What inspired you to write Pitch Perfect?
I worked in the cut-throat business world in London for many years, and some of the situations depicted in Pitch Perfect and my on-going series of stories actually happened to people I knew or worked with. And – yes – a few happened to me, though I’m not saying which!
In my books, I wanted to create interesting and very erotic stories set within a fictional business world, using the examples at my disposal and embellishing them with my own creativity and imagination. It was great to be able to draw so heavily on my own experiences, as it made the fictional world believable for readers who may be working in or experiencing the same type of situations.
With all my novellas, once I have the title, the rest of the book seems to fall into place quite easily. I do plan things out, and this is particularly important when writing a series of novellas so that they can flow from one to another in a structured way. Pitch Perfect started from the central idea of a business pitch that brought together a number of interesting characters and provided the foundation from which the main character, Stephanie Spicer, could develop.
Once the main idea was in place, it allowed me to draw together the supporting cast of strong characters who could interact with Stephanie. They, in turn, could develop and re-appear as required throughout a series of subsequent novellas. Of course, some characters do not continue from Pitch Perfect to the next novella, and some drop out then re-appear in much later stories. However, by using strong characters, it allows the reader to build a familiarity with them, so they can do this quite easily.
I felt the characters in Pitch Perfect – both male and female – would appeal to mainly female readers who perhaps were themselves working in the type of ruthless corporate world I had experienced and understood only too well. However driven the corporate businessmen/women were, and despite their ambitions to be successful, I also felt that more than anything else what they were really seeking was not just power, but passion and – in some cases – love. In the novellas I’ve tried to depict the fact that even the strongest players in business can be fragile and flawed, and not everything goes the way they want or have planned.
Which character did you enjoy writing the most? Why?
I suppose because this series of novellas revolves around a central character called Stephanie Spicer, inevitably it is her that I enjoyed writing about most. I really wanted to get into her head and find her voice, the style of clothes and jewelry she wears, who she loves/lusts after, what it is she is aiming for in life. Finding the name was the real breakthrough, and I tried all sorts of combinations of names of people I knew, and plenty of people I didn’t. I had worked with a girl called Stephanie in my past, and it seemed to resonate well, so I decided to use that I then had to find their surname and, by a strange co-incidence, I came across an old email which had the name of a former work colleague on it, whose surname was Spicer. I instantly knew that I had the answer and put the two together.
Once I had the name, Stephanie started to appear in my mind, and now I live with her on a daily basis!
When it comes time to creating that wonderful character, what’s your secret? Is it easy, hard? Visual aids or none?
Visually, Stephanie is based on a real person I once knew. She was a very beautiful woman with long blonde hair, who dressed immaculately. However, only the physical appearance was based in reality. What I then had to do was create a profile of Stephanie (and all the other characters) that fully detailed everything that I would ever want to know about them – their looks, their measurements, their back-story, their interests/likes/dislikes etc. Once that was developed it became much easier to work with them as there was a reference point that I could always go back to, thus ensuring there were no errors made when the characters appeared in future novellas.
I use a ‘character profile’ sheet I developed for each character to ensure I always stay accurate when painting a picture of someone in words. The last thing I want is to describe a female character as having large breasts in one novella, and then as having perky ones in the next. Someone is going to notice – not least the partner she is in bed with!
I’ve found it quite easy to develop characters and imagine their physical appearance, but by documenting everything it really becomes so much easier.
Do you tend to lean toward any specific type of names for your characters, or whatever comes to you?
Once I had Stephanie’s character, I didn’t consciously lean towards any other specific type for other characters. In this and future novellas, there is a real mix of characters: male, female, white, black, bi-sexual and straight, so they are written to match the needs of the story and move it along in an interesting and credible way.
Some were required to make the story work, like Katrina Conway, Stephanie’s boss. She’s demanding, but also supportive of Stephanie. She’s also someone that Stephanie aspires to be like so it allows elements of envy as well as friction in certain scenes.
I particularly wanted one character (who appears towards the end of Pitch Perfect), Diane Martin, to be professional, attractive, yet un-lovable, as her character creates problems for Stephanie in the future. She was based on a real life person I once knew in the business world. She was successful as a woman in a man’s business world, but she was one of the least likeable people I’ve ever met in my life – perfect as a character in a book!
What inspired you to become a writer? What are your aspirations; your goals?
I always loved reading good books from an early age, and even then wanted to be a writer. Being given a good book is like having a door into an amazing world that an author had created, but which you can then embellish in your own mind. How did the characters speak; what did they sound like?
I started writing my own stories at school and after college I worked as a copywriter in large businesses. That wasn’t as creative as I wanted, so I started using some of the situations I had encountered at work into writing short stories just for fun. As these tended to be fairly risqué, I suppose it was only natural that these ultimately developed into longer erotic novellas, which is what you are seeing now.
For the moment, I will be continuing with the series of Stephanie Spicer novellas as there are so many ideas in my head that I want to write about and I think readers would enjoy. Longer-term, it’s possible that some of the other characters in the series might take off on their own and have stories developed around them. There are a few that have definite potential. I’m enjoying working in the erotica/erotic romance market for now, so have no plans to branch off into other areas just yet.
For fans and other young budding writers, any words of inspiration? What can we expect next from you?
It always amazes me how many people read your work, then say ‘That looks easy. I could do that.” My response is always the same – “So do it.” It takes a lot of work crafting good stories, developing good plotlines and drafting realistic dialogue. If you can do all that, day in, day out, and have a good command of the English language using faultless grammar and without spelling mistakes, then you’ve got a fair chance of producing good writing.
I also feel that a good writer is a good reader. They have studied the craft of others. They understand what makes a story work and move along. They are aware of the world around them and what is going on, and how they can use situations when crafting their plotlines and dialogue.
I would also say that aspiring writers should always have a notebook or recording device with them at all times, as ideas can come out of nowhere, and you need to capture them at the moment, or they will disappear and be lost. Find out when your ideas usually come: in the shower; in bed; on a long walk – be ready for them and you’ll end up with sheets of ideas that you can use when writing.
Besides producing the ideas, though, a writer has got to put in long, lonely hours actually writing their masterpiece, and then finding a publisher that will help them get their work into the market. Have you thought about who the book is targeted at? Does it meet the publisher’s guidelines? Is it better than what is already out there on sale? Do your research well, and it makes things so much easier.
I have further titles in the Stephanie Spicer Erotic Touch series being released throughout the first few months of 2017. ‘Winner Takes All’ is the second title, released on Valentine’s Day, so that should create some interest! It’s based on people playing a revealing game that I created especially to make the novella work. Who knows? The game might actually take off and get played for real, if enough people read the book.
Each of the novellas is a complete story, but links to the previous titles, and sets the scene for the next one following in the series. I originally planned the Stephanie Spicer series as twenty novellas, so look out for future titles as they are released by Deep Desires. After that, who knows what’s coming….
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