Guest Post: The Black Door by Charlotte Howard

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Title: The Black Door

Author: Charlotte Howard

Publication Date: July 11, 2014

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Synopsis

Imogen Pearce is a single mum of four children and fast approaching 40, she works at Ryedale Incorporated where she has to battle a younger and smarter generation to get to where she wants to go. If that means taking on the account of Cherry and Sean Rubin’s adult shop, then she will. But what happens when Imogen discovers the private club that they run at the back? And what happens when she realizes she knows quite a few members?

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Buy the Book

The Black Door

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Tirgearr Publishing

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Guest Post

Thank for hosting me today. I can’t believe that my third book, The Black Door, is already out. One question that I’ve been asked quite a lot is whether I based the characters on anyone I know. The answer is sort of.

“Be careful, or you’ll end up in my novel” – it’s a saying that most writers know and quite a few live by, and the same can be said of me. However, while I may have had a certain person in my mind when creating a character, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be the spitting image.

For instance, Cal Ryedale is based on someone I know, someone I’m good friends with, but they’re not identical. I take character traits, speech patterns, or body language and put them into a different suit. Real-life Cal does not wear expensive suits or work as a CEO, and he’s not rich and powerful. Some of the things he says in the book though, I have heard him say in real life.

Sean is based on an ex-boyfriend of mine (no, I’m not saying which one). He was someone who at first absolutely exuded sex-appeal as far as I was concerned, and then I got to know the real him. He loved himself far more than he ever loved me.

The Twiglets are based on a girl I used to work with – a complete and utter bitch who was happy to sleep with whomever she had to in order to get a promotion. She would pretend to be a friend in public, but as soon as my back was turned, the knife was stuck in and twisted a little bit more.

But some characters didn’t stay, or didn’t get as big a part as they had in the first draft. Jennifer Clay for example – Queen Bee of the playground. She had quite a large section of the story at one point, and then I let somebody read it and they knew exactly who she was based on. So I cut out almost an entire chapter and re-wrote the character. She’s still based on the same person, but she’s not as recognisable any more. Hey, I don’t want to get sued for character assassination!

Caroline is an amalgamation of people I know. Her ability to cheer Imogen up, and genuine friendship is largely based on my own friendships. However, her secrets that are revealed, well they are completely fictional.

Imogen was easy to write. I think it’s only natural for a writer to inject a bit of themselves into their main character – and I’ve done the same with Imogen as I did with Paige in Seven Dirty Words. She’s feisty and outspoken, and has flaws the same as any real life person. Being a mum, I understand what it’s like to look in a mirror and see wrinkles and flab. But I’m not a single mum, and I don’t work for a marketing company.

Even though the characters may have traits of people I know or have met, they are still fictional though and I think it’s important to remember that. I’ve had quite a lot of readers say that they see a bit of themselves in certain characters, and I’m taking that as a compliment. It means they’re realistic.

Characters shouldn’t be perfect. They should have flaws – either in their character or physical, or both! But even if you don’t recognise Imogen or Cal or anyone, I hope that readers can at least empathise with their struggles and development. 

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Guest Review

The Black Door: Adventurers Only by Charlotte Howard introduces us to Imogene Pearce, a single mother with four children struggling to make ends meet. After she discovered her ex husband boinking someone other than herself in their bed, she finds her almost-40 self working for Ryedale Inc with coworkers much younger than her. Feeling the financial strain of being the main provider for her children, she works hard and tries to make good impressions on her boss, Alex, and Cal Ryedale – the young head of his daddy’s advertising company. However, Cal being very critical of Imogene’s work, leads her to believe that she will be given her “P45” – that’s a “pink slip” to us in the US.  Little does she know, Cal has more than that in store for her…

The Wicked Ways account is shared with Alex, but Cal winds up assigning it to Imogene alone.  She knows of the sex store, and did her research (her own walk through) for the job. However, Cal suggests she does more research with another tour of the store, and meet the owners – The Rubins. On her more thorough and guided tour, she sees the black door with the discreet sign “Adventurers Only”. But opening this door was not part of this tour.

While spending extra time with Cal and The Rubins to produce her best work, she is struggling between taking care of and spending time with her children, and spending more time at her job to hopefully lead to a promotion to provide more financial stability for her family.  While making this decision, she immerses herself into the Wicked Ways account – and when an opportunity to walk through the black door presents itself, she cautiously takes it. She discovers a world she never knew existed, whose participants were the least expected. Through the black door she has an awakening – an awakening of her sexual desires as well as corrections of preconceived notions. Through her continued work and sexual encounters, things she thought would happen change on the drop of a dime, and secrets are revealed.

From the beginning, I had to get the hang of reading a book from a British author (I need to expand my horizons!!! That’s what he/she said….) that has different slang, names for things, and different spellings of words. That just added to the flavor of the story. Also, I was able to relate to what she was going through, whether they were my or my friends’ experiences, of raising children on a daily basis. I found myself chuckling, nodding and shaking my head with a smile often. I found that it took some time for the story to get to the SEX – but was I being impatient? Do I prefer a book to get to it ASAP? Or is it good to sometimes get a book to build more, give more depth to the characters, and tease a little from time to time before getting to what we KNOW we want?  That really depends on the reader of course.  But as we all know, variety is a good thing 🙂 I especially liked that Imogene was close to my age, and was very…. Real. The story, characters, AND the sex are truly believable – it can be a work of non-fiction!

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Excerpt

Men. All the bloody same.

My mind traced back to the day I had given up on one-sided monogamous relationships.

The children were at school or work, and the sun was beating down. It was a glorious day, and I had decided to go home for lunch, rather than spend it in a stuffy office.

I pulled up outside the house and a fleeting thought passed through my mind when I saw Connor’s car sitting in the driveway. My husband of eighteen years had had the same idea.

I crept into the house, hoping to surprise him. But, it turned out that his idea had involved a slutty bottle-blonde.

I wanted to blame the events that followed on a red mist descending over me. The truth is that in the time it took for my mind to register that some tart was riding my husband in what I later found out was known as reverse cowgirl, my mind had calculated the necessary response.

The skank lost a good handful of bleached hair, roots and all. I allowed her to gather her clothes and watched as she tugged her pants on whilst running out of the house. If nothing else, the neighbours got a good show.

Connor yelled at me. But his words were drowned out by the blood pumping in my ears. I marched back up the stairs and into his little study. Opening the window, I saw Miss Slut stood in the middle of the road, screeching obscenities at me. I looked at the Ferrari in our driveway and smiled.

I think his Xbox enjoyed its first and final flying lesson as it sailed out of the window. The fact that it landed in the bonnet of his prized mid-life crisis proved that Karma does exist.

Connor. Holly.

I made a mental note of the two names at the top of my imaginary hit list.

I blinked and I was back in the boardroom.

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About the Author

charlottehoward

British author Charlotte Howard, was born in Oman and spent much of the first part of her life flitting between Oman, Scotland, and England. Now settled in Somerset, Charlotte lives with her husband, two children, and growing menagerie of pets.

Her career as a writer began at an early age, with a poem being featured in an anthology for the East Midlands. Since then Charlotte has written many short stories and poems, and finally wrote her first full-length piece of fiction in 2010.

During what little spare time she has, Charlotte enjoys reading and writing (of course), spending time with her family, and watching action movies whilst eating curry and drinking tea.

Charlotte is an active member of Yeovil Creative Writers.

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