Two years ago, Therese Fowler’s 19-year-old son stunned her with the news that he had been issued a warrant for his arrest for a “sexting” crime. After texting a naked photo of himself to a girl (at her request), her father discovered it and called the police. This shocking event inspired Fowler to write “Exposure,” a tale of young love and modern consequences.
While based on her son’s arrest, the book is fiction. “None of the players are the actual people involved; the relationship between the families in the book is a more personal thing, which makes for more interesting fiction,” she says. Still, she wanted to expose the huge legal implications of sexting. “I was astonished that this kind of thing could happen at all,” says Fowler, “Laws that are really intended to prevent true predatory behavior — pedophilia and the pushing of pornography on underage kids — are being used haphazardly. If I can prevent one family from going through as minor a trauma as ours, I felt like I was in a unique position to do that,” she says.
The novel explores both sets of families. Writing about the girl’s father helped Fowler understand the father who pressed charges against her son. “Kids’ sexuality is a really difficult thing for a parent,” says Fowler, “When my kids were little I tried to be what the parenting experts call an ‘askable parent.’ But when they are teenagers they don’t want to talk about their personal lives.”
The outcome for her son was much less dramatic than the roller-coaster ride the book’s characters undergo — the DA dismissed his case. Still, Fowler hopes, “If teenagers are reading the book ... they recognize the actual risks.”