I was writing a trilogy last year and people kept asking why I wasn’t giving erotica a go, like a lot of other writers. Indeed, it is a genre currently swamped. I kept brushing off the urge to try my hand at an erotic novel but deep down, I knew it was something I wanted to do.
Finishing a trilogy is absolutely and utterly brutal. You have spent so much time with just a handful of characters and you have to say goodbye. But, I can tell you, my latest book was a lot more difficult. I wanted to get my heroine just right. Pinning down one very complex person is a lot more difficult.
I knew she was averse to intimacy before I even started. Great sex is great but what about a deeper level of understanding? How would she cope with that? I knew her problems were down to illness. I knew a lot of things already, before I started work on this novel. Sometimes, as a writer, you just write and see what happens, but this time I knew exactly where I wanted to go. But, the creative urge can lead you to places you never expected it to…
Absorbing a ton of research, maybe my mind filtered the data and came up with the strongest thread of a storyline it could – combined with a plot that absorbs all the throes of a setback. Somehow, something dropped in my lap. A friend I know discovered they had been avoiding decisions their whole life and they had only just found out why. I looked at this book that explained why they avoid making decisions or asserting themselves and it was like a switch had flicked. This slotted with what I wanted to do so well.
I then took to forums and scanned a lot, but mostly absorbed everything I could about the condition I wanted to portray in this novel. It just struck me that so many people might suffer in silence or not even know they have it and I wanted to incorporate it in this work of mine.
So, with all these aspects of this one character floating around my head, I took to the laptop again. I had to sit here thinking “what would she do in this scenario?”. I was like a complete method actor! This book is nothing like my previous work and it is NOT me. I have to be clear on that. I found my muse and I exploded her. I absolutely wrote this for someone else, to give someone else the voice they might not otherwise have had. I knew with her having already survived so much (and never having faced it) the cost of that had to be great.
Along the way, a psychiatric doctorate crossed my path that again, lit up another light bulb inside my mind. Whether this be stroke of luck, destined or whatever, this second book I have coming up is going to be so interesting. I am dissecting opposite sides of a spectrum that are so intertwined you will not know whether you are coming or going!
So, when people ask whether I find this book intensely personal or whatever, I say no. It was refreshing to write something that is so far removed from me it is astonishing that I managed to put my mind in The Chambermaid’s headspace. As I say, I sat for hours before taking to the keys, wrestling with who she was and dissecting every piece of her psyche.
There is so much more to these books than sex and cusses and adventures. I am writing to challenge and provoke. What is the point otherwise? I wouldn’t be giving anyone anything new otherwise. It’s all fiction at the end of the day but if it leaves you wondering afterward… I have done my job.