Metafiction and Secret Desire, Using Twins instead of Psychosis

By Susan D. Taylor ---Metafictionalist.

A long time ago, writer Stephen King wrote a couple of stories within his slew of stories that detailed and described a writer's journey. Misery and Secret Window, Secret Garden. One a full length novel and the other a novella, and both were made into movies. Misery and Four Past Midnight.

It wasn't happenstance that Secret Desire delves into the theme of writing erotica today as seen through the eyes of a young woman who herself is a writer. The novel is contemporary and mirrors the world of today as quickly changing more so than ever before.

Secret Desire plays with the themes of e-book publishing and the immediacy of the moment. A mistake unleashed online can spiral rapidly. It is near impossible to pull back information once it's uploaded and that's part of the chaos of the story. Conversely, each of these spiraling evidents are a window of opportunity. That theme is also played out several times within the novel. Amidst tragedy can we find the gift given us.

Now, metafiction is all well and good, but what does it have to do with an erotic romance?

We've lived through a year that released 50 Shades, and opened doorways into BDSM. Heck, my local grocery has books in stock I never thought I see. A cover featuring a whip right there next to the peanut butter. Think I'm joking. Kink is a featured film at Sundance this year. With the 50 Shades of romance fiction, a path was cut for an ensuing surge in popularity of erotic romance and erotica. (BTW, erotica romance and erotica are similar yet not the same.)

Secret Desire explores, or attempts to explore, the intrapersonal relationship a young woman encounters with the "coming out of her vanilla closet", and openly admitting she writes erotic romance. Not so easy when she's set her expectations somewhere up amidst the stratosphere. Not so easy in real life either.

In the writing of this novel, I employed the use of an identical twin to symbolize a fractured personality. With Fran appearing as Claire's twin sister instead of psychiatric personality split (fracture) or psychosis that would have taken this love story across another genre bordering on horror romance. Well, not this time around.

Instead I tried to present one person with multiple voices feeding into her desire to appease and conflict her own set of unrealistic goals as well as push her character arc from being the type of "pleasing" personality, traditionally a female cultural characteristic found in the upbringing of  many United States women and elsewhere. Eventually, because after all this is fiction and must adhere to romance and plot conventions, her arc is realized.

I don't claim to be literary, intelligent, or a skilled writer (so unlike how Fran describes Claire "I thought you were interested in a literary career. Highbrow literary salons sipping espresso. You and your nerdy friends at Pike Place Market.")

I simply wrote a story to explore my own emotional bias and fears of what it means to write within a genre where some people have multiple views (i.e. negative and ultra-negative) of EROTIC ROMANCE. I live in a fairly conservative aka Bible belt part of the United States but come from a very cosmopolitan town--Miami, Florida. Luckily, I see both sides of the coin.

In real life, just like my character, I toyed with using a pen name, and then didn't the first time out the gate. But I don't think the curtain and veils surrounding erotica and erotic romance are imaginary. Some experiences are laughable and included in Secret Desire. For example some people have suggested an author of erotica might have some potent sexual experiences or questionable morals. Again just like exchange between Fran and Claire in the book (Secret Desire):
Fran --"I can’t believe you. Have you thought this through? I mean, my God. You’ve always acted so holier than thou and then to think this is what rolls around your head. Do you do things like this in Seattle?"

Claire--"Do you think a horror fiction writer goes around killing people? It’s called an imagination."

"Well, I just don’t know." Fran pulled the neck of her shirt upward. She wrapped her arms around her stomach and sat up. All of a sudden, her sister looked very much as though she were holier than thou even with her tattoo peeking over her shoulder.

This exchange was very much a wink over to Stephen King and his metafiction writing. ;^)

Metafiction is not new. Some say its root go all the way back to Homer's Odyssey. The term appeared in the 70's to describe a literary vehicle where a writer uses a story, literature, a movie to explore the relationship between culture and fiction.

This was a first attempt on my part, debut novel if you will. Far from perfect and begins with an erotic short story within the opening of the novel. I hope readers understand the form of a story within a story exists and why. It was challenging to use metafiction or romance irony. I didn't create this literary device I just borrowed it. Along the way, I exercised most of the demons in my mind concerning writing erotic romance. What began a simple romance exploration, a manuscript of 27,000 words increased to 49,000 leaving me no chance to slink into the background of tepid romance. I have my editor to thank for giving me the courage to explore this genre and come out of my own placid closet. So it's been the best journey in writing and thinking. And come February 1, 2013 Secret Desire will be released by Etopia Press.

In case you'd like to know more about Metafiction, check these out.
Wikipedia says:
Metafiction, also known as Romantic irony in the context of Romantic works of literature, is a type of fiction that self-consciously addresses the devices of fiction, exposing the fictional illusion. Metafiction uses techniques to draw attention to itself as a work of art, while exposing the "truth" of a story. "Metafiction" is the literary term describing fictional writing that self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in posing questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, usually using irony and self-reflection. It can be compared to presentational theatre, which does not let the audience forget it is viewing a play; metafiction does not let the reader forget he or she is reading a fictional work.

My favorite book on the subject: Metafiction: The Theory and Practice by Patricia Waugh

Patricia Waugh defines metafiction as"fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to itself as an artifact to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality." Further, to be considered "metafictionalist is that they all explore a theory of writing through the practice of writing."(Waugh pg. 2)


  1. Interesting post, Susan -- there's a lot to ponder here. I'm a huge King fan, and a huge Taylor fan too. Can't wait for Secret Desire to come out! :)

  2. Thank you. You're right, it's a lot to ponder. I think I need a bigger brain!


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