Writing from the heart - my journey to a series
Thinking of me and wisdom in the same breath, is, like Alex said in an
earlier post, daunting.
worthwhile. I asked Janice to nudge me in a direction as far as what to
speak about, because there are so very many things about the craft of
writing, fiction or non-fiction, that can be said. Janice answered that she
felt there is an almost spiritual quality in my work, that she sensed in
reading my White Tigers series. I have to admit that of all the books I've
written, these books poured out of me during a particularly harrowing and
deeply raw part of my life - the death of my partner's mother, someone very
important to me, a relationship that was very complex and deep in which
there was as much struggle as there was what one would call "positive".
Strangely enough, the White Tigers series (my m/m, yaoi-inspired series at
Total-E-Bound), began with a title my boyfriend jokingly turned to me and
gave me. He said, "I have a title for you, "Men of Phuket". I liked it and
actually began researching Phuket, Thailand. I was surprised to learn that
Phuket City is the location of one of the biggest Gay Pride parades in the
world and that Thailand is considered one of the most accepting countries of
homosexuality. I had already written a few m/m books but was at the
beginning and had published two m/m romantic suspense novels, His Beautiful
Samurai and its sequel Beautiful Samurai, White Tiger (Torquere Press).
Beautiful Samurai, White Tiger introduces the world of the White Tiger, the
gay men's love hotel in Tokyo where the White Tigers series takes place.
When Mitch suggested the title of Men of Phuket, one thing led to another in
my mind and I saw that the characters who appear in Beautiful Samurai, White Tiger all had their own stories to tell. Ryu's and Nat's story appeared
first because there was a natural segue between the mystery in BS, WT and
the course of events in Men of Phuket: Tongue-Thai'd, as the title came to
Well, I coudln't stop there. There were Naoto and Koji who have a big hot
love scene in Beautiful Samurai, White Tiger. They had a poignant story to
tell (which is my personal favorite of all of them). And then there was Kiku
and Yuzo's romance, Basho and Timothy, then finally, Quan Chan and Koji's
best friend Hiru. Before I knew it, I had this entire series flowing out of
me, one which engaged my whole heart and spirit. I fell in love with these
characters and the world they live in in a way I never had with any of my
other books. Don't get me wrong, I can't write a story unless I love my
characters, even the bad ones like Taro Suzuki, the central "villain" in the
White Tigers series. (In some ways, he was one of the most enjoyable to
write and the most complex). But maybe because of the passage I was going
through with Florence's illness and death, I was in a heightened state of
awareness, more raw than usual and so the stories I wrote reflected what was
happening to me.
I've heard the adage "write what you know" and have wondered how this series
could possibly be things I know. After all, I'm a Jewish woman from
Massachusetts. How could I possibly write at all convincingly about a group
of gay Japanese men over in Tokyo, one of whom had been a gangster? On the
outside it's ludicrous of me to even embark on it. But truthfully, I
couldn't have written anything else. Fortunately, human beings have the
power of empathy and writers seem to have that quality more strongly. Look
at Mary Renault, a 20th century Englishwoman who wrote some of the most
astonishing and powerful novels about Alexander the Great and his lovers.
(Not that I'm a Mary Renault, but one can aspire.
the White Tigers series is a synthesis of the forces that are meaningful in my heart and which shape my life - meditation, a spiritual teacher and community in which I feel accepted and can work on myself, having grown up
with a gay father and the process of understanding the effects of that
experience on my womanhood and adult life, and the process of going through
Florence's passing away and undergoing the grieving process.
Since finishing the White Tigers series, I haven't been the same. As if I
wrote out everything I have inside me, I've not yet recovered. Though I
continue to write, my productivity has declined. It's harder to sit down at
the keyboard and when I do, it's harder to get going. It takes me quite a
bit longer to write a book now than it did before and I need to keep
remembering not to push. My muse has been through the wringer, so to speak
and needs a rest now and then.
Looking over this entry, I'm not sure I'm expounding a certain kind of wisdom concerning writing but if I were to encapsulate it, I think the spirit is that it's important to write from the heart. I do put my heart into all my books but this particular series came from a place into which I dug even deeper. Perhaps that's why it's touched people and has become my favorite of all I've written.
I hope I have fulfilled the question posed to me about my writing journey. Please feel free to ask questions or give comments and thank you so much for your support! Sedonia