When I was working on edits for Silken Canvas, my Dec 25th release from Samhain, my editor pushed me to dig deeper and try harder. I didn’t mind because I know it makes for a better book. But when she said she didn’t quite buy my heroine’s motivation for agreeing to spend time with a man she knew was no good for her, she suggested that maybe Ashley was an emotional masochist. Maybe she agreed to spend the weekend with her ex-lover because she craved the pain she would feel when it was over.
Ok, so I had a little problem with that at first. Silken Canvas does have a BDSM thread running through it, but don’t even people who love the pleasure/pain of nipple clamps and spankings, avoid emotional pain at all costs? I know I do. How can someone want to feel sad? How can someone seek out those feelings?
As I was pondering this, the song "Tomorrow" by Chris Young came up on my iPod. I love this song. I can listen to it over and over. It’s heart breaking. It’s gut wrenching. Every time I listen to it, my stomach clenches and I get that sweet little ache behind my breastbone. And I hit replay.
And then I got it.
Sad songs. Sad movies. Dark moments in my favorite romance novels. Though I would never want it in my real life, I love feeling that anguish in my books, my songs, my movies. I’m sure psychologists can explain it with words like catharsis and vicarious and release. I don’t really need to know the explanation. I just need to know that we can hug that powerful emotion close, and even though it’s not really ours, we can empathize and experience that exquisite sadness.
I finally understood how my heroine would feel and why she might actually crave the pain, and with that understanding, this is how her realization came out on the page:
She turned around to see him standing in the doorway, looking her over with his heated gaze. He was dressed casually today, in a white T-shirt and jeans that were ragged at the hem. His feet were bare, his hair once again a wild mass of curls. Damn, but she wanted to tangle her fingers in the silky strands. She backed away from temptation, but found herself up against the balcony railing. His lips lifted in a slow smile. She shivered.
A delicious ache spread through her as she looked at Brendan.
She’d told herself it was curiosity that had her packing her bag and driving here this morning. She told herself it was the money she’d make. But it wasn’t either of those things. It was the promise of this sweet pain that had her agreeing to spend the weekend with a man who was no good for her. It was the knowledge that it was going to hurt even more when she left.
And she would leave. She was strong enough. Even while she was crazy enough to crave the pain her time with him would bring.
If you’ve never heard Tomorrow by Chris Young, you can experience it here.
And if you want to pre-order Silken Canvas, you can do it here.
Silken Canvas - coming Dec 25th