The exotic dancers and employees of the Queen of Clubs walk a fine line, with only wits, beauty, and market savvy to keep them from toppling into the shark pit. Ride shotgun through lapdances, romance, and sexual awakenings. Don't worry, these girls won't ask what your hands are doing under the tip rail.
Cora, an adventurous student, finds herself auditioning for a stripping gig...and it comes with more than the asking price, including a very attractive DJ.
Queen of Clubs contains adult content, and is intended for mature readers. Each Queen of Clubs title is a standalone novella length work.
Katie de Long's Fracture Point Perspective on Main Characters:
Queen of Clubs encompasses standalone stories, each one containing a romantic or erotic arc before moving on to a different character's arc. At this point, I've written probably twenty different stories for the series, plus for my other series. And when you're cycling through points of view this fast, it can be a different working.
The first thing is an awareness of how they fit into the bigger picture, since these stories all share the same setting. Sometimes it's cause-and-effect. A side character in a different story needs to take the spotlight, to deal with fallout from a different story. This has gotten to be more and more the case as I've continued Queen of Clubs, since at this point, I have a stable of probably 40-50 dancers and staff moving in the background, and reacting, or engaging a different main character in conversation that really should affect them. The series can propagate itself forever this way, just focusing on those characters. And I add more pretty regularly as needed, to have them positioned and established when I want them.
But in the beginning, it was much vaguer. I didn't have all of that back history to draw on. So instead, I found myself focusing more on key interests, and the superficial aspects of the character, and using that to draw the other experiences that would need to be in their background to define their carriage and outward presentation. I'd start by putting together a playlist that that character would either dance to, or feel friction about not being allowed to dance to, if it was not clubworthy. I'd move on into makeup, costuming, hustle techniques. Someone with a really assertive won't-take-no lapdance hustle is less likely to be someone who has severe social anxiety.
I might find one defining experience for them, write a sample scene with that, and then analyze the writing to look for everything else that would define their character, particularly psychological fracture points, the make-it-or-break-it ideas that define that particular character's experience and struggle. For Cora, it was her exhibitionism, the way that she rebelled to others treating her body as something to be hidden or managed. The rest of her personality-- the attraction to stripping, the dislike of authority, the desire to face the world on her own terms, entirely grew out of that moment when she realized her body was a liability, both personally and professionally, and promised she'd find some way to change that. For her, stripping, having people look at her and accept her-- sometimes even glorify her-- for her body is something that she's denied elsewhere, and that's the key to her confidence in other regards. She's very young, largely unformed, but that willingness to see how far she can go is something that can only have knock-down effects in the rest of her life.
Contrast that with the dancer who follows her in the second Queen of Clubs novella, Malia, for whom exotic dancing is a result of being shut out of the kind of performance she really loves-- ballet-- due to an injury. It's a second best, but she'll still fight to not be separated from it. Her standoffishness toward club policy on footwear, her willingness to look at the club not as some happy facilitator, but as another entity looking to take things away from her... She's defensive, a little volatile, a troublemaker, and entirely too willing to cut everything else out of her life, but it all comes down to that lost love. And that means that she doesn't have to be crass about it-- she can be polite, a lady in carriage and costuming, but also have that aggressiveness, where she feels that her stage time is threatened. She accepts people's stares for her body, because that's the closest she gets to earning them for her dance abilities, and because they remind her of parts of herself she is unable to access any other way.
And then contrast that with Tori, the third dancer in the series, for whom the dance isn't the thing, nor is the adulation. For her, it's a control issue. She dances because there's no way in hell she can ascribe to “the customer is always right” well enough to want or keep a regular job, though she has the talents and education for it. Sometimes, the customer is just an asshole. She chooses to dance because it enables her to pick clients who are likeminded, and set her own parameters. The fact that the men who like her are also ones who see beauty or sensuality in being dominated by a woman doesn't hurt, either. One you realize that she's there to enjoy a world defined only by her boundaries, and not just the sexual ones, it opens up a world of conflicts, where she sees others telling her what to do-- be it family, club management drawing their own lines, regulars or customers pushing for more than she's willing to offer...
When I look into a character, I try to find that one thing that drives them, first and foremost. Sometimes it can take a few sample scenes, or a more thorough examination of the planned conflict (I'm a plotter.) But most of the time, it comes pretty easily. The best plotted story in the world means nothing if you can't find those fracture points to be able to sculpt a reaction and let your character shatter.
I steeled myself, and tapped his shoulder. He jumped, his elbow knocking me back against the wall as he tumbled off the stool into me. In my platforms, I barely kept my footing. I had practiced walking in them for two hours after I bought them, and I had to guess that practice was the only reason I was still on my feet.
“Shit, shit, sorry. Are you okay?” He looked up at me as he got his feet back under him, and prepared to stand. His head was entirely too close to my hips in the tiny space, and I chuckled, imagining him as a giant spider preparing to tie me up. I loved awkward guys. Guys with rough edges, who were interesting to look at not because they were beautiful, but because they were unique. Under other circumstances, Kirk would have been right up my alley. Maybe literally in an alley.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Katie de Long lives in the Pacific northwest, realizing her dream of being a crazy cat-lady. As a kid, Katie flagged the fade-to-blacks in every adult book she encountered, and when she began writing, she vowed to use cutaways sparingly. After all, that's when the good stuff happens. And on a kindle, no one asks why there's so many bookmarks in her library.
Stay in touch with Katie:
Mailing list: http://eepurl.com/CSk3n
Queen of Clubs is currently published monthly. Visit delongkatie.com for preorder and purchase links, or sign up for the mailing list, to be notified when new titles are available.
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