Nicole Peeler's Blog, page 6
March 10, 2013
I was just in Boston at a convention, where I had a fabulous time. The con was great and I had one of the best panel experiences of my life: we were on fire, the moderator was excellent, and the audience was engaged and receptive. Boston is also where I did my undergrad degree, so I have a ton of friends and we had so. Much. Fun. Except for one thing…
While I was away, I read Gillian Flyyn’s Gone Girl.
Don’t misunderstand me: the book is wonderfully written, really smart on about 100 levels, and very engaging. It’s also torture to read.
Now, Flynn clearly intended to make her audience squirm. And she achieves her goal. Gone Girl is not a book that you can “like,” it’s too razor sharp, too smart, too cutting.
And lawdie did it cut close to my bones.
There are so many things I could say about this book. I could talk about its critique of our legal system’s increasingly parasitic relationship with celebrity culture. I could talk about it as a literary thriller that challenges & extends genre conventions. Or I could talk about the rich, eloquent language.
But because Gone Girl constantly brings up narcissism, I’m going to focus on what interests me right now. There are three:
1) Must Love Flaws
In many ways, Gone Girl is a traditional love story. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall head over heels in love, boy and girl realize neither was quite whom the other imagined, and torture ensues. Okay, that last bit is less traditional, but it was Gone Girl as a romantic warning that really shivered me timbers.
Partially that’s because I’ve become a published writer of a character that people really love. I’m so lucky that this is the case; that people feel so much for Jane. But sometimes that adoration seeps over to me and I can tell someone has kinda conflated me and Jane.
On the one hand, there is nothing headier than being adored. But, on the other hand, it’s a lie. I’m not Jane. And I’m also not a character on a page. Story characters, after all, really do have a finite number of characteristics, because they’re all on the page. Instead, I’m a human being: full of flaws, aspirations I won’t ever meet, motivations that are far from worthy, desires that scare even me, conservative impulses that bore myself, etc.
I’m a person. Sometimes awesome, sometimes shitty, and usually somewhere in between.
And this is one of the levels at which I think Gone Girl is so brilliant. It takes this really fundamental desire upon which so many romantic notions are built–this idea that your True Love will See You Instantly, Know You, and Love You From That Minute On–and it reveals how fucked up that is.
I’ve had people fall in love with me after the first minute. Hell, I’ve fallen in love with people in that first minute. And wow, is it heady! To have someone adore you; to have a person like (literally, nowadays, with Facebook) every single thing you think, say, or do; to have a lover see this person who is bigger, smarter, more fabulous than you know you are. Such adoration strokes our ego; it whispers to us, “see, you are amazing, and finally someone sees that.” Even if we manage to ignore those whispers, we can’t help but wonder if the gaseous emissions of this person’s constant yes, you are perfect won’t actually propel us to the state of grace in which they already gaze upon us.
The problem is that it’s all a lie. A dangerous lie, in fact, as Flynn showcases by taking such pedestalizing (I made a word!) to its ultimate extreme. As Flynn warns of trying to live up to someone’s perfect expectations, “it had to stop, because it wasn’t real, it wasn’t me.”
When that moment of reality hits, there is nothing more painful, for either party. To have eyes that once stared at you with pure adoration go hurt, then slowly become cynical, and then fall out of love because you were never the person they loved in the first place…that’s a pain to match being loved so ardently for someone we never were…
And it’s a pain we very much deserve, for lying to ourselves and accepting what we know is untrue.
The big problem is that we know this. We know, as Flynn writes, “There’s a difference between really loving someone and loving the idea of her.” And yet we do it all the time, because when we cast a person in a role, we get to take on a role ourselves.
2) The Casting Couch
One of the temptations of loving someone is to cast them in a role. Conversely, casting them means we cast ourselves: if they are Romeo, we are Juliet; if they are the President, we are the President’s Wife; if they are the Daredevil, we are the Voice of Reason.
Don’t get me wrong: dating someone who mitigates some of your crazier tendencies or who complements your skills, experiences, and desires, is a fantastic basis for a relationship. There’s no greater pleasure than learning together, or having someone who genuinely challenges you. But there’s a huge difference between the active work of being ambitious in a relationship, of going into a relationship open-minded and interested and engaged, and of expecting someone else to be that thing that finally defines us.
Flynn describes this process beautifully in Gone Girl: “Nick and I fit together. I am a little too much, and he is a little too little. I am a thornbush, bristling from the overattention of my parents, and he is a man of a million fatherly stab wounds, and my thorns fit perfectly into him.”
Reading that passage shows us how this nefarious casting process works. Amy, here, has decided what she is: she is Too Much. I can’t help but hear Lewis Carroll here, lamenting a girl “losing her muchness” as she becomes a woman. But that’s another story. Here, Amy has decided that she is, really, Amazing Amy, her namesake. That means she needs a foil, so Nick becomes Too Little. He can never live up to her, but he can strive. And she gets off on exactly that, the striving: seeing Nick squirm to reach her heights. She belittles him to empower herself, her will to power not only exerting itself but creating an entire narrative to prop itself up. She’s thorns; he’s holes for thorns to fit. In her world, they must be, literally, one–her thorns shoved into his holes–to be in love.
Now, Amy is crazy. But lesser versions of this crazy are so tempting. To see the other person as This One Thing That Only I Can Truly Understand/Support/Bring To Fruition. In casting the person as something that depends upon us or upon which we depend, we take the foil’s role: we are the beautiful needy or the strong and supportive.
And that brings me to third thing.
3) Get Your Own Fucking Dreams, Thanks.
One thing that hit home for me the most from Gone Girl was the mutual parasitism of Amy and Nick’s dream, and how brilliantly Flynn took what can be The Whole Point (For Real!) Of A Relationship and twisted it to show how it so often goes wrong.
And that’s because everyone needs to have their own fucking dream.
I’m lucky. I have some super solid goals that I’m working towards. This fact makes me a pretty happy person, I think. It makes me feel grounded and yet striving at the same time. But every once in a while I meet someone who does the ultimate version of points 1 and 2, and tries to make my dreams their own.
In other words, they’re going to take charge of my career. Be my muse. Help me get to that “next level.” They’re going to Svengali me out of this stratosphere.
My response: Get your own fucking dream.
Again, don’t get me wrong. I love supporting my partner. I am a disturbingly nurturing person for a woman who doesn’t want to have kids. I will bend over backwards for the people I love.
But I leave their dreams alone.
I’ll help them, sure. I’ll be enthusiastic when they need impractical support. I’m also up for practical support: I’ll brainstorm, lend elbow grease, bring them dinner or clean their house. I’ll get as involved as they need me to be, when they need me. And then I’m gonna step back when they don’t.
Because we need our own dreams. In attempting to co-opt someone’s dream (“OMG! I had no idea I actually wanted to run a writer’s retreat until I met you but WOW now it’s my dream too!” or “Yes! I’ll go ahead and take over building your business because you’ll be happy and we’ll be together all the time and united!”) we take away something sacred to them. We also push our own dreams aside, letting a false dream, a coo coo’s dream, nest in our own soul.
And just like when that person realizes we’re not perfect, either they must one day realize “Oops, this isn’t really my dream,” or we realize, “Shit, what happened to my dream?”, or both.
So get your own dreams, folks. For your sake as well as your partner’s. Otherwise, you might one day say something like Amy: “But one day I will wear him down, I will catch him off guard, and he will lose the energy for the nightly battle, and he will get in bed with me. In the middle of the night, I’ll turn to face him and press myself against him. I’ll hold myself to him like a climbing, coiling vine until I have invaded every part of him and made him mine.”
Flynn created twin monsters in Amy and Nick, yes. But in my final estimation, the reason they bother people so much isn’t that they’re so farfetched. It’s because there’s a little of both of them in all of us, as well as in our cultural narratives. We’ve alternately wanted to be that vine that winds, or the cavernous emptiness it fills.
We’re all a little Nick and Amy.
March 6, 2013
This weekend finds me traveling again, this time to Boston, where I’ll be presenting at AWP (the Association of Writers and Writing Programs).
I’ll also be catching up with old friends and spending the weekend getting up to no good in my old stomping grounds. The birthplace, really, of my getting up to no good.
For anyone going to the con, here’s what I’m doing officially:
Hynes Convention Center, Room 110, Plaza Level
S136. Women in Crime. (Toni Margarita Plummer, Sophie Littlefield, Linda Rodriguez, Nicole Peeler) Boasting diverse voices and writing in settings varying from academic to rural to paranormal, three women discuss their choice to build a crime series around a female protagonist. These authors discuss crime and life from the female perspective, focusing on issues such as domestic abuse, divorce, parenthood, gender roles, sex, and justice, as well as the female sleuths and authors who inspired them. Moderated by one of the top acquiring editors for crime fiction, a Q&A session will follow.
Unofficially, I’ll be schmoozing, carousing, debauching…or what I like to call, NETWORKING. It’s all work, people. Really. And I can’t tell you how badly I need a weekend of networking right now. I’ve had a pretty insane month, with a lot of work, a lot of things shuffled all over, making some big decisions, nearly buying a loft, losing the loft, realizing I gotta be adult regarding stuff about which I’d rather be immature, and trying to stick to my guns and be brave about everything. So, yeah, a weekend away with old friends is exactly what the Doctor ordered.
Dr. Peeler, that is.
But I’ll be back soon. And then I’ll be in Texas! Doing some MORE Networking. Yay!
In the meantime, here’s a musical treat from my new favoritest band:
February 26, 2013
These aren’t upates…these are things you NEED TO KNOW. Like you need to know not to drink Drano. Or that I like vanilla cake for my birthday, thank you.
The first thing you NEED TO KNOW is that Sophie Littlefield’s much anticipated new novel GARDEN OF STONES is finally out today!
This book has all the critics raving and target picked it as their Book Club pick this month. I’m SO excited to read this as Sophie’s one of my favorite writers and this is supposed to be amazing. So yeah, go buy it before everyone starts talking about it.
The second thing you need to know is that we’ve officially added a signing in Austin to the little tour I’m doing with Mark Henry/Daniel Marks, Liliana Hart, and Jaye Wells. Click that sentence to read about the genesis of this disaster waiting to happen tour and click here for more specific info about where/when we’ll be.
Mark/Danny, however, has this warning (it’s in the first few minutes):
So you have been warned! Expect inappropriate behavior. Unbelievably awesome, inappropriate behavior.
The third thing is that I’ll be in Boston next week for AWP! I have no idea what I’m doing as I’m so busy I haven’t even looked at my schedule, but I’m sure I will be AT THE BAR. AT ALL THE BARS. A LOT. Cuz that’s NETWORKING, PEOPLE. Info about the con is here!
In other news, I am looking for a loft in Pittsburgh. I’m still working at Seton Hill, but I have decided to bite the bullet and commute. I NEED A CITY.
So I’m all a-twitter with exciting things. But here are your marching orders: Go buy Sophie’s book! And come see me in Boston or in Texas! You have four beautiful cities to choose from. . . I KNOW YOU WANT TO!
Have a great week! xoxoxoxo
February 20, 2013
Recently, eggs and baskets keep coming up in my life. I had someone I care for say those words to me, as in, “I’m afraid to put all my eggs in one basket.” Since then (just like when you buy a new car, and that model suddenly appears to be everywhere) I keep hearing that phrase.
I had a date use the line about baskets as his opening salvo, over which I ribbed him mercilessly (he was such a good sport, he got a second date despite himself). Less amusingly, I had another friend whose lover said that to her. Turns out, her lover’s basketphobia was so extreme that she bailed on her chance with one of the most amazing ladies I’ve met in a long time. And the baskets kept coming. I had a friend make a job into a basket. Another made a lifestyle choice into a basket. I heard a colleague refer to a new church as a basket. Another referred to a diet as a basket. Someone on Twitter called her ex a basket, and one that very obviously broke. A FB friend commented on a post about how an entire gender was a basket, and I have it on good authority that all dating sites are baskets.
Baskets, baskets, everywhere.
Now, as an English Lit person, I recognize that saying “I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket” is a perfectly acceptable idiom, if a bit of a cliché. However, as a human being, I’ve always assiduously avoided the phrase for the same reasons I currently avoid “it is what it is.”
They’re both so entirely self-abnegating.
It’s not that I don’t understand the real meaning behind calling something a basket. We’re all terrified of putting our faith, our love, our will, passion, and being into another, be it another human, or a job, or a dream. We’re afraid of rejection, of failure, of the aftermath if it all goes tits up, or of losing ourselves if it doesn’t.
At the same time, we’re referencing emotions we have all felt when confronted with that which really matter to us: that we’re so fragile, so easily breakable, so defenseless and vulnerable.
Meanwhile, it’s not like I don’t have any metaphorical eggs, or that I’ve never been tempted to turn something into a metaphorical basket. For me, the temptation has always been to turn lovers into baskets. And believe me, I’ve met some beautiful baskets. Sturdy, dependable, with surprisingly elegant weaving for such stalwart construction…
And, I admit, I have given away my eggs. I have thought (as we are taught to think!) that love is something you lose from within you; something you give up–a skin you unpeel in order to crawl inside the other person and set up shop, like some reverse Buffalo Bill. Needless to say, my lovelies, I was so very wrong.
The trick to love and life, you see, is to keep your eggs.
They are your eggs. Never give them up. And never make another human being, or a job, or a dream into a basket. It’s unfair–it makes that thing responsible for your happiness in a way that must, inevitably fail. It’s a scientific fact that in giving them away, our eggs transmogrify into a metal so heavy no basket could ever hold them. And yet we give them away anyway, and then we have the audacity to blame the basket for doing what no basket could ever do.
Which is shelter us from a reality that doesn’t care whether we’re baskets or eggs or peasants or kings–reality can smash us all. How can any basket withstand such force?
Now, please, don’t misunderstand me. I respect my friend for admitting his fear. He has legitimate reasons for being where he is, emotionally, and one of the reasons I admire him and care for him is that he’s fighting the good fight in trying to overcome his experience. But every time I hear him say those words, I cringe. “I’m not a basket!” I want to shout. “And you can keep your eggs!”
But if we keep our eggs, you may be asking, what do we do with them all? Do we just sit on them, never giving them away for fear of weak baskets, or faulty handles, or clumsy basket-carriers?
No, my pets, never that. Just because you don’t give your eggs away doesn’t mean you should hoard them. In my English Litty way, I simply turned the metaphor into something more delicious. Eggs are one of my favorite foods, and it wasn’t a great leap to figure out what to with my very own eggs, rather than keeping them close or dumping them in someone else’s poor li’l basket. Because whether in my own basket’s or someone else’s, unattended eggs will do what eggs do–they will rot.
So I’ve learned to share my eggs.
For friends, for my career(s), for my fans, for my family, for myself, for this boy I care about and the new opportunities in all of these areas that keep on coming, I crack open a few eggs. But no one thing gets all my eggs. That would be, after all, a lot of eggs to juggle. Far too many to keep safe or to be responsible for.
Sunny-side up with a runny yolk is how I eat mine (and yes, I eat my own eggs–often and with great pleasure). For friends, I scramble them, with cream cheese and butter and freshly cut chives. For my career(s), I make wholesome omelets with fresh spinach and avocado and Havarti, served with whole-wheat toast and marmalade. I love to soft-boil my eggs and serve them with toast soldiers, if my lover is British, and on top of a piece of toast if he’s not. For my friend to whom I’m trying to prove I am not a basket, I model a better method by serving his the way he likes them: over easy, as part of a fry up. I’m not sure if he’s ready for the lesson, but he sops up every bite of breakfast.
Ironically, since I made that conscious decision not to give away my eggs, it seems as if every time I turn around I’m given an opportunity to learn a new recipe–frittata, strata, quiche, shirred. I have finally mastered my deviled eggs. I think I’m almost ready to try poaching, again, the great bane of my egg repertoire. I am, in other words, in a good place.
In sharing my eggs, rather than secreting them away in strange baskets, I’ve figured out how to do with love what I’ve always done with my career, my dreams, my goals. My brilliant friend Juliet Blackwell wrote to me in an email recently, “Dating is like publishing. You should always be writing another book.” It was the perfect advice between writers–after all, most of us got here because we knew, instinctively, to always be writing that next book and never to put our book eggs in one bookish basket.
And that, if anything, has always been the secret to my successes in life (also the reason I’ve failed at soooo many things, sooooo spectacularly). In my careers or with my dreams and goals, I never give away my eggs–instead I lob them, rapid fire, at everything I’m passionate about until one of them hits its target. As the yolk drips into its eyes, I then leap on it and attempt to ride it into the ground. Sometimes it bucks me off (hello, Rhodes Scholarship!) but sometimes, just sometimes, I get a saddle on it.
I’m only now understanding how to do this with love. As is often the case, I knew something had clicked for me but I didn’t understand what, exactly, until someone much smarter than me figured it out. Esther Perel, who I’m more than a little obsessed with at the moment, writes in Mating With Captivity, ““Eroticism thrives in the space between the self and the other.” Indeed, Esther’s whole thesis is that if we entirely give away our eggs, our selves, in a relationship, we lose the “secret gardens” in which we foster our own erotic and creative individual existence. Her thesis is that we need to be individuals to be happy in commitment, an idea that flies in the face of Western (and especially American) conceptions of romantic love, in which we’re supposed to lose ourselves in the other.
Keeping our individuality, recognizing our need for our own space and selfhood, does not mean a lack of passion or of commitment. If anything, it helps create passion. I know that, as a writer, I recharge Nicole the Professor every time I go to a convention or finish a book. And Nicole the Writer finds constant inspiration from teaching. These two identities strengthen one another, as does Nicole the Admittedly Rather Terrible Belly Dancer and Nicole the Rather Good Cook and Nicole the Lover and Nicole the Friend and Nicole the Daughter/Aunt/Sister/etc.
It is through keeping myself interested in and engaged with the world that I can share that interest and engagement with those I care about, my working life, and my dream life. Everyone wins, and rarely does an egg get smashed. So keep your eggs, lovelies. Do not give them away. But feel free to share them.
I like mine, as I said, sunny-side up.
February 14, 2013
Hi folks! It’s Valentine’s Day, so I thought I’d give you a special treat: a smexy scene from Tempest Reborn. It’s pretty steamy, so you may not want to read it at work.
Or maybe you do.
Anyway, enjoy! Let me know what you think. And happy Valentine’s day to all of you lovely people.
From Tempest Reborn….
For some reason, I wasn’t all that surprised to find myself standing in front of a hut wearing a hat. Woven thatch made a strange cone that went low over the side walls, and the door frame yawned in front of me.
The night was cool; I was chilly, and the warm light of a fire beckoned from inside the structure so I went inside.
The hut’s round walls were painted with bright, circular patterns in yellows and reds. They looked Celtic. The place was also very clean, with a small sleeping area curtained off by animal skins tucked against a wall, and the rest used for living. Storage was high up, with shelves holding woven baskets and piles of stuff, so that there was more space on the floor.
I felt very at home and I went ahead and sat down by the fire, warming my hands by holding them out in front of me.
‘There you are,’ came a low, rough voice behind me. ‘I’ve been hoping you’d find me.’
I smiled, feeling both exhilarated and yet oddly calm. ‘Of course I found you. I’ll always find you.’
I looked up into Anyan’s smiling gray eyes. Intense relief flooded through me, but I couldn’t for the life of me think why. This was Anyan’s hut; why wouldn’t Anyan be waiting for me?
The barghest knelt, wrapping his arms around me from behind, cloaking me with his heavy body. We sat like that for a few minutes while he drew in long breaths, as if memorizing my scent.
‘I’ve missed you,’ he whispered in my ear. ‘I’ve missed you so much . . .’
I appreciated the sentiment, of course, but I couldn’t imagine, for the life of me, what he meant.
‘Miss me?’ I said. ‘Why? I’m always here.’
He stiffened around me, and I wondered what I’d said wrong. But he didn’t tell me.
‘Of course you are,’ was all he said, and then he moved to sit next to me.
I leaned against him, and we watched the flames for a long time. It felt so good to be in his arms, but I knew it should be normal, after all this time.
‘How are things, Jane?’ he asked eventually, his voice a low hum in the dim light.
‘Oh, fine,’ I said. I tried to think of something to tell him about, but I couldn’t. ‘Nothing’s going on. Everything’s just . . . fine.’
The truth was, I felt like I did have something big to say; that there was something very important, to both of us, which had happened. But every time I thought I was about to remember what it was, it slipped away.
‘You can’t think of anything going on you want to tell me about?’ Anyan’s voice was still soft and low, but I knew him well enough to detect the faintest note of desperation.
‘There is something…but I can’t remember. So it can’t be that important, can it?’ I said with a laugh he didn’t return.
Anyan remained quiet for a bit, deep in thought, before turning to gaze into my eyes.
‘What’s wrong?’ I said, concerned.
The smile he gave me was rueful. ‘I’m just wishing I had more power in this place. There are rules I cannot break.’
I arched an eyebrow. ‘You’re plenty powerful, Anyan. And what rules are you talking about?’
He shook his head, as if regretting what he had to say. ‘It doesn’t matter, Jane. I must take what I can get. I’ve been looking for you everywhere. I’m just happy I found you.’
‘Found me? Was I lost?’ At this point I was totally confused.
‘No, I’m the one that’s lost. So I built this place for you. For us. I hoped you’d find it.’
His words made no sense, but nothing could permeate my curious calm. Plus, he sounded happy, and I liked what he’d said.
‘It’s beautiful, Anyan. I really like it. It’s ours?’
‘For as long as I can hold on to it,’ he said, and there was grief in his voice.
‘I’ll help you,’ I said, putting my small hand into his much larger one. ‘We’ll keep it, together.’ I wanted him to feel safe, like I did.
He leaned forward, pressing his lips to mine. What I felt then was anything other than calm. Our kiss was brief, but passionate, leaving me burning for more when he withdrew to speak.
‘You’re already helping me. Being here with you reminds me of who I am. You help me remain me, Jane.’
I was confused again, but then he stood, taking me by the hand to draw me up with him. He led me to the little sleeping area.
My body kindled with its own fire as Anyan stripped me of my shirt. While he did so, I toed off my Converse. He started in on the buttons of my jeans even as I stood on the tip of one sock, and then the other, to pull them off. He pushed down my jeans, and when I was clad only in my bra and panties, he bore me down onto the soft furs that awaited us.
His lips and teeth found the soft flesh of my neck even as I ripped at the bottom of his T-shirt, trying to pull it up his body and off him. I wanted – no, I needed to feel his skin pressed against mine.
My hunger was so desperate it surprised me. Surely we’d made good use of this warm, soft nook hundreds of times before? But it was like I hadn’t touched the barghest in months. As if he felt the same way, Anyan’s mouth and hands roved over my body like he was relearning me, or grasping on to me so no one could take me from him.
‘Gods, I’ve missed this, Jane,’ he said, his voice raspy with lust and maybe something else. Sadness? I wondered, unable to understand and yet feeling the same mixture of lust and mourning, as if I’d have to say good-bye to Anyan again after this was over.
But why good-bye? And why again? For a second I thought I remembered, but then the memory was gone as if it were ejected.
Nothing could be as bad as all that, not with a barghest in my arms.
I’d finally managed to wrestle his shirt over his head, and Anyan helped me by pulling it the rest of the way up his arms. Then he was hovering above me, looking over my body with hungry eyes. Boldly, I moved my hand between his legs, stroking over his hard length covered by the denim that still separated us. He moaned, a low growling sound, then found my mouth again in a long, rough kiss that left me breathless.
When he moved again, it was with purpose. Kissing down my throat, over my sternum, his hands moved behind my back to undo my bra. Rather than take it off, once it was undone, he merely pushed it up, finding my nipple with his hungry, rough mouth. I whimpered, pushing up against him, still stroking him through his jeans as he found my other breast with his lips. At the same time, he grabbed one wrist, and then the other, ripping my hand away from him as he pulled them up over my head. Then he pinned them down, moving up my body at the same time so that he could kiss me again, pressing against me.
I drew my knees up, opening myself to him. Even through his jeans and my panties I could feel him, so hard and wanting. And I very much felt like giving. Bucking my hips up, I whimpered again.
‘Fuck me,’ I begged. ‘Please fuck me.’
With a growl, Anyan let go of one of my wrists, reaching down to undo his pants. He didn’t even bother with my panties; he just shoved the crotch of my underwear to the side. I cried out as his thick fingers slid inside my folds, testing my wetness. Two fingers slid deep, impossibly deep, before withdrawing.
Still holding my wrist down with one hand, his other fisted his cock so he could rub the broad tip against my sex. I pushed up to meet him, causing him to slip just a fraction of an inch inside me, but it was enough to break his control. Foreplay over, Anyan couldn’t resist sliding deeper, his groans mingling with mine as his mouth sucked at my cries.
He withdrew slightly, and then pushed forward again, deeper this time. I’d forgotten how big he was, how much I had to adjust to him. But as always, he was perfect – giving me only what I could take until I was ready for more.
The thought made tears spring to my eyes, unbidden. Unable to fathom why, I cried as he took me, a curious sensation of grief and desperate lust shaking me to the core.
I kept talking the whole time, telling him to fuck me, to use me, to make me his. Obligingly, he plunged deeper, then set up a rhythm that was bound to send both of us over the edge too quickly.
Because as much as I wanted this frantic pace, and I was helping to set it, I also never wanted this moment to end. I wanted him here, and safe inside me, forever.
I feared what would happen when this moment ended.
And so I wrapped myself around him, arms and legs pulling him close, squeezing him with my inner muscles in an attempt to keep him right where he was.
But all my actions did was drive my own pleasure higher, taking Anyan with me. His thick fingers slipped between us, finding my clit, and it was over. I broke around him, my orgasm crashing over me. His own harsh cries followed only seconds later.
A few more thrusts and he was spent inside me.
As my pleasure receded, it was replaced with a fear so overwhelming it could only be called panic. I clung to the barghest, not wanting to let him go.
He clung just as desperately to me, refusing to withdraw, wrapping his arms tighter around me.
‘Thank you for finding me. It’s made all the difference,’ he told me. What frightened me even more than his cryptic words was what I saw reflected in his own gray eyes. They were wild; as if frantic to impart something I couldn’t yet understand.
‘You must find me again soon, Jane. It’s the only thing that will keep me going. He’s so strong, and he’s growing stronger. You have to help me.’
‘I’ll do anything,’ I said, and I meant it.
‘I know you will. Whatever you’re doing, you’re scaring them. That makes them desperate, but it means you’re on the right track.’
I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I nodded.
‘You have to stay strong, too,’ I said.
Anyan’s mouth pressed into a grim line. ‘I’m trying. This helped, more than you can imagine.’
Suddenly, I knew that this wasn’t our hut. This wasn’t a safe place, at least not really, and we couldn’t stay here.
Sobs tore through my body as I clung even more desperately to the man wrapped around me. He felt like he always had – strong, like an anchor that could keep me rooted to the spot. But I knew it wasn’t the truth.
I was going to have to leave.
‘Don’t let me go,’ I said.
‘I don’t want to. But I have to. And you must remember this, Jane. You must try to remember and you must come again. Will you do that?’
I nodded. ‘Of course. I’ll remember and I’ll come again. I’ll always find you . . .’
‘It’s not that simple. You won’t have as much control as you think. You might not—’
‘I’ll remember,’ I said sharply, interrupting him. ‘And I’ll always find you.’
Anyan nodded, looking both tense and hopeful. ‘Talk to the creature, if you can. Tell him . . .’
Suddenly, Anyan’s head snapped up, as if he heard something from outside.
‘He’s here. You must go.’
‘No!’ I cried, wanting to stay.
‘Come back,’ was all Anyan said, holding me closer even as I knew he was letting me go. ‘Come back to me, Jane. And hurry…’
February 12, 2013
It’s been super crazy awesome here in my world, but I’m soooooooo tired! It’s hard having so much fun.
And speaking of fun, I’ve fleshed out a few more appearances for this summer. First off, for those of you in the Pittsburgh area, I’ve organized a proper release party for my final Jane book. I haven’t had one since I left Shreveport and the great people at the Barnes and Noble there, so this is very exciting for me.
It’ll be at the fabulous Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA, on May 28th at 7pm. There will be cookies and wine and me doing some deliciously spoilerish readings for those of you taking the book home with you that night. Stay tuned to my Facebook page for more info and an event invite!
Then I’m heading back to Texas. As with all things organized by Jaye Wells, Mark Henry/Daniel Marks, Liliana Hart and me, what was supposed to be one simple signing in Houston at Murder by the Book has turned into a week-long debauch in which we’ve threatened each other with midget rodeos, stripper tears, and upping our famed-erotic readings with EROTIC INTERPRETIVE DANCE.
Naturally enough, one signing in Houston became a signing in Dallas AND Houston, then it became Dallas and Houston AND Austin, where we may sign or we may just burn that mother down. There will be more details forthcoming for these events.
Anyway, I’m super excited to go on this trip for so many reasons. For those of you new to my world, Jaye, Liliana and Mark were the very first authors I met when I signed with Orbit in 2009. I was living in Shreveport, LA, at the time, and Orbit put me in touch with Jaye, another author they’d recently signed from Dallas. Jaye invited me to hang out with her, Mark, and Liliana at the conference Dreamin’ in Dallas, where I’ll be a guest later this year.
It was love at first snark. I nearly peed myself about 100 times, and I continue to consider diapers when hanging out with these kids. I love them best for being SO MEAN LIKE THE BEST MEAN GIRLS EVER, as evidenced by the fact that IMMEDIATELY after meeting me for the first time Mark Henry publicly shamed me by putting this video up on YouTube:
In the immortal words of Stevie Wonder, that’s what friends are for–mocking you because your version of singing is making dolphin sounds while fluttering your T-Rex arms, and then posting a video of it on the internetz.
The best part of this video is Mark’s demonic chortle and the faint strains of “oh my god” whispered throughout.
I really do love these guys and I’m so very grateful they’re still in my life. And hopefully we’ll be joined by my very patient and long suffering friend, Mary Lois White, who is playing bass behind me while I “sing.” Love you ML!
February 4, 2013
Every year since I’ve become a writer I’ve done a “not a New Year’s resolution” post, starting here. This year’s, however, has been a little tricky. Basically, a bunch of things came to a head over Christmas and New Year’s that left me reeling, but positively. I’ve been dealing with a lot, but in a way that I’m really proud of and kind of wanted to share. That said, I debated writing this, not least because I’m never sure when personal is too personal. A few days ago, however, I received a lovely letter from a woman who is having rough times in a relationship, and who told me she found solace in my books.
So I did what I often do when I’m torn about an action. I think What Would Jane Do? And I knew that Jane would write this post.
Without further ado, here’s what I’ve learned, or am attempting to learn, as of right now. It’s pretty deep shit. And shit.
1) Grand Narratives Need Not Apply
I’m a super independent woman who knows she doesn’t want children and is meh about marriage. I can see getting married to have a fuck off big party and some tax benefits, but I never, even as a little girl, imagined myself in a white dress spouting Corinthians. I’m also a highly trained skeptic who is happy to call bullshit on all the “grand narratives”: those stories that frame our lives as Westerners, or Americans, or women, or whatever set of groups to which we belong.
And yet I let those grand narratives affect me on so many levels.
For example, I call daily bullshit on the following cultural fairy tales: I am happily ignoring my biological clock; I know that romantic love is a Western construct currently buoyed by advertising; that “the one” is a cockamamie idea; that “love at first sight” is a form of extreme narcissism in which we fall in love with the self we see reflected in the other person’s eye. This is just a sampling of me calling bullshit. And yet, every time I meet someone new I wonder… WILL THIS PERSON BE THE ONE.
Of course this person is not the one. No one is ever the one. And I can tell you why, according to at least fifteen philosophers (although there are more I haven’t read who touch on this subject).
I’m not beating myself up over this, by the way. For those cultural narratives are so powerful, they may as well be scripted over our DNA. We know that Richard Gere’s character will rescue our heroine, even though he’s in a limo and she’s a hooker. We have been trained to know these things. And the allure of these narratives is powerful: what woman doesn’t, at some point when she’s at her breaking point, want to be rescued? And what man, when everything has changed and men are no longer valued as they were, doesn’t want to be a rescuer?
But these narratives lie. They lie again and again and again. They sell a promise of perfection when it’s reality that is worth living. It’s the grit, the sweat, the tears, the smiles, the hesitant touches, the joy that requires pain to be felt–these are where the really grand experiences live. Not in the starched white confines of the Disney version of life the Grand Narrative sells.
Which leads me to my second thing…
2) This Shit Will Always be Complicated
I’ve been told time and again that I give “great advice.” I’ve lived pretty hard and I’ve read a lot. I know that life is complicated as all get out. So when something crazy happens to a friend, I am on it. I am right there at the front of the line saying, “Girl, your husband left you even though you know he loves you? It’s cuz shit is complicated.” “Sweetie, your boyfriend came out the closet? It’s cuz shit is complicated.” “Oh honey, you think you can never love again because you fall for the same douchebag over and over? It’s cuz shit is complicated.”
The problem with this sage advice (which is usually actually sager when not boiled down for comedic affect) is that I never really internalized the fact that it applied to me.
I blame the grand narratives (see above) that for some reason I thought love, while complicated for everyone else, would be easy for me. I’d meet the right person, the One!!!, and it would all fall into place, and everything would be easy. Because I’m so awesome, right?
Sorry, Charlie, life doesn’t work like that. The shit is going to be complicated. For my friends, for me, for you. And, inevitably, it’s not only going to be complicated; it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt so bad it lays you flat. It’s gonna feel like someone left a void in your chest that echoes with a cacophony of loss. And then the hurt is going to shit more pain into that void, as it laughs at you.
And yet, despite knowing this, we only have two choices, folks. We can crawl in our shells like little hermit crabs, or we can live despite knowing we’ll be hurt. Which leads me to my third revelation.
3) Marvell Had it Right
I’ve always loved Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.” It’s a seduction poem–a man trying to get laid. But its last lines have always haunted me:
“Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.”
Some of you may recognize echoes of these lines from Tempest Rising, when Jane and Ryu first make love. Anyway, I’ve always adored the images here: the two bodies intertwining, their passion surging them forward till they’re moving so fast they come as close as humanly possible to claiming their own destiny–they can’t stop the sun, no, but they can nip at its heels.
And, in a lot of ways, that’s how I’ve always lived my life. I’ve always gone hard or gone home. I’ve taken enormous risks, sticking my neck out for all sorts of things.
But never for love.
When it comes to my heart, I am best diagnosed by 30 Rock’s Chris Cross, when he tells Liz Lemon that the only women single in their forties are “uggos, crazies, and bailers.” I realized, watching that scene, that I am a bailer.
I always have one foot out the door. I always have an escape hatch. I have countries to move to; careers to launch; other careers to nurture. The flip side of my propensity to bail is that I’ve often gravitated to certain kinds of men: the emotionally distant, the equally cagey/ambitious, the sweetheart so hobbled by goodness he would never chase me when I ran, and that one we refer to only as Bad Decision.
To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever really been in love. Not because individuals I was with weren’t worthy, but because I wouldn’t go there. The good thing, however, about dating certain kinds of men is that they deliver, with certainty. And at some point last year, after a stockpile of rather crappy deliveries, I realized that I am too old for this shit.
I’m too old to be a coward. I’m too old not to know and admit my weaknesses. I’m too old to deny my vulnerabilities. I am too old not to apply all that fierceness with which I live my life and love my friends to a lover.
Meanwhile, I was toying with these ideas for a while over New Years. And I was feeling more than slightly heart-battered when I read something by Sugar that made it all so clear. At first it was only the beginning part of this quotation that spoke to me. But then, as the weeks developed and my heartache turned into something more honest, when I was ready to take as much blame as I was doling out, I latched on to the second part:
“Do it. Doing so will free your relationship from the tense tangle that withholding weaves. Do you realize that your refusal to utter the word love to your lover has created a force field all its own? Withholding distorts reality. It makes the people who do the withholding ugly and small-hearted. It makes the people from whom things are withheld crazy and desperate and incapable of knowing what they actually feel.
So release yourself from that. Don’t be strategic or coy. Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word love to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.
Like I said, I initially latched on to the first part. It helped me understand how I’d gotten so hurt by something I never saw coming. But then the second part of that quotation started to seep in, and it all began to come together as I acknowledged my own role in my romantic tribulations. First the idea I needed to tackle truly rejecting the grand narratives that I know make me crazy. Then trying to internalize the fact that shit just is and always will be fucking complicated. And then the hardest part: realizing that if I let myself run from complexity, I am going to become that person who withholds. And I’ve seen that guy. I’ve dated that guy. And I’m pretty sure it sucks to be that guy.
So I’ve been focusing on that second part. I’ve been trying to be brave. To be as authentic as I can be. And I’ve been telling everyone I love them. I’ve been practically yelling it at all of my wonderful friends who deserve to be told they’re adored. And I’ve even fumbled at telling the person who I’m most afraid to say those words to right now, because I’m so fucking terrified it might be real this time and I’m not sure what scares me more: that I’ll be rejected or accepted.
But despite the fear, I want to ring that iron bell. I want to hear it sound, clear and loud, and to know that I was brave. To ring it even as I know that making myself vulnerable will mean, eventually, that I will somehow be hurt. But I’m also learning it can mean such glorious things, like that feeling when you force out your trembling little hand in the darkness and, to your delight and surprise, his is waiting there for you. Admittedly equally clammy and terrified, but there, ready to clutch yours.
I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know if we’ll both be brave, or if one of us will bail. But I do know one thing.
I’ve neither world enough, nor time, not to chase my own goddamned sun.
January 31, 2013
Hey folks! Here’s a pretty for you… the UK version of Tempest Reborn.
They’re so different than the US covers, but I love it! What do you think?
January 29, 2013
Sorry I’ve been so MIA! My life has been crazier than normal, although in an awesome way. For once it’s not been all about work, and I’ve been living rather large lately. That said, the semester has started up again and I’m ready to press my nose, hard, against that grindstone.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve not been busy poking at various projects, or that things haven’t been happening.
For starters, Jane is coming out in Brazil! And they’ve gone with the original artwork, which I’m always happy to see. Here’s the Brazilian cover!
So pretty! Although I always get this weird sense that I should be able to speak the language, if my book is in that language. Like I can somehow suck up the language through translation osmosis, or something. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
In other news, Carniepunk has a buy button and a new format! The anthology is so chockablock with awesome writers Pocket has decided to release it as a trade paperback. And right now it’s also on sale, so if you pre-order it you get it cheaper when it’s released.
I still lurve this cover!
Finally, after various people have subtly suggested that, while my constant photographing of deviled eggs is fascinating on a number of levels, they’d like a Nicole Peeler Author Page that is more about the books and less about my obsessions. And so I’ve created one for you, here. My “personal” page was originally created AS a fan page, however, so feel free to “friend” me, still. But be warned: there will be deviled eggs, poetry, and random tunes.
I promise to blog again soon. But in the meantime, bonne chance mes amis!
(I have also been taking a French class. )
January 7, 2013
[image error]I’m super excited to announce that Kevin Hearne will be doing a PUBLIC presentation here at Seton Hill!
Here’s the deets:
Date: January 8, Seton Hill University, Cecilian Hall, main Administration building. There’s a campus map and directions on the website.
Time: 7 pm
Subject: “The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of Epic Fantasy & What Other Genres Can Learn From It,”
With signing and reception afterward, starting at 8. Books will be on hand to buy and you can indulge in some of Seton Hill’s AMAZING cookies. They’re made with crack, I swear!
I will also be wandering around, so I can sign any babies and/or bums. Also books, I suppose. But definitely say hi if you attend!