Sep

9

2008

Honey Trap and Sophie, part 2

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(The first part of this discussion is found below, here.)

Honey TrapSo once I’d decided to write about Sophie the private detective, I thought about her job. She’d mentioned to Eleanor, the heroine of One Night Stand, that it was mostly infidelity investigations these days, and I’d heard a few things on the radio about the idea of honey trapping–that is, tempting an attached man or woman with an attractive stranger to see if they take the bait and prove themselves unfaithful.

To me, it seems like a flawed concept: just because someone flirts, it doesn’t mean they’re habitually unfaithful, and besides, it shows that there’s a basic lack of trust and communication in the relationship. Seems to me that a counsellor is a better choice than a honey trapper. But Sophie, I discovered, saw it differently.

For her, a cheater is a cheater and the sooner they’re caught, the better. She doesn’t like honey trapping, but there’s something exciting in it for her. The control. The power. The slinky clothes and the makeup that’s a mask. The way she feels sexy and desired, even if it’s by the wrong people. She’d never admit it, though, not even to herself. Here’s how she explains it to her would-be boyfriend, Raj, near the beginning of the book:

“But you can’t like it, can you?” His voice was pleading.
“Like it? Looking like a tart? Making inane conversation? The scumbags drooling over me, thinking they’ll have a fumble? The only decent thing about it is the pow–”
She stopped. She’d been about to say “the power”.
“Is the money I get paid. It’s my job,” she said firmly. “Liking it or not has nothing to do with it.”

So then I had my character arc: Sophie needed to discover that life is not as black and white as she believes. And she also needs to find out how she can assert her sexuality in a way that’s safe for her. Of course, if honey trapping is a symptom of her problems, then the hero, in order to challenge her as much as possible, needed to be someone involved in the honey trapping.

But I didn’t think I could have her make that progression if she were still doing honey traps. I needed her to become disillusioned by the whole thing, to make a move towards something better for herself. So I decided two things: one was that I had to begin the book in a place I hadn’t usually begun my books before, which is several chapters before she meets the hero. I had to show her making the decision to turn away from her old life, towards something that she thinks will be better. Of course if she hasn’t dealt with her issues yet, things won’t get better; they’ll get worse.

And then I had to decide what she was going to do instead of being a honey-trapping private detective. That’s where a visit to the Lake District came in.


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  1. I was so pleased that she ripped up the big cheque at the beginning! That was the minute I knew she was going to be a heroine I could really root for.

    Jess (currently on Chapter 13) x

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  2. Hee hee! Thank you Jess!

    Originally that cheque-ripping scene happened offstage, but I decided to add it in during revisions to really show Sophie’s character progression and her realising that what she’s doing now as a PI isn’t what she originally planned to do.

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