I have lots of ideas and concepts pop into my head but I am generally rigorous in whether they become projects or not. My interests prompt a lot of ‘what if’ scenarios, I think of archetypes and technological and moral questions, the representation of women is something I care about. And not just idealism in that respect. Women on the page and screen should be allowed to be wild. They should be allowed to smash barriers and break taboos. They should be beasts and monsters, take up space and throw punches. I find that a powerful question and I am drawn to the answers of that before concepts and it informs my work.
I was at the doctors yesterday and I made the mistake of not taking a book with me so was forced to look at a magazine. I know there are good solid pieces in magazines but there’s also some utter drivel in there. The women’s magazines especially, and I’m not thinking of Vogue et al because there is an art and aesthetic involved, nor am I referring to the low end true story magazines which are brilliantly insane. No, I’m referring to the likes of Grazia and OK, Cosmopolitan and their ilk that seem designed to patronize and make women feel insecure about themselves in equal measure. Men’s magazines are as dumb too, just they seldom prey on insecurity the way women’s periodicals do. There are great pieces in great magazines and I’m moaning for comedic effect but then I note how the internet is decimating sales and I’m concluding that it probably isn’t solely the fault of technology.
Finished it today as the pacing is so intense and I do read very quickly, also after Umberto Eco, it seemed to move faster than its predecessor. Two long bus journeys and a late night last night meant I finished the book this afternoon.
It is brilliant, a high concept but one grounded in character, reaction and tragedy. Lauren Beukes is a great writer, her exposition is smooth and seamless, her antagonist Harper is a more honest reflection of how serial killers actually are rather than they are portrayed in fiction and she brings out the palpable tragedy of women’s lives cut short rather than the sexualized corpse/punchline that seems to sum up so much of that style of book.
The Shining Girls deserves the praise it received and Lauren writes with a jagged, compassionate energy that made me cheer on Kirby and Dan until the clever, careful ending and epilogue.
Next up is The Right Hand of The Sun by Anita Mason which looks interesting.
I write about sex and sexuality, from a woman’s point of view. That’s what the first book The Love We Make is about, a married woman having an affair with a single man who allows her to express herself sexually and I am exploring a similar theme in the new work, but part of that is also using concepts and ideas that I think are important in sexual relationships, and more importantly, making them invisible and also enticing.
Enthusiastic consent, for me, is equal parts negotiation and foreplay. It shows respect for everyone concerned, it creates trust and allows people to relax. Technically, I like using it because it creates the pacing that mimics the cycle of female arousal, a slow build, a long peak and a slow decline. Conversation, words are palpably sexy in the right mouth and as a writer, words are all I have to play with. The best seductions are ones where both parties are aware enough to know when they can let go without loss of reputation or integrity, which is something that gets forgotten or ignored for any number of reasons.
Boundaries are important to establish too. Although there can be a fantastical element to sex writing, part of the appeal is the gratification, I still like to work with boundaries, again it’s negotiation and what you say no to is as powerful as what you say yes to. You can be swept away so long as you know where you are going and where it’s safe to land afterwards. Emotional components, fear of loss, societal and cultural expectations, self image all make sex and sexuality a powerful, taboo set of emotions which is why I find it so interesting to write about.