THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TOLD…JUST GOT HOTTER!
An erotic retelling of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights…
Today I’m happy to have author I.J. Miller with me. He is here to talk about why his hero is a brute. Take it away, I.J.
MY HERO’S A BRUTE!
by I.J. Miller
What a challenge! Last August my editor at Grand Central Publishing commissioned me to do an erotic retelling of Emily Bronte’s classic, Wuthering Heights. It’s five months later and the result is WUTHERING NIGHTS, available in e-book now, as a trade paperback in April. I thought the biggest test would be writing a quality book in such a short time, but the true challenge was how to manage a hero, Heathcliff, who is a true brute.
My first focus was making sure that this book was different than your typical erotic mashup and wasn’t built around a lot of verbatim text with some sex thrown in. I worked hard to stay true to the original language, themes, and characters, but added several new plot twists and turns that help make the eroticism more organic and heightens the romance. But what was I going to do about Heathcliff?
As I immersed myself in dissecting the original and preparing for the erotic version, I was completely struck by how flawed and brutal Bronte’s hero was. However, as I went even deeper I realized his awfulness is part of what makes the book so great and why so many remember it. Bronte seemed to write it before all of the classic unwritten rules of fiction were formed, before self-censorship became a common guide for writers. She bares all of him, including his selfishness and brutality. My first instinct was to clean him up and make him more palatable for a modern audience not used to such a flawed
hero. I then decided that would do the book a great injustice and I had to interpret it as true as I could.
So Heathcliff will get your heart stirring one way or the other. He was abused as a child so he does deserve some compassion. I also try to get into the deeper reasons behind his harsh actions as well as probe his inner desire for redemption. But there is no running from the fact that he is someone who likes getting his way and is not afraid to use his physical size and powerful demeanor to achieve his ends. In WUTHERING NIGHTS he is the same way in the bedroom as both a dominant and sensual lover. I simply tried to avoid making any judgments and portrayed him in the same exposed way Bronte did, with no punches pulled. He will still inspire a myriad of emotions in the reader. Some may love him. Some may hate him. Some may love to hate him. But how cool is that?
Thank you, Emily Bronte for such unfiltered inspiration.
EXCERPT FROM WUTHERING NIGHTS
Just before the light of dawn, not long after Nelly had left his bedside, the dark figure of Heathcliff moved swiftly along the moors. He carried nothing, for he owned nothing. He wore no shirt, for the one he possessed, a bloody mess, was left in the barn. He soon arrived at Black Rock Cragge, surveyed the surrounding landscape of the place he called home since arriving from Liverpool. To the north, was Thrushcross Grange. To the south, was Wuthering Heights. To the east, first light of day was about to break, but there was only a slight clearness above the horizon. The rest of the sky was a charcoal black of storm clouds.
Heathcliff stood, shirtless, at the edge of the precipice, fifty feet above the pool and sharp pointed rocks where Catherine and he had sealed their vow, arms rising up to the heavens, palms turning outward, as he welcomed the tempest.
The storm came rattling over the moors in full fury. The hard rain struck his face. There was a violent wind, as well as thunder, and a bolt of lightning revealed a twisted smile on his face.
He had listened to his beloved speak of the many ways she loved another.
He had heard his darling say that to marry him would degrade her.
He had heard his most venerated speak words that violated their sacred vow.
He had allowed a cowardly bully to have his way with him.
He had endured the pompous and shallow Linton family separating him from his treasure as if he were trash to be tossed to the pigs.
He knew now that he could have had his way with Catherine at any time: in the garret on Christmas night, during their stolen moments in the fields, if he had wanted to take her the way he had Nelly this very eve and that she would have been powerless to resist the strength in his hands, the fire in his eyes, the hunger in his mouth, the forceful strength between his legs.
Even now….If he wanted her.
But after all that had happened tonight he could not see one, single, solitary way to have Catherine in the truest of forms. He could love her as Heathcliff: falling to his knees for the chance to place his lips upon her feet, rising each day simply to rest his eyes upon her loveliness, baring his soul just to receive her simplest of touches. But she needed more, much more. She needed Edgar as well. And though the lad was as spineless as a worm, he had the fair skin and blue eyes of a gentleman, the costume and manners of a man of dignified birth, the wealth and station of someone who could fulfill Catherine with the luxury of life at the Grange and the noble status of being called his wife.
What was the point if he could not have her completely and she would not be satisfied with all that was him?
But should they all be absent of the suffering that ripped through his soul as the storm whipped through the firs on the moors?
“NAY!” shouted Heathcliff to the sky, daring God to strike him down now if he so planned.
But as bolts of lightning came and went, from sky to ground, all around the moors, there was nary a flicker at Black Rock Cragge.
“Then a curse be on them!” cried Heathcliff. “A curse for a thousand years and more. I place a curse on the Earnshaws and Lintons, for all the pettiness you inspire, the meanness of spirit you invoke, and because you would not allow two people to love in the pure righteous way that lay buried in their hearts.”
A loud, angry bolt came crashing down, but it did not strike Heathcliff and he continued to smile.
“A curse on all those Earnshaws and Lintons living and all those to be born! For as I stand here on the cragge, as long as I draw breath, and even from the hell where I will surely land, I will reap pleasure from seeing each and every one of you suffer!”
Despite the rain pounding his face, Heathcliff let out an horrific, bone-chilling, bloodcurdling scream that paled the death cry of any wounded animal, a scream that startled awake and went down the spine of each Earnshaw and Linton like a razor splitting a soul in two—although they could not be sure it was human, animal, or just the storm they had heard—disturbing deeply every last one of them, including the baby curled inside Mrs. Earnshaw.
And then he jumped.
BIO FOR I.J. MILLER
I.J. Miller is the author of five, distinct, literary, erotic works of fiction: SEESAW was translated into two languages, with over 130,000 copies in print; WHIPPED appeared in both English and German; SEX AND LOVE, a collection of short stories, made its debut in the summer of 2011; CLIMBING THE STAIRS, a novella, was released just a year later. His latest novel, WUTHERING NIGHTS, is an erotic retelling of Emily Bronte’s classic, Wuthering Heights, and is published by the Grand Central Publishing imprint of Hatchette Books. It is available now as an e-book and will be in bookstores in trade paperback on April 23. Miller has a Master of Fine Arts from the American Film Institute and has taught creative writing and screenwriting at the university level.
I’d like to thank I.J. for visiting with me today and sharing his hot new book. I guess we’ll never look at the classics the same way again, and I truly love that idea.
What about you? What do you think of reworking a classic like this? What about all the retellings of fairytales lately? Not just in books, but in movies too? I must admit; I loved the movie Snow White and the Huntsman–and I would have even without Chris Hemsworth, but he made it really good. 😉