(this post is a replication of the page Tell Me: The Book)
HIM: “It’s The Story of O meets Jane Austen for the sexting and blogging generation.”
ME: “I’m not sure that’s a compliment.”
HIM: “It is. Completely. Although you should have warned me what it was about. Flying coach with an erection is so declassé.”
ME: “I did tell you. I said it was one-third erotica, one-third chick lit, one-third existential angst.”
HIM: “Well. I didn’t expect it to have quite this much of an impact. It’s impressive. Tight. It flows. So very easy to read, and keep reading. The sex reads true. Don’t call it chick lit. It’s something different, new.”
It’s not a bad review, I think. Except… I didn’t write it for him. He’s not my target audience. I wrote it for—his wife. The woman who wants to be his mistress. The divorcing 40-year-old who reads pulp romances on the subway even though the predictability of the plots bores her. The snobby sapiosexual who devoured 50 Shades of Grey and still has it on her Kindle… but tells everyone how badly written it was. The Wall Street executive who wears French lingerie under her Armani suit and fantasizes about going down on that hot bike courier in the elevator. The faithful wife who wants, so very, very badly, to take a lover. But won’t. Or will she?
I wrote it for them—that sprawling demographic of 35-50+ year-old women who buy more books than anyone else, for whom new genres and never-ending series are created.
So, I give it to them to read, to test-drive:
“So shocking! So awesome! Tell me—what does Matt look like? I need to know.”
“Your book. I can’t stop reading. I was late for work today. Again.”
“God. I WANT HIM. How did you do this?”
They’re texting me as they read. I love it. But then I worry. Have I been able to sustain it? The storyline is compact: an intense love affair—although the lovers don’t call it that, they call it a mindfuck—between the two central characters unfolds over 30 days, the tense and holiday-intense month of December. But that’s 30 chapters, 100,000 words. Was I able to keep the pace, commingle the disparate plot lines, and keep the reader obsessed all the way through to the end?
“Your book. I am having trouble working. I just want to take my phone into the bathroom and keep reading. I can’t wait until lunch time so I can continue. Just finished chapter 24 on my way to work. Yes, I read at every red light!”
“It’s 4:30 in the morning. I’m done. Holy fuck, that’s hot.”
“No! It’s over and I don’t want it to be! Tell me there’s more!”
In brief: Jane’s a wife, mother, daughter, friend. A couple years shy of 40 but not stressing about it… yet. Mostly content. Mildly bored. Suddenly, a text from an old lover pulls her into an online sexual vortex. As she “mindfucks” her lover and attempts to figure out how this aspect of herself fits into the obligations of marriage and motherhood, other relationships around her strain, fracture, collapse. Her best friend is recklessly pursuing a series of cyber-affairs, while another friend’s attempt at an open, polyamorous marriage leads to an ugly divorce. Her next-door neighbour is planning a wedding with her forever on-again/off-again lover—but will it really happen? Her parents, on the eve of their forty-third wedding anniversary, announce they’re getting a divorce, while her father-in-law’s third marriage ends. Meanwhile her lawyer-husband is exchanging a lot of texts with an adoring young associate. Does Jane care? Or is she too engulfed in her own sanity-straining mindfuck to really notice?
It’s uber-sexy. Well-written. Highly consumable. The erotica is undiluted and un-euphemistic; the characters are engaging; and the life plot lines as real as if they were happening to you, your neighbours, your colleagues.
Do you want to read the book?
“God, yes! Where, how?”
If you want a deeper taste, here’s the SYNOPSIS (minus spoilers) that sold the story to Harper Collins.