Guest blog by Dani Collins, author of The Dani Collins Erotic Romance Collection: Mastering Her Role\Playing the Master
One of the most clichéd question we romance writers get is something along the lines of, “How do you research the sex scenes?” It’s one of those things where the people saying it don’t mean anything, they see a clever witticism, but from our end it’s kind of like a stranger walking into my bedroom uninvited. I don’t care if I’m only watering the plants, it’s still an invasion. We writers smile and pretend it’s fine, but we’re always privately thinking, Dude. Not cool.
I’ve had quite an increase in those sly remarks since I came out about the erotic romances I have releasing this August, so I thought I’d talk about how these super-sexy books actually came into being. Hashtag-spoiler-alert: Not based on my own life.
About fifteen years ago, which was a good ten years into my twenty-five year journey to making my first sale, I was super frustrated with all the rejections I was receiving from romance and decided to try my hand at erotica. It was gaining popularity at the time. Ellora’s Cave was the hot publisher of the day, and I was definitely not alone in thinking an erotic ebook might be the wedge that opened the door for other publishing endeavors. In fact, when I mentioned to a writer friend that I was going to write an erotica, she said, “Et tu Brute?” because so many people were doing it.
I was a little hurt, to be honest. It made me feel like she thought I was being a sell-out. Or maybe that trying to do an end run was cheating. I wrote the book anyway. I had what I thought was a fun premise—an alpha Presents-type hero, Jason, who has an alter-ego who’s even more dominant (Dominic). The virgin-like (history of repression) heroine, Arianne, asks to meet this other persona so he can ‘teach’ her to be sexy.
The lessons in intimacy escalated naturally, which made the book fairly straightforward to write. The final manuscript had some problems. My agent at the time suggested I develop the hero more, especially in his Clark Kent guise. I didn’t know how. I actually went to contract on the story, flawed as it was, but wound up with a case of cold-feet, partly induced by that sense of judgment from my friend. I shelved it and moved on to other genres.
Do I regret that decision? Not really. I wasn’t ready in a couple of ways. I wasn’t prepared to start my publishing career as an erotic writer—not because I’m a snob or anything, but my writer friend was right about one thing. I was betraying myself. My heart belonged to straight romance. But I knew I wasn’t ready as a writer. I genuinely didn’t feel I had the skills to do the story justice.
Fast forward fifteen years and a handful of Harlequin Presents under my belt. Given the popularity of Fifty Shades, I figured it was now or never for that erotica sitting on my hard drive. I asked my editor if she’d like to see it and then I had to take a fresh look at the hero’s journey in that book before I sent it to her.
With the experience I’d gained over the years, I was able to see how to expand on the romance and develop the hero and I wasn’t the only one who loved the final product. The team at HarlequinE did too. In fact, they loved it so much, they asked for another one.
One piece of advice I often heard over the years of submitting and getting rejected was to always have a follow up book in mind. “No one wants a one-book wonder,” published authors would say. “They’ll want to know what you’re planning next.”
Well, I always thought it would be fun to have a companion novel to the above, but with the heroine having a secret identity. For any would-be writers in the group, let me state right here that the difference between a premise and an idea is the premise has a story thread you can already follow, eg. How will the heroine learn to be sexy? Questions spring to mind about how this story will play out.
An idea inspires questions like: Who is the main character? Where is it set? What is the premise? After much cogitating, I came up with: Ann is being forced to marry Porter. She isn’t sure she wants to, especially when she’s made-over into the submissive, Violet, and sees the world he inhabits (a BDSM club in Paris.)
Coming up with that was a challenge, but even harder was writing erotic romance again. I hadn’t written one in years. Yes, I had revised one, but the skeleton of the story was there. Those of you thinking erotic romance is just a romance with blunt language and graphic sex are dead wrong. You’re juggling a whole different element. I’m sorry to kill the mystique, but writing erotic romance is work, same as any other book.
Which means I probably should have entitled this post Why I Probably Won’t Write Another Erotic Romance. But I won’t say that because if the right premise comes along, I will write one. (In fact, I wound up writing a novella length one for The Chatsfield Series which is also out in August. My editor gave me the premise. If you enjoy bondage stories, you’ll want to look up The Secret In Room 823.)
Which required a ton of research. Honestly, I think the real reason I get my back up when I’m asked about researching love scenes is the implication that I can’t just use the internet like I do with everything else. No one asks, “Does your husband help you murder people so you get that right?”
Am I being over-sensitive? How would you answer that question? What’s your pet peeve about your job?
I’d love to draw from the commenters for one e-copy of The Dani Collins Erotic Romance Collection.
Two lessons of disguise, erotic pleasure, and liberation from renowned author Dani Collins.
Playing The Master
In a week, timid Ann Parker will belong to the coldly handsome Porter Navarro—a marriage arranged by her vicious stepfather. But when she’s secretly made over and presented to Porter as “Violet,” she is initiated into his world of dark, exquisite delights. One where he is master. But it’s only as Violet that Ann tastes true freedom. And her liberation will cost not only her sensual teacher, but the man she’s grown to love…
Mastering Her Role
Arianne has it bad for her friend and neighbour, Jason. Unfortunately, rumour has it that Jason has a kinky side, and Arianne’s inner freak is still hiding in the closet. So Arianne asks Jason to introduce her to his friend Dominic—a sexually dominant instructor in the ways of pleasure. And so Arianne begins her lessons of sexuality, lust, and being thoroughly and deliciously ravished. But behind his mask, Dominic seems awfully familiar…
EXCERPT – Playing The Master:
On the telephone he had sounded like Jason with a British accent. More or less.
The relationship between the two men was something of a mystery. She’d pressed Celine after the woman said with haughty amusement, I thought he would have introduced you to Dominic by now. But she’d only received a smirk in response.
Arianne wondered how much he’d be like Jason as she stood outside the hotel-room door. Until Jason had yanked her into his arms and spoken so explicitly, she’d only suspected what kind of man lurked beneath his quiet exterior. The idea of giving herself over to someone like that made her breath stutter, urging her to back out of this crazy stunt and retreat down the hall.
It didn’t matter how desperately she wanted Jason. He was a man who enjoyed highly sophisticated sex play. She’d never reach his level. This was—
The door opened.
The man who filled the open frame wore black from silk shirt to snug leather pants tucked into tall, well-worn boots that reminded her of Jason’s. She couldn’t be sure of his identity by looking at his hands or face. He wore leather gloves and a silky kerchief thing, cut with eyeholes. It hid the upper half of his face and hair, like a pirate.
Below the mask was a blond goatee. Jason’s hair was dark as a raven’s wing. This man was about as tall as Jason, but Jason had green eyes, while the ones staring at her were brown.
Stop comparing him to Jason, she scolded herself. He looked like the kind of man who wouldn’t put up with that sort of divided attention.
“Too timid to knock? Come in,” he said in that subtle accent, so crisp with authority. He braced the door with a straight elbow, remaining in the space so she would have to duck beneath his arm and brush his body to get by.
Her purse felt slippery in her grip, and she was pretty sure she was going to faint.
When she hesitated, he said, “Would it help to know I don’t intend to touch you? You wanted to meet me, so we’ll talk.”
She managed to swallow and nod then pressed through the tiny opening, feeling the brush of soft silk against her bare shoulder. She hadn’t known what to wear and had settled on this lacy sundress. It was too virginal, she realized. It screamed of inexperience. Timid. Newbie.
But she was here now, looking around the elegant suite. This was a chic boutique hotel, and he’d booked them into one of the best rooms, a suite on an upper floor. It had a lounge area, a small bar and a door to the left that would be the bathroom. The bed sat on a platform three stairs up, next to the hollow of a three-sided window alcove. Across the foot of the ornate king-size bed draped a fringed, peacock-blue sheet. A footstool, also ornately carved and upholstered in red velvet, stood beside the bed next to a discreet black suitcase.
Wondering what the case might contain made her abdomen tense. She jerked her gaze to the drawn sheers over the window that allowed some of the afternoon sun to penetrate, bringing a glow to the polished wood detailing above the empty fireplace. The room was comfortably warm. The air-conditioning, off. No hum. No music, either, just silence as he waited behind her.
She knew she ought to turn to face him, but it was easier to continue studying the room. In one corner stood a screen, black, with an inlay of tile chips. Perhaps it belonged to him, since mosaic nudes in Kama Sutra poses decorated it. Something red hung over the top of it. The rest of the furniture appeared to be hotel issue. Lovely, but not provocative—not like that screen or the suitcase.
“I said I wouldn’t touch you but I have a custom, Arianne. People who play sexual games need signals between them to express readiness to begin and closure at the end. It builds trust. You will kiss me now and again when you leave.”
Was he kidding?
She pivoted slowly, trying to find something reassuring in the cut of his jawline, but he was pure wickedness, lounging so negligently beside the door. She didn’t think she could do it and wound up shaking her head at him.
“I was under the impression you wanted to reset the boundaries you’ve placed on your sexuality. Have you changed your mind?”
After a brilliant debut in the UK with No Longer Forbidden, a Mills & Boon Modern Book Of The Month January 2013, Dani’s first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin, won the Reviewer’s Choice by Romantic Times Book Reviews for Best First In Series. While her focus is Harlequin Presents, Dani also writes romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, and coming August of 2014, erotic romance. Whatever the genre, she always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.
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