LOCAL AUTHOR TO RIVAL FIFTY SHADES OF GREY?
“A piquant mix of love and strange desires”
Kent resident Greg Thompson, who retired as Head of Research with Kent Police in 2003, and lives on Romney Marsh, close to the Sussex border, has just written and published his debut novel – Dreams of Marrakesh. It is the story of two women who fall in love and allow their sadomasochistic desires free rein during an idyllic summer spent in the countryside of France. Along the way this mix of romance and thriller moves between the scenic backdrops of London, Paris, New York, and rural France.
The plot details the backgrounds of the two women and explores how each deals with the strange inner desire that drives their irrational behaviour. For the main character there are feelings of arousal that are followed by a sense of guilt, these causing her to focus on the real suffering and abuse of women across the world. For the other there is the thrill of identifying, then continually grooming her victim. There is some explicit detail but this is described in a factual rather than an excessively salacious way. The story twists and turns but never loses its way en route to a dramatic climax.
Since his retirement, Greg and his artist wife Wendy have travelled to some of the world’s wildest places and have spent a large part of each summer working on the conversion of a high ceilinged barn in the south of France. In between, Greg has carried out wildlife conservation research on the endangered hazel dormice that live in the woods at the fringes of Romney Marsh, and on the brown hares that occupy the shingle peninsula at Dungeness. Greg wrote the novel as he recovered from a serious illness in 2013. His wife produced the watercolours for the cover.
Paperback and digital versions of Dreams of Marrakesh were released on 14th February 2014 and are available online from Amazon and Kindle, with many sales already recorded in the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland and France.
Interview with Greg Thompson
Where did the idea for this book come from?
Most of my friends particularly the males, are surprised by my choice of subject – a love affair between two women. Seemingly, it doesn’t fit with my character. There is a three part answer about the original thinking for the book.
I like women and I’ve spent all of my adult life trying to understand how they think and behave.
So, I set myself a challenge to try and note down some answers to that question. The story looks at three women with very different personalities.
It attempts to examine how women think at all levels – from family matters, through love and fashion, to matters of global importance – conflicts, slavery that sort of thing.
I’ve concluded that women are hugely undervalued by men and of course – there is a biological inevitability about that.
That said – there are four male characters who feature at different points in the story – so it is not entirely about women.
Initial feedback suggests that I haven’t done too badly. I’ve been complimented on my people watching observation skills .
I wanted a more specific theme and it was probably the film “Notes on a Scandal” in 2006 that provided the trigger for my thinking – a lesbian affair. The film featured Dame Judi Dench as a predatory older female and Cate Blanchett as her victim.
However, I need to make it clear – my story draws nothing from the plot of the film – it was simply a trigger.
I wanted to write a book that I hope will be a success. The sado masochistic theme of Fifty Shades of Grey was another trigger. Again – it is necessary to emphasise that FSG was no more than a trigger. I’ve not read it so I hope that nothing that I’ve written will bear any resemblance to FSG.
Will there be a sequel?
Maybe – the story leaves the opportunity for the story to be extended. It all depends on the success of DOM.
The ending leaves room for the main character to become mixed up in the horrible world of 21st century white slavery.
I may start on a smaller writing project in the short term. This would be a children’s story based on a brown hare character – a crossover tale that would mix pleasure reading with a true account of the eccentric lifestyle of the brown hare. It would be illustrated with my wife’s water colours.
It would draw on my wildlife research findings – both reading and fieldwork on the brown hare population in Kent.
How long did the book take to write?
I’d started writing in 2012 but ran out of steam after three chapters.
I had the start down on paper and an end plot and conclusion in my head – but I was finding it difficult to forge a plausible plot development between the two.
Then I suffered a sudden and serious illness early in 2013 which left me very low physically. During my convalescence I came back to the book and just started writing – hoping that I could steer the plot in the right direction to meet up seamlessly with my planned ending.
It was very exciting, allowing the dialogue to flow in an unstructured way and the plot to twist and turn along the way but always with the ending in mind. I was pleased with the end result.
The second phase took from July to November 2013.
Did you think about using a pseudonym – perhaps one that would disguise the fact that I was a man writing about women?
I did think a lot about this – wondering if the book would be more marketable coming from a woman author – or perhaps having just a surname with initials. In the end I decided I wanted to be entirely honest with readers.
There is a well known precedent for a man adopting the perspective of a woman in Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary. It was his debut novel published in 1856 that became a best seller and was the subject of an obscenity trial. It marked the transition from romance to realism in literature.
Rye’s Own May 2014
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