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 actually didn’t pick one until he was three days old and they decided on one that fit his personality the best. There’s no real meaning behind Matthew or Esteban, other than that they just liked it.
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, where his parents simply taught the importance of being a good person and having good morals. While he doesn’t believe in the concept of a higher power, he doesn’t judge those who do.
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.
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!
Character’s Full Name: Scott Alexander White
Name Origin: Scott was another one of those kids that was named just because his parents liked the way it sounded and not for any real reason. Originally they intended to call him Alexander Scott, but decided that it was likely people would start calling him ‘Alex’ which they didn’t really care for, so they switched the order.
Nicknames: Scotty, when he was younger and occasionally still by Matt (sometimes sarcastically by Lakyn); Baby, by Lakyn; Scotty Scott, by Lena.
Birth Date: July 31st
Religion: Scott was turned off of religion from a young age, mostly because he was raised in a Fear God environment with overbearing parents. When he came to terms with his sexuality he began to lean strongly in the ‘atheist’ lane. It’s not particularly something he talks about often, but when asked he still participates in religious activities with his self-made family, if only out of respect.
Physicality: Scott’s noted as being tall, broad shouldered, and usually tan. He has chocolate brown eyes, brown hair, and a sunshine smile. Football and a general enjoyment of working out keeps his body in good shape. His fashion sense is mostly jeans and teeshirts, and he rarely gives what he’s wearing a second thought (often to Lakyn’s annoyance). Height: 5’11” | Weight: 174lbs | Shirt Size: M | Chest: 42in | Waist: 34in | Shoe Size: 10
Sexuality: Gay. Scott came out of the closet at the tail end of his Sophomore year in high school. It wasn’t particularly a good experience, but it could have been worse. Although his sexuality caused some waves at school, Scott managed to hold onto his popularity. Unfortunately, his real problems came from home. Most of his extended family cut ties, his father decided to have nothing to do with him, and his mother never quite got over it. Scott dealt with the hurt and turned to the James family to fill the gap they left.
Scars & Tattoos: Scott was a rough and tumbley kid so he has quite a collection of scars, but nothing really eye catching. I doubt he’d be the type to get many tattoos, but he’d probably get one with Lakyn (Likely something like this, though probably on their shoulder blades instead of their wrists).
Personality Facts: Talkative, optimistic, easy to really talk to, loyal, brave, such a jock.
Quirks: Gayer than he seems, doesn’t really handle personal stress (known to be a bit of a drinker), likes to party a little too much, not particularly academic smart but common sense smart, likes scary movies even though he’s a chicken.
Skills/Talents: Athletic, good at baking, fairly good at advice, knows how to understand situations from multiple perspectives.
So, if you could pick someone to represent Scott, who would it be?
*Throws hands up angrily in the air* *proceeds to have five minute long tantrum* *slowly comes back to the computer*. I read somewhere once that the brain cannot make up faces. That even when you dream or imagine, you pick a face that you have seen somewhere, at sometime. If this is true I need the guy that ‘inspired’ Scott to call me ASAP because I am convinced this kid does not exist. The irony of this situation is that Scott has one of the most simple physical descriptions and yet…*long suffering sigh*.
Zac Efron isn’t a horrible choice (although if it were a movie now he’d be much too old for the role. Which, let’s be real, my entire fancast would be too old). I’ve always been a fan of his smile (which is definitely bright enough to be Scott’s). And that jawline. Whuddup.
Not completely happy with those choices buuuut. It is what it is I suppose.
Have you ever wanted to know something about Scott? Ask in the comments!
Character’s Full Name: Lakyn James
Name Origin: Originally Lakyn’s full name was “Jeremy Laken James”. He was named directly after his father, though its unknown for sure where his middle name came from, except that his mother probably chose it. When Ben James adopted him, Lakyn took out his first name altogether and made the decision to go by his middle name permanently (a habit he’d picked up back in the 6th grade). On Juliet’s suggestion, he replaced the ‘e’ with a ‘y’.
Nicknames: Jr, by family; Lakyn, by everyone; Lake, on occasion.
Religion: Lakyn’s parents were only religious when it suited them (often in public settings), but it was something Lakyn himself latched onto pretty strongly. He struggled with this more in his early adult years, and although he still has a belief in God he doesn’t follow a specific set of religious rules.
Physicality: Lakyn resembles the James side of the family enough that he could be Juliet’s brother rather than her cousin. He has a tall and thin stature, fair skin, dark shaggily cut hair, soft features, and eyes that appear silver in color. Despite the fact that he’s fairly small his muscle structure is lean – he works out enough to have a runner’s body. He has a bit of a dependency on hoodies which range from designs in pop culture to solid colors. He also likes fitted or skinny jeans and converse. Height: 5’10” | Weight: 150lbs | Shirt Size: S | Chest: 35in | Waist: 30in | Shoe Size: 8.5
Sexuality: Gay. Lakyn had a hard time coming out, in part because of his small traditionally minded school but mostly because of his homophobic parents. It happened his last year of middle school and resulted in violent behaviors. The year ended with a suicide attempt brought on by many different factors.
Tattoos: Before he was of legal age, Lakyn had an infinity symbol tattooed on his wrist as a tribute to his aunt (Juliet has a matching one). It’s also extremely probable that he and Scott got a couple’s tattoo sometime after their wedding. (Likely something like this, though probably on their shoulder blades instead of their wrists).
+There’s a good chance Lakyn would, at some point, get a tattoo to symbolize his survival of life, rather it’s meaning would be obvious or not, but I have yet to decide on what it would be. (Personally, I approve of the semicolon project, but I think Lakyn would shy away from it if only because he has enough labels on his body.) I saw a girl on tumblr once who tattooed her heart beat above her attempt scars and I could see him doing that with his loved ones heart beats instead of his own.
+Also, its entirely possible he would cover his scars altogether. Definitely wouldn’t put it past this boy to adorn himself in pale colored flowers. However, that’s a lot of skin. So who knows. Things I’ll think about for sure.
Scars: Lakyn has a lot of scars, both self inflected and not, though they all stem from a rough upbringing. Due to his pale skin and the thinness of razor blades most of his cuts aren’t noticeable unless one is up close or the lighting is just right. They’re predominately on his biceps, forearms, hips, and inner thighs. Other scars come from a myriad of sources and range from visible to not.
Personality Facts: Quiet, apathetic, anxious, tends to keep people at an arms length, values communication, doesn’t like to lie, realist.
Quirks: Foul mouthed, loves video games, gets into things he knows are bad for him, doesn’t talk to people when he first meets them, works well under pressure, sports fan, likes running, likes bright colors despite his tendency to dress in darker shades. Loves horror movies and can’t stand the color white.
Skills/Talents: Very fucking smart, incredible cook, can passably understand French.
Phobias/Fears: At this point in his life Lakyn claims not to be afraid of anything, although he is still prone to nightmares. While asleep, he loses his logical processing, and therefor becomes afraid of things quite easily.
So, if you could pick someone to represent Lakyn, who would it be?
Rasmus Ledin is someone I never knew until I started searching for Lakyn, but I think he fits really well. I’m particularly fond of his hair (apparently hair is a big deal for me?) and his eyes – even though Lakyn’s are more of a grey color I think Rasmus’ get the point across.
I also really liked Logan Lerman, especially after watching him in Perks of Being a Wallflower. He’s just…missing something. Maybe it’s just because he’s so dang cute…who knows. Lol. But I have to admit, I definitely wouldn’t complain if someone wanted to cast him. (And, you know, he was cool with that). Look at me just talking like I have a movie *sighs*. Get a grip Char. (Also. This.)
Have you ever wanted to know something about Lakyn? Ask in the comments!