HIDDEN CONTEMPT: The Pull of a Specious Paradise

Finding love on the sandy shores of a Hawaiian utopia sounds like paradise, but is it too good to be true?

The year is 2066, and with hyperinflation, overpriced housing, and AI taking over jobs, the young adults of the US are left with no future and no hope—until The Societies Program.

Of the twenty government-backed, mini communities set up across the US, the Hawaii Society is the beacon set on a pedestal to showcase to the world what The Societies Program has to offer the struggling young adults of the United States. Chelsea Coremon is elated to be numbered among the newly assigned residents of the coveted Hawaii Society.

She starts her journey in a high-speed, hydro-propelled pod across the Pacific where she enters a life of ease in a pristine, tropical paradise with a newly built, high-tech facility erected in the midst of a government-owned island off the coast of Hawaii. For months, Chelsea indulges in the spoils that The Society has to offer. However, under this beautiful facade, a sinister reality remains concealed at the heart of The Society. And when tragedy strikes, a spark of apprehension ignites in both Chelsea and The Society’s famous poster-child, and they secretly come together to uncover where The Society’s allegiances truly lie.

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THEMES IN THE BOOK

Through Chelsea and Davin’s relationship, Hidden Contempt displays the value of commitment within relationships.

Trust among friends and couples is an important theme that helps the protagonists in their quest. Believing the best in each other and working together are the only way they will succeed.

True fulfillment is not always found where we expect. The vacation-like bliss initially found at The Society eventually leaves Chelsea empty.

The effects of rape and the importance of self-control are important themes for both the main couples in Hidden Contempt. 

Everyone wants to do the right thing, but doing the right thing despite the consequences takes a brave heart for Davin & Chelsea to do what they know is right.

Continual learning and growth are difficult to maintain but are more important to the characters’ well-being than they realize.

Customers reviews

4.6/5

What people say about Hidden Contempt?

“Hidden Contempt was a great read – it’s a thrilling story with chilling implications for today’s society. It has action, mystery, suspense and romance. However it’s not your typical thriller or romance novel. This book makes you think. It makes you question things and not take them at face value. I’m looking forward to book 2!”

“Well-written and engaging, with all of the storytelling and character building elements any avid reader will enjoy. You will wish you could move to Hawaii forever and meet Chelsea and Davin; you never know what’s going to happen and the author keeps you hanging on till the end. Enjoyed a ton!!”

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading Hidden Contempt. I had a hard time putting it down because there is mystery laced through out the novel that keeps you wanting to read more and find out “what happens next?” the entire time. I loved that it was set in the not so distant future and how the author creatively created a slightly futuristic world. I think she did an excellent job in that, in making it futuristic yet still believable and hence easier to relate to. The character development is fantastic as you feel like you know and are rooting for these people by the end of the book. I also love that the book makes you think and I loved the underlying themes that make you sit back and reflect on certain aspects of life and society (no spoilers, just read it!) Looking forward to the next book in the series!”

“I loved this book! The story is set about 50 years in a relatable theoretical future – the housing marking is a disaster, technologically-spurred longevity has skewed the labor markets, and young people are at their wits’ end. Consequently, the government sends a lucky few of its citizens to “Societies”, paradisiacal communities where work is secondary to pleasure. This book was such a fun read, but it frames a lot of serious contemporary socio-political issues – equality and love, security and freedom, and privacy and technology – through a wonderfully realized love story and an insidious plot with the most suspenseful climax I’ve read since Katniss Everdeen shot President Coin. Make Hidden Contempt your first summer read!!”

“Shirecliffe is a master story-teller and consistently gives fascinating insights into authentic relationships, corruption, and science. Hidden Contempt highlights genuine emotions and situations that allow the reader to connect and empathize with the characters–the mark of great fiction. As an early-20s guy reading a dystopian love story, I could not turn the pages quickly enough. The novel tackles challenging subjects; thus, reader discretion is advised.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading Hidden Contempt. I had a hard time putting it down because there is mystery laced through out the novel that keeps you wanting to read more and find out “what happens next?” the entire time. I loved that it was set in the not so distant future and how the author creatively created a slightly futuristic world. I think she did an excellent job in that, in making it futuristic yet still believable and hence easier to relate to. The character development is fantastic as you feel like you know and are rooting for these people by the end of the book. I also love that the book makes you think and I loved the underlying themes that make you sit back and reflect on certain aspects of life and society (no spoilers, just read it!) Looking forward to the next book in the series!”

“I found this to be an enjoyable quick read. If you like Hunger Games, you’ll probably like Hidden Contempt. It’s an adventure story with an underlying current of social commentary. It’s written in such a way that you won’t want to put it down once the action starts for the end sequence. Millenials in particular may enjoy the story and relate to the issues presented.”

“This novel is thought provoking and fun to read. I like the way it explores concerns surrounding the rise of technology and its impact on the workforce of the next generation. The main characters are charming and find strength to combat the problems of the Hawaiian Society while falling in love.”

Writing Hidden Contempt

I never dreamed of becoming a writer, but funny enough, my decision to write Hidden Contempt did stem from a dream. I lay sleeping one night having a stressful night terror about the kind of work I have performed as a profession since 2010.

Beginning in college, I have worked in the live event industry as a video technician. It’s a job that I love, but before I learned to manage the stress of it, it was more of an addiction than a job. The adrenaline rush that accompanies live events is unlike anything else—every show is filled with moments of pure elation when things go right and moments of devastating letdown when you miss a cue or a piece of equipment malfunctions moments before the program begins. Given these kinds of conditions, high stress often accompanies the job, and occasionally, bleeds into my dreams. That night in June 2017 was one such night.

 

In my dream, I was finding it hard to breath as I watched the program on stage begin to go terribly wrong. I felt responsible. And as the dream continued, I watched parts of Chapter 7 and 11 unfold. I was intrigued by the unspoken premise of the dream. I was never told explicitly what it was—I just knew.

And the role of a famous movie star, who worked to console me after the ordeal on stage subsided, got me thinking . . . what would cause him to be so endearing?

Later on in the dream, he admitted his affections, and I remember being left unbelieving. But the chemistry between us in my dream was undeniably thick, and I found myself wanting to escape this undefined “Society” with him as we had briefly discussed in our encounter.

When the dream ended, I immediately awoke, and I wrote down all the details that I could remember. After looking over my notes, I decided that wasn’t good enough. I shot out of bed and began writing, without really thinking about the consequences of beginning such a venture. When my husband woke to find me furiously typing, he inquired as to what I was doing. I quickly proclaimed, “I am going to write a book!”

I only had hunches of what the backstory was (my dreams are often jumpy and incoherent), but the idea was engrained in my mind, and his deep blue eyes were enticing me to write the love story that burned behind them.

After that initial writing session, writing all but stopped. However, my mind still whirled with ideas of what the particulars would be to make my dream become a reality. Then one day when I was on a job in San Francisco, I hesitantly told a coworker I was considering writing a book. He asked what it would be about. I told him what details I had already worked out in my mind, and then held my breath as I waited for his reaction. He took a moment to consider my idea, before saying, “Sounds like a book I would want to read.”

That was all I needed to hear.

That same day I went back to work on the book. I scribbled notes and sketched images of The Society grounds on a hotel notepad, and after working out what The Society would look like, I began writing again. It wasn’t difficult. The words and ideas were flowing easily as I typed whenever I could. However, finding the time to write was tough with my rather needy two-year-old daughter. I limited writing to naptime and bedtime so I could give her the attention she needed and still keep my house in order. During monotonous housework, I worked out in my mind what I wanted to write next so that I could use what little time I had to write as efficiently as possible.

Using that method, the chapters were writing themselves. I began to fall in love with the creative process as I gave myself the freedom to explore new ideas for each chapter I wrote. I didn’t stress about whether it was good or not, I just wrote. But the more I wrote, the more I was convinced…this is actually pretty good.

I contemplated how I could write a romance that would speak to people while, at the same time, teaching some of the lessons I have learned throughout my marriage. I wanted to approach some of the complexities of romance and virtue while addressing the very real and overpowering instincts that accompany passion and sex. I worked hard to write a story that would speak to victims of abuse and still speak to the importance of self-awareness and self-restraint until I finally had two, very different, but very cherished couples that both showcased a number of beautiful aspects to relationships.

I set a goal to finish the book by the end of 2017, but when the end of the year rolled along, the holiday celebrations and family time took precedence, and I did not finish. When we got back home from visiting family for Christmas, I set a new goal to be done by April. I went to work determined to meet my new goal.

But the more I wrote, the more chapters I added . . . two more chapters than I had originally planned for . . . three . . . then four. I missed my April deadline.

I also realized that if I was going to have an actor in my book, then I needed to know what it was like to be an actor in a movie. I had been in plays in elementary and middle school, I had taken drama classes in high school, and I had even worked on a film set in college, but I had never actually been an actor in a film. Then, fortuitously, I fit the description to be an extra in a movie that was being shot in Raleigh. I immediately sent in my headshot for the film, Fear to be Brave, and crossed my fingers that I didn’t look too silly in the headshot that I quickly snapped on my phone.

I got the part! I was so nervous. I hadn’t been given many details, I hadn’t acted in years, and I had no idea what to expect. I reached out to my actress friend who suggested I read the book Film Acting by Michael Cane. I quickly went to the library and picked it up. Thankfully, it was the perfect recommendation to give me some real insight into what it would be like to be a big Hollywood actor.

Then the first day of filming arrived. I walked back and forth, then back and forth again—entering and exiting the scene over and over. Then there was a fight scene. All the extras were instructed to jeer the fight on. So I did. I went home hoping I was now equipped to write a good chapter about filming on a movie set. Using the knowledge I gained from the book and my experience on sets, I pulled together a chapter about filming a movie. Then on a different day of filming, someone wasn’t able to show up, and I was given a line! As filming went on my role in the movie began to develop into a larger role with more and more lines, and I became Rogue. But that is another story for another time . . .

And then there was the task of trying to decide the ending . . . but how do you end a book? There is no real end to my characters’ stories! There is merely a place that I had to decide to stop sharing. Whenever I wasn’t writing, I contemplated where I wanted to stop sharing. Finally, in June of 2018, I wrote the last page and I sent it to an editor friend completely elated to be finished!

Only to find out, I was not at all finished.

Through months and months, of waiting and waiting, and eventually getting beta readers, and finally breaking down and hiring a professional editor, I soon realized editing was going to be one of my hardest challenges yet. On top of that I also realized that the world of publishing is far more complex and integrated than I imagined. The more research I did, the more I couldn’t help but feel like traditional publishing wasn’t the best route for me, and so I enlisted into the added complexities of self-publishing.

It was very scary for me to decide to go it alone without the support of a publisher at first. Originally, I had been determined to do things “right” and go the traditional routes. I didn’t want to sell myself short. At the same time, I couldn’t help but feel as though traditional publishing would do just that. Then my husband began researching it as well and got behind me a hundred percent. We began bouncing business ideas off each other (as we like to do), and suddenly it started to get exciting. He brought perspective to the prospect of self-publishing, and he believed in my story enough that he wanted to invest our money and time into it. It was still hard not to let my fear of failure push me away from the idea of self-publishing—where I would be left with no one to blame but myself if I did not see the kind of success I am hoping for, but I eventually decided to go for it anyway. I wrote out a business plan, I made an Instagram profile and a Facebook page, and I announced my crazy undertaking to the world.

To my readers, thank you for your support in my new journey as a fiction author!