Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why I Wrote This Book

We moved to a larger house in April of 2007, when I was pregnant with our second child. We needed more space, and even though Kirby had been high on painkillers for a kidney stone when we saw the house, because I loved it so much he agreed to make an offer, and we were under contract within 24 hours.

The bulk of the packing fell to me, as the person with the part-time, free-lance job. I was packing Kirby's books - obscure, paperback tomes from college that I had never paid much attention to - when I came across a volume of literary criticism of erotic literature. There was an entire chapter dealt to "The Rape Fantasy."

The whuh-huh-who?

Are you effing serious?

I opened the book, began to read, and proceeded to get really, really pissed. Rather than just discussing the presence of something called a "rape fantasy" which, rightly or wrongly, shows up in a lot of erotic literature, the author began the analysis with the assumption that women, in general, although they won't admit it, harbor such fantasies.

So, being the sort of person I am, I thought I'd hunt the author down and hang him by his short hairs until he agreed to publicly recant and apologize for spreading such ridiculous nonsense.


Let me try that again. Being the sort of person I am, I thought I'd write about it. I decided I'd write the anti-rape fantasy. A fantasy about extraordinary desire, slowly, gently, tenderly expressed in a mostly chaste relationship.

Have you ever wanted someone so much your mouth waters and you walk into furniture, only to find out that they hyperventilate every time you flip your hair that way, but for reasons external to the attraction you've had to keep it in check? It's HOT.

I also had a fantasy about a sword-fighting heroine. I love the stories of King Arthur, the movie Gladiator, and tough-skinned, macho tales of strength and honor that make you all proud and warm inside. Problem was, all of the tales were about male protagonists. Sure there were a few female side-characters here and there, but the leads were all men.

Then along came Buffy. THANK YOU, JOSS WHEDON.

After that, Battlestar Gallactica. Yummy. Strong, tough, unapologetic and uncompromising warrior women who kicked ass, over and over again.

So I put these two themes together, and I got GWENDOLYN'S SWORD. It may go nowhere. It may be that no one wants to represent a YA novel about a sword-fighting heroine from twelfth century England. If that's the case, then I'll write something more marketable and try to get this one published after I'm a creditable "author". I love the characters, there are at least 2 or 3 sequels possible based on the threads laid in the first book, and I'm not willing to give up on them or their story. When I was a teenager, I would have loved to have had a story like this out there for me to read, to know that it was okay to be bigger and stronger than most of the girls (and a lot of the guys), to know that it was okay to be a girl and still speak loudly and clearly, to know that being smart and assertive and a no-bullshit fighter was sexy.

So far, I've queried 17 agents. I've gotten 5 rejections, 2 referrals to other agents, and one request for a full. The waiting is ... difficult, but unavoidable. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, I'm outlining plot and characters for the next book (legal thriller) while continuing to revise Gwendolyn's Sword in anticipation of submitting it to the Texas Writers League manuscript contest this spring. I may not win, but the feedback will be invaluable.

Happy November, and keep writing.


DrRuth said...

Sounds great and yep I'd read it and slow but I've now found your new blog.

Liz said...

Hi Ruth! Welcome to the new blog and thanks for commenting! It's always a little discouraging writing to the sound of crickets chirping - which is where the Feedjit helps. At least I can see that readers do stop by.