Romance and culture through a lens

Last week, I finished reading Love Through a Lens by Lucy Felthouse. Despite not often getting the feels from books like this, I rather enjoyed it. The characters, the setting and the sheer Britishness of it charmed me. It was the sort of story I pictured as a Bridget Jonesy rom com with Colin Firth. And who doesn’t love a bit of ol’ Colin?

I’m sure I’ve read British romances before, but being mindful of cultural diversity at the moment, it’s got me thinking about how to write a story with Australian characters without making it tragically Australian. You know, the “I’m going to beat you over the head with how Aussie I am” thing versus the off-the-cuff, by-the-way, aw yeah nah, it is what it is kind of thing.

I liked that about Evie Bliss’s The S’expert. Aside from the writing style and humour drawing me in, maybe it’s because I hear Aussie turns of phrases every day that I could gel with this. No hurdles, no extra translator switch to flick. Not that it’s a problem normally, as I’m surrounded by American and British English on a daily basis. But removing that extra language layer must certainly make a difference at the cognitive level.

Though I never detail it in the book, You and I is set in Australia. Sydney, to be precise. Leah and Craig live in Redfern. The Airbnb in Part 4 is in Bondi, though I pictured the surrounding area looking more like Manly. In my head, the characters have Aussie accents (Perth middle-class accents, oddly) and use Aussie vernacular — I wonder if that’s why the words just flowed while I was writing.

Some readers and reviewers asked for a more fleshed-out story after reading You and I. At the time, I had just recovered from writing Chasing Sisyphus and facing my fear of too many words. I wanted to play with a minimalist style, so I left out anything that didn’t have to do with sex or Leah’s emotional journey. That included auxiliary Aussie things.

But now I look back and wonder if I should have gone into detail, especially after reading Delane’s review of it on Coffee Time Romance. I wonder, what changes about the way we relate to characters when we understand their cultural context? What assumptions do we make about people from just hearing their accents? And what factors about someone or a situation are simply impossible to pick up yourself without having to be told?

I don’t know if I would have liked Love Through a Lens as much if it had been set in Australia or America or Canada. I wonder, if Lucy Felthouse had omitted the details about the British countryside and culture, would I have been able to fill in the blanks on my own? Should stories in the romance and erotica genres even ask that much of a reader?

These thoughts, on a Thursday afternoon.

 


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New Book: Chasing Sisyphus

Book cover for Chasing Sisyphus by JL Peridot

Yay! My first novel, Chasing Sisyphus has arrived. It’s available now on Bookstrand, and coming soon to other good ebook retailers.

Here’s a steamy little preview:

Detective Carver stepped toward her. He held out a cup and motioned for her to take it. She tucked a finger in the handle and clutched it in both hands. A dark crack streaked the rim like a wrinkle in a knuckle. Meanwhile, her own knuckles were pale.

“I guess I should thank you”—he smiled—“you know, for saving my life.”

“Don’t mention it,” she whispered, vision clearing as she sucked in a breath of fresh motel air.

The detective’s shirt hung, still wet, on the back of a chair. The contours of his chest and abdomen showed through his dark undershirt, accentuated by the sheen of composite fabric under lamplight. A shallow dimple creased the edge of his smile.

Details.

Anchors.

They’d come so close to not making it. But he’d cuffed her round the front. He was the sort of cop who’d do a thing like that. And the few seconds it bought made all the difference.

That’s why she went back.

He stood in front of her and knocked back his shot, the muscles in his wrist and arm flexing and twisting with the motion.

“Hey”—he looked at her—“something the matter?”

Heart racing, she downed her drink without a word and reached for him. She pulled his face to hers. His skin was warm. His breath was warm. Beneath the smell of liquor and earthy river water lurked the aroma of another person. A breathing person who caught her as she fell into him, as she kissed him, fumbling for something to hold onto.

The detective let go of his cup. It landed next to hers on the carpet. She kicked them both away. Her lips recognised him, recognised the sensation of life breathing between them both. Only this time, he was alive, too, hot and moving. His arms gripped her, holding her as she pushed her body toward him, against the growing need under his clothes. She was a buoy, slammed into him by waves in a storm. He clung to her, seizing fistfuls of her hair.

“What are we doing?” he gasped.

“We almost died tonight.”

She kissed him again, seeking his tongue where their lips met. Her nimble fingers worked the clasp of his belt. When it was undone, she peeled his undershirt from his muscular torso. His skin was cold beneath her touch, or were her hands hot from the shower? She looked at him. Right in the eye. She guided his hands up her waist and watched him intently.

“Fuck that, right?”

“Yeah”—he nodded—“fuck that.”

Get Chasing Sisyphus now on Bookstrand.

Chasing Sisyphus book cover

Cover Reveal: Chasing Sisyphus

In less than a month, my first novel, Chasing Sisyphus, hits the shelves. Can I still say “hits the shelves”? We’re talking primarily digital, so… hits the online catalogues at major book retailers? Yes, that. 🙂

About Chasing Sisyphus

Available from September 12, 2017. A futuristic action-adventure suspense novel set in Basilica City, the capital metropolis on the eponymous Planet Basilica.

Bounty hunter Adria Yuan is hot on the trail of her final hit: a notorious hacker wanted by the city’s elite. With the reward, she can pay for her brother’s surgery and finally get out of Basilica City. Trouble is, her line of work’s not exactly legal, and she’s barely staying ahead of the cops who want her target, too.

Detective Rhys Carver may be a little unorthodox, but he’s a good cop. Born and bred in Basilica, he does his part to keep his city clean. As clean as it gets, at least. And with Adria suddenly in his sights, it’s going to take more than falling in love for him to let her go.

As the pair close in on their mark, they are unwittingly drawn into a high profile conspiracy that could thrust the whole of Basilica into chaos. Can Adria and Rhys set aside their differences, and their desires, to save the only home they know?

Published by Siren Bookstrand. Cover art by Harris Channing.

Chasing Sisyphus book cover