What can our readers expect from your new novel Destined To Play?
It’s not strictly a romance at this stage of the trilogy – it is more a sexual and psychological roller coaster ride that keeps the heroine Alexa – and hopefully the readers – guessing much of the way through.
Your book has been said to be perfect for anyone who enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey, how does it feel to have that comparison?
It feels unbelievable! If Fifty Shades had been around two years ago, I may never have written mine. I was looking for something more 'adult' and less virginal than Twilight but which had a story to keep readers guessing. I wrote Destined to Play as my answer to what I was looking for myself. The fact that others are now reading my book and loving it (most of the time!) is completely surreal.
Who were your main influences for writing this novel?
I hope this doesn’t sound too clichéd but I’m predominately mainstream in my tastes. So my main influences include The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – both the book and the opera (which I saw in London) and to a lesser extent Eyes Wide Shut. The museum MONA in Tasmania – not a specific work of art but the whole concept of what David Walsh has achieved with this outstanding museum has inspired me to push the boundaries in my own writing. Nine and a Half Weeks and the difference between the book and the movie. I was obsessed with the movie all those years ago, and twenty years later read the book. I read it just before I started writing my own, actually. Dominance and submission between consenting partners intrigues me… And of course Bryan Ferry and Roxy music – Avalon! This song gave me the title for my series.
The main protagonist is a psychologist, how much research did you have to put into her career to make it a plausible read?
Much of my career has been focused on personal and organisational change in the finance industry, so I have completed a number of psychology-based courses in addition to my business studies. This included certification in neuro-semantics and neuro-linguistic programming. This area of research fascinates me so it seemed natural to have a character based vaguely around these concepts. I was deciding between writing fiction and studying psychology at the time, writing won this time round...
Who are your favourite reads?
Oh, where do I start? So many amazing authors... Anything from The Brain That Changes Itself (scientific) to A New Earth (spirituality) to Twilight (fantasy) to The Story of O (erotica). I love a broad range and can have up to ten books going at once depending on my mood.
How did you build up the intrigue in the novel as a precursor for Dr Quinn's proposition?
I kept asking myself what would it take for her to say yes, knowing it would have to be fairly extreme and take her out of her comfort zone. I believe it is a very big call for a mother to take a risk like the one Alexa takes. Jeremy cleverly covers all angles of the debate in her mind and ultimately taps into her clinical professional side, knowing her emotions are too overwhelming at this stage. But her history with Jeremy and her sexless marriage compels her to say yes. She mentally blocks her children out of her mind and doesn't really have time to question it too deeply given the constant barrage of experiences Jeremy throws her way.
This is the first book in the Avalon Trilogy, did you always know there would be a follow on?
Yes, I always hoped there would be! My husband was hassling me to go back to work and earn some money, particularly when I was saying I can't wait to write the second and third – he was not happy to hear it was a trilogy. At that point, I decided I really needed some professional feedback and was lucky enough to send the first chapters to Selwa Anthony. I was hoping for some tips for improving my writing style – certainly not a three book deal with Harper Collins and seven weeks later to have the published book in my hands! My husband isn't hassling me anymore...
How difficult is to write about sex for those writers who have never attempted it?
I had no idea I could write a sex scene, let alone one that was considered good. I'm not really a romantic person so I think I write from a different perspective, tapping into both the left and right brain. I just have fun with it and never quite know where it is going until it is written, then I re-read it in shock and have a laugh.
Do you have any tips for writing about it effectively?
Enjoy it, have fun with it. If it puts me in the mood I just go with it. If you’re not enjoying writing it, don’t. This is fantasy, so there is an element of pleasure in thinking about all of those abstract and perhaps less than desirable sexual moments in your life and making them blissful, incredible and edgy experiences. I have had great fun writing about weird and awkward situations and turning them into fun, more creative scenes. If you could re-write your sexual history, how would you want it to read?
Can you give us a taster of the next novel in the series?
Destined to Feel sees Alexa abducted right in front of Jeremy and ultimately provides her with a whole new perspective of her time with him which is ultimately quite shocking to her. We also understand more about Jeremy and what has driven his decisions in the past. I'm loving writing from Jeremy's perspective right now. He is desperately chasing her around Europe in an attempt to save her. Alexa, feeling deceived by Jeremy, agrees to take part in a series of erotic experiments with the competition in the hopes of learning and exploring more about her own sexuality and to understand why she is so instrumental to the research of pharmaceutical companies.
Female First Lucy Walton