Having my novel reviewed by E. L. Axford, a serious and seasoned literary professional from San Francisco – who is also a self described “Angry Roller Derby Dyke” – is one of the most important things that has happened since my book was published.
Receiving a critical review of my book by someone who is a passionately knowledgeable person when it comes to progressive sexual issues and the histories of those issues in America – was a dream come true for me.
So, without further ado I’ll let E. L.’s review do the rest of the talking.
Continuing in the Series of The Creation of The Novel Hypersexual:
Soon after I decided that fiction was the proper route for Hypersexual, and while considering the many different ways in which I would be able to utilize that format, I was unexpectedly reminded of and fascinated by how, as a child, adolescent, preteen and teen I had been led into the labyrinth psychological realms where self-fiction is pushed to the forefront of a young individuals self identification processes as a way to make sense of what is happening to themselves.
This memory of my psychologically twisted youth had always been an especially odd, powerful, and intriguing part of my history.
But why was I trying to look at these seemingly totally disparate kinds of fiction (personal and literary) as if they might be somehow connected?
Basically, the effort at filling-in missing pieces of personal information isn’t at all uncommon. And it is highly probable that all humans do it, to some extent. However, sometimes this phenomenon is considerably accelerated due to having especially important or immediately pertinent information about one’s own life missing. And perhaps most of all when the missing information is from a so-called traumatic and presumably life defining event.
In some cases the pressurized internal question “Whatmade me who I am, that all this can be happening to me?” can become an obsession, and a question that must be answered – in whatever way – even if fictionally.
And once that question has been answered, in whatever way, often it must be acted upon, as a way of self affirmation, even if it is a decidedly defensive, or outrageous, or otherwise problematic affirmation.
In this way, self mythology as an act of self creation is personal fiction straining to become the truth. And sure enough, as I’d discovered as a preteen and teenager, sometimes that fiction can become the truth.
And all of this is well acknowledged in the fields of psychology and psychiatry, and is included and processed (to whatever degree) in many counseling techniques. Which can be helpful (for those who obtain meaningful help).
But even then, that isn’t where it always ends.
Take, for instance, a still young individual who has already lived through several years of these self-fiction and self creation processes, and has also become extremely aware of them – and who is then given a hefty but still partial dose of the actual information they had been forced to make up – only to discover that their own guesses had been in some cases amazingly intuitive, and in other cases had fallen way short of the sexual depravity of the reality that had been revealed.
And soon after (within a couple of years), to then realize that there was no way of knowing if the “real information” that had been communicated was, in fact, true.
What kind of twist in the wrinkle of personal fiction do you suppose that kind of experience of “reality” might cause? Especially after years and (formative) years of powerful self creation based mostly on errant (unknowable, unreliable) information?
There is no way of knowing where that kind of cognitive vortex might propel a young mind!
One possibility, that is not often popularly discussed, is the development of a peculiar kind of strident empowerment: A young mind that sees a larger framed vision of truth, which includes in its perspective a full appreciation of the immense power of personal fictional creation and the freedom of not having to be fixed within any supposed truth.
In other words, a young mind that functions just as actively and confidently from a self fictionalizing position as it does from any of it’s actual reality foundations. Utilizing both, to whatever maximum effect is possible, wherever possible.
And I don’t mean sneakily lying, or worriedly hiding, or secretly apologetic. And I’m not talking about an intention based on aggression, at all. I mean straightforwardly and boldly self creating with an awareness that the relative truth of any of it has little or no meaning – because there is no reliable “truth” to measure any of it against. There is only forward moving self creation, and whatever empowerment it can afford.
At the very least, we can say that a formative life experience like that holds the potential for vastly widening a young persons perspective as relates to how they see themselves and what they may be able to make of themselves – especially in places like the midnight covered plains of hyperactive public sexual contact and self directed prostitution.
This is what I poetically call the horizon point of personal fiction. And it is where a substantial part of my personality and self – my sexual self – lived from the age of eleven or twelve until around the age of twenty eight. And it is one of the immensely powerful personal issues I’ve waited all this time to talk about.
Following this pulling stream of thought, as writing leads me to do, I realized that the reasons I was so captivated by thinking about both my personal fiction and literary fiction together was that with the novel Hypersexual I was intuitively intending (in part) to use fiction writing in a similar way that I had used personal fiction – which is to create a means of relating as penetrating as possible truths. And of relating experiences inclusive of the way that I, and so many others, have experienced our early life partial-truths, fragmented histories, and developing identities.
In fact I realized then that, in a sense, this was where my novel had to begin – because this is where my own self awareness began. This is where my own self identification as a hypersexual person began. In the land between truth and fiction.
Transgressive fiction, a deliberately twisted branch of literary fiction that I learned about during the creation of this novel, is distinctly defined by and valued for purposely using unflinching and intrepid boundary and convention breaking fiction as a way to reveal the especially difficult and often turned-away-from human truths.
No wonder I’d found myself so closely considering these stirring questions, about these seemingly disparate kinds of fiction – they’re not disparate at all – they flow right together.
They flow right together into the rushing storylines of Hypersexual.
It’s been a slow start for the novel these first two months. A newly published book these day’s is released into such a deep and dense literary forest. But I have had some expressions of sincere grassroots enthusiasm.
My favorite story so far is of a person coming out of a bathroom where a copy of the book happened to be sitting. The persons comment was something to the effect of:
“Where the hell did this book come from?! I just read something straight out of my own private inner sexual experiences and self-dialogue, which was eerie as fuck! And, I never even seen anything like that described in a book before…”
One of the biggest breakthrough moments for me in the conceptual considerations of Hypersexual was the idea to use an author’s pseudonym – and to use that pseudonym as the main character and narrator’s name.
This unusual (though not entirely unique) decision was meant to help produce the most intimate voice possible for the story. A voice from inside the realities and issues being dealt with. But equally important, the idea also created a genre bending effect that allowed me to expand the narrative perspective beyond the usual non-fiction single-individual based angle of a memoir or autobiography into something slightly broader in scope and more inclusive. Which was important to me because so much of my information and understanding has come from my open and revealing interactions and communications with other hypersexuals and sexually deviant persons.
Utilizing the fiction empowered ability to create a protagonist/narrator, and other characters that embodied attributes from many people – including myself and the myriad of persons I’ve known – and which could represent multiple sexual issues, behaviors, and actions that I’d experienced, observed, or been told about, as well as help illustrate the pertinent research points I’d found, seemed incredibly efficient, especially when compared to a strictly limited non-fiction approach.
However, these genre bending choices and methods have also led to my being questioned by several early readers, including my editors, about whether or not the nature of my book is more or less thinly veiled fiction – in part because it often seems so vivid it must be descriptions of real occurrences. Which I’ve accepted as a compliment, and to which I eventually began responding to with a simple, “Thank you.” Because, while the entire storyline and manuscript is fictional, my intention from the beginning has been to create a book that feels, for the readers, as personallyunveiling as is possible.
From the outset of this project I’ve tried to merge the informed fiction of the story into a narrative tone that assimilates an intimately shared secret.
Which, I’m hopeful, will produce an interesting and exciting experience for readers!
Author’s Note:Hypersexual is not about the authors individual life, specific childhood, or family life; Hypersexual is a novel about many of the serious and varied sexual realities and issues that have shaped the lives of countless children, persons, and families.
Coming Next in This Series: Some interesting technical revelations about the evolution of this book.
My initial idea for this story came from a mixture of my earliest desires to write in a meaningful way, and my memories of my first illicit sexual experiences. By the age of seventeen or so, in my heart-of-hearts, I was determined to see it through. And in the end, this book idea took roughly thirty five years to mature.
Seventeen years ago, as the new millennium approached and my life entered a new phase of its own, the idea came out of its long dormancy and, as a seedling concept, it began to sprout.
For ten years, in odd fits and starts the story tentatively reached out with small tendrils of promise and short seasons of growth, but without producing much more than a few solid roots for the far reaching and important story that I had in mind.
Then, seven years ago, after achieving a breakthrough in my vision for the story the greater construction and rather unique design of the novel finally emerged.
One of the most surprising and significant things about the final stages of the initial creation of this book is that it changed its format from a shock-aimed non-fiction exhibition into a transgressive fictional flight of narrative experience.
The primary reason for this creative shift is that I suddenly realized that for year upon year I had continued to make the mistake of believing that the burden of the necessarily ultra-personal content and the required intimate impact of the story would lay solely on me and my willingness to speak unhesitatingly about my own sexual experiences. How else was I going to articulate the fully honest and sexually uncovering story I needed to tell?
If nothing else, I had always known that I must reveal as much personal and inter-personal sexual truth as I possibly could.
Fortunately, with the help of a bright minded multi-media artist that I met, I came to see that my most important store of content lay not only in the conglomeration of the sexual experiences that I’d had, but also in the wealth of conversant information I’d gathered from others, including the absolute most private kinds of personal anecdotes and intimate sexual histories.
In the novel Hypersexual, in chapter four the reader will come across the phrase:
“…I asked her my all time favorite question…when did you first have sex?”
This question, and several similar questions related to both the earliest sexual experiences of people as well as their more developed sexual experiences have passed through my lips and into the ears of my sex partners for the whole of my life. And my being so abundantly open about my own sexual history has enabled me to successfully liberate the usually guarded personal information of others, sometimes into openly flowing discourse, and sometimes into raging torrents of revelation and confession.
I’ve also asked these kinds of questions of perhaps as many as two hundred persons who were not my sexual partners, but who instead, for whatever their reasons, engaged in intimate conversation with me. And approximately fifty of those conversations were clinically approved interviews with people who knew ahead of time what kinds of questions I would be asking – but not exactly what questions. And I was often astonished by the released enthusiasm, even in those cooler and less secreted circumstances, of the willingly unleashed answers, admissions and declarations of my interviewees.
My deep and abiding interest in sex, sexual contact, and sexual issues has led me through a lifetime of informal research, and eventually into the formal research that went into the final stages of the preparation of this book.
However, until the day I carefully considered the possibility of writing my story in a fictional way, I hadn’t yet comprehended how effective that type of presentation would be for allowing me to include all the crucial kinds of sexual information and socially challenging storylines I would need.
Importantly, I also realized then how the content and research I would be including on the numerous sexual, social, legal, and clinical issues could be transformed directly into the fictional characters make-up, and the multiple threads of the story (rather than the blunt exemplifications and statistical weight of a non-fictional presentation). All of which neatly completed the overall strategy for the novel.
From there, within months, my trangressive protagonist/narrator, my main antagonistic character and conflict, and the predominating dynamics of my central storyline were all born.
In the Foreword, the readers will see the sentence:
“This is a fictional story overflowing with the truths of a great many people.”
Which is precisely accurate: In the novel Hypersexual the characters traits, attributes, and issues, as well as the sexual and social behaviors and actions that are portrayed are, at the same time, both fictional and true.
Coming Next: A continued explanation of the distinctive and genre bending ways in which the novel Hypersexual was constructed, including the use of the author’s name (a pseudonym) for the protagonist/narrator.