Facebook Friend

Ruthie2 - Garv

Facebook Friend

 

So, I received an e-mail from Nicola, the founder and owner of Lush Stories to ask me (and, I’m sure, every other writer who’s contributed a story that one of the site’s moderators has deemed to be a Recommended Read) to submit a story to the Vault: a new feature on the site to offer subscribers something more than what is available to the average visitor to the site.

Although I’ve submitted a fair number of stories to the site I’ve only once achieved a Recommended Read accolade. That was for my science fiction story: Sliding Sideways. To be honest, this doesn’t really surprise me as you can see from a glance at the kind of story that gets the highest recommendation. Although I’m sure no one could say anything disrespectful about, for instance, Blue Night Special  (about Two small town policeman who pick up a big haired, big titted waitress for a ‘yehaa’ good time.) or Faerie Circles (where Three young girls discover the magic of faerie rings), these aren’t really the sort of story I write (and more’s the pity is what I expect quite a few might say).

But I thought I’d take the challenge of writing what I thought might be closer to the type of story that does well on Lush Stories.

And so was born Facebook Friend.

This story is a kind of experiment in writing what might be called a Love Story that is designed for exactly the kind of fallible, rather less-than-perfect person who enjoys reading stories on sites like Lush Stories (and why not?). And I had a lot of fun trying to put myself into the minds of such people: those who use Facebook and whose taste in culture is as vanilla as their interest in sex fiction (and maybe sex as well).  To be honest, I am a lot more sympathetic to such people than I guess are many of those in that category who write such fiction. Little as I understand the appeal of Facebook, Poldark, Heart FM or Celebrity television, I do kind of understand and sympathise with those who use such crutches to lean on in a world that is, in truth, a lot less kind and much more complicated.

Still, I have to report that my experiment in writing a love story to appeal to such a demographic was an abject failure. After the usual rather long time to make a decision about one of my stories that for some reason or other doesn’t quite fit the moderators’ expectations the story was returned as not being a Recommended Read and therefore not suitable for the Vault. Clearly it isn’t of the standard of Into The Night (which has gained a huge amount of praise for its writing style) or Cricket Vaughn And The Don (which is about a very strange kind of mafia boss) in terms of what makes the grade.

I can’t deny that I’m a bit disappointed in the sense that even when I make an effort I still can’t quite write the kind of fiction that the majority of people who read stories on sex fiction sites most enjoy. But then, I think, to be that kind of writer you either have to be a lot more cynical than I am (as in the film As Good As It Gets) or be the kind of person who actually enjoys these kind of stories.

And as I’m neither, I guess it’s probably not surprising that, despite some nice comments and some reassuringly high scores, Facebook Friend wasn’t chosen for the Vault.

And I guess if you want to find out what does make the grade (and this includes Mediaeval sex fantasies by Metilda, Sex in the Sand by Milik Redman and Gothic Sex and Seduction by Frank Lee) the Vault is the place to go.

How High the Moon

How High the Moon

How High the Moon

 

 

As I continue to post to Lush Stories those stories of mine which I think might be suitable, I’m getting reactions from readers who understandably think the stories have only recently been written and aren’t at all aware that most of them were posted in Ruthie’s Club several years ago. And one such, of course, is How High the Moon from which the above illustration was an early draft of what was finally used.

To be honest, it wasn’t one of my favourite illustrations for one of my stories (though by no means the worst) and I think the black-and-white draft is actually closer to my notion of what the illustration should be than the one finally published.

The story How High the Moon is about a jazz pianist and singer who performs with her trio at a club in Manhattan that is either the Village Vanguard (which I’ve visited many times) or one very similar: perhaps also in or around Greenwich Village. In a way, the musician is based on Sarah Vaughan who played the piano as well as sang, though she is better known perhaps for the rather dull stuff she did later in life. At her best on Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown (also known as Lullaby of Birdland) she may well have been as great a jazz singer as Billie Holliday or Ella Fitzgerald. Her version of How High the Moon is probably not her finest moment, but I like the song and it kind of made sense as a title.

Many people think of vocal jazz or even the jazz trio as a kind of lounge music that makes perfect background music for a candle-lit dinner. There is an element of that, even in New York, but the jazz I like is a little bit more gritty, certainly isn’t smooth, and has a range from the free and experimental to the more accessible music that Lynn, my protagonist, is playing, though I imagine something a great deal more challenging than most of Sarah Vaughan’s later songs.

This story is unusual for me as it is the only story I’ve yet written in the present tense, but then I wanted to somehow capture something of the immediacy of a live performance. This is something I tried to do in a very different way in my story Creamfields which is about dancing in the Creamfields dance festival. In that case, the intention was to capture the immediacy and excitement of contemporary dance music. In both stories the real challenge was how to incorporate something to do with sex, and that I think is the weakest aspect of both of them.

I mention this because tak0chan has written a very nice review of my story on Lush Stories, in which he says:

To borrow a musical metaphor, there is a rich contrapuntal texture to this story that makes it deeply satisfying at numerous levels. The thematic interweaving of music, present and past emotions and situations, regrets and hopes etc, is brilliantly done, as is your evocation of the scene in which Lynn and her fellow musicians perform. 

Obviously, I am hugely gratified to receive any praise but more so perhaps when a reader recognises and appreciates what I was trying to achieve in my story.

On tak0chan’s Lush Stories profile, he mentions his wide ranging taste of music, so I guess it was inevitable that he’d better understand my story better than most other readers.

However, I have no plans to write any more jazz stories, though I may yet write some fiction that deals with the world of live music. What’s for sure is that it won’t much resemble  How High the Moon.