Psst! Rhonda, you won the Venetian mask! Please contact Lexi at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange delivery of your prize!
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Wherefore art thou, Inspiration?
Writers find their inspiration in many places. For some of my friends, they have a dream and ta-da, the beginnings of a story. All they need to do is get to the computer and write it down. For my critique partner, EVERYTHING is inspiring. She sees two people interacting in the park and she gets idea. She takes a tour and she gets another idea. An item in a gift shop, a page on an historical website, a song on the radio, an old John Wayne movie and she’s got four more stories! For me, it is a lot more controlled, but no less exciting. For my erotic stories, I find inspiration in the classics.
Yup, I do. Now before you shake your head, let me explain. For example, my debut release with Ellora’s Cave is called MASQUE. This story was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” first published in 1842. In Poe’s story, Prince Prospero seeks to escape the Red Death by gathering his aristocratic friends and sealing them off from the rest of the town in a great abbey, leaving his other subjects to live or die as fate decrees. On the night of the prince’s Masque, which is held in his seven colored entertainment rooms, when the great clock in the Black Room strikes midnight, a figure enters the party in a mask resembling a victim of the Red Death. When the prince attempts to kill the intruder for such audacity as to remind them all of the sad state of affairs outside, the prince falls dead, as does everyone else in the abbey, and the clock ceases.
So my thought was, what if the intruder had been a friend who hoped to sway the prince to do what was right by his people, only to have everything go wrong? How would that friend feel when everyone dropped dead around him? I’m thinking he might feel just a tad bit of guilt. But what if it was made worse by the fact that 73 inhabitants, all except the Prince, weren’t able to cross over and continued to exist in a ghostlike state becoming more solid with the full moon and disappearing all together with the waning moon.
And don’t forget that the Prince, in Poe’s story, had seven entertainment rooms, each of which was a different color. I couldn’t ignore that, because to me, it appeared that those rooms were made specifically for a different sexual experience that a live woman, let’s call her Rena, would need to experience to complete the Masque which would allow the trapped souls to cross over. See where I’m going here? But that might make it too easy. I mean, who wouldn’t want to complete the Masque with the hero, Synn, a Mr. Darcy with more muscles and longer hair? So I thought, what if Rena must turn the abbey into a haunted bed-and-breakfast to prove to herself she can and to solidify her income. Ah, now here we have a problem.
So you see, there really can be inspiration in classic literature. My current, almost ready-to-go, WIP is based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” What is fun for my readers is that they can read my erotic romance knowing nothing (except what is in the author’s note) about the classic piece and still enjoy it. And for those readers interested in reading the original, they will find another whole level of meaning in the happily ever after. So you see, finding inspiration in the classics really isn’t that strange, is it?
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I’ve included a short excerpt from MASQUE. Enjoy. Lexi
Rena Mills plans to turn an abandoned abbey into a haunted bed-and-breakfast to prove she can be successful without her ex-fiancé. What she finds inside is Synn MacAllistair, the distinguished, self-proclaimed Ghost Keeper. Her dreams soon fill with sexual cravings for him. But are they dreams?
Synn, born in 1828, is determined to free the souls of the resident spirits, blaming himself for bringing the Red Death that killed them. When Rena steps into the old Pleasure Palace, he’s sure he can take her through the after-midnight Pleasure Rooms and stoke her passion to complete the Masque so the souls can cross over. Her innocent fire makes him crave more, but it’s far too late for him.
As Rena begins her erotic journey, her heart becomes more involved with every sensual caress until she discovers by completing the Masque she would lose her ghosts. Synn’s betrayal wars with her compassion for her ghostly friends. Torn, she must make a choice between her financial security and freeing seventy-three trapped souls. Either way, she could lose her Synn.
An image of the lone man standing on the battlements crowded her head. “Do you mind if I run upstairs? I really want to see the sunset.”
Valerie took three loaves of bread from the first bag. “Yeah, yeah, go. But don’t expect me to make dinner.”
“That’s a deal.” Spinning around, Rena ran up the stairs to her wing of the Abbey. Striding through the hallway toward the back, she found another set of stairs leading to the floor above, which had a similar hall. By the time she reached the end of that hall, she was at the front of the Abbey again, only here there was a stone spiral staircase. Carefully, she ascended.
At the top, a wooden door stood open and she stepped outside into the fading light of day, but it wasn’t the sunset that arrested her attention. Synn stood, one foot braced on an embrasure, one hand resting on the crenellated stone of the battlement. The breeze lifted his long brown hair away from his face and off his shoulders…his very bare shoulders.
Oh shit. She hadn’t expected his back to be so broad and muscular. His biceps stood in stark relief as if he worked construction. Below his narrow waist, his firm ass and muscular thighs were outlined by his tight gray pantaloons, if she had the term right. She’d bet the boots he wore were Hessians because those were the only nineteenth-century boots she’d heard of that rose to the knee. To call the man handsome would be to belittle his sculpted perfection, and her heart increased its beat as raw, sexual attraction rifled through her limbs.
He brought his arm down, causing the muscles in his back to ripple before he turned to catch her staring.
Her gaze shifted to his eyes and for a moment they revealed such heartbreaking anguish that all sexual heat fled and her stomach tightened into a sorrowful knot. He shuttered his gaze and smirked. “Were you looking for something?”
Confused, and more than a little distracted by the man’s emotions and his highly defined pectoral muscles, one of which had a fist-sized dark spot, she grasped for logic. “Yes, the sunset.”
“Ah, then you are just in time.” He stepped to the side, bowed and swept his hand toward the battlement. “It’s ready for you, my lady.”
She searched his eyes for any sign that he made fun of her, but found only sincerity. “Thank you.”
She stepped up to the place next to him as indicated and gazed across the town. As she suspected, the ocean was a few blocks past the shops and it glittered red as the setting sun shimmered off its dark surface, its waves lifting and lowering the dazzling color as it moved.
“This is breathtaking.”
“Yes, it is.”
His tone made her glance up, and she found him staring at her. She swallowed.
He released her hair from its clip and the breeze swept it from her face. She couldn’t have looked away from his eyes even if the sun had turned green.
He cupped her jaw with his hand. “You are exquisite.”
Her breath hitched at his words, but her mouth parted as his face drew closer to hers. When their lips were but a breath away, he spoke again. “You are made for passion, Rena.”
She let her eyes close, his words shooting pure desire through her, and then his full lips were upon hers. It was not a gentle kiss, but neither was it harsh or demanding, simply controlled. The hand holding her face encouraged her to open her lips and she did.
She grasped his biceps as his tongue swept into her mouth to explore. He tasted like cinnamon spice but not sweet. When his arm snaked around her waist and pulled her closer, she entwined her arms around his neck, her body tight against his hard one. Unable to stem the growing need building inside her, she pressed her hips into his. A long, hard cock greeted her. She wanted him.
Synn groaned and released her, stepping away.
She grabbed at the embrasure to keep herself from falling on her ass. What the hell was that?
He turned toward the sunset again, his body in perfect profile, his hands clenched at his sides.
Not sure if she was upset because he stopped the kiss or because he started it in the first place, she gritted her teeth. Her body ached for release and she wanted him to provide it, no matter what her mind said. Her sexual frustration gave her a bravery she rarely had. “Why did you stop kissing me?” She had hoped to sound matter-of-fact, but hurt crept into her voice. Did he find her beneath him?
He remained motionless, speaking to the horizon. “If I didn’t stop now, I wouldn’t be able to. You are not ready for me yet.”
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Bio of Lexi Post
Lexi Post spent years in higher education taking and teaching courses about classical literature. From the Medieval work “The Pearl” to the 20th century American epic The Grapes of Wrath, from War and Peace to the Bhagavad Gita, she’s read, studied, and taught great classic literature.
But Lexi’s first love is romance novels. In an effort to marry her two first loves, she started writing erotic romance inspired by the classics and found she loved it. Lexi feels there is no end to the romantic inspiration she can find in great classic literature.
Lexi lives with her husband and cat in the Caribbean where gorgeous sunsets, warm weather, and driving on the left are the norm.