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Karen Wojtyla's letter to Robert Cormier 12 March 1996
This five-page, single-spaced editorial letter concerning Tenderness from editor, Karen Wojtyla (Bantam Doubleday Dell), constructively critiques the work in progress. She asks him to mention "monster" only sparingly, to reconsider how much backstory Jake is given, to increase Lori's ambivalence rather than cast her as a willing accomplice to murder, and, to reconsider his choice to close the book with Walter Clayton's suicide. Karen also mentions Craig Virden, Cormier's former editor, in redemptive ways and reveals that he had read and communicated with Cormier about Tenderness previously. Karen agrees with Craig on certain points, including removing Miss Kentall's lesbianism.
Tenderness draft with editor's comment
Twenty pages of typed manuscript of Tenderness show extensive commenting and editorial markings. Pages are numbered in pencil but not all pages are consecutive. Editorial comments discuss issues of continuity, suspense, perspective, and characters' behavior, motives, backstory and depth of internal thought. Comments also show an interest in the possibility of Eric redeeming himself and encouraging moments of increased ambiguity. The markings suggest making Lori more frightened and innocent and Eric more socially adept, confident and less monstrous as the novel comes to an end.
The nonconsecutive pages of the novel include scenes of disposing of Alicia's body, ejecting Lori from Harmony House, a phone call between Eric and Maria to arrange a meeting, feeding the swans, and Lori and Eric's drive to a motel where Eric begins an attempt at killing Lori. Also included is a section of the fairground scene, the incident at Mirror Lake, and Walter Clayton committing suicide.
Craig letter to Robert Cormier 16 February 1996
In this four-page letter from Cormier's editor, Craig Virden, it is apparent that Craig consulted with his colleague, Karen Wojtyla, and other editors at Bantam Doubleday Dell regarding the Tenderness manuscript. Craig explicitly mentions Karen's comments on the manuscript, though he opts for making macro-level suggestions on the draft. He shares his concerns that the novel makes huge departures from young adult literature. While Craig finds the novel and its characters gripping, he does offer some suggestions on Lori's troubling range of moral understanding and Eric's seeming self-awareness of his own monstrosity. Also of concern is the prominence of the police officer and his stereotypical treatment (as well as that of Maria). He briefly discusses mixed concerns about the use of first-person narration from Lori's perspective, Cormier has put notes in the margins indicating what suggestions he will attend to and how as well as which of his writing choices he plans to defend and preserve.
Robert Cormier's letter to Craig 28 February 1996
In this four-page letter to his editor, Craig Virden, Robert Cormier defends his decision to label Tenderness a YA novel even though it features some departures from the genre, including an older protagonist and a morally ambiguous main character in Lori. He also discusses the removal of non-essential scenes, the development of the novel's central characters. Furthermore, he comments on racial and detective novel stereotypes, and politically correct language.
Robert Cormier's letter to Karen 9 April 1996
This one-page letter from Cormier to Karen Wojtyla accompanied his revised Tenderness draft. He addresses the character shifts he made with characters Lori and Eric. Expressing his gratitude for Karen's comments, Cormier reveals his contentment with the revised version of the novel.
Tenderness draft with Robert Cormier's markings
These six non-consecutive typed drafts of Tenderness sections show both handwritten and typed revisions with XXXX over previously typed words. One page includes notes to himself about reframing Lori's parents' situations. The other pages are scenes featuring Lori. In one, she is compelled to kiss a rock singer and, in the second, she was hitchhiking and got picked up by a male driver, inviting him to grope and kiss her for money.
Moral Fiction. In The Atlantic article by Mary Gordon (n.d., Fiction 2005 Issue) the author creates a historic and well-contextualized discussion of the perils and impossibility of writing "moral fiction". Using many classic and modern examples of texts, Gordon troubles the idea of imposing morality on others.
While Cormier's decision to remove the overt homosexuality in Tenderness seems in service of the story, the trend towards banning LGBTQ+ content from schools is well established. The Washington Post covered the arrest of a Kentucky principal for child pornography who famously banned many such books in his school.