Erotic Fiction Guest Blog: Arianne Richmonde, Author of the Forty Shades of Pearl Trilogy

Monday, 22 April, 2013

After writing book one of The Pearl Trilogy, Forty Shades of Pearl, something struck me. Obviously I read people’s reviews on Amazon (both positive and ‘negative’) as they can be very useful and I do take note of what readers say. I can’t please everyone but I do use criticism as an aid to my work rather than a hindrance. Most reviews have been extremely positive.

However, what I began to understand was that some younger readers have a very clear idea in their heads about how forty year olds are. My heroine, Pearl, being forty (and quite typical in my opinion) is insecure about herself. Although she is very beautiful and sexy and carries herself with outward confidence, she has crow’s feet and has to worry about hiding those telltale grey hairs with her Honey Blonde 8.3! So she doesn’t see herself as others see her. Sound familiar ladies? Not to mention how she feels about falling in love with a man fifteen years her junior…she is taken completely by surprise and feels ill equipped to deal with such powerful emotions.

Some readers believe that forty year-olds should have everything worked out by then and that Pearl’s insecurity is unrealistic. They assume that a woman of that age would be far more confident than Pearl, self-assured and not so doubtful. I feel both delighted and worried for these women. Delighted that they see older women as having all the answers and sad that, poor things, may have a few surprises waiting for them in the future. Getting older can be tough!

Pearl’s insecurities are manifested mostly by her inner dialogue (and some of her choices in book two, Shadows of Pearl). Indeed, they threaten to be her downfall. But so many older women do identify with her as they have been there. The gremlin that sits on your back and says you aren’t good enough, that time has passed you by, that youth is revered, not wisdom.

We see evidence of this everywhere. Why are fashion magazines full of nineteen year-old models when no nineteen year-old could possibly afford the sorts of outfits these girls are modeling? Because youth is worshipped in our society. All this is very real to a lot of women: feeling we are not good enough, not thin enough, not rich enough. I have friends who are stunningly beautiful with great jobs but who still feel unsure of themselves.

When I read about some young woman in her twenties feeling awkward about herself in a book, I think…why? Simply because I was pretty cocky in my twenties. I had all the answers, I knew where I was going (I didn’t but I thought I did)! In fact, I did read a novel recently where the woman, a 42-year-old doctor, was very sensible and I found her rather dull and boring!

I am thrilled that so many women can identify with Pearl. There was one review I loved. It was very short but said: “All women should read Forty Shades of Pearl. If you aren’t 40 yet you will be someday.”