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Jane Lockwood (Forbidden Shores) and Colette Gale (Unmasqued) are reading from their books tonight at Virgins’ Night at the In the Flesh Reading Series hosted by Racher Kramer Bussell. It’s free! There will be free books (Colette’s) and cupcakes and all sorts of good naughty stuff:

8 PM
Happy Ending Lounge, 302 Broome St., NYC

But, but … wait a minute. Virgins Night?

Yes. It’s for debut erotica writers reading their stuff aloud for the first time.

Jane and Colette, plus the other writers, will each have ten minutes to read aloud their hot stuff. Jane reports that she’s too busy to even be nervous, but she’s sure she will be when it comes down to it.

I’ve read parts of my books aloud–it’s actually something I quite like when I’ve got over the oh my god how could I write such a clunky sentence feeling and just enjoy the sensation of performing, and gauging the audience’s reaction.

What about you? Do you enjoy listening to authors read their work? How about books on tape or CD? If you’re a writer, do you like to read your work aloud and who have you read it to (pets excluded)?

Today we have as our Risky guest Jane Lockwood, whose first erotic historical, Forbidden Shores (Signet Eclipse), is released October 2. Your comment or question through Monday will enter you into a drawing for a signed copy of the book; the winner will be announced here on Tuesday.

Janet: Jane, welcome to the Riskies. I feel as though I know you already! Tell us about the book.

Jane: Forbidden Shores is about three people who each fall in love with the one person of the three who cannot love them back. I think I tend to see love as a catalyst, a powerful force that can be destructive as well as healing. Generally everything I write starts off with people who are quite happy as they are until they fall in love. Then they kick and scream as everything changes. It’s set against the background of the abolitionist movement and takes place mostly on a Caribbean island; Clarissa, the heroine, actually quotes from The Tempest at one point, and Hero #2 (March) is the enigmatic, powerful ruler of the island, a sort of Prospero figure. And if you were really going to explore the analogy, Allen, Hero #1, is Caliban. (Oh, and by the way, it’s much more explicit than the cover or back cover blurb suggests.)

Janet: What was your inspiration?

Jane: A brilliant book called Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild about the British abolitionist movement. Abolition was a hot, polarizing issue in Georgian England and full of conflict and sacrifice and passion, and I knew I wanted to write about abolitionists after I read it. I originally intended to set the book in England but my editor thought Quakers collecting signatures for petitions in the rain not nearly as sexy as sex on the beach of a Caribbean island.

Janet: So you had to deal with the issue of slavery in the book.

Jane: It was very painful and difficult to write about. Slaves working on sugar plantations were treated inhumanly and shamefully. I certainly didn’t want to go into lurid details, but I didn’t want to tone it down, and neither did I want to idealize the slaves who appear as secondary characters.

Janet: OK, let’s talk about something safer–sex. You have a menage a trois–was that difficult to write? And since there are so many erotic romances with menages, how did you make yours different, or dare I say, risky?

Jane: After diligent research–[unseemly snorts of laughter]–I didn’t want to make it too slick and multi-earth-moving. It’s part crazy lust but it also represents the desperation of all three not getting what they really want and knowing that this is as close as they can get. So there’s a fair amount of clumsiness and reluctance, but the heroine, whose idea it is, has the best time (my editor’s suggestion).

Janet: What’s the hardest thing about writing erotic romance?

Jane: I think you could have phrased that a little better. Really, finding other things for your characters to do; making them believable as people.

Janet: Is there any sort of sexual practice you’d feel uncomfortable writing about?

Jane: In this book, with its context, any sort of master/slave sex play. I guess I’m expected to say “no non-consensual sex” but I think once your characters are experimenting and exploring they may well do things they don’t want to do–or think they didn’t want to do.

Janet: Did you do any special research?

Jane: Not as much as I would have liked. For the sea voyage, I re-read a wonderful book by Eric Newby, The Last Grain Race, that gives an incredible portrait of life below decks on a sailing ship. Newby, who died last year, was the travel writer for the Observer in England, and in 1939 he sailed on a grain ship from Dublin to Australia on a ship that’s now a restaurant in Philadelphia, the Moshulu. I also re-read The Wide Sargasso Sea, a book I find unsatisfying because both voices are Jean Rhys’s (even though she has a wonderful voice). As well as some books on the history of the Caribbean, I found a couple of great websites: the Antigua & Barbuda Museum and Brycchan Carey’s Links and Web Resources for Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation. I visited Bristol, now my favorite English city, and its wonderful (free!) museums. And I borrowed the wording for a manumission from Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative.

Janet: What’s your favorite part of the book?

Jane: The chapter where Allen does his own laundry (a big no-no for a Georgian gentleman) and then climbs the mast of a ship (talk about phallic symbolism!).

Ask Jane questions about Forbidden Shores or writing erotic romance. I’ll make sure she’s here to answer them!

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Okay, I admit it. This is an excuse to show you the cover for my HarperCollins release (October, 2007) which is so awesomely beautiful I cannot keep it to myself. This is the book whose title has changed more times than my hair color. The last time I blogged about this, we were still in the throes of finding a title (not too romance-y! Not too funny!), and now progress is being made.

Meanwhile, I’m about to start revisions on the book by The Other Person, Forbidden Shores, and life being the funny old thing it is, in this one I’m being told to make it more romance-y, since it’s coming out (also in October) as a Signet Eclipse. I am, however, allowed to keep the heaps of writhing sweaty bodies this book is all about.

Moving on from stuff about me–me–me, here’s something interesting. There are specific areas of the brain related to reading, speech, and writing, Exner’s Writing Area and Broca’s Expressive Speech Area in the left frontal lobe, and Wernicke’s receptive speech area in the left temporal lobe. (I’m giving you the locations to impress you, not to encourage digging around in someone’s head, by the way.) They’re the bits of the brain that don’t function properly when someone suffers from agraphia, the inability to write and spell. I discovered this in research I was doing for work as part of a new book, The Elements of Internet Style: The New Rules of Creating Valuable Content for Today’s Readers. Sign up here if you’d like to receive more information on the book (scroll down to the bottom left of the screen). And the question all this raised was what were these bits of the brain doing before humans spoke, or wrote? Did they merely lie dormant until someone picked up a piece of charcoal and thought, Hmm, better let Ig know about that big herd of buffalo I saw down by the lake?

And does this mean there are other parts of the brain ready to spring into action? I wonder what those would be. The driving while gabbing on a cell phone area is extraordinarily primitive and should be surgically removed on those who attempt it. Teenagers have a new area for IM-ing friends while talking to another friend on a cell phone, watching American Idol with the sound turned down, and doing homework. The area for making sure your feathered headdress doesn’t catch on fire while not worrying too much about whether the skirt of your gown will fall off after your maid hastily re-fashioned it and whether the gentleman you are waltzing with is holding you far too closely is a part of the brain rarely used nowadays.

Any new or old brain areas you’d like to invent?

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