The Only Boy by Jordan Locke
Publication date: December 17th 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Mary is stuck in Section One, living with three hundred women in a crumbling hospital. She wonders what life was like two centuries ago, before the Cleansing wiped out all the men. But the rules—the Matriarch’s senseless rules—prevent her from exploring the vacant city to find out.
Taylor’s got a dangerous secret: he’s a boy. His compound’s been destroyed, and he’s been relocated to Section One. Living under the Matriarch means giving up possessions, eating canned food and avoiding all physical contact. Baggy clothes hide his flat chest and skinny legs, but if anyone discovers what lies beneath, he’ll be exiled. Maybe even executed.
Mary’s never seen a boy—the Matriarch cut the pictures of men from the textbooks—and she doesn’t suspect Taylor’s secret. If she knew, she might understand the need to stop the girls from teasing him. If she knew, she might realize why she breaks the rules, just to be near him. Then again, she might be frightened to death of him.
Taylor should go. The Matriarch is watching his every move. But running means leaving Mary—and braving the land beyond the compound’s boundaries.
Excerpt: From Taylor’s Point of View
I place the biology textbook on a stainless-steel table, flip through the yellowing pages and stop on a cross-section of a woman. Her organs are carefully illustrated—heart, lungs, uterus. The next page is missing. Not ripped out. Cut, as if sliced with a surgeon’s scalpel.
The library at home has the complete book. I’ve seen the missing page—the anatomy of man. An extinct creature, as far as anyone knows.
A voice from behind says, “What are you reading?”
My shoulders tense when I turn to see Mary. None of the girls at home looked like her—dark eyes, perfectly straight nose and full, round lips. Her hair brushes my cheek as she leans over. She shouldn’t be so close. I ease the book shut and try to look calm.
“We studied biology last year,” she says. “Did your teacher go over it?”
In Section Seven, we self-studied, but she doesn’t need to know that. “No.” I carry the book to the shelf.
She follows. “You should read the part on genetics. It’s really interesting.”
I slip the book between a car manual and a medical dictionary. “I’ve read the whole thing.”
“But you said you hadn’t studied it yet.”
To avoid her gaze, I stare out the window at the abandoned skyscrapers and trash-covered barriers. “Don’t you have class or something?”
“We’re on lunch break.”
I growl. “Go eat.” My voice is too husky, too deep.
“I was tryin’ to be nice.” She turns to walk away.
I grab her wrist to stop her. Her skin is warm and smooth.
“What are you doing?” She wrenches her arm free. “You’re gonna end up in the pit.”
I step away, and she hurries toward the door, shoulders back and chin high. The loose-fitting hospital gown can’t hide the curve of her figure.
I want to touch her again.
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Author Guest Post
Not Your Typical Love Story
My books tend to have intricate plots and a lot of complications. Oftentimes the characters are put in uncomfortable situations, such as being forced to relocate, grieving a loss or being pursued by the protagonist, which can make romance problematic. This may be their first real relationship, even their first kiss. Jumping full speed into a love scene makes little sense.
I’ll use The Hunger Games for example. The relationship between Katniss and Peeta is complicated, to say the least. They are fighting for their lives, and on camera to boot. It makes perfect sense that their kissing scene is awkward and their relationship strained.
In my novel The Only Boy, Taylor is hiding his identity. He’s lost his family and friends. He’s been thrown into an unfamiliar and potentially hostile environment. Add to this the fact that he’s never really had a girlfriend, and I’m sure you can see how new relationships would be difficult.
Mary, his love interest, is strong-willed. With only women living in her compound and with a constant fear of disease, interactions are discouraged, even forbidden. She has never even met a boy and is confused by her feelings for Taylor. This often leads to misunderstandings and, at times, distrust.
Mary and Taylor’s relationship is far from perfect. They have different upbringings and conflicting desires. They aren’t always nice to each other. Oftentimes, they act in ways that may come off as cold or even mean. In my opinion, this makes them more real.
If you’re looking for a breezy romance, where everything is flowers and fireworks from the start, The Only Boy may not be right for you. If you enjoy complicated stories, however, books in which the characters have to work through their problems and fight for their right to be together, maybe you should give The Only Boy a look.
Were you always good at English?
Honestly, English was not my best subject in school. When I was younger, I never, ever thought I would someday be writing novels.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I had an idea for a scene for a book or movie, wrote a few pages and stuck it in a drawer. Four years later, while listening to a radio show about books, the ideas started coming, and I HAD to write them down. In a couple of weeks, I wrote the entire plot.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I write at night and on the weekends. Most of us writers have day jobs.
Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I have a very rough idea of a plot and characters and just start writing.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
About a year—a few months for a first draft, and then six to nine months of editing.
Tell us about the cover and how it came about.
I’m a graphic designer in my day job, so I designed the cover myself. The idea, a graphic depiction of rows of females and only one male, came to me while I was writing the book. When I designed the cover, I added the teenage boy holding the page to give it a human touch.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Definitely. It’s a potential reader’s first impression. Of course, it’s the writing that’s going to convince them whether or not to buy the book.
How are you publishing this book and why?
My agent was unable to sell The Only Boy to major publishers (many of them had overfilled their quotas for dystopian novels), so I decided to publish it myself.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing versus being traditionally published?
Advantages: You have more control when you self-publish, and you can get your book out really quickly. Disadvantages: You have to do everything yourself (design, edit, market, etc.), and your chance of success is much, much lower.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Persistence is key. Keep reading, keep writing and keep learning the craft.
Jordan Locke lives in Connecticut with his wife, two lively daughters and a well-behaved whippet. A graphic designer by trade, his creativity spilled over into the literary world. After years of writing, reading and learning the craft, his fifth novel, The Only Boy, brought him offers of representation from two well-known agents. Now, after the dog is fed and the kids are in bed, you will find him tapping away at the keyboard.
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