“What do you truly desire?” Lucifer asks in the Netflix series.
As a romance writer, I ask the same question. Of course, I don’t have a suspect at hand, the potential readers of my story are safe at home, so I just ask the question to myself: What would the reader truly desire in this story? Luckily, the answer differs with every story. If I’m writing a cowboy romance, I see tough men, courageous and willing to best the wilderness to save their women. But when I write a romance with something like “behind the mask” as a theme, I see secrets and seduction, subtle smiles and surprises. And I can smell the leather and feel the wind with biker romance and so on.
Ah, writing romance is never boring! It’s always different and trying to get in the mind and soul of the reader, to seduce and titillate – yes even arouse – her (or him… or them) is wonderful. I guess every writer likes to manipulate and surprise the reader a little. I know I do.
I haven’t always been a romance writer, and I still don’t write exclusively romance. Quite a few years ago, I started writing fantasy, science fiction, and horror short stories. In time, I branched out to genres like children’s stories, crime, and thrillers. Although I’m a short story writer at heart, I’ve done five fantasy novels, which had some romance.
For those who don’t know, I’m Dutch. I live in the lovely old city of Den Haag, the Netherlands. Although I had done a few English stories, back in 2015 I started writing in English in earnest.
Oh my, I felt like a kid in a candy store. The Dutch market for short stories is almost non-existent and very limited to a few genres. But the American and British markets! Wow! So many anthologies, so many genres—woohoo!!!!
I started writing romance stories. Well…kind of. Some anthologies were asking for horror-erotica and I thought: Hey, that’s interesting! Combining two strong emotions—lust and fear.
So I wrote horror-erotica for a while. I’m not really into slasher stuff, so I tried to keep it terrifying and sensual. It more or less came down to BDSM with monsters, which was great fun to do. Vampires yearning for the pain of sunlight, the werewolf wanting to tear apart his human mistress, a dark god doing knife play with two-feet-long fingernails on the body of his acolyte. Creepy and erotic. Trust me.
Through a path of weirder and weirder erotica (tentacle erotica, steampunk erotica, Cthulhu Mythos erotica, furry erotica to name a few) I also entered the field of more general romance/erotica. Stuff that could work in the real world, with real people. And hey, that was great fun, too!
I’ve been asked if the romance I write is based on my own experiences. Well, I wish! But for a part, they are inspired by real life.
I just came back from the dentist and walked back to the bus stop. A new crown, all was well. It was a sunny September day in The Hague, behind the Peace Palace, the neighborhood with all the embassies.
She was a pretty girl. No, a young woman. Slender, blond, some sporty, braided hairdo. Black suit-like outfit, without being really a suit. She was speaking on her phone.
“No, I can’t take public transport; I forgot my mouth masks.”
I turned to her. Shaven head, huge mirror shades, twice her age. But hey, today I wore a nice shirt, nice trousers.
“You want one?” I asked.
It took a short moment for her to realize what I was offering.
She smiled. “No thank you, I’m fine.”
I nodded and walked on.
I heard her say into her phone. “No, this nice gentleman was offering me a mouth mask.”
I smiled. Some courtesy, a nice thank you. All was fine.
The writer in me could think of a thousand different outcomes. Okay, a few dozen, probably. But I was happy with reality.
Offering a mouth mask. It was a nice pick-up line in these Corona times. I guess I wasn’t ever going to use it for real, but maybe I would use it in a story, one day.
Happy I took the bus home. Mouth mask and all.
This happened to me a while ago, and one day, I’ll use some of it for a story. Maybe with a different outcome…
You can find my stories in several anthologies, available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/jaapboekestein.com. Of course, there is the lovely First Response: A Boys Behaving Badly in which I have a story about a pair of handcuffs and the importance of keeping track of keys. [Delilah, can we have the cover and a link to amazon here? — Of course! 🙂 DD]