Cheryl is the author of four novellas. Her love affair with literature began at a young age with such iconic authors as Poe, Kafka, Lovecraft, and de Sade. Those deep, dark, penitent stories of suffering and enlightenment moved her to pursue her passion for writing. https://www.naturalanatomyguide.com
Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Cheryl. “The Thin Wall” is quite an intriguing book and even controversial. To begin, will you tell us the basic setting and plot that the book opens with?
Cheryl: Thank you for having me Tyler. The book opens with five friends enjoying a typical Friday night at the local pub. I chose this particular setting as it is a familiar and relatable comfort setting for most people. I can remember many a night enjoying the company of my own friends in the local pub. I wanted the reader to feel relaxed, as if they were part of the group, sharing a drink and feeling included in the intimate conversation. In this opening scene, I can pull the reader into the dialog, introduce all of the characters, showcase some of their particular idiosyncrasies, and lay the foundation for the group dynamic. And it is this group dynamic which is extremely important to the story. All five have very different careers, aspirations, and struggles, but they are bonded to each other in a common perspective: They firmly believe “to each his own-between consenting adults of course.” And all of the characters struggle against what society deems normal. People their age should be settled down, married with children, proper jobs, proper homes, and all the other standards of normal society. But they believe that normal is a matter of opinion, especially when it comes to self-expression, as we have three artists among the group: A writer, a musician, and a painter.
Tyler: Before we discuss the book further, I understand you don’t consider the book as “erotica” although our reviewer here at Reader Views described it as such. Why would you argue “The Thin Wall” isn’t erotica?
Cheryl: While there is a great deal of sexual imagery within the story, the story is an intense character study, and the sex acts themselves are not described in graphic detail, as it is in mainstream erotica. I have read a great deal of erotica to know the difference. I prefer written sex to be portrayed as a fluid more emotional experience, leaving much of the body language, positions, and descriptions to the imagination. We all know the anatomy of a sex act, so I don’t feel the need to describe it ad infinitum. However, erotica fans want the graphic description and would be extremely disappointed if I were to categorize the book as mainstream erotica. So, I would say that this is a sensual, erotic tale, but not erotica as defined by the genre.
Tyler: The sexual activity in the book includes bondage and submission and even physically wounding people. Why?
Cheryl: When it comes to romantic and intimate relationships, we all have a little sado-masochist within us. We hurt the ones we love and allow ourselves to be hurt by them. In every romantic relationship there is blood shed on both sides-metaphorically speaking, of course. How often do you hear: I would bleed myself dry for you…or I would give my life for you? Bold statements-offering ourselves completely to those we love is in essence an offering to sacrifice ourselves. “Thin Wall” is a metaphor, portraying in a very real way how much we are willing to endure, to sacrifice, and to submit to the ones we love. This is also a story about the depth of trust. How much do we actually trust the ones we love? In this story, the level of trust goes beyond average reasoning; it’s a trust most people will never experience, will never allow themselves to experience.
Tyler: I find your mention of trust to be interesting in relation to sexual activity. How have the characters built up that trust with each other, and have any of the characters known trust to be betrayed and how have they dealt with it?
Cheryl: Actually the trust between them has absolutely nothing to do with their sexual activity. This story is much deeper than a deviant romp in the sheets. Tom, Ioan, and Julian have issues with trust, which stem from childhood disappointment with their respective parents. Tom’s parents had certain expectations, which turned to bitterness when he couldn’t fulfill them in the way they wanted. Julian’s parents are of the wealthy aristocracy, living a life of excess splendor, which disgusts and repulses him. Julian was their genius progeny, and they continuously put him on display. And then there is Ioan, whose parents couldn’t understand the moodiness of his artwork; it frightened them, and so believing that he was mentally ill, they placed him on medication. If you cannot trust your parents to accept you, then whom can you trust? For most, the trust you seek lies with your friends. Julian and Ioan meet in secondary school; they compliment each other and bond over their macabre musings. Ioan later meets Tom, and seeing him as only another tragic artist could, he saves Tom from a life of drug addiction. Laleana and Julian meet in college and are drawn to each other over the philosophies of the Marquis deSade-the philosophies, not the sex, although the sex is a part of it, but only a small part. Not to mention that Ioan is celibate. Julian brings Cecile into the mix for reasons unknown, which becomes apparent much later in the story. So, as children, they are all outcasts to a degree; betrayed by their parents, they seek refuge with each other. Misery loves company, and misery loves company who understands it.
Tyler: You have yourself described “The Thin Wall” as a coming of age story, yet the characters are in their late thirties. What is significant about the characters’ ages in relation to their sexual awakenings? Do you see sexual activity as a learning experience no matter what age a person is?
Cheryl: The coming of age part has nothing to do with sexual awakening; these characters took to their particular sexual proclivities in their late teens and twenties, as most young adults do. The teens and twenties are often classified as the coming of age years; I disagree…I believe the real coming of age happens as we approach mid-life. At mid-life we have acquired, through struggle, the wisdom, experience, and more importantly, the perspective to step back and evaluate our lives: where we have been, where we want to go, what we want to accomplish, our real strengths and weaknesses, and what our needs truly are. Laleana has reached that moment of self-awareness, and she has discovered that her real needs are not being fulfilled, yet she struggles with her fear of letting go of the comfortable and predictable life she has. But she must let go in order to move forward into the unknown. This is an innate human quality-fear of the unknown. Why do we fear the unknown? Well, we fear failure.
Tyler: Would you say that teenagers and twenty-somethings tend to see sex as fun, while thirty-somethings take it more seriously-they start to find meaning in it-can the coming of age idea work in that manner?
Cheryl: Of course, although I really don’t think teenagers see sex as fun. It might seem that way from the outside, but what is actually happening with teenage sex is much more complex, and it carries well into the twenty-something years. This is the age of self-discovery, where the young adult is attempting to understand their own sexual desires, as well as breaking the sexual barriers that have been set by their parents and society. I have always said: How a person feels about their sexuality is how they feel about themselves as a whole person. Sexual repression and on the opposite end sexual aggression are tendencies formed very early in childhood. Is it naughty or natural, damning or enlightening…these themes will be addressed with a vengeance in early adulthood. Hopefully, a mature healthy attitude forms by the time we are in our thirties, and then for some, we can look more deeply at the emotional meanings intertwined with the coupling of two people. We leave the base need behind, or as I say in “Thin Wall”: We see beyond the flesh.
Tyler: Well said, Cheryl. In the book description you sent Reader Views, you mentioned that the book also includes codependency. Many people don’t seem to know what the difference is between love and codependency. Can you separate the two for us and tell us how codependency versus love is treated in “The Thin Wall”?
Cheryl: The easiest way to describe codependency is: Codependent people have a greater tendency to enter into relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable or needy. The codependent tries to control a relationship without directly identifying and addressing his or her own needs and desires.