Monday, June 6, 2016

Paralyzed by Indecision

By Lisabet Sarai

This past January I published my most recent novel, The Gazillionaire and the Virgin. The creative seeds for this genre-busting BDSM erotic romance were planted right here at the Grip, in a conversation involving Annabeth Leong and our frequent guest Fiona McGier (who is responsible for the title). The book takes the currently fashionable tropes of the billionaire alpha-male Dom and the too-innocent-to-believe virginal submissive and turns them on their heads.

In my book, the heroine is the billionaire. Rachel’s an MIT graduate, founder and CEO of an enormously successful high tech company, bossy as hell in her career, but secretly a sexual submissive who tries to satisfy her needs through anonymous encounters at kink clubs. The hero is the virginand the dominant. Theo’s a brilliant computer scientist, but shy, neurotic and socially maladjusted. He has a wealth of knowledge about BDSM from Internet research, but zero practical experience.

As you might guess, I had great fun with these characters. I took every opportunity to shred the stereotypes made so popular by the Trilogy-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Although I realized that I might turn some romance fans off, I was writing for people out there who were like mepeople who’d appreciate a fresh take on a tired plot. I was deeply gratified to discover that my readers seemed to love the book. I can’t say anything yet about sales, since the publisher pays royalties on a quarterly basis, but G&V has received more positive reviews than anything else I’ve ever written, including praise from bloggers active in the BDSM lifestyle.

I hardly wrote anything other than promo material for the first months after the release. When the flurry of marketing died down a bit, though, I started to consider what to write next.

And found myself paralyzed.

Let me explain that due to the demands of my real world work, I have very little time for writing these days. I try to set Sundays aside to let Lisabet come out and play. Even then, I often find my time consumed by writing blog posts or by other marketing activities. I can write 2-4K per day when I’m in the groove, but it took me nine months to write G&;V, which is about 62K words. So a decision to commit myself to a new novel means that (if I stick with my plans), I’m pretty much letting go of other ideas for at least half a year.

My notebook is full of story concepts I’ve put on the back burner. I want to write a steampunk series about a guild of engineers who construct custom sex toys. I literally dreamed a tragic sci fi romance about a genetically engineered male sex bot programmed to “die” after five years in order to prevent him from becoming too powerful or self-aware. He falls in love with a human woman and tries to escape his fate. There’s the BDSM romance featuring the quadriplegic Dom I’ve talked about previously here at the Grip. I’d love to write more lesbian fiction. For instance, I have an outline for a book about a female journalist in Bangkok and the bar girl she thinks she’s rescuing. Then there are possibilities of sequels to my earlier books. Although I generally don’t write series (or at least, haven’t), some of the worlds I’ve created have been nagging at my imagination, urging me to make a return visit.

When I looked at the (relative) success of G&V, though, I began thinking about a second book that smashed stereotypes. For instance, how about a ménage entitled The Werewolf and the Vampire, that wreaks havoc with the tropes from the Twilight Saga (and its imitators)? I even had a couple of relevant characters from a short story, who wanted more space to expand. My mind began to churn with all the possible ways I might twist the accepted standards for the vampire/werewolf genre.

I might finally have hit on a brand—books that break the genre rules.

That set me thinking about the style of W&V. Should it parallel G&V, first person present, alternating characters with each chapter? Wouldn’t that be tough with three main characters? The story I wanted to use as a starting point was third person, but if I was trying for some sort of consistent branding, did I have to change that...?

All at once, I saw the paradox. If I began a series of books predicated on the notion of upending tropes, the strategy would almost immediately lose its impact. I’d no longer be generating surprise and delight by violating readers’ expectations.

Once again, I was stuck. You know how it is. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Mired in indecision, I didn’t write anything, except a story for an anthology, for a couple of months. I was disgusted with myself.

Just do it. Do something!

So, finally, I sat down to work on W&V. But I decided to treat it as a standalone novel, not some kind of follow-up to G&V. It’s a very different story, with different characters. I know if I try to force it into some preconceived mold, I’ll snuff the life out of it.

Thus far I’ve written about 6K. It’s Sunday, so after I post this to the blog, I hope to write more.

Hey, it’s a start. And hopefully, those other ideas will keep.


  1. Yay!

    I'm so glad you started working on W&V. It sounds very cool.

    Also, I'm really happy that G&V has been received so well so far. I'm honored to have been part of what helped make it real.

    I know what you mean about the difficulty of committing to an idea for as long as it would take to write it. I struggle with that all the time. I also sometimes feel "cleaned out" after I write something that really has something to it.

    Hugs, and best of luck! :)

    1. Oh, I really agree about the "cleaned out" feeling. Plus I had this uncomfortable suspicion that I'd never again write anything so good. Because G&V turned out to be a much more personal book than I'd expected, drawing a lot from my personal experience.

  2. I've been bereft of good ideas until the beginning of this month, when I too began something set in Bangkok. Great minds?

    Not so much. I wish I could do 2-4 k per day. I consider 1k a stellar day.

    1. I am SO looking forward to reading this, Daddy!

  3. W&V does sound very cool, but after that one, well, the steampunk sex toys one is intriguing. I'd could say it might work as an anthology theme, but anthologies are declining, so having you write it as novel is a fine idea.

    1. Actually I plan that The Toymakers' Guild will be a series of novellas, Sacchi. I wish I had time to work on it!

  4. I have to agree with Sacchi, the steampunk sex toys one sounds really creative. But a werewolf and a vampire and a a menage? Is that what you're planning? You wicked little author, you! ;-D

    I'm so honored to be given credit for the title! I can be a frequent comment writer now that it's summer and I'm only working 1 part-time job. But I'm also having trouble getting time to write.

    Whereas I only worked about 6 hours per week last summer, I'm doing twice that this summer. Add in other various errands and family commitments that need to be done, and that I'm trying to do daily Jazzercise classes (I've worked that into some of my books...ah, the spandex! A woman says she's too fat for spandex. Her lover tells her he likes "women with meat on their bones"...or is that "I like to bone women with my meat?")

    I've got 2 books 2/3 done, and a couple other stand-alones started. Truck needs an oil change before I head out camping for Father's Day, and up to St. Paul for a baby shower...then up to Grand Marais again for a week of camping. The voices in my head are yelling very loudly these days. I'll have to write their words to quiet them. "Hush in there, all of you! I'm doing my best!"

    1. I used to be crazy about Jazzercise! (My husband maintains that is why I later needed a hip replacement!)

      Yes, this will be a werewolf/vampire/human menage. Very likely a MMF menage. Oh, and no BDSM. (I think I can do that... not entirely sure LOL)

      Keep writing!

    2. Is your werewolf a guy? If he is, I know a young lady vampire from Germany looking for work . . .


    3. Your Eyes of Bast didn't have any BDSM, right? And I really enjoyed that read.

      I keep complaining that I want weight loss, but all I'm getting is toned...if I wanted toned I'd call a piano tuner. (Ba dum bum!)

      Garce, you are too funny! I don't think Nixie would be into a 3-way with a were and a human woman...but she might. Maybe even more so if they were both male?

    4. True, EOB had no BDSM, but there aren't all that many of my book of which that's true. And I know there are some readers, like you and my husband, who really don't find BDSM interesting. (My DH has been reading my back copies of Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, and skipping all my stories!)

  5. Lisabet, it's a good thing you are working on another genre-busting work -- doesn't matter if it's "only" a story. As long as you're writing, you're making progress.


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