Putting this cultural stereotype to debate, BURNT is a real life account of Michael, a 51-yar-old successful, established professional emotionally scarred by Simone, a beautiful Italian woman visiting Sydney who stole his heart and all the while was not who she claimed to be.
With the percentage of people dating online growing exponentially and facilitating people to rapidly achieve a level of false intimacy through texting, skype and Facebook, technology is completely changing the dating game. BURNT explores the relationship between female infidelity and female empowerment with readers immersed in the relationship between the two characters in a voyeuristic way.
We sat down with the acclaimed first time author to talk about his book, his experience and how society is leaning towards instant gratifying intimate connections that are depleting trust and honesty from our relationships.
1. How did you come to the decision to write a book based on your love life?
JD: It is not that I wanted to focus on my love life per se, it's just that I thought it would be a damn good story. There are two things that actually happened that I felt were so extraordinary... I thought I have to try and write this down. And when I started... I couldn't stop!
2. How long did it take you to write Burnt?
JD: Text messages were reworked as I wanted to adopt texts as a medium to express the immediacy of the dialogue, almost a real time conversation between the central characters for the reader. After two months I had over 40,000 words and the rest is history.
3. Are you happy with the final product?
JD: I am very happy. The general feedback is so gratifying, people love it!
4. What did you learn from writing Burnt?
JD: I learnt that if you are in a relationship and there are tell-tale signs of major dysfunction, do not go into denial as I did. Don't put up with bad behaviour, make the cut and move on.
5. Do you think that Burnt will help to reshape the long held paradigm of male infidelity?
JD: I think so. Generally society thinks of the stereotypical 'cad' ...The male player, who is the heart breaker leaving a trail of emotional destruction. This book shows that a woman can do it just as well as a male. The book has a lot of subtleties that the readers can pick up as to all aspects of bad and unfaithful conduct.
6. How has your experience changed your outlook on women? Are you still open to love, or do you find it difficult to trust the opposite sex?
JD: I was hurt, indeed broken for months....but I never gave up on the ideal that I would find a beautiful soul that I could trust completely. This book is not anti-women, I love and respect women. I have a daughter. I met someone at the beginning of this year and have fallen madly in love with her and am trying to bring total honesty and commitment to that relationship.
7. Do you believe that men and women will learn from your experience, and perhaps change their behaviour for an alternate outcome?
JD: I hope so. I feel readers that have had a difficult experience with trust in a relationship will identify with BURNT. As I have said if you can’t bring absolute trust to the table and you see bad behaviour... don't walk... run!
8. Why do you think a person cheats? What motivates someone to engage in activities and behaviours that lead to infidelity?
JD: This is a great question and in a sense is the one provocative question that the book poses. I am not a clinical psychologist but I have lived through a number of tumultuous relationships. My take on it is boredom, ego, and a lack of empathy or moral compass. I am not talking about any specific moral code, lack of empathy means that a person has no sense of the hurt or damage that could be caused by such dysfunctional behaviour. People often find themselves in what they see as a boring relationship that is no longer providing excitement or romance, so they dabble with innocent third parties and that means that they flirt and tease others without making a full or honest disclosure. It's often a game of brinkmanship - how far can you go? This often crosses over into a full blown affair, with the ego pushing both parties to the breaking point. Then you have all the ingredients in the mix to end up being BURNT. Welcome to my world and my story!
9. With the trend of voyeurism on the rise, do you think that us as humans have become greedy in our search for intimate connections? Why do you think traits such as honesty and trust are slowly being depleted from some relationships?
JD: This is another great question. It’s the very essence of the dilemma posed in BURNT. It's all part of what I call the modern social media plague and regrettably an irresistible social media trend towards instant gratification. What has been lost is the innocence of a loving and intimate experience with another human being, it's as though one has to justify one's validity on every form of social media to gain acceptance. We are not creating social independence but social interdependence.
A semi autobiography, BURNT documents Michael and Simone’s relationship highs and lows, falling in love, deception, women’s two timing and how a man who was so broken conquered his heartbreak to pen the experience to paper, and challenge the long held paradigm of male infidelity.
BURNT is on sale now through various bookstores and online retailers. Please visit www.burntbook.com for more information.