Guest Blogger: Writer and Editor Jessie Sanders

Happy new week, my beloved inklings!

Last week, I promised you some more updatingness of the goings-on in my neck of the blogging woods. Or, rather, my neck of the Life-the-Universe-and-Everything Woods. This post kinda sorta falls into the updatingness category, because it concerns a novel that I recently helped edit:

Young Adult novel Into the Flames by Jessie Sanders — who happens to be friend, fellow writer, and my editor.

Into the Flames, Jessie’s first novel, is the intriguing and suspenseful story of Rahab Carmichael, who’s desperate to fit in at her new boarding school. Trouble is, Rahab happens to have some special powers that keep her from fitting in — and send her right into the arms of the other “freaks” at school. Teens will relate to Rahab’s story quite well, as will we adults who remember those “awful” days of being relegated to the “freaks” pile. Superhero powers or no. ; )

To celebrate the new release, I asked Jessie to share with us what sparked (ha ha, sparked, get it?) the idea for Into the Flames and how that idea grew and changed over the years. So, without further ado or adon’t, here’s Jessie:

The world of Grover Cleveland Academy started from something as simple as watching a trailer for the movie Treasure Planet. Yes, the Disney movie based off of Treasure Island only it’s set in space. You see, when I saw the character Jim Hawkins sailing through space on his little hover board, I knew I wanted to write about a character that could fly — for real. Instead of using a futuristic board to soar among the clouds, the character would use her own superpowers to fly, strapping her snowboard onto her boots as she went.

That’s how Jean Elizabeth “Scout” Wren was born. Ten years later, Scout is merely a secondary character in my novel Into the Flames. I never intended it to end up this way.

I can’t really tell you how Rahab came into existence. I just know that by the time I was done writing Born to Fly (Scout’s story), I knew that the next year a new girl would be moving to Grover Cleveland — Rahab Sapphira Carmichael. And I found that I liked her even more than Scout.

Scout was a loud tomboy who would rather play baseball than read a book. Rahab was shoved to the back burner because she was the youngest, and she allowed herself to be forgotten so that no one would notice that she was different. But I wanted people to notice her. I wanted her story to be told. So I told it.

Now just because Rahab came to me complete with swimsuit, goggles, and bangs doesn’t mean that she was perfect from the start. She’s been through some major changes in her development, but at the end of the day, she’s a caring, sensitive girl who just wants to be allowed to do the thing she loves the most — swim. She loves animals and is deathly afraid of fire. She has two older brothers whom she admires but can’t relate to. She’s got a lot of hurt in her past, but now she’s ready for a fresh start at her shiny new boarding school.

I really started working hard on Into the Flames during my creative writing class my senior year of college. What I really wanted was a novel that was driven by characters and just happened to include a fantasy element, not the other way around. When my classmates told me they loved the development of Rahab and her friends, I knew I was on the road to making my dream a reality.

Creating the plot of Into the Flames was hard. I had my cast of rich characters, but what to do with them? Well, knowing Rahab’s fear of fire, I was certain that it had to play into the climactic scene somehow. I also knew that I wanted to include resident bad boy Bracken Carnegie in said climactic scene. For many years, cheesy lines and completely implausible scenarios ran through my head and were subsequently deleted from the bank. Finally, after many cumulative hours of talking to myself, lamenting to others, and scratching through pages of bad dialogue, I hashed something out.

So now, from a small spark of an idea that led all the way to an entire world, I humbly bring to you the first book in the Grover Cleveland Academy series. I hope you enjoy Into the Flames as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Courtney here again. Pick up your Kindle copy of Into the Flames for $2.99 and get to readin’! And don’t forget to tell Jessie how much you enjoyed it. : )

Can We Bare It or Bear It: The Breasts of Superheroines

So, I’ve never been much of a superhero comics reader. I was an Archie, Betty, and Veronica kind of girl for a good many years, but I only ever owned two or three superhero comics. The most memorable of these featured a Huntress short in the back. I read that one over and over again.

Addendum:
Also, there was this:

Probably 1982 or 1983...5 or 6 years old. Dude.

< /addendum >

Over the last year or so, Josh, comics aficionado extraordinaire, has done his deadlevel best to further my superhero education. Mostly, this occurs through my listening to his conversations with his son and watching said son imitate whichever superhero is on his childlike plate for the day.

Usually, Josh’s kiddo gives me new insights into Spider-Man. But Josh also introduced me to All-Star Superman and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, so I’m getting quite the smorgasbord.

This morning, Josh texted me a link to this blogpost by one Dave Dorman (which, since the writing of this post, Mr. Dorman has deleted). In his article, Mr. Dorman expresses his disapproval of a new comic called Saga, allegedly being marketed to kids.

Mr. Dorman finds Saga offensive because of this:

I know nothing about Mr. Dorman except what he says in his blogpost and in comments on that particular post: He is a father; he himself draws curvaceous superheroines; he advocates breastfeeding; and he finds Saga to be offensive simply because it’s being marketed to children.

According to several comments on his blogpost, it’s possible he posted before researching, as several people opine that Saga isn’t being marketed to children at all, and its creator intended it for an adult audience.

As of this writing, my own comment on Mr. Dorman’s post is awaiting moderation. In the meantime, here are my thoughts on the matter:

On one hand: Superhero comics marketed to kids, in which women are drawn scantily clad or in suits so skintight, every outline of every boob and butt curve is visible. These women are unmistakably meant to arouse sexual attraction. Repeat: marketed to kids.

On the other hand: A superhero comic marketed to kids (?), in which a partially bare breast is drawn to illustrate breastfeeding. Hardly any curve is visible at all.

If one disapproves of the barely-there curve of a bare, breast-feeding breast, it would be hypocritical to approve of the sexy superheroines who keep their shirts on. In superheroines marketed to children, the only difference between the bare breast and the clothed breast is the color of the ink.

I’ll also take this moment to state that I’m continually perplexed and annoyed by the apparently general North American aversion to bare breasts during public breast-feeding. Yes, I do realize I’m coming from a cultural background (German) in which public breast-feeding is considered normal and acceptable; a German would be horrified at the idea of asking a breast-feeding mother to “cover up” or leave a public area.

But this pervasive, North American distaste for public breastfeeding irritates me. To tell a breast-feeding mom to cover up or go away is to express that the breast’s primary function is sexual, which is not the case at all. Yeah, we all know guys like ’em — but they don’t exist primarily for guys’ enjoyment. Breasts exist primarily for feeding babies. And I’m saying this as a woman who has never had children.

A bare, breast-feeding breast shouldn’t be any more “offensive” or arousing than a bare arm. Or a bare hand, if you’re from a culture that considers bare arms a sexy taboo.

For another take on this, do pop on over to read Josh’s thoughts on this. I quite appreciate both his analysis of the situation and respectful but still in-your-face way in which he chooses to present it.

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Weigh in, y’all. I know you’ve got something to say about all of this; just please keep it courteous and respectful of one another! : )