Today I am joined by the lovely and much respected, Primula Bond, who is asking a question I have asked myself on many occasions…
To write a new erotic novel, or not
When I finished my Unbreakable Trilogy last May and waved Gustav and Serena off into the sunset, I felt hollowed out for a while. Vacant. I spent several days, even weeks, staring out of windows or trying to locate my reflection in the bath taps with nary a creative thought in my head.
Keeping the momentum going to create and sustain three novels over a period of just over a year is hard going, although I know that successful Mills & Boon writers, for example, can and do produce four novels a year. Having lunch with a friend who is one of their most prolific authors, I mentioned how burned out I’d felt after throwing myself heart and soul into the turbulent love life of my hot lovers. When I asked if she didn’t she feel the same way, especially with the pressure not only to produce a fresh new romance every quarter but with stern editrices tapping their watches as the deadline approaches, she wagged her finger at me.
‘Not at all,’ she said, switching her disapproval to the waitress and asking for her glass of water to be changed because she wanted it warmer and with lemon, not ice (A diva? Elle?). ‘Because I love it.’
And of course that’s what it boils down to. Although she does in fact make a handsome living out of her romantic novels unlike most of us, for whom writing can at best be described as a hobby that pays, the reason we all sit down again and again to face a blank page or blank screen, is simple. It’s because we love it.
Not only that, but if you’ve had a modicum of success, and readers other than family and friends (who should never, by the way, be asked to offer a critique because it’s not fair to expect an honest unbiased opinion from your nearest and dearest only for them to endure your sulking and estrangement when it’s not to your liking) enjoy your stories and love your characters and are asking for more, then your writing has moved up a notch from being a mere hobby. It’s become public property, and you owe it to your fans to deliver. To give them something new. Of course you have every right to abandon it and focus solely on the school run and the daily commute, but after a while the urge to sit down in front of that damned blank screen becomes an itch that just has to be scratched.
Calling writing a vocation is a bit up yourself, but surely if you are giving pleasure to people then even if you can’t give up the day job just yet, it’s a talent that you should nurture and share. Because the harsh truth, folks, is that if you don’t, someone else will. Plenty more to fill those shag-me stilettos of yours.
I went away from that luncheon a little humbled. Between you and me, I had already started a novel in a totally different genre. It was sexy and passionate, yes, but it wasn’t erotica per se and it involved at least two deliberate deaths. Gustav and Serena had been put to bed and no-one else from the trilogy appeared to be stepping into the breach.
And yet. And yet. My characters hadn’t really gone away. They were just waiting in the wings. Gustav and Serena had been through their mill, and without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t yet read Book 3, The Diamond Ring, I won’t reveal what happens to them or their nemesis, Margot.
But I hadn’t created a living, breathing world, spanning continents and oceans, just to let all my lovingly crafted characters vanish into thin air.
As I wrote my thriller, other characters from the Unbreakable Trilogy started popping their heads round the corner when I least expected it. Fans on Facebook and Twitter were already asking me when I was going to write a sequel, or even a prequel.
One idea was to explore why Serena was abandoned as a baby. That’s still germinating. Another much funnier idea was to follow the fortunes of the strict, enigmatic housekeeper Crystal and the ex Army, monosyllabic chauffeur/chef Dickson. That scenario is also germinating.
But the person who wouldn’t go away, who pushed the others aside to claim my attention was Gustav’s dark dangerous brother Pierre. He creates havoc in the trilogy, goaded by Margot and his own damaged jealousy, especially in The Golden Locket. He tries to seduce and steal Serena then spends much of The Diamond Ring trying to prove that he’s a decent guy underneath all the bluster and deceit.
As soon as he’s in danger of showing his softer side then he gets his come-uppance at the hands of Margot, and is crushed both emotionally and physically.
Which is the point where I wanted to pick him up. I envisaged where he was at the end of the trilogy, and what was going on inside his mind. Has he really changed for the better as he claimed to everyone, or is he still as twisted and destructive as ever? Do leopards change their spots? What effects have his physical injuries had on his personality? How will he react to Serena and Gustav living happily ever after? And whose is the new face who will step into the picture to save him through the power of love – and sex?
As soon as these questions started pouring into my head I kept seeing Pierre out of the ecorner of my eye, leaning against the wall, arms crossed, head tilted, challenging me to come back to him. So the thriller, half written, got shelved for a while.
I took a break from writing when Ted and I took our sons to Paris just before New Year. We stayed in the Marais area , missing the Charlie Hebdo shootings by a few days, and amongst other sights we visited the area south of Montmartre where I imagined Gustav and Pierre had lived as kids – and lost their parents in that fire.
On the Eurostar coming home I opened the notebook I carry everywhere (we have a rule that apart from phones we don’t take devices on holiday so that we can actually communicate with each other for a change). I thought about Pierre, where he was at the point when The Diamond Ring ended, how he was feeling, what he looked like. As the miles unfurled between Paris and London Pierre stepped closer, red in tooth and claw. He was as clear as day to me, right down to the injuries, the scarring, the after-effects of his accident. Right down to what he was thinking when he couldn’t sleep at 5am on the morning of Gustav and Serena’s wedding.
So I decided to pick up the story on the exact day when The Diamond Ring ends, but this time seeing the action partly through Pierre’s point of view, and partly through a new heroine’s eyes.
So as St Pancras, and 2015 approached, I wrote the first line of my new erotic novel.
© Primula Bond 2015
Primula Bond has been writing erotic fiction for over 20 years. She has published numerous short stories and novels for Virgin’s Black Lace and Xcite Books and more recently introduced her hot lovers Gustav and Serena to the world in her Sunday Times bestselling Unbreakable Trilogy published by Avon.. She has also run workshops and provides critiques and editorial advice for aspiring erotic and romantic writers for the website Writers’ Workshop.
If you’d like to buy The Unbreakable Trilogy, follow this link- amzn.to/1psGxaT
Many thanks Primula! Fantastic post.
Happy reading everyone,