Saturday, 7 December 2013

Upping The Ante

So, January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and I have decided to donate the profits from sales of Ring Around Rosie during that month to helping in the fight against human trafficking and to creating awareness of this heinous crime.

That is all....    

Sunday, 4 August 2013

How do you turn Real Life into Real Fiction?

Writing a novel about issues such as child trafficking and prostitution is risky, to say the least; but sometimes in order to get a point across you need to tell a story that is so unbelievable it creates the same curiosity that causes people to stand in the path of a tornado. They have to see it, no matter what the consequences, because only then can they truly understand its power.

But then comes the tricky part. After all, how do you turn real life into real fiction? To start with it has to be believable, which is something, surely, a fiction writer shouldn’t have to face. Fiction, by definition, is the type of book or story which is written about imaginary characters and events and not based on real people and facts. So how was I to make a made-up story, with fictional characters, seem real enough to invoke the kind of response I wanted, without inviting criticism for being contrived? After all, it’s not just a story, it’s a real thing that happens to real people, so whatever I write has to be, well, real. You see my problem?

On the other side is my propensity for adventure. I’m a sucker for those thrillers that pull you breathlessly from one scene to the next, never quite allowing you the sweet taste of conclusion. A story that manipulates the realms of possibility to the point that anything goes – there is no reason why that girl can’t leap twenty foot from a balcony, land on a car roof, get to her feet, and run; or swim through shark-infested waters with a severed limb without getting chomped. Because it’s a fictional story and no one cares, as long as the baddies get caught, the hero survives, and they all live happily ever after.

But that happily-ever-after is a problem for me. Give the reader a happy ending and they get to close the book with their conscience clear. But as a writer who has researched the truth about child trafficking and relived some of the horrors, I don’t think the reader should get off so lightly. I want the story to stay with them long after they have turned out the light.

So where does that leave me? On the one hand there is the authenticity that accompanies a real-life issue, on the other is the poetic licence afforded a fiction writer. But perhaps putting the two together gives me something truly powerful. A boundless imagination is the gift I possess, but what wraps it in a neat bow and delivers it to the reader is the reality. And this, I hope, is what will pull them into the path of the tornado.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Bring Back Brothels – but call them Relief Centres and make them unisex

Women have always been seen as sex objects, there is nothing new in that, but who decided for the rest of us that our children were fair game? Why is it that with every desire that is met there is a yearning to stretch the boundaries ever further? Our liberal acceptance of new things is increasingly to our detriment. Our once prudish beliefs that viewed the body as a private, personal symbol, barely exposed except to the one to whom we were betrothed, has expanded exponentially to tolerate that which should never be touched or viewed as a sexual object – our children.

So perhaps its time to channel that liberal acceptance towards something that has played a part in history but never found its place – the brothel: a sinister, sordid place where women are exploited and abused for the amusement and entertainment of men. But let’s bring it into the twenty-first century; clean it up, provide contraception, access to healthcare, bring in strict regulations, slap on a licence, and make it the property of the state. Make it a place that provides jobs for people that genuinely want to be in that industry, rather than those who are there against their will. Create Relief Rooms in the new and hygienic Relief Centres where various ‘needs’ are met in a tranquil, safe environment for all involved.

Let them be open during the day; take away the cover of darkness that permits the mind to imagine the evil that dwells there. Make them light, airy, open and welcoming – and for women too. Give them a place on the high street rather than banish them to a dark ally where we can’t keep an eye on them. Allow them a place in society but only if they play by our rules.

Removing the stigma surrounding brothels and shifting perception of what, until now, has been seen as a place to hide what we’d rather not have to deal with; bringing it above ground to an acceptable level, will perhaps be enough of a distraction for those who think they have needs beyond what many of us consider to be the very core of society – a loving, respectful relationship.

And in doing so, prostitutes will no longer have to roam the streets, exposed to abuse and persecution; there will be somewhere for them to work in safety – if that is genuinely what they choose to do with their lives – in a place governed by strict regulations.

Decreasing the demand for women and children that are trafficked and traded for sex by offering an alternative to punters may go some way towards discouraging such heinous practices. And pornography, whilst it will no doubt always have a firm foothold, may perhaps lose some of its appeal when pitched against the ‘real thing’.

And in time, Relief Centres might find themselves a place in society not that far removed from bookies and pubs. People will be able to enter and leave without judgement or scrutiny, secure in the knowledge that the conditions are safe and sanitary. And, most importantly, the women and men working in them will be there of their own free will, earning a legitimate living, and protected from people that would exploit them for merely making their way in the world as best they can, like the rest of us.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Out of my Hands

It's a strange feeling when you know that, although you can't see it happening, there are things afoot in the background. When you have created something and sent it out into the world, although you can no longer see it, things are happening to it, people are talking about it.

I guess it's like when your children are grown up and leave home, they have an existence of their own, they are touching others, influencing others, probably annoying or upsetting others. They are making their mark on the world; for good or bad, they are making an impression.

And that is what is happening with my book, I guess. I see people are buying it and reviewing it. Perhaps telling their friends about it. They might like it or hate it. However they see it or were affected by it, my book is out there making its way in the big wide world without me to show it the way. It's out of my hands now... I've lost control. What a concept!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Are books for Young Adults really for teenagers or are they actually for adults who like a little light relief?

We're told that the Young Adult book market is thriving and probably the most competitive of all the age groups, but is it just teenagers that are buying these books? I think not, and this is why: I find maybe one in twenty of the adult books I read truly enjoyable. Whether it be because the story is too literary and self-indulgent, or too racy and explicit, or too gory and gruesome, or just plain dull; they're hard work and unfulfilling, generally. And I often wonder, when I'm reading a book, why I drag my bored arse through the swamp of pages that I'm really not enjoying, just to get to the end. 

And I choose to read, often to the detriment of other things. But what about those who find reading difficult or boring? With so many other distractions out there these days: TV, internet, computers, video games, what incentive is there for people to pick up a book and trawl through it just so they can say they have read it?

And I'm talking about adults here. The ones that don't have to read regularly, if they don't want to: it's not on their curriculum and there's no teacher breathing down their necks. There are, after all, more important things in life, like feeding the family, and the X-Box.

But then something happened. Someone noticed a gap in the market for teenage fiction and suddenly all teenagers stopped what they were doing and started reading. Well, maybe... some of them, especially on the back of the Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games Trilogy, or even Harry Potter, for that matter. But surely it wasn't just kids inflating that market. 

So perhaps it's that us adults enjoy a bit of fun too? We like excitement without lengthy explanations, romance without blatancy, drama without gore, and issues that are dealt with subtly and sensitively, so that we can make up our own minds what the author is trying to tell us without having it thrust in our faces through explicit imagery or hidden from us within a complex and overly fastidious narrative.

When writing a book for teenagers, the author must take into account their relative innocence and naivety. He must tiptoe through the entrails of curiosity, careful not to disturb the sleeping shadows that lurk, and plant a seed. That seed will grow with the story, nurtured by the intrigue, the drama, the delicacy of suggestion, until it manifests itself as the reader's own interpretation. There is nothing blatant about it; there is no demand for the reader to follow instruction. It's subtle, and convincing, and so captivating that it's impossible to look away for fear the spell may be broken. 

OR, perhaps it's just that when allowing for a younger mind, one without preconceptions or judgement, as a writer, it's a more attractive and accessible audience, and therefore more appreciative.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Blast Off!

My book, Ring Around Rosie, is being launched at Waterstones… I never thought I’d say those words out loud. It seemed like an impossible outcome at the start of all this, and now that it’s happening I’m not sure how I got this far.
Admittedly, when I finished my book and was ignorant to the ways of the publishing world, I was sure it would be snapped up and I would be swept along on the journey to fame and fortune. But further down the track I’ve learnt that it just doesn’t happen like that anymore. Incessant self-promotion – tirelessly tweeting and blogging and face-booking – that is where I’ve languished for months, feeling no better than a street-seller as I watched my ebook fluctuate up and down the Kindle chart. It’s degrading and desperate, and oddly, at no point during this time have I uttered the words ‘I’m an author’; it hasn’t seemed appropriate, despite the fact that I have written a book, which is for sale on Amazon, that people read! But why is that?
There was me, thinking I was being so modern publishing an ebook. But the truth is there is something so much more ‘real’ about an actual, physical book. The image I held in my mind from the start – the end goal – was receiving hard copies of my book in the post. Holding in my hands something I had created, smelling the newness of the ink, knowing that its pages held a part of me. And I just can’t seem to get that satisfaction with an ebook; despite getting to number 3 on Amazon’s bestseller list for Action & Adventure, and Teenage Mysteries & Thrillers. Because no matter how well my ‘virtual’ book is doing, it’s all led to this moment: my ‘real’ book being launched at Waterstones.

Exclusive evening at Waterstones to celebrate the launch of Ring Around Rosie

Emily Pattullo is an editor and writer, with expertise in the global crime of child trafficking and prostitution. She is the author of Ring Around Rosie, and writes for various publications, as well as being a regular contributor for Brit Writers.