Nicola Jane and I connected on Twitter. She asked if I’d like to read her book and I said SURE! What a pleasant, interesting surprise for me. Not only was it well-written, but it was great fun to play with. “Follow Your Fantasy” (Harper Impulse) is an interactive erotic book that leads the reader along by giving them several choices at the end of a chapter. I made one set of choices when I went through the first time—then I went back and made a different set of choices. You see what I mean about great fun? So Nicola Jane and I chatted a bit about her book—she is currently working on her second.
Liz: How did you come to write this form of “interactive” story?
Nicola: As you might expect with the inspiration for Erotica, the idea for Follow Your Fantasy came to me in bed.
A hot, steamy and unexpected encounter that had me breathless with excitement and frantically flinging back the covers in a bid to release the forces surging inside me.
It was exactly like that only I was in bed alone, living out a miserable, virtually friendless existence as a sort of governess to a rich German family. The hot encounter was with the flash of inspiration itself and the covers were flung off while I scrabbled for a pen and scrawled the plan for the book.
The kernel of the idea was Choose Your Own Adventure – books I’d loved as a child – plus my mind’s random connection with Erotica which is often published in anthologies of short stories. I don’t know why I was thinking about those two!
That was in November 2011, pre Fifty Shades of Grey, and Erotica wasn’t the mega phenomenon it is now, although I might have started seeing articles about how ereaders were driving a surge in self published Erotica. I wasn’t even reading Erotica at the time and was sure someone, somewhere must have had the idea already.
However, a Google search didn’t turn up much more than a couple of websites that were having a half hearted go at Choose Your Own for adults and seemed to be aimed at men e.g. You’re getting wasted in a bar – do you have another beer or ring your dealer? I figured an erotic narrative with multiple endings would function like a series of interconnected short stories and the Reader could just dip in and out whenever they felt like it.
Liz: Great idea! What were the specific challenges in writing this kind of story?
Nicola: One was keeping track of things like bra on or off when the narrative branched off but I had a system of index cards to keep track of the events. The main challenge was writing what was essentially over 25 sex scenes and making them different. Not different in terms of the events – my imagination was in overdrive there! – but in the actual description of touch, feelings…orgasms. Some books are so repetitive and I tried really hard not to be. I eventually worked out a way of writing with varying sentence lengths and using simile and metaphor instead of just the acts themselves which helped as, really, there are only so many words for genitalia, so listing what goes where is not enough on its own.
Liz: What other kinds of writing have you done?
Nicola: All sorts! I used to write restaurant reviews and food related travel articles for Time Out Istanbul and now I write educational material and fiction for learners of English as a Foreign Language. I just won an award for one story actually! It’s a LOT more conservative thanFollow Your Fantasy! I also write articles about dating, sex and relationships for anyone that will have me and a couple of non erotica novels underway. I’ve got three blogs too and for me, it’s about the ideas and the writing more than it is about writing any one kind of thing specifically.
Liz: When I was at Book Expo America last year, Xcite Press was there and they actually has an App that is interactive. It presents several scenes and you make choices and so on.
Are these interactive stories like yours and App like Xcite offers the wave of the future–or do you think it’s a trend that will fade?
Nicola: In my education writing there has been a resurgence in interactive fiction and I think it’s because people in their thirties , who are in writing and publishing today, were the original kids reading them and so it’s ripe for a bit of nostalgia. We’re also seeing it in video gaming too as the technology lends itself to that and now Kindles can support interactive books. Children’s books are set to incorporate videos, and all sorts of things that transform the linear reading experience, so I can only see growth for it. With Follow Your Fantasy, it could be incredible to have points where you could spring off and watch sometimes or other times just use your imagination. The thing is that this type of erotica is less plot driven and more about just getting into sex for sex’s sake and so readers who are expecting that are going to have a lot more fun than those who might be expecting romance. In that way, Follow Your Fantasy is more like a hot one night encounter than a romantic date that leads to marriage and kids. It doesn’t have to be the same as what you might be looking for in real life. That’s the point – it’s fantasy!
Liz: What can we look forward to that’s coming from you next? You mentioned working on another book and second book syndrome. I know that well. It’s a tough hurdle to overcome. (You don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to.)
Nicola: It certainly is tough! The first book I wrote for myself, just for fun. Now there is a contract and an editor waiting for me to finish and the pressure is no small thing. I set myself daily writing targets that are low enough to achieve without being to formidable and the plot itself was mostly mapped out from the beginning so it helps to know there is a framework there. I have summer to finish which is my busiest time of year so I am being very strict! After this one, I have an idea for a third in the Choose Your Own Erotica line but with a totally different theme and setting to the other two and then I am going to get back to a novel I started a few years ago about a woman who sets up a group to help people get over their exes but who can’t let go of her own crumbling relationship herself.
Thanks so much for stopping by Lady Smut, Nicola!
Nicola Jane’s blog Nicolajane.org
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Lady Smut is a blog for intelligent women who like to read smut. On this blog we talk about our writing, the erotic romance industry, masculinity, femininity, sexuality, and whatever makes our pulses race.