I’ve had my first bits of feedback for the WIP and it has been really good, to say it was a 2nd/3rd draft. Sometimes I am never sure just how many drafts I have done or will do.
I discovered my first draft was probably quite close to the finished product and that I had put in some unneeded bits. Sometimes it is good to try out things, other times, just stick with your gut instincts.
I suppose now in the late editing stages it is just about trying to get across my points in the most efficient, least wordy ways! If that is possible. Cutting the waffle and all that.
I have written a challenging work and in one respect, I know I am veering off course with what is normally expected of an erotic novel. But I am a northern writer after all and we are known for being gritty and attempting to tackle difficult subjects. Many great crime authors have come from the north and indeed, Get Carter was based on a book set in my hometown of Scunthorpe. Joan Plowright, widow of Laurence Olivier, famously refuses to have anything to do with the town she grew up near and strangely, her deceased husband grew up not far from Scunny too! Anyway, that is another story… ?
For those of you who have read A Fine Profession and know the issue I tackle within that book, I can reveal that part of that book is very real indeed. Someone I know was given “That Book” to read that I mention within the pages of my novel; the book that inspires Charlotte to change her life. This friend of mine read it and so much clicked into place. What I heard about the condition inspired me to create Charlotte/Lottie/The Chambermaid. I am directly inspired by real life in my erotica writing. Even though it is a primarily escapist genre, I am writing about real issues within my work. Trying to, anyway.
The female in erotica is subservient quite a lot of the time and she is the submissive to her master’s dominant. I guess I have taken those roles of the genre and messed them up a little bit. Am I demystifying them? I dunno. I have taken the dynamic and kind of brought it to the real world in one way – that definitely becomes apparent when you read A Fine Pursuit.
The dominant, mysterious, troubled male is of course perfect for erotica. Women love a complex man who can never be explained; he can only be loved. He only wants to love in return. The promise of saving or changing that man is immense. It’s what I have been reading about since I was a 13-year-old glued to romance novels. I guess there’s not a lot I can say here without giving too much of my next novel away … but I have definitely taken this archetypal male role and tried to shed light on the reasoning behind such a person’s behaviour with very realistic insights.
It’s my job now to say all I need to say (in A Fine Pursuit) without making an erotic novel very dark. It is certainly a challenging book and will force questions about what makes us human, what distinguishes love from desire and all kinds of questions. In works of art, we can never fully define a character or a situation. Can we ever define anything? We are always shifting and changing as a human race after all. I know I have so far moved people enough to make them get angry as they read. To frown and beg questions about why someone might do this or that.
There have been times when I have definitely questioned myself while writing A Fine Pursuit. I am human. I am imperfect. I ask whether I am being fair or unfair on characters. I just have to shake myself, tell myself to buckle up, and get on with it. Stop being a wuss. This is not about definition. It is about exploration.
Alongside the difficult subject I have tackled in A Fine Pursuit, I promise to provide romance of the most oblique nature. There may be moments when you are least expecting to feel anything and you will feel it. I hope you will feel it. Noah is a much different voice to Charlotte and he has given me the chance to explore so much more than I ever have done before. He has allowed me to run wild and there are so many romantic moments. Simple windows into what makes a man happy. A man who is good at heart but cannot help but be swayed by demons that constantly haunt him. He is sickeningly yucky and slushy but women will love that. Men will love that he is imperfect, so much so, but he is just a bloke trying to find some sense from his world. A world that has been without meaning for so long and not for the obvious reasons.
Most of all, I hope you see Charlotte in an entirely different light.