You're Writing WHAT?
How I Came to Write Inn on the Edge,
an Erotic Horror Novel
Not long ago, a friend asked about my new novel, Inn on the Edge. She wanted to know: Why erotic horror? Good question! It made me sit down and think about the genesis of my story, way back when the idea was nothing but wisps of unformed ideas, insubstantial yet demanding attention. My friend had good timing - this is a great time to talk about the very beginnings of the book, since the release date of December 6 is finally within shouting distance.
It goes like this:
Just over a year ago, not long after my first erotic work was published, I had a conversation with Carrie Jackson, a lovely editor from Ellora's Cave, my publisher. I'd been lucky enough to meet her at the Emerald City Writer's Conference in Bellevue, Washington, and although she is not my own Ellora's Cave editor, she took the time to share with me what the publisher most wanted to see - at the top of the list: erotic horror.
Apparently, erotic horror is devilishly difficult to write. Carrie told me that authors are daunted at the prospect. Ellora's Cave doesn't get nearly the submissions they would like in the genre. "How about you write one?" she said, leaning forward.
Indeed. As if that would happen.
But I couldn't stop thinking about what Carrie had told me. Erotic Horror? What a difficult, wonderful combination! How to combine two such opposite-seeming things in the same story? In a romance story, no less? How could I create a scenario where the main characters are scared shitless, fearing for their lives ... and yet have plenty of time for hot, wild sex? How could I write such a story and make it realistic?
I had to try.
First, I needed a great setting. It didn't take long to think of the wonderful old lodge on the Washington Coast where, long ago, I'd spent a romantic weekend. Such a place would be the ideal atmospheric setting for a horror novel.
Lake Quinault Lodge
The Perfect Place for a Long, Lazy Afternoon...or to be trapped by a Demon
Once I had the setting, the story came together piece by piece. I'd populate the Lodge (re-cast as a Bed-and-Breakfast Inn) with eager, bright-eyed newlywed couples. My story would be rife with erotic, passionate undercurrents - who better to get things going than four couples gathering together just after their weddings?
Next, I needed a bad guy. He'd be horrible and likable at the same time, a demon who would lure my unsuspecting main characters to his Inn and keep them captive. My antagonist slowly took form in my mind: he'd be a new kind of sex demon, scary, charming, charismatic, yet unable to touch his captives. But now I had a new problem - who was this demon who would play such a large part in my novel?
It took a while to find my demon. My bad guy didn't take shape until about a month later when my husband, my grown daughter, and I were eating take-out Thai food. I mentioned my Demon-in-the-Inn idea.
"Sounds interesting," said my daughter.
"But I'm having a problem getting a handle on the demon character," I said around a mouthful of noodles.
"What's his name?" asked my husband, "Start with a name."
I just stared at him blankly.
"It ought to be something foreign-sounding!" said my daughter.
"Yeah - like this..." said my husband, shoving the Pad Thai container toward me.
My daughter shook her head. "Pad Thai? Are you kidding?"
"Okay, okay. Forget it." He thought for a moment, then grinned. "What was the name of that Ethiopian place we ate lunch at last week? That sounded foreign!"
We looked it up. Adey Abeba.
Adey Abeba. The words had such a nice ring to them. They rolled off the tongue in such a deliciously foreign way. I'd found my demon's name - I knew immediately, no looking back. We went back to the restaurant the next day - how could we not? - and I asked the waitress what the words meant.
"Two things," she told us, looking like she thought it was the oddest question she'd ever heard in her life. "It is the name of the capitol of Ethiopia ... you know, Adis Abiba."
"Oh," I said, nodding.
"It is also ... this." She picked up a menu, and jabbed at a grainy image of charming yellow flowers. "This flower, it grows all over the hills near my city."
I changed the spelling: Adi Abiba. He was now Mr. Adi Abiba, proprietor of the unique Bed-and-Breakfast destination Inn on the Edge. I could see my demon clearly, so very clearly! He was tall and imposing and he wore flowing robes. He had an infectious laugh and a gaze that could skewer you. It took only a moment for Mr. Abiba to became a fully-formed character.
So there you have it. I was off to the races. I had everything I needed for my erotic horror novel. All I had to do was buckle down and write it.