North & Left From Here [Take II] Then & Now

C.C. Saint-Clair

Buy North & Left From Here [Take II] Then & Now on Amazon

The novel that launched the ‘undisputed mistress of the sensual lesbian storyline’ and the Alex Delaforet series.

What got me started?

Many years ago already, I came home feeling particularly jaded from a night on the scene.
Though I had never kept a diary, I picked up a notepad and jotted down flashes of discomfort related to the alienating nature of the night’s experience.

The following day, I found myself fleshing out these snippets of raw emotion into full sentences and paragraphs, which later became the opening chapter of Thirty-Five and a Half, later renamed North and Left from Here.

I took to this stream-of-consciousness style of writing like a duck to water; just like I had latched on to my lesbian identity at seventeen – and never looked back.

Once I had completed the manuscript for North [first titled Thirty-Five and a Half [according to my age at the time] friends came up with the notion that, surely, there would be many women out there who would relate to my mind-meanders and they urged me to keep on writing and to consider publication. And I did just that – I kept on writing.

From North & left [Take II], I moved on to Benchmarks and began work on Silent Goodbyes.

Then came Jagged dreams, Far From Maddy and its sequel centered around an empathetic FTM character, Morgan in the Mirror.

On that topic, though I am, of course, very partial to FTMs, it is so good to see how the transgender community in general has been gaining acceptance over the past 10 years.  When I wrote Morgan in 2004, FTM gender dysphoria was still a very obscure condition of which very few of the ‘unconcerned’ knew anything about.

Even as Morgan tried to convince her mother that the chest reconstruction she was about to undergo was definitely NOT a mastectomy – that it would eventually leave her with a ‘male chest, with muscles, real ones, that she would develop and strengthen at the gym like any other male’ – she could not have imagined that one day, an FTM called Aydian Dowling, would be runner up for the 2015  cover of Men’s Health magazine!

Anyway, at the junction of fiction and spiritual philosophy, I published various short stories with themes ranging from erotic ‘fairy’ tales that can be deconstructed from a spiritual perspective such as The Crab-Catcher and the Fish-Whisperer, to strong spiritual writings such as Awakening, a Tao-type tale.

It is around 2006 that I chose to dedicate my writing entirely to All Matters of the Soul.

I have since published many articles, some of which have been revised and gathered in the first two books in the series Stepping Stones To The Top Of The World [volume 1 and volume 2]

Volume 3 is currently under way.

Little did I know that night, many-many years ago, as I typed the first paragraph of my first novel that North and left From Here would actually lead to a serious shift of … passions 🙂

And what greater shift than that which took me from the writing of romantic novels to the writing of spiritual philosophy – and on to the Path!

In any case, to this day, I still use my musings and personal challenges as triggers for research and article-writing, trusting that they might connect, ripple and resonate at a personal level through the rich spectrum of readers ‘out there’.

Enjoy!

C.C.

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Circa '89 - Celebrating with my dearest friends and Mom the completion of Thirty-Five And A Half, my 1st manuscript [destined to be renamed North & left]  :-)

What people are saying about “North & Left From Here [Take II] Then & Now

  1. Splash Mag + VC’s Reviews
    Veronica Clayton

    North And Left inside yourself

    Away with the myth that the scene is a welcoming haven for the woman who feels her life needs spicing up. Away with the myth that being alone is cool, that a search inward and solitude are the answers to one’s emotional vacuum.

    Alexandra Delaforêt is thirty-five and a half, down, ‘not out’ but she is at an emotional all-time low. Nothing looms ahead but more of the same pleasant but unchallenging routine she’s been following for the past year hand a half, ever since Tamara, her most recent lover, has departed. This novel is about loneliness, a state many of us would have encountered by now, a state many of us would be very familiar with.

    Alex doesn’t subscribe anymore to ‘Band-Aid’ quick-fix sexual stopovers that have, in the past, tied her over for a month, for three, for six. She does not want yet another false start and so, while she longs for something different to kick start her life again, her introspective moods take her back to moments in her life where she was involved, in love, in lust, in danger, abandoned even – but moments where she felt emotionally alive.

    North and Left From Here (Take II), sexier, faster paced than C.C. Saint-Clair’s original novel, invites the reader to identify with the universal feelings underlying these self-reflective musings and, with the different perspectives offered by the supporting characters, to gain insights into some of her own motives and actions.

    Alex’s reflexions are simple, real but electric. They stem from the primeval yearning for emotional love. The first person narration pulls the reader right inside Alex’s head allowing her to feel, albeit vicariously, senses a-tingle, the rush of desire, the fear of rejection, the ache of lust, and thwarting of a self-esteem that needs pumping up. Each as a separate vignette is a part of Alex’s past.

    In (Take II), C.C. Saint-Clair has structured her plot around a series of poignant, emotionally charged flashbacks and these sensual snapshots of memory make for a multi-layered, intimate portrayal of one woman’s journey that span years, as well as continents. This author’s ability to link sensuality and desire to social realism resonates in the reader in a way that traditional lesbian romance fails to approximate.

    On a rainy day, North and Left From Here (Take II) is a great read. It’s a great read to on a sunny day. It’s a great read if you feel on top of the world. It’s a great read if, like Alex, you want more than what you have. If, like Alex, you want to stop finding yourself in emotional dead ends.

  2. Amazon Review
    Rose Forrest

    I’ve just finished North And Left [Take II]. My sister’s gay. She bought it, read it and passed it on to me.

    Though I’m straight, and Emilie isn’t, I totally empathized with her ban on Quick-fix affairs and her impulse to flashback to moments of connectivity with others, past lovers, at a time when her real time life feels empty. This is the 1st lesbian novel I’ve ever read and I couldn’t have wished for a more thoughtful, realistic, sexy novel to breach the gap.

    I feel so strongly about this that I really wouldn’t mind posting my thoughts on other boards.

  3. Forum Buzz
    holdquitestill

    G’day everyone. I joined just to add my bit to the buzz you all are generating over CC’s books. I wish I had time to linger on this vibrant forum, but really, I don’t.
    I’ve been a quiet supporter of C.C. for quite some time now and have been doing my bit to raise awareness of her work, in Brisbane at least, through my position as Gay & Lesbian Section Manager at McGills Books.

    Lately I’ve been reviewing some of her titles for the local queer street press, QP, and thought it might be of interest to you to have a read and maybe share your thoughts.

    I’ll post any more I write in the appropriate threads on this forum so have a look around if you like.
    And don’t forget C.C. will be again showing her lovely face in Brisbane at McGills Books on the 9th of April 2005 at 2pm

    North & Left From Here (Take II)
    (Originally published in QP: March 2005)
    This is the pacier, racier version of C.C.’s debut novel which earned her the well-deserved tagline of ‘the thinking woman’s lesbian romance novelist’. Although I’m about as far removed from the world of Alex and her friends & lovers as one can be I couldn’t help being drawn into the web of memory and introspection that is woven so skilfully by C.C..

    While initially seeming a little too thoughtful and Alex’s personal musings almost make you want to shake her, this device works a treat to provide continuity and consistency as we are drawn back and forth in time to discover the various encounters that informed the woman Alex has become.

    Her emotional and sexual interactions with beautiful and fascinating women pepper the book and engender a multitude of different emotional landscapes that the main storyline couldn’t handle alone; personally I was absolutely riveted to the tale of the athletic Tashinka in Algiers and am secretly hoping for a spin-off.

    I’ve always despaired at the dearth of quality, literary lesbian fiction so was gratified to discover another fine author in C.C. Saint-Clair and to have something to recommend to the women who’ve tired of the plethora of light detective fiction.

  4. Forum Buzz
    Rhonda

    Originally posted by caramia on March 10, 2005:

    I’m with Drift – that ‘shadow’ scene on the beach (North & left from here by C C Saint-Clair) is my all-time favourite … well, my all-time favourite in North that is, as I have many other all-time favourites in each of C C Saint-Clair’s seven novels.

    Any more novels on the way, C C? Better still, how about a filmscript of one of your novels? the goddess knows we need some good lesbian films.

    I think Far from Maddy would translate well into a film, as would Morgan in the Mirror. I think a film about Morgan would spread your compassionate perspective on transgender FTMs to a wider audience, for sure – would be a challenge, though, me thinks.

  5. Forum Buzz
    Rhonda

    Originally posted by DRIFT on Feb 25, 2005:
    Senji, baby – that story of yours is just too good. I can just see it. What I can’t quite imagine is C.C. Saint-Clair as MY neighbour. Woohoo!

    You seem to be a Jagged Dreams fan, but my special bits are in NOrth and Left [take II]. Particularly the sections with Diana and Tash – separately. How about this one –
    Alex is at the beach, in some NOrth African. She’s about 22 in this flashback and she’s got the hots for Tash, straight wife and mother of 2 little boys who, so far has not showed any signs of sexual attraction towards Alex.

    “Then, on a particular afternoon, as I lay perfecting the pose of a sand lizard busy absorbing the sun’s warmth, a shadow darkened the light beyond my eyes and hovered.
    Puzzled, my eyelids fluttered. Raising myself on one elbow and squinting into slanted sun, I was surprised to see Tash moving towards me, a finger across her lips to keep her little sons at bay till her bare feet were planted on either side of mine. Breath caught inside my throat.

    Tash’s elongated shadow was weightless across my legs, my
    stomach, my breasts.

    She smiled at me, allowing her shadow to lie over
    my body a moment longer before kneeling down, her knees on either side of mine. Time suspended. I couldn’t hear the surf, I couldn’t hear the birds that lived in the scrubby dunes nearby.

    I couldn’t hear the boys play. Then with a twist of the hips, Tash flopped at my side and pulled a bright Aegean-blue beach towel out of her backpack.

    Sound returned to my ears. The boys already at play in the water. Only a tiny handful of seconds had been lost, but they were never to be found. I returned my attention to Tash who, by then, was staring out to sea, further away than where her boys were chasing each other with sprays of
    golden light. The corners of her eyes were crinkled against the glare.
    I dropped back against the sand, trapping the fiery orange glow of sunlight under my eyelids. A tap on my shoulder. The pungent smell of blue cheese under my nose, cool and firm brushing against my lips.
    I sat up. My lips closed around the little morsel and the tips of Tash’s fingers. Heart pounding, eyes widened, a sudden shimmer of desire ripped through me. Tash held my gaze for a very brief moment before returning her attention, first to her boys, and then to the spreading of cheese on fluffy white bread. The moment passed unacknowledged by
    words.”

    I assume it’s ok to borrow a few of C.C. lines for the purpose of this forum, but I’d better add that the extract is copyright by c.c. Saint-Clair 20003.
    If I’ve toyed too close to copyright infringement, maybe your neighbour will give me a call Wink
    _________________
    one doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. andre gide

  6. Forum Buzz
    stargayzer

    Vita-Sackville West said, “I believe that then the psychology of people like myself will be a matter of interest, and I believe it will be recognized that many more people of my type do exist ….” and, me, I thinK that C.C. Saint-Clair’s tack to her writing is about the same thing.
    As she said in the interview that’s already been posted on this forum
    https://www.ccsaint-clair.com/morganinthemirror/OIAinterview.htm
    North and Left [TakeII] was somewhat autobiographic (I suspect Benchmarks might have been too) and her books remind us that people like Alex do exist and people like Morgan and Jo do exist as well.
    OK, so none of Saint-Clair’s characters are either smooth and glossy. They all have bumps and flaws. And yet, we get them because they ring true – warts and all. And they remind us of a private aspect of ourselves or of an ex we’ve had or of someone else we’ve known and loved.
    S’gayzer
    _________________
    Star gazing: great for the soul. Work hard – play hard – love hard: all great for the body.

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