Sistia Scarpora was one of those rare characters that came to me fully formed. She stepped out of the ether and there she was. I have no idea where her name came from – I’d never heard it before and having just Googled it, can’t understand how I had come across it. Her surname, however, I managed to make up all by myself: I glanced about the room where I was working at the time and noticed a box which had held a pair of walking boots – I think they were actually called Scarpa. The box was decorated with autumnal leaves – colours which became her favourite.
So there she was: Sistia Scarpora, deliberately the most beautiful woman I’ve ever created. Six foot tall, black hair in insane spirals and waves all the way down her back, skin like honey, eyes like an enraged tiger. Beauty is a main theme in Flesh for Sale: it’s beauty that sells, beauty the Fleet desire and beauty the Fleet pay for. Flesh for Sale is the second novel in the Fleet Quintet, but could easily stand on its own. It doesn’t seem connected to Transference at all – except for one character who forms an impossible link. (This link is the basis of the next novel in the Quintet.) After all these years, she remains one of my favourite characters: she’ll break someone’s nose if she doesn’t like them, unlike me who would just cry and run away.
I’ve always thought this my most mature novel and editing it now, ten years later, I can see that it is STREAKS ahead of Transference. My writing is so sure, so strong, the structure of the story as sharp as a diamond. Selling it is another matter.