Here is a nice Q&A that I was following from the author of S.E.C.R.E.T. to her fans on goodreads.com. I love hearing about a story from the author's POV. And, after reading her comments I think that I am pretty excited about the second installment in this series. This does contain SPOILERS so do not read if you haven't read the book and don't want to know what happens! Click HERE to link to my earlier review.---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Which of Cassie's fantasies was the most fun for you to write?"
I think the yacht/tugboat fantasy. It kept surprising me. She started in a helicopter, which was hilarious, and then the yacht was intriguing, but as I went along with her, it just evolved into a kind of an action movie scenario. I've never written anything so "dramatic" before. It was too much fun!
This book is very unique, I think and I wondered how did you come up with this story line? It's not the usual storyline per se. Also, can I ask if such a group truly exist?
Would that a group like this existed! I think for me, it was important to write something sexy that removed the stigma and shame from being sexually active. In a lot of ways that's what holds Cassie (and a lot of women) back, from truly exploring her sexuality. So when I decided to try my hand at erotica, I could really only write something I believed in. So I needed a storyline that supported the notion that sex was a marvelous, fun, and liberating activity. Cassie, being "everywoman", with her fears and hangups, had to hear that from other women, hence the "group" support idea. Everything sort of evolved from there.
What was your inspiration to write a book like SECRET?
Such a big question. I was inspired by 50 Shades of Grey, to be honest. Not its content or storyline, but the way it reignited such an open-minded readership. It gave me the courage to try something new, and to introduce a very different erotic world to this same readership, one that explores a variety of fantasies, but with very real women, in very real settings, struggling with the very real issues of self-esteem, self-acceptance, courage, curiosity, open-mindedness and mutual support. I wanted it to be sexy, arousing, but very female positive. I knew it was possible to write something like that...and how great to see that women would embrace it. And not a few men too!
I read the book because of the Hotel Monteleone's promotion - and NOLA is erotic enough on its own, but what a great surprise to find actual erotica for grownup women - no twenty-year-olds or whips and chains! Loved the ending - how did you choose that ending vs the more traditional romantic ending?
I knew that I had a "journey" in mind for Cassie, one that wouldn't end at book one. I also don't believe that "getting the guy" is necessary every woman's definition of a happy ending. Sometimes we get what we need, not what we think we want. There is more in store for Cassie and Will, but they both have to let go of a lot of old ideas about love and sex and men and women if they're going to be together. S.E.C.R.E.T. is a great backdrop against which to explore the evolution of this couple. Don't worry, their story's not over. But it isn't going to be what you expect. Mind you, I do think most will agree, they will all get exactly what they need. That's my goal.
The ending was difficult to digest as I was wanting another ending. Did you find the ending difficult to write?
The ending was tricky. As I mentioned, Cassie's on a journey, one that wasn't going to end at book one, or necessarily book two. But Will is only part of that journey...she has more to learn about herself, her desires, etc. Expect more obstacles, and some difficult questions to come out at the end of book two. A baby is only one thing separating them right now. There are other issues they'll have to confront. But you can also expect more sex, a new character going through the steps who Cassie will guide, while she has her own adventures!
I really expected a different ending, did you know know it would have this effect on us readers?
You never know how your book will affect readers. I think most writers write to feel something. And they hope, REALLY hope, readers' emotions will join them. It's so great when that happens. And I can't tell you how happy I am to know there is a readership that really responded to a non-traditional erotic storyline that's less about "getting the guy" and more about "understanding ourselves" and what makes us tick sexually. That thrills me.
In your work, does your protagonist(s) pretty much reflect your own view of the world and how it operates?
What is your approach to writing dialogue? By this I mean would you write your dialogue to a scene, and then talk them out loud to yourself to hear how it sounds, that way you can tell if it sounds natural, or if it sounds forced?
Two great questions.1) No, my protagonists, in this book or my previous novels (Tempting Faith DiNapoli and The Almost Archer Sisters) don't necessarily share my world view. Cassie is so different from me--she lives a small life. She doesn't feel her voice matters. I have never felt that way. But if I do share any worldview with a character from S.E.C.R.E.T. I would hope it's Matilda's. Here is a 60-something woman who feels vitally alive, sexy, confident, loving and giving. I'm twenty years younger, and I really hope I can adapt that attitude. That's my goal. I want to be like her. (What a fun job I have to conjure up characters I aspire towards.)
2) As for writing dialogue, it's such a weird thing to describe, but it's all in the characters. When you conjure a character, and he/she has flesh and bones, they really do just begin to "speak". The job of the writer is to pay attention, and know when they're speaking, and when you, the writer, is interfering. I don't know if that makes sense. But yeah, I can hear their voices. It takes a while, but it's there. And luckily I have an editor, Nita Pronovost, who also "hears" them. So she can tell me when my dialogue veers into the inauthentic, or when the dialogue doesn't "sound like them". It's an odd process, but so fun.
Do you how many books will be in this series?
I think, I hope, I'm kind of planning for a trilogy. I still have to figure out how Cassie's story will evolve, but I've feeling that out right now as I am well into book two, which is coming out in October, from what I understand. I wish it could be faster, but I am more interested in writing a great book than just getting them out quickly, so that takes time, unfortunately. But I plan to make it worth the wait. That's my goal.
I wonder is this a real life story for you or do you know someone that lived like this. It really touched a part of me as to how Cassie felt or feels and how she looks at life.
Thanks Melissa, for this heartfelt question. I think a lot of women feel like Cassie at one point in their lives, don't you think? It wasn't difficult to tap into that. You can feel forgotten and unattractive at any age, but I felt it was important for an erotic novel to really address an older woman's sexuality. I wanted to show that someone like Cassie, who hasn't fully explored her sexuality, could be an enticing erotic character. She's fully fictional, but I like to think a lot of women could relate to her, and so far, given its success, I think I was right! I hope there's the same enthusiasm for her on-going story in book two, coming out this fall.
The men for Cassie you wrote about for her fantasy were awesome. Do we get to find out how the men were selected and what they get out of this or there reasoning for doing the secret?
YES! We find out about how the women recruit, and how they find just the right men. Stay tuned...