Local marketer, wife and mother Jayne Dixon released her first novel — about a stripper waking up soaked in blood, with amnesia — earlier this year, published by Wooden Stake Press. She’ll be at a signing event at Bookbar in Denver (4280 Tennyson St.) on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. Here, she talks about her passion for writing… and other things.
YS: It’s been said that writers write the stories they “have to.” Why did you “have” to write this one?
JD: Writing this story was a very deliberate decision. I wanted to get in the head of a character who is a stripper ultimately by choice, not by force or as a result of poor self-esteem. I wanted to see if a woman could love that life, embrace it, and be happy with it. I wanted to see if I could bring the reader to respect her and her choice. Of course, once I started writing, that wasn’t enough; once I threw her into that life, I wanted to see what challenges she could face and how she might handle them.
I wanted to see how a woman might respond to an impossible situation where she can’t be with the guy she loves, and see if I could realistically mold her response in a way that does not require her to back down, compromise her personal values, or give herself up to please the man she has fallen for. Could she stand on her own two feet without losing him? I suppose, however, that I do have a distinct need to explore what some may see as the “underbelly” of society. I want to know what that world is like and I want to discover how different the people who live that life are from what outsiders would judge them to be. And then I want people to see how the rest of us have that darker side in us, too. If I were to identify an overall reason for my need to write, that would be it.
YS: How much of Ellie is really you? And if not you, where did she come from?
JD: There’s definitely a lot of me in Ellie. She is the epitome of the dark, sarcastic, cynical side of me that often exists almost exclusively in my head. Though her experiences throughout the book have little literal relation to my own life, she does do things I’ve fantasized about, and her life follows a parallel path to mine in that she has dived into this world completely unlike that of her past. She has deliberately entered this culture with new rules — even no rules in many cases — and she’s working out not only how to navigate and embrace it, but how to reframe her past in light of it. She’s learning how to be her own foundation and how not to be a victim to the inevitable jackasses who will invade her sense of security. This is very much a metaphor for the journey my own life has taken over the past seven or eight years.
YS: Okay, here’s a two-parter: A) Describe the kind of person you think this novel would resonate with the most, and B) What are the most important things you hope this person gets out of this novel?
JD: I think this novel will resonate most with people who are open-minded and curious about the reality of a more provocative, very vulnerable lifestyle. People who have had to face the worst parts of themselves head-on — or have an interest in exploring how other people might deal with that will probably be drawn to this book. I honestly thought going in that it would only find an audience among females, but I’m very surprised at how many men have identified with it and enjoyed it. It’s probably a good book for anyone who wants to be reminded that they’re not as crazy as they think they are.
And as for B), I don’t think Ellie is an anomaly. Who knows what choices we might make when the worst circumstances are thrown at us? Life, decisions, feelings, and sexuality are all very fluid, they happen on a case-by-case basis, not necessarily according to any universal law or value. And maybe people who make the most awful, most heinous decisions can sometimes be understood. I guess that’s what I want people to understand: 1) that career and lifestyle choices are not necessarily indicative of the quality or value of a person and 2), that when we dig underneath the layers of people who do things we simply cannot understand, we find ourselves.
YS: When’s book two due out?
JD: Well, I’m hoping to publish the second book, appropriately titled “Stripped: Bloody Heels,” as a birthday gift to myself. So the goal is March of 2017. However, I have another novel — a much lighter romantic comedy — which should be ready to publish this December. The tentative title is “Players.” To keep abreast of upcoming publications, readers can join my email list or to read my other short stories and poetry on my website at writersoftherain.com