Skin Deep

WARNING!!! AUTHOR’S SPOILER NOTE!!! The following blog discusses the terribly important subject of Danny’s beauty. It will in no (ordinary) way spoil the plot of DANNY for you BUT it could actually change your perspective on the characters completely, which may change the way you then see them within the plot structure, which may act as a spoiler. Of course, you are completely at liberty to disregard my thoughts on Danny’s beauty and stick to your own opinions – which may very well be right. I’m just warning you, if you would rather not have an idea presented to you too early, and prefer to reach these things yourself, you may not thank me for this discussion. On your own head be it…

Well, first let me thank you all for the overwhelming response to my mini-blog asking for your thoughts on DANNY’s genre. I am eternally grateful. I now know that you don’t give a fuck about DANNY’s genre, or, if you do, you don’t give a fuck about letting me in on the secret. This confirms the opinion I have long held about you all. I’ll leave you to guess what that is.

So, here I am, facing financial ruin. Actually, I’m not. It’s all over bar the shouting. What I’m facing now is the aftermath. The ruin’s the easy part; it’s the letters, the lawyers, the endless reading of self-help and of ‘How to…’ books. I know all this rigmarole by heart by now and have done it so often it holds no fear. Unfortunately it doesn’t make it any pleasanter, or easier. But still, this too will pass, as they say.

Because I’m having to overhaul my life, compulsorily as it were, I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s important and what isn’t. Something has to be quit – probably many things – so suddenly all the things you’ve been coasting on need to be seen to, thought about. Procrastination is no longer an option, and that’s usually my chief mode of (not) doing: avoiding this, avoiding that. I can fairly say that’s how I got where I am today. Take note.

All this introspection has made me think about why I am supposedly writing this blog in the first place. It’s supposed to increase my ‘profile’ and thus create book sales. Which it doesn’t. So, if you’re a wannabe writer/business person, trust me, blogs are not the answer.

However, what this scrutiny did make me realise was I don’t talk about DANNY as much as I should, chiefly because most of my blog readers have never read it. And I think we can say fairly they’re not going to either. Thus, I don’t give a fuck if it doesn’t interest them, I’m going to talk about DANNY.

Specifically, Danny himself.

Danny is beautiful. That’s referred to over and over and over again in the book. Chiefly by other people. Well, let me say something straight away – I do not believe in Danny’s beauty. I never have.

I notice that it’s the one thing that all my readers take for granted. I assume because so many people in the book talk about it, and because, of course, Danny has such ‘power’ over people that there must be some reason for it. And beauty is so valued in our culture that no-one questions it.

I did want people to question it, but I didn’t expect that to happen until well down the line. Maybe I’m just too soon. Maybe 10, 15 years from now someone might have said (they won’t now, because I’ve spoilered it) “Wait a minute, there’s no actual proof of Danny’s beauty, is there?” And then they would have looked through the book in a furtive and desperate manner to see if they could find the bit where I say he’s beautiful, only to discover it ain’t there. Then they could make themselves unpopular on the book’s – by now, many-blossomed – discussion boards, stridently declaiming, “I don’t think Danny is beautiful. I just think people think he is.” And I would nod in a sagely manner and say, “Clever boy/girl.” And feel deeply rewarded.

Danny isn’t beautiful. I’m telling you, he isn’t. I wrote the book and I should know. Think about it: right at the start, when he’s introduced – about as much of me as you get – do I ever actually say he’s beautiful? (Let me put you at rest – I don’t.) All I say is he’s a redhead. All I ever tell you about Danny is he has red hair and fair skin that burns easily. I don’t tell you what exact colour his skin is, or what shade his hair is, or what colour his eyes are, or whether he’s thick or thin, tall or short.

Of course, after that, everyone else in the book starts feeding you that information.

But, you might argue, we see how other people react to him – they fall in love/lust with him too easy. They pursue him too much. They give him too much, want him too much, need him too much. He holds too much bloody power. Of course, he’s beautiful – what else could it be?

Oh, I don’t know… novelty value? Redheads are rare. Applying the ‘average of good-looks in the populace at large’ to redheads means a good-looking redhead is very rare. So he’s good-looking, you admit it, I hear you yell triumphantly.

Sure he is. But how many good-looking people did you see today? A few at least, of both sexes. Many, if it’s a good day. And only one if you only went as far as the corner shop and back. No matter, good-looking doesn’t cut it. Does it, truthfully? Would you sign your life over to someone who was merely workaday good-looking?

No, there’s something more there. How often do you hear people refer to Danny (and John for that matter) as being supernaturally good-looking, or powerful or magnetic? A lot; I can fill you in on that one too.

They have the power of the vampire, both of them. Probably because my earliest diet was fairy tales and horror novels. But just like I don’t believe Cinderella is really about magic and glass slippers, I don’t believe DANNY is about ‘Special Powers’. Truthfully, I don’t believe even ‘Special Powers’ in any comic book drivel you care to name is really about Special Powers either – it’s just about power, plain and simple. And being special of course (and there it is, right there).

The question you should really be asking is what is Danny’s special power then?

The ‘real’ definition of the word glamour – it’s original definition – is the power to deceive though magic. It was, quite literally, a spell cast over a person or an object to change its surface appearance – generally to make it more appealing than it actually was. You know, like the wicked witch in Snow White, although she arguably does that in reverse.

Danny is glamorous. You’ll see that trait referred to over an over, without it actually being called that. It’s a word that’s pretty much been commandeered by ‘femininity’ now anyway – couldn’t be used convincingly by or for a man, unless it was Queer Eye for The Straight Guy.

But Danny personifies the ancient definition of glamour. He’s a ginge, for Christ’s sake. Everything about him is wrong, just as it is in John. He’s got pale skin, not robust, brown and healthy. He’s thin and tall, i.e. gangly. He has freckles. So many of them it turns his skin a pale gold in places. He has curly hair. And we’re talking thick curls here, that form ringlets, not nice trendy waves. He’s gangly, peely-wally (literally, in Scots, ‘pale as a ceramic tile’), gingery, freckly and, as if that wasn’t enough, he has “weird eyes”. God knows, enough people comment on them.

Yet, despite all this, despite even the king-size clue that he’s the dead spit of John, who people constantly debate whether he’s “ugly” or not, no-one has, within my hearing, questioned the validity of Danny’s beauty. It just is. Because everyone says so.

So why does everyone believe in Danny’s beauty and why don’t I?

Ah, that would be telling. Got to leave you something to figure out for yourself…

P.S. The ‘proof’ copy of How to Write the Perfect Novel is on for a mere £4.95 if you want a cheap one. It has yellow marker throughout and a couple of my scribbles, but is otherwise perfect – apart from all those highlighted errors/changes, of course. Still, even with the post it’s a couple of quid cheaper. Also, we have a lovely new ad on Skin Two, along with a little news feature. Here it is: The ‘Roses’ Valentines Day ad with a difference, plus our mini-feature. You’ll have to search through the pages for the ad though, it’s revolving. Let me know if and where you find it, I’d be curious to know where it turns up. Enjoy.


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