One of the questions authors are often asked is, “Where do the ideas come from? How do you start a book?” For me, the answer is different each time. Let’s take my Dirty Girls Book Club series (Berkley Heat) for an example.
The initial germ of an idea came out of my own book club, which is really flexible about reading a variety of fiction and non-fiction. But some book clubs are kind of stuffy and pretentious. If a book hasn’t won a literary award, it’s beneath consideration.
Nothing against literary fiction, but it’s not always a lot of fun. And we deserve to have fun sometimes, right? So, imagine a group of women sitting around discussing the latest weighty, yawn-worthy tome, and one asks, “Is there a rule that says a book club can’t ever read anything fun?” Another chimes in with, “Or sexy? What’s wrong with sexy?” Well, of course my fictional club votes to read a sexy book every now and then.
As for the title of the club – I’ve always thought that The Dirty Girls Social Club was a cool title (and a great book), so why not The Dirty Girls Book Club? That was the title I submitted to Berkley for the first book, and they used it for that book, then branded the rest of the series, so that the second book and the third have the subtitle: A Dirty Girls Book Club Novel.
Now comes the second part of my premise – because, after all, I write romance. Each time the club chooses a sexy book, one of the members has her own sexy romance. And that romance in some ways parallels the erotic relationship in the book the club is currently reading.
For the first book The Dirty Girls Book Club, everything was brand new to me. I had to figure out who belonged to the book club, which member would have the first romance, what kind of hero would be perfect for her (sexy, unexpected, a man who challenges her beliefs), how they would meet, and what kind of book the club would choose to read.
Widowed marketing exec Georgia Malone became my heroine and sexy “rough around the edges” hockey star Woody Hanrahan became the hero. How to get them together? Georgia’s boss chose Woody to be the figurehead of a marketing campaign and put her in charge. What book should the club read? I decided on historical erotica about an inhibited widow who is “sexually educated” by a charming rogue. And yes, Georgia does discover a whole new level to her own sexuality, but it turns out that Woody has lots more than just great sex to offer her.
Now, for the second book Dare to Be Dirty. I already knew which club member should be the second heroine and of course I knew a fair bit about her because she was a significant character in the first book. What kind of hero would be the most intriguing match for artist and confirmed city-girl Kim Chang? I decided on a country-boy rodeo star and horse whisperer. Obviously, the club should read cowboy erotica – and make a field trip to the rodeo where Kim first lays eyes on Ty Ronan. Attraction of opposites provides a great learning experience for both of them – in bed and out – and yes, Kim and Ty earn their happy ending.
For the third book my February 2014 release, Bound to Be Dirty, I knew that family practice doctor Lily Nyland would be the heroine. I also knew her hero: her husband, bush helicopter pilot Dax Xavier. Though they were once passionately in love, now their relationship is characterized by geographic and emotional distance. What kind of erotic novel could serve as a catalyst to resolve their marital issues? I chose BDSM. And yes, borrowing a trick or two from the club’s selection can spice up their sex life, but obviously sex isn’t all it takes to save a marriage. On the other hand, if a little experimentation in bed raises issues of trust, communication, and intimacy… As it turns out, that’s just the catalyst this couple needs to rediscover their love and commitment, as well as to find some creative solutions to their marital problems.
And that’s your sneak peek behind the scenes of how the series, and each of the books, came about.
I’d love to hear your comments.