Who is Sylvia?

Sylvia is the character who is occupying much of my time recently. When I wrote Light at The End, it was intended as a standalone, but although it was a fulfilling story to write, there was more to say, and so it became the first of a trilogy.

In much the same way, I ended the third book in the LaTE trilogy feeling that the job was done, and then while working on something completely different I was nagged by the thought that Sylvia’s story ought to be told. She made several appearances in Dark to Light (LaTE – Book 3), but it was more of a cameo role. By implication, Sylvia continued beyond the main story, and so I feel justified in giving her a starring role.

I’ve shelved my other two new novels while I devote many of my daylight hours to Sylvia. To tell one person’s story might be fun for the author, but it’s the reader’s satisfaction which ought to be the author’s primary aim. With this in mind, I’ve created a well-rounded back-story for my leading lady and, of course, there will be interaction with old and new characters in the wider arena of the post-apocalyptic world in which she lives.

Other projects will be tackled whenever I leave Sylvia aside for a regular ‘rest’.

The frontrunner in other work, and my next anthology, is Next Steps: and other stories. I now have my seven stories written to first draft stage, and next week I’ll revisit them to see where any early improvements might be made. I’ll leave them aside again until March and revisit before they go to beta readers.

In March, I’ll give a heads-up to those authors who suggested the ‘dialogue prompts’ which I used for my seven stories. This will hopefully provide the impetus for my guests to check out the submissions they are offering for the new collection. Publishing date at present might be as early as April or May.

What else have I been up to since this new year got underway?

I’ve been working hard to produce my novels as paperback versions and I now have the job done. I’ll be writing a dedicated post about the process, or as it became for me, the ‘journey’, but for now, I’ll give you a look at a few of my efforts. I’ll display the full range of my paperbacks in March.

As always, thank you for taking an interest in my work.

***

Sex … In or Out?

You’ve written a great story. Do you need sex amidst the guns, fighting and mayhem, the psychological trauma and mystery, or the tenderness and promises?

When I say ‘do you need sex’ I’m obviously referring to the requirements of the story—not your personal urges. I digress … .

This blog post was born from the need to offer my opinion on a regular comment I see on social media, and if we’re all honest, it’s getting a bit tedious. The comment usually follows similar lines to: ‘… and when I reach a sex scene I move on …’

There is usually a bit more to it, but in essence, we have two main areas to address.

Question 1 – Is the reader a prude, or simply someone who knows when a sex scene could have been done more tastefully—if it were needed at all?

Question 2 – Did the author make a mistake by getting carried away, drifting from the primary genre, thus adversely affecting the plot of the story?

The answer to Question 1 is not as simple as it sounds. For some readers, if an author goes beyond: ‘… she stood with her back to the door and raised an eyebrow …’ it’s too much. For others, it’s frustratingly brief, and they want to at least know if one person is wearing matching underwear and if the other person is wearing underwear at all.

Now, Question 2 throws up a whole new dilemma. As authors, it is not simply a personal choice, but in my (humble) opinion, it is our duty to remain true to our craft. No, I’m not getting high and mighty because I’ve written more than two books—I’m simply telling it like it is. The reputation of indie authors is being destroyed from within by some people with low standards. Those of us who work long hard hours and go beyond the first draft must persevere to produce the best we can.

You cannot refer to yourself in your branding or promotional material (of whatever level) as a thriller writer if you have the main character kill someone and then for the rest of the book he/she beds every other person in the ‘adventure’. You can dress it up, or undress it if you wish, but one of the aims of any author should be to focus on the job—in this case, a good story based on the primary genre.

I write a wide variety of genre and among them is erotica. I may allow a kiss or a caress—even partial undressing in some stories but graphic, no-holds-barred sexual activity is kept for my erotica.

If an author writes thrillers, westerns, sci-fi or other genres there ought to be sufficient time invested in character development, dialogue, imagery, pace and the accurate choreography of action. Any mention of sex will usually be incidental, except, of course, for romance, some paranormal and fantasy where it may go further.

An author who writes erotica is not out to shock—they are aiming to indulge their readers in the type of material they sought. This is not to say that character development and those other ingredients I mentioned earlier are not required in erotica—they are just as important. The erotica author must avoid sex becoming the ‘story’; an opportunity to be self-indulgent with repetitive and meaningless scenes of gratuitous carnal jiggery-pokery (mainly pokery).

In my ‘mainstream’ genres, there may be terms of endearment, a kiss or an embrace but they are strategically placed. Occasionally, in my erotica, there is less need for such romantic overtures, activity or subtlety. The characters might be more interested in mutual physical gratification than an emotional rollercoaster ride but there will still be character development and the activities are created with a purpose. It depends on the story.

I believe the author should strive to be faithful to the principle genre and whatever extended subjects it entails whether it be an action-packed or psychological plot, and plot or character-driven.

If you’d like to see ‘erotica’ as it once was, read ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’. Like most other genres, erotica has moved on and readers are no longer satisfied with what was once considered shocking—people want to envisage themselves in scenes which will (in most cases) forever be a fantasy. With the greatest respect D.H.Lawrence, move over my friend.

I’m a great believer in the use of metaphor if it spells something out clearly. I’ll summarise with two questions to authors who are trying to work out if sex ought to be highlighted in a story?

Would you wear flip-flops and boxing gloves to run a marathon, or perhaps mask, snorkel and flippers to ride a bicycle?

Let’s be honest—if it doesn’t look right, it doesn’t belong.

Thank you for reading, and any comments.