A lot of people ask me, "When are you going to write another book like Mercy?" The more subtle people will say stuff like, "I like all your stuff, but Mercy is my favorite." I think that holds true for a lot of people. I have sold more copies of Mercy than all my other books combined, which is an amazing stat. Two years down the line it's still going strong.
The funny thing is, a lot of people absolutely HATE Mercy. Despise it. Leave nasty reviews for it. It's the only book out there (well, besides Cait and the Devil) that hasn't been professionally edited. Still, it has some magic for people.
And I think I know what it is.
When I wrote Mercy, I was writing for an audience of one. Myself. I was privately giving voice to my own deepest, darkest fantasies. Matthew was my dream dominant, my ideal Master...cold, evil, sadistic, and yet possessing a heart of gold under all that perversion. When I wrote Mercy, there were no filters. No questioning in my mind about what readers would make of it, because I never intended it to see the light of day. I think that gives writers a freedom to take risks and let their characters do "bad things" that might truly offend. I didn't care. I wrote Mercy for me.
Of course, I don't mind others reading Mercy. I don't even mind others condemning it. What really bothers me about Mercy is that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to write another book like it, because when I write now, I do write for readers. I am very aware, as I write, about what will annoy or disgust or anger readers. As a result, there is less to offend readers in my newer works--but perhaps there's also less to send them into that delicious area of fantasy that feels not-so-safe.
I would love to write another not-so-safe book. My current work-in-progress, Cirque du Minuit, is crossing some of those lines and taking some risks. But deep down inside, I know it's not going to be another Mercy. It might come close--and I can force it closer if I wish--but I can't go back now to writing as if no one is going to read it. I've tried, but I can't.
I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing...