In anticipation of the release of the final book in the erotic SECRET series, author L. Marie Adeline has answered some of the questions we had about writing erotica, how to keep plots exciting and more. Find her SECRET series here.
Q. How does it feel to be publishing SECRET Revealed, the final book in the SECRET series?
A. Exhilarating, satisfying, quite sad. I can hardly believe it’s over. I remember working on the first draft of book two, SECRET Shared, and thinking, I will never be able to do this. When I was almost done with that draft, there was talk of a final book three, and I was filled with self-doubt. And yet, I knew I’d need the time to tell the whole story of Cassie’s sexual awakening and romantic evolution. Looking back to the end of SECRET Shared, of course she wasn’t ready to take the risks she takes in book three. She wasn’t ready for real love. She is now. But to be done? The way it ended floored even me. And brought tears to my eyes—of joy, of course!
Q. How were you able to keep the story line exciting and unpredicatable over the course of three novels?
A. It sounds so cliché and a little alchemic, but it’s not so much about the choices I made as the author but rather the ones the characters made. I just had to pay attention. When Cassie banked wildly to the left, I followed. If you’ve read the books, you know about the cliffhangers for the first two booksand the critical reaction some readers had to them. But after reading book three, I hope it will all make sense why things had to be that way! Love is unpredictable. That is part of human nature. Life careens wildly, and so does the life in my books. My new character, Solange, really pulls all the parts togetherand I knew I needed a wise, curiou,s and confident character to complete the trilogy in a meaningful way.
Q. Now that the series is complete, as you look back, is there anything you would have changed or done differently?
A. You know, I was talking last week with a friend of mine about the cliffhanger endings, asking myself if I would have ended the first two books on happier notes. And I have to say, no. I wanted my books to better reflect real life, where real-life fears and anxieties interfere with love and threaten to ruin everything. That’s what really happens. I am writing a fantastical story about a make-believe group of women who grant sexual fantasies to one lucky woman. But it takes place in a real city, and it involves real people, living real lives. It involves love, one of the most unpredictable of emotions. I needed that juxtaposition between fantasy and fact to make this world work. I think it’s what makes the SECRET books so compelling and delicious to some readers. But real life has to interject. Some readers found it jarring. I hope with book three, they will see my reasonings and why I felt some “happily ever afters” have to be hard earned. And why they’re worth the pain and the wait.
Q. What do you hope readers of the SECRET series will take away with them?
A. The women, in particular Cassie, Dauphine and Solange, have a lot of sexual agency in these books. They love men, and each of them falls in love in very different ways, but they also get a real charge from their female suppport network. I like to think these books also put the fun and adventure back into erotic novels. I’m a big fan of the more popular erotic novels right now, but I wanted to show that female protagonists over the age of thirty (Or forty! Or fifty!) can also be terribly sexy, and that hard-earned “happily ever afters” are sometimes all the more satisfying. And think of Cassie’s journey, from broken, accidentally celibate waitress, to alluring, successful entrepreneur, with a daring sex-life. I loved that part the best, her growth. I hope readers feel that change is possible but not without risk.
Q. SECRET was your first erotic novel. Was there anything that surprised you about the process during the writing/editing stage or after publication?
A. What most surprised me about writing erotica was how much sex tells you about your characters. What they like, what they don’t like, how far they’re willing to go–it all informs their actions and propels the plot. My other novels dealt with the repercussions of sex, but not so much on the actual act. My early books weren’t prim; they just weren’t explicit. But one of the strangest parts of writing erotica is breaking down the sex scenes with my editor to make sure they make sense, uh, choreographically. The editing process has yielded some of the funniest conversations I’ve ever had as we read parts back to each other, cleaning up sentences and improving them.