Trigger Happy

Trigger Happy

Let’s talk about triggers.

When I’m writing, I try not to think about anyone’s potential reactions to how I tell the story. I let the characters speak and try like hell to keep up.
But inevitably, some scenes prove triggering for readers. I get lots of colorful comments, negative reviews, and occasionally the virtual middle finger, which is fair enough; I think if anyone has emotions that intense about something I’ve written, there’s probably a valid reason. I try not to take it personally.
In fact, I’ve never commented on negative reviews, until now.
Lately, I’ve rethinking that policy. I always want my books to be a safe space for everyone…. so let’s pick some past triggers and talk. I’ll give you an excerpt to remind you of the passage, and then we’ll talk about why it may bring up feelings for us.

The first example is in Windswept, where I got over a hundred responses to the passage where Sabine makes the final decision to leave New Orleans. If you haven’t read the book yet, Sabine Rowan, a talented set dresser from a theatre family in New Orleans, becomes the sole caregiver to her aging mother, a pampered, vain former actress who is choosing to shut out the world with vodka.
The relationship has slowly taken over Sabine’s life, until one day, when she gets an unexpected opportunity to escape, but she has two hours to make that irrevocable choice, and when this scene happens, she’s down to less than three minutes.


      Almost two hours later, Sabine threw the overfilled rucksack over her shoulder and raced down the stairs as quietly as possible. She peered through the front window to see that the driver was already parked outside of her door in a black Escalade, talking on his phone as he glanced at his watch. The minutes pounded in Sabine’s chest like a second heartbeat; she didn’t need to look at her watch again to know it was 11:17 a.m. She had exactly three minutes to open the door and walk down the front steps of her house. The bag felt foreign and heavy on her shoulder as she reached for the doorknob.
       Sabine’s fingers curled around the cold metal, and she pressed her eyes shut against the sound. 
      “Don’t try to act like you’re not there.” Her mother’s voice hardened midair. “I heard you come down the stairs.” 
      The rucksack dug into Sabine’s shoulder, and she switched it to the other side as she glanced back at her mother’s open bedroom door. She traced the outline of the passport in her pocket with her fingers and felt the pages bend under her touch.
     “I’ve had an accident, darling. Can you come help me?”
      Sabine let the rucksack fall off her shoulder and walked to the open door. A surge of anger welled inside her, but she shoved it down just as quickly, forcing herself to shake it off. She can’t know what’s going on. It’s not like she’s doing it on purpose.
     And maybe it was a sign, anyway. Sabine looked back at the overstuffed rucksack on the floor. What was she thinking? As much as she loved Thea, she couldn’t just abandon her entire life in New Orleans and run off to God knows where. Maybe her mother was saving her from a moment of insanity before it was too late. 
     She took a long breath and stepped into Celestine’s bedroom. The bed was bare, stripped down to the mattress with a dark yellow stain in the middle, the sheets in a lifeless tangle on the floor. Her mother was sitting in the darkest corner of the room with the curtains drawn, smacking a box of Camel Lights against the palm of her hand. 
     “Sab, love, I’ve had a little accident.” She crossed her legs, her unzipped funeral dress from the day before falling off the sharp edge of her shoulder. “I’ll just sit over here until you get it changed.”
     Celestine didn’t look at her as she spoke. She clicked the chrome lighter over and over until it finally it flamed to life, then leaned back in the chair as she inhaled the acrid first drag, exhaling silken gray smoke through her nostrils toward the ceiling like some medieval dragon.
     Sabine looked at the latest stain, overlapping the previous ones by a wide margin. 
     “Sabine?” Her mother flicked her cigarette into an imaginary ashtray, rubbing her forehead hard with her fingertips. “I’d like to get back into bed. I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.”
     Sabine waited until her mother looked up before she answered. 
     Celestine’s head whipped around. “What do you mean, ‘no’?” 
     The smell of urine rose with the late morning heat, and Sabine met her mother’s gaze before she replied. “Just…no. I’m done.”
     Sabine felt the world spin under her foot as she turned and walked out the front door, only to sink slowly down to the steps as she closed it behind her. 
     The driver was gone.  

(End scene.)

So, the fact that Sabine makes the choice to leave that enabling relationship was triggering for a lot of women, and I think I might know why. And I might also be wrong, so leave your ideas in the comments below. I’d love to hear them.
I think what’s unfolding here is the reality that as women, our value in this society is based on how much of ourselves we give to those around us; our partners, our children, and our communities, even strangers. So to give everything in the care of someone else feels familiar to most of us and to even think about making the choice NOT to do that can bring up intense feelings.
But I think what’s happening in the story is that Sabine no longer recognized herself or her life. Her mother was using her as a crutch to continue drinking and avoid responsibility, and she was letting her. She had to literally toss out that single word, “no,” and walk the hell out the door to even start to rebuild who she was without giving everything she was to someone else.
Women are socialized to do everything in the service of other people, and sometimes that’s taken advantage of. We forget that we only have this one, wild, beautiful life and in big and small ways, we let people take it from us.
Let’s all fucking quit that. Walk out the door with Sabine…Deal?


The next example is in a book no one has read yet, it’s an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Undercurrent. ‘Cause I’m tricky like that;)
In this book, bodies are starting to pile up in Salem, MA, and a task force of the best female minds in law enforcement has been assembled in a remote log cabin to track down the serial killer.
This scene is between Wilder, Salem’s police chief who looks like she could lift a police cruiser onto her shoulder with one arm, and Tala, the Native American FBI profiler who grew up on a reservation.

(Start Scene)

Wilder found a doorknob in the darkness and opened another door. She flipped on a light that warmed the room they stepped into with a slow, amber glow. It felt instantly spacious and strangely warm, with thick, split-pine walls and an open shower area to her right. A glass wall the color of smoky quartz separated the area into two parts; they were standing in the smaller area that held the shower, with a dressing space opposite, but Tala could just make out another expansive space beyond.
A warm glow was visible just beyond the glass, and Tala laid her fingertips against the cool, dark surface before she’d even realized she’d done it. It was alluringly beautiful, in a ghostly way. She glanced down for a handle but found nothing, almost as if she were looking into a dark crystal to another realm. She sensed Wilder’s smile before she turned around.
“Looking for something?”
“What’s in there?” Tala shaded the glass with her hands and looked again, but other than the flickering reflection of fire, she couldn’t see anything. “You know you have to tell me, or I’ll just find a way to get in.”
Wilder started unbuttoning her uniform shirt, leaving only a ribbed undershirt and white sports bra as she shrugged it off and folded it carefully onto a cedar bench by the door. “Think beyond what you’d expect to find in a typical white American’s house.”
     What the hell is Wilder talking about? Tala arched an eyebrow and turned back toward the glass. She’s about as white as it gets.
     She heard a click behind her, and then the room behind the dark glass began to warm with a hazy glow. It started with a flicker from the gas-flame sconces on the wall, then a glow from beneath the floorboards, which were set slightly farther apart than those of a traditional wooden floor. Two levels of wrap-around cedar benches formed a central seating area along the walls, but it wasn’t until she spotted the teak drain in the flooring that she suddenly realized what she was looking at.
“Is this what I think it is—”
“A sauna. I know, they’re rare in houses here, but nearly everyone has a sauna in Finland. I’ll never understand why Americans don’t seem to see the magic.”
By the time Tala turned around, Wilder had stripped down completely and had a towel wrapped around her waist. “I’d like to act modest here, but why?” The firelight from beyond the glass flickered in her eyes. “If I remember right, this is exactly how we woke up this morning.”
“Correct.” Tala smiled as she pulled off her sweater, then unbuckled her belt, the brass clinking against the silver cuff bracelet she always wore on her left wrist. “I’ll assume I’ve been invited to join you.”
Wilder laughed as she pressed a button on the wall. The glass wall split in the center and retreated to both sides with a soft whoosh. “Absolutely. Why do you think you’re here?” She paused and looked past the dark glass. “But don’t feel pressured to undress unless you want to. I’ll be inside. Just come in whenever you’re ready, and you’ll find towels everywhere out here, so make yourself comfortable.” She paused, her gaze dropping down Tala’s body for just an instant before she met her eyes again. “Take as long as you’d like.”
Tala nodded as Wilder disappeared behind the glass. A nearly opaque mist rose around Wilder as she tossed a ladleful of water on the rocks inside the sauna, and Tala stopped, focusing on the pitched log ceiling to slow her mind enough to feel the rise and fall of her breath. Did Wilder know what it meant in Native American culture to be invited to sauna with someone? She slipped out of her jeans and folded them carefully on the wood slab bench beside her. And why did a random white person have a secret sauna that looked like it belonged in a magazine? She scraped her hair into a bun and let her thoughts settle as she stacked the rest of her clothing on the benches by the doors and reached for a snowy white, oversized towel.
Tala pressed the button at the side of the glass and stepped in. Two levels of cedar-slat risers wrapped around the room, the first at floor level, then the next about three feet above, with deep-set stairs built into the wall for access. Sheer gold liquid light rose from between the slats and filtered the steam like sunlight, hovering between her and Wilder, who sat on the lower level across from a tall cast-iron woodstove. She was leaning back against the cedar planks with her eyes closed, the white towel wrapped around her waist, skin glistening under the soft lighting recessed into the raw plank ceiling. It was obvious that Wilder lifted, but naked, the cut lines of her broad shoulders were even more defined and beautiful. It seemed somehow appropriate that how strong she was wasn’t visible to everyone. Wilder’s strength had a quiet gentleness, a choice to whisper in a world that shouts.
Tala picked up the zinc bucket by the stove and threw a ladleful of water onto the stones. An iron rack held rough, angular stones stacked to the ceiling, and the water disappeared into moonstone steam as it hit them.      Wilder opened her eyes and nodded to the bench beside her. Tala sat and melted back into the slats behind her, smiling as she felt Wilder sweep a stray lock of her hair behind her ear.
“Thank you.” The words hovered between them as Wilder turned toward her. “For showing me this.”
Wilder traced the line of Tala’s shoulder with the tip of her finger, her touch as light as thought, trailing a fingertip down the inside of her arm to her wrist. “I had this built a few years ago, and I’ve never invited someone in.” A slow hiss of silver steam escaped from behind the lower rocks and rose like temple incense to the ceiling. “You’re the only one I’ve wanted here.”
Tala stood, slowly unwrapped her towel and lay down on the bench, this time with her head on Wilder’s thigh. She felt Wilder’s breath quicken in the silent room as she settled her open hand over Tala’s heart and sat back again. They both sat silent and watched the silver layers of steam drift over them and settle like moonlight over the lines of her naked body.
The steam hovered both dense and translucent in the air. It smelled like seawater and desert at the same time, and clung to Tala’s hair as she pulled the length of it over one shoulder. Wilder, still staring into the flames flickering in the woodstove, reached for her hand and raised it to her mouth, kissing her palm, the touch wrapped with thought and memory.
“In about a minute, I’m going to ask you about your family.” Wilder looked into her eyes and then back to the stove. “If it’s not time, just don’t answer, okay?”
Tala nodded, her heart suddenly racing. Wilder’s tone was light when she laid her head back against the cedar slats and whispered, “Tell me something about little you, when you were a kid. About the reservation.” She stopped and seemed to choose her final word carefully. “Anything.”
Tala started to answer, then stood and slowly straddled Wilder’s thighs. She leaned into her chest, her mouth soft against Wilder’s ear for a hundred silent breaths before she spoke. “I want to. But I don’t know how.”
Wilder rested her forehead against Tala’s, tracing her lower lip with her thumb. It was forever before she kissed her, before Tala couldn’t tell where her own breath began and Wilder’s ended, before Wilder’s hands were wrapped around her hips, pulling Tala tighter into her body. She felt Wilder’s heartbeat against her chest, her arms strong and steady as their eyes locked in the hazy, flickering light. “Then it’s not time. You’ll know when it is.”

(Cut to later that evening, by the fireplace in their room, and Wilder hands Tala a glass of Chardonnay, then remembers too late she doesn’t drink.)

“No. It’s okay.” Tala’s words seemed far away, and she didn’t look up. “Wine seems like a better idea tonight.”
Wilder hesitated, then handed her one of the glasses, the condensation clouding the glass like a frosted sunlit window, and joined her on the bed, tucking her legs underneath the edge of the duvet. The air was silent and heavy, as if it too were waiting.
“I think it’s why I became a profiler.” Tala pulled the robe back onto her shoulder and glanced up at Wilder. Her cheeks were flushed, her skin still dewy from the sauna. Wilder watched as she raised her glass, then lowered it slowly without drinking. Her gaze returned to the lazy flames climbing into the chimney with bright-blue fingers that twisted around themselves, then sank reluctantly back into the glowing coals below. “I should have known before it happened. That maybe I could have prevented the whole thing if I’d caught the signs.”
It was a long moment before she raised the glass again, this time drinking half the wine before she remembered to breathe again. Wilder put a gentle hand on her shoulder before she took the glass and set it on the nightstand beside them.
“Whatever it was, I can tell it was a lot.” She slid a slow hand onto Tala’s thigh, waiting until she knew the touch was okay before she spoke. “How old were you?”
“I was ten. My brother was three.” Tala started to go on, then stopped, biting her lip. “You must think I’m crazy, talking about some memory I haven’t even told you about.”
“Listen.” Wilder waited until Tala met her gaze. “If you cut down an enormous tree in the woods, you don’t just grab a random branch and try to drag it out of the forest by yourself.” Wilder laced her hands behind her head and leaned back into the pillows. “You cut it into pieces and carry them out one by one. And if they’re too heavy, sometimes you have to just drop them and come back for them later or chop them into smaller pieces to be able to carry them at all.” She paused, brushing Tala’s cheek gently with her thumb, letting the silence settle, watching her words drift together in the space between them. “What do you wish you would have seen back then?”
Wilder waited for her to go on, barely resisting the urge to throw words at the silence that stood like a glass wall between them. But the glass wasn’t hers to break.

(End scene)

Why did I choose this scene? Because I get a lot of comments about the sometimes traumatic, complicated backstories of my characters. I do this for one reason. Because if I’m going to write stories that live in people’s minds, I need to tell the truth. And the truth is, not everyone grew up in a white, middle America neighborhood where the worst thing to ever happen is the ice cream truck dropping a transmission in July.
Let’s pull some shit into the light and see what happens. Let’s start talking about it.


Let me preface the last scene by saying if you’re sensitive to intense sexual content, you might want to give it a swerve. This one is also from Windswept, near the end of the book, with Sabine, and Alden. Alden is strapped on for the first time.
Here it is. I’ll tell you why I chose it in the comments afterward.

(Start scene)

Sabine slipped her thigh between Alden’s and stopped still. “Is this what I think it is?”
“It is,” Alden said, sliding off the shorts and dropping them over the edge of the bed. She found Sabine’s hand and wrapped it slowly around the shaft. “It’s yours if you want it, but it can be gone in two seconds if you don’t.”
Sabine locked eyes with Alden and sat up slowly, letting the duvet fall off her naked shoulders. She sat between Alden’s knees, the candlelight falling over her intensely feminine curves and shadows as she reached out and trailed her fingertips over the length of it. Alden watched as she memorized it by touch and reached inside her panties, stroking her clit as she moved her other hand up and down the shaft.
“Fucking hell, Sabine.”
Sabine held her gaze as she leaned into Alden, hesitating for a moment, then tracing the tip lightly with her tongue. She circled it slowly, then started to take it deeper as she reached up with the wet fingers that had been stroking her clit and slid them into Alden’s mouth. She pulled the cock into her own mouth, taking her hand back and working the shaft at the same time, creating a rhythm with the heel of her hand that pushed the smooth back side of the harness against Alden’s wet clit in a steady, perfect rhythm. Alden watched Sabine’s nipples tighten as she worked her cock, glancing up several times and holding Alden’s gaze until Alden thought she might explode.
“I have to touch you.” Alden started to sit up until Sabine put one hand in the center of her chest and pushed her back down into the pillows.
“I think you’ll find,” she said, her lips slick and flushed, “that the only thing you have to do is lie there and try to behave.”
Alden laced her fingers behind her head and groaned as Sabine slid off her panties and straddled Alden’s bare thigh. “Holy hell. You’re killing me.”
Sabine leaned back, stroking her own clit as she rocked back on Alden’s thigh slowly with the wet heat of her body, then rode it slowly, one hand still wrapped around Alden’s cock. Alden closed her eyes, memorizing the heat of Sabine against her until she felt her take the tip of her cock into her mouth again. She swirled her tongue around the tip, her gaze locked on Alden, then sucked it into her mouth and slid her thumb under the harness, slicking the tip of it across Alden’s clit.
Alden watched Sabine take her cock deeper into her mouth as her thumb stroked her clit, then steadily built the pressure as she took every hard inch of it deep inside. As Sabine worked her and slicked her thumb over Alden’s hardened clit beneath the harness, Alden was conscious only of the woman she loved taking her cock and letting her watch every second as she careened toward a rock-hard orgasm.
“Fuck.” Alden finally leaned back into the pillows and raked both hands through her hair. “Fuck, baby. Don’t stop. Just don’t stop.”
That’s when Sabine sank all the way down on Alden’s cock with her mouth and stroked her clit with a more intense touch, her hair falling in wild waves around her shoulders. She held the base with one hand and slid her lips all the way down to her fingers, shifting to a lighter touch below when she obviously sensed Alden getting closer to the edge.
“Baby.” Alden heard her own voice like it was someone else’s, breathless and pleading. “Please.”
Sabine lifted her head, brushing Alden’s nipples with the fingers of one hand while she continued stroking Alden’s stiff clit under the harness. “Are you ready to come for me?”Alden groaned and Sabine stilled, her eyes locked on Alden’s. “Come in my mouth, baby.”
Alden arched her hips as Sabine took every inch of her cock down her throat, stroking Alden’s clit in a hard, slick rhythm until Alden shuddered into the most explosive orgasm of her  life. Endless waves of it shook her long and hard, and when she finally opened her eyes, Sabine was straddling her hips, stroking her clit with the tip of the cock.
“Sit back on me, baby.” Alden’s voice was a low scrape in the still attic. “Brace yourself on my thighs and let me have your clit.”
Sabine guided Alden’s wet cock past her flushed, trembling inner thighs, and then inside her. She closed her eyes and leaned back, hands braced behind her on Alden’s thighs. Alden stroked her thumb over Sabine’s clit as she watched her cock slide in and out of the woman she loved. A slow wash of pink wrapped itself around Sabine’s breasts and hips as her breath grew shallow and she gripped Alden’s thighs.
“Just ride me, baby,” Alden whispered, feeling the heavy brush of Sabine’s hair fall back against her legs, watching her clit as it stiffened under her touch. “I want to watch you come all over my cock.”
Sabine lost the rhythm as she fell forward, her orgasm shaking the breath from her lungs as her entire body trembled. Alden held her, one hand braced gently in the center of her chest, until Sabine slowly found her breath. She watched her open her eyes, Sabine still contracting around her cock, still pulling it deeper inside her.
She relaxed into Alden’s arms, her breath already slowing and deepening as Alden unbuckled her harness, dropped it over the side of the bed, and wrapped Sabine in her arms. “Sabine?” Alden smiled as Sabine stirred and snuggled in closer. Alden dropped her voice to a whisper. “I love you too.”

(End scene)

Why did I choose to go this explicit and include a strap-on in intensely vivid scenes?
Because I think as women we’ve been expected to make ourselves, and our sex lives, smaller and less intimidating. We’ve been hesitant to talk about the sex we really have because we’re afraid of judgement, afraid someone will think by including a strap we are saying that we want men.
This scene really pissed some women off, and they didn’t hesitate to tell me about it. But here’s where I think we’re going wrong… we can do whatever the hell we find hot in bed without it having one single thing to do with men. If you don’t want it, don’t use a strap. But if you do, and you’re afraid that makes you somehow less gay, stop that shit.
It’s fucking hot. It’s intense, intimate, and it takes a lot of actual skill.
Sounds pretty gay to me.;)

4 Replies to “Trigger Happy”

  1. You picked some great scenes to discuss. Sabine deciding to leave New Orleans and live her life finally. Caretakers .. people pleasers, we have to do what will make our families happy. What about us? What happens to women who do that, make sure they’re pleasing their families and not being true to theirselves. Oh man it causes all kinds of grief. For everyone concerned. In the end it really screws things up for everyone e involved not just the one person. So yeah women are caretakers ,people pleasers, but it always turns out to be a horrible mistake to not live your own life as you want to, not to please others. So when Sabine walked out that door I yelled HELL YEAH GET OUTTA THERE!! I over that scene. Of course car was gone, you just had to do that tonus Evans. Ok onto the new book and the story of Tala. I have found most people I’ve got to know always have some darkness in their past. It doesn’t matter what income level,culture, what kind of family structure, most people I’ve known have endured and survived some horrible shit that’s been done to them. Some have had alot of therapy to do this but they’ve healed theirselves. So this is good your touching on this subject, most of us know it, so no one should be upset they should appreciate you for bringing this into the story. Tha k you Evans. Alright here we go with the totally steaming hot love scene between Sabine and Alden. Our community is the Rainbow 🌈 community is filled with colors. We are NOT vanilla. 😆 definitely not. I think some people are just not very adventurous in the bedroom, or maybe it is some weird thought 🤔 oh its like being with a man (dildo) it’s just preference. Do you like penatration or not? You like only oral sex? Or do you like to explore all sorts of pleasure. If you really want tons of fun in the bed I would say explore. As long as someone doesn’t cause me pain…. well not intense pain I’m game and all in. Some folks just miss out. Poor things. It’s like you said Evans they have this thing in their head stopping them saying oh its like being with a man. Hello women smell nothing like a man, feel nothing like a man omg wants up with them? They’re missing all the fun. Like I said poor things. I throughly enjoy reading those sex scenes of yours. Lawdy mercy, then jump in a cold shower. 😆 again thank you, and if folks are vanilla 100% well to bad.

    1. I needed to hear this, Linda, thank you so much! And I love that you were cheering Sabine on in walking out that door!
      I think you’ll love Undercurrent…the mix of serial killer, FBI profilers and Salem might be right up your alley;)
      Always appreciate your support, and can’t wait to hear what you think!

  2. Again you hit the nail on the head! Can’t wait to read your new novel. I have to say I can never under why people get their knickers in a twist about things. Eg a tv- if you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Or because you don’t like doesn’t mean someone else won’t find it extremely exciting.
    Love your work mate!