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.
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.
Visit I.J. at http://www.ijmiller.com. Twitter: @Heathcliffian