In 2010 my first novel, Crown of Dust, was among several books under consideration for a county reads program. It was dismissed after a small, vocal group of parents decided the content inappropriate. Had they read the book? Well, no. But they’d heard it was set in brothel, and the tagline provided by my publisher – “A gender bending story of love, friendship and redemption” – no doubt put them off.
It is true that the main character of the book is young woman who disguises herself as a man. And money is exchanged for sex. But if you’re hoping for a bodice buster, you’re out of luck. Crown of Dust is a coming of age story about identity, redemption, betrayal, and friendship. It features strong women surviving as best they can in a ramshackle settlement of men. Sexuality is part of the story, but not the story. (And really, if those parents wanted to strip the county of sexual references they might have started by repainting the walls of the high school girls locker room.)
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