Today I have the opportunity to showcase not just an amazing author of some seriously steamy stories, but someone I’ve met through my publishing company, Deep Desires Press.
I’ve talked about DDP before and how amazing they are – they have not only gone above and beyond with guiding me through the publishing process, but they truly care about all their authors. They’ve created this wonderful little community of us which is where I met Ms. Gemma Stone.
And lovelies – Good. God. She knows how to write about sex! Today she’s featuring her Stephanie Spicer series, and is on the fourth novella, Love Plus One. So, before we get into the novella, Gemma, tell us a little about your journey into writing.
I began writing short stories based on the world of marketing and business when I was a marketing copywriter for a travel company in London. It was something to do in my lunch breaks and they were just for my own amusement. But they captured some of the more unusual, sometimes romantic, and even erotic, events that seemed to go on in the world of corporate business. I decided to try putting some of those ideas into a novella, and created a character called Stephanie Spicer to carry the storyline. The first of my novellas was called Pitch Perfect, and it was published last year by Deep Desires Press. I planned from the word ‘go’ to continue the storyline through a further nineteen novellas, and here we are already at book number four called Love Plus One. I love working with the character of Stephanie, and readers seem to have taken her to their hearts too, so I am delighted at how things are developing.
Nineteen! Holy cow, I didn’t realize you had so many planned out! Where do you draw your inspirations from?
Inspiration comes from so many places, and there is not just one source. For my Stephanie Spicer novellas, the inspiration came from working in a large, London-based organization where I was one of a team of marketing copywriters. Many of the situations I have written about in the novellas are real, or have a basis in reality from that time in my life. Certainly a lot of the characters are based on real people. Stephanie herself is my interpretation of a beautiful woman I used to work with, whilst her nemesis, Diane Martin, is based on a former boss of mine who was the least likeable person I’ve ever met. I used to watch and listen to her, knowing that one day I would be able to use the experience in a creative way in a book.
My coffee shop novellas (yet to be published) were inspired by a small coffee shop in Brighton that was going through hard times financially, with a lot of competition from the larger chains. It got me thinking about what they would have to do in order to survive. Being aware of the world around you is where inspirations come from. The Beatles used inspiration from newspaper stories and their own childhood backgrounds to create the musical masterpiece that is Sgt Pepper, so we all do it.
The characters for the coffee shop novella came from me travelling on a train from London to Brighton. In the seats opposite were three young women who were returning from a corporate ‘engagement day’. They were hilarious, and gelled so well as a team. I just listened to them for about an hour, and even got a notebook out to write down some of their expressions, physical descriptions and tone of voice. All three ended up as key players in the novella. If I’d been in my own world with headphones on, I’d have missed one of the best inspirations I’ve ever had as a writer.
That’s definitely one thing I’ve learned as an author – inspiration comes from everywhere, so be sure to keep your eyes, and from what you’ve realized too – your ears, open. Who are some of your favorite authors?
There are so many, but here are just a few: Stan Barstow, who wrote A Kind of Loving amongst many classic works in British literature; Anita Brookner, who wrote Hotel du Lac, one of my favourite books of all time. Roald Dahl is best known now for his children’s books, but it is his supremely dark and chilling short stories that float my boat. Try ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ from Someone Like You, but maybe not last thing at night! Another favourite of mine is Tove Jansson, widely acclaimed for her Moomintroll books, but a supremely gifted writer of adult novels and stories. The craft of her writing in books like The True Deceiver is breathtaking – so light and effortless.
Was there any particular book which gave you the writing bug?
Yes. As a child it was The Midnight Folk by John Masefield. It is a fantasy story about the adventures of a boy called Kay Harker. Reading it left me filled with awe at the mastery of the writing, which transported me into a magical world and showed me the power of the creative mind. John Masefield was Poet Laureate in Britain from the 1930s to late 1960s, so he clearly had a gift with words. His inspiration made me want to be a writer myself and have the power to take readers into a make-believe world where anything was possible.
In your make-believe world, which fictional character would you like to have a drink with, and why?
That’s easy – it would be Reggie Perrin, the fictional character created by English comedy writer, David Nobbs. The first of his trilogy of Perrin books is called The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and was also made into a wonderful TV series starring Leonard Rossiter. It set a landmark for British sitcom comedy in the 1970s, but it is the quality of Nobb’s writing that is peerless. Reggie finds the business world he is a part of totally ridiculous, and he rebels against it, but he eventually becomes successful in the very world he is trying to kick against. I have a lot of empathy with Reggie, as I found myself working within big businesses for a while, and I could experience his frustrations.
With your corporate background, I imagine writing is a total 180, even using people you know as inspiration. What was the first story you ever wrote, and what became of it?
It was a very short science fiction story I was coerced into writing for a school magazine because I had told my English teacher I wanted to be a writer one day. It sank without a trace…
That particular one may have, but, oh – if your teacher could see you now. Since you have published works, when you sold your first piece of writing, how did you celebrate?
It was a fashion and lifestyle feature I wrote for a British magazine, and I was so pleased I was grinning stupidly for days. My boyfriend took me out for a meal and I just hoped that I could get a repeat commission. The magazine editor changed shortly afterwards, and my freelance career hit a bump in the road. It was a reality check at the time. Who said being a writer was an easy profession?
Lol. Literally no one. Speaking on the difficulties, what’s the hardest part of being an author for you?
You tend to get used to working on your own, so I wouldn’t say that’s the hardest part, though many authors do as you have to live in your own little bubble whilst crafting stories. Personally, I think the hardest part is putting up with non-authors saying things like “writing – oh, I could do that. It must be so easy”. My response is always the same – “So do it”. Rarely do those involved ever take up the challenge when they find out it’s not quite the simple task they expected.
I even dumped a former boyfriend who thought one day I should get a ‘real’ job instead of sitting at a computer typing and trying to achieve my ambition of become a writer.
You were too nice by just dumping him then. Tell me more about your real job… how do you describe your writing style?
It is light touch, and dialogue-driven and it has a humour to it that stems from me being English, I think. My editor at Deep Desires Press loves the almost comic phraseology that I manage to get into some of the scenes in each novella. It just comes naturally, and I certainly don’t force it. There are some darker moments too, as you’ll see in Love Plus One. Even though I wrote it, I still get sad at one of the scenes in the book where Stephanie can feel her future happiness slipping away. It would be lovely for each book to have a happy ever after ending, but that’s not true to life. The best Stephanie can hope for is happy for now, and I love it when she finds the passion and romance she so desperately craves.
Most of my books are written in the third person, with pairings being M/F, F/F or F/M/F. So far, they have been erotic romance novellas, but I’m certainly not averse to writing in other styles or genres. I’m just working on a series of short stories featuring a ‘rock chick’ on the road with a hard-working band. It’s a very different concept from the business world of Stephanie Spicer, and it’s fun to be working with an entirely new set of characters. The inspiration came from seeing a concert by a singer called Mollie Marriott, and wondering what life on the road would be like for her and the other female backing singer in an otherwise all-male band.
What’s the strangest thing you had to research for your writings?
Technical faults on audio equipment mixing desks – strange, but true! It was for a rock band short story called What goes on Tour.
I admit I’m a bit obsessed with the Stephanie Spicer series. Can you talk a bit about the current novella?
Love Plus One is part of a series, so it was not a standalone piece of writing, although all the Stephanie Spicer novellas can be read individually. In this novella it would have been very easy to have Stephanie loved up over her new romance with Rick Martin. However, I wanted to make it more true to life. Things don’t always go as expected, and Stephanie is put into a terrible situation where she has to make a decision that will forever affect her life. She comes into conflict with Rick’s suspicious wife, and finds out just who holds the cards in the world of big business.
Ugh. The angst is just… so… perfect. Lol. Tell me a fun fact about this book.
The character of air stewardess, Asha Aman, came about after I saw a poster advertising an airline on the London Underground. There was a beautiful woman in a red stewardess uniform, and I thought she would be great in one of my books. Asha will appear in several future Stephanie Spicer novellas, so that poster was a great inspiration. It always reminds me that authors draw their ideas from a multitude of places, so keeping your eyes open is very important.
Also, one of the most intense erotic scenes between Asha and Stephanie was a scene cut from an earlier novella, but using a different character with Stephanie. The golden rule is never discard a scene, even if you cut it. Put it in a ‘deleted’ file and see if it will fit better somewhere else in the future
That’s one of my big pieces of advice too. Other than the stewardess-model, who would portray the lead characters of your book?
Wow – that’s a hard one! To play the part of Stephanie Spicer would be quite a challenge. An actress like Ashley Benson would certainly have the right looks physically to match my vision of Stephanie, but could she get the accent right? Stephanie’s British through and through. Maybe I should just leave that decision to a casting director, if the opportunity ever came up to make a film or TV adaptation of the books.
It’s interesting you mention her being British, even though I’m aware of it I can’t help but read it in English. I picture all American actors! I imagine we all do it though – read from our frame of reference, which is why people get annoyed when books are turned into movies. It’s never how exactly we picture it. What’s one movie adaption of a book which absolutely drives you bonkers, and why.
I can’t think of one that particularly irritates me, but there is one that vastly improves on the original book, and that’s the James Bond movie ‘You only Live Twice’. The Ian Fleming novel is a good book, but its storyline could never have made a great movie. The screenplay for the film, which largely discards the Fleming story, is by Roald Dahl, adding disappearing space capsules, a super villain (Blofeld) and exotic scenery, which lifts it into another realm altogether.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
There are two things that keep me going. The first is tea (well, I’m English…), and the other is dance music. This often surprises people, but listening to this style of music gives me a beat that drives the writing forward without too many words to distract you. I’m a huge fan of Dreadzone, who I have seen live many times, and I also listen to Leftfield.
I’ll have to check them out. Is there anything you’re currently working on now?
I’m working on several projects. A further Stephanie Spicer novella; a follow-up coffee-shop novella to my first story that will appear in a Deep Desire Press anthology early next year, and further outings for my rock chick, Trixxi Powers, in a short story series of rock band romances.
Hmm… that coffee anthology sounds familiar, haha! What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a writer?
Trying to be like someone else style-wise when writing. I wasn’t being true to myself, and it just didn’t work. I abandoned that idea early on and now just do my own thing. Writing has to be natural or it will come across as being stilted. I have now found a voice that I’m very happy with.
Great advice. Anything else you’d suggest for aspiring authors?
Read a lot; work hard and don’t give up!
Gemma thank you so, so much for stopping by today. One last thing – can we get a little excerpt from Love Plus One?
Excerpt from Love Plus One
“It’s a beautiful view, isn’t it? London at night … all those pretty lights.”
“Not as beautiful as the one I’m looking at right in front of me,” came the quick reply.
Rick Martin, the Group Sales and Operations Director at Sports Gear Worldwide, slid his arms around Stephanie Spicer’s waist and kissed her cheek in the low light of his hotel room. Still looking out the window, Stephanie tilted her head back and rested it on his shoulder so it pressed against his. It was what the Creative Director of branding agency Conway Creative had waited a long time for.
“I just knew you’d be at the event tonight, Steph. Last time we were at an event together we didn’t have the luxury of time on our side. Now, we’ve got all night,” whispered Rick as he nuzzled even closer to Stephanie’s curvy body.
Stephanie turned in his arms to face him, her ample breasts pressing against his firm chest. Her revealing black evening dress for the sports awards ceremony had been daring, even by her standards, though she had never anticipated it would net her a prize like this. She smiled to herself at the thought of the media frenzy she and young tennis starlet Kelly Finch had caused as they arrived at the event. Although she had arrived with Kelly, she had left with Rick and now, in the muted light of his hotel room, she focussed on Rick’s face. His Italian-type good looks belied the fact he was American, a little older than Stephanie, yet he was the man she desired with all her heart.
Reaching up with her hands, she pushed her fingers through his grey-streaked hair and pulled him towards her.
“We may have all night, but we’ve got to start somewhere,” she teased.
“How about here…?”
Without another word, Rick locked his mouth onto Stephanie’s rosebud lips and kissed her with an intensity that immediately lit a fire within her, and she could feel a tingle of anticipation growing between her thighs. Stephanie’s face flushed as she felt Rick’s tongue exploring and caressing her mouth, tangling with her own.
“I’d almost forgotten how good you taste, Steph.”
“I’ve never forgotten anything about you, Rick,” said Stephanie with a moan of contentment. “Especially that cock of yours. I’m hoping you haven’t forgotten what you did with it last time.”
Releasing herself from Rick’s embrace, Stephanie moved towards the bed, knowing Rick’s eyes were following her every move. As she turned to face him, she could see and feel his eyes drinking in the sight of her womanly shape poured into the figure-hugging dress.
“Is this what you remember?” whispered Stephanie, as she released the fastenings and let the dress fall to the floor. She was completely naked, apart from a tiny black G-string that just covered her pussy.
“God, Steph, that’s better than I remember.”
“Well, let’s see what else we can improve on,” cooed Stephanie.
Rick slipped off his suit jacket, tie and shirt, kicked off his shoes and dropped his trousers. With just his boxer shorts still in place, he walked towards Stephanie, flashed his broad grin and picked her up in his arms before taking her to the bed and laying her on top of it.
“My, my. What strong muscles you have, Rick.”
“All the better to hold you with, Stephanie.”
“And what else are you going to do to impress me?”
Ugh! It ended too soon, lol. Ok, so if you want to read more of Love Plus One, or any of the other Stephanie Spicer novellas, check out the following links. You can also read more about Gemma below on her site as well as on the Deep Desires Press website.
Love Plus One:
When beautiful business woman, Stephanie Spicer, finally gets together with hand
some American lover, Rick Martin, a senior manager at the UK office of her biggest client, her life seems complete. But her life is thrown into turmoil when her boss, Katrina, sends her to Los Angeles to work on an important branding promotion for the company.
Feeling alone in the very office where Rick’s overpowering wife, Diane, is also a senior manager, Stephanie seeks friendship with Asha, the attractive airline stewardess she’s met on her flight over. Taking Stephanie into her home, her heart and her bed, Asha takes her under her wing and keeps her passions high.
When the success of the project is sealed at a high-profile company event by her impromptu presentation together with her old flame, tennis star Kelly Finch, Stephanie prepares to fly home and pick up her life and passionate affair with Rick. But a revelation about Diane’s “love plus one” forces Stephanie to make a decision that will forever change her life.
Can Stephanie keep her new-found love as she also tries to manage the challenges of delivering her client’s branding account in America? Or will his suspicious wife try and change the ground rules and bring her back to earth?