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Friday, August 29, 2014

Making Up A Country – by Dani Collins


The Ultimate Seduction, 21st Century Gentlemen’s Club

A big thanks to Lee for inviting me to return today! And a big hello to all of you. I’m finally home from my Big Trip which took me to my old hometown for a high school reunion, San Antonio for the RWA Conference, Brisbane Australia to spend three weeks with my sister, and a quick jaunt to Sydney in the middle for the Romance Writers of Australia conference.

All that travel really got me thinking about the variety of wonderful places in this wide world of ours. With so many amazing real places to set a book, why would an author feel the need to make up a country? And how do you squeeze it onto a map with the ones that genuinely exist?

Well, I’ll tell ya.

The Ultimate Seduction is the second in a three book series that I wrote with Maya Blake and Victoria Parker. The editors wanted a modern on an old-fashioned Gentlemen’s Club. It’s very exclusive and only the richest of the rich are members. It’s where they go to play, network, and get into trouble away from the flashing eye of the paparazzi.

I wanted my hero to be powerful, obscenely rich (goes without saying) and in need of cutting a deal with the heroine. I could have made him a playboy prince, but I wanted someone who appeared more dissolute. The club was a place that, if you have enough money, you could pretty much buy your way in. I chose to make Ryzard an elected President who has ousted a dictator and taken over his fictional country.

In fact, his country is so new he’s seeking recognition from the UN. To understand how this is done, I referred to this handy article (among others): How To Start Your Own Country In Four Easy Steps. This put Ryzard in a position of playing politics and having to campaign for recognition, which happen to be two things my heroine, Tiffany, hates beyond measure. (Conflict, the mountainscape of every story.)

In terms of its place in the world, I didn’t want him caught up in too volatile a place, like the Middle East. If you Google images of the Black Sea coast, you’ll see why I fell in love with the region. Since the fall of communism, there’s been enough unrest to make it believable that yet another sovereign country has emerged there so I stuck a pin between Bulgaria and Romania and called it.

Then I got to the fun part. Anyone who follows my blogs knows I’ve plugged 30 Days Of World Building about a million times and I will never stop because, for writers, it’s invaluable. I first did this exercise as I was preparing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) The 30 Days focus on building a magical world, but so much is taken from our real world that I still referred to it to create Ryzard’s country.

This forced me to consider what his resources are. What’s the landscape? What’s the political climate historically and today? Obviously not all of that goes into the book, but it gave me the notion to make Ryzard’s residence a palace that was originally built for a Russian Tzar then used (and thus maintained) by communist leaders. It sustained damage in the recent civil war, but the grandeur remains and he’s rebuilding it, which is a metaphor for his country as a whole.

The last touch, of course, is to search the fictional name, to ensure it isn’t actually in use. Voila! Bregnovia. Coming to a map near you. (If that map is in your head.)

How do you feel about stories with fictional countries? Or towns? Where would you set a country and why? I’d love to send a signed copy of The Ultimate Seduction to one lucky winner drawn from your responses.


"I'm about to make you an offer you can't refuse."

Tiffany Davis takes her first delicious step into the exclusive masquerade ball hosted by the secretive Q Virtus gentleman's club. Here, behind the mask, Tiffany can hide her scars and reveal her true self—a powerful businesswoman with an offer for the president of Bregnovia, Ryzard Vrbancic.

Astounded by her audacity, only the fire in Tiffany's eyes makes Ryzard look twice. He has no interest in her business deal, but the promise of a woman who can match his ruthless determination makes him eager to seduce from her the one thing she's not offering….

Here's an excerpt:

Ryzard followed the man’s gaze and his entire being crackled to attention.

Well beyond the pool’s light, in a corner mostly blocked by a buffet table and ice sculpture, a woman undulated like a cobra, utterly fascinating in her hypnotic movements timed perfectly with the music. Her splayed hands slid down her body with sexy knowledge, her hips popped in time to the beat, and her feet kick-stepped into motion.

She twirled. The motion lifted her brassy curls like a skirt before she planted her feet wide and swayed her weight between them. The flex of her spine gave way to a roll of her hips, and she was back into motion again.

Setting down his drink, Ryzard beelined toward her. He couldn’t tell if the woman had a partner, but it didn’t matter. He was cutting in.

She was alone, lifting her arms to gather her hair, eyes closed as she felt the music as much as heard it. She arched and stretched—

He caught her around the waist and used the shocked press of her hands at his shoulders to push her into accepting his lead, stepping into her space, then retreating, bringing her with him. As he moved her into a side step, she recovered, matching his move while her gaze pinned to his.

He couldn’t tell what color her eyes were. The light was too low, her feathery mask shadowing her gaze into twin glinting lights, but he reacted to the fixation in them. She was deciding whether to accept him.

A rush of excitement for the challenge ran through him. After a few more quick steps, he swung her into half pivots, catching each of her wrists in turn, one bare, one clad in silk, enjoying the flash of her bare knee through the slit of her skirt.

How had she been overlooked by every man here? She was exquisite.

Lifting her hand over her head, he spun her around then clasped her shoulder blades into his chest. Her buttocks—fine, firm, round globes as if heaven had sent him a valentine—pressed into his lap. Bending her before him, he buried his nose in her hair and inhaled, then followed her push to straighten and matched the sway of her hips with his own.

Tiffany’s heart pounded so hard she thought it would escape her chest. One second she’d been slightly drunk, lost in the joy of letting the salsa rhythm control her muscles. Now a stranger was doing it. And doing it well. He pulled her around into a waltz stance that he quickly shifted so they grazed each other’s sides, left, right, left.

She kicked each time, surprised how easily the movements came back to her. It had been years, but this man knew what he was doing, sliding her slowly behind his back, then catching her hand on the other side. He pushed her to back up a step, bringing one of her arms behind his head, the other behind her own. A few backward steps and they were connected by only one hand, arms outstretched, then he spun her back into him, catching her into his chest.

He stopped.

The conga beat pulsed through her as he ran his hands down her sides. Her own flew to cover his knuckles, but she didn’t stop him. It felt too amazing. His fingertips grazed the sides of her breasts, flexed into the taut muscles of her waist and clasped her hips to push them in a hula circle that he followed with his own, his crotch pressed tight to her buttocks.

Sensual pleasure electrified her. No one touched her anymore. After being a genderless automaton for so long, she was a woman again, alive, capable of captivating and enticing a man. She nudged her hips into his and flashed a cheeky glance back at him.

Dani’s first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin, won the 2013 Reviewer’s Choice by Romantic Times Book Reviews for Best First In Series. While her focus remains on Presents, Dani has also published a romantic comedy, a medieval fantasy, a pair of erotic romances, and coming September 2014, will offer small-town rancher novellas with Tule Publishing’s Montana Born series. Whatever the genre, Dani always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.
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6 comments:

Laney4 said...

Geography was never my strong suit, so I probably wouldn't know if they were fictional countries or towns anyway, LOL! I would set a country as far away as possible, probably in a desert area. After all, sheikhs are chic!

erin said...

I don't mind made up countries or cities. Makes it more fun if it's all "new" :) Thanks for sharing!

Mary Preston said...

My comment just got eaten. I'll try again.

Mary Preston said...

I think it would be fun to make up a country. I’d have to use the English language, but otherwise... It would be fun to create customs & the national food. I think it would have to be a European nation. I’d like at least one castle.

Dani Collins said...

Hi Ladies,
Looks like I missed posting a winner on this one. Since there's only three entries, I'll send you all a book. I'll be in touch through your profile emails.
Thanks for commenting :)
Dani

Mary Preston said...

Thank you!!