Hello all, I’m CJane Elliott and my novel Serpentine Walls was released by Dreamspinner Press on October 30th. I’ve published three novellas through Dreamspinner but this is my first novel-length work and I’m excited to share it with everyone.
Reeling from the news that his parents are divorcing, Pete Morgan starts his junior year at college cynical about love and commitment. Although his new openness to one-night stands does wonders for his sex life, fighting his romantic nature proves harder than he’d anticipated. He soon finds himself pining for a glamorous senior, Aidan, who doesn’t mind taking Pete to bed but shows no interest in commitment—at least not with Pete. And Pete’s attempt at a “friends-with-benefits” relationship with sophomore Jed leaves Pete feeling empty.
One bright spot in Pete’s year is Matthew, an easygoing graduate student who assists Pete in making his first film. Matthew has some baggage too, and has sworn off relationships and sex altogether, so Pete feels safe to enjoy their friendship. But he falls for Matthew anyway, not able to fight his growing conviction that Matthew is the perfect guy for him. Even if Pete can accept that he made a mistake when he turned his back on relationships, that doesn’t mean Matthew will feel the same. With a few life lessons under his belt, Pete’s ready to take a chance on love. As he finds the courage to bare his heart to Matthew, he can only hope that Matthew will take a chance with him.
I’m a psychotherapist by training and I like to explore the psychology of my characters almost as much as I like to write about them having hot sex. One concept that I include in Serpentine Walls is something that the renowned psychologist Carl Jung called “animus projection.”
In the story, Pete gets riveted on the unavailable Aidan with whom he has a few sexual encounters but nothing close to a real relationship. Despite that, Pete can’t stop thinking about him. His best friend, John, who’s a psychology major, explains what’s going on in the following excerpt:
John glanced over at him. “You sure about not giving Jed a chance? He’s a good guy. And way into you, for some unknown reason.”
John continued on as if Pete hadn’t said anything. “Because I agree with Bud on one thing: Aidan is bad news. Not as a person—I like the dude, but he’s bad news for you.”
Pete thought of the tense ending to his and Aidan’s last encounter. “I guess so.”
“I know so. He’s also got something going on with that creep, Professor R. You need to move on.”
“I wish there was something I could do to help him get out of that.”
“Who, Aidan? Stay out of it. He’s a big boy, and you even wanting to do something is more of you being hung up on him. He’s your damn animus figure.”
“What the hell does that mean, though?”
“It’s what Jung called it when people get, like, transfixed by another person. That it’s not the actual other person you’re drawn to. Like, it’s not Aidan, the literal person, it’s something about yourself that he represents.”
John had said this before, and Pete had never quite gotten it. “So, he’s—”
John interrupted, his dark eyes alight with interest. “What about Aidan do you most admire?”
“Um, his gigantic cock?”
“Right. Be serious. What beyond that?”
Pete thought about Aidan: his glamorous looks, his talent, and the way he made no apologies for who he was. He admired the way Aidan was pursuing his dream in theater and how much he worked on perfecting his acting and singing.
He told all this to John, who tilted his head and then said, “Not to get woo-woo, but what if Aidan came into your life for a reason?”
“Well, ask yourself what you’ve learned from being around him. Like, what he’s contributed, or, um, what he’s stirred up in your soul, or whatever.”
“Dude. Stirred up in my soul?”
“You admire him for pursuing his art, so maybe there’s something there about your own creativity.”
“Well, I did have a dream the other night where I was in an artist’s studio.”
John lifted his head. “Really?”
“Yes.” Pete smiled at his enthusiasm. “You and your dream analysis.”
“Hey, dreams are amazing. Anything else about it?”
“Someone was showing me around. I guess it was available or something. I remember that it felt good to be in that studio, even though I’m not a painter or anything. But when you said the thing about creativity, I remembered it.”
“You’re not a painter, but you’re creative. You’re a writer, you’re making a film. I mean, I don’t know what you want to do with your life. But I think the dream and maybe even this Aidan obsession are about you wanting to pursue your creative side.”
“Yeah. Not a great way to make a living, though.”
“That’s your dad talking. What do you care?”
“I wouldn’t care if he didn’t keep bugging me about it.”
By the end of the story, Pete finally got what it was that Aidan “stirred up in his soul”:
Parker had finished his song, and Aidan took the microphone from him while Matthew fiddled with the karaoke machine. Aidan began singing “Someone Like You,” his lovely tenor ringing out, and while Pete was sick of Adele by now, he had to admit Aidan’s rendition was beautiful. And so was Aidan.
That’s why I fell for him, Pete realized with sudden insight. Aidan is beauty. Or he makes beauty. Something like that.
Aidan’s voice continued to rise and fall in its mesmerizing journey, and Pete waited for the familiar Aidan longing to capture him. It didn’t. In its place came John’s long-ago question: What have you learned from being around Aidan? And an answer instantly appeared: That it’s okay to devote my life to making something beautiful.
Oh, please, responded his inner critic, be more pompous, but Pete paid him no mind. Pompous or not, it was the truth.
Animus/anima projection usually is not actual love or a lasting relationship, but it can be life-changing. Have you ever fallen completely in love with someone even though the circumstances were hopeless or you didn’t even know them personally? Maybe there was some aspect of your own psyche that this person represented, and it was as if that part of you was being called forth so you could fall a bit more in love with yourself.
To get the book with the full adventures of Pete and friends, go here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4336