- By Valentine Bonnaire
- Editions: eBook
- Source: Review by Request
- Published: April 25, 2012
- Genre: Erotic Poetry
- In a Flutter: Elegant and Sensual
Gardenias is a little book of stories about love between men and women. My Erotica has often been called the voice of the feminine. These stories encapsulate various moods, love, sex, loss, desire, wanting. Some are funny, some poignant, and some are morality tales…
Several stories converge in Gardenias, weaving a tapestry of time and memory with sex & sexuality as the focal point.
There seems to be a touch of everything within these pages…
the forbidden stranger,
bondage and control,
misery in marriage,
coming of age,
It has an ethereal quality to it…
The book does not follow a linear narrative throughout the chapters. The transition between stories evokes a dream state – the tales dissolving into one-another with each new chapter…
Sometimes feeling like memoirs and memories,
Sometimes darker and more forbidden,
Sometimes reading like poetry,
Sometimes blissfully playful,
Gardenias is not your average book, it does not fit any one specific genre. I would qualify it as a mix of poetry/erotica/chick-lit/domestic meditation…
This is the author’s soul folded into a book.
Elegant yet erotic,
Intricate yet attainable,
and admittedly (though unsurprising based on the title) a little flowery at times…
Excerpt from Gardenias
I don’t have a name, or a history. I’ve been invisible for so long now that I have forgotten the place I started out once upon a time. I can’t remember myself. Was there ever a time when I was innocent? When, as a child, I walked freely and a pebble called to me?
Maybe I don’t want to remember myself at all, he thought. I’ll invent a new reality for myself and a new name to go with it.
The chair was very comfortable. It seemed to be made of a kind of cloud-like pillowy substance and he felt warm. He had positioned himself as she directed, naked and blindfolded on this large white chair in the middle of an empty room. And then he waited for what seemed an eternity for her to arrive. He listened to the rain outside as it pelted against the window. Just the rain and his breath, that’s all. Silence in the dark. The velvet blindfold felt strange to him. It made him even more invisible inside its darkness. I’m a mass of secrets under velvet, he thought. No one will ever know me. No one ever has. I’m afraid.
When she entered the room he felt the air stir around him in tiny ripples. A kind of chill ran up his spine and every hair on his body seemed to lift at once. He was afraid, but her presence made something in him quicken and vibrate. Suddenly he was aware of his nakedness, but he had chosen this. His cock had never felt more vulnerable in his life. He had always used it as a sort of weapon before, against the world, but that would change now. He was tired into his bones, of women and men and his history. I don’t know who I am anymore, he thought. I don’t know why I am here, or why I have chosen this experience with a stranger. She’s here now, with me, in this empty room. I can feel her…
“I’m going to wash you clean,” she said.
Her voice was soft and it tinkled like a little bell near his ear. He felt the brush of something delicate, like silk against his arm. Music entered the room, suddenly, and pierced the air with Buddhist flutes that sounded like Japanese cranes in the wind. He heard the ringing of temple bells and the low keening sounds of the flutes crying. Under the blindfold, a tear escaped his eye and trapped itself wetly against his cheek. The music called to him inside, someplace very deep, but he couldn’t have explained its effect if he had tried.
“Don’t be afraid,” she said, and her cool hand traced up the skin of his thigh. He shivered and trembled a little under her fingertips. She seemed to take hours brushing over his thighs and chest. Her hands were so dreamlike they swept over him like feathers, or like the sound of the flutes calling in the distance.
She moved over all the skin on his body that she could reach, like wind from some distant high mountain plain. As she touched him, his fear of her lessened. I’m floating like a cloud, he thought. Just the bells and the flutes and her touch and the rain. I don’t know who I am. Who am I? Where do I begin and where do I end?
She took his hands in hers and guided him to his feet.
“Wait here a moment,” she said.
Q&A with Valentine Bonnaire
If you were to describe your book in only one word, what would it be?
What would you say inspired you to write it?
I wanted to compile a tiny first collection of my web published short stories. Because one of my stories was actually stolen without my permission for an anthology.
What was the source of inspiration for your characters?
You will see varied “people” as both in my tales. Each tale is different, hopefully the embodiment of a woman’s life, and of men and their lives and loves.
Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
Faced the page. Daily. One has to. A screenwriter once taught me, “Ass in the chair.” Really. Plant yourself there during what you will establish as your writing time. Go until you come to a natural stop, and always leave a bit “unfinished” so you will have a place to start the following day.
Your all time favorite book?
Such a hard question. Oh, it really is. “Palm Latitudes” by Kate Braverman comes to mind today.
What made you pick that one above all others?
I love the way that Kate Braverman has been brave enough to tackle what being a woman is. She does this in all of her books. I want to call it a feminism that is coming out of some kind of deep sisterhood in a literary vein. It’s so hard to explain. It’s just that as a woman when you enter her text, you know that she has been there before you, and she never lies. Her texts can be brutal in their honesty. And you know she’s not lying about any of it.
What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
I’ve been writing a memoir now since about 2009, off and on. It’s so hard because I can only get a chapter out at a time and it’s in Second Person, which is very tricky as a POV. I want to be as brave as Braverman has been with this one. She taught Janet Fitch, so in some ways this is my “White Oleander” territory. And that is scary. Really scary, to plumb the depths from your honest true core.
Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
It’s made me LOVE my job. I am beginning to write cure in ways I could never do one on one as a therapist. I hope to write for film, and see movies made that will move the mass heart, or the heart mass of humanity.
Was there ever a time, during your work for the book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
Actually, Shurrn — and this is true — until I “saw” my book reflected back at me, by you and some others in a review — I wasn’t sure. It doesn’t matter what comments came so much at Cleansheets, or on the writer’s list at ERWA I’m a member of. It was the wider world, and what you and other readers said to me, and showed me. I can’t explain what that kind of validation is. It’s so humbling that I wept, which is going to sound corny but I did!
(Side Note from Shurrn: you can see my full review for Gardenias here – it was originally published on GoodReads in February 2014 and has a visual compliment to Valentine’s prose)
What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?
I spend far too much time in this last decade worrying about the world, so I’m writing up a storm most days on every subject you can imagine. I’m glad you brought this up, because, this is something I am going to have to learn to manage far better than I have. I love to read, I love long hot baths and walks by the beach, I love to bake things and cook. I love to paint. I think there is a discipline one must learn as a writer, to cope with what we are seeing on the news, and pull back from that. Lately I’ve been buying pillows like mad. I’m sort of surrounding myself with this softness I need more and more of. Also lipstick and perfume. I’ll make myself go shopping to tear myself away from the news at times.
How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
I’ve been very lucky so far, that’s all I can say. Be with other writers and like-minded people as much as you can at Conferences, and join a web group you check in with as well. This will keep you grounded. As you help other writers in terms of honest critique, that will come back to you ten-fold as honesty. Also, I look at Ray Bradbury in youtube. “Writing Persistently.” I was lucky to hear him lecture at my conference before he passed, so he is a constant as a touchstone. This one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlYAhSffEDM One more thing. Know that not everyone is going to understand you on the page. I have had crits by people who cannot understand my metaphors. So, I have to let that go — because others come back with a comment that is luminous. It’s a delicate tightrope we all walk as writers.
Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?
“Gardenias” is a book I would like to expand, but at a proper press. I have many more short stories and I’m hoping to get published by one of the best presses on the planet. Now that I’ve been in two books that are in bookstores, ahem… I want to see Gardenias there, on the shelf.
What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?
Writing Erotica is very fun, for adults. I try and write character interiority into all of my pieces, and sometimes I have tried to write into areas of the very deep feminine, mostly so that men can read that. A new project for me has been to write heterosexuality in a series of books that address coming of age, as age appropriate developmentally, for kids who are cisgendered. I’m basing this on the way we grew up in the 1970’s, so it’s all pretty innocent, as things were then. This is an age when children have seen so much, and so much in the web, novels like my Heart of Clouds take them backwards to a time when life was much, much, simpler. I guess it’s my homage to “Little House on the Prairie” in some ways. We recently had a tragedy at my alma mater UCSB, a boy who had grown up unable to get a date, or even talk to a girl. These books will address this. I had looked at videos recently on kids here, here, & here and this series I will be writing will address what I have seen. Heart of Clouds teaches the power and innocence of a first crush at age 14. It was based on a boy I knew at that age, when holding hands was a pretty big deal.
What made you decide to become an Indie Author?
Subject matter! Also Anais Nin was. I wanted to see if I could reach a wider audience when I first published Gardenias. The real way, though — is traditional publishing I feel. I am a purist!
What would you say was the toughest part?
Not knowing how to market, and wrong cover design. Not being with a proper press and not having a literary agent. Those are important. Because as a writer you want to be translated into other languages.
Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
No. I did it all myself. (Capricorn, ooof!)
How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to when you hit ‘Publish’?
Gardenias was first published through Kindle using Pressbooks. It’s almost no different than a WordPress blog so it was very easy. Also I was just compiling already published stories I had written.
Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
Heart of Clouds and a revised version of Gardenias are published with Draft2Digital. So easy you would not believe it. I mean that. But, it’s not traditional publishing. The whole thing is so messy. I am in Kobo and B&N and iTunes and Amazon — but not in the “real” way.
If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change
Nothing! I got my start at Cleansheets and then Erotica Readers & Writers. It was baby steps all the way, with the most wonderful editors. I was published! I really was. The list I’m on at ERWA gave me huge confidence as a writer. It has taken a decade to “own” myself as a writer. I’m very grateful to those along this path who have taught me more than I ever imagined.
If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
Instant Literary Agent and Instant Book, published by the finest Press possible.
If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
Octavio Paz — his collected poems. Like transcendental honey for the soul!
Name your favorite fruit.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee with lots of cream and sugar.
How about favorite time of the day?
Were you a boyscout/girlscout?
I was a Girl Scout!
Favorite food for breakfast?
A French breakfast of little pastries, tartines and coffee.
What is the latest book you’ve bought and read?
At my writer’s Conference I just got four. First one I cracked open is by a wonderful writer, Catherine Ann Jones – The Way of Story: The Craft & Soul of Writing. This one, and it was such synchronicity to find her this year. We share the same graduate school in common.
Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
Oh, haha! I love: every pot and pan imaginable, sheets, comforters, seeds, lipsticks and perfumes. Also beach towels. And hats. Oh. Shoes.
Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
I like the whole rainbow.
Drama or comedy?
Drama. But loves comedy.
Do you have a favorite quote or personal motto?
“How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky
Cats or dogs?
Both — all my life. Has two dogs now, both rescues.
Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
As many candles as possible, reclining on big puffy white couches that resemble clouds while nibbling tapas and really great cocktails.
Favorite Swear Word?
F*ck. (This was era I grew up I daresay. We all said it.) xxoo!
About the Author
Valentine Bonnaire has been fluttering around the garden writing Literary Erotica and poetry for over a decade. She has been widely published for her heterosexual short stories at Cleansheets and Erotica Readers and Writers Association (ERWA) — where she is on the writers list and can be found in the Galleries and Treasure Chest. Published most recently this year in “Book Lovers” for her “A Little Irish Honey” she couldn’t be happier about the reviews her work has been getting.
Butterflies are one of her favorite things, in fact, when she was a therapist that was the logo on her card. In Depth Psychology it is called “the soul.” So, how fab to land in this particular garden. She writes about LOVE in all its aspects, and was once nominated for a Pushcart.
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