The cover of Uses for Boys
, the debut novel of Erica Lorraine Scheidt, is confusing. It depicts two teens – a boy and a girl – kissing, with a strand of tiny white lights loosely wrapped around their shoulders and waists. The lighting is muted and frosted, save for firefly spots of bright. The image is romantic. It suggests love, maybe first love, perhaps, even, the first kiss in a burgeoning relationship. But the title of the novel is written across the middle of the cover. Uses for Boys
it reads. This direct and, perhaps, even crass title, blurs the idea of romance. The cover becomes confusing or perhaps, contradictory, as its words and image are at a disconnect.
As it turns out the cover is just right. Because inside is a story that is – well – confusing and contradictory. Anna, the central character, is seven when Uses for...
Beyond the Book
Erica Lorraine Scheidt is a long-time volunteer for the non-profit organization, 826 Valencia, headquartered in San Francisco. Her latest effort involves teaching a writing workshop for teens, called Chapter One. In the workshop teens focus on crafting the first chapters of their novels. Here is the description of the workshop:
Calling all novelists and would-be novelists! In this four-week workshop, you will write first chapters and key scenes from your upcoming novel, as well as a synopsis and outline. Each participant will choose a favorite novel to use as a guide and as a group, we'll closely examine our favorite novels for language, form, and structure, as well as character, plot, and conflict. We will steal good ideas mercilessly and write until our...