Despite Our Shadows is a re-release of an earlier title of mine, Lambs Hide, Tigers Seek. This is also the only non-science fiction title in my catalog; a number of fans had suggested that I try my hand at a non-science fiction mystery, and this was my response to the challenge. It turned out to be less a mystery and more of a noir tale of investigator Alain Guest (that’s Uh-lane, not Ee-lane) and his efforts to shake free of his past, as he pursued a girl who may have been destroyed by her past… and I think it was a better story for that.
The story is the same: In 2007, heiress Ellen Levinson vanished from a downtown Washington hotel under mysterious circumstances. Four years later, a series of blackmail letters leads investigator Alain Guest to Nashville, in search of the missing heiress. But things go wrong quickly, getting Alain tangled up with a local Goth girl who forces him to deal with his own damaged past. As the investigation threatens to crumble, Alain’s mental state just may go down with it…
The original book has been re-edited and re-proofed to improve readability and to improve the story itself. Shadows is one of the sexiest stories I’ve written so far, and when I originally wrote it, I was concerned that the story would be too sexy for mainstream consumption. So I intentionally toned it down and put some of the more racy scenes through the “fade to morning” filter, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks. But when it came for the rewrite, I rethought the idea of editing out or glossing over the sex scenes.
Though it may have been standard operating procedure for most of the 20th century, today’s media is less afraid to show and tell what goes on behind closed doors. Television (especially pay cable) has undergone a sexuality renaissance, displaying more skin and (formerly) private areas, and allowing sex to leave its behind-the-curtain and offstage past and proudly take center stage.
Likewise, literature has gotten sexier, and sexual scenes have become almost as explicit and descriptive as what was traditionally considered porn… and this material is still sold over-the-counter to anyone—specifically, any pre-adult—with the money to pay for it. Sex, it seems, isn’t the forbidden fruit it used to be; or, rather, it still is, but whereas the media used to timidly wave that forbidden fruit at the audience for titillation’s sake, now it thinks nothing of hacking up pieces and serving them to the audience with cream cheese.
Finally, the less constricted realm of ebooks has opened the doors to authors who previously could find no outlet for their unconventional or sensitive works. Publishers are known for editing and repackaging material for the largest common denominator, as well as toning down content considered too racy or controversial for the mainstream; to the independent author, that constraint no longer applies. Authors are free to write and release what they want, no matter how wild; and customers have a much wider range of novels to enjoy, without worrying that a story has been watered down to satisfy the sensitivities of an octogenarian in Ohio.
With that in mind, I decided to put back whatever I’d left out of the original release. Now, Despite Our Shadows has essentially been restored to its original intent, and the sex that very clearly makes up a major aspect of the story and characters is no longer veiled and hiding strategically behind the rocks and columns. The characters are much more believable now; more well-rounded, more fleshed-out, more passionate and…
Well. I think that’s enough foreplay. If you want more, you know what to do.