Hi! And welcome. Thank you for taking the time to check out my patronage page.
My name is Brooke Magnanti, but a lot of people know me better as Belle de Jour. In 2003, when working as a call girl in London, I started an anonymous blog that became Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
My goal is to write more books with genre-changing heroines, and you can help me do it.
In 2009 my identity was revealed (hello again). I was working as a child health scientist by then, trying to juggle a full-time science career (that sex work had made possible!) with writing books for my publishing contract.
I left science to concentrate on writing and activism full time in 2012, and have had some incredible experiences. Getting to talk to people who read and loved my early work has been an enormous privilege. I've been on stage at the Sydney Opera House, on television pretty much everywhere, had a column in the Telegraph, and even got to talk to the UK government in Westminster about their policies. I've written books, moving from sex work memoirs to crime novels. I'm loving the change! I have a doctorate in forensic pathology so might as well put it to use, right?
But the path from science to full time writer has not been straightforward.
Not gonna lie, the last few years have been tough both financially and emotionally. My publisher didn't know what to do with me once I wasn't Belle anymore. Plus, there was a lot else going on. Being repeatedly dragged through the courts by an abusive ex cost a lot of money and sanity. Having to sit by and try to keep a brave face on the situation while the media gleefully printed complete bollocks about me was heartrending. I was having severe panic attacks and insomnia on a daily basis. In all that time the things that kept me going - the things I had to hold on to - were my work, my friends, and the kindness of fans. Every time a stranger tells me Secret Diary changed the way they think? Or that The Turning Tide made them see a whole genre differently? It makes up for all that. It actually does.
I'm lucky to have created something that people still remember and relate to even now, over a decade later. And that's why I want to keep creating. To bring you novels mainstream publishers don't think will sell because they are off chasing trends and the Next Big Thing. I'm the Last Big Thing, which to them is as good as antique. But I still have a lot of stories to tell.
So: what kind of stories? We've all read our body weight in crime novels before. They're all the same, right? It's just a formula.
Maybe. But I believe we can do better.
You've probably heard of the Bechdel test in films: two named women, talking about something other than a man. It's not a perfect indicator of great content, but it's a pretty good litmus test for who isn't making an effort. This has spawned all kinds of spin-offs: two characters of colour, two women of colour, and so on. Well, I want to introduce you to Magnanti's test. It's pretty simple…
Does the story contain a sex worker who is not dead?
Seriously, that's it. If you've read as many crime novels as I have you won't be surprised to realise how many writers kick off their plot with a dead sex worker, usually an addict, usually a migrant. The tragic death of a tragic woman used to show us why the cop is such a hero. I'm sick of reading books like that, aren't you?
But I'm not abandoning Belle. I'd also like to make my back catalogue available to more people, on more platforms, and in more languages. Part of your patronage will go to securing rights and reformatting old material, plus hiring translators who really make the words sing. And cover designers, and editors, and... you get the picture. You're not just supporting me, you're also supporting incredible freelancers who are doing amazing work.
Plus I'm a gobby bitch who will keep speaking out about the issues that matter to me. Sex workers' rights. Migrants' rights. I don't get any funding to talk about that stuff, but for better or worse, am one of media's go-to people on the topic, having been a migrant sex worker. We're out here fighting a battle against rich, deeply entrenched interests. If social justice floats your boat - think of this as my tip jar.
Here's the deal. I'm going to be brave and keep on keeping on with writing and activism. And I'm going to share it with you. The process, the ups and downs, all of it. The things most people don't want to talk about and their publishers definitely don't want them to talk about. Because if there's one thing I've learned, it's the fans who matter. Not what some suit in corporate PR thinks will sell this year.
Well, that's all I have for now. There's a few tiers over there on the right, check 'em out. If you like what I'm doing and want me to keep doing it, then I'd be honoured to have you on board. And thank you!