My name is Anietta Strong and I want to tell you about my latest book Outcast. It is the 8th book I’ve written in the Petra Larson series. One grows fond of a character, getting to know that person who is very real to me. It seems a long time ago since we met in The Secret Apartment and over the years she has featured centrally in many of my subsequent books. As a result I have got to know every intimate and personal detail about her – what she likes or dislikes, her lifestyle, especially her sexual tastes, which are strictly female, with odd lapses into men. In particular I got to develop her sadomasochistic tastes.
Of course no writer can create a character in isolation. Petra Larson has a tight group of friends who support each other when life takes a turn for the worst. There was one friend I had in mind when I wrote Outcast, a stunningly beautiful nurse Cerys Hughes, who has featured in most of the books in the Petra Larson series, although not to the level in which she does in this book. In writing Outcast I tried to put myself into a nurses shoes. One thing in particular was the connection made with their patients as they pass through their care. The Covid pandemic has brought this heavily into focus like never before. The mixture of emotions where a patient is brought into hospital, through the emergency department and thence into intensive care, where life and death constantly hangs in the balance and the nurse has to manage the extremes of emotion between those who survive and those who do not.
This is where Outcast begins. As always, when I started this book I took the same approach. I had an idea, I started writing and I let the book take itself where it wanted to go. Thankfully, there was little writers block, but there was a time when I introduced a new character which clashed with one already established and this meant a rewrite to iron out ambiguity. The story expanded and then there was that crucial period when a decision had to be made - when to stop? It’s a bit like an artist deciding when to add the final brush stroke to a painting or risk overworking it. It’s called ‘fiddling’. I guess padding out the book for the sake of extra pages is the writing equivalent. I settled for around 75k words and I tried to create an ending with a shocking surprise as well as an explosion of sadism!
Cerys Hughes is in her mid thirties. She is petite and men find her so frustrating. Many have tried to date her, but she rebuffs them gently which very much reflects her nature. She was born in a South Wales mining village. Men worked underground then seeking out coal, black gold from the rich seams which were in abundance in that area. Being gay was something to keep to oneself and Cerys did this to perfection. Attending church in the chapels which were in every community was expected and she was no exception. Her ambition was to be a nurse and after leaving school she later attended university in Bath. It is there she meets Petra Larson and with the risk of exposure far reduced, having moved away from her roots, Cerys is able to share her secret with someone like herself. They soon became lovers. Cerys has another secret, she is into the BDSM scene. She doesn’t actively participate, preferring to watch. She takes Petra to a Bristol group and quickly finds Petra takes to the scene like a duck to water. While Cerys likes to watch, Petra jumps in the deep end feet first and her sadistic tastes are applied with gusto as she enters the scene with enthusiasm.
Cerys has played a minor role in my books since then, but in Outcast she becomes a central figure. It is her relationship with a stricken patient which is the main driving force of the story. Cerys had never had a long lasting relationship, or she hadn’t until Amy came along. She adored her much younger partner, they lived and loved together in a tiny Bristol flat. Just the two of them plus Cerys’s goldfish. Then tragically Amy is ripped out of her heart and Cerys is just leaving a doomed rebound relationship when she comes into work and finds herself assigned to the care of an Amy lookalike. That is where the book begins and if you want to know what happens after that, I’m afraid you’ll have to find out by reading it.
Please visit our website Texshirebooks.com. It features all my books and those of three other writers who all collaborate as a writing group. Thank you for dropping by and I hope you like my work.