1) Delilah, how exciting to see your first book Mistress of Pleasure coming out! Congratulations! What was the spark that ignited this story? In other words what came to you first?
Thank you so much for the congrats, Elizabeth, and for having me on your blog! I’m definately thrilled to see my first book in print.
Ah, yes. The spark that ignited this story. I have to say my sparks come to me the way all of my stories always come to me. By my relentless lust for reading out of print history books. I happened to come across the fascinating biography of Ninon de L’Enclos, a 17th century French courtesan. Her approach to men and to life was unlike any I’ve seen. She had a philosphy that was almost too modern for her time period. What was more, she kept her bedroom door open to many aristocratic men for more reasons than sex. She actually held meetings and formal classes and discussions all evolving around the topic of sex, love and philosophy. And it really got me to thinking. Why not turn the idea of her “meetings” into an actual school. For men. Which of course made me only laugh at the absurdity. What sort of men would actually attend something like that? The idea wouldn’t leave me alone. Especially because there hadn’t been anything like it written.
At the same time when this was all bubbling in my head, my grandmother re-appeared in my life after 2o years of absence. That is a whole other story altogether. Nonetheless, she became the perfect inspiration for the grandmother and creator of the school, Madame de Maitenon. My grandmother, you see, is a retired, eccentric opera singer who speaks with a heavy accent and always refers to sex matter of factly. She amused me so much so that I fused her characteristics with the idea of a retired French courtesan and a school that educates men in the art of love and seduction.
2) Since we’ve known each other for years, I know that you wrote for a long time before you were published and even gave up for a time, what kept you coming back to the computer and kept you writing during that time?
This industry is truly a tough one and can literally make or break you. It’s just a matter of how tough your skin is and how much you believe in your creativity and your writing. I gave up on my writing, not because I was altogether fed up with the industry, but because of a heartbreaking incident involving my husband. It’s a sad and long story (a whole seperate blog’s worth…) but my husband was almost murdered in front of me and my two children. My mind and creativity was blocked completely. The last thing I wanted to do was write. Reality settled in on me and I realized being a stay at home mother and a writer wasn’t going to support me or my kids financially should anything ever happen to my husband. So I went back to pursue a different dream. One that I knew I could make happen. To become a chef.
A month after entering culinary school, I found out that I finaled in the Golden Heart and I was thrown back into the writing world I loved and desperately missed so much. At Nationals in Dallas, a wonderful friend and fellow Golden Heart finalist from 2005, who had not only won the Golden Heart but sold, Victoria Dahl, demanded to know why I hadn’t sold considering I was going on my second Golden Heart final. She then asked me what I was working on. Before the incident with my husband, I had finished Mistress of Pleasure, which is all I felt I really had to offer. Victoria loved the concept, and bless her heart, pitched it to her editor. A little over a week after her pitch and my sending off the complete, I received “the call” that I had sold. So I would have to say, the Golden Heart is was what drew me back. Without a doubt.
3) If you were going to do a Hollywood style pitch for Mistress of Pleasure, what would it be? And who would star in the movie?
I’m so horrible at pitches. I swear to you, I could write a 400 page book, no problem whatsoever, but something that is less than a page frightens me… Regardless, I’ll do my best. Granddaughter of a renowned courtesan, Maybelle de Maitenon has absolutely no interest in her grandmother’s school where gentlemen receive instruction – in the art of seduction. But when her grandmother falls ill, leaving her to run the school, and see to the education of five men, including the one man who taught her a thing or two about sex, Maybelle discovers that her life, and her heart, will never be the same. So it’s interesting you ask me who would star in the movie. Because I always like to use stars to describe my characters to the art department. Then everyone knows what you really want, as opposed to tall, dark and handsome. Because everyone’s idea of tall, dark and handsome varies. Greatly. So the heroine, Maybelle de Maitenon would be played by Jessica Biel. Edmund Worthington, the duke of Rutherford, would be played by Hugh Jackman (oh be still my beating heart!).
4) Okay, just for fun–your book features the School of Gallantry, what lessons in love do you think most modern men could stand to learn? And remember, this is a PG-13 blog. Most days.
LOL. What can’t men stand to learn? I truly believe that a good man in his heart of hearts wants to please his woman. To ensure not only her happiness, but all of her bedroom desires. The trouble men run into is that pride steps in from time to time and they never really get around to “asking” how to go about doing that. And therein is the problem. For as Madame de Maitenon would say, “Even the King of England requires help from his subjects in order to retain his throne…”
Questions for Delilah? Ask away! Then make sure you go out and get a copy of Mistress of Pleasure–I loved it and I know you will too.