Weinstein Et Al and Why I Wrote ‘Blue Is The Object’

A clue to one of the main themes of my fourth and most recent novel (published May this year) lies in the title: Objectification.

blue is the object cover

I’d say the seeds of this novel were sown in the ‘Noughties’ when my Inner Prude grew increasingly discomforted by the apparent creeping of porn culture into mainstream media. A little open-mouthed at the Music channels on TV which attracted a young audience, she sighed at the idolisation of a Page Three alumna turned role-model of young girls, felt let down when Dr Who’s ex-assistant played a call girl, based on  a real-life postgraduate student spinning yarns and money, who justified selling sex as an ‘economic necessity’ (setting a precedent?) All above the watershed? Then came the Disney Girl Next Door wearing her genitalia on her sleeve so to speak, to name another of many influences, which include documentaries such as the one which featured a septuagenarian grandmother getting in on The Game, selfies and the rise of sexting. I could go on and on.

In 2014 when I began to work seriously on the novel, my goal, and greatest challenge, was to find out as much as I could about the nature of, influences on, and attitudes towards our ‘hyper-sexualised, so-called ‘Porn Culture’, and its normalisation and sanitisation, without resorting to porn itself. There was plenty out there to get my teeth into. Articles, videos, documentaries, recorded interviews, fiction, non-fiction, autobiographies, academic and journalistic research; anti-porn, sex-positive, feminist, conservative, informative, educational. I wanted context, and it was a long time before I felt ready to tackle it.

Why? It was hard-going. It was not an area I could approach coyly. My Primcess Inner Prude (Pip for short) was rattled. I had to bat her down a lot. But how was I going to deal with my material in a balanced and candid way without slipping into salacious or censorious tones? How would I bring in beauty, fun, humanity and humour? In the end I persevered and I’m glad I did. I overcame my fear of disapproval, the idea that dealing with this kind of dirt wasn’t nice; best swept under a glamorous rug. It isn’t nice, and whilst I believe that every generation has its own challenges to work through, and that most young people do find a healthy balance in popular culture, I believe we help protect them and progress by shedding light on and questioning darker influences. When is it wise to ignore bad behaviour or call it out?

Which brings me to the phenomena of  Weinstein (once described as “wonderful” by Michelle Obama, a “God” by Meryl Streep) and others with a similar predatory mindset; rich and powerful men who have found they can no longer prey on women with impunity. Their behaviour cannot be separated from the culture they operate in. It was the responses of the Hollywood and wider community which brought to my mind the process of my novel. We move forward when we take responsibility for the ills of society with courage, compassion and honesty. That is why I am optimistic that the whistle-blowing on Weinstein and men of his ilk (without witch-hunting) heralds a change for the better.

 

 

 

 

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5 More 5 Star Reviews for ‘The Life Coach Less Travelled’

The Life Coach Less Travelled

A very big thank you to these readers who have posted reviews on my Amazon pages. Read more of what they had to say by clicking the links under the comments:

 

“Couldn’t put this book down!”

http://www.amazon.com/review/RJ7XVFOMEKRQB/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1494270927&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books

 

“Absolutely loved this!”

http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R3AQMPGTI7MKZR/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00I7542Y0&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=266239&store=books

 

 “A gripping, dark page turner”

http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R2EV9T65J7ZGHF/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00I7542Y0&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=266239&store=books

 

“Excellent read. Couldn’t put it down”

http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R3OU3WF6XH2DXF/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00I7542Y0&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=266239&store=books

 

“I enjoyed this book and recommend it”

http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/RM94TZG4RYU9B/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1494270927&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=266239&store=books

50 Shades Of Grey Isn’t Black and White, Is It?

50 shades

My New Novel ..Not!

 

Finally I read it, (in 9 hours!) for research purposes (honest!)

For some of the context of my next novel, I’ve been exploring the complex, often colourful and frequently grubby aspects of what has been described as our ‘hyper-sexualised’ culture. Considering the hype around ‘Fifty Shades’, I felt I could no longer ignore its impact, or at least my curiosity about its success. For that, I have to give credit to the author, regardless of my personal opinion of the book, which did live up to my expectations that she had hit on a multi-million dollar formula; Mills and Boon meets Soft Porn, complete with Virgin/Whore archetype; Harlequin Romance with Bondage; Fairy Tale with Frisson; Snow White  meets Dark Knight; Cinderella with Carabiners (had to look them up). I could go on.

Before I do, I must point out that I do not want to patronise the millions of EL James’ readers who have enjoyed the book, for whatever reason. That’s good enough for me (fabulous for Erika). However, for the same reasons as I think it is important that people are aware and educated about the power of advertising and the media, I believe we need to engage in all aspects of our popular culture with open eyes as well as minds. To my mind, a healthy society embraces a questioning attitude, a willingness to challenge ideas presented to us and the ability to make informed choices, whether we are choosing cereal, a politician or a good read.

So, if  ‘Fifty Shades’ thrilled you as an erotic fantasy or whatever, whilst recognising that in real life you (and your daughters) would actually be more likely to be happier with a partner who was more respectful/open/affectionate and less controlling/creepy/abusive/damaged etc., well, why not?

Personally, possibly because I’m not into BDSM, but more likely to do with the comic-strip exclamations (“Aargh”!!) and the repetitiveness of his hotness, her wetness, his pants hanging on his hips “that way” and fifty more examples, I found the story only the taddest titillating; too often touching on tawdry for my liking. I read it in one sitting because after the first few pages I knew that if I put it down I would not be compelled to pick it up again, to plough through it, irritated by the quality of the writing, the contradictions and the “Crap”, “Double Crap” and “Holy Crap”s appearing on virtually every other page.

When I finished it with relief, one overriding impression of the behaviour of the main character, Christian Grey, stayed with me, summed up in one word:

Grooming.

Reviews for ‘The Life Coach Less Travelled’ #1-5

The Life Coach Less Travelled

 

Thank you to my readers, and especially for the wonderful reviews that have started to come in! Any honest feedback is of course appreciated, although it’s a writers joy to know their work has given pleasure.

Here are the first five (all 5 stars!) from Amazon:

 

Fabulous book – loved it“A rare reading experience when the characters stay with you long after you finish the book. A great story, fabulous characters that really came to life as the story progressed. Dark at times, sad at times, funny at times. Loved it; I wanted to start from the beginning and read it again! I go to a monthly reading group and this is the best book I have read for around a year! Read it – enough said!”   

 Is she beyond redemption? “A memorable journey into the life of a troubled soul. This was a colourful and captivating read with an engaging cast of characters caught in the orbit of a femme fatale turned purveyor of pop psychology. Will she stop at nothing to achieve her goals? ” 

Great reading “I loved this book & couldn’t put it down. It was quite dark in parts but very funny in others. I’ve kept it on my kindle & have read it twice now. I would definitely recommend it.” 

This was a great book, good holiday read I really enjoyed this book, I bought it on my kindle and read it on holiday. It’s one of those books that you just want to carry on reading, the story balances serious issues with some really funny characters. I’m going to read it again :)”  

A good holiday or wet Sunday read ” Given this book to read for our Book Club not sure I would have chosen it myself – however- I read it very quickly as I just wanted to know what was going to happen next! It was easy to get to know each of the characters (although with some, I didn’t want to know them!) Believable plot about what could happen when a manipulative evil personality just wants their own way.”

Missing Mother

From mammaries last week to Mams today. Because its Mothers Day, and I’m missing mine, I want to share a little story about this medal.

RSCN0761

photo by Bobby Turton

 

This is what the Dalai Lama has to say on missing a loved one:

“For example, in my own case, I have lost my most respected tutor, my mother, and also one of my brothers. When they passed away, of course, I felt very, very sad. Then I constantly kept thinking that it’s no use to worry too much, and if I really loved these people, then I must try to fulfil their wishes with a calm mind. So I try my best to do that. So I think if you’ve lost someone who is very dear to you, that’s the proper way to approach it. You see, the best way to keep a memory of that person, the best remembrance, is to see if you can carry on the wishes of that person.”

The Art of Happiness (pub. 1998, Hodder and Stoughton)

When she was alive, my mother’s wishes were a frequent source of confusion and sometimes exasperation to me. Now, when all the small stuff is just irrelevant and pointless, the big stuff is clear. Since she died in October 2010, I’ve come to appreciate more of what she left behind, including a very large, largely loving family.

She encouraged me to write, enjoying writing short stories herself  and I could write a book about her, but here I want to distil the essence of her wishes, her legacy. She was remarkably resilient, passionate about children, life-long learning, social justice, Manchester, the hills of Glossop where she was evacuated in the war, and helping others. She saw people as human beings regardless of colour, creed or status and she demonstrated that compassion creates the conditions for forgiveness.

She was involved with the MC Brothers co-founded by Mother Theresa, who live amongst, to serve and support, the poor and disadvantaged. When we were clearing her home after her death, I found eight Mother Theresa medals, one for each of her children, identical to, though not the one in the photograph above. Several weeks ago, something was preying heavily on my mind one night. The next morning, my son and I were returning from an early walk with the dog. It was still quite dark, with just the fingers of the rising sun stretching across the sky, when my son pointed to a shiny object on the pavement outside our house. It was the Mother Theresa medal in the picture, which conveyed to me an immediate message of comfort, support and love. Coincidence? If so, an extraordinary one, given that few pedestrians apart from walkers tread that pavement. The important thing was that as soon as I held it, I knew all was well.

In a poem about missing my mother, I wrote:

Extended in love to your limits,

Now limitless, you live on in us.’

If everything is energy, then love is, I believe, “the highest vibration” and its legacy eternal.

 

Wishing you all a happy and loving Mother’s Day today.

5 Random Approaches To Romance For Rebels

Flowers Work!

Image by Aaron Schwab, L.A., Ca., USA

1. Scientific Approach

Flowers work!

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15534510.2011.561556#.Uv3tlfl_ubM

 

2.  Gastronomical Approach

(Or ‘the way to the heart is through the stomach approach’) Be Prepared!

 

3. Frugal Approach

More romantic assets than hard cash? Have no fear, the answer is here!

For 7p with romantic red envelope thrown in

For 7p with romantic red envelope thrown in

 

4. Cynical Approach

Too much sugar is bad for you, right? Guarantee satisfaction or money back?

 

5. Historical Approach

Is St. Valentine’s Day not all it’s cracked up to be, anyway?