A Day in the Life of Maree Caleste.
As much as I would love to sit here and tell you that I wake up awash with writing ideas from a plethora of vibrant dreams, each ready to smother blank pages until a book emerges like a phoenix rising, the truth is much, much less interesting.
I’m a parent, I have two beautiful girls. One is at school, the other not yet. This means I get up groggily smacking my alarm clock until the welts bruise my hands. If my girls haven’t already used my bed, with me in it, as a trampoline, I amber to their room like a zombie looking for brains and struggle to wrestle my oldest who sleeps on the top bunk (I’m only little).
Next we’re putting the finishing touches to breakfast, washing and working out why she left her lunch box at school and what she can use today that doesn’t make me look like a candidate for Britain’s Scummiest Parents. Then the trudge to school dragging the youngest by the hand whilst yelling at the oldest about road safety and, occasionally, stopping to smell the flowers on the way.
Back home my youngest is now demanding my attention which, though I am willing to give it freely, often makes me feel as though I’m a dartboard and she’s the innumerable supply of darts. If I’m super lucky she’ll go down for a nap, but those days are fast vanishing. Before you know it, a couple of hours reading in peace if I can coerce her to her bedroom to play, or a stint of repeated children’s TV (I can literally quote every single episode of Peppa Pig off by heart) has passed, and I’m wrapping her up to go back to the school to pick up my oldest.
Once home, once we’ve wrestled with the same argument as to why I don’t want her wearing her uniform in the house (despite the fact that it would cut down my laundry pile exponentially if I let her keep it on), I’m planning dinner. If my family are lucky I’ll be partially inspired to concoct something that resembles edible food; otherwise it’s beans on toast again!
After a few hours in the evening where the dastardly duo have run amok, I’ve bathed them and bedded them for the night, and finally I can attempt to switch my brain off and back on again in the hope that something I have seen, heard, smelt or imagined during the day has leaked into the compartment of my brain that is reserved for writing. Fortunately I’ve never suffered from writer’s block and once my cherubs are out for the count I can usually turn the tap on and have the imagination freely flow.
This is perhaps the hardest part of being a part time writer... stopping. Once the house is quiet and my writing zone is waiting for me with open arms I can really get into the swing of things. But I know I have to stop writing at a reasonable hour and get to bed because the Tasmanian devils will be up and at it again before long.
My advice to anyone wanting to be a writer, however, is not to feel you cannot write because of life’s daily distractions. Rather seize the chance when the chance presents itself. It is better to pen a hundred words a day than none. If you manage to find a few hours in the evening and you’re not consumed by the drivel on the TV (like me, waaay too often), let your imagination run and be pleased with what you’ve done rather than what you could have done!
What Inspired me to Write My Book
When I wrote The Girl Upstairs my friends and family immediately started looking at me with pained expressions. They would ask me if “everything was alright at home” or they would, in some cases, stare at me incredulously, waiting for me to do something impulsive and improper there and then. I tried to explain to them that I was merely fascinated with the topic but of course that led a few people to look at me with somewhat jaded ideas of what precisely about erotica so fascinated me. Like I was a deviant or something.
Not that I have issue with that, I merely preferred not to discuss those sort of details with my parents! But after a long while of similar lines of questioning I did start to wonder why I wrote this book and what inspired me. The absolute honest truth is I wrote the book because I could. I found I was temporarily out of service, that is to say I was injured and my parents looked after my girls for a protracted period of time whilst I recovered. During that relatively small amount of time, about one month, I decided to give it a go.
I normally like to write fantasy which I would then read to my girls for bedtime stories and as they have to be fairly tame for a five year old (and about dragons and magic rather than bullets and rabbits) I seized the chance to write something a little more grown-up. I had never read the Shades of Grey series as, to be honest, I find very little time to read in quiet anyway, but the way those books captured the imaginations of the masses, and the repressed, I seriously considered it a venture I would like to take.
So in a nutshell I wrote The Girl Upstairs because I could, and I wrote it because I felt the world might be ready for something a little raunchier than Mr Grey and his many colourful shades. When I say the world I didn’t really mean my parents! Note to self; they are definitely not ready for a sequel.
Why Writing is a Form of Personal Therapy
Wow, I suppose when you write erotica for fun people would immediately make the assumption she needs therapy. Actually I have found it to be very healthy. I can imagine the most bizarre and unlikely scenarios imaginable and put them on paper with characters who cannot be hurt or tarnished through such deeds and create actual stories, many of which might be taboo, or simply too rude to discuss with my friends and family.
Being able to immerse myself in my own world enables me to explore strange new things and see things from other peoples’ points of view. I can never know what it would be like being half the people I write about, it is simply biologically impossible. Yet if I can imagine it then I can write it and in some small way, I can live out the fantasy. This enables a writer to be something they could never hope to be in the real world.
An author could fly on the back of a dragon, soaring higher than the clouds. They can be a great detective, an intelligent mind adored by fans and hated by nemeses. They can live in a time period lost to the ages surrounded by a vibrant, real world brought to life by their own imagination. An author can bring the reader along for the ride but it is up to the reader to open their own eyes and see the world the author has presented to them.
As a writer the advantage I have over any reader is that if I decide half way through my journey that I don’t like the path I’m on, I have the power in my fingertips to change it. I can create worlds and destroy them. I can bring people to life, or I can slay them, never to rise again. I can caress a lover or be caressed by many. Being a writer enables me to do all these things and more without impacting on those closest to me.
Sure I can find therapy in the pages of a good book but it is governed by someone else’s rules, led by a therapist who might just not “get me”. As a writer I am the therapist, and I ‘totally get me’!
My Publishing Journey
I’ve been writing for many years! I used to pen books as a youngster, hand writing them before the invention of the computer (okay, not entirely accurate, I had a computer, it was just a very large calculator back then). I dabbled with the type writer but kept making mistakes and more than one of those infernal machines ended up out my bedroom window. So the pen and paper were my weapons of choice. I actually still have those old manuscripts filed away in the loft. They’re awful. I was 15.
As I matured (apparently) my interests changed and my passion for writing became more than just a fantasy. It took many years before I could honestly say I found the time to write a full novel and then I simply added it to the pile of “I’ll get round to that”. That pile never seems to go down! But I did persevere and eventually sought out an agent list to who I could cast my net over. I was actually quite pleased when I got my first rejection; I saw it as a rite of passage.
Then the rejections started coming thick and fast. Before long every agent I had contacted declined to represent my work which, at the time, was a lengthy fantasy novel set in a world I was building from scratch. With the popularity rising in that genre I tried my hand once more but was quickly swayed by the memory of defeat.
A life changing event got in the way of my plans and before you know it there were two little versions of me crawling around my floor. Perhaps it was their cherubic faces beaming up at me with snot dribbling from nostrils flared by protruding pen lids or the grins of toothless mouths covered in blended carrot and broccoli but the need to remain an adult grew in me; thus I considered The Girl Upstairs. Children have a tremendous ability to make us appreciate what we once had and what we once took for granted.
After penning The Girl Upstairs I toyed with the idea of adding it to the aforementioned pile of doom but instead sought out a publisher who specialised in erotica. GMTA answered my call with such enthusiasm and professionalism that I couldn’t possibly refuse; and why would I? They wanted to see the manuscript and so I sent it to them. Now, a short time later, it is released and I couldn’t be happier. Throughout the publishing journey the wonderful ladies of GMTA have kept me up-to-date and have plied me with advice and information making the journey far less arduous than I had known it before.