After a long wait (both by me and by some readers), this series is properly launched. The novella The Initiaion of Janine is, if not the first ever, the first of the ‘A Tale of Two Paradises’ tales to be offered in both e-book and printed-book form. It’s set in the fanciful world of the British Paradise Islands, a ‘long-forgotten arm of the British Empire’, somewhere in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (west of the Galapagos, north of Easter Island, east of Tahiti, south of Hawaii. You figure it out).
Janine is a sweet little girl, indubitably cute and rather ordinary except for a few standout attributes which she will tell you about in her narration. She is young– only second form, at the start– but is appreciably intellectual and tends to be a little more mature than most of her friends, who really are the embodiment of ‘normal’ girls in the BPI at this time. They giggle and tease each other, play on swings (though they are ‘too big’), visit the beach, shop, and look at or dream about boys. They are also sweetly affectionate with each other, and– at least to (too) many Western minds– extraordinarily ladylike, even prudish.
Janine’s story is about how, by degrees, she gradually comes to balance her own native prudishness with the desires and needs of the mature young lady she is, perhaps too rapidly, becoming. It’s worth noting that part of the magic of the Paradise Islands is that the standards for maturity are younger and more comprehensive than they are in England or in the ’States. As it says in the Foreword:
As a vestige of the formerly indigenous Polynesian culture, the age of majority for most milestones is young; at fifteen a Paradisian citizen may marry, enter into labour or tenant contracts, leave school, or engage in consensual sexual relations. Though precocious, this right of young people to initiate and conduct their natural lives on their own is inextricably conjoined to the unwavering sense of propriety as established and regulated by the British– for example, education and job training are comprehensive, there is little public-assistance for the able-bodied, and judicial penalties for abuse of decency statutes tend to be harsh and an adequate deterrent to transgression. Therefore it is vital to not judge too quickly on appearances; or, if one does, he had best assume all is much saner, safer, more modest and more dignified than it seems at first glance.
For those who have read more of my work, the theme of the eager ingenue embarking, not entirely by choice, on a course of social enlightenment will seem familiar. It’s a favourite because it reminds us of the sad inevitability that all innocence is fleeting; that, once lost, some degree of innocence is lost forever; that it is true that you can’t un-ring a bell so we'd better appreciate what we were like before we knew what it sounded like. But there is also a great opportunity, even for the one undergoing such profound and irrevocable change, to consciously retain the most important elements of virtue. Growing older does not mean losing all goodness; it merely means one must develop an independent sense of what’s wrong and what’s right and to conduct oneself with a responsibility to one’s self and to those who matter. Janine’s story is the story of one who, having realised she may have flung herself ahead rather earlier than she may have liked, regains her self-control and self-respect and learns to conduct her own behaviour on her own (eminently respectable) terms.
I wrote in The Absolutist: ‘Absence of commission or experience is not equal to virtue, which is the responsible and deliberate exercise and restraint of free will. ’ (http://jonniecometsabsolutist.blogspot.com/p/the-tenets-precepts-belonging-to-neo.html)
I always seem to come back to virtue as a principal theme in all my work.
For the curious, a preview is available. This excerpt represents the first chapter of a ten-chapter work, somewhere about 11% of the total. This should be sufficient to give an idea of the novel’s pacing, plot and character development, style and substance, as well as to introduce the unique story setting. The paperback version of the book contains an addenda, edited by Colin and me, including footnotes for local ‘lingo’ and specific terms that won’t be familiar to people who don’t live in the BPI (which, if you think about it, is everyone in the real world!).
This is from someone else's book but it's funny.
A preview is available here– https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1175206
The paperback will be available shortly (mid-August-?). The novella edition contains the glossed terms and the manga-styled artwork.
A ‘deluxe compilation’ is coming out as well; this contains The Initiation of Janine and also the next three episodes in Janine’s story, with addenda including glossed terms, maps, other documents and the artwork. This shall be the model for further stories within the JOP and other ‘T2P’ story arcs: about 250-270 pages, amounting to four, five, maybe six separate but sequential episodes, with interesting add-ons such as maps, diagrams, lingo terms and cool (almost-saucy) artwork.
The Kindle e-text is available now– http://www.amazon.com/Initiation-Janine-Paradise-Form-20010107-ebook/dp/B002JCT1NE/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 This contains endnotes (not glossed in the body of the text; you have to scroll back and forth, the only way Kindle allows one to publish it) but no maps and no artwork.
As ever I appreciate all relevant and considerate comments and look forward to seeing this get popular. Now it’s all up to you!
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