From porn cliché to quirky novel – the birth of a plot
Hello to everyone at It’s Raining Men! Tomorrow sees the release of my second novel, Handle with Care, and I wanted to share with you a little about how the idea for it grew in my mind, and the three chance events that were the seeds of the main plot.
I remember the original spark of inspiration clearly. I was working at home one day when the doorbell rang. I raced down the stairs and opened the front door to find one of the cutest delivery guys I’d ever seen. He was far too young for me to be ogling, but he had that slightly scruffy, bad-boy look I’ve always gone for, and cheekbones to die for. As I made my way back upstairs I pondered writing a story involving a man falling for his regular delivery boy. When I shared the idea with a friend she said it sounded like a porn cliché, so I put it to one side. I was sure there was potential there—I liked the idea of a geeky stay-at-home kind of bloke being desperately in lust with the young cutie bringing his parcels—but it definitely needed more fleshing out before I was ready to write.
The reference to porn cliché got me thinking, though—what if the delivery guy was bringing porn DVDs? I had this scene in my head where one of them fell out of a poorly wrapped parcel, embarrassing the stay-at-home character. A trip to Soho to browse gay bookstores resulted in another piece of inspiration, when I discovered a picture of a cute young couple in Cali Boys, a book of homoerotic art by Joe Phillips. This fired up my imagination: what if the delivery guy was also an enthusiastic illustrator, creating his own erotic comics? Also, I shamelessly stole the purple spiky hair of the guy with his back to us—he became Ollie.
This still wasn’t enough material to make a novel out of, though. I needed more conflict. I needed a good reason for my main character to be stuck at home alone, letting life pass him by. I tried on a few different ideas, but wasn’t feeling inspired to write about someone painfully shy or suffering from agoraphobia—for a start, I wanted the man to have some prior life experience. I wanted back story and emotional baggage. I could cope with him having low self-esteem, but I didn’t want that to be the only reason he’d withdrawn from the world.
The final piece of the puzzle fell into place one day with one of those wonderful “aha!” moments. I was walking out of our local hospital and saw the empty parking bays right opposite the main entrance, with their signs saying “Parking for Dialysis Patients” Of course! My recluse could be on dialysis. While it was a little daunting to write about someone with a serious health condition, I had already seen my brother-in-law go through kidney failure, three different dialysis regimes and an eventual kidney transplant, so I felt like I had a fairly good grounding in the condition—not to mention having someone I could pester for all those little details that would bring Ben’s predicament to life.
Once I had this final element I threw myself into researching dialysis, and within a month or so I was ready to start writing. There were plenty more moments of inspiration and frustration as I wrote away—and some major redrafting work before Handle with Care was ready to submit to Samhain—but I got there in the end. It’s strange to think that if I hadn’t ordered that parcel, or a less attractive delivery boy had come to my door that day, the novel may never have been written...
What about all of you? Have you ever had a chance encounter that’s impacted on your life in a big way? Or if you’re a writer, do you remember any of the moments that sparked off your novels? I’d love to hear about them!
Handle with Care by Josephine Myles – the blog tour
To celebrate the release of my second novel, Handle with Care, I’m on a two week blog tour. A grand prize will be awarded to a randomly chosen commenter during the tour: an exclusive Handle with Care mug (which I’m happy to post worldwide), and a $25 voucher to spend at All Romance eBooks (or alternative ebook retailer of your choice). I’ll make the prize draw on Wednesday 9th May at 9am (GMT), and will announce the winner on my blog. Visit the tour itinerary for a list of all the stops, and comment on each to increase your chances of winning!
The best things in life aren’t free…they’re freely given.
Ben Lethbridge doesn’t have many vices left. After raising his little sister to adulthood, he wasted no time making up for the youth he lost to responsible parenting. Two years of partying it up—and ignoring his diabetes—has left him tethered to a home dialysis regimen.
He can do his job from his flat, fortunately, but most of his favourite things are forbidden. Except for DVD porn…and fantasizing over Ollie, the gorgeous, purple-haired skateboarder who delivers it.
Their banter is the highlight of Ben’s lonely day, but his illness-ravaged body is the cruel reality that prevents him from believing they’ll do anything more than flirt. Not to mention the age gap. Still, Ben figures there’s no harm in sprucing himself up a bit.
Then one day, a package accidentally splits open, revealing Ben’s dirty little secret…and an unexpected connection that leaves him wondering if he’s been reading Ollie wrong all this time. There’s only one way to find out: risk showing Ollie every last scar. And hope “far from perfect” is good enough for a chance at love.
Warning: Contains superhero porn comics and a cute, accident-prone delivery guy with colour-changing hair. Readers may experience coffee cravings, an unexpected liking for bad mullets, and the urge to wrap Ollie up and take him home.
English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.
Jo’s website: http://josephinemyles.com/
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Thanks Josephine. She is offering a $25 GC for the contest!