Author Robert Fanshaw gives the background to his latest ebook release, Shameless Exposure, a steamy romantic comedy, and the second novel in the Shameless series.
GIVEAWAY ALERT! As it’s Christmas, Robert will email you an unpublished short story, Blue Muse, which tells how a country walk turned into something more. It also explains how Caroline rekindled her relationship with famous artist, Erik Bellinker. Just visit his website www.mywifecaroline.com and send a message by email.
Thank you, Susana, for letting me drop into the Morning Room for a second time. It feels like visiting a friend. It’s six months since my last appearance (25th June), and what a lot has happened since then. Once my wife Caroline had got over the shock of the publication of Shameless Ambition she started taking an interest in what I was writing. She decided writing was easy and couldn’t understand why I made such a fuss about it. She began contributing ideas for the new book, Shameless Exposure.
Ideas were okay, but then she started writing sections herself, basing her work on things she said had happened to her and suggesting I put them in the book. I lost track of what was real and what was fantasy, but the reader can make her or his own mind up on that one. In the end, I included the two chapters she wrote, using them to bookend the story as the first and last chapters of the novel. I also included Caroline’s experiences as an artist’s model. She posed naked for the rich and prize winning artist Erik Bellinker, supposedly for charity. The chance meeting on the train between them was the catalyst not only for a lurid life painting, but also for the plot of Exposure.
Caroline’s dalliance with the bohemian art set brought her into contact with a minor member of the Royal Family and an animal spirit cult which has centres in London and Scotland. For a while, everyone who is anyone was talking about it, because it appeared to offer a guaranteed route to improving the sexual fulfilment of the female half of the population. This wouldn’t be the place to go into details, but a small machine worn on the wrist, the Orgatron, is used to build a state of heightened sexual tension at which point the animal spirit (a panther, but some called it a giant pussy) is supposed to appear. For some women it did, and the month long programme in a castle on a remote Scottish island became popular with acolytes from all walks of life.
Models found the diet of mung beans and yellow foods ideal for losing weight. Media types and businesswomen, stressed out by tight deadlines, found a means to relax in the company of other women. As a man, I hesitate to comment on the animus vagismus, but the pagan practices of the cult leader, Regina Heart, are revealed in all their climactic glory at the conjunction of the full moon and the winter solstice.
How did Caroline know Erik Bellinker in the first place? If you would like to know, just drop me an email and I will send you the story.
The National Portrait Gallery in London is the location for the charity auction of a series of life studies by famous artists on the theme of the months of the year. Caroline is Miss November, Erik is the artist, and Princess Fiona of East Anglia is the patron of the charity which will benefit.
“But before I give everything away,” continued the princess, “it is my great pleasure to declare the online bidding open for these unique works of art, and to ask each of the models to pull the curtain back on their likenesses for the first time in public.”
Caroline, Xena and the ten other artists’ models assumed their stations by the curtained pictures and awaited the signal from the chairman, who led the assembly on a countdown.
“Ten, nine, eight…” Princess Fiona left the podium and slipped to the back of the stage with one of her ladies-in-waiting, beneath the thirteenth painting.
“Three, two, one. Miss January, please.” Miss January pulled the chord and revealed herself in goose bumped glory. The audience applauded nervously, unsure how enthusiastic they were supposed to be when faced with bare flesh in front of royalty. As each painting was revealed, the applause grew more confident. When Xena’s likeness was exposed in all its lush summer glow, a raucous male cheer was added to the clapping. Xena smiled slightly, knowing that Erik had captured something true.
Caroline grew anxious as summer turned to autumn. Miss October had been painted by Cecil Sharpe. In his youth he had been dubbed the Yorkshire Picasso, his paintings and sculptures, according to the gallery notes, charting the fracturing of traditional relationships between men and women. In his dotage, he had mellowed, seeming to enjoy the female form as an object of desire, tinged with humour and regret (according to the gallery notes) that something so lovely was slipping beyond his grasp. To the philistines who made up the bulk of the audience and hadn’t read the notes, Miss October was simply a stunner in the act of discarding her nurse’s uniform.
It was Caroline’s turn to pull the chord. Not for the first time she had doubts about the wisdom of her decision to reveal herself so completely. Caroline looked nervously over to Robert. Antonia was holding his hand supportively. She shut her eyes as she drew back the curtain. She waited for the audience reaction. None came. Then a few hands clapped politely. She tentatively opened her eyes.
The newspaper art critics were grouped together. They looked to each other, mouths gaping like fish. They needed a leader. Was it good or was it terrible? Was it clever or was it obscene? Then Benjamin Cummerbund from The Times leaped to his feet and shouted “Bravo!”
The audience gave a sigh of relief that it was considered acceptable to enjoy such an explicitly sexual work. Thank God it was art and not pornography. Caroline turned round to see what Erik had done to her. He hadn’t made her look horrible after all. He had removed all the work tension from her posture and had her loose and inviting on the couch, every sensuous brushstroke applied in loving realist detail. Her hands went to her face to hide her blushes, and as soon as the cameras and the attention moved on to December, she slipped back to her seat next to Robert and Antonia.
“I wouldn’t mind having that on my wall,” said Antonia. “Do you think it would fit above my bed? I think I’ll make a bid.” Antonia rummaged for her phone and looked up the on-line auction. “Perhaps not, you’re already over a quarter of a million.”
“You see, Robert, it was in a good cause,” said Caroline
About Robert Fanshaw
I am a barrister and married, despite everything, to my beautiful wife Caroline. Writing is more than a hobby; it’s what keeps me sane because my job is not as glamorous as people think. Commercial law is like being in the army; there are long periods where nothing happens then suddenly all hell is let loose. Rather like my marriage.
I had a book about the law published years ago, but my first novel Shameless Ambition was much more fun to write. I can’t really claim credit for the idea. Life provided me with Caroline, my wife. The banking crisis provided the plot. All I had to do was write it down and use my imagination for the parts where Caroline refused to go into details. The first two books push the boundaries of memoir and I suspect that fiction will eventually take over completely. I’m working on the third novel now. It’s about gambling and match-fixing and will be ready in time for the football World Cup. Yes, you guessed the title, Shameless Corruption.
About Shameless Exposure
Just when she thought her marriage to Robert was back on track, Caroline bumps into an old flame and agrees to pose naked for a charity painting. Matters are made worse when her American boss starts sending lewd texts. When she rejects his overtures, he accuses her of gross misconduct and she is suspended from the job she loves. Deprived of everything that matters to her, she seeks comfort in an animist cult run by Regina Heart, which puts women in touch with their animal spirits. Regina claims to be Caroline’s natural mother and wants to elevate her to the priesthood, but this requires a terrifying initiation on a remote Scottish island. It is left to Robert to battle through a stormy night to try to save her from demons, real and imagined.