Dangerous Pleasures is the sixth novel from Fiona Zedde. This work will come to mark her transition from exhausted corporate employee who wrote and followed her dream in every spare moment possible, to that of a full time writer completely dedicated to earning a living through her craft. Fiona shared with me, “Though the money was great, the job wasn’t fulfilling any of my other needs so I took a leap of faith. I left that job with a few dollars of savings in the bank and never looked back.
These days, I live simply. I also give talks, workshops, lead discussions at conferences and universities. My first book, Bliss, has been taught in a few graduate programs, so professors have invited me to come and speak to their classes. I also sell books directly to readers, write short stories, do freelance writing, and am building up my client list for ghost-writing. A bit of everything that adds up to doing what I love.”
A joyous transition and leap of faith that perhaps began with a journey down a road less traveled. I’m excited to have Fiona as a guest on the blog to share with us her intimate story of the physical and emotional challenges behind the crafting of Dangerous Pleasures.
In February of 2009, I was already having a bad year. Dangerous Pleasures was stuck at barely eighty two pages and I had to finally tell my publisher I didn’t know when I’d finish the book. I was at the tail end of my chemotherapy, my spirit was exhausted from working my corporate job, and all I had to look forward to was the start of my radiation treatments a few months down the road. In the midst of these miseries, Reggie, a friend from grad school called me and suggested we take a trip together. After thinking about it for 0.05 seconds, I said yes. Yes to two weeks in Barcelona. Yes to leaving all my worries behind me for just a little while.
I had my concerns, of course: Would the exhaustion, nausea, and dead taste buds from the post-cancer treatments follow me to Spain? Would I slow Reggie down? Would I be able to enjoy myself? Thankfully, all these worries were unfounded. Reggie and I traveled through Barcelona and its surrounding towns, often eating our weight in paella, gelato, and chocolate croissants—though not all at the same time. And when he left after a week to return to Boston’s chill, I was receptive enough to say “yes” again to a fellow traveler, Tatyana, who was driving up the coast of Spain to France and wanted some company.
After the past few months of pain, uncertainty, and lock-jawed terror at the thought of dying, this trip was the breathing room and relief I needed. While traveling, I wrote. I haunted the cafes, shared conversations on cobble-stoned streets, even grasped at and found some forgotten Spanish, often getting lost in that wonderfully alive city while at the same time finding myself again. Stretched out on a bench overlooking the shipping docks, I scribbled ideas for another novel I was working on. Later, I sat in the Parc de la Ciutadella and wrote scenes for Dangerous Pleasures that I hadn’t been able to envision or create before.
The two weeks were over long before I was ready. With Tatyana driving on the road north to France, I took the train back to Barcelona and to the airport. It had been a weekend filled with laughter and unexpected flirtation, my spirit opening up under the warmth of another woman’s gaze while the possibility of desire floated between us. I often opened my notebook to capture those moments.
After weeks on the road, the writing flood gates had finally opened and the orange notebook I bought at the beginning of the trip was nearly full. Flying on the wings of this new productivity and rejuvenated by my travel and connection with Tatyana and Reggie, I traveled back to the States. I was ready to delve back into a better version of my life in Atlanta. With mechanical difficulties and multiple plane changes, I arrived home in Atlanta much later than scheduled but still high from my experiences. I remained up with the clouds until I realized I had left my orange notebook on the plane.
As tragedies go, that was relatively minor, a tiny hiccup in a life. But for weeks afterward, I was devastated. All my observations from the trip—gone. The new chapter of my vampire novel—vanished. Fresh scenes I had written for the book I was having so much trouble finishing—disappeared into the void. I was a wreck.
When I could, I sat down to recreate what I had lost, but regret rolled through me with each word I wrote. These new words, I was convinced, were not as good as the original. But I kept writing. Suddenly in the depths of my self-pity, it occurred to me—I was actually writing! The drought that had shriveled my creativity before the trip was over.
And so, Dangerous Pleasures began again, the story flowing from under my pen until I was able to complete it and turn the manuscript over to my publisher (to his relief!). This story, the story of two friends on different paths whose steps align in a most unexpected way, is one of the blessings that came from my Spanish journey. I hope my readers enjoy it.
Fiona Zedde is a transplanted Jamaican currently living and working in Tampa, Florida. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies including Best Lesbian Erotica 2004, Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers, and Necrologue: DIVA Book of the Dead and Undead.
If you would like to share with my readers your story of transition down a road less traveled, contact me at email@example.com or roll over this twitter link @spencerhope and tweet me a shout out, your website, or blog.