So I’m in that place. I call it “the place” because I can’t think of a more precise term which captures the combination of anxiety and exhilaration that defines the last few days before I finish a project. In this case, the project is another novella, scheduled to be released by 1,001 Dark Nights in February of 2016. (If you don’t know what 1,001 Dark Nights is, here’s the short version: a monthly series of cross-marketed novellas from some of the top names in erotic romance.) It started out as another installment in my paranormal-ish, New Orleans-set series, The Desire Exchange, and about halfway through, it turned into something entirely different. Something not paranormal. Something Texas based. Something with a gorgeous cowboy (see above!) and the kind of fast-paced, snarky dialogue I love to write (and read). And yes, something straight. It introduces a fictional town in the Texas Hill Country called Chapel Springs, where I plan to set multiple snarky, sexy stories. And in this one, there are no magic candles or supernatural beings who can make your deepest sexual fantasy manifest in your immediate environment just by pressing their lips to yours. (For that, buy ‘Kiss The Flame’, out this November.)
About this straight business. Let me get something clear. Some people freaked on my Facebook page when they figured out my first erotic romance novella, ‘The Flame’, was going to have a lady in it. So what if the novella was essentially a bisexual ménage romance! They didn’t care. And I guess given their initial reaction, they didn’t bother to actually read the thing. ‘Cause if they had they would have discovered some serious man-on-man action within its pages. But that’s their choice. And guess what? Writing about heterosexual relationships is mine. If that bothers you, that’s fine. Don’t buy it. Don’t read it. But please, holster that wagging finger. I can think of so many better uses for it.
Let me be clear about something. My intention from the first moment I started writing romance was to create series universes (series universi?) in which I could depict all types of romantic configurations. That’s my plan for The Desire Exchange. That’s my plan for a little town in the Texas Hill Country called Chapel Springs. Forgive me if it all sounds excessive. But Kim Davis could be in jail for a long time. I have to give her something to read.
Point is, I’ve never been one of those people who says you can only write what you know. You start with a foundation of what you know, a layer of emotional authenticity you bring to the work. But you can write anything you feel. (Thanks to screenwriting guru Richard Krevolin for this last line, which I would love to claim as my own.) One of the great challenges of being a writer is stepping outside of yourself, of trying to hone your powers of empathy and compassion to create genuine and believable characters who aren’t exactly like you. Who don’t think exactly like you. Who don’t love exactly like you. This is, to my estimation, the very definition of writing.
Anyway, back to the “place”. The I’m-almost-finished-place. The anxiety-and-exhilaration-place. The way-too-much-caffeine place. That stretch of days where I decide after swearing off coffee forever after my last book tour that I should try some espresso again, just, to, you know, see if it still causes heart palpitations and dizzy spells, and oh, look, IT DOES! So I’m in that place. I’ve only got one thing scheduled this weekend. An appointment at my local Genius Bar for an iPhone that got all like, “I’m sorry. You want to do WHAT with this touchscreen?” And then that’s it. It’s all writing for the rest of the weekend, until this puppy is done! Wish me luck. With the phone and the novella. I think it’s a good one. The novella. Not the phone. The phone sucks right now.