Friday, April 4, 2014

"The Only Boy" by Jordan Locke

The Only Boy
by Jordan Locke

This book blitz for The Only Boy is brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours. You can read an excerpt, a guest post by the author, and an interview with the author. Make sure you enter the giveaway as well. You can read my review in another blog post.

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.

Chapter 1
Rule #3: Every woman will be truly equal,
in terms of possessions, abilities and power.
MARY: As I sit on the hospital roof, I picture the city streets filled with people, as if the Cleansing never happened. I imagine both women and men, girls and boys, even though I’ve never actually seen a boy.
The rumble of Aunt Joanna’s truck rises over the hum of the generator. I suspect she’s coming back from a supply run, but the truck’s bed is empty. There’s someone in the passenger’s seat. The wild blond hair doesn’t look at all familiar.
They pull into our storage building - a concrete structure with a tilted Walmart sign. I race down the stairwell to the back door and peer through the window, just in time to catch Joanna coming out of the building. She’s followed by a teenager - long strides, elbows pointed out, looking a bit like an ostrich.
Amazing. We’ve never had a visitor before.
Joanna opens the door, and I step back. Tall as a watchwoman but thinner than most of the girls, the visitor is wearing an oversized t-shirt and jeans. The Matriarch is going to freak out when she sees that. She insists everyone dress the same.
My arm stiffens as I wave. “Hi, I’m Mary.” I smile, but my face is tight, and it might look more like a grimace.
A whisper of a voice says, “Taylor.”
“Come on.” Joanna heads down the hall. “Let’s get you settled.”
Taylor trails her, feet unsteady on the cracked tile. I wait until they reach the stairwell before I follow. As they climb, I count their footsteps, focusing on Joanna’s loud clanks rather than the soft taps of Taylor’s feet. They get off on the third floor. I creep up the stairs and tiptoe down the hall. As I near the library, Joanna’s voice echoes from inside. “Stay here until I get back, and then we’ll find you a place to sleep.”
I lean against the wall and cross my arms, trying to look indifferent when Joanna comes out of the library.
She frowns as she passes me. “Keep away from her.”
When I can no longer hear her footsteps, I peer inside the room. Taylor pulls a book from the shelf, hands trembling. If someone brought me here, I might be frightened too. Even so, I suspect there’s something more.

TAYLOR: 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.

This book sounded intriguing. I loved the Hunger Games books and this sounded similar. I enjoyed the book greatly. It reminded me of first loves and how overwhelming that feeling is. I read the entire book in under 24 hours so it is a quick read.

Guest Post by Jordan Locke
How I Came Up With the Idea for The Only Boy
Usually, soon after I finish one novel, the idea for another comes, as if my mind automatically kick-starts in a new direction.
The concept for The Only Boy came a few weeks after watching the movie Children of Men. If you haven’t seen it or read the book, the gist is that babies have stopped being born, for some inexplicable reason, and the youngest living person is now an adult. This got me wondering what a world with only women would be like. How would they reproduce? Could they develop a technique to combine DNA from women to make more women?
After many years, centuries even, perhaps the women would no longer want men around? Maybe they would blame them for the disease that nearly wiped out humanity.
Introducing a boy into the mix would make the story more interesting, make the plot more complicated. Some of the women would want him dead. He would have to hide his identity.
I needed characters. Taylor, the only living boy, has just lost his family and friends, everyone he knew. Mary is an inquisitive girl with a yearning to learn more about life before the disease. The Matriarch, the figurehead for the group, is obsessed with making sure men never return. I tossed them together to see what would happen.
Of course, I thought the idea was totally original, but soon after I finished The Only Boy, I learned that the concept (just one living male) had been done before, in a comic book and a made-for-TV movie. It seems there are no new ideas, or at least very few of them. How many vampire books have been written? Avatar follows the same basic plot as Fern Gully. Cinderella has been rehashed countless times.
A fresh take, however, can bring new life to the story. I haven’t seen the aforementioned comic book or made-for-TV movie, but I’m fairly sure The Only Boy is unique. Hopefully, my novel stands on its own.

Interview With the Author
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.

About the Author
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.

Enter the blitz-wide giveaway for a chance to win some great prizes.