Monday, April 01, 2013

The countdown begins

My second novel, One Shade of Red, launches TOMORROW, April 2, on Amazon, Smashwords and other e-book retailers.

I’m very excited about this. As you can see in the previous posts, I have done much more publicity in advance this time around: I posted excerpts over the past few months on this blog; I’ve been interviewed on other sites; and over the past week and continuing for another week following the official release, I’ve posted excerpts from the final version on 12different blogs.

I have to take another moment to thank the writing, blogging and reading community for all the enthusiastic support. And I have to say a special thank you to Independent Authors International for making the iAi cooperative publishing model work so well, especially Gary Henry, Roxanne Bury, Cinta Garcia de la Rosa, Bruce Blake and Benjamin Wretlind. Also, a big shout-out to the inimitable David C. Cassidy for such a great cover!

A different direction

Some people who read my first novel, The Bones of the Earth,were surprised to learn that my second novel is a frankly sexual parody of a mildly erotic bestseller. I have to admit, One Shade of Red is pretty graphic.

My readers know that description is my thing. I like to make a scene real, describing what things look, sound, feel and taste like. A number of the reviews of The Bones of the Earth mentioned the description and detail.

What prompted this particular parody was that it was just irresistible.

About a year ago, the only book you ever heard about was Fifty Shades of Grey. Serious radio stations had phone-in programs about it. Reviews were inescapable in newspapers, magazines and the Web.

Only after I bought a copy as a gift for my wife did I start to notice how many reviews were negative. I am sure some of that reaction was sour grapes: Fifty Shades is not the only book about spanking and sex, but it is the best-selling book of the decade, if not longer. I heard once that it was outselling the Bible!

Then I got the most important review: my wife did not like it. She had no patience with the emails or the long contracts. (How long would the book be without that filler?)

She did not like the hero, Christian Grey. She found him completely unbelievable. “He’s a creep,” she says. “If he weren’t so rich and so good looking, everyone would think he’s just a pervert.”

The heroine and narrator, Anastasia, is also unbelievable — as well as annoying, Roxanne says.

I read the book last fall, and I decided to have some fun with the idea of a book that’s about nothing but sex.

I turned Fifty Shades on its head. I decided to make the protagonist/narrator of One Shade of Red a young man; a virgin, like Anastasia Steel. Now, how could I explain a 20-year-old healthy virgin in North American society in the 21st century? Right — give him an uptight girlfriend, the girl next door. He faces the expectation from his family and hers to be her boyfriend, but she won’t have sex before marriage.

The mentor figure: where Christian Grey is the ideal man — young, beautiful, rich and powerful with a deep flaw that only the heroine can fix — Alexis Rosse is the idea woman (to a 20-year-old man): beautiful (come on, I can get away with a beautiful female character in a novel and still make it believable!), independently wealthy, smart, vivacious and unabashedly horny. In fact, sexually voracious.

Now, to make her believable: she’s rich because she’s the widow of a wealthy man. It doesn’t matter exactly how Charles Rosse made his money, but I decided it was the old-fashioned way: he inherited it.

At 30, Alexis is young, but she’s now confident in her talents, her body, her beauty and her sexuality.

She’s smart, because the sexiest part of any woman is her brain. I made her a bit of a financial prodigy, someone who excelled in business school and turned that talent into reality when she got her hands on some capital.

In other words, she’s perfect — nothing to fix! I think that I’m like most men in that I have enough stuff to fix in my life without having to fix my partner. When you find perfection, why would you change it?

It comes down to a story

This is primarily a coming-of-age story, a rite of passage: learning how to make love to someone. Alexis teaches Damian the language of love. He matures a lot. His relationship with Alexis gives him the confidence to deal like an adult with his parents, his girlfriend, his friends, his work colleagues. Damian is not the same at the end as he was at the beginning of the story.

In writing the story, though, I found it easy to get carried away. My first couple of drafts had much more graphic, detailed and long descriptions of the sex scenes. I did some research into erotic writing (boy, research can be tough) by “serious” writers. Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, EL Doctorow, John Updike, Pearl Buck and many others have written about sex and not been lumped into the “porn” category.

And then I thought about all the action books I’ve read. In the past year, I’ve read at least three descriptions by three different authors about what a bullet does after it enters a human brain. Why is that considered appropriate for serious literature, but not descriptions of what people have always done and always will as soon as they can?

Okay, enough ranting. Enough rationalizing. The only legitimate judges are you, dear readers.

Did I succeed? Crash and burn? Let me know. You can read excerpts for free on the blogs that are participating in the blog tour. Or you can go to Amazon or Smashwords tomorrow and read the whole book.

Let me know what you think.

Get One Shade of Red at:

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