Wednesday, November 1, 2017

All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor - Book Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

A story about an all-inclusive resort, the ghost of an unknown father, and the tragedies we can’t forget.

What’s it like when everyone’s dream vacation is your job? Ameera works at a Mexican all-inclusive resort, where every day is paradise — if “paradise” means endless paperwork, quotas to meet, and entitled tourists. But it’s not all bad: Ameera’s pastime of choice is the swingers scene, and the resort is the perfect place to hook up with like-minded couples without all the hassle of having to see them again.

Despite Ameera’s best efforts to keep her sideline a secret, someone is spreading scandalous rumours about her around the resort, and her job might be at stake. Meanwhile, she’s being plagued by her other secret, the big unknown of her existence: the identity of her father and why he disappeared. Unbeknownst to Ameera, her father, Azeez, is looking for her, and they both must come to terms with the reason why he abandoned her.

A moving new work from award-winning author Farzana Doctor, All Inclusive blurs the lines between the real world and paradise, and life and death, and reminds us that love is neither easily lost nor found.


Nora’s place was a small room just around the corner from the coffee shop. Like my own,
a few blocks away, it had space for a desk, a dresser, and a single bed. She fiddled with her boom box, popped in a Duran Duran cassette, and then flopped onto the bed. She beckoned me over from where I stood awkwardly by the door. I sat gingerly beside her and she took my hand. I wasn’t surprised by the gesture; she’d slipped her arm through mine on the walk over.

She leaned in close and I could tell she wanted me to kiss her. How unshrinking and
unafraid Canadian girls were! I pushed my face into hers, and didn’t breathe for a long time. I
wrapped her in my arms and she let me hold her tightly.

We talked and kissed for hours. My fingers groped her soft waist, the downy peach-fuzz on
her arms. When I gazed into her eyes I sensed a rare and special connection. And then suddenly we were tearing away our clothes.

In my fantasies, it would have happened in cinematic slow motion. Unhurried, we’d have
progressed to that point over several romantic dates. And when the disrobing finally happened it
would be an alluring striptease. Perhaps in reality things always move more quickly.

I left soon after the sex, lying to her about needing to get work done. I never did tell her
that I would be on an airplane the following afternoon, but rather, I’d remained vague about my
departure, speaking about the future as though it were more expansive than it was. Perhaps I
didn’t want to disappoint her.

I promised to call the next morning. Maybe we’d go for an early lunch. She gave me her
number and, foolishly, I forgot to offer mine.

Guest Post

Ten Things I Learned While Writing Sex Scenes

As a novelist and poet, I’ve always written about sex, at least to some degree; I’ve described flirtation and lust, sexual orientation and identity, erectile dysfunction, teen sexual angst, unrequited love and middle-aged romance. Many readers would say that the sexuality of my first two novels Stealing Nasreen and Six Metres of Pavement was present, but understated and tame. 

Perhaps this is the way of literary fiction? Sex scenes are supposed to service plot and must not cross the line into what could be considered gratuitous. That line is an elusive and subjective one.  In literary fiction, it’s not unusual for characters begin to make out, and then suddenly, an imaginary curtain closes, chapters end, and it’s up to the reader to figure out what happened next. 

I wanted to try something different with my third novel, All Inclusive; I wanted to take risks. So I made my main character a woman who is exploring non-monogamy and bisexuality through the swinger scene at the Mexican all inclusive resort, where she works as a tour representative. As I started out, I knew that that unconventional sex would be a metaphor for my protagonist’s growth, a vehicle to show her character, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t mute Ameera’s sex life in any way. I wanted to show the good, bad, awkward and messy of it and avoid writing clichés and stereotypes. I would not allow an imaginary curtain to obscure any of it.

Here are a few things learned I learned along the way:

1) Most of us have had very little true sex education. Chances are that we’ve learned half-truths and fiction from television, movies, school, health care providers, misinformed peers, lovers, religious leaders, and family members.

2) Sex is not always erotic or romantic. It’s often awkward, disappointing, and clumsy.

3) People worry about sex. A lot. Are we having too little or too much? Is it the right kind? Is our lover the right gender(s)? What if we are doing it wrong or are bad at it?

4) We are often told (women and girls, especially) to guard our sexuality. We are urged to keep it “safe”, to set limits and boundaries, to protect ourselves. And if we go to far, we are prudes. If we are victimized, it’s our fault.

5) On the other hand, we aren’t taught about how to liberate our sexuality: how to find our pleasure, our joy, our play.

6) We are led to believe that common is normal, and uncommon abnormal.

7) Sex intrigues us and we can’t get enough. Don’t we use sex to sell everything? But if we show that we are intrigued or that we are getting enough (or more than enough), we will be shamed for it.

8) Most people experience talking about the boundaries of sex—things like condom/barrier use, activities they don’t want, STIs, places on the body they don’t want touched, best ways to check-in about consent—as uncomfortable, or interruptions. And we also don’t talk about how often these boundaries get violated. 

9) How we are socially located matters. Our experience is always mediated by our size, skin colour, abilities, age, genders, sexual orientation. Sex is about the body, but also about society and how it values or devalues us.  We can be validated through sex, but also shunned, silenced and shamed.

10) Emotions are tricky! Sex brings us into one another’s intimate spheres. What do we feel when we are there. What if our lover(s) don’t reciprocate?

So what did this mean to me as I wrote All Inclusive’s sex scenes? I found myself bumping up against my own biases, past learning, and current foibles about sexuality. I had to notice where I flinched, laughed aloud, or became blocked. I had to reeducate myself about sex all over again. 

Readers have told me (my father, included, but that’s another story) that there was too much sex in All Inclusive. Others have told me there wasn’t enough.  One book club member blushed and told me that it “pushed her envelope” but that was a good thing.

Editors will often tell writers to not write sex because no one gets it “right”. Did I? I’m not sure, but Ameera offered me the best sex education ever.


About the Author

Farzana Doctor is the author of three novels: Stealing Nasreen, Six Metres of Pavement (which was a 2012 Lambda Literary Award and the 2017 One Book One Brampton winner) and the recently released All Inclusive which was a Kobo and National Post Best Book of the Year. Farzana was named one of CBC Books’ “Ten Canadian Women Writers You Need to Read Now”. She is also a Registered Social Worker with a part-time psychotherapy practice. She curates the Brockton Writers Series.

Author Links:

Farzana Doctor will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner and a print copy of the book to 10 randomly drawn winners (US Only) via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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