One of the nicest compliments I ever got on my books was from a reader who said that my stories are erotic, but the people and scenarios are real. She was specifically talking about the lack of bizarre props/contortions/combinations, mind you, but I do strive for realism because that’s what I like to read. When I read erotic romance, I enjoy the kinds of books where I could plausibly fantasize about being the heroine. So no flying trapeze sex, no tiny-waist-AND-enormous-chest on the heroine, and absolutely no man parts the size of my arm. Those things make a book into a Did Not Finish for me, and Did Not Start when it comes to writing.
That’s great, only, when it comes to settings I really struggle to describe a place where I’ve never been. And mostly, I’ve been on the east coast of the United States. It’s wonderful here, but neither is it particular exotic. It is also freaking cold in the wintertime.
Last winter I was in front of my computer and freezing. Mugs of tea, wool socks, space heaters, loyal hound lying under my desk as a footwarmer, none of it helped. What helped was looking at pictures of my vacation to Florence, Italy. Between that, my husband’s suggestion that I use Florence as a book setting, and a song on iTunes, I was at least mentally warm until spring.
I don’t take the realism thing too far. Most of what happened to my heroine did not happen to me. I mean, I didn’t get swept off my feet by a mysterious and handsome Italian. I went on the trip with my husband. Hrm… wait… he’s mysterious, handsome, and half Italian!
That coincidence aside, most of the book is from my imagination. I didn’t have passionate fling-sex with my personal Italian in any public locations. My hero and heroine both have a little exhibitionist streak, one they’ve never gotten to indulge. Me, I like a locked door. But I can personally vouch for all of the locations having, er, potential for people with nerves of steel.
And that’s one of the things I love about this book. The stone, the light, the air – I tried to put you in Florence with the way things really looked and felt. I could picture myself in Tuscany the whole time I was writing, and I hope that the result is that you can picture yourself there as well.
If you’d like actual pictures, here’s the photo album. 😉
Thanks for reading! Hope to see you all online.
Tuscan Heat is Kathleen’s third book with Carina Press. Check out two brief excerpts from the first chapter over here on her website. Let her know what you thought of it on Facebook , Goodreads, or @KathleenDienne on Twitter.