Folks, please welcome Jame DiBiasio back today. If you have been around this week, you know I reviewed his debut novel, Gaijin Cowgirl. Jame was cool enough to provide us with some entertainment for today’s guest post. If you haven’t heard of Gaijin Cowgirl yet, let Jame give a tantalizing view of what his novel entails.
Sex! Perversion! Nudity!
Gaijin Cowgirl somehow lives, secretes, oozes sex – hostesses, prostitutes, lovers, S&M, cruelty, erotica – without a sex scene.
The cover features a silhouetted female wearing boots and a cowboy hat (and nothing else). The first pages open with a moody bird’s eye view of Tokyo and zoom in on some dodgy businessmen entering a private club filled with clad and semi-clad hostesses – one of whom, American Val Benson, is our protagonist.
Her top client pays his favorite girls to paint them in the nude. And he’s not interested in their elbows or knees. Val’s friend Suki got her start in life letting men molest her in crowded subway cars.
And so it goes. Until it stops.
I’m not against sex scenes in fiction. Where would we be without Philip Roth and John Updike filling us in on the juicy bits? Writing a sex scene is not that far off from writing an action sequence. Both involve intensely physical, fleshy confrontations that can be rendered visually, emotionally, internally, in many styles.
For this novel, though, I made a deliberate decision not to do sex scenes. Context is important too, and in this context, I am a foreign male writing about Japan and Thailand – specifically about issues around prostitution, human trafficking, titillation, weirdness and even love.
To get around the obvious perception problem of a person like me writing about perversion in Asia required one big decision and one little decision.
The little one was that I did not want to drag down a novel laden with important themes to the level of a cheap thrill. There’s enough sex in the story already; I didn’t think it needed to be made explicit. Instead I focused the narrative on violence and action scenes.
The big decision was to portray the story and its themes from a female perspective. I could have told this story from a man’s point of view. That would have been easier and in some ways more fun. There would have been a much closer review of straying hands and other body parts. That’s how guys think.
Putting a woman at the center of action, though, made Gaijin Cowgirl a good novel. Once I had created the character of Val, I had to let her loose. She was definitely in charge. From there I saw the whole deal through her eyes, understood her motives from her first principles.
It allowed me as the (male) author the luxury of being risqué without turning the book into one of those cheesy exposés about white guys banging Asian babes. (Those are, unfortunately, a staple in many of the region’s remaining bookshops; avoid).
That’s important to me because, firstly, I don’t want to be cast as a pervy creep. I live in Asia and I want to portray things here as accurately and sympathetically as I can. I have tremendous respect for the region’s cultures, its histories, its people, so if I’m going to dive into the darker corners, my motives need to be defensible.
Secondly, I want my work to be liked by women as well as men, with the broadest appeal possible. Call me bourgeois, but I’d like to sell more copies of the book.
It’s not a guy’s fantasy tale, and it’s not a feminist manifesto. Gaijin Cowgirl, with its James Bond-like cover, is a thriller: fun, entertaining, maybe a bit of an eye-opener, and a little over the top. And definitely sexy!
This guest post is part of Jame DiBiasio’s blog tour with Premier Virtual Author Book Tours. If you would like to see further reviews, guest posts, interviews, and giveaways, check out the SCHEDULE.