As a writer, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve been making a living at it since I graduated from college with an English degree (and no idea what I was going to do with it).
Writing is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do and it hasn’t come easy. And, in some ways, that made the sale of By Private Invitation that much sweeter.
I wrote the book several years ago but wasn’t able to sell it. That’s a familiar refrain for any writer. I guess it just wasn’t the right time.
But I knew that was the type of book I wanted to write. Sexy. Steamy. Emotionally engaging. Did I mention sexy? With a hero who made you want to crawl into the pages of the book so you could be with him and a heroine you rooted for.
When I made my first erotic sale to Ellora’s Cave, I knew I was on the right path. And when I sold the Forgotten Goddesses to Sourcebooks, I took another step up the ladder.
But the day I got the call early in 2012 from my agent saying we’d sold By Private Invitation to Berkley for their Heat imprint, that was the day I felt I’d finally achieved what I’d been working toward the past fifteen years. I did an awkward little happy dance (trust me, you’re glad you didn’t witness it) then proceeded to obsess for the next ten months.
Some of my absolute favorite authors write for Heat, including Lora Leigh and Maya Banks. How would I measure up? Would readers give me a chance? Would my paranormal readers make the leap with me to straight contemporary?
I got a little self-confidence boost when positive reader response to my short contemporary ménage novella, “An Indecent Proposition” in the anthology, A Very Naughty Xmas, started to roll in. Readers loved Julianne, Keegan and Erik’s story and wanted more. Always music to a writer’s ears.
Then By Private Invitation got a Top Pick from RT and I couldn’t stop smiling. I’m not one of those writers who can ignore reviews. The good ones are affirmation. The bad … well, sometimes I try to forget those. File that under self-preservation.
The idea for Jared and Belle’s story started with the idea of the Salon, an opulent playground where Jared and his friends can push the limits of pleasure and indulge in their sexual fantasies. Who wouldn’t love that?
I have a perfect picture of the Salon in my head, fueled by my research into vintage erotic art and Victorian erotica. Check out my Pinterest board titled Annabelle’s Art Collection here. You’ll see where some of my inspiration came from.
Then I let my imagination take over. I have a pretty healthy imagination. But I didn’t want the book to be totally about sex. Because we all know sex alone can’t sustain a relationship. There’s got to be emotion. High emotion is even better because the payoff at the end, when the hero finally says “I love you” to the heroine and all is right in the world, is that much sweeter.
I hope you enjoy Jared and Annabelle’s love story. And maybe it will inspire your imagination, as well.
- Stephanie Julian