For her very first self-published book, award-winning erotica author Jayne Rylon has done something truly unique. Instead of writing linear story requiring a passive reader, she has created a book where you get to Pick Your Pleasure! Interested in learning more about this digital experiment gone right? Today the author stops by the RT blog to explain just how her book works and answer our questions.
Thanks so much for inviting me over to talk about my favorite experiment! I have to admit the idea for this book came from my brother. He called me from a bar in NYC, where he was out with a group of his friends, late last year and told me they'd come up with a "great idea" for a book. I wasn't convinced. Until he told me what it was. A book like the ones we'd had as kids, where the readers get to decide what happens in the story (except in Pick Your Pleasure there's no path that leads to violent death, which always seemed to be an option in the old ones).
Instantly, I knew I wanted to try it. But there were a lot of things to consider. Story issues like, how many forks in the road would there be? How long would each path be and how much general writing would it take for the entire project? How do you price a book like this? As a short story where people will just read one path or for the total wordcount you worked on to create the book? Then there were technical aspects. For example, I'd never self-published anything before but figured it's good to learn. Besides, I figured what publisher would buy a book like this?! So I set off with help from Lexi Blake and Chloe Vale. If it weren't for them, Pick Your Pleasure would still just be a fun idea in my mind. They helped with all the tricky things like hyperlinking the guts of the book for all the various e-readers/formats and making the project come alive. Not to mention reassuring me that this wasn't an insane idea ... or at least that I should give it a shot!
So how did it turn out in the end? Pick Your Pleasure begins when a sexy CEO tries something different, a night out at an upscale sex club. When she is led inside a greeter takes her to a table with two very different men. One is romantic and classic. The other is an exotic bad boy. Which one she choose shapes the night and the adventure begins. There are eight different short stories that can be created all together with three decision points along the way for the reader. I was surprised with how much variety this allowed me to include. I would have liked to go deeper but each level farther in the book includes an exponential amount of writing. So I think for now, I'll stick to books about this length. So far the feedback from readers has been that they read all the stories anyway (as I would too!) so the total word count is category length (approx 180 pages).
What else would you like to know about the book?
With the choice of heroes, and then choice of what to do with the heroes, do write the plots to be parallel or do you see each path as being more independent?
I charted everything out from the very start and tried for a spectrum of heat levels. I even toyed with a no-sex path but figured that would have been worse than a certain death path! So in that respect, the avenues are very different. However, I did start to play around in the middle and had the different heroes potentially take the heroine to the same place. For example, one of the club rooms is a bondage room. You can get there with Chase or with Ryder. I did that because I was having fun imagining how each guy makes the experience very different for the heroine. Even though they go to the same location, her earlier choices still shape the outcome (one is more romantic and gentle, the other is adventurous and wild). I think when I write Pick Your Pleasure 2, which will be Henry's story (a character introduced in this book) I might go even more disparate with the direction of the paths. It's fun for me to stretch my author brain and come up with more than one direction to take the story.
With an infinite number of choices and ending that are possible, how do you decide where to stop?
That's a great question.... as I mentioned, the amount of writing needed for each level of the story is exponential. So for example, everyone reads the same opening. I only had to write one "chapter" for the first level of the story. Then you get to make a choice. After that there are two different stage two segments .. .guy A and guy B ... so to move the story forward by one chapter, I had to write two. Then each of those has two choices and so on. So after the third decision there were EIGHT chapter fours. Plus epilogues. Of course there are other ways you could structure the book's decision tree but that's how I did it. Therefore, I think for me 50K is about the right word length to give each path a definite short story feel. I'd love to do a whole novel but I can't even imagine how much writing that would take! One way around it would be to have fewer, or more spread out, decision points. But for me the deciding was the most fun so I wanted to pepper in as many as felt comfortable.
A lot of the reader choices are determined by heat level and/or specific kink. Does that mean there is a heat level for everyone?
You are right, for my first time out I was really thinking about how some people prefer not so spicy books and how some want the heat cranked all the way up. And most of us change our mind about what we want based on the given day. So, why not make everyone happy? Two of the paths in the book involve the heroine opting out of the club experience all together once she meets her dream guy. And the two most extreme ... well, they're extreme enough that I couldn't write the chapter headings in this article even if I wanted to ruin the surprise :) Each of the paths includes a graphic sex scene, I mean, this is one of my books we're talking about ... but I would say there is a huge variation between them on the scale of romantic to naughty.
In a fantasy world, if you had to pick your own (personal) pleasure what are some fun things you would like to do?
Oh!!! There are so many possibilities ... well, what if one branch was about a boring manager of financial planning and analysis for a major corporation, and one was about a dirty book author, and one was about a woman who travels the world taking pictures and SCUBA diving, and one path could be about a woman who drives too fast and gets too many speeding tickets, and ... Oh, wait, that really is my life! I have to say I'm very fortunate and I'm living the story I'd write for myself. I work hard toward my dreams and goals and I want to thank every single reader out there who has supported my work and gotten me one step closer to making that dream story my reality.
Jayne Rylon's Pick Your Pleasure, the story that allows you to create your own happily ever after, is available digitally now. And for more genre reviews and news, make sure to check out RT's Everything Erotica Page!