Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Anatomy of Inspiration

By Pauline Allen (Guest Blogger)

Hello everyone. I wanted to take a moment to thank you, Lisabet, for hosting me here on Beyond Romance. I'm excited to join your readers and chat about my personal writing process and how I used my style to develop the characters for my debut novel with Loose Id.

A writer's process is sacred and as personal as any emotional attachment one might develop in a lifetime. For me, it begins with music. I'll be in my car and hear a new song I've downloaded and the "click" will happen. I zone out, drive, and the movie in my head begins to play. I'm just a bystander, watching as the pictures progress and the story unfolds. I can develop my hero and heroine character arcs and plot summary in approximately one hour when the muse of music hits.

I then frantically write down everything flowing through my head into a spiral bound notebook, returning later with a fine-tooth comb to work out more detailed plot points and the character's tone of dialogue. My "voice" is quite distinctive. I have, what I call, a Trent Reznor vs. Alice in Wonderland tone. My characters are broken and disheartened with life, but there is always a sense of something more out there for them, that they can find love through the darkness. Alice comes into play because I have a whimsical sense of humor that is always injected into the shadows of my writing.

The music that inspires me reflects my style. I listen to everything from downtempo like Portishead and Osho, R and B like Tank and Chris Brown, or singer/songwriter like Lykke Li and Damien Rice. There's always a little Madonna thrown in there for good measure. For See Me, my novel with Loose Id, the song that "clicked" is by Kelly Dalton. "Let Me In" spoke volumes to me about Sean, my hero, and his struggles with incarceration and building a life after being in prison.

Now, how in the devil did I get to a point with my character that he was in prison? I drive by a state prison facility three times a week on my way to work. At four in the afternoon, on warmer days, the "boys" are out in the yard playing basketball, baseball, or running on the track. One on particular day, I was driving along on my merry way and there was a young man leaning on the fence with his arms over his head, watching the cars go by. Now, mind you, I live in a rural area and the cars are few and far between. My eyes caught his and I slowed my car to watch him as I rolled by. Our gazes locked and in that instant I knew him.

I sped up and the pictures started. His name was Sean and he was in for illegal mixed martial arts fighting. The fight went bad, the cops came, one blow to his opponent's head and the guy died. Sean was convicted and sentenced. When he got "Let Me In" by Mr. Dalton started playing in my head...he struggled to find employment. He wanted to better his life, met a friend at the gym, and the start to his new life began.

My heroine sparked to life with a song as well. Her spirit came to me in a song by Tori Amos. "Me and a Gun" is a story about rape and violence against women. Abigail's story was saturated with loneliness and fear. Her business, Fantasy Emporium, was inspired by one thing. Pornography! I interviewed a performer and built the adult entertainment world in my book from information I gathered on the inside of the industry.

The evolution of See Me is typical for all the books I write. I hear a rhythm and the process ignites like a wild fire. During the writing phase I'm obsessed with the characters. I hear them whisper to me. They become true entities in my life and I speak about them as such. My friends and family get to laughing because I feel such a rollercoaster of emotions when I'm writing. If my heroine is hurt or depressed, so am I. If my hero is cocky and lustful, so am I. I tend to have a heavy hand on the male point of view and write more from the inside of his head. Maybe because the male species is a total mystery to me and writing in their consciousness makes me feel like I'm getting to listen in on a juicy secret.

I'm a writer who writes in every environment once the story gets flowing. I write on vacation, in the car, at work (yes, I will still bring you your pain meds. *giggles*), and on my huge front porch. Every time I change the scenery, a new part of the story twists and richens the plot. I do, however, have an office in my home.

Stephen King in On Writing stated that a writer must have his/her writing space close to home. My husband and I live in a three story Victorian Presbyterian Manse. It was used by the church for the pastor's home and social functions for the church in the 1900's. My wonderful husband took the painstaking time to make my writing room a replica of a bordello in the old Storyville in New Orleans. Storyville was the red light district of the city of New Orleans. My room in decorated with all the paraphernalia that I've collected from the naughty city over the years.

I travel to NOLA twice a year to recharge my creative battery and of course eat the hearty cuisine. The city is steeped in a velvety history of violence and lust. It's the perfect playground for Erotic Romance inspiration. Writing is an essential part of my being. Life eases forward at a proper cadence when I'm entrenched in a harrowing plot or fleshing out why a character is so complex. The phrase, "Life is Good" was written for a writer who is in the zone, stomping out the keys, listening to the voices, and wading through the arcs. As for this writer, life is pretty damn good.

My debut novel with Loose Id is titled See Me. It's a contemporary erotic romance novel with a sexy, street-wise hero and a curvy, brave heroine. Abigail Swanson’s spirit has been battered, a body left for dead to recover to find fear and loneliness. Due to an abusive relationship, she is unable to feel the one thing she longs to have again. She builds a lucrative business specializing in the commodity she can’t afford to experience. Passion.

Sean Drennan traded his fists for a portfolio, but the cost was too great. Now, considered damaged goods, he’s unable to find employment. Desperate to gather some quick cash, he reluctantly agrees to take a job in the field guaranteed to make him sell his soul.

So what does a successful pornography entrepreneur do when her clients are demanding a tattooed hunk and her performers don’t fit the bill? She puts all her trust in an ex-con who has nothing to lose. Can he save her business and her heart at the same time or will his fighting ways leave him cold and lonely yet again?

For one voluptuous, scared woman it’s love at all costs. For one man it’s a new experience he’s more than willing to fight his way into. But can Sean and Abigail survive the dangerous ride?

Abigail Swanson, this is Sean Drennan.”

Ron introduced him like it was a legitimate interview, like he wasn’t standing there in the spacious office applying for a job in porn. It felt weird.

He’s finished the application. We’ll do the rest after he’s done with you.”

Sean extended his hand and was quickly greeted with a sweet smile. An innocent, full pair of lips parted to reveal white teeth beneath. Had he ever seen a sweeter smile? Not one focused in my direction.

She took his hand into her soft grip. “Mr. Drennan, it’s nice to finally meet you. Ron has told me a lot about you.”

He has? Like what, the size of my dick or how many reps I can do on the trap bar?

He knew his hand lingered too long, but God, she was fucking with his head. Abigail Swanson was supposed to be a porno filmmaker, one of those dirty women wearing black latex and carrying a riding crop. A Jenna Jameson or Heidi Fleiss.

The woman standing behind the metal desk was no Jenna and definitely no Heidi. She was apple pie and pompoms. She was the girl who wouldn’t have given him the time of day in high school. She’s a sly-look-and-run-away, just like the woman in the café. Only ten times hotter.

The long auburn waves hung past her shoulders, and that shirt… Betty Boop, really? And jeans? He wasn’t complaining. They hugged her full curves. He’d been so used to the gym girls he’d forgotten what real women looked like. They looked like Abigail Swanson. Think, dumbass! “Sorry I’m late, Ms. Swanson.” He let her soft skin slide across his palm as she released his hand. The loss was instant.

It’s all right. The rain was coming down pretty hard. I’m sure the drive took a while. Please.” She motioned to the wingback chair in front of the desk. “Have a seat.”

Sean swiped his gaze over the room. It was decorated like the lobby, only more spacious… and with more plants. He wanted to smile. The air carried a hint of something spicy, exotic. Incense, he concluded when he glanced over to see the ceramic Buddha holding the thin stick. Filmy curls of smoke waved up only to disappear. It was massage-parlor-meets-boardroom.

Ron handed her his application. “I can fax a résumé over.” They both stared at him as if he’d spoken Vulcan. “I mean, if you want it.”

Ron grinned. “And what kind of qualifications would we find on that resume, Sean?”

The guy was fucking with him. He felt like an ass. Of course they didn’t want to hear about his internships and degree qualifications. There was only one requirement for this job, and it sure as hell wasn’t listed under the achievement section on his résumé.

Right.” Sean decided to shut his mouth and stick to just answering their questions.

Ron, could you shut the door on your way out?” Abigail’s expression was neutral as she continued to flip through the pages of his application.

Sure you don’t want any coffee?” Ron asked.

Sean readjusted in the seat. The chair felt too small. “No, thanks.”

Ron left, leaving behind a room full of silence. Sean waited for her to read through the application and drop the bomb that he’d heard so many times before.

I see you left the fetishes section blank.” She finally looked up at him. Her gaze flitted to the computer screen, then back again. “Is there a reason why?”

Sean wanted to swallow his tongue. That section was on the next-to-last page. That meant she’d already read his answer to the have you ever been in jail question. He’d been incarcerated, and she chose to ask him about his lack of fetishes? He didn’t know what to say. He decided to treat the conversation like one of the million other interviews he’d been on over the last year.

I don’t have any fetishes, but I’m open to new experiences.” Good answer.

I see. So you don’t prefer blondes to brunettes. How about voyeurism to exhibitionism?”

What to what? “I like to watch women swim in the nude. Does that count?”

He didn’t smile until she did. Her lips parted like a blossoming rose.

Of course watching women swim naked would count. It’s rather vanilla, but it counts just as much as a man who enjoys watching a woman smoke a cigar. It’s all relevant to the one with the fantasy. Do you have a preference for skinny women or full-figured women?”

Men like that, watching women smoke cigars? I have a preference, I guess, but it wouldn’t interfere with me performing my job.”

By the way she ignored his answer, she didn’t seem too happy with his response. “Sure, men and women like a lot of things, even smoking cigars. We’re here to provide a visual experience of their fantasies. Has Ron filled you in on what Fantasy Emporium really is?”

Sean thought about it. No, he hadn’t. All Ron had said was that he had what the company was looking for, and he could make some fast cash doing porn films. He didn’t want to sound like he hadn’t done his research, but he hadn’t done his research. “Yeah. Yes. He told me the company makes pornographic films.”

By the way she lifted her eyebrows, he knew she’d caught him bullshitting. “Come here.” Sean leaned against the edge of the desk as she turned the computer screen so he could see it. Her nimble fingers flew over the keys. Her fingernails weren’t the ones with the white tips. All the women who talked to him had fake fingernails, fake tans, and fake tits too. The chipped pink nail polish made his stomach do something weird.

This, Mr. Drennan, is Fantasy Emporium.”

See Me can be purchased at:

Bio: Pauline Allan is a woman on a mission. Curvy girls of the world unite! She writes erotic romance for the ordinary woman who fantasizes about extraordinary possibilities. Pauline strives to make every reader feel sexy and desired by the time she turns to the last page. The Midwest is home, but her heart stays tethered to New Orleans where she travels three times a year to recharge her creative muse. She is amazed that she gets to wake up every morning next to her hero and go to bed each night listening to her two little boys argue over who gets to put the hamster to bed. When not writing, Pauline enjoys listening to music and watching Mad Men. She has a writing room that she considers a sacred space. A place draped with velvet tapestries and colorful masquerade masks. A place where forbidden fantasies come to play.

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Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Pauline,

Welcome to Beyond Romance. This sounds like a great book - I hope it's very successful!

Pauline Allan said...

Hi Lisabet! *waves* I'm so happy to be here today. I'm looking forward to chatting with your readers. Thank you again for having me!

Kayelle Allen said...

I totally see that scene of you driving by the prison. I write the same way. Organic inspiration. And your husband is a real love for creating your office like that. Thanks for sharing this.

Rosanna Leo said...

Hi Pauline! Wonderful piece. Trent vs Alice is pure genius. See Me is an astoundingly wonderful novel and I recommend it to everyone reading here. You'll love it. :)

Pauline Allan said...

Thanks for stopping by Kayelle! It was a labor of love in all it's magenta and purple glory. Lol. I enjoy the inspirational process of how a story takes shape. Next to the research, it's one of the most exciting parts for me.

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