Author's Note

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Greetings, Wattfolk.

I don't often write author's notes in the form of a separate chapter, but I do seem to get a lot of questions about this story in particular.

And I love it. Because it means I get to talk about it.

Why's the story called White Meat?
There are a few reasons:
1) Firstly we associate white meat with chicken, and Rain's pretty chicken if you ask me, but it's not the real reason it's called White Meat, just a happy coincidence.
2) Secondly, there's a saying, particularly over in the US, that refers to a serious injury (particularly a head injury) as "getting beat to the white meat."
3) Thirdly, and possibly my favourite, is the title hugely dehumanises Rain, which is how the victims of bullying often feel.

• But Rain is a good kid, why did he have to suffer?
I love Rain as a character -- he's a challenge and a charm to work with -- but he isn't that much of a good kid. He lies, he exaggerates, he's secretive, he steals, he's sulky, disruptive, and the whole world is against him. He's not a bad kid either. In fact, I'd say he's pretty ordinary for troubled pre-teen, but certainly couldn't stand up and say he's innocent without his palms sweating.

Why did Rain never ask for help?
From whom? The whole world was against him! There's a crucial stage in child development around Rain's age, where peer approval trumps familial approval. It's why most of us go through that awful "stubborn" period in our early teens, do idiotic stuff with our friends, stay out late and stop kissing our mothers. Rain talks a little too much about this kid, Jonty, who it seems he needs validation from for whatever odd reason. It's suggested that Rain seeks peer approval far more than he needs his parents at this point in his life.

Why was Tisha mean?
I didn't write Tisha to be a mean character at all, just a truthful one. She's a kind girl to everyone and may have caught Rain's attention because she's possibly the only positive experience he's had in a while. Her kindness doesn't automatically mean anything once you assess her character per se. But I do like to think she does like him, just a little bit. Kinda in the way she knows she'd be teased for because to everyone else he's a bit of a loser. I plan to write their romance once day, honest.

What made Darren do a total 180?
Honestly? I don't believe Darren is inherently a bad kid either, just a very unhappy and very insecure one, mostly likely because he's a closeted homosexual. I did take a bit of a risk plugging "antagonist" and "gay" into the same character, since it's all too often done out of ignorance, but what actually makes him the "villain" here isn't that he's homosexual -- he's frightened. His fear comes through in the final scenes when he realises he's taken this whole thing too far. I really liked that edge to his character; the tiniest shred of redemption that actually this guy does feel, and his relationship with Ervan is stronger than just a fling. I mean, look who is the only person out of about a dozen to actually accompany Darren to the hospital...

• So ... is Rain gay, or what?
In some earlier short stories I've written with the same character, Rain is a young gay teen, but in this story he isn't. Rain isn't particularly academically intelligent, but he's observant, and it's often overlooked. He doesn't mind that he cross-dresses, but he also knows cross-dressing isn't associated with one particular sexuality. For all we know at this point, Rain could be heterosexual, but he could also be bisexual, or he could be pansexual ... I deliberately left this question open because gender identity, gender expression and sexuality are not linked in the ways people may at first assume.

• Will there be any more to this story?
There could well be. I usually write stories about Rain when there's a gritty topic I feel like writing fiction about. He's my go-to kid for a lot of these, because writing the world through the eyes of this particular young lad often lends a hearty dose of angst, sass and 90s nostalgia. And I'm guilty of enjoying all three.

A warm thanks to those read White Meat. If you liked it and think its themes are important, show it a little love and it'll become more visible!

~ Finn

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