Three questions about Little Boy Lost

Q: What was the impetus for writing LITTLE BOY LOST – and why did a standalone appeal to you as opposed to a continuation of your “No Time” series?

A: The main character, Justin Glass, predates Michael Collins and the “No Time” series. I wrote a Justin Glass story about fifteen years ago, but the story was never read by anyone. I had the motive and plot all wrong. So, I scrapped it, but kept Justin in the back of my mind, searching for a story that would fit. Then with the recent rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and questions about our justice system, I finally had a context and a world for Justin Glass to come alive. I went back to Saint Louis and Ferguson shortly after the Michael Brown shooting. Boards were still on some of the burned out buildings downtown. The memorial of stacked stuffed animals and messages was still on the curb where he was shot. I decided, then, that this was the story I needed to tell, not necessarily a story about Michael Brown, but about the city and its struggles. 

Q: Your protagonist, Justin Glass, is conflicted between mind and morals. How does this allow for a juxtaposition of his personal and professional selves – and in what ways do you see his journey as representative of the traditional everyman archetype?

A: It’s rare that a person’s personal and professional selves are completely aligned, and interesting characters in books amplify that tension. Lawyers, in particular, have some of the highest rates of depression, chemical addiction, and suicide of any other profession. A big part of it, I think, is the disconnect between where a person imagined themselves to be on their first day of law school versus where they are as a practicing lawyer (i.e. hustling for clients, trying to get bills paid, paying off student loans, jockeying for status). Justin Glass is representative of this everyman archetype, although he comes from a prominent Saint Louis family. Over the course of the book, he has to find peace in the compromise, and ultimately decide who he is and when he will take a stand.

Q: How do you use the lens of fiction as a means of illuminating everyday realities – and in what ways are the racial tensions that underpin this work evocative of the current world climate?

A: There are a limited number of people who will pick up a nonfiction book about race, politics, and wealth. And, of those people, most only read nonfiction books that generally confirm the opinions that they already have. Perhaps those nonfiction books deepen an individual’s understanding of a topic, but few works of nonfiction actually change somebody’s mind. 

Fiction, on the other hand, has the power to reach a much broader and diverse audience. It creates an opportunity to expose readers to different viewpoints and information. Fiction can serve as a foundation for conversation in a way that non-fiction cannot. In the end, however, the primary focus of fiction is to tell a compelling story. Although issues of race and poverty are present, I worked hard in Little Boy Lost to put the story first. I want readers to care about the characters and, ultimately, draw their own conclusions about the societal issues that the book touches upon. 

JD Trafford