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Thursday, March 11, 2010


Multiple POVs, fact or fiction?

If the e-world doesn’t have many examples of multiple POVs within the same book, let me tell you about Spying the Alcove, not a simple exercise in style, but a storyline built on two separate narrations, apparently unconnected.

When my editor wrote me she’d gone through edits on only some of Spying the Alcove chapters, but I needed to change POV on chapters 3, 5, 7 and 9 from first to third person because she’d never seen something like that before, my stomach caved in just like Valerio’s when he saw Andrea’s glistening naked torso under the sun. True, Spying the Alcove has the unusual trait of combining two different narrative styles, one in third and the other in first person, but the mere thought I should rewrite one part to fit the other seemed wrong.

Pardon me, I don’t mean to sound snobbish nor did I plan to write something so unique. Apparently, the e-world does not have many examples of multiple POVs within the same book, but if Spying the Alcove does, it’s because it fits the storyline to a Tee, proving once again the characters make the story, never the author.

But let’s start at the beginning. On one side, two Italian University teachers, the Professor and his assistant, digging for buried memories on the ancient city of Selimos, an archeological site located in southwestern Sicily. The other begins with an ancient medallion found in the ruined city, intact despite the centuries, which narrates a Roman matron’s erotic adventures in her 1st century alcove as if it were the woman herself telling of her exciting entanglements.

As you can imagine, the novel’s own structure justifies the use of two different POVs, a third person for Valerio’s and Andrea’s digging experience, a first person for Lidia’s sensual intercourses. No, it never entered my mind that this narration was anything but personal, which necessarily implied the use of first person, even if the story so far had been told in third person.

Spying the Alcove
By Laura Tolomei
GENNRE: M/M, M/F/M, M/F, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
ISBN: 978-1-55487-347-0
HEAT LEVEL: 4 flames
RELEASE DATE: August 1st, 2009
PUBLISHER: eXtasy Books,
COVER ARTIST: Martine Jardin

When his assistant declares sex is to be shared for it’s too precious to lock away in a drawer or save for an exclusive use alone, that it’s free, and has no limitations except our own and gender should never be an acceptable limit, the Professor has trouble accepting this simple concept despite the intriguing tale of a Roman matron’s journey into erotism. Apparently two unconnected stories—Valerio and Andrea in modern day Sicily, Lidia and Brutus’s hot passion in 1st century AD—an ancient medallion will bring them together as Valerio spies the sensually burning alcove in an increasingly unbearable sexual tension.


“Don’t you miss Paolo?” Valerio asked, a surprised look crossing his face.

Andrea shrugged. “Not particularly. He’s a bit too jealous for my taste.”

Valerio grinned. “Weren’t you just telling me how men fare better than women in the jealousy department?” he teased.

Andreas tensed. “They usually do, but there are always exceptions that—“

“No need to explain,” the Professor cut him off gently. “I know you believe in open relationships, but surely not everyone does.”

“Oh, I believe in sleeping around with whomever I like whenever I like,” Andrea grinned, “and I’m sorry for all those who don’t.” He shrugged. “This is one of the few things experience has taught me and I try to live by it.” Taking a deep breath, he wondered briefly if it was wise to reveal a heart-felt conviction that could seal his destiny one of two ways, quickly making up his mind to risk it all. “Sex is meant to be shared. It’s too precious to lock in a drawer, throwing away the key, or save for an exclusive use alone. It’s free and has no limitations except our own. And gender should never be an acceptable limit.”

* * * *

“You didn’t like it, Lidia,” Brutus decided for me, his hand gently stroking my hair.

I raised my head to look him straight in the eyes. “No, I…I’m not sure,” I admitted frankly.

He picked me up effortlessly and placed me on his chest, my small body only partly covering his. “Did it upset you to see two men fucking?” he asked, stroking my cheek.

“I…I didn’t expect it,” I admitted.

“And you’d never seen it?”

I shook my head.

“And what didn’t you like?”

I remained in silence for a second, wondering how truthful I should be.

“Listen, Lidia,” he urged, “it’s just sex, the best pleasure available at any time. And it should be shared with as many as possible, regardless of their gender.”

“But you’re a man,” I protested, “and to see you act like a woman was intolerable.”

He grinned. “There’s just as much pleasure in giving as in receiving. They’re two sides of the same medal, just like domination and submission. The important thing to remember is that it’s just sex. It doesn’t imply I change as a person because I fuck with men rather than women or both. Whether I stick my cock in someone’s ass or have it stuck in mine doesn’t make me less of a man, Lidia.”

To a closer analysis, the novel’s own structure justifies the use of two different POVs. The medallion is in fact someone talking from a distant past, a time our protagonists know only from stuffy old books and boring researches. To bring such past truly alive, the narration needed to be as personal as possible, thus preserving the full enchantment that the printed words of sterile history books have trouble recreating.

If we also consider the book’s internal logic, it makes even more sense to have two different narrating styles because centuries of history separate the stories themselves, which never actually touch in either time or space if not in Valerio’s imagination.

Well, I guess I did a good job at arguing my point so in the end, both my editor and publisher decided to go ahead with it—more as a gamble, than because they were completely convinced—and for that, I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I know it’s not easy to take chances when you’re running a business, however creative it might turn out to be, and to try new paths is always risky. But I personally have a lot of faith in our readers.

Setting aside all logical arguments, I think readers need new inputs to keep their minds alert. I know it’s a trait of mine to challenge them, have done it before with Divinitas, a novel that mixes sex and religion in its own unique way—I like to think of it as a Laura Tolomei style—but Spying the Alcove didn’t seem to be very original at first. I mean, if you boil the Alcove’s contents down to their basic ingredients, they’re nothing different from the usual erotic book with a whole lot of sex and not much of a storyline. Allowing the two narrative POVs, however, gives the readers something more, a new way to enjoy a story and understand its characters, perhaps even with a greater emotional power than I’ve managed so far. And emotions are what my books are all about, whether written in first or third person.

Laura Tolomei

1 Moonbeams (comments):

Molly Daniels said...

I wish I'd had time to read this post yesterday Laura...very interesting! I have a book in which I switched POV from 1st to 3rd, because I thought readers might want to see what was going on 'behind the scenes', so to speak. But since then, I switched it entirely to 3rd person, to fit with the rest of the series. Just goes to show, authors learn something new every day:)