Maestro is set behind the scenes of a successful London opera company. It focuses on costume designer Jax, who is charged with coming up with the costumes for an opera set in Ancient Rome. She gets up close and very personal with the opera's star tenor, Kieran Vale, as the fittings progress, but she thinks he'll be more interested in romancing his fiery female co-star.
Please tell us about the characters of Jax and Kieran
Jax is coming up to 40, and is successful in her career but is starting to think she may have missed out on finding the right man, particularly as she dreams of someone who will dominate her in the bedroom. Kieran is Canadian, much younger than Jax, and at the height of his fame. He's very self-assured and knows how to get what he wants, and he sees in Jax a woman who needs to let go and admit to what she really craves.
Why did you decide to make Jax's great passion opera?
Opera isn't a theme that turns up too often in erotic romance - the worlds of rock and pop music seem to be more popular. But it has a reputation for being very romantic and dramatic, and the people who sing it have big personalities, particularly the famous divas. And I loved the challenge of inventing an opera that didn't actually exist, a story about a doomed love affair set in Pompeii, and making it sound authentic - which I hope I've managed.
Please tell us about the inspiration for this story.
A while ago, I was walking through Covent Garden, and I saw a man in a cigarette break who was obviously part of whatever opera was being performed there - unless there was any other reason why he'd have been dressed like a statue and painted silver from head to foot. The sight stuck in my mind, and it gave me the opening scene of Maestro, and the idea to make Jax a costume designer.
Why do women of a certain age begin to envy their friend’s lives like Jax?
I think this is a situation that works both ways - women who don't have a settled home life and children start to wonder why it hasn't happened to them and if it ever will, and women who are maybe worn out from years of looking after a husband and kids begin to envy their single friends who have the freedom to do what they want and put themselves first. It's human nature to want what you haven't got, whether or not it would be right for you.
What's next for you?
I have a male/male romance with a military theme coming out soon, which is set in Amsterdam, one of my favourite cities. And then I have to decide which of the several ideas in my to-write folder I'd like to tackle next.