Friday, September 18, 2015

A Male's Perspective on Writing Romance

            Hey readers. A. W. Clarke here. I was asked an interesting question by someone at work this week. “Did you find it hard, you know, being a man, writing a book about love?”

I was surprised to hear her ask the question, but I didn’t take offense. Instead, I smiled and explained to my co-worker that writing my romance novel was both a challenge and a compliment to my efforts. I’ll let you in on my intentions, however not without tossing a few statements around first…
I’ve had the pleasure of making several friends throughout my life, both during school and in the workplace. Most of my friends are acquaintances, with whom I shoot the breeze. But of these, only a significant few do I keep as close friends. Even less, maybe one or two, are the closest of my friends, whom I trust with my most important life details and decisions. In fact, having a very close and trustworthy friend can be that pillar you can lean on as the years go by, as life’s roads dip and turn.
Having said this, it’s important to state that a slight majority of my friends are female. I have been out for a beer, and worked on my car with some of my male cohorts, but I can also share a drink and talk about life with a few of my female friends. Without sounding haughty, it’s been during my thirties that I’ve noticed something I wish I had known all my life. When tapping into a female’s mind, one can often garner answers that are rooted deeply in her heart.

To explain my statement, consider for a moment the following painting by the famous Leonardo Da Vinci:

The Lady of the Dishevelled Hair is a masterpiece. It bears different symbolisms to different people. But when I look at it, the image explains so much about why I have a deep trust in the female soul. The lady in the painting seems to exude a deep feeling of peace. She displays a sense of innocence and truth within her that I believe is perhaps genetic in every woman’s heart since the dawn of humanity.
            Hence, it is from a woman’s deeply rooted sense of innocence that may lead her to communicate thoughts and beliefs from the heart with great compassion and conviction.
            Now, that being said, let’s not disregard the male counterpart! Many of my male friends also have deep feelings, passions and beliefs. When it’s time to vent or get advice on gentlemanly topics, my good pals are there for me. Life would certainly be void without the accompaniment of both sexes.
            But I feel what’s made me grow as a person of respect, is having had a presence of both male and female intellectuals in my life. I think it would be safe to resonate that when the boys are together, the atmosphere can grow either tense or jovial with specific topics. Men discuss life side to side, with little emotion and little to no eye contact. When women discuss life’s trials or successes, they may sit closer, with more eye contact, or share a condoling hug.
            Why am I telling you all this?
Because from my standpoint, when I was younger I was more naïve, and failed to really understand and consider the complex and valuable thought process of the females I knew so little about.
            But, you learn a few things through relationships… Then you learn more through having a sister…Then a few more from your mother…and certainly a few more from a few good female friends you can trust…and then that’s when you can finally paint the picture, and see how beautifully a woman’s heart works!
            It was now at this point, that I wanted to challenge myself and write a story that spoke of a woman’s true love for a man who struck fire in her heart.
            Now some people may paint me as naïve, but I beg to differ. I’ve had a few men in my circle of friends who confessed their relationship strategies as purely sexual. Some, however, have not. Conversely, a majority of my female friends can be read by their hearts…they seem to have it in the right place, and think with those hearts as the foundation of their relationships. They have stated that although important in a relationship, love is not based entirely on sexuality. Love…lasting love, is far more complicated and intertwined with elements of trust, sacrifice, character, and so on…

So, with my writing challenge well underway, I attempted to write a love story from a woman’s perspective. Throughout the book, Victoria has several personal reflections, constantly evaluating the validity of her actions. I have to admit, I really enjoyed composing Victoria’s personal struggles. These could have been the hard part for a man to gauge. I did have my share of questions during the writing process, whereby I consulted more than one woman per situation. This way, I could produce a realistic and feasible outcome for Victoria’s roller coaster ride through three specific relationships. Furthermore, writing about her different reactions to numerous relationships mirrored a strategy that is so important for all of us to go through- life’s best lessons are learned through experience!
            What gave me the confidence to write a love story from the female perspective was a combination of what I know about the female heart, as well as what I was spoken to me by many female hearts. No man completely knows what a women wants, but the journey unto that understanding, and into the heart, is a deep and powerful one.
            Many of those who read my book have enjoyed the dynamics of Victoria’s ride and congratulated me on my writing style. It was at this point that I found my challenge a success for the most part, and a real reward. I am currently working on my next romance novel which I expect to touch the heart and mind of readers even harder, and take the relationship in an unusual, powerful direction.

            So, what was it like writing Hooked? Being a guy writing through a woman’s heart and mind, it was an enjoyable ride. I am surprised more men don’t do it. And for future authors, keep in mind. There is a fine line between a powerful, passionate romance, and a graphically lascivious porn. Before you begin to type that first page, think about the audience you want to connect with.
Those who think with their hearts, capture the hearts of others.


Hooked Synopsis

For those considering buying my book, here's a description of the romantic novel Hooked:

Victoria Lafalle was a powerful big city professional. She was bright and beautiful. But there was one thing she lacked in her ability to find true success. On a leisurely trip to Italy, she met with destiny in a way that would change her life forever. 

Experience the passion, regret, and rediscovery that sends Victoria's heart on a roller coaster ride of emotion. It is only when the career focused executive finds a way to sort her emotions, and follow her heart, that she finds her true destiny. 

A. W. Clarke's  Hooked shows every reader that when finding one's true self, true love is always within reach.

You can purchase Hooked online in various formats:

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at:


A. W. Clarke

Chapter 2

Here's a follow up with Chapter Two of Hooked. Enjoy!

"The choke," yelled a voice over her shoulder. "Pull the choke."
Victoria turned around and saw a man looking over at her, gesturing some sort of technical procedure with one hand. She tossed her hands out in confusion and sighed at him.
A moment later, he got up from the cement bench and slowly walked over. 
Who was this man? Victoria noticed his stride. It was slow and carefree. Confidence exuded from his sculpted chin and shoulders. He was dark in complexion, perhaps from many a day under some Spanish sun. His ivory colored shirt hung loose, held together by only a few buttons.  His sleeves were rolled up, indicative of a man not afraid to work with his hands. His sandals appeared worn, perhaps from many walks to this very place, she thought.  She suddenly remembered that he was the kindred spirit she saw sitting on the bench outside the restaurant.
 He pulled off his sunglasses and crouched down to examine the little scooter as if it were an ill patient.
"When an engine cools down and the air becomes colder, you need to close the choke flap. It makes the engine easier to start... Excuse me." 
He proceeded to nudge Victoria aside and set the choke lever on, while kicking the starter. The little bike would not spring to life.
"It's flooded. You have to let it sit for a while. Come and have a seat with me and we can try again later."
Victoria was not the type to let anyone do anything for her. She possessed a strong work ethic and at times her fiercest critic was herself. But seeing as how she was half way across the world and knew nothing about scooter engines, she decided to make his acquaintance.
"My name is Mateo. Have a seat." He smiled as he slowly sat down on the bench. 
Seated side by side they both had a perfect view of the ocean, the sun sinking deeper into the horizon.
"And what is your name?" he asked.
"Victoria. Thanks for your help, by the way," she replied with a shy smile.
"Don’t thank me until I have done something for you." He smiled and held something out. "Would you like a cannoli? I just made them this afternoon." Victoria loved cannolis.
"I just ate. Thank you."
"Go on. I don't want the last one. You have it."
"Well, ok. Thanks. You're very kind."
"You're welcome." he replied, and cracked a warm quarter smile in the dusky sunlight.
"Isn't it beautiful?" asked Mateo as he nodded towards the distance.
"What?" replied Victoria.  This man thoroughly distracted her.
"The sunset,” he whispered as his eyes gazed at the scene before him.  “It looks so warm tonight and the water is so calm. It’s like a torch over a sheet of glass. Just beautiful."
Victoria noticed that Mateo had a way with words. She loved to analyze everything. She noticed how when this man spoke, he did not cast a shallow coating over his words. He did not muster an elusive charm when talking to a stranger. He was straightforward and honest. He called things as he saw them, and did so in a smooth and relaxed manner.
Although she noticed these things, Victoria was taken in most by his eyes. They were a deep brown color, and edged by the most charming temple creases when he smiled at her. His eyes bore a window to his soul. A soul that appeared passionate yet peaceful. She noticed his hands. They were large and firm, yet had a rugged texture to them as if possessed by that of a hard working craftsman. A craftsman with hands skilled enough to work on machines. 
Yet ginger enough to bake cannolis? she thought skeptically.  Victoria chuckled at the thought for a moment and hid it immediately, as it would be difficult to explain herself if questioned.
"Are you far from home?" asked Mateo.
"Yes and no," she responded. "I am about fifteen minutes up the river."
Mateo looked a bit puzzled at first, then laughed and responded. "Ok then…let's see if we can get that little machine going."
They walked over to the Vespa and tried to start the engine. It puffed and snorted but refused to run. 
"The plug must be wet. I can fix it for you if you like."
“How much will that cost?”   Victoria inquired.
"Nothing. This is easy to do. I don't mind. I just need to get a wrench from my workshop. I’m a few minutes away. Would you like to come for a ride?"
Victoria was bewildered. Who was this mystery man she met not an hour ago and why was he being so nice to her? Could he be that man all women dreamed of?  Calm, caring, selfless… and good looking?
Stop it, she thought to herself, with a slight chuckle. This guy is obviously just being helpful. After all, he didn’t look busy, sitting on the bench earlier. Victoria remained cautious of the supportive stranger though. But for some reason she wanted to do something illogical for the first time in her life. She wanted adventure!  That’s why she was in Italy, right? Her internal conflict ended as quickly as it began. 
Victoria decided right then and there that if she wanted change, she was going to have to embrace it when it came her way.  Yet none the less, she was still a little surprised by the words that came out of her mouth. 
"Ok, sure. Which way are we walking?"  The words awkwardly stumbled out of her mouth and a slight blush covered her cheeks.
"No no,” chuckled Mateo. "If we walk, we'll get back after nightfall. Come this way. We'll use my bike."
He led her back across the street and carefully helped her onto his machine.
"Wow. What is this?" Victoria asked curiously.
"It’s a Ducati. One of my favorites," returned Mateo.
“One of?" she uttered curiously.  This time, the stranger outright laughed.
Mateo helped Victoria with her helmet strap and then put on his own gear. He righted his bike and kick started it to life. With the engine warming up, Victoria admired the machine. She was never a fan of bikes but noticed, as with many classical structures in Italy, this machine was not of modern times.
Mateo noticed her staring. 
"It’s a sixty seven. A Mach One. It’s a classic. I like classic things. They are timeless and beautiful, not like those plastic things that come and go nowadays."
He returned the choke lever, revved up the now warm engine, and whisked them both down the road to his workshop.
Victoria rode nervously at first, then more comfortably as she got used to the position behind her driver on the little Ducati.  They travelled the ocean side road before entering the town of Tirrenia.
Soon the ocean disappeared and was replaced with lush trees and a quaint community of small homes and apartments nestled together on the Via dei Castagni. He turned into his driveway and pulled up to the door of a small shed beside a group of three old stone houses joined together. 
"I'll be back in a moment. Do you want anything to drink?" asked Mateo.
"No thank you. I’m fine."
She watched as he walked into the shed, and emerged with a lighter and a couple of wrenches.
"Ok, let's head back," he said.
Within minutes, they returned to the dead Vespa. Victoria watched curiously as Mateo removed the engine's spark plug. He was as delicate as a surgeon attending an ailing patient. He sniffed the spark plug and nodded, confirming his diagnosis. He then carefully held it by one end as he set the flame of his lighter on the electrode for several seconds.
Watching this, Victoria was intrigued. Here was someone who did not need analysis charts and probability theories to diagnose a problem. Perhaps he employed a measure of years of mechanical experience. Perhaps it was just dumb luck. The confidence in his face assured her of the prior.
Mateo then pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the hot electrode, then wound it back in with the old wrench. He placed the plug wire back onto the plug and turned on the ignition. He stepped on the kick starter, however, not without first looking at Victoria and cracking a sweet, assertive smile.
Like a human brought back from the dead, the little Vespa crackled to life, its engine purring smoothly as it warmed up in the evening air.
Victoria started to smile.    
"I guess now that you've done something for me, I can thank you," she kidded.
"You are most welcome," laughed Mateo.
After putting on her helmet, Victoria noticed Mateo gazing out at the sunset.  The sun was now past the horizon and painted a warm red canvas across the sky.
"I love sunsets too," she said hopping on the little bike. She took a quick breath then flipped the kickstand, ready to pull away.
"Do you need me to follow you back just in case?" asked Mateo.
"Not necessary. I'll be fine. Thank you for helping me today.  I appreciate it. Nice meeting you, Mateo," she said in an uncertain voice she rarely used.
"Nice to meet you too," he replied.  He shook her hand, that unique smile playing on his face.
Victoria responded with a tight grin.  With a nod of her head, she swallowed hard and sped away.  She was very uncomfortable with the feelings of doubt sitting in the pit of her stomach.  Although she felt proud of herself for taking the plunge, she didn’t expect the other strange emotions also churning inside.  What feelings? She demanded.  Victoria, you’re just not used to being rescued by anyone.  Stop being stupid, you just met the guy! she reprimanded herself.
Victoria didn't like to depend on other people. She was strong. She was professional. She was adaptable. Today she had no choice but to let one of her walls down, but once up and running, it was back to her usual self. With the engine running again, she rode the Vespa along the river road back to her hotel. She turned in the keys, headed up to her suite and had room service bring her up a tea. She decided to sip it out on the balcony.
It was her second night in Italy. It was unusually quiet. The stars soon acquired their places in the sky. As she took another sip of tea, she gazed out far over the horizon to where her journey had become interesting. She replayed her conversations with the mysterious man on the bench. He was sweet, confident and intriguing. She wanted adventure, but she wasn’t sure if that included Mateo.
Victoria slipped into bed and stared up at the ceiling.  Her mouth tensed and she pursed her lips together.  She took a deep breath, convinced that she was making the right decision.  The fear residing in her stomach was gone and she felt like herself again.  This was the Victoria that everyone knew.  The Victoria who ruled the boardroom.  The Victoria she knew. 
Victoria closed her eyes confident in the power of her resolve and strength of willpower.

He was just a memory.

Chapter 1

Here's a sneak peak at Chapter One of my book Hooked:

It was early September. The air carried with it a signature of change. Cooler weather was settling in as the fragrance of leaves bearing distinct hues of red and orange passed by the open door of the Boeing 777.
"Benvenuti in Italia! Enjoy your stay!" addressed the flight attendant as the passengers stepped off the plane and onto the deck stairs.
 Victoria loved the fall. It was magical. It was mysterious. This trip held what she hoped would be an adventure from her regular routine.
But it wasn’t a thought to indulge in, for today was the first day of her late summer vacation and she had much to do. She needed to check in at her hotel and then promptly assess the nearby attractions and guest services.
But most of all, she came to Pisa to acquaint herself with the rich history and architecture that Italy had to offer. Victoria took a deep breath of the autumn Italian air and exhaled.  She was eager to stretch her legs after a cramped eight hour flight.
Victoria was tall and gorgeous, witty and adaptable. But most of all, she was a master of professionalism. Over the years she had worked with large companies, coaching her client base on how to grasp fundamental concepts in efficiency, productivity, and goal achievement. She had worked with both small organizations and million dollar companies. Her finely honed intellect led her to find attainable solutions for clients big and small by using techniques in analysis and calculative methodology.
But it was time for Victoria to take a break from her work and explore the one thing she has never been able to master…the path leading to her destiny.
The short ride into Pisa was filled with lots to see. Victoria noticed the distinct charm of Italy's carved stonework and cobbled roads, lined with locals sitting in outdoor cafes. Life appeared more relaxed in Italy compared to the maladroit bustle of her home in the west. Upon her arrival at the hotel, she tipped the cabby and attendant for bringing her cases to the lobby and checked in.
"Welcome, Ms. Lafelle," greeted the desk clerk.
"Your room is ready. Should you have any questions, please let us know. Enjoy your stay."
The clerk handed Victoria the key card to her fifth floor suite and tapped the service bell for a porter to gather her luggage. Upon exiting the elevator, the porter led her to her room at the end of the hall.
"Buona giornata," bid the porter as he pocketed his gratuity and disappeared down the hall.
Room 508 was modest yet cozy.  Victoria loved the intricately trimmed white walls and sloped ceiling leading to a small balcony draped in soft linens.
She tossed her cell phone and key card on the twin sized bed and walked over to the balcony. Opening the door, she was met with the lively rumble of Vespas and chatter of cafe patrons not far away.
Victoria had arrived in Italy.  For the next seven days she was going to seek refuge in its old world charm. But not tonight. She readied the pillows, changed into her pajamas and cuddled in bed for a much needed night’s sleep.
Victoria woke well rested for her first morning in Italy. After gathering her comfortable hiking shoes and putting her hair in a ponytail, she donned her favorite jeans and a light sweater.  She then headed to the lobby to ask the desk clerk for breakfast ideas.
He mentioned a fabulous bakery a block south of the hotel where she could enjoy an authentic morning meal. She thanked him and strode down the walkway to Forno del Sole where the smell of fresh baked bread greeted her at the door.
She placed her order at the counter and a cheery Italian employee pointed to the outdoor deck where she could take her coffee and wait for her order to arrive.
Taking a seat on the fenced deck, Victoria noticed the rich activity of citizens with places to go.  Her eyes roamed over the masses of young and old customers seated in other cafes, discussing life's trials and pleasures.
A short time later, the lady at the counter brought over her breakfast: a cheese stuffed ciabatta bun alongside two poached eggs and a fresh orange slice. On a separate plate beside her coffee was a cannoli for dessert. The waitress smiled and headed back inside.
After many relaxing sips of coffee and a full tummy, Victoria headed into downtown Pisa with a few Euros in her pocket and a camera in hand. She marvelled at the stonework adorning various buildings as well as the intricacies of the road's construction under her feet. She sat by a water fountain and tossed in a coin from her home country. She made a wish and moved on to the next attraction.
Victoria boarded a tour bus and sat on the upper deck alongside an elderly lady and a younger woman. As the bus wound through its familiar route through the streets of Pisa, the tour guide pointed out the splendor of the city's most intriguing architectural structure: the famous leaning tower. Snapping picture after picture, she soon noticed the Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral of Pisa with its herculean columns and impressive bronze doors. Other than the historic Catholic cathedral in her home city, nothing compared to the statuesque and inspiring design of such a monument.
In the excitement of the tour, Victoria had skipped lunch and felt hungry by early evening. After heading back to the hotel, she inquired the clerk about recommended establishments in the vicinity for dinner.
"Tell you what," suggested the clerk, "if you take a cab or hop on a Vespa and head down along the river to Via Tullio, you will arrive at the water's edge.  There you will find restaurants with delicious foods and the most spectacular sunset ever seen," exclaimed the jovial man with a twinkle in his eye, as he flourished his hands about in the air.
"That sounds like a plan." Victoria thanked the helpful clerk, signed some forms, and hopped on one of the hotel's many Vespa scooters out back. She chose the bright yellow machine.
Yellow was her favorite color, not that anyone would know. She didn't divulge too much of her personal life to just anyone. If people really knew her, they would be surprised by what truly moved her.  Their usually stoic friend and colleague thirsted for something more than the mundane routine that was her life.  She dreamed of adventure. However Victoria wasn’t really the adventurous sort-yet she thought, as she narrowed her eyes down at the bike before her very determined that that was about to change.
After a brief lesson in bike operation, the attendant sparked up the scooter and within minutes Victoria rode off carefully down the road. After a few stops to refer to her map, she made her way along the scenic winding river and out to the promenade.
Emerging in the clearing, she cast her eyes on a beautiful ocean which touched the boardwalk and a beach dotted with cafes and restaurants facing the west. She pulled over and shut off the tiny engine, removed her helmet, and strolled leisurely along the cement walkway in search of dinner.
After a brief walk, the discerning tourist came upon a small stucco faced building named the Ristorante Cliffe. The small establishment had a striped overhang, which sheltered a dozen or so tables and chairs on a patio for patrons who indulged in the beautiful ocean view across the street.
Victoria went in and ordered a heaping plate of spaghetti and sautéed shrimp in pomodoro sauce. She took in not only the sumptuous meal, but the views of ocean waves bumping leisurely against the rocky breakwater.  As her eyes drank in the scene before her, she noticed someone sitting on a nearby bench also taking in the very same view.  Her lips tilted up in a slight smile, no longer feeling quite so alone at the table.
She was in love with this land. It was so rich and beautiful in many ways. It’s scenery so breathtaking. The people who lived here established and upheld a culture so extraordinary. A philosophy of the old and new mixed together at a snail’s pace. The country indeed ran on its own terms, and not under the harassment of speed or technology like the hasty societies of the western world.
As she scooped up the last shrimp from her plate, Victoria noticed the sun's slow decent into the sky, marking the end of another day. She thanked the owner personally for the tasty meal and headed over to the scooter.
With helmet on, she leaned over and stepped on the kick starter.  Nothing. Over and over she spun the engine and the stubborn Vespa refused to start.
"The first sign of trouble on my vacation," muttered Victoria impatiently.
A few more kicks of the starter and again nothing.  She looked at the rapidly setting sun and people sauntering in the other direction down the boardwalk.  It was getting chilly and the beach getting more desolate.  She tried the kick starter one more time.  The bike sputtered once and fell silent.  Victoria felt a chill run up her spine.
She was stranded.

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