I came to writing romance quite late in life. My university education had conditioned me to despise and ignore the idiom, partly because of its purported lack of ‘literary substance’, and partly because of its ‘escapism’ and purported evasion of the painful realities of life. But my attitude gradually changed, because I realised that escapism is a great source of comfort, and reading it could help to defuse painful tensions, and help maintain equilibrium and control over life.
I felt I had to make a struggle to integrate literary style and substance into romance stories, to give these stories a fully-developed, in-depth background and setting. My previous writings had been highly abstract and speculative, and I felt there was a need for the concrete. I now feel that I have achieved some equilibrium between the romantic and the hard/speculative.
I am indeed one of that comparatively rare ilk – a male romance writer in a field heavily dominated by women writers. I would like to feel I bridge the gulf between old and new attitudes – old romance, with its celebration of the ‘eternal feminine’, together with the openness of contemporary swingers and the like. In spite of my sympathies with the latter, I do not care for the ultra explicit. I think the celebration of Eros is far more potent if it is expressed obliquely, metaphorically, and if it leaves adequate areas to the imagination. After all, a truly euphoric experience has some of the qualities of a voyage into the unknown.
My struggles with the idiom are reflected in the make-up of my characters. They all have a high degree of intellectualism, and carefully monitor their passions. My main literary influence in this area was the surrealist novel The Girl Beneath the Lion (Le Lys de Mer) by André Pieyre de Mandiargues. They are inhibited, full of inhibitions, and have frequently been badly scarred by destructive relationships. I use a great deal of ‘flashback’ technique to give the reader some historical perspective on their lives. Yet, in spite of everything, they retain an urge for excitement and adventure, perhaps to fill in crucial experiences absent from their formative years.
I consider myself sensitive to gender issues and politics. My heroines are strong minded, and I wanted to get inside the minds of such dynamic women, which includes facing their ambitions and insecurities. I realise that the finest romantic poetry was written against a background of extreme taboo and repression. Did this enhance the allure of the ‘forbidden’? Has something been lost through ‘liberation’ and the easy availability of instant gratification? There are of course two sides to the equation. Let us never forget that the ‘prim and proper’ Victorian era was a high time of prostitution. Some of my style is evocative of early 20th Century writing. So perhaps my heroines are also trying to sustain traditional romantic values in the face of contemporary cultural debasement.
This book was inspired by a passage in the Spanish epic poem La Araucana, which I have translated. In the original story, a Spanish soldier, after a battle, is accosted by an Indian woman who asks him to lead her to her husband's body, to pay her last respects. In the original story, she disappears. In Pearlman the hero is contemporary, but he does time and space travel to those legendary times, and the woman turns out to be Auchimalgen, the Araucanian Moon Goddess. She seduces and enlightens him. There is a backdrop of Chile, with its incredibly volatile ecosphere and long history of protracted conflict. This story combines romance with sci-fi and time travel.
Her skill in undoing my armour was worthy of any trained white man. “We are supremely adaptable; we learn avidly from those we observe and oppose”, she whispered, her teeth gleaming in her smile. As I saw the chain mail and the cuirass lying there, discarded, I saw that the rust had all disappeared.
Deft hands tenderly peeled my sweat-ridden leather and cotton; it was lovely to be nursed without immediate wounds to distract from the exquisite sensations.
“You must be proud of your exertions!” she said. The power in her words was akin to a duelling challenge. (The time warp flashed me into my happy collaboration with that beautiful fitness trainer, when I imagined that lithe, toned form excelling itself at the Olympic High Jump as her prelude to our delicious consummation.)
I looked up towards her breasts, to see the matching metal, discs, chains, bangles – an array of gold, silver and jade; I sensed their resilience beneath their cover. She read my response with total ease; with a radiant smile, she whispered “do as you have been done by.”
My hands trembled a little as I delicately negotiated the pins and clasps, but I succeeded in making a harmonious pattern of them, like a crown at the head of my discarded armour. It was good to have gained intimate knowledge of those metallic treasures in the museums.
The face of a full moon, reciprocating its radiation on Tegualda’s face and eyes, beamed its glittering reflections, as if casting off a diaphanous robe, to reveal the perfect body of its illuminated rocks, bouncing back and forth around the elaborated grid of our variegated metalwork – steel, bronze, silver and gold – its luminosity almost suggesting that it would all come to life, radiant in the flames of their smelting, almost as two armies facing each other. In turn, the beams flooded our faces, giving an external flourish to our luminous vibrancy charged from within.
She took my hand, and made it caress her sealskin robe: “please do the honours”. I lifted it at the bottom. My hands reached up inside it until they could feel her firm but still slender waist. Repeating my earlier gesture, she raised her arms in surrender and conquest, the robe clouding into a transient veil over her noble features.
Then Tegualda cast off her gleaming white cotton camisera for me with all the challenging flourish of a toreador. She tamed me and fired me simultaneously with her lovely self-revelation.
The walls of my time-capsule were fractured. There glistened across the world, ricocheted back and forth across the centuries a composite of the world’s beauties, celebrated in poetry and song, painting and sculpture, melted, distilled and poured into one vibrant, impassioned, soul-suffused body. Egyptian and Grecian statues and mural figures melted into an array of Hollywood dream sublimities deeply embedded in my memory. This was a spiritual earthquake, embracing all history and culture, the distilled essence of all artistic striving poured into one giant goblet.
Release Day post with Giveaway
About the Author
David Russell is a resident in the UK. He writes poetry, literary criticism, speculative fiction and romance. His main poetry collection is Prickling Counterpoints (1998); his poems have also been published in online International Times. His main speculative works are High Wired On (2002) and Rock Bottom (2005). In 2013 he published his translation of Spanish epic La Araucana. Recently he has turned to romances: Self’s Blossom; Explorations; Further Explorations; Therapy Rapture; Darlene, An Ecstatic Rendezvous (all published by Extasy, soon to be re-released from Bella Tulip Publishing). He has also self-published a collection of erotic poetry and artwork, Sensual Rhapsody, 2015. In addition to writing, David is also a singer-songwriter and guitarist with two CD albums Bacteria Shrapnel and Kaleidoscope Concentrate, and many tracks on You Tube, under ‘Dave Russell’.
Find out more at www.davidrussell-author.blogspot.co.uk