The One Question That Makes Me Tremble
I have attended many social functions where people ask me about my husband’s work. I never have an issue discussing his paintings because I am so passionate about his art. My husband seems to leak talent, and I am always in awe of how gracefully he manages to complete any task. Mr. Armusik makes everything seem easy – even the hardest and most detailed job.
I’ve had women gush over my husband and his artwork, excitedly asking detailed questions about my life with him. They often wonder what it’s like to live with such a man – is he tortured? Distant? Always creating? Is Mr. Armusik as romantic as his work? I usually laugh in response and suffer the arduous task of having to censor myself.
The truth is that he is a joy to live with in comparison to me. I am far from a carnival ride. I’m moody and self-loathing at my worst, and sarcastic and witty at my best. Perhaps I’m being a little extreme, but you get the point. But in some twisted way, we make sense. After nearly 16 years together, I am quite sure we cannot breathe without each other.
After I disappoint the women by telling them that Eric is the perfect man, they go on to ask the dreaded question – “What do you do for a living?” I stall in horror as they pucker their lips or fondle a diamond earring. I sweat as they stare into my eyes with X-ray vision that seems to melt and destroy my soul. My voice is lost and my mouth is dry, but somehow I muster the nerve to plainly tell them I’m a writer.
I wait, quaking in my five-inch heels, praying they won’t ask the one question that makes me tremble … but – as sure as the sun sets – they ask the fucking question: “What do you write?” I feel fuzzy and at times could swear I see spots. I try to quickly think of a simple response, but nothing comes to mind. Ordinarily, I’m quick on my feet. I can tell you off and hand you your head before you even know it’s missing – but this question knocks me off balance.
I have stared at the black ceiling as I’ve tried to fall asleep at night and pondered the perfect answer to this question, only to be left with nothing. Sometimes, I wish I could just hand those ladies one of my books and walk away. In my heart, I know there is an answer; I just wish it didn’t take so long to articulate.
Sometimes if I’m feeling reckless, I just tell them I write gothic novels. If I really want to make myself seem basic and inane, I tell them I write vampire books. Either of these answers elicits the same reaction – a nod of the head and then a change of subject.
Years ago when I began working on my novels, I never thought that writing anything with vampires in it would make me feel embarrassed, but sadly, now I feel cheap when I mention that vampires are a component of what I do. It seems that people – especially older, mature people – have a tainted view of such subject matter these days, and I can’t blame them – I’ve read some of the crap while waiting for my children to pick out books at Target. I know how manufactured and silly the subject matter has become. All of this makes what I do seem trivial if you haven’t read my work.
So now, I will attempt to explicate what I do. I will try to explain why women who would never pick up this sort of novel are now my biggest fans, and why men love the series as much as women.
In reality, it’s simple: I am a gifted storyteller. I understand the simplicity and complexity of the human condition. When I write, I write from the heart. I abandon all preconceived beliefs, rules, and judgments and let the words flow without even one oppressive thought. In my world, I am free. I am emotionally naked and loving. And because I can allow myself the beauty and freedom of perfect truth, I am, in that world, completely honest.
Maybe that honesty is the key to my success. Maybe it’s so refreshing and different for this genre that people are sucked in and overwhelmed. And perhaps that sort of abandonment is what’s lacking in most novels today. It seems difficult for people to unwrap themselves. Everyone wants to be packaged and homogenized – while I shudder at the thought.
When I sit down to write, the outcome is dependent on my day and mood. If my children were bad and messy or someone ticked me off, a character in my novel would be the recipient of my wrath. Though I have a general idea of how the novel will unfold, I never commit to anything. Rather, I allow the story to flow, to be organic and pure. I listen to my characters, honoring their judgment and desires. Nothing is ever forced or manipulated. I hardly change a damn thing. I may add to it, but I never change it – because that act, in my opinion, is unnatural and disingenuous.
I believe this is what makes my work so compelling and adored. I create a real world with real people going through identifiable stuff. I’m mindful of the language and emotions expressed because I want the experience to be life-changing. I want you to dwell on the last passage or monologue you’ve read and think about it all day. I want you to become close friends with my characters and know them well enough to expect certain things from them. I wish for you to be disappointed in them when they fail because you care that much about their well-being. In an intense moment, I want to make you gasp out loud or laugh so hard your belly aches. And when there is heartache, I want you to cry for them and because of them.
Because I am a natural writer, I’m well equipped to make you feel things you’ve forgotten or wished you would never have to feel again. I want to simultaneously welcome you and then make you feel uncomfortable. I want you to change your perspective after reading my work. I want you to feel empowered and charged, because underneath all the fiction is a powerful self-help message unique to this genre.
I want to entertain and inspire. I want women to acknowledge their potential and personal power and I want men to learn how to love a woman with passion and respect. I want to unify people and join them in the universal struggle of life by illuminating the various struggles we all face but feel are unique to us. Through Nadija, I’m able to soothe the fears and feelings that we are alone on this journey. And though there are supernatural elements in my novels, they’re primarily about the human condition and our universal struggle to remain joyful and thankful – even in times of adversity.
A good writer will not make you skip to the sex scenes; they’ll keep your attention until you arrive there. I am such a writer. And when you have to wait for my next novel, it’ll be torture, because you’ll miss your friends and lovers. The novels are rich in developed characters, language, and insight. They bridge the gap between romance and horror. And though bad and grotesque things do happen, they’re not horror novels – they’re gothic novels. The difference is that I make death seem pretty, even in the wake of disaster. I leave the slasher crap to people without the capability of writing true emotions; I’m not interested in such inane literature.
I once had a friend buy my books but admit she was afraid to read them. I was confused. I asked her why she was afraid and she explained that she was fearful of the “horror.” I nearly fell over laughing. I did what I do best, instilling a healthy fear in her that made her pick up the books – and it worked. In just four days she read the first two novels and became one of my biggest and most enthusiastic fans. She is so passionate about the work that I felt compelled to have her test-read my third book, which came out this past May. This time she read Lucifer Rising in a day and a half and took notes reflecting her emotions as she read. She told me she didn’t want to forget her thoughts at those points.
Needless to say, I was humbled and gracious. I was thrilled that I could win my friend over as easily as I have done with hundreds before her. And the reason was simple: I promise the reader an epic adventure brimming with emotion, laughter, and authentic romance. What more can you ask for in one series?