Thanks for visiting Gather.com’s First Chapter competition and voting for my friend, Candida Korman. She’s made it through Rounds 1 and 2 and it is now down to ten semi-finalists!
You now have the opportunity to vote for her work in the final round.
Her novel, Wendy and Alice, is a mystery set in contemporary New York and featuring a soon-to-retire FBI agent contemplating the next chapter of her life. Alice is at loose ends until Wendy, a little girl she rescued from kidnappers decades ago, reappears as a controversial photographer. Wendy’s work is targeted by a conservative family values organization and when the leader of that group is murdered she is the obvious suspect. Freedom of expression, sexuality and the definition of art are explored as passionate characters on both sides of the red/blue divide people this murder mystery.
Candy mentioned that this book has come close to being published…repeatedly. One publisher held onto it for a year before turning it down, another held it for 6 months.
Alice was less concerned with a child accidentally seeing a sexual image — they certainly saw enough nudes and near nudes in fashion magazines and movie ads — than she was with the likelihood that pedophiles would find Wendy Liddell’s work alluring. That held a real possibility of danger, but Alice wasn’t sure if banning images was a valid option. Once one started banning art, it was a classic, slippery slope toward censorship of all kinds.
According to the New York Times art reviewer, the photos were ” . . . poetic expressions of burgeoning sexuality that rode the fine line between innocence and knowledge.” Were such poetic images dangerous to children? Alice would not have permitted her own daughter to pose nude, nor would she have displayed books of nude children in her home, but that did not mean she harbored naiveté about childhood. Children did not suddenly wake from innocent slumbers and transform into sexual beings. They were, although certainly not old enough to consent to sexual activity and not physically mature enough to experience a full range of sexual feelings, on some level, sexual beings all along.
Little girls and their kissing games, little boys and their curiosity about bodies, roughhousing, staring, pointing, accidental touching, sneaking peeks at magazines, stealing into the ladies room and so much more that is part of the normal development, and natural curiosity of children. Add the peculiar interventions of parents, and other adults, and the sexual evolution of children gets distorted and accelerated. Alice recoiled in disgust at the baby beauty queen industry, which dressed little girls in Miss America gowns and makeup. But the miniature, sexualized adults in these contests were not creatures out of context, they were simply an extreme example of the clothes, hairstyles and mannerisms of ordinary children, who rushed ahead toward adulthood.
Voting ends Wednesday, May 16th, so please vote soon.