If you’re a naturist who has been following me, I regret to inform you that all of my naturist articles have been made private. This means you will no longer be able to access them or read them.
This was by no means been an easy decision, but it has come to my attention that the naturist label has adversely affected my writing career. This is not to say I disavow my naturist beliefs or that I am ashamed of them. I stand by every word I have ever written regarding naturism. But what I didn’t know in 2012, when I wrote What Naturism Means to Me, is how internet algorithms work, particularly the algorithm used by Amazon.
Online retailers use algorithms to put people into categories. Google and Netflix and YouTube spend millions every year trying to figure you out, to manipulate you into buying their products. I loathe these algorithms with a passion. I find them dehumanizing in that they separate us into boxes, boxes with labels like “atheist,” “Christian,” “Democrat,” “Trump supporter,” or “nudist.” But our thoughts, our beliefs, our lives, are vastly more complex than anything any A.I. system can determine. And yet, when the system we are all plugged into treats us all like a commodity, we slowly adopt the definitions they give us, so Trump supporters become vehemently more Trumpian, and atheists more militantly atheist, and nudists a little more obsessive in their uber-niche lifestyle.
As a writer, I am always seeking to broaden my mind, to expand my ways of seeing the world, to more deeply understand what it means to exist. I was drawn to nudism, initially, because I felt confined by societal norms. I hated the arbitrary social taboo of public nakedness, which has no basis in reason, and for the same reasons I rejected my religious upbringing. But now, that longing to break free of labels has confined me to yet another label.
I love the fantasy genre because it is boundless, because it frees our imaginations from the confines of time and space. Ages of Aenya features naked heroes in it because, at the time, I was excited by the idea of challenging conventions. After all, isn’t that what fantasy is for? When I started on The Princess of Aenya, however, I became more interested in exploring the dichotomy between a romanticized, Disney-inspired view of the world and the realist, darker tone made popular by A Game of Thrones. I spent five years writing The Princess of Aenya, and close to $10,000 in marketing and editing, and what were the results of my efforts? My fantasy adventure epic, which was inspired by The NeverEnding Story, The Last Unicorn, Watership Down, and Stardust, a book without ANY naked heroes in it and ZERO references to NUDISM, is accompanied by Free and Natural, a non-fiction, historical account of nudism in America, and the equally pulpy, OMG I am Naked in School. Amazon uses the algorithm to direct its buyers to similar items, but The Princess of Aenya HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with these other items, other than that the author is a naturist. It would be as if every book penned by a Maya Angelou was labeled a “black book” and every movie directed by Spike Lee was a “black movie.” Robert Heinlein, author of Stranger in a Strange Land, was also a nudist, often writing stories with casual nudity in them, but none of his novels fell into the softcore erotica category. Luckily for him, Heinlein’s books came out before the ALGORITHM.
With regards to nudity, Ages of Aenya can be compared to Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, The Jungle Book, or any 60’s Sci-Fi inspired by Heinlein. I would also include Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey as having inspired the book, as the Greek heroes and gods were typically depicted in the nude. But my followers don’t appear to care about Heinlein or Homer. They seem to prefer pulp fare, like OMG I am Naked in School, and Amazon’s algorithm has taken note, tossing my book into the same dirty box, disregarding the book’s actual content.
My third book, which was going to be called Children of Aenya, will be going by another name, because again, we live in a society where anything even loosely connected to innocent nudity becomes nudist content. What frightens me the most, pedophiles may end up buying the book, under the assumption that any story with children in it, written by a nudist, may be covertly pedophilic in nature. This possibility is, for me, utterly horrifying.
I have long argued that the goal of naturism is to END naturism, to make the lifestyle so mainstream it becomes ubiquitous. But naturism will forever exist as a subculture within a much larger culture, one that is strongly biased against it, and that will never change in my lifetime.
So that’s it. I am done. This blog will continue as it was intended, as strictly a LITERARY blog, and if I lose followers, so be it. Storytelling is all that really matters to me, and I have no second thoughts about giving up naturism, or the promotion of it, to pursue my literary goals.
If you are a naturist and are still interested in picking up my books, please, I implore you, don’t buy from Amazon, unless you are actually a fan of fantasy, because even Ages of Aenya, my one “nudist” story, is 90% non-nudist. Put another way, you could remove the nudity entirely from all of my books, and they would read exactly the same. The story would not change one bit. Honestly, reading my stuff for the nudity is like reading A Game of Thrones for the incest.
I am still planning to release my Thelana novella, The Feral Girl, but again, this is not going to be a nudist book. It’s going to be a survival story, dealing with human suffering, loss, and perseverance—things I find infinitely more interesting than titillation.