Today I am delighted to welcome the super lovely L C Wilkinson to my site to talk about pen names, the paranoia of selling (or not!) and her fantastic new book, All of Me.
Over to you LC…
Is That You There?
After the initial excitement of an offer to publish my debut erotic romance had died down, one of my early concerns – after the ‘I hope it sells’, ‘God, I hope people like it’ and ‘What will my mother think?’ (“Very good. Now… how’s the weather been down there?” My mum is a no-nonsense Northerner adverse to both prudish behaviour and displays of excess pride in her offspring) – was whether or not to use a pseudonym?
I’d submitted using a pen name because I’d met Hazel Cushion, MD of Accent Press, of which Xcite is an imprint, in another life when I worked as a journalist and editor, and whilst I was confident that Hazel was far too high up to read submissions I wanted to be certain there could be no nepotism.
In the end I decided to use a nom de plume for the actual book too because I’ve published short stories and a novel in another genre – broadly women’s fiction – and whilst I’m not established enough (yet?*!) to have a massive following (I wish!) I wanted to make the distinction between the two writers in me. However, I felt very strongly that I wanted to stand up and be counted as an author of erotic romance given that there’s, sadly, still some snobbery concerning the genre in some literary circles. Of course, this is a personal decision and I understand and respect those who prefer to remain anonymous. We’re all different.
And so, after much deliberation, trying on several hats and driving the BigFella (my husband) demented, I settled on L. C. Wilkinson. The use of initials inspired by EL James, naturally, and my own surname, which is different to the BigFella’s and my boys’. I like the fact that when spoken L. C. sounds like Elsie, which, to my mind, conjures images of a grey-haired, elderly lady; the antithesis of your stereotypical author of erotic romance – whatever that might be.
The reaction of friends and colleagues to the smutty author in me has been, predictably, mixed. Some have wondered why I am ‘selling-out’ (What?!*!) and cheapening myself, which only goes to show that they are unfamiliar with the genre given the quality of much of the work out there. Good erotic romance has the ingredients of all good literature with red hot sex to boot. Others are pleased for me and intrigued to read the new work, or at least ask me about it. And, of course, there have been the usual array of saucy comments, commonly directed at my husband: Bet it was fun helping her research it; are you the inspiration for the hero (hahaha!). This response is a strange one, but understandable. No one asks crime writers how many victims they killed during the course of their research for example, but then almost all of us have sex and, mercifully, few commit murder. But it is precisely because of this that it is so damn hard to write arousing and original sex scenes. It is all too easy to slip into cliché. For my part, writing the love scenes was by far the most challenging aspect of writing the novel.
As a reader of erotic romance and a follower of the groups and threads on sites like GoodReads I am all too aware just how discerning the audience is. I only hope that they like reading All of Me as much as I enjoyed writing it. I am completely and utterly hooked on erotic romance, and I hope to get better the more I write.
Blurb: Actress Flick Burrow’s career is in the doldrums. Dumped by long-term boyfriend at the altar and nudging forty she escapes to Italy touring with a theatrical company.
Orlando Locatelli is a successful businessman. He’s rich, clever and drop-dead gorgeous.
When the two meet, the attraction is instant. But Orlando is 15 years Flick’s junior; he’s the controlling director’s son; his stepmother is possessive and destructive. He’s trouble and he’s determined to have her.
Sparks fly when a tour romance turns into something altogether more dangerous, threatening to reveal pasts, and desires, both lovers are keen to bury.
Excerpt: Mr Hot led me through to a brightly lit room, the light scorching my eyes after near darkness. He pulled up a wooden stool and gestured for me to sit. I did as I was instructed. Row upon row of bottles of oil, condiments, herbs and spices lined shelves that covered an entire wall. It was a store cupboard, and the strip lighting was harsh; every fine line, blemish and open pore would be visible. Inwardly, I cursed my lack of foundation once more. I felt exposed, stripped right down, and vulnerable. I shielded my eyes, allowing my hand to drop low enough to conceal most of my face.
‘Better here, fewer people. Can I get you a drink? Cup of tea?’ he said.
‘Something stronger might be better.’ I attempted to cover my embarrassment with humour. He did not laugh, or even smile. ‘Water would be great. Wouldn’t do to be seen drunk. Imagine what they’d make of that,’ I added quickly.
Through a gap in my fingers I watched him push open swing doors with considerable force and sashay out, revealing the bustle of a hectic lunchtime kitchen; he barked out an instruction in a language I couldn’t quite place. Italian probably, possibly Spanish. This was no ordinary waiter in more ways than one. He returned moments later.
Despite his blistering good looks, or maybe because of them, I wanted to get the hell out of there; I gulped down the water. ‘Thank you. Can you show me the other way out now please?’
‘It’s not too soon?’
‘I have to be somewhere.’
At the exit, he paused and looked into my eyes, the hazel fading to black as his pupils dilated. He ran his tongue over those sensual lips. I couldn’t breathe and for a moment I thought I might pass out. The attraction I’d felt was mutual; he was devouring me with his gaze; his desire was palpable. Had it been a movie, or an episode of the cheap drama I’d been in, we’d have thrown ourselves at each other, kissed passionately, before being interrupted by an angry chef brandishing a meat knife. I coughed; it broke the spell.
He leant forward to grab the door handle, the bouquet of his aftershave mingling with a distinct, very masculine aroma. I was soooo tempted, but this was real life, and my personal life was enough of a mess. He opened the door, leant forward to look up and down the street before turning back to me and nodding that it was clear. Neither of us knew what to say. I had no idea if he knew, understood, or even cared why the press were hounding me, and I wasn’t inclined to explain.
I held out my hand. ‘Thank you. You saved my life.’
He took my hand, but rather than shaking it, as I had intended, he lifted it to his mouth and kissed the back. A charge raced up my arm, exploding in my mouth and groin. ‘It was nothing. Anyone would have done the same.’
‘Thanks anyway,’ I gasped. I had to get out of there, and quick. My internal red light was flashing: danger, danger, danger.
I stepped into the street and, unsure which direction to take, turned right and walked; the skin on my hand still thrumming from the touch of his lips. I wanted to look back, and tried desperately to resist the urge. After a few metres, I gave up and turned my head. There was no sign of him.
About L.C.: I grew up in north Wales and now I live by the sea in Brighton with three fellas (my ginger sons and my husband) and a cat called Sheila. After many years working as a journalist, copywriter and editor of hagsharlotsheroines.com, I write fiction and work part-time as an editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. All of Me is my first romance for Xcite. I hope that it is the first of many.
To find out more about L. C. visit her site – www.lcwilkinson.com – for news and freebies. Or follow her on Twitter: @ScorpioScribbleYou’ll also find her GoodReads, and she loves to hear from readers and other writers so do get in touch.
A big thanks to L.C (or should that be Elsie!!) for coming to visit today!