My first novel is now posting. Lover's Shadow returns to the universe of my previous novellas, a world in which openness, love and passion are necessary to survive the terrors of the night. I return to Lady Ashley six years after we last saw her. She has put her joy and insatiable sexuality to work guiding the surrounding communities to find the passion and connection they need to survive.
Watching the characters unfold on the page brings me joy. Everyone needs to be able to let down their guard and be as open and vulnerable as they can be. Few could do that all the time. So, I've spent a lot of time exploring how people find safety and a little bit of space between the openness. Late in the process, the nobles truly fell into place, balancing the formality and distance that allow them to make hard decisions of life and death against the moments of deep connection necessary to survive and teach. Finding that balance and the tricks of language and emotion to express it allowed me to grow as a writer.
The Light of Passion universe lets me write sex with confidence. At first the sex scenes might appear unrealistic. There's very little fumbling around trying to figure out what people want, and much less wondering about the results after. For a lot of people that would be unrealistic, but I'm writing about people who care about love and sex and who spend time learning to be good at it. These people exist in the real world: I meet plenty others at events focused on love and sexuality. My sex, and the sex I listen to or talk about at these events feels a lot like what happens in Lovers Shadow. People approach sex as a way to learn and teach as part of their connection. The sex may not work, but it is an opportunity to figure out what to do better next time. It's silly and messy and comfortable.
Sharing that is one of my biggest motivations for writing. I hope you'll walk away with a greater sense of how much power you have as a lover. You and those you join can decide how you'll approach the experience and what you'll take away. You can decide what's gross or what's fun. Together, You can decide whether doing something will grind you down or give you strength.
We spend a lot of effort today focused on the idea that you are never obligated to have sex. Consent matters. I believe that with all my heart. However, I also believe that if you want to, you can say yes. Lovers Shadow is a reminder that no matter how many times you say yes, no matter how often and with whom, your value is not reduced. There can be strength in saying no, but there need not be weakness in saying yes. It is your choice.
The world building has been fun. The population is low; resources like land and raw materials are abundant if you have the means to exploit them. Technology that lets the low population go further is highly valued. How does that affect things? How does war and conflict work in a world where at least within a community, connection and love are essential?
I had no idea how much work would be involved. The first draft came together fairly quickly. Since then, there has been a huge process of improvement and revision. Back in July, I thought I was ready for beta readers. However, one of the first comments I got from an experienced writer was that my characters were all flat. I was horrified, because most of the point of the story is to explore how the characters change. It turned out that the section he was reviewing was particularly bad, but there were situations where feelings were not adequately explored throughout the work. I ended up restructuring the story, starting at a different point. I think it is much improved.
The detailed revision process has also been interesting. I learned a lot more about grammar and style. I spent a lot of time working to tighten the language and improve wording. That's particularly true of the introduction.
I'm releasing the story serially. Even now, I'm making one last fine tuning pass over the parts not yet released.
Response So Far
So far people seem to like it. A lot of readers who start go on past the first chapter. I've seen a lot of interest in earlier stories in the series, even though Lovers Shadow stands on its own. I'd love to hear what people think.