorts, but Scott broke him of the habit. Height: 6’2 | Weight: 189lbs | Shirt Size: L | Chest: 45in | Waist: 34in | Shoe Size: 11
Sexuality: Heteroflexible. While he wouldn’t personally label himself as anything other hetero, Matt is honestly open minded to the idea that he could fall in love with just about anyone. Although he sees his future married to a woman with children, if the person was special enough, gender wouldn’t matter to him in the end.
Scars & Tattoos: Matt has a few scars from being tumbly as a kid, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary. Tattoos and piercings aren’t really his thing, but he probably gets something stupid on Friday the 13th that he regrets for the rest of his life. He possibly let’s Lena draw him something to cover it up later.
Personality Facts: Loyal, kind, fun to be around, flirty, easygoing, levelheaded, calm, usually the mediator.
Quirks: Can taste individual ingredients in a meal, dyslexic, loves old movies, quite the optimist.
Skills/Talents: Athletic, good at wood work, knows how to cross stitch, surprisingly awful at video games.
- +Food: Hangover Hamburger
- +Drink: Blue Gatorade
- +Alcoholic Drink: Heineken
- +Color: Burnt Orange
- +Film: The Breakfast Club
- +Music: Soft Rock
- +Motto: “The best thing to be is yourself.”
So, if you could pick someone to represent Matt, who would it be?
These boys are going to kill me I swear. Matt isn’t even described in a restricting way and yet the image that i have of him in my head is so clear? I’ve spent longer than I’d like to admit looking for someone but…with no luck. I will say though that Marlon Teixeira inspired his looks a little…or, at the very least, them curls did. I think his face is a little soft for Matt, and obviously his age is off, but ya know. What’s a girl to do?
Have you ever wanted to know something about Matt? Ask in the comments!