Following up from yesterdays interview with author Charles D. Martin today I have a guest post to share.
If you haven’t yet looked into Provocateur check it out now, that TBR list isn’t long enough
This novel is about a strong, audacious woman and her encounters with powerful, alpha males. Provocateur explores that aspect of the human experience that surrounds the age-old contest between men and women. It is the story of Nadia, a young Russian woman who comes to America through a mail-order-bride program. She becomes employed in an enterprise operated by an ex-CIA agent named Olga, whose agency, through clever missions, extracts large amounts of money from wealthy men.
In her “assignments” Nadia must get the best of alpha males that are at the top of the male order. In the novel we follow Nadia through three missions, each bigger and more dangerous. Along the way she has a brief encounter with romance. The missions are like “sting” operations; beginning with a target that is a prominent CEO of a large privately-held company based in Los Angeles; the second takes place in San Francisco at the time of the upcoming America’s Cup competition. In that episode her target is Roberto Bartolini, the super-rich, arrogant sponsor of the Italian racing team. In her third mission she goes up against a Russian oligarch in a mission that takes her into danger and to high life settings in the South of France and Porto Cervo on Sardinia.
Nadia, born an orphan, rises out of a life of poverty and despair, where she had no experience with affection, to face her struggles and take on the challenges of her “profession.” She is a complex, enigmatic woman of superior intelligence who must “win” through her finesse and feminine prowess.
What is this book about?
Simply stated it is about: audacious women taking on powerful men … and winning.
My wife and I are art collectors. In our collection is a set of six etchings by Picasso of the Greek comedy, Lysistrada (441 B.C.). It is an early comment on the power that women have over men. To end the war between Athens and Sparta the women of the two city-states ban together to deny men sexual pleasures until they stop fighting.
Down through the ages writers have created stories about this aspect of the human experience. Delilah rendered Samson powerless; the enchantress, Kirke, lured Greek sailors on the rocks in Homer’s Odyssey; Cleopatra possessed Mark Anthony. And so, the story continues in our every day lives.
The dynamics, the interplay, between men and women is one of the most fascinating aspects of the human condition. For me it was enjoyable to visit this aspect of life, perhaps exaggerated by the contrast between an audacious female (Nadia my leading character), and the powerful men she encounters. In Nadia we have a fragile feline creature, seemingly easy prey for the ever-powerful alpha males … but stealth-like she has a sting like a diamond-back rattler.
The genders, male and female, are so different. It is enjoyable and enlightening to think about the unique attributes of each and how they interact with each other. All of us males are intrigued philosophically with what we observe in the potency of women’s power over us and how they employ those powers. Certainly, women have the wisdom to wield their powers in a clandestine manner. Women are not overt; they are subtle and intuitive in how they manipulate events to suit their goals. Men are obvious; superficial; objective in their thinking patterns … what you see is what you get. There is no mystery in men’s behavior; there is a great deal in women’s.
Mother Nature made women smaller in stature than men. It gave men additional size, strength and the aggressive behavior traits to be good hunters. Throughout history their physical superiority has put men in a position of dominance. Women were dependent on them as the provider in a family unit. Thus, men have had the ability to force their will upon women. In the modern era, all that has changed. Yet, at the end of the day, what still drives female and male behavior is very primal and unchanging. In my novel, I chose to celebrate “woman power” in an amusing, adventurous way. Furthermore, through Olga’s views we look into this aspect of the human condition in a philosophical context.
In constructing Nadia’s character, I looked into the dark world of Russian orphanages. My research took me into that world through the eyes of a friend that visited many of those orphanages in the course of a three-week church mission to Russia. I was dismayed by what I learned. They are desperate places as described in the novel. Children in these institutions have little hope in life. Life on the streets for the gypsy children is even worst. With such a terrible beginning to her life, I chose to give her a genetic gift; very high intelligence. This becomes a big asset to her when she escapes from her dreadful circumstances. However, while her “IQ” is high, her “EQ” (emotional quotient) is low; with her early life deprivation from affection, family or young love, she struggles with her emotional development.
My inspiration for Olga’s character came from two sources. Firstly, a few years ago, while attending a State dinner at the US Embassy in Madrid, I met Aline Griffith (The Spy Wore Red, 1987) a fascinating woman that had been a CIA agent behind enemy lines during WWII. Her life story was amazing. Then, in August, 2011 just as I was beginning to write the novel, I read about the real life story of Nancy Wake, an agent in the British Special Operations forces during WWII. Her story is also remarkable and has been posted elsewhere on this website.
In the novel, the story takes us through Nadia’s encounters with men; her assignments. We experience the suspense of these missions and see her win through her finesse and feline prowess. All this is presented against a landscape of the highlife of her male “targets” (great destination hotels, grand villas and big yachts that provide the reader with a vicarious travel experience to places that they may never see). Readers also learn about a number of interesting things (the America’s Cup, Costa Smeralda, the emerging threat of a cyber-attack on the US and many other interesting things).
A basic aspect of the encounter between men and women is in their sexual interaction. On the advice of my lady (preview) readers, I have added some spicy scenes. These are not your ordinary “soap opera” type encounters. I have attempted to add sexual tension and to orchestrate something unusual between the characters. Nowhere is this more interesting than in the scene between Russoff and Nadia. She deeply fears him and is not immediately attracted to him. Yet, his masculine ruggedness and power inflame an unexpected carnal desire and nature takes its course. Mixing these contradicting emotions, fear and desire, makes for memorable scene.
I enjoy writing; the ability to create characters, to take them through a journey of life’s experiences & adventures and, in the process, explore some aspect on the human condition or of the human experience. The encounters between men and women are an especially rich area for our entertainment, enlightenment and amusement.