Interview with Leslie C. Ferdinand
Wicked Allure (eBook)
Leslie C. Ferdinand
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (3/12)
Today, Tyler R. Tichelaar is pleased to interview Leslie Ferdinand, who is here to talk about her new book “Wicked Allure.”
Leslie C. Ferdinand and Shirley H. Ferdinand have been writing together since 1991. Under their Christine Holden pen name, five books were released by Berkley/Jove between 1998 and 2001. Their last book, “Dearest Beloved,” had a foreign edition in Dutch. They’ve appeared in “New Orleans Magazine,” the “Times Picayune,” “RT Book Reviews,” the “Fort Bend Herald,” “Fort Bend Lifestyles,” and the “Natchez Sun.” They were also included in Kathryn Falk’s 1998 “How To Write A Romance For The New Markets and Get it Published” and May McGoldrick’s “Marriage of Minds: Collaborative Fiction Writing” in 2000. They’ve made appearances on television stations in New Orleans, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Beaumont, and Toronto. Leslie has also made an appearance on the Rachel Ray Show and is founder of “Inside Rose Rich Magazine.” They currently have literary representation with D4EO Literary Agency. This is the team’s first erotic romance.
Tyler: Welcome, Leslie. I think your book title is quite dazzling. Would you begin by telling us why you settled on it and how it relates to the book?
Leslie: Thank you for welcoming me, Tyler. My mother and I went through three or four titles. The very first title was “At Last,” referring to the last line in the first scene. After we wrote chapter 4, the title came to us and we realized “Wicked Allure” would be the perfect title for the book. Madi can’t resist Zach’s allure and Zach sacrificed their relationship once before because he thought he was too wicked for Madigan.
Tyler: Tell us about the two main characters, Zach and Madi. I understand they’ve had kind of an on-again, off-again relationship. Will you tell us about the state of their relationship when the book begins?
Leslie: At the beginning of the book, neither Zach or Madi ever got the closure they needed on their relationship. They haven’t seen each other in three years. Zach has been tortured because he lost Madigan and because of the way he lost her. He didn’t realize how much he loved her until she was gone. Madigan hasn’t been able to get over her feelings for Zach, either. He introduced her to lovemaking and passion. He had such a profound impact on her life.
Tyler: I understand that Madi remains in love with Zach despite feeling he betrayed her. Does he have any redeeming qualities, or what do you think makes Madi still interested in being with him?
Leslie: Madi placed very high expectations on Zach and she saw in him what he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see in himself. He saw himself as a man committed to pleasure. Madi saw the vulnerabilities he tried so hard to hide. He had once been her friend and confidante, and it surprises her how easy it still is to talk to him. One reason it has been so hard for Madi to overcome Zach is she can’t associate the man she believed Zach to be with the man he showed himself to be.
Tyler: What are some of those vulnerabilities Zach has, and why do you think Madi is attracted to that side of Zach?
Leslie: Zach really wants to atone for his past mistakes. Despite his wild reputation, Madi understands the hurt and regret that Zach is holding inside. He’s blunt and to the point and expects things to go his way, always pushing the bar to attain more. He is also quite sexually dominating and she can’t resist him. As Madi herself matures, she sees the boy inside of the man and that boy wants forgiveness.
Tyler: I saw a disclaimer or warning for “Wicked Allure” that stated: “Multicultural Erotic Romance with Adults Only Content, explicit language and some drug use.” Do you feel any sense of ostracism for writing such a book or have you received negative feedback as a result? Did you hesitate before you published it?
Leslie: “Wicked Allure” hasn’t been picked up for many reviews. That disclaimer may be one of the reasons. We discussed “Wicked Allure” with our agent and she felt editors might be turned off by the first scene and a later scene when a minor character uses cocaine. That’s the only two scenes where drug use is shown and the second scene is also a turning point for Zach. Did we hesitate? Yes, but our agent encouraged us to do it. She thought the writing was strong and she liked the storyline. Since we’d had such an in-depth discussion about editors’ reactions to those two scenes, my mother and I were concerned about how readers and reviewers would react to it.
Tyler: How does drug use tie into the story and how is it depicted?
Leslie: Zach is a former Coke addict. One reason he let Madi go was because he feared he’d take a step backward and fall into his old habits. The story opens just after he’s fallen off that bandwagon. Cocaine is also used on certain body parts in that scene. Zach doesn’t use drugs again in the story, but that first scene really set the tone for the rest of the story since he wasn’t sure if he’d really made love to Madi or if he’d just had a drug-induced fantasy. He’s in for quite a shock about that night.
Tyler: You mentioned your agent. Did you then find a publisher for the book or did the subject matter lead you to self-publishing?
Leslie: The subject matter led us to self-publish via Create Space and Smashwords.
Tyler: Without going into detail, can you give us some idea of how erotic the book is?
Leslie: Someone asked me if we had a book of euphemisms for the male anatomy. J However, we don’t use very explicit language for the female anatomy. The love scenes are very explicit and detailed.
Tyler: I have to ask about the sex club. What made you decide to include Madi owning a sex club?
Leslie: I had a couple of boyfriends (not at the same time) who wanted to take me to sex clubs, one wanted to take me to one in LA and the other one wanted to bring me to one in New York City. I asked all kinds of questions. I was curious, but I didn’t go with either one of them. Writing gives you an outlet to allow your characters to do things you, yourself, would never do. You might have considered doing it, then decided against it.
Tyler: Does the sex club interfere with Zach and Madi’s relationship?
Leslie: You’d think that it would. Zach loves sex and he loves beautiful women, and at the sex club he’s surrounded by both. He loves Madigan more, though, and being at Wicked Allure helps Zach to work out some of his inner demons.
Tyler: In the disclaimer when you mention “multicultural,” do you mean Zach and Madi are of different races or colors—usually “multiracial” is the term used. Why did you feel the need to mention it as part of the disclaimer? Is it still an issue in America in your opinion that readers might be put off by?
Leslie: Zach and his brother are biracial. Their father was Caucasian and their mother was African-American. Madi is African-American with a smattering of French and Native American, rather like my own family. As for mentioning it in the disclaimer, every time I spoke about “Wicked Allure,” I called it a multicultural erotic romance. I suppose my brain programmed itself to describe the book that way. I can have tunnel-vision. Once I’m focused on something, it is hard to steer me away from it and I’d been so focused on my description of the story when asked about it, I didn’t think about it one way or the other when I included “multicultural” in the disclaimer. Of course, when you look at the cover, you can guess the heroine’s ethnicity.
Race is such a hot button issue and everyone wants to be politically correct. When my mom and I wrote as Christine Holden, we wrote about Regency England, Medieval England, Antebellum New Orleans and Antebellum Natchez. Our covers were beautiful, but they didn’t really identify how the characters looked. I remember doing a book signing and two women were walking together. One of them started toward the table where I was sitting with my books, but the other lady stopped her. She said as loudly as possible, “Look at her. You don’t want to read her books. She writes about ‘those’ types of people.” There were a couple of other incidents at book signings and in conference settings. I stopped going to conferences and I didn’t actively seek to do book signings anymore, either. Some African-American bookstores wouldn’t carry our titles because the characters weren’t African-American. Some of my friends weren’t happy that my mom and I chose to write about White characters. It was ridiculous and a little disheartening. Past experiences can leave an indelible mark so when I spoke about the book, I described it as I saw it, a book peopled with characters of various backgrounds but easily identifiable with one another because of their similar financial circumstances.
Tyler: I’m sorry to hear there is still such prejudice in the world, Leslie, and from readers of both races. How then would you describe your target audience? Since the book has only just come out, who do you think ideally will read it? How do you reach a multiracial audience, for example?
Leslie: I’m hoping to reach a multiracial audience by doing what I’m doing—interviews, Q&A sessions, Facebook, reviews—but I’m not sure. I wish I had a crystal ball that would show me what to do. Our target audience is women who read romance novels. I would hope that, despite its label as a “multicultural erotic romance,” the story would be seen as universal. We’ve all made mistakes that we want to have forgiven. At one time or another, most of us, have lost someone whom we loved dearly and we found it hard to face or even accept. We would love a second chance. Those feelings and emotions really have no color or nationality.
Tyler: What did you find most difficult about writing “Wicked Allure”?
Leslie: The most difficult? Hmm. Balancing how much Madi and Zach physically craved each other while still showing everything they did was driven by their deep emotional connection was rather difficult. Balancing Madigan’s anger and bitterness and her love for Zach, and whether or not she could ever trust him, was super difficult. If we made her “too” angry, how could we ever find a satisfactory happily-ever-after? If she couldn’t recognize the reasons she fell in love with him or sort through why she should trust him, having them end up together in the end wouldn’t have seemed logical. On the other hand, if she forgave him too quickly, then there would’ve been no real basis for her to have stayed away from him in the first place. A discussion over the telephone could’ve healed her broken heart, in that case. The love scenes were also difficult to write. I’m single right now and…and I’ll just leave it at that.
Tyler: What did you most enjoy about writing the novel?
Leslie: We enjoyed writing about Madi and Zach rediscovering one another and why they loved each other. We also enjoyed writing about Madi and her sisters and Zach and his brother growing closer.
Tyler: What made you decide to write an erotic novel, and did you do a lot of research, reading other erotic novels to pull it off, or was it all just instinct and your own ideas?
Leslie: Research, hmm? You’ve been talking to my mother? Once, on live television, she said I “researched” the love scenes. Writing erotic romances came about while writing “Picture Perfect,” the book our agent is currently trying to sell. The love scenes were explicit, explicit, explicit. After the first one, my mom looked at me with a hey-where-did-that-come-from expression. I let the characters guide me, but I was like, “Mother, please, I have three children. Where do you think they came from?” “Wicked Allure” was born when our agent asked us to come up with a proposal for Harlequin Blaze. All I can say is when my mother read the first love scene in “Wicked Allure,” she questioned me better than a seasoned trial attorney.
Tyler: I was wondering about how you managed to write an erotic novel with your mother. I would think your mother would be the last person you would want to write such a book with. But will you tell us a little about how you and your mother began writing books together—whose idea was it, when did you begin, etc.?
Leslie: She’s the last person I want anyone to interview “about” us writing erotic romances. I’m only kidding. Sort of. Seriously, though, when I was growing up, she was always open and honest with me about everything I asked her about. She started writing short stories when she was sixteen years old. When I was seven or eight, she started writing a book she called “Soup’s On.” The main character’s name was Farrington Ulysses Conrad Kingsley. Put the first initial of each name together and see what you come up with. She wrote the story in longhand on typewriter and legal pads. I asked her one day why would she write a book and not try to do something with it. I was about thirteen or fourteen. She said she liked to write. I told her I’d type it. I needed to learn how to use the new computer she’d bought me and I thought that would be the perfect way to practice. I also told her that I’d get her book published. That book got as far as an agent telling me to turn it into a screenplay and he’d see what he could do. I don’t write press releases well and I don’t write screenplays at all, so the book was shelved. When I was nineteen, I asked my mom to write a story around an idea that I had come up with. I’d tried to write my own novel when I was twelve and it just frustrated me that I couldn’t figure out how to get the adult characters I’d created to do what I wanted them to do. That’s why I asked her to write the book. She agreed to write the book based on my idea, but she told me I had to do all the research and the typing and the networking. As I typed what she wrote, I began to have my own ideas and started inserting my own chapters, characters, and descriptions. “Christine Holden” just evolved from that. Christine is my middle name and Holden is my mother’s maiden name. Our names are still combined. I’m divorced so I’m actually Leslie C. Megahey and she’s Shirley H. Ferdinand. We were going to put “Wicked Allure” by Leslie C. Megahey and Shirley H. Ferdinand on the cover, but that would take up a lot of space. Seven years after we wrote that first book together, our first book hit bookstores. I was so excited the first time I saw the book at Barnes and Noble. I purchased all the copies in stock.
Tyler: That’s hilarious, Leslie! Our reviewer here at Reader Views, Paige Lovitt, commented about the novel, “I really enjoyed reading “Wicked Allure” by Leslie C. Ferdinand and feel that because it offers the perfect blend of sensuality and drama it has a lot more to offer than some of the typical erotic romances.” Leslie, what do you feel makes “Wicked Allure” stand out from other erotic romances?
Leslie: “Wicked Allure” stands out because of the intensity of Madi and Zach’s feelings for one another. From the moment they met, they connected emotionally. We actually wrote the scene when they first meet, but cut it out when we were doing the edits. Then there’s the thread of the other storylines: Zach wanting to get his business back and Madigan wanting to repair her relationship with her mother.
Tyler: What’s next for you, Leslie? Do you plan to write more books, and if so, what will they be about?
Leslie: A vacation at a spa would be great! However, I home school my girls and I have a magazine that I’m trying to get back on the right footing. As for writing, we’re already deep into writing “Scandalous Allure,” Kelly’s story. Kelly is Madi’s sister. We’re going to release “Scandalous Allure” in October. Brianna’s story, “Wanton Allure,” will be out in April 2013; and “Pure Allure,” Dakota’s story, will be out in October 2013. We’re going to keep the Wicked Allure sex club in all the stories. We’re also working on a proposal to submit to our agent.
Tyler: Wow, Leslie. What do you think it is about these characters and this topic that makes you and your mom want to turn it into a series?
Leslie: Madi’s two sisters have issues with the men in their lives and, like Madigan, also have issues with their mother. Zach’s brother is dealing with his problems too. We just couldn’t work Kelly, Brianna, and Dakota’s story into “Wicked Allure.” The book would’ve been 600 pages. Besides, we also want to explore the sex club a little more and someone has to use that American Justice room. I can’t let all those toys go to waste.
Tyler: Thank you for the interview today, Leslie. Before we go, will you tell us about how readers can purchase “Wicked Allure” and what additional information online we can find for the book?
Leslie: “Wicked Allure” can be purchased at Smashwords.com in ebook, https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/143121. In print, it can be found at Amazon.com, BN.com, or from the Create Space estore at https://www.createspace.com/3819082. We also have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a My Space account with the Wicked Allure playlist. A couple of the songs are mentioned in the book. The others were songs we listened to during the course of writing the book to get our creative juices flowing. We’re also on Good Reads and Shelfari and we’re doing an interview on Artists First on April 17th.
Tyler: Thanks again for the interview, Leslie. And best wishes to you and your mom with the Allure series and all your books.
Leslie: You’re welcome and thank you again for having me and for your well wishes.
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