I went with my friend, Eden Bradley, to the Hustler store in West Hollywood. She was participating in a reading series called In The Flesh which helps to raise money for victims of incest and rape. Eden read from her upcoming book, 21st Century Courtesan. Let's just say it was spicy though the theme was sex in adolescence.
The event was fun and I think Eden had the most fans present. Our LARA friends came out in a big group to support her. It was funny because some excerpts were really funny and about that awkwardness of childhood and some excerpts were more about the emotional part of the sexual experience.
Eden has a very vivid writing style, so as I listened to her read, I could distinctly see the time and place in my head, who Valentine (Eden's character) was at this age in her life and how she felt about her first sexual experience as well as how she feels about her current sexual experience with the hero.
Reading Eden's other book, Exotica (which is fabulous by the way--shameless plug), and listening to the excerpt from this book made me think a lot about my own writing style. They say love is in the details and I think in Eden's books, this is correct.
My strength is dialogue. I love witty banter and innuendo between a hero and heroine. That's where I tend to shine. However, my description of the setting needs work. I tend to write bare bones in a first draft and though Belle Scarlett, my critique partner, tends to help me flesh things out and put more in, it's something I have to consciously think about. Dialogue tends to flow out naturally from me. I don't think too much about it.
And, yet, now that I've read what good description is and what good characterization is, it's shifted something in my perspective. I look at what I've written differently. I find I want to be better. A better writer. A better storyteller. I want to weave a deep connection between my hero, heroine, and reader.
As a kid, I read Alex Haley's Queen. It was one of the best books I'd ever written (no offense to Jane Austen and Shakespeare, my favorites). The thing about Queen is that the language is beautiful. Vivid. Lyrical. It takes you places. Some places you want to go and some places that live in the nightmares of millions of people. I loved it. I hated certain characters. I laughed and I cried and I lived the experience of the book. And, it was more than just being a biracial girl reading about another biracial girl's experience. What I think drew me was the perfection of the storytelling. Now, Queen was not complete when Hailey died, so another person had to finish the book, so I don't know how much was Hailey and how much was David Stevens. But, the story is alive. The words are alive. They touch something deep inside, so that you're not quite the same when the story is over. Queen lives in me.
In a different way, Eden's book, Exotica, did that for me. Reading the book changed me. And, at a time when I needed to be changed. I needed to see the power of words. The simple power of what happens when you read the story of a sexual journey and when the characters grow, you grow as well.
I had intended to write this funny post about the Hustler signing and winning a very interesting goodie bag during a raffle after the reading, but as I started typing, a deeper story emerged. See how I've changed? :)