Early Reactions to Conquering Venus
Around 100 people are reading the sample chapters of Conquering Venus, and responses have started coming in. The majority have been positive to stellar, but there's also been a few that were fairly negative. Not for the writing, but for the subject matter. Over the last 10 years or so, I lost count of how many editors were outraged by the storyline involving the characters Martin and David. Martin is a chaperone on the trip to Paris, and although David is 18 and has graduated, it's still a school-sponsored trip with a teacher, Diane, who should not allow or encourage a relationship between them. One reader called this irresponsible behavior, while another called it creepy and unbelievable. Creepy and irresponsible? Absolutely. Unbelievable? I have to disagree. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
I recall when I was in high school that a teacher and one of her students began having an affair just after he graduated. She kept her job. There was another instance of a teacher who was having an affair with a student and while that student was on a summer trip in Europe, the teacher flew over to join her. I could tell you other inappropriate stories, but you get the picture. Of course, Martin is not a teacher and David is no longer a student, but the implications for Diane are huge. Martin shouldn't be on the trip in the first place and Diane is a good teacher gone bad. She's a polarizing character by design. All the characters in Conquering Venus are flawed and damaged. Any moral compass they once had is broken, and they are adrift in their personal lives. All the characters get a comeuppance -- especially Diane -- by book's end.
A few people have also commented that I don't reveal enough about the characters in the first chapter. This is also by design. I hate novels that telegraph the plot and every character's motivation in the first few pages. That's not a challenging read to me. The characters in Conquering Venus reveal themselves in layers and pieces, so by the end of the story readers will know these characters inside and out. I understand this is frustrating to some, but the plot of Conquering Venus hinges on a series of revelations that are surprises to the characters and should be to the readers. Since this is the first in a trilogy, the book also ends with a central mystery unsolved. I'm working on trying to solve at least part of it in the second book.