A supporting character gets her star turn in E.J. Noyes’ “If the Shoe Fits”

I have a very long list of books I’d like to write. Most of the list is just a few words of a plot idea: celesbians, fauxmance, enemies to lovers, detective and suspect, ice dancing, Freda Du Faur (Queer Australian mountaineer in early 1900’s—look her up!). There’s also a few gems like: People turn into people they sleep with looks-wise (don’t ask—it was a weird dream I had). On my to-write list was Adult having a lady love realisation and now, I can tick that one off. Only 928 more stories to write.

If you’ve read my debut Ask, Tell or its sequel Ask Me Again then you’ll be familiar with one of my favourite supporting characters, Jana Fleischer. AKA queen of serial dating, she who picks apart every man she meets then chews up and spits them out, presumed heterosexual by all…yes, presumed. Record scratch. While I was writing some scenes for Ask Me Again in which Jana lays out (really over the top and laughably picky) reasons for dumping guys it occurred to me that maybe the reason she hasn’t found the right guy, or is so picky, is that…drumroll please…the right person for her isn’t a guy after all, but a gal.

When Jana first nudged me to say “Hey, you know, I might be into a woman” I knew immediately that Sabine and Rebecca, the main characters from Ask, Tell and Ask Me Again, would be in this book, and being able to tie up their story in the background of If the Shoe Fits in such a personally fulfilling way was utterly wonderful. So this one is really a two-for-one deal for me. And for you too.

Every novel is tricky in its own way, be it rough subject matter, in-depth research that’s hard for a bad-at-research person like me, or ambitious words. If the Shoe Fits was tricky because all my books to date have been two women who already know they’re same-sex attracted, they meet, there’s attraction, there’s sexytimes. Boom. Done. Jana’s sexuality is never explicitly discussed in the other two novels, but I would imagine she’s presumed heterosexual based on the fact every date she’s been on—and run from—is with a man. And I learned it’s rather difficult to turn that about. Because first you need to shove two women together, then make one who previously never really thought about women that way realise what they feel is more than just liking someone as a friend, and then deal with all the confusion surrounding the whole thing, and then have them say “I’m going for it!”(Sexytimes. Boom. Done).

So how do you write that believably? Write what you know? I had an existential crisis about how did I realise I was attracted to women (Hello, Sandra Bullock in Speed) which took me down a whole other rabbit hole but didn’t actually solve my “how do I write this?” dilemma. Thankfully, I had my very own personal fountain of knowledge for this one. Wife! Imagine me buffing my fingernails against my chest—I was the first woman she ever dated and she ended up marrying me. So I must have done something right. I’d hit the research jackpot.

I sat her down, metaphorical pen and notepad at the ready for her to give me all the reasons and all the emotions she experienced while she was having her epiphany that she liked me liked me—especially considering we are our very own enemies to lovers trope as childhood Pony Club rivals who met again as adults. I asked for her to explain how she knew she liked me romantically and not just as pals, what it was like, what was running through her head, to give me all the details so I can understand what it’s like to have such a life altering experience as an adult, that this was critical to my novel, so don’t hold back!

She shrugged and said, “I just knew.”

Thanks, honey. So…very…helpful. To be fair, she did elaborate to say that despite my weirdness, I was a bit cute and funny, so I guess that’s something.

So! I gave Jana a cute, funny and little bit weird lady of her own, and I must say—it worked out rather well for both of them. If the Shoe Fits can be read as a stand-alone novel, but for this one, I think having a bit of background is going to make Jana’s adventures into lady-loving all the more interesting.

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1 Comment

  • Dor
    Posted November 20, 2019 1:09 pm 0Likes

    Interesting how you went about putting this novel together. Yes having read the previous books the character of Jana was already formed in my head. I can identify with your research as my life went along similar lines and resulted in marriage to my wife after 25 years. I really enjoyed the way you had the main characters bumping into each other and the breaking of the shoe heels fitting with the title of the book. Clever very clever. Using this book to round off the story of the 2 previous main characters was also excellent.
    I suppose you have to start on a new theme for your next book/books.
    Keep the writing machine churning to satisfy your avid readers like myself. Good on you mate! No that’s Aussie not Kiwi.

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