I knew I wanted to try writing an erotic romance. I did write one–and an editor at a major publishing company wanted it, but the publisher of her imprint said ‘maybe’, then ‘nah’. I was sooooo close.
WHEN LIFE IS LIKE REALITY TV Casting around for another idea, I saw a Bridezillas commerical and inspiration struck. The ad had a sexy bride in full satin gloves. She was throwing spaghetti in the face of a chef, screaming at him. Someone needed to tame that Amazon bzilla! Take her down a notch or two and get her off at the same time. Thus BE MY BRIDEZILLA was born. It had all the elements I wanted in an erotic romance–witty dialogue, luxurious surroundings, a hot brooding hero who was smart and had it (almost) all together. Also some kinky-lite sex in it, with a lot of smouldering intensity.
JACKIE CHAN Vs. BRUCE LEE Around the time I was casting about for an erotic romance idea, Nora Roberts had this bride quartet romance coming out. I wanted to throw each book at the wall. But I was in Barnes & Nobel and they don’t like it when patrons start lobbing projectiles across the Starbucks cafe.
My problem with each book is that they were all about the perfect wedding. People, I’ve been to weddings. They are NOT perfect. I’ve seen a lot of gritted teeth under those veils. I’ve seen brides who gave inn keepers PTSD, I’ve been a guest–one of many–hiding from the bride on the other of the tent for an entire wedding. So I wanted to write an anti-Nora novel. I wanted it to be kinda funny, too. Like Jackie Chan, who wanted to do the opposite of everything Bruce Lee did, where Nora got sad, I got funny. Where Nora had pathos, I had a hawt wedding cake fight.
But I usually use actors for physical inspiration. Who was I going to use as the model for my bridezilla? For instance, John Krasinski is the model for Braden, the hero, and Ryan Kwanten is my inspiration for Spencer, the hapless groom. I saw a picture of someone in a magazine and thought to myself: she’s the one. But taller. It turned out that the woman I was looking at was Kim Kardashian.
In my novel, Becky walks down the isle feeling more alone on her wedding day than she’s ever felt before. The groom is gorgeous, he has an amazing old house, he lives in a beautiful area, and at bottom, he’s a truely sweet guy–so everything should be right in her world. It’s not. She knows it and tries to fight off her knowledge, which results in some spectacularly bad behavior.
Then Kimmy met Kris Humphries, and the rest was 72 days of history. 17 million dollars later, she’s reviled by the public. She has another man’s bun in her oven. I feel ever-so-guilty that in some weird way, by picking her as the model for my Becky, I jinxed her. Because let’s just say that in my novel (and in the sequel) Becky’s fate bears a striking similarity to Ms. Kardashian’s.
MISTAKES, I’VE MADE A FEW…Having done a lot of research for this book, I know that Kim is not alone. 30% of brides these days walk down the isle with strong doubts in their heads that the marriage will survive. Like Becky, like Kim, they’re swept away. The fairy tale fantasy wedding and meeting others expectations plays a big role in these mistakes. “But he’s such an amazing guy, who am I not to love him?” plays another part in these mistakes. The horror of disappointing everyone and the knowledge that second thoughts, cold feet, pre-wedding jitters are common–all this can fight against calling the wedding off. The end result keeps lawyers in porches.
Becky ends her marriage before all the wedding cake is gone, and she instantly winds up with another guy—in this case a hot wedding guest, the groom’s cousin. They run away to Paris together in a slightly drunken fit of rebellion against the whole family clan. He comes to his senses first and tries to put the brakes on their rebound fling. Becky, however, has finally found her inner compass. She knows what she wants with all her being: him. She decides to take her revenge by turning up the sizzling heat between them while she’s his “guest” in Paris.
SETTING THE BAR HIGH: So here’s where life and the curious workings of fate come together again. I realized only after I finished my novel that there’s a gap between what actually happens in life (i.e. Kim’s path) and what readers wanna read.
When I first imagined my hero, the idea was that he’d been to one too many Southern weddings and had seen one too many bridezillas. That combined with a kinky interest in spanking had led him to some bridezilla-spanking fantasies. When he sees Becky throwing platters of shrimp off a balcony, and sees her curvalicious bod, she becomes the focus of his fantasy. BUT I soon realized that selling this bridezilla romance was going to be a tad difficult. I guess it sounds like he’s got a bride-spanking fetish. Hmmgnndhn…fetish is a strong word.
In my mind the hero was just sort of adapting to his conditions–staving off boredom, etc. I didn’t exactly think of it as a fetish, exactly. A really weird fetish.
There was also the problem of Becky being married. I was too new to the biz when I wrote the novel to know that readers simply hate adultery in romance. Yet to me it was like: how do you write contemporary romance if you don’t have strong barriers in the way of their getting together? I work around the adultry issue, but in the end, I collected a few flattering, very nice rejections for my bridezilla book.
I BREAK WITH THEE, I BREAK WITH THEE, I BREAK WITH THEE…By the time I went to pitch my work at a romance conference in New Jersey, I was on the cusp of giving up. Maybe I could take the bridezilla stuff out? Maybe I could take out the kinky-lite sex? Maybe I could have the hero and heroine have an initial encounter and then have a One Year Later…? I would be gutting the book, essentially. I was so apathetic about the project that I didn’t even pitch it.
LIFE IS SO MUCH STRANGER THAN FICTION…Imagine how I felt when I was sitting in the audience of an editor’s panel towards the end of the day and Treva Harte from Loose-Id started talking about their new submissions call: I DO…UNLESS I DON’T.
They were looking for wedding-gone-wrong scenarios. They were looking for hot erotic sex, they were looking for a happily-ever-after, even if it wasn’t the original bride n groom pairing. My jaw dropped. A publisher was actually having a call for my book. Broken wedding? Great. Adultery? You bet. Bridezilla spanking fetish? Yay!
So I’ve sent BMB off to Loose Id. I feel like I should drink some champagne. Even if they don’t accept it. Even if they accept it and want me to change/fix a lot of it–because let’s face it people, while it has some great moments, it’s my first novel and it ain’t perfect–I’d be so thrilled, so honored, so gloriously, deliriously happy.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to make up for the bad karma I sent Kimmy’s way by asking readers to cut her some slack. Just watch an episode of GIRLS on HBO and you’ll see that the dating world out there is a total cringe fest. Who wouldn’t want shelter from the storm?
Meanwhile, imagine you’ve spent 45,000 dollars on a car, or a college education–or a kidney transplant–and you can’t get a refund. Do you really just give the car away? Throw the kidney in the trash? I’m not at all surprised that many women suck it up, even if deep inside it all feels wrong. Let them eat cake for christ’s sake, it cost $3,000.00.