Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Courtroom Drama

Picture me a few years ago (mmh - make that a few more as well). I had recently completed my first book and was very proud of it. A charming story, based on Treasure Island. It was romantic, colourful, and Long John Silver had a chance to develop and turn into a properly three dimensional character. Everyone would want to read it.
Except they didn’t. I started on the dreary job of writing to agents and you really, really don’t want to hear about that. One positive thing came from the process - an agent wrote that the language in the book was a little difficult for children.
Children? What was he talking about? I had laboured to produce a great literary romance, and he thought I was writing for kids? Right then I decided no-one would ever mistake my second book for a kid’s story, and sat down to write Foreign Affairs. It was a lot of fun to write. It is the story of a book on trial, a courtroom drama, if you like. The book being prosecuted is a collection of very spicy stories of romance and sex, set in exotic locations around the world. The characters behaved romantically just anywhere, and that is where they had sex too.
How shocking, but it launched my career as a writer of less-than-respectable books, and I never looked back. I have just released the third edition of the story (nearly all the typos have been eliminated now!) and here is a snippet to give you some of the flavour:
 Priscilla has the task of prosecuting the book Foreign Affairs by John Trehearne, before a Tribunal. It is an explicitly erotic book, and she should have no trouble nailing it down and getting it removed from the bookstores. However, things have been proving more difficult than she expected, partly much of the book may have been true. Now she is having trouble with one of the Tribunal members.
The Burdens of being a Prosecutor
 Priscilla entered the cinema by the stage door and asked the janitor to give her a dressing room while she waited for Susan. She turned on the lights around the mirror and freshened her make-up and hair. Susan arrived with ten minutes to spare and was shown straight in to her. It surprised Priscilla to see a different woman enter. She wore a cheeky summer frock with a halter neck. Her blonde hair was down and half hid large gold earrings, but the biggest change was in her aura. She bounced into the room with a smile on her face and a swing to her hips that made her look ten years younger.
 “Susan! What happened? You do look nice!”
She blushed. “Oh, nothing really. It's just that it's Monday, and I decided that I wouldn't let this hearing make me feel miserable anymore. Why did you want to see me?”
“Susan, I don't know how to put this. I've been told you had a private meeting with Trehearne on Friday.”
Susan was shocked and immediately defensive. “How did you know?”
“That doesn't matter. It's just that Board members are not supposed to have private meetings with applicants. People could get the wrong idea. Now I need to know what passed between you.” “But it was private! I can't talk about it. It wasn't anything to do with the hearing, anyway.”
“Susan, you've got to help me. We both work for the Authority and you're meant to support me. I can't go out there this morning knowing that one of the Board members has been talking with Trehearne behind my back. Please tell me about it. Don't worry. I won't repeat it. It's much better that you tell me now rather than out on the stage.”
“You wouldn't! I mean, it would be so awful—in front of everyone.”
“I would, Susan. It's my job to win this case, and that's what I'm going to do. Come on, tell me and I promise it won't go any further.”
Suddenly Susan's face crumpled and she slumped into the chair beside Priscilla and began to cry. Priscilla was guilt-stricken, but she would not give in now. She put an arm around Susan's shoulders and whispered, “Come on, you can tell me.”
“It's just those stories. They were so exciting. I was going home and taking off my panties as soon as I got in because I'd been wet all day. I was forcing my husband to make love to me then and again later in bed. It was so embarrassing. The… the story about him sticking it up that black girl's bottom. My husband's touched me there a couple of times and it was so exciting. I felt awful. I thought I must be sick, thinking about sex like that. I wanted to rush home that morning and do it right there and then. Except I couldn't, and my husband was working anyway. So after it had all finished, I asked John to speak with me privately.”
Priscilla felt sick. “He didn't do that to you....”
“Don't be silly! I just wanted to ask him why I felt like that. He was ever so sweet. I was crying, and he gave me his handkerchief. He said the best medicine was to run home and get my husband to do anything I wanted. He just laughed at me and sent me home, and he was right. I feel much better now.”
“You mean your husband...?”
Susan looked defiantly at her through her tears. “Yes. That's right. He made love to me in my bottom and I liked it. And I like John. I think he's very kind. There, now I suppose you think I'm a pervert as well.”
“No—no. I don't. I mean, I suppose that's your business.” She felt suddenly light-hearted that it had not been Trehearne who had satisfied her need. “I think I like John as well. He's not as bad as his book makes him out to be. Quick, come and sit here and do your make-up. You were looking so pretty earlier, and I made you cry. I'm so sorry.”
A Greek beach where lovers can relax
Priscilla left her with a cuddle and a kiss on the cheek and went up on stage. Trehearne was already there and greeted her with an official bow and a smile. Valerie eventually came in but did not take her seat straight away. Instead she crossed the stage to Priscilla's desk.
“Morning, Priscilla. I've got a bit of a surprise for you today. Sorry there wasn't time to warn you about it. I don't know what it will do to your argument about the last story though.” She walked back to her place without saying any more. The Major looked keen to get on with things. Priscilla wondered whether the Major's husband had finally released their copy of the book. Susan had recovered herself and was looking very pretty again. She gave Priscilla a conspiratorial smile and wiggled her bottom in her seat.
On the point of ten o'clock, and in spite of the people in the audience who were still trying to buy a last ice-cream or packet of nuts, Valerie began. “Good morning, everybody. Before we resume discussion about the last story, I have an announcement to make. On Friday evening I had a telephone call from a woman in South Africa who claimed to be the original for the character Pat.”
 There was an immediate uproar in the audience. Priscilla was stunned. She shot a glance at Trehearne and saw that he, too, looked surprised, and then he grinned knowingly and nodded at her.
“Quiet, please. Quiet!” called Valerie. “This woman said that she had not read the book, but gave some details that certainly seemed to me to be authentic. Since then, she has made a sworn statement before a Public Notary and had it sent by air-courier to the Authority. I have it here, but will not make it a matter of public record as it contains the woman's real name. I can read out the body of the accompanying letter, however. It says, after the address and so on, ‘I would like to confirm that the incident described in the book Foreign Affairs 1, when a woman was raped by three tribesmen in Papua New Guinea, actually happened to me. The description is quite accurate as to what happened, and my feelings at the time.
‘In view of the public discussion of the issue, I think it is important to understand what happened. Of course rape is wrong, and I did not set out to give the men any encouragement. But I can quite understand how, with their cultural background, seeing me nude and bent over the front of the jeep was as good as a written invitation.
‘I was initially terrified, but it soon became clear that they were not going to hurt me. I cannot say that I absolutely hated it, but I definitely did resent being forced to participate and even enjoy it. When it was over, one of them took my best pair of panties as a souvenir, and they were waving and smiling as they left. They looked happy, and I could not and cannot bring myself to completely condemn them.
‘We did not report the incident as we felt we had done something a bit foolish, and anyway, we did not think the men could be caught. Also, it would have been extremely embarrassing to admit in public to what had happened. It is correct that the men behaved quite gently and politely, but the threat of force was always there.
‘Although I did not like it at the time, I had mixed feelings about it afterwards. However, one thing took me
Diyarbakir, SE Turkey, where Mark and Tulin fell in love
by surprise; I found that it was incredibly exciting to look back on the experience. I can quite understand John Trehearne writing about it, and I look forward to buying his book. Please give him my love and wish him good luck.'
“So there we have it. Incredible, but our discussions now have to include the likelihood that this incident actually happened. Priscilla?”
Priscilla was horrified. She looked across at Trehearne, but he seemed to be lost in memories. She forced herself to stand. “Right. Well, I'm surprised, of course. But anyway. Let me take this very carefully. I think my most important objection is that Trehearne is using this woman's suffering to excite his audience who will be almost exclusively men. That's the main point, and the one I would like to stay in the Board's mind.”

Jacqueline lives in Far North Queensland, on the shore of the Coral Sea. She keeps herself busy with her cats and garden, and by writing books - some of which are far too naughty for her own good. You can find out more about Jacqueline and her books at

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