It’s such a busy publication day today and I’m thrilled to have been asked to share an extract from one of the latest books; The Love Factory by Elaine Proctor.
The Love Factory is published today, 22nd March 2018 by Quercus and is available for purchase here.
The Love Factory
You can control want, but desire controls you
When literary writer Anna falls on hard times, she tries her hand at erotic fiction to make money, and faces an uncomfortable truth. Though she’s a wife and mother of two, her stories fail to fly because she’s never experienced true sexual desire. Even her Sicilian grandmother – wearer of diamante sunglasses and knock-off Louis Vuitton – knows more than she does about real passion.
Anna turns to her friends for inspiration. As secrets and desires are revealed, she discovers more about the people close to her than she ever knew. When one of them suggests she borrow an alter ego to banish her inhibitions, a new world opens up, and The Love Factory – a group of writers penning ever more successful sexy stories – is born.
Yet Anna knows that she can’t rely on borrowed passion and an alter ego forever. For her tales to truly sizzle, she needs to find a true love of her own.
An Extract From The Love Factory
Anna and Nadia found Bouchra in bed with her head under the pillow, her grand, obsessively pristine bedroom sullied by an anthill of dirty laundry in the middle of the floor.
‘This is not a sight I ever thought I would see,’ said Nadia as they took in the mess.
Anna and Nadia sat on the bed.
‘Go away, you two,’ came a muffled voice from beneath the pillow.
Anna felt something under the sheets and pulled out a bottle of single malt whisky. It was half finished. ‘You drank this?’ she asked.
Bouchra emerged from hiding and gripped her head. ‘Ow, ow, ow,’ she moaned.
‘Oh shit,’ said Nadia. ‘The teetotal is a soak.’
Bouchra looked up at them both and, out of nowhere, asked, ‘Did you go to Bhavin’s without me?’
‘What? No!’ said Anna.
‘Never,’ said Nadia.
Once a month, after Wednesday yoga, the three friends made the pilgrimage to Bhavin’s, the great Indian grocery store in South London, to buy spices and the sweetest mangoes in the city.
The last time they’d visited, Bouchra had gone, unusually, into the shop next door, stacked floor to ceiling with roll upon roll of fabrics, and settled in amongst the silks, saris and fine hijabs.
Anna had found her there, holding a length of transparent silk up against the light.
‘Bouchra?’ said Anna.
Her friend had looked up, startled.
‘Nadia wants to know if you want a box of mangoes?’
‘It looks like how I am, Anna.’
Bouchra let the silk fall.
‘I don’t know what’s happening to me. I feel like someone has taken out my insides with an ice-cream scoop.’
Bouchra’s children had long ago left for university in America and her empty nest filled her with a bewildering vertigo. At first, they’d come home in their holidays, but of late the other calls on their time won out: internships, boyfriends, work.
Some days, if she was alone too long, Anna could tell that her friend found it hard to string a sentence together, as if her brain was softening like an underused thigh muscle.
To Anna, Bouchra and her husband Majd had a somewhat mysterious relationship. It was evident that they colluded in the business of rising-up in the world, but if you asked her what he did for a living she would shake her head and say, ‘There are some things I need to know and others I need not to know.’
At a dinner party, not long after they first became friends, Anna had asked him, ‘So, what do you do, Majd?’
He had glanced at her and said, ‘I steal from the poor and give to the rich. You?’
‘I write books nobody reads.’
‘Ah, then we are both selfish bastards.’
It had stuck in her gut, that phrase.
About Elaine Proctor
Elaine Proctor was born in South Africa. She became involved in the anti-apartheid movement as a teenager and filmed several political documentaries up until 1986, when the political situation made it impossible for her to continue and she left to study at the National Film and Television School in Britain. She has made several films, including On The Wire (winner of the British Film Institute’s Sutherland Trophy) and Friends (selected by the Cannes Film Festival and winner of the Mention Speciale – Prix de Camera D’Or), has written a series for the BBC and published two novels, Rhumba and The Savage Hour. She sits on the chapter for screenwriting at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and is a member of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain. Elaine lives in Queen’s Park, London.