Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Harper Collins summer party

It's been nearly two weeks now since the Harper Collins summer party in Kensington Gardens, and I meant to write about it sooner. For someone who has been writing as it were in the shadows for more than 20 years it was fantastic to get such an attractive, glittering invitation and to feel like someone who matters! And glittering indeed it was. It was a lovely warm evening when got the train from Winchester and across London on the tube, and as soon as I walked through the gates into the park I was taken back to the era of my late teens when I was lucky enough to live in Kensington in my year off before going to uni, and used to roller skate up and down the Broad Walk.
    Now many years later I was tottering through the park in my cocktail dress while limos with blacked out windows swept past me towards the Orangery. I will admit to you now I was nervous, and when I got to the door and the wall of noise rolled out to greet me, I realised why. I was maybe 20 minutes late, but already the beautiful glass conservatory was packed with happy, glamorous people holding champagne, picking up twixt finger and thumb the tiniest canapes I've ever seen, and chattering very loud and very animatedly to make themselves heard.
   I decided just to be brazen about this. I had to remember that I was one of them, after all, not an outsider looking in which is how it has felt for so long, so I pushed on into the crowd of strangers. Oh, the joys of social media, because the first person I recognised from her blog post was Victoria Connelly who had written on her blog about last year's party. She and Claudia Carroll both looked lovely and cool with their rivers of blonde hair, and very sweetly greeted me. I was feeling distinctly damp around the armpits, though, and was led by Cleo Little to the far end of the conservatory where some of the other Avon Ladies were chatting, including my editor Helen, and boy did they look beautiful and soignee! Here it was cooler and quieter and I had a great view of Victoria Barnsley giving a great speech after her surprise announcement that she was leaving HP,then a short address by Max Hastings.
   Outside the party spilled onto the lovely lawns of the Orangery, and I moved around as sociably as I could without knowing anyone, talking to two historical novelists and a children's author. Although I saw Victoria Pendleton and someone from Made in Chelsea, my own celebrity moment came when I said hello to Nigel Slater, and after gabbling away about studio kitchens and allotments, I slightly over-excitedly declared I would call my next erotic hero after him! Slater, that is..! I swear I'd only had one glass of champagne, because I am even more of a chatterbox if I had more than that. He is as nice in real life as he looks on screen, and much more rumpled and attractive.
   I started to feel hot and weary after nearly two hours though as I'm not great at standing for that long and to sit down would have made me invisible, so I quietly slipped out into the lovely warm air without saying goodbye to anyone, got into a taxi helpfully waiting right outside the door, and bowled back to Waterloo. I'd forgotten how mellow London is when it's a warm summer's evening, everyone out and about in party clothes or standing on balconies or outside pubs, and I felt extremely pleased with life as my taxi driver talked me through the Andy Murray quarter final, shot by shot, as I made my way home.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Tips for writing a good sex scene

Tips for writing a good sex scene: This is assuming this is the first time for the characters. Details, location, dynamic etc can evolve as the novel progresses. Put yourself in there if you like, if it doesn't inhibt you. Otherwise superimpose famous heart-throbs, or a secret crush, on to the characters. Even imagine it flowing visually in front of you on a screen. The best comment I had from a favourable reviewer was when she put up a photograph of a sensationally beautiful redhead who she imagined my character Serena to look like.

Make us care for your characters. They may come from different worlds, or there may be a difference in age or in the balance of power between them, but they are drawn to each other like a couple of magnets and once we know how this dynamic works, we will know how and why they fancy each other, and your readers will fancy them, too. And remember these characters have one aim, now that they've gotten to know each other. To have sex. And our aim is to see them at it. Voyeuristic (see also my character Serena Folkes) but true! So next, place them in a sexy environment for this first time. Depending on their age, situation, energy, athleticism and/or pure machismo, the back of a clapped out Ford Cortina or the bins behind the Plaza cinema might be just the place for a quick, rough first time, and that will certainly do it for some readers. Any good erotic writer is more than capable, like the old Martini adverts, of creating a sex scene any time, any place, anywhere! But others usually pick up an erotic novel to get away from the dirty old mean streets of real life. We're after escapism! So hie your characters off to a place you'd like to be. A moonlit beach, or a sumptuous penthouse hotel room, or a soft rug in front of a roaring fire. Make sure there is low lighting and great music or some other subtle sound track. Garish lighting and deadly silence are not always the sexist ambience, at least for the first time. You can really have fun with your characters as the novel progresses, having them so hot for each other that after the first seduction they'll do it anywhere. A lift, a restaurant. A riding stable. An art gallery. And to keep us on our toes, you can also later on play with the dynamic, too. Have the meek heroine take the lead, for once. See how the hero responds to that.

Build up sensuously to the physical act with suggestive conversation which will either be blatant and in your face, or playful, teasing, even holding back. Remember that characters don't stand woodenly about like actors in a bad am-dram before they get down to it. Have them eating, drinking, dancing, singing, involve us in that experience, then show us their clothes, how well they fit, are they too formal or tight, how good does it feel as they come off? Unbuttoning cut-off jeans can be just as sexy as unzipping a ball gown. Make it tense, passionate, breathless, but take it slow. In real life the first time you have sex with someone new is often urgently desired but ends up fast and disastrous, but this is fantasy! So although there can be some hesitation, shyness and teasing, ultimately everyone, reader included, needs to be on tenterhooks to get their hands on each other. To get down to it. Restless, like scratching an itch. Salivating, like the desperation to drink cold water in the desert.

Structure your scene like the sex act. That is, foreplay, action, climax, wind down. Too obvious? You might think so, until you start writing the scene. Think of the foreplay as the aforementioned setting. The removal of clothes, the first sensation of skin on skin starts the action rolling in the obvious direction. If it helps, think of a movie scene. I know actors always say how pedestrian and workmanlike it is simulating sex in front of a crew of burly cameramen, a bank of arc lights and a demanding director, but imagine yourself as an extremely involved, generous, hands-on director with your characters, but make sure the bed is soft, the studio is warm, and soon they'll take off on their own towards the strong, satisfying, long-awaited penetration! As for the climax, well, no beating about the bush, is there? This is when the glorious pinnacle of where we all want to be is reached, and tread carefully here with the language (see below). Challenge yourself to find different ways of describing that rush of ecstasy. Avoid waterfalls, avalanches, orchestras! What actions or words stimulate the eventual moment? Slightly unrealistically erotic couples tend to come together every time but if you want to be more realistic, let one come before the other and show who is the generous one, who the thoughtful, who the selfish one? Or are they both equally considerate, and if not, will they become so as the novel progresses. Finallyk, the wind down is often the hardest. After the shivering and shuddering, do they fall asleep, or analyse, or do it all over again? I often have a knock at the door, or a phone call after the act, so that in the early days the couple are never at leisure totally to relax or take each other for granted until the next drama occurs.

Make it dramatic, but human. Not impossibly athletic, but not mundane either. The characters will already be attractive and/or beautiful, or arresting in some way to turn us on. The men have got to be strong and well hung and very experienced. The women curvacious, soft and wonderfully proportioned, and if not experienced, then primed and ready to learn. If this is a romantic setting, lots of kissing and stroking, exploration. If this is more down the BDSM route, then the participants will get their kicks from spanking, binding, and pain. But there is always room for sensuousness and tenderness.

Language. Keep it simple, punchy, evocative, but not obscene or anatomical. Don't, like John Updike, veer away from simple words and use hidous ones like 'yam' to describe a penis. Don't use euphemism or flowery words, either. 'Cock' 'cunt' and 'fuck' are acceptable with some publishers, but not others, and certainly not in the new mainstream type of erotica. I have written a trilogy where those words are only uttered in the words of a character who should know better – not the narrator, or the main characters themselves. Believe me, you have to use your powers of evocation very carefully to avoid sounding awkward or coy. So 'manhood' and 'sex' can be used, but sparingly. Read works of your chosen genre, or find a publisher's house style, to find what is acceptable. Next try to get into a rhythm similar to the rhythm of sex. Slow, slow, quick slow. Yes, that's it. Like a dance. Why else to you think dancing was considered so daring in the old days? It was the nearest people could get to each other in public. And have you ever seen sex better choregraphed than in the Argentine tango?

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Another great review

Tantalizing, amazing are some of the words comes to my mind as I sit here thinking.  Primula Bond has such a fantastic writing style that brings to life Serena and Gustav's relationship.  I'm amazed by how much I wanted to skip the story and get to the sex scenes! HOT they were hot! I was so captivated by their relationship. I love Gustav! Such a great leading man very strong presents but knows when he needs to do the chasing and maybe a little begging. When I saw the cover I liked it but after reading love it. It brings to mind a certain scenes. I can't wait to read what will happen next.
 Loved it!   

Serena and Gustav come home #The Silver Chain

 He looks beautiful sitting on the chair in my bedroom. The stoniness in his features softening despite his best efforts. A flush of colour in his lean cheeks. His hair long and glossy, the blackness of his eyes deepened by his burglar's clothes.
'Can I take a photograph to remember you by? The moonlight suits you. Makes you look younger somehow. It must be your natural lighting.' I lift my camera, all my movements very slow, as if he might vault back over the balcony at any moment.
He remains in the chair, rocking very slightly and holding the glass of red wine. This is me at my best. Stepping round the room, stepping round him, framing and clicking. Trapping him forever in my little glass window.
'What do you mean, remember me by?'
'Well, the show's nearly sold out. Technically I'll be free to come and go as I please.'
He picks up the brush I've just been playing with and strokes it under his nose. Heat surges through me, through my body, up into my face. He can smell me on the bristles.
'Your heart won't let you.'
I remain standing, but I'm cold now. 'We've fulfilled most of the clauses of the agreement in principle. And I'm grateful for your faith in me, the gallery, and the room here, and your contacts and your help.'
'You have no idea.'
He leans forward and takes my wrist. There's a new silver chain, glinting in the moonlight. He hooks it onto my bracelet. I'm hooked onto him. He tugs hard on the chain and as I stumble towards him he scoops me up into his arms and carries me out of the room, down the stairs, past pre-Raphaelite Rapunzel, then he kicks open the double door of his own room.
This is like falling through the looking glass. I haven't changed or gone crazy, like Alice. This isn't a nightmare, or even a dream. I'm still Serena Folkes, the girl in the nightie who has this terrible addiction. But in this moment Gustav has carried me into my new life.
He throws me playfully on to the huge bed which is pushed up against the enormous windows and then goes to stand by the wall opposite. An oblong of light edges in from the landing, but apart from that the room is in darkness.
A tiny spot light pings on to illuminate a framed picture.
'You asked me why I went to Milan. I carried this all the way out there from London and then decided to frame it properly. I was going to give it to you in Switzerland.'

It's the sketch he did of me at the private view, small but perfectly formed. It's been set in the centre of a wide pale green mount and a beautiful silver frame. Instinctively I glance round the room, up at the ceiling. The other walls are totally blank.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

A really great review - thank you!

 Just couldn't resist copying this review, as it's so constructive and encouraging compared with some of the less kind ones. Here it is, with my thanks.

'OK, my first thought about this book was the English language has absolutely been mastered by Primula Bond. The plot is great, but the writing is phenomenal. If I ever felt myself not drawn to something Primula Bond is able to weave her magic and make me come back to what is important, her writing.
I loved how the two main characters met. It was so perfect. But sadly, perfection afterwards is a different story. It didn't resonate with me how they made their contract. Maybe it was his tone, something about Gustav's character that just didn't work for me. He seems so aloof. Not to say that I didn't absolutely enjoy this, because I did, but I wanted a little more from him.
"Now, tell me I can't escort you somewhere Serena. You look a bit, well, undone. Disheveled? No, that's not the right word. At sixes and sevens. Knackered. Who wouldn't be? This can be an exhausting old town. How about allowing me to buy you a drink if you think you can trust me?"
Serena, however, I absolutely adore. She's a bit crazy and crass but absolutely lovely. And has some issues with holding her tongue!
"Another apology, even if it is in Latin! "I mutter. "Why can't you just act like a normal person for once in a blue moon?"
I think her normal speech, instead of the gaudy, know it all speech of Gustav, really brings feeling to the story. And there is also the sexiness of this story... loads of it! They don't know one another very well before Gustav is showing Serena what he wants. And he has a really good imagination! Definitely not something for the younger adults!
All in all, a really good, entertaining read. I love the writing and will read another of Primula Bond's books in an instance!'


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A Bit of a Teaser

Gustav Levi is calm for the first time. A ship that's been hurled by the storm into harbour. He's where he wants to be. He is finally inside me, taking full physical possession. Fucking me. He increases his pace, thrusting once, twice more, his pleasure, my pleasure, this wonderful new calmness and belonging, then as the storm crashes over us, over the chalet, battering at the mountain, we come together.
     He collapses across me, his face in the pillow next to my shoulder, his body heavy, crushing the air out of me, but I don't care. I am just relishing the heavy thump of his heart against mine, the rushing of hot breath against my shoulder, the slow relax of his limbs as our breathing, and the storm, subside.
     I run my lips over his cheek, but he shakes his head and rolls away from me. Now the crisp closure of his zipper sounds so bitter and final. Shutting me out again. Not only that, but now that his warmth is removed I start to shiver, outside as well as within. The storm has given way to hail now, white stones crashing onto the skylights like someone chucking gravel to attract attention.
     There are all sorts of things I should say now. Things he's never heard before. This is my chance to find the right words to make him mine.
     But what I actually say is, 'My wrists are hurting.'
     He kneels up quickly and unties the silver chain, his face troubled again. He rubs my arms as he releases them, running his finger round the inside of the bracelet where it has been branding my skin. I can barely move my arms. They are stiff and sore with all the tension, the straining to escape, welcoming yet fighting the sexy struggle.
     He remains hunched above me, shaking his head. I let my hand fall onto his back where his black shirt is sticking with sweat. Trace the shoulder blades, the bumps of his spine. The inflation of his ribs as he tries to calm his breath.
     A residual, satisfied moan escapes me.

 'I'm a monster. You see?' He moves away from me, running his fingers over the silver bracelet before standing up. 'All I ever do is hurt people.'

Monday, 1 July 2013

Yanking on The Silver Chain

You know it's crunch time when your book is finally sent out to a raft of reviewers who are asked to say honestly, generously, and/or brutally, exactly what they think of the book you were slaving over for the best part of six months, including revisions. You tiptoe up to the pages, for example on Goodreads, glance down the list of reviews, note the number (if any) of stars. Swerve away.Avert your eyes. Five. Wow! Four. Great! Three stars. Not so great. One or two. Avert your eyes when you catch the comment 'I didn't even want to give two!' You know these are going to be pretty blistering.
   So, the negative comments so far. Come on, gotta face it. And learn from it.It's a good thing at last not to be writing in isolation all the time. They all seem to revolve around two areas. One, interestingly, is how to classify the book, ie whether or not to compare this with 50 Shades and the Crossfire series, or whether that is misleading.I acknowledge the influence of 50 Shades but twixt you and me I aimed to write something tighter and better. If you are looking for a lot of BDSM content, toys, aids, constraint, domination, etc, then this isn't for you. There are some significant punishment scenes, but the symbolism of the Silver Chain itself is to bind the lovers, not restrain them. The whole reason I went into the new erotic romance genre when I was honestly about to hang up my handcuffs was to be able to concentrate on the developing of an intense relationship, rather than filling pages with a series of sex scenes linked by a flimsy story line.
    Secondly, there have been remarks about the single point of view which leads to a certain amount of internal 'dialogue' (I think they mean monologue). Perhaps I'll explore dual points of view in another novel, to open it up. I don't think I can do that now, having completed two out of three solely from Serena's angle. The questioning and observations of Serena as she goes about her new life with Gustav also leads some commentators to find this a slow burn, rather than a romp. I do relish language and have enjoyed indulging in the freedom to write as I want. So for 'slow' others have read 'lush prose'.
    My Avon Ladies have tried to forward me some 'wonderful' reviews, but spookily I can't download them. What can that mean, I wonder?

Here are some of the good ones:

'I really loved the book - it was different - but good different.. I can't wait for book 2 - the cliffhanger really left me hanging! I want to know what happens with Serena and Gustav!' B J's Book Blog

'I really loved it. Primula Bond knows how to write interesting, engaging and fascinating relationships.' Northern Lass

'I felt the story was quite well written and it took me a day to read as I romped through it and didn't want to put it down.' Goodreads.

And here is what anyone not rooting for me looks like: