One of the fun things we get to do as authors is put ourselves in all kinds of unusual situations without the risks associated with leaping too far outside of our comfort zones.
I think it was Joss Whedon who said it best: “I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.”
And as much as some might say that every single part of a book should come from some kind of true to life research or experience, sometimes this is just not possible.
For example, the sex club scene in The Enemy Inside. One of the pivotal scenes featuring the two main characters, Jay and Berg, takes place inside a sex club with some pretty serious BDSM themes. And you have to remember; I started writing this book back in 2006, before Fifty Shades of Grey made BDSM something so mainstream you could chat about it over tea and scones.
Now, as much as I’d like to be the kind of cool person who frequently attends swingers’ clubs for a sexy beating, I’m not (why, what have you heard?). I’m a married mother-of-two with a hygiene fetish who’d be more likely to visit a sex club, get out the handy wipes and give the place a thorough cleaning before I’d get down and dirty in it.
But this scene in the book was important not only for the plot, but also for the character development between my two detectives.
So what to do? I had to rely on something I’d almost forgotten in my drive to learn everything I could about forensics, autopsies, police investigations, and the US legal system: my imagination.
Knowing this scene was coming up, I sat down and had a serious think about it. Rather than looking up other people’s sex club experiences on good old Google (not that I was afraid of doing this, it would be the least scary item on my Google search history. I maintain that if the police monitored my Internet searches, I’d be in prison), I’d come up with the details.
I asked myself: ‘if I were setting up a sex club, how would I want it to be set up? Who would be invited? How would they know about it? What would they do once they got there? (apart from the obvious). What would I want to be supplied to my guests? What about security? Music? Catering?’ (Yes, catering. Never let it be said that I don’t think about things from all angles). I planned everything out to the smallest detail. It’s good to know that if this whole writing gig doesn’t pan out, I could perhaps become a madam or the purveyor of a chain of high-class sex clubs.
I had little sticky notes all over the house with ideas about how my sex club might look and be operated for weeks before I wrote the scene. My poor husband probably saw them and thought his life was about to take a major turn for the better.
The sights, sounds and smells Jay experiences as he’s being led through the sex club by an enthusiastic Cindy, are the sights sounds and smells I would expect to see if I was walking through the sex clubs of my dreams.
I imagined feel the soft, plush red carpet under my feet, the expensive art on the red walls, the smell of sweat and perfume, the top of the line liquor, the beat from the loud jazz thudding through my chest, the greeting room with a view to die for, and the individuals rooms in case I wanted to experience voyeurism, BDSM, an all-in orgy…wait, what was I talking about again?
And while I have no idea if it’s true to life at all, it’s true to my characters, and me and that’s the most important thing.
Never underestimate the power of a good imagination, it can take you places you never thought you’d go!
Get The Enemy Inside here: