Posted by Trish Milburn Jun 15 2009, 4:16 am in Colette Gale, interviews
Today, I’m very happy to host talented author and good friend Colette Gale, who is making a name for herself in the erotic romance world by retelling classic tales with, shall we say, a bit of a spicier twist. And Colette is giving away not one, not two, but all three of her published novels. So today, we’ll have three lucky winners — so be sure to ask Colette questions, make observations, etc. Maybe even tell us what classic tale you’d like to see given an erotic twist.
Q. Your third “Seducing the Classics” release, Bound by Honor, just came out last month. Tell us a bit about this erotic tale of Maid Marian, Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham.
A. I am a particular fan of love triangles, and I always thought it would be wonderfully fun to do the Marian/Robin/Nottingham love triangle in a “seduced” way. In fact, I’ve wanted to do this particular love triangle as an erotic novel for years, because I had a certain take on the story in mind, and was dying to try it out. It took me almost two years to convince my editor that Robin Hood wasn’t just a kid’s story (a la Disney’s foxy Robin) and that this love triangle needed to be told.
But with the popularity of BBC America‘s Robin Hood series and the upcoming film with Russell Crowe as Nottingham, we finally agreed that the time was right. And in my book, you’ll see a very strong-willed Marian, who is a woman bound by her honor to do what her liege orders her to do. She’s smart and beautiful, and a very confident romantic heroine.
Robin of Locksley, aka Robin Hood, is a charming rakehell, who’s very brave and a little egotistical. He’s fully aware of his affect on women–the masked bandit who might sneak into the castle to steal a kiss before slipping off into the shadows. But he’s also a little lost, looking for the right woman to love–even though he doesn’t quite realize it. He’s been displaced from his lands, and forced to become an outlaw as he tries to figure out a way to get them back.
William de Wendeval, the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, is a dark, angry man who once upon a time was an honorable knight. But now he struggles between his desires and that bruised honor, between what he knows is right, and what his liege demands of him.
Nottingham is the right-hand man of Prince John, who is a lecher and repulsive in his own right. John holds his own “Court of Pleasure” most every evening, inviting and at times demanding that the women of the court participate. Between his own version of chess, and the night of the “living statues,” John is clearly a most lascivious, depraved man.
However, despite the erotic scenes in my books–which do push the boundaries of a “historical romance” novel, because there are sex scenes with characters other than the hero and heroine, and because they are sometimes intimate with others–at the heart of each one is a true love story. A real romance.
In my mind, what makes these erotic versions different from sexy romance novels is that the relationship between the hero and heroine grows and develops and is shown mainly through the sex scenes. Each sex scene, believe it or not, has a purpose in the development of the relationship, and that’s how we see the relationship grow.
Q. I’m curious how the idea of retelling classic stories with an erotic twist came to you. Was it a deliberate effort or did the idea just come to you?
My first “seduced classic,” UNMASQUED: An Erotic Novel of the Phantom of the Opera
, was something I just started to write for myself. I am a fan of erotic novels, and I was always fascinated by Andrew Lloyd Webber
‘s take on the original story. He romanticized and, dare I say, eroticized, the original in such a way that I was furious when Christine didn’t stay with the Phantom at the end of the play/movie.
So I decided I wanted to not only know what happened down in his lair during those days she was there, but that I also wanted her to stay with the Phantom. So I wrote my version of the story, which was my first shot at writing an erotic novel. My agent loved it (although she confessed that it made her blush to read it), and we sold it to NAL. After that came a whole discussion about what classic I should do next. I wanted to do Robin Hood/Marian/Nottingham, but as I mentioned above, my editor wasn’t as keen on the idea.
But when she suggested that I do a version of The Count of Monte Cristo, I jumped at the chance. It was a perfect book to write a “dirty” version of–the behind the scenes, what really happened when the doors were closed aspect.
In fact, unlike my version of The Phantom of the Opera, I followed the story line of Dumas’s original classic very closely. I wrote much of the book from Mercedes’s point of view, but there are actually three love stories in Master: An Erotic Novel of the Count of Monte Cristo, and I must say that I’m very proud of that book. Each relationship is very different, and again, as I mentioned above, each sex scene in that book further develops not only the hero and heroine’s relationship, but also character.
The main story, that of Mercedes and the Count of Monte Cristo, is built around his desire for revenge on her for the wrong she’s done to him. There’s another subplot with a female slave who is the agressor in a relationship with another male slave. And the third is a very sweet love story in which the hero and heroine have a fence between them at all times.
Such fun I had with those three plots! I really loved that book. Throw in the fact that in the original Dumas there were not only orgies and hashish, but danger and a fascinating plot, and voila! The perfect idea for a “behind the scenes” look at the story.
Q. The covers for your books have been beautiful. I’m particularly partial to Bound By Honor. I love the colors. Do you have input into the covers, or are you totally surprised each time you see them?
A. I love my covers. And thank you for the compliments! I love them all, but when I saw the cover for Master, I thought it was the most beautiful cover I’d ever seen. But when I saw the cover for Bound by Honor, I had to change my mind! The art department really outdid themselves on it, didn’t they?
I can take no credit for anything regarding the covers. The conception was all from the designers at NAL, and they’re absolutely perfect. I just love them.
Q. Who are some of your favorite erotic romance authors?
A. I have always loved Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty series; in fact, after The Story of O, that was my first foray into erotica. I also love Bertrice Small‘s Skye O’Malley series–and I think she did wonders (Ms. Small, I mean) for helping to push the boundaries of romance into erotica, way back in the ’70s/early ’80s.
Q. What are you working on now? What tales do you hope to give an erotic twist in the future?
A. Right now, I’m not working on anything as a seduced classic. In order to do another one, I have to have the right idea, and I simply don’t have an idea that has the right “feel.” I have a couple of ideas in mind and we’ll see if they pan out.
Part of the reason I’m waffling is because in each of my books, I generally write twenty chapters or so. And my goal is, because it’s an “erotic novel,” that there is at least one sex scene per chapter–i.e., someone’s going to get off. Somehow, some way.
So that’s a lot of sex scenes (60 in my eroticas alone), and, quite frankly, a lot of ways to have to describe an org*sm. Yannow? I want to keep the scenes fresh and erotic and titillating for both me and the reader, and I don’t want the quality to suffer because I’m doing too many or rushing them. That’s why I can only do no more than one erotic novel per year, at the most.
However, many of you know that I also write under my other name
, which is a not-very-well-kept secret. I recently released the last in my Gardella Vampire Chronicles series, and I have a brand new series coming out in early 2010 that doesn’t have vampires in it (it has zombies) and it isn’t set in the past (it’s set in the future). So I’ve been busy working on the first three books in that series, and hopefully Trish and the Banditas will have more information about that when the time is closer.
Q. Anything you’d like to ask our lovely blog visitors today?
Simple: Robin Hood or Nottingham? And why?
Don’t forget to comment today for your chance to win one of Colette’s steamy reads.
Posted by Anna Campbell Aug 6 2007, 7:01 am in Anna Campbell, Claiming the Courtesan, Colette Gale, erotic romance, Erotica, Phantom of the Opera, Unmasqued
Interviewed by Anna Campbell
ANNA: Colette, thank you so much for coming over to party with the Banditas today. I can’t wait to hear about your new release Unmasqued, an erotic re-telling of The Phantom of the Opera. What an intiguing premise! But first I’d like to ask you about your writing history. Give us the goss on Colette Gale before she was published!
COLETTE: I’m ecstatic to be here! The Banditas have really made quite a name for themselves in such a short time–I’m completely impressed. Thanks so much for having me. Okay, the writing history. Well, Colette Gale is actually the pen name of my alter ego who writes historical paranormals, and who has been a guest here on the Banditas in the past. But Unmasqued is Colette’s first book, and we won’t talk about that other girl today, other than that she is multi-published.
ANNA: I’m so looking forward to reading it and finding how you deal with the sexual tension between the members of the central triangle in the story. Can you tell us about Unmasqued?
COLETTE: Well, the story came about because of my dissatisfaction with the ending of Lloyd Webber’s musical version of The Phantom of the Opera. I mean, he made the Phantom passionate and attractive, and showed us how much he and Christine loved each other–and even more so in the film version–and yet he has Christine leave the love of her life to run off with that milquetoast Raoul at the end! Quelle horreur!
(I must confess that I’ve seen the Phantom play many times, and that when the movie came out, I had this hope that maybe Lloyd Webber had tweaked it enough for it to end the way I thought it should have ended. But no.)
So I set about writing my version of the story, explaining why Christine left with Raoul, forsaking her passion for Erik (the Phantom). It started off being just a fun project for my alter ego, when she was between other books (those historical paranormals), but when she finished the book, her agent wanted to see it–and then she sold it.
The book is an erotic novel–not an erotic romance. There is a line between the two, in my opinion, and although Christine and Erik do have their happy ending, as one would expect in an erotic romance, and they do not have intercourse with anyone other than each other, the book leans more toward erotic fiction. In fact, when I sold this book, my editor and I–and all of her colleagues–had long discussions about where this book belonged.
Did it belong as an erotic romance (yes, because there’s a love story at its heart and a happy ending), or a straight erotica (yes, because the sexual situations are more like what one would find in that type of novel)? It really is sort of smack dab between them.
The book is definitely not for everyone, because it’s not merely explicit sex scenes between the main characters. The settings, the motivations, the situations, are all important to the story, yet they’re sexual and erotic in nature.
(I talk more about my opinions on erotic romance v. erotica, and erotica v. porn during this interview at Bam’s site.)
ANNA: I gather you’re drawn to darker heroes (I’m sure that’s one of the reasons we get on so well!). Tell us about your Phantom, and how he’s different from Leroux’s original creation, and Lloyd Webber’s as well.
COLETTE: Oh, Erik is such a tortured hero–in all three versions! Leroux created a horrible, murderous genius, Lloyd Webber romanticized him, and I took it a few steps further and made him complete hero material. Hot, possessive (in a good way), honorable, and madly, madly in love with our heroine.
He is probably the most tortured hero that I’ve ever written. I loved doing it, because I knew from the beginning how much he loved Christine, and how much of a risk it was for him to reveal himself to her. He’d watched her from the shadows, gotten to know her and to love her through his tutoring–but to actually talk to her, touch her, be with her…he was risking everything. So at first, his fear is obvious through his need to control the situation, to keep her from really seeing and knowing him–because once she did, he feared her rejection. Yet, he can’t stay away from her.
Yet, Christine was never afraid of him. Ever (well, except when she takes off his mask, but that’s well into the book). She recognizes their connection, their kinship, their passion, and she wants to get to know him.
ANNA: Your byline on your website is “seducing the classics” which I think is brilliant. I notice your next book is a re-telling of The Count of Monte Cristo story. Can you tell us a little more about this?
COLETTE: Yes, my next book will be released in May and it’s titled MASTER: An Erotic Novel of The Count of Monte Cristo. I loved writing this book more than I thought possible. The book by Dumas is fabulous–if unbelievably complicated and long–and it was a challenge to streamline it enough to focus on the love story between Edmond Dantes and Mercedes Herrera while explaining what else is going on behind the scenes, but I had a blast doing it.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, here’s the back cover copy for the new book:
Betrayed by his friends, Edmond Dantes spent fourteen years imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, miraculously freed, he returns as the rich and powerful Count of Monte Cristo, seeking revenge on the four men who sent him to jail…and determined to have the woman he has never been able to forget.
Mercedes Herrera was devastated when the man she loved disappeared and was never heard from again. After searching for Edmond, she had no choice but to marry one of his friends…and for the past fourteen years, she’s lived in an empty, abusive marriage, mourning the loss of her love.
When the Count of Monte Cristo arrives in Paris to put his plan of vengeance into play, Mercedes alone knows Edmond Dantes has returned. But this harsh, angry man sends chills down her spine even as his very touch reminds her of the passion they once shared. She realizes soon enough that his plan to avenge himself on the men who incarcerated him also includes another sort of revenge…on her.
From the seaside town of Marseille…to the exotic caves of Monte Cristo Isle…to the glittering ballrooms of Paris unfolds an erotic battle of wills and unquenched passion between one of literature’s most famous pairs of star-crossed lovers.
As I said, it was so much fun to write. And for those who are familiar with the story, I’ll also divulge that Haydee has her own subplot, and so do Valentine and Maximilien.
In comparison to Unmasqued, I would say Master is a little less edgy and dark, though no less erotic. However, my goal when I write erotica is to arouse and titillate, as well as to tell a story, and I try to keep to the promise of at least one orgasm (the characters, not the reader!) per chapter–and I’d say that aside of one chapter in Unmasqued and one in Master, that pretty much holds true.
ANNA: Do you have any more classics in your sights? Why do you think people keep returning again and again to these archetypal stories?
COLETTE: I’m currently working on another proposal to my editor, and we have several ideas in mind for future classics that are just begging to be seduced. I think the reason people like these kinds of stories, and like to be able to get more explicit, is because often the setting and situation are inherently sexy–but at the time they were written, sexual explicitness wasn’t exactly mainstream.
For example, in the original Count of Monte Cristo, there is a scene in what is described as Aladdin’s Cave (which is on the Isle of Monte Cristo) in which not only does the eating of hashish occur, but also an orgy. Yeah. But it’s only alluded to, not described in detail. (I, uh, took care of that little detail when I wrote my version.) And there’s lesbianism in the book as well, and a whole host of sexual innuendo–in Monte Cristo as well as in the original Phantom novel (don’t try and tell me that Christine spent a week with the Phantom and nothing happened. Uh, no.), and other classics.
Now we have the ability to tell the stories that have always been behind and beneath the words in all their glorious detail.
Having said that, I know that I have certain literary favorites that I would hate for anyone to mess with in this way (Little House on the Prairie, LIttle Women, Pride & Prejudice)…and there are people who feel the same way about Phantom and Monte Cristo, and others. And that’s okay. To each his own!
ANNA: Who are some of your favorite writers?
COLETTE: As far as erotic fiction goes, I’ve been influenced by Bertrice Small’s Skye O’Malley books, The Story of O, Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty series, and Madeline Oh’s PowerExchange.
ANNA: Can you give us some insight into your creative process?
COLETTE: I have no idea where I’m going most of the time, until I get there. I write basically one draft, cleaning and revising as I go.
Do you think there’s a difference between erotic romance and erotica? Do you have a favorite classic that you wish had gone further? Have you found yourself wanting to rewrite a book or a movie’s ending? Which movies? Which books? Why?
Colette would love to give one of our honorary Banditas a copy of her new erotic novel Unmasqued. A comment will be chosen at random on Wednesday, 8th August. Good luck!