At the Mirror: Lines in the Sand

If you’re like me, there are times when you come across a quality of writing that exists only in your dreams. This piece is a seamless collaboration between Jimmi Campkin & Basilike Pappa. It swept me away. I hope you enjoy it.

Lines in the Sand (part 1)

by Jimmi Campkin & Basilike Pappa

To call you love would twist my tongue.

I never sing love songs with eyes shut; and neither would I share junk food behind the Hilton with you – exhaust fumes, saucy lips, a light breeze through our hair– before we kiss and go to bed as animals turned pets, our biggest sin forgetting to floss.

But from the moment you said my name, sanity performed a pagan dance, silver jewels gleaming naked.

So why not conspire against the national demand for ironed sheets, and go riding drunk under the moon? Sneaking into each other, we will exchange bass lines, starry eyes, blinding treasures and the secrets to a perfect kill. And if we turn each other into poems in the flesh, we can always blame the weather or a collapsing bridge.

From the moment you said my name, my senses did a pagan dance, spitting out neon, perfumes, smearing lipstick on it all.

So why not kiss all the way down a perfect fall?

But I’d never call you love – I’d rather bite my tongue.

*

My earliest memory of you; on a trampoline, your hair backlit by a radioactive green sun, and one hand reaching for the pale blue above.

Another early memory; a crowd of no-one, pointless under-formed bodies and ill-fitting clothes, and a pair of eyes that parted them like the red sea, like a blowtorch through ice. Your eyes weren’t shimmering, or beautiful like those described by the shit poets you detested so much. You carried harpoons with hooked blades …

 

Continue Reading: Lines in the Sand (part 1): Jimmi Campkin & Basilike Pappa

Should books for adults have content warnings?

image by digitalspy.co.uk

image by digitalspy.co.uk

I told my mother to skip reading my latest book, The Bone Wall. She’s in her 80’s, and I know for a fact that she would find it gruesome and offensive. She thought my other fantasy books were “horror” and wondered why I was so “angry.”

I’m actually a pretty happy-go-lucky person: a loyal friend, loving wife and grandmother, and active volunteer. I like babies and puppies. I’m “nice.”

image from pixshark.com

image from pixshark.com

At the same time, I’m a fan of Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie, and Anthony Ryan, to name a few. I like gritty realism in my fantasy favorites, and my writing tends to reflect my preferences. I have this “thing” about not sugarcoating brutality.

Yet, as a “nice” person, I also have an aversion to giving offense. I want to move my readers emotionally and perhaps make them ponder choices for a moment of two, but my preference isn’t to trigger outrage or upset. My books are meant to entertain.

image by kaleveradaily.com

image by kaleveradaily.com

The Bone Wall pushed my own limits. Living inside these characters’ heads took its toll. I was exhausted, dehydrated, and stressed out. My heart was forgetting to beat, and when I went to bed at night, I wasn’t convinced I’d wake up in the morning. I ended up at the cardiologist with an exacerbated heart arrhythmia.

Oddly enough, after I finished the first draft, all my symptoms vanished. I wanted to warn my readers: DON’T READ THIS! BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH!

Well, as you might guess, I didn’t put that on the cover. I wrote an Author’s Note and tried to make the blurb reflect the content. Why did I stop there? Or go that far?

image by ethicsalarms.com

image by ethicsalarms.com

As I struggled over whether to warn readers about violence, sex, profanity, and religious content, I wondered if I was over-reacting. Will some readers say, “Gosh, Diana, what’s the big deal? You are such a wimpy drama queen.”

And books are supposed to trigger our emotions to an extent, aren’t they? The struggles our character’s endure and choices they make in the face of physical, moral, or psychic danger is part of what draws us in and engrosses us in the story.

The Bone Wall is not a YA novel. As a parent, I understand the desire to monitor content. Back in the olden days, I would have appreciated a rating on the books my daughter read, if only to engage with her regarding controversial subject matter. Though many YA authors seem to agree that content warnings have a place, differences of opinion continue to exist as to what should be included.

image from blogs.kcrw.com

image from blogs.kcrw.com

Adult readers have years of experience and wisdom to draw on. Our tastes and tolerances vary greatly. My husband likes Mad Max and I like Forest Gump. We have the choice to walk out of a movie or put a book down. I’ve done it, more often because it’s boring or vapid rather than too graphic. I chalk it up in the “oh, well” column and move on.

The Bone Wall is out now. I still muse over this topic and wonder what reader/reviewer reactions will be. I’d love to hear your thoughts about content warnings on adult books. Good idea? Bad idea? What’s your experience as a writer, reader, or both?

Thank you, and hugs from the “nice” me.