I was recently asked what my new novel ‘Forfeit’ is really about, if there is a message in there that I want people to grasp. If anything I think it’s about how important it is to be true to yourself. To believe in yourself and who you really are. And let that person out!
If you’re the type of girl who wants to squeal, and hug the nearest person, when something good happens, then let’s face it if someone stops you reacting that way then you’re not going to be happy. In fact, before long it will probably take most of the fun out of any situation. Similarly, if you’re naturally a reserved type who hates all the touchy feely stuff, then having hugs and kisses forced on you might make every muscle in your body tense up (how many of us remember that from when we were kids?!).
In ‘Forfeit’, the heroine Cat has built up barriers for self protection. She’s tried being herself and been knocked back, and she decides that the safest way to live is to shut off her emotions, shut off what she really wants and feels. Which is how I guess a lot of us feel about life. With some people it’s one big event that destroys their self confidence, with other people it’s the constant drip feed of messages that they’re not good enough, not doing things the right way. And it isn’t always easy to believe in ourselves enough to risk opening our hearts up and doing what we really want to.
In a strange way it was being true to myself that took me from aspiring writer to published author. At the end of last year I realised that I couldn't bury a story that had received a form R from a publisher. I loved the premise; the story meant something to me. But it wasn’t good, it didn’t sing, the way it was written wasn’t really me. It was how I thought it should be written. So I scrapped every single word. I reworked the plot. I got to know the characters a little better.
Then I forgot how I should write, and I wrote the story I’d want to read. I made it more upbeat, the heroine more sassy and determined, and the hero more edgy and real. I put in the type of plot twists that I knew could and should happen, and took out the plot devices that I’d manufactured. I put in swear words and people tripping up, because that’s what happens in real life. And the story came alive and I loved it. When I read it, it was me. It was real. It was about people I cared about and things that could really happen. It was escapism, but plausible. So I subbed it to a publisher who had started producing the types of books I love to read and crossed my fingers.
A short time later I saw the Xcite competition and even though I’d never tried writing erotic romance before, I wanted to try. So I did (after uncrossing my fingers). I was more confident about me, about the way I want to write. I was being true to myself. Not trying to mimic what was already out there. That story is now on the (virtual) bookshelf, and I’m a published author. (Yay!)
And I’ve just had feedback from an editor on that rewritten story to say they loved the story, the voice (my voice, the real me that I’ve finally been brave enough to let loose!) and the authenticity. I’ve not had a final decision on that yet – but I’ve had confirmation that I’m heading in the right direction.
By discovering how important it is to be true to myself.
Didn’t someone once say you need to learn to love yourself, before you can expect anyone else to?