This afternoon it's my pleasure to welcome erotic fiction author Primula Bond to my blog as part of Avon Books feature week.
Can you tell us a little bit about the final book in the Unbreakable trilogy, The Diamond Ring?
After the intense and dramatic build up of Serena and Gustav's relationship in The Silver Chain, the second book is marked by the reappearance of Gustav's dark, dangerous, estranged younger brother Pierre and the threat he poses when he develops his own strong attraction for Serena. Although their love surpasses Pierre's games, and Serena and Gustav get engaged towards the end of The Golden Locket, The Diamond Ring by no means represents a neat trot to the finish line.
Another face from the past rears her ugly head, and her machinations, games and deceptions make Pierre Levi look like a pussy cat. We are whirled from New York to Paris and Morocco as Serena's career blossoms, and even while she and Gustav are making their peace with Pierre, Gustav's ex-wife Margot is keeping tabs on their every move and deciding to take matters into her own hands to get Gustav back. In the end it will be a battle between Serena and Margot to prove who is the genuine love of Gustav's life, and what is the true meaning of the trilogy's title – Unbreakable!
Where did the inspiration come from for this series?
To be totally frank I was on the point of giving up writing erotica two years ago (it was paying peanuts!) when my editor at Harper Collins asked me to submit a proposal for a trilogy to echo, but not copy, the success of 50 Shades. There is nothing like being asked to write something to give you a kick start, odd though that might sound. It was an honour. So of course I said yes. Although there had to be some aspects of erotic romance which chimed with other books in the genre, I am never short of ideas and story lines. I let the inspiration come to me slowly and decided to make it as different from 50 Shades as possible in terms of quality of writing and carrying the story through. There is a strong hero and a feisty, burgeoning heroine, but the similarities end there. I wanted lots of exotic locations, photography, and plenty of sex focussing on the romantic rather than the outrageous.
The first book starts on Halloween night, and I've always had a taste for the dark and gothic. In fact Gustav Levi started out as a vampire, so the story was always going to involve a withdrawn, mysterious hero and a pale beauty who is drawn into his orbit. After that the characters and plot ran away with me and in fact I would describe this as an erotic thriller.
Which character did you have the most fun creating, Serena or Gustav?
Serena is unashamedly a younger version of me, so she sprang almost fully formed. Gustav had more layers. He had to be absolutely knee-weakeningly handsome in the first instance, obviously, but I wanted to draw him out little by little until he could shed his hang-ups and reservations and totally relax into the relationship and show his intimate, sensitive, humourous side. I have never met anyone in real life exactly like him, but he is absolutely my dream man.
Are you currently working on a new book? If so, are you able to tell us anything about it?
Ideas will hit you when you least expect, but quite often before you reach the end of your current work. In this instance a minor character in The Diamond Ring struck me with incredible potential, and I am writing a 'prequel' to The Silver Chain, which will give the background to Serena's birth parentage and why she was abandoned as a newborn baby.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I have three out of five days a week to write. I wave the children and husband off to school, switch the kettle on to make buckets of coffee, dance a jig, and saunter into my favourite den and flop on to the corner of my favourite sofa. I have to force myself to switch of morning TV and my guilty pleasure, cooking programmes, and settle down in front of the laptop. If I have a deadline I am much more focussed and can spend a good six hours writing, knowing that when the kids come home from school at 3.45 I will have to stop as I will not be able to concentrate and in any case it's not fair on the family if half of me is in a fantasy world. Unfortunately it means I can be a bit cranky if I'm in the middle of a scene when they come home and if I've got to stop what I'm doing to shake mud off football boots and start peeling onions for their supper..
Are you a plot planner or do you start writing and see where it takes you?
A little bit of both. It starts with a kind of flash of lightning, the first scene, some of the initial characters, and I walk around thinking and jotting things down for a while. Then I make myself sit down and start writing it down, but it helps to have a vague outline or synopsis to guide me along, which is also a good discipline because that's what your editor will require when you submit the proposal to him/her. An outline helps you know where you're going with your story, even if you choose to deviate from the plan!
Did you always know you wanted to write?
Yes. I wrote my first 'novel' in a lined exercise book when I was 8. It was a soppy romance and my family found it and took the mickey, reading it out loud and laughing their heads off over supper one evening. I was humilitated, but determined to prove that I could do it, and as soon as I shook off the trammels of school, university, job hunting and even single motherhood, I started writing again in my early thirties and haven't really stopped. As well as erotica I write human interest features and also a semi-autobiographical romantic novel under my own
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Read, read, and read some more, obviously the authors you admire and would like to emulate, but also to see how they set their writing down on the page. Watch soap operas, TV dramas and good movies to get a feel for realistic dialogue – and also to recognise when and why it doesn't work. Finally start writing, and never stop. If you have a passion for writing, no story or idea will pass you by, and no piece of paper will escape your scribbling on it. When you're ready to write an entire story or novel, write it out while the passion burns, and only when you've got it down as a very rough but complete first draft go back and start fiddling with it. Sorry, that was three or four pieces of advice!
When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?
Yes. I spend the day after I've sent off a manuscript or edits catching up on Floyd, Nigel Slater and Nigella cooking programmes – and maybe have a long afternoon nap. Actually if we can afford it I like to take my husband for a meal out or even away for a weekend in a Hotel du Vin somewhere lovely!
If you could go away anywhere in the world to write, where would you choose?
New York in the spring, because it's such a vibrant city and I feel so alive whenever I vist there. I'd hire a glitzy apartment on the top floor of a high building overlooking Central Park and every morning I'd zoom down to ground level to start my day by perching in the window of a diner to eat enormous American breakfasts and drink gallons of coffee while watching the busy people pass me by.
If you could write a famous person into one of your stories, who would it be and why?
Madonna, because as well as being a sexy, naughty person who sings great disco songs, she's very controversial. I also like to think that there's a serious, intelligent side to her once you peel away the showbiz layers and I also believe that, like me, her Catholic upbringing is buried not far from the surface and it influences so much of what she does, thinks, writes and sings. She's also a little older than me, and a great role model for MILFs and femme fatales in general!
If you could invite any three authors, alive or dead, to a dinner party who would you choose and why?
Ernest Hemingway, because he would be gruff and monosyllabic and we could all drink like troopers. I'd like to know if this macho womaniser really is as charming as he would have us believe, and which of us other guests he would get into bed. Agatha Christie, because she may give off a prim and proper image but she once managed to completely disappear for about ten days never revealing where she was. She also had a taste and fascination for murder, and I would love one day to write a twisting, turning crime novel set in an exotic location. Maybe bring one of her novels up to date. Finally I'd like Helen Dunmore, who I understand is charming company and her calm, poetic influence might just, at least at first, keep us all in our places.
What’s the last book you’ve read that has made you cry?
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I was overwhelmed not only by the kooky, tender way the little boy saw the world, but the end, when you flippped through the photographs in reverse of the man falling and he seemed to be flying up to heaven.