Friday, 12 October 2012

Book Post. Beirut And Prostitutes

   She was silk and she was jasmine, ivory and frankincense, her skin a pale golden slide for the smooth satin riding up her legs as she mounted the stairs. Her hips moving under the wrap were a provocation, her long hair cascaded down her mobile back.
   Reaching the top ahead of them, she strutted across the dance floor and sat on a high stool at the bar. Lynch ducked behind the counter and started to fix coffee at the gleaming red espresso station. This was obviously some sort of well-worn ritual – Nathalie noticed Lynch’s deft movements as he manipulated the machine.
   The white filter of Marcelle Aboud’s cigarette was reddened by her lipstick, her dark, kohl-lined eyes coolly gauging Nathalie as the younger woman waited, her hand resting on the back of a bar stool.
   ‘Come, sit,’ Marcelle purred, gesturing at the stool. Her very movements were languorous and sensual, her voice husky, rolling and dirty. Nathalie caught the flash of a full breast trying to escape the cascades of smooth bronze material as Marcelle turned her magnificent face to Lynch.
   ‘So you’re buying or selling, Lynch?’
   He brought the espresso cup over to her. ‘Her? You can have her for free.’
   Nathalie twisted off her stool. ‘Sorry, not putting up with this.’
   ‘Sit down,’ Marcelle’s languorous voice wasn’t raised, but her tone stopped Nathalie in her tracks. ‘Make her a coffee, Lynch, Play nicely.’
   Lynch busied himself with the espresso machine as Marcelle examined Nathalie, who met the dark brown eyes after they finished travelling lazily up her body like a slow touch. The clink of the espresso cup on the bar broke the moment.
   Marcelle turned to Lynch. ‘So what do you want, you and your assistant?’
   Lynch waited behind the bar with his hands laid on the marble top. Nathalie was surprised at how he eased into the role of barman and fancied perhaps he had worked here many, many years ago as a young man.
From Beirut – An Explosive Thriller

Who did you think of when you created Marcelle?
There was no inspiration as such for Marcelle, she just happened that way. Probably Jessica Rabbit. I suppose in the same way as Anne was a metaphor for Paul’s homeland and Aisha Jordan in Olives – A Violent Romance, Marcelle is Beirut. She’s beautiful, sinful, capricious and a little dangerous.

Why a prostitute? Could she have been doing something else instead and still be integral to the plot?
Perhaps, but she just wouldn’t have been the same if she was a welder, would she? Marcelle is part of Lynch’s seamy side, the underworld of a city and someone with power and contacts in her own strange way. She knows men, she knows Lynch and is perhaps a counterpoint to his intensity and anger. Their relationship is stormy and yet they clearly are very fond of each other.

Nathalie’s big contact is the wealthy and philanthropic Vivienne Chalabi, Lynch’s is the madam of a cat house. It sort of speaks to their respective approaches to life and, I guess, their work...

There’s a hint of a past with Lynch...
Oh yes. It’s not fully explored in Beirut, but Lynch first lived in Beirut towards the end of the civil war, sent undercover to track down some unpleasant IRA drug runners and close the gold seam. His ‘cover’ was working as a barman at Marcelle’s.

Lebanese politics is about religion, won't the Marcelle character create more controversy for you?
What, as much as a future president whose daddy was a warlord and who has a taste for nuclear warheads? There’s bound to be someone who finds something offensive in Beirut – An Explosive Thriller, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a by-product of the lack of fiction in the region, this inability to divorce creativity from reality.

I’m looking forward to the first person telling me there are no prostitutes in Lebanon. I already had one person point out that Marcelle couldn’t possibly be Christian, if she was a prostitute she’d be Shia. Which tells you more about Lebanon than I’d care to admit.

I also think you can approach this whole angle of controversy two ways. You could tiptoe around in a constant state of fear and dumb down everything you do so it couldn’t possibly offend or be contrary to anyone’s preconceptions or the way they publicly present themselves while acting differently privately. Or you can just get on and do your thing with integrity, making it as good as you can and perhaps even playing with some of the situations and personalities you encounter in this part of the world.

How did you research Lebanese bordellos?
Cheeky! I made it up. I’ve never been in one. Honest. Ask the Spot On girls, they keep me out of trouble.

Is Marcelle in the next book?
Now that would simply be telling...

Interview by Beirut - An Explosive Thriller beta reader Mita Ray.

The Beirut Website - Including Handy Links to Buy eBooks or Print Books is here!

1 comment:

Mich said...

And ask me... He doesn't leave my sight when we're in Beirut together, hehehe. I love Marcelle :-)

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