So…that scene where Weste tears Shaynie’s panties off in that lingerie store change room in West Edmonton Mall...who do I know that really did that?
How about when Shaynie wakes up after Hellnight, memory scrubbed and blacked-out from too much partying. All she’s certain of is that someone violated her, and brutally—who was I exposing?
There are false friends, drug addicts, a party girl and even a demented stalker in this novel…who are they?
The other day, a reader told me she’d run into someone from the small town where I used to live, and that this person had told her two things: 1) She knew me and 2) Divinity & The Python, my debut novel, was about real people.
<Big breath in>
<Big breath out>
I have had a week now, to process why that really pissed me off, and hear are the reasons I landed on:
I cannot stand a liar. Period. Also:
I hate a fucking Gossip. (profanity unapologetic, and caps intended). A Gossip is a cancer upon the world.
Someone saying D&P is about real people cheats my imagination from what it created and basically says I’ve no talent. So screw you, and, mostly:
The whole statement makes me feel like a fool; here I thought people in my small town came to my book launch and bought copies because they were excited about my story. Turns out they were parsing through my novel, scrutinizing and analyzing, trying to figure out who it “must be” about.
Well, they can wait no longer. Let’s pull back the curtain and reveal the juicy secrets:
Origins: The Places & People—Are They Fact or Fiction?
Shaynie Grace Gavin: FICTION! I wanted a heroine who was tough yet vulnerable. Comfortable in a “man’s world” and doing a “man’s job” yet feminine. Shaynie is creative, artistic, and disciplined. She has many qualities I strive for, but she is not me—and nor is she quite like anyone I’ve ever met. I love this character; she, whose story was my first major sale, will forever be the queen of my Secrets & Shadows series. Her character sketch is HERE.
Shaynie’s Brownstone Apartment: FACT! This apartment, just off Whyte Ave in Edmonton, is a squat little building directly behind Continental Treat (which also makes an appearance in this novel)
Cameron Weste: FICTION! Seriously? You think a dude this sexy truly exists? When I created D&P, it was actually as a joke. My crit-group friends, all American, had encouraged me to stubbornly set my fiction in Canada anyway, after a couple other full length novels had been rejected by an agent because Canada wasn’t ‘glamorous enough’. I trotted out every Canadian cliché I could think of for this novel, and a romantic hero who was also a professional hockey player, was my tongue, firmly in cheek. The rest of his character sketch is HERE
Weste’s team in ‘The Big League’: FACT! Obviously, Weste plays for the Oilers, but I was very leery to mention the team’s copyright-protected name, or even the NHL in this book. It turned out it was a battle I won with my Editor (he wanted ‘Edmonton Oilers’ and ‘NHL’ in the book) but I was not correct. I had been worried about being sued, as I have heard of the NHL having hissy-fits when companies try to profit off their team’s names. Yet since then, I’ve seen many hockey romances that full-out name the team their hero plays for. I regret, deeply, not naming The Edmonton Oilers in this story. D&P lost because of my cowardice.
Jude Kevlin & Gray Ward: FICTION! These cousins are products of my imagination, but Gray does share the surname of a pal of mine who I went to University with. Like Gray, he was FANTASTIC dancer. But that’s the only trait they share.
Has Beans on Whyte Ave: FACT! Except in real life, it’s called Continental Treat, and as I mentioned above, it truly is just a few short steps from Shaynie’s dumpy little apartment.
Cele Boisvert: FICTION! In keeping with the theme of cliché Canadians, who other than an ethereal French-Canadian could be the sidekick for my heroine? Hell, I didn’t even know Cele was black until my readers told me. Her character sketch is HERE.
Divinity: FACT! Shaynie’s old morgue was a real place…and a real morgue. Situated exactly where it is in the novel, on 109th & Jasper Avenue in Edmonton, the place changed many hands during its lifetime, and was once even a nightclub called (inventively) The Morgue. It was torn down while I wrote the first draft of this novel, and I was so sad. I am happy I gave it a beauty it did not have in real life; the ‘real’ morgue did not have the stained glass and polished hardwood Divinity boasts of. I should probably do a character sketch of Divinity <note to self> .
Detective Corporal Andrew Gavin: FICTION! Like all the other characters, Andrew is a plot-device, a cliché. I’d covered hockey and French Canadians by the time it came to drafting Andrew so, with my tongue in my cheek yet again, I decided to toss a Mountie into the mix. Can’t get much more Canuck than that! All kidding aside, Andrew intrigued me for the way he reacted in Shaynie’s morgue. Why was he—presumably a tough cop—so unnerved by the place? The reasons, all wrapped up in Andrew’s perception of death, spawned his own story, which I started writing amidst the edits I had to do for D&P once it sold. It was an incredibly hectic time of writing for me, and I remember it with profound fondness and delight; cleaning up one novel, and bashing out the first draft of another. You can read more about Andrew right HERE.
The Python: FACTION! Yep, that’s right. The Python in and of itself may not exist exactly as it is written in the book but, pieced together from being in my early 20’s when I’d been clubbing myself, The Python is a mosaic of every meat-market, booze-drenched, oversexed bar I’ve ever been to…except maybe a little more sinister. I explore The Python a little deeper HERE
Outtakes: Battles Won & Battles Lost With My Editor
There is a push-pull to editing; what to keep, what to cut, a process that becomes a negotiation when a bona-fide Editor is part of the equation. I was very lucky with D&P because Dario, my Editor extraordinaire, gave me a wide berth of latitude with this story. He rarely nit-picked, and when he did, the passages needed nit-picking. But sometimes we went toe-to-toe. Like this line:
‘He wore sweat, jeans, and a look in his eye she did not recognize.’ Dario said: “Bonnie, a sweaty man is not sexy.” Bonnie said: “Oh Dario.” and just shook my head. I loved that line when I crafted it, and I still do. There is a lot of sexual tension there, and a sweaty Weste? Oh, hell YES. So, Battle WON! The line stayed.
Barnabas: If you’ve read D&P you’ve seen references to Barnabas, Cele’s strange lover, but you’ve never met him. That’s because: Battle LOST! Barnabas once had a full-on speaking role, but I had to cut him completely out of the final draft, and assign all his dialogue to someone else (or cut it altogether). It was a good battle to lose; Barnabas is such a strange dude, it suits him to be a mere shadow.
The hologram python: This one Dario and I both chewed on. A hologram python was really cool—and it lent a lot of atmosphere to The Python as a club. But…was it realistic? Probably not, and yet…Battle WON! The hologram, and all its creepiness, stayed.
So there you have ’em All the behind-the-scenes gears that needed to turn in order to develop this novel—my first, and in some ways favorite, baby. To date I have not seen another paranormal romance using the Tarot as its lynch pin (this is another place I shamelessly pat myself on the back; when I drafted D&P, the entire paranormal romance world was vampires, vampires, VAMPIRES. I so did NOT want to bash out a cookie-cutter story. And I didn’t), and I remain proud of every construct— from creative to cliché—I used to craft this story.
And now, to the gossips, the haters, and all the small-minded twats who chose to gossip about me and my book:
No, really. Fuck you. Fuck you for being nasty, and hateful, and quite frankly stupid. Fuck you for being so heartless as to think I would ever write a story that exposed a real rape, a real murder, or a real victim of stalking, threats, and physical intimidation. Fuck you for looking for ways people’s secrets might be embedded in this, a fiction book whose intent was—and remains—to entertain.
Fuck you for being spiteful and vicious and envious enough to refuse to give my imagination, my creativity, and any talent I might have their due credit—and instead surmise, oh-so-wise among yourselves, that I “must have” written about people “you knew”.
Fuck you, and please know: I do not wish you ill. But I do not wish you well, either.
And to my REAL readers, the loyal fans of my writing, and anyone who falls in love with the people and places and tales I create:
THANK YOU. I wish you only experiences that would have you cast clear, colored stones of gratitude—like Shayne does—into pretty glass jars.
Like my stories? Buy my books!
Divinity & The Python ...where deception and desire dance in the dark
Within The Summit's Shadow...Where love waits--but so does murder