Do I do all those things I describe in my books?
As an erotic romance author, I find that people seem to be fascinated with how I research my novels. It is the most frequent question people ask me — usually with a wink and a grin. At a recent signing at a show called Sexapalooza in my home city of Ottawa, Canada, many people asked if it’s personal experience. I glanced around at the piles of books (10 different novels) and winked, telling them I’ve been a very busy lady. (My husband of over 30 years just chuckled! Um, yeah, I was about 2 when I got married!)
So how do I do my research? Well, I’ve found that there is an unexpected wealth of information all around us. At a family gathering, my niece, who has studied hypnotherapy, told me about an intriguing concept called erotic hypnosis. That inspired me to write a scene where one of my heroines (Hanna in BLUSH) enjoyed a very hot erotic fantasy with a plethora of sexy, leather-clad bikers. What I loved most was that I could really push the limits because it was a guided flight of imagination.
In another instance, when my husband was chatting with some ladies on the bus to work—he always shows them my latest book cover and tells them what I’m working on—he told them I was starting a book on BDSM and one of the women told him that she’d done research about the lifestyle for her Master’s thesis. That led to me having a long chat with a submissive who’d been involved in the lifestyle for many years. That fascinating discussion gave me a lot of insight and helped me add a lot of heart to my book SECRET TIES.
What do I do if an expert doesn’t fall into my lap? The Internet and books are my biggest resource. Google and Amazon allow me to pull together a wealth of information right from the comfort of my own home. While surfing the web, I can find on-line forums specific to my area of research, like the swingers sites I visited while writing my second book, SWING; on-line lingerie stores to find a great lacy corset I can describe in detail; or sites that describe how to tell when someone is lying, so I can have one character who is knowledgeable in such things evaluate another character’s behaviour. (That latter also comes in handy for personal reasons, since I have teenagers—not that either of my kids ever lies!)
When you want to get out and see things in real life and maybe talk to a live person, going to adult stores is a start. In Ottawa, there’s a store called the Adult Fun Superstore, which is large and bright and not at all intimidating. They have various lingerie and products on display and the staff is helpful and can recommend various workshops that the store offers.
One place I go every year is the Sexapalooza show. For the past three years, I’ve had a booth there to promote my books. The show was two weeks ago and over fifteen thousand people passed through the conference centre. Between manning the booth and doing my talk on Women’s Sexual Fantasies, along with doing some readings, I slipped away to explore the show. They had a stage show, with pole dancers, belly dancers, a burlesque dancer, bondage bed demonstrations, pony play, etc. I wandered into the dungeon to see a bondage demonstration where the subject is tied up and suspended from above. I also talked to a man with a large variety of floggers laid out in front of him, from soft suede to a wicked looking flogger with braided leather. (None of those will appear in my books anytime soon!) My son and a group of his friends roamed the show and one fellow tried out the solitary cage. Apparently, the others had great fun poking him through the bars.
Of course, videos are a great resource, too. I’ve found YouTube to be wonderful for instructional videos. Also, adult films can show what is possible with respect to positions. In my book PLEASURE BOUND I wanted a love scene on a motorcycle. I found a video where a couple did just that. It gave me a lot of ideas, but I took my written love scene much further.
Not all my research is about the erotic aspects of my books. Let me give you some examples from my book FORBIDDEN HEAT. I received one of those funny videos in an email from a friend who knows I like cats. It showed a cat riding one of those robot vacuums. One of my characters, Trey, loves technological gismos, so I worked this into the book. See the video, it’s really cute!
I had a scene at a wedding and I needed to describe the wedding party, including bouquets. A small detail, but I found it easier to look at some bouquets on-line for inspiration. In the reception scene after the wedding, there was dancing so I thought I’d have Trey ask Danielle to dance the Tango. My husband and I took lessons to learn the Argentine Tango a few years ago, but I couldn’t remember all the steps, so I got onto YouTube to help me out. Check out this video. (I love this exotic dance. It’s so sexy!) And, check out these two scenes from the movie Take the Lead with Antonio Banderas. The first is a scene where Banderas’ character illustrates the Tango to his students. The second—well, basically a threesome on the dance floor! Totally inspiring as far as I’m concerned!
So although I dance the Tango, practice Tantric sex, sometimes watch hot videos, and know a lot about sex toys, I’m not my heroines. But I love bringing the fantasy to life.
You can find out more about Opal and her books at: www.OpalCarew.com
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