Can you tell us a little bit about your book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?
Shameless Exposure is a steamy romantic comedy. Caroline, the heroine, is having a hard time with her boss at work, and is attracted by the spontaneous freedom of her new friends in the bohemian world of artists and musicians. She is led astray and into the web of a pagan cult. It ends in tears for Caroline and I, but tears of laughter I hope for the reader. It is a full length novel, published by Steam eReads, and available as an ebook from Amazon. Just follow this link: http://goo.gl/gUue8x
The novel is a commentary on contemporary issues. The business world has ground the fun out of Caroline’s life and she is trying to recapture how it felt to be twenty and free. The animist cult is based on a serious book written by a friend of mine. I shouldn’t laugh, but I did, and the idea was too good to waste. A large part of the action takes place on a fictional Scottish island, but I have visited the real ‘Isle of Mura’ several times and it’s fantastically atmospheric. Writing the scenes in Castle Dunlaggin, it was easy to think I was there.
We had a school magazine, and that’s when I got the bug for producing a piece of finished work for others to read. But it has taken years to find a method and time to produce longer pieces of fiction. Writing a novel ain’t that easy! (But it is fun and very satisfying if you can finish it; so keep at it, everyone.)
I read like I eat. I consume everything, including things I’m not sure about from different cultures. The favourites change over time. I love writers who make me smile or gasp, like John Irving or Kurt Vonnegut, and fantastic storytellers who make me think, like Margaret Atwood.
Before I write, I walk the dog and do my thinking. I write at home in an ‘office’ at the bottom of the stairs. It’s quiet, except on the days our granddaughter visits. She’s three and a half, and we’re making little books out of scrap paper. My ‘new words’ are done in the morning. The other stuff happens in the afternoon. I sometimes write in the evening, but then I can’t sleep because the characters won’t shut up.
I hesitate to give specific advice to fellow writers, there’s so much of it around. You have to discover your own unique way of making words come to life. But my experience is that if you build a body of work, keep writing, and risk sending it out into the world, you will make some great writing friends and maybe, if you’re lucky, entertain some readers. To aspiring writers I would say: writing well is hard work, but even a long slog of a walk should be enjoyable. Don’t turn it into another stick to beat yourself with. Most importantly, BANISH ALL DOUBT. Do not let the negative inner voice undermine your worthwhile work.
Just when she thought her marriage to Robert was back on track, Caroline bumps into an old flame and agrees to pose naked for a charity painting. Matters are made worse when her American boss starts sending lewd texts. When she rejects his overtures, he accuses her of gross misconduct and she is suspended from the job she loves. Deprived of everything that matters to her, she seeks comfort in an animist cult run by Regina Heart, which puts women in touch with their animal spirits. Regina claims to be Caroline’s natural mother and wants to elevate her to the priesthood, but this requires a terrifying initiation on a remote Scottish island. It is left to Robert to battle through a stormy night to try to save her from demons, real and imagined.
The National Portrait Gallery in London is the location for the charity auction of a series of life studies by famous artists on the theme of the months of the year. Caroline is Miss November, Erik is the artist, and Princess Fiona of East Anglia is the patron of the charity which will benefit.
“But before I give everything away,” continued the princess, “it is my great pleasure to declare the online bidding open for these unique works of art, and to ask each of the models to pull the curtain back on their likenesses for the first time in public.”
Caroline, Xena and the ten other artists’ models assumed their stations by the curtained pictures and awaited the signal from the chairman, who led the assembly on a countdown.
“Ten, nine, eight...” Princess Fiona left the podium and slipped to the back of the stage with one of her ladies-in-waiting, beneath the thirteenth painting.
“Three, two, one. Miss January, please.” Miss January pulled the chord and revealed herself in goose bumped glory. The audience applauded nervously, unsure how enthusiastic they were supposed to be when faced with bare flesh in front of royalty. As each painting was revealed, the applause grew more confident. When Xena’s likeness was exposed in all its lush summer glow, a raucous male cheer was added to the clapping. Xena smiled slightly, knowing that Erik had captured something true.
Caroline grew anxious as summer turned to autumn. Miss October had been painted by Cecil Sharpe. In his youth he had been dubbed the Yorkshire Picasso, his paintings and sculptures, according to the gallery notes, charting the fracturing of traditional relationships between men and women. In his dotage, he had mellowed, seeming to enjoy the female form as an object of desire, tinged with humour and regret (according to the gallery notes) that something so lovely was slipping beyond his grasp. To the philistines who made up the bulk of the audience and hadn’t read the notes, Miss October was simply a stunner in the act of discarding her nurse’s uniform.
It was Caroline’s turn to pull the chord. Not for the first time she had doubts about the wisdom of her decision to reveal herself so completely. Caroline looked nervously over to Robert. Antonia was holding his hand supportively. She shut her eyes as she drew back the curtain. She waited for the audience reaction. None came. Then a few hands clapped politely. She tentatively opened her eyes.
The newspaper art critics were grouped together. They looked to each other, mouths gaping like fish. They needed a leader. Was it good or was it terrible? Was it clever or was it obscene? Then Benjamin Cummerbund from The Times leaped to his feet and shouted “Bravo!”
The audience gave a sigh of relief that it was considered acceptable to enjoy such an explicitly sexual work. Thank God it was art and not pornography. Caroline turned round to see what Erik had done to her. He hadn’t made her look horrible after all. He had removed all the work tension from her posture and had her loose and inviting on the couch, every sensuous brushstroke applied in loving realist detail. Her hands went to her face to hide her blushes, and as soon as the cameras and the attention moved on to December, she slipped back to her seat next to Robert and Antonia.
“I wouldn’t mind having that on my wall,” said Antonia. “Do you think it would fit above my bed? I think I’ll make a bid.” Antonia rummaged for her phone and looked up the on-line auction. “Perhaps not, you’re already over a quarter of a million.”
“You see, Robert, it was in a good cause,” said Caroline.
I am still married, despite everything, to my beautiful wife Caroline. Writing is more than a hobby; it’s what keeps me sane because my job is not as glamorous as people think. Commercial law is like being in the army; there are long periods where nothing happens then suddenly all hell is let loose. Rather like my marriage.
I had a book about the law published years ago, but my first novel, Shameless Ambition, was much more fun to write. I can’t really claim credit for the concept. Life provided me with Caroline, my wife. The banking crisis provided the plot. All I had to do was use my imagination for the parts where Caroline refused to go into details. The first two books in the Shameless series push the boundaries of memoir and I suspect that fiction will eventually take over completely. I’m working on the third novel now. Caroline gets the bug for gambling and infiltrates a match-fixing betting syndicate. It will be ready in time for the football World Cup. The title? Shameless Corruption.
Robert Fanshaw’s blog: http://fanshawrobert.blogspot.co.uk/
To buy the book Shameless Exposure, follow this link to Amazon.com
For a free short story which tells what happened when Caroline went for a country walk with the famous artist, Erik Bellinker, send an email to me via the website link.