Friday, May 6, 2011

The Other Points of View - Nadia Lee

When I was doing the interview for CARNAL SECRETS, Carole asked the following question: Which character was the most difficult to write? Why?

I answered:

In a way, Belle (heroine Natalie's sister) was the most difficult.  She's not really a villain, even though she isn't very nice to Natalie.  She's very insecure about herself because she grew up comparing herself to Natalie, who is beautiful and smart.  Belle doesn't think she's all that beautiful or cosmopolitan or anything.  And she lashes out at Natalie because she's trying to hide her sense of inferiority.

But it was hard to write Belle in ways that weren't one hundred percent black-and-white because all the scenes between her and Natalie are from Natalie's perspective only.  I'm hoping that despite Natalie's irritation with her (admittedly, very irritating) sister, my readers can sense that Belle isn't some kind of evil one-dimensional villain.

To be honest, it wasn't just Belle that was difficult to write.  Louise (Natalie's adoptive mother) was another antagonist who wasn't really a villain.

When I was working on CARNAL SECRETS, I was trying to focus intensely on the romance and minimize other plot points and limit non-heroine and -hero points of view.  So even though I knew what was motivating the other characters, I had to think about ways to show it via how Natalie (heroine) and Alex (hero) perceive them.

In the initial draft (which will never see the light of the day), I had a very short scene between Emily (Natalie's godmother) and Louise.  It contained a line from Louise that said so much about why she behaves the way she does:

"You're too hard on the child," Emily said, her voice half-chiding. "She's hurting."

Was it that obvious? Louise swallowed and clenched her hand around the teacup. The familiar mixture of guilt and resentment swirled in her belly like a toxic brew. "It's not her I want to hurt."

"I don't understand."

"I knew Brian [Louise's husband] wanted a child, but we were still young. He didn't have to bring one home from his stay in Asia, like some kind of horrible souvenir we couldn't return."

Writing out scenes like the above in the initial draft helped me get a sense of all the secondary characters and what was driving them.  But during the revision, I took all the overt scenes out and hinted at the characters' thoughts and motivations through subtext and body language, etc.  And I think it worked.  One of the reviewers commented:

In fact, the thing I liked most about this story is that no character is completely unsympathetic. (Well, except Alex's mother...) Under their ruthless shark-like business tactics, the characters maintained a sense of human vulnerability that made you really feel for them even when they acted unscrupulously. Shades of Gray is a big draw to me in fiction of all types.

(You can read the rest of the review here )

It was probably one of the most flattering comments in all the CARNAL SECRETS reviews.  :)

If you'd like to know more about CARNAL SECRETS, please go to to read the blurb and the first three chapters.  You can download the excerpt in any format:  PDF, ePub, prc Kindle or Sony.


Bilingual former management consultant Nadia Lee has lived in four different countries and enjoyed many adventures and excellent food around the globe. In the last eight years, she has kissed stingrays, been bitten by a shark, ridden an elephant and petted tigers.

She shares an apartment overlooking a river and palm trees in Japan with her husband, winter white hamsters and an ever-widening pile of books. When she's not writing, she can be found digging through old Asian historical texts or planning another trip.

Visit her at, follow her on Twitter @nadialee and/or like her on Facebook
Check out the feature book interview of CARNAL SECRETS here.

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