Monday, February 18, 2013

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About “Naked As We Came”

Side Note: In celebration of my recent book release, "Naked As We Came," I decided to do a little blog post to feature some interesting tidbits I discovered soon after writing it. Admittedly, some of the things listed aren't exactly earth-shattering revelations, but I thought that this would be a cool way to let you guys know a bit more about the book, its themes and plot. Enjoy! 

You know those behind-the-scenes featurettes they have on DVDs? Well, this blog post will sort of be just like that. For me, it’s always fun to see the backstory of things. I want all the juicy details no matter how big or small. So I thought it’d be fun to share some featurettes with you guys. This little list is ten things I thought up while writing “Naked As We Came.” These things are in no particular order and some even surprised me once I was done.

So to begin…

The title for “Naked As We Came” was pulled from the chorus of a song of the same name by Iron and Wine.
This little indie group definitely deserves some major recognition since a lot of the scenes from the book were inspired by some of their songs. Songs like:

Love Vigilantes
Flightlesss Bird American Mouth
Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me
Fever Dream

The concept of “Naked As We Came” was largely inspired by Planet Of The Apes. One of the best classic movies of our time is “Planet Of The Apes.” One night I’d come across this little gem while surfing Netflix and as I watched, I started to brainstorm and wonder how my version of their world would turn out. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got. Characters began to come to life and I knew I had to get it on paper before I’d forgotten it. Soon, everything fell into place. In my version, “Planet of the Apes” became a science fiction spin of “Romeo & Juliet.” With a bit more tweaking, my Romeo and Juliet became the main characters, Cassidy and Alyen.

 The main character Cassidy is based on a real person in my life.
Cassidy didn’t just appear to me in a dream. She began as a living, breathing person and I just fictionalized certain aspects of her. Oddly enough, over the course of writing the book, Cassidy soon began to remind me of my mother. Both of them are strong-willed, stubborn, fierce and protective of family. My mother will probably never know this, but she actually turned out to be the biggest inspiration for most of the female characters in the book.

“Naked As We Came” was originally a short story that turned into a whopper of a novel.
In fact, the first draft was so long that I had to split it into four books. I don’t know if any of the other books will ever make to publication, but just in case, I made sure to keep them on the backburner.  I’ve been told that I talk too much. I guess that trait accurately translated on paper.

“Naked As We Came” was five years in the making.
      I initially started this book during my junior year of high school (2007) and finished it in late 2011. For five years, this book was my baby. It got more care than any other piece of writing I’ve ever written. I went on a yearlong hiatus and almost forgot all about it until I discovered it one night while deleting files from my computer. After reading through it, I became engrossed in it again.

      “Naked As We Came” has an African American protagonist.
      I once read an article on the YA Highway blog that stressed how the YA market was in desperate need of more multicultural protagonists. I hadn’t realized just how few there are until I gave it some thought and realized that there are only three books that I can think right off the top of my head that have a non-white main character. These books are:

“Bleeding Violet” by Jaime Reed
“Liar” by Justine Larbalestier
"Noughts & Crosses" by Malorie Blackman

I have no clue as to where there isn't more variety in the YA market, but I'm happy to help break the mold where it comes to things like race in teen fiction. My main character Cassidy Tomei is an African American gilr living in a world where race isn't an issue (well, it's not an issue with the human characters). I'd personally like to see more of that. If not, then I'm looking forward to writing more of it. 

"Naked As We Came: initially had four alternate endings.
When it was time to wrap up the book, I was lost. I had no clue how to end it so I initially wrote out four different endings to give myself a few options. What's weird is that neither of those ending made it into the actual book either. At the time, I wanted an ending that would be realistic in terms of the the setting that the book was occupying. Then I realized that if I'd gone that route, the book would've had a very unhappy ending and I happen to like happily ever afters. Unfornately, happily ever afters sometimes turn into cop-outs and I didn't want to leave an unsatisfying taste in people's mouths. So I gave it some thought and settled on something that was a bit of both. The results turned the ending into something bittersweet. In the end, I was left with a feeling of hope, but also dread after typing that last word. My hope is that readers will feel the same way. 

Certain situations in "Naked As We Came" are based on actual events in my life.
As weird as it may seem, some of the things that happened in "Naked As We Came" were actually based on real events. Of course the sci-fi aspect of it all didn't play into the reality of things, but in the novel, humans are forced to work as slaves in a labor camp for an alien race. In my real life, I've worked graveyard shifts in warehouses almost like sweatshops. I wanted to use the advice, "write what you know" to my advantage as much as possible and came across a major what if. What if humans were forced to work as slaves in a warehouse doing hard labor as sweatshop workers would in the real world? This what if was the foundation of the story and carried the plot much further than I thought it would. 

"Naked As We Came" had two other titles before its final one. 
Yep, it's true! Not only am I indecisive about endings, but also titles. Actually, I suck at coming up with titles. A few times I was so desperate that I did a coin toss to settle on a final title. For "Naked As We Came," there were two other perspective titles in mind before I chose the final one. These alternate titles were also titles of songs that I felt perfectly represented the book. 

The Paramore song, "In The Mourning" was so beautiful and that title was so darn clever that it suck on the book as a working title for quite a while. It actually pained me to have to change it. 

The Civil Twilight song, "Letters In The Sky" has lyrics that practically tell the whole story form beginning to end. The song also helped pull me out of some ruts during the writing process. It was a major lifesaver when I desperately needed some perspective as to where the story was headed. 

Finally, the tenth and final featurette is something you may or may not know. In case you don't, allow me to properly inform you that...

Naked As We Came is currently on sale!
Available for just $2.99 as ebook purchase on smashwords, amazon and pubit. 
Available for paperback on,, and


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