Wednesday, 6 May 2015

'Guys Like Romance, Too!

I was very kindly invited onto the 'Guys Like Romance, Too!' blog...…/when-acceptable-…

When the acceptable is not accepted by you, what do you do?

When I was very kindly offered this chance to appear on ‘Guys Like Romance Too’ the brief was to pick one of my stories that had a life changing event. Things like that happen in a lot of my books!
After deliberating for ages I decided to pick A Slow Process of Understanding because I’m proud of the story and I think it has a truly dramatic life changing event. 
Have you ever felt like you’re doing the right thing, the good thing, and everyone else around you isn’t necessarily wrong but you are definitely more virtuous than they are?  Go on, admit it, have you ever felt a tiny bit smug? That’s how Jimmy feels in the story. In his world slavery is common and completely accepted. But he doesn’t want to be one of those nasty owners he’s seen around. No, he’s different, better. He might not have wanted a slave but now he has one he’s going to be good to him and treat him decently.
He’s basking in his own righteous glow when something happens that throws him into complete confusion. This life changing event makes him stop and re-evaluate everything he thought he knew. He questions his own family, the world around him and, the most difficult of all to do, himself. 
Who is he? What is he? What type of man does he want to be? It’s not easy to be put in a position when you question everything. It would be very easy to ignore it, turn away and stick to what he knows, what’s commonly accepted. It would need an exceptional man to take the tougher route. 
Can Jimmy be that man? He’s not sure. As for romance? That’s just a distant dream. 

How to totally indulge yourself when writing

I, like many others, have periods when writing is so blooming hard that I will do anything to get out of it. Yes, I can make myself sit at the keyboard but there’s always Google to look up that 90’s band whose name I can’t think of. Or a recipe for lamb tagine even though I don’t have a tagine and no one in the family likes lamb.

Yes, of course, I have to look them up right now and, no, of course it won’t wait.

If I turn off the internet and make everyone in the house promise to shoot me if I turn it back on – although, when I’m writing, there’s always a word that needs replacing using an on-line thesaurus – there are other distractions.

It’s amazing what you can get out of the keyboard when you poke round each letter with a cocktail stick. I’ve done it. Too many times to count. When writers block hits I have the cleanest keyboard in England.


So how to make myself write?

I wrote a list of things I love. Okay, so it was another diversion that delayed me actually writing but, for once, it helped.

Part of the list.
  1. Beautiful young men
  2. Gymnastics
  3. Beautiful young men falling in love
  4. Closed, secretive, hidden worlds
  5. Beautiful young men falling in love and having wild sex
  6. Books
  7. Beautiful young men falling in love, having wild sex and being noble
That’s not a bad list. All I had to do was think of a story that involved all those things and it would be easy-peasy to write.

Gymnastics should have been easy to include. I *adore* gymnastics; the movement, the grace and, if it’s done well, the style and artistry. I’m equally passionate about both men’s and women’s gymnastics but at the moment there is no one – and never has been – like Kōhei Uchimura. Incredibly difficulty done with incredible style. A true artist.


But there’s a problem. Adorable as he is with his floppy mop of hair and his hairy underarms he’s not my idea of a beautiful young man who could fall in love and have wild sex.

So how to get gymnastics in the story? No problem: make one of the beautiful young men a gymnastics coach! Sorted.

As for the rest of the list most were also easy. Set the story behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy – I was thinking somewhere like North Korea only more secretive – and I could have all sorts of fun. Different circumstances: different rules that I could change and mould to my heart – and plot’s – content. Make one of the beautiful young men collect books and all I had to include was falling in love and wild sex.

I really, really, REALLY like writing about beautiful men falling in love and sex. Oh yes, I love writing about sex as well.

I had to be careful about one thing though. I know a lot about gymnastics and coaching so I had to make sure I didn’t overload the story with technical detail that only I’d appreciate. But, apart from that, the words flowed when I sat down to write. Mostly. I still have an extraordinarily clean keyboard but, hey, that has to be a good thing, right!

This story became my new book, ‘To Stand Close’ which was out in March.


You can find it here…