I would like to welcome Fiona Price to Novels On The Run, she is the author of Let Your Hair Down, which is published by Momentum.
Fiona has a really interesting guest post for you to read.
LET YOUR HAIR DOWNOne modern-day Rapunzel. One naked man. Two very different wicked witches.
At 22, Sage Rampion has led a strange and cloistered life. She's been homeschooled, and she's never owned a cell phone, watched TV or spoken to a man on her own. Everything she's seen, read and watched has been vetted by her grandmother Andrea, Professor of Women's Studies and hardline old school feminist.
When Sage and Andrea see Ryan modelling naked below their office window, Andrea marches out to charge him with indecent exposure. But he waves up at Sage, and his grin is the warmest thing she's seen in her lonely existence. She rushes down to warn him, and as they grow close her sheltered world begins to unravel. Sage starts asking questions about the way she was brought up, and the beautiful teenage mother who abandoned her.
But answering those questions means confronting Andrea, and she's not a good enemy to make. Taking her on brings Ryan and Sage more trouble than either of them could have imagined.
A timely re-telling of the Rapunzel fairytale in the era of selfies and smartphones.
Guest Post – Fiona Price
The exciting thing about novels is that they can take you almost anywhere. For me, writing Let Down Your Hair took me where Andrea takes Sage in Chapter 1: on a field trip to the red light district.
The events that led to my field trip began when I finished my first draft. I picked three friends whose opinions I trusted and gave them the manuscript to read. One was a man, because while the novel’s mostly aimed at women, it has a gender studies theme, and I needed a male perspective.
We went through the manuscript, reached a particular scene, and my male reader went all shifty. He cleared his throat and avoided my eye, fixing his gaze on the page. “Um,” he said. “Have you actually been to a strip club?” I told him I’d been to cabaret strip shows for hens’ nights, but he shook his head, eyes still on the manuscript. “But this isn’t a cabaret show, it’s a normal bar. With strippers. You haven’t been to one of those, have you?” And I had to admit, he had me there. “Well,” he went on, “you probably should. Because they’re not like this.”
It’s not every day a man tells you that you need to visit a strip club. I looked at his deeply uncomfortable face. “So,” I said, suppressing a grin, “you’d know about strip clubs, would you?”
His cheeks began to redden. “Well, I… I went to a couple for bucks’ nights…”
“Say no more,” I said, holding up a magnanimous hand. “I will visit a strip club.”
After that conversation, I called an old friend with links to the Australian Sex Party. He made some inquiries, and the manager of a strip club in town got in touch and said she’d put my name on the door. And on a quiet Tuesday night a few weeks later, I turned up at the strip club with a clipboard and a pen. I also brought my tall, strapping friend Olivia, so I didn’t have to walk through the seedy side of town by myself.
Olivia and I had expected the trip to be a bit of risqué fun. We were all for women’s right to work in a strip club if they chose, and feel safe and unjudged while they did it. But when we went inside, we were surprised by how disconcerted we felt. Almost as disconcerted as the staff were with the presence of two women, especially when one was taking notes. They probably thought I was a journalist or detective, and gave me a very wide berth.
The set-up in the club I visited was indeed very different from a cabaret strip show. It was a bar, but one with two pole dancer tables, and maybe twenty young women in lingerie mingling with the all-male patrons.
What struck me as I watched the men in that club was how awkward most seemed to feel. Only a handful were actually looking at the girls in lingerie. Most were hunched in their seats clutching their drinks for dear life and having forced conversations about work. I sensed that many would secretly rather be in a normal meeting room, or at home in front of the TV, but they couldn’t admit that, because it would make them look unmanly in front of their peers.
Many of the conversations between the girls and the patrons also sounded awkward. My sense was that what many of the patrons paid for wasn’t just titillation, it was attention and kindness from pretty, scantily dressed young women who would snub them anywhere else.
This was great material for the novel, and I kept on taking notes until a patron paid a stripper for a lap dance. I won’t say too much for readers who haven’t seen one, but after a few minutes, Olivia and I decided this was our cue to leave. But I left with six pages of valuable notes which I used to rewrite my scene completely.
I should point out that the strip club scene is only a small part of my novel! Let Down Your Hair is an adaptation of Rapunzel, and the red light district is the “wilderness” or “wasteland” that appears near the end of the fairytale. Most of the action takes place in the towers (I have two!), which are a tall university building and a fancy penthouse apartment. But my trip to the “wilderness” was a great reminder of how important it is for a writer to do her research. As I turn my pen next to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, who knows where my plots may take me next!
About the author:
Fiona Price has a lifelong passion for words. After declaring she was going to be a writer, aged six, she began work on her first masterpieces: a novel about a wild pony and an incisive satirical song called 'Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep'. Since then, she has attempted just about every form of writing, from bush verse and screenplays to elegies and academic articles. Fiona is plotting further novels based on fairy tales, and is currently working on a fantasy trilogy for young adults. She lives in Melbourne by the sea.