Cover of the new book Touch Me by Susan Lyons; a man and women, naked, embracing

Touch Me

 

BEHIND THE SCENES

By the time I’d written Champagne Rules and Hot in Here, I knew Ann pretty well.

She’s a lawyer who her friends call a workaholic. Well, I have a law degree but chose not to practice law, in part because of the pressure put on lawyers who want to get ahead. Yup, I can relate to Ann. And, with my background in psychology, I’m very interested in seeing how people - both women and men - deal with careers that are exceptionally demanding, when they also have personal needs and wants.

Also, I’m intrigued by the many different interpretations of feminism and women’s lib. Ann’s mother takes it to an extreme, whereas Adonis’s mom, who grew up in the same times, has a completely different view of what it means to be a liberated women. Have you ever heard the expression, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle?” Well, I’ve heard it many times. Ann’s mom and Adonis’s mom both quote it, but interpret it differently.

Ann, like so many women, wants a successful career and also longs for love. She has to work out her own priorities - independent of what her mother wants for her - and find the right balance in her life.

I knew Ann needed a man who was the opposite of her mom, so he’d be the catalyst that made her re-examine her life.

I was musing about who this man might be, when I ended up in the dentist’s chair, suffering from very sore jaws. Yes, the stress symptom that triggers Ann’s visit to massage therapist Adonis is one I’ve suffered myself (turns out, it’s not just lawyers who get stressed out; it can happen to writers too!). It was while my dentist explained the problem to me that the beginning of this story popped into my mind. (Thanks, Dr. Mary-Lou!)

Unfortunately, I didn’t end up in the hands of a sexy Greek god massage therapist.

I do apologize to all responsible, professional massage therapists for Adonis’s behavior. I know real therapists don’t give the kind of, uh, treatment he did - but please remember, this is fiction. And fantasy.

I figured after Jenny getting a whole book full of fantasies in Hot in Here, Ann deserved at least one. And, after watching sensible Suze turn into Sexy Suzanne in Champagne Rules, Ann also deserved her chance at being outrageous. Not to mention having sex in the great outdoors. I’ve now used Stanley Park in Vancouver twice for a “sex in the great outdoors” scene.

One of the biggest surprises to me in writing this story was finding out that Ann heard voices in her head. What a pisser it must be to always hear a strict mom-voice lecturing and admonishing you to behave better, work harder, dress differently! But don’t many of us have those voices, whether we call them conscience or “our better judgment”? The trick is, figuring out when to listen and when to tell them to take a hike.

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cont. from left column...

I’m writing this on April 23, 2007 in the airport at Dallas-Fort Worth (drinking Pinot Grigio, my traditional airport drink), on my way to the Romantic Times Convention in Houston. I spent the first part of the trip reading page proofs (that’s what Kensington calls galleys) for Touch Me. Page proofs are where the production people at the publishing house give the author the book “as it will be printed if you don’t change anything” - i.e., this is the last chance to catch anything that the author, editor and copy-editor have missed. Talk about pressure!.

It’s almost 10 and a half months since I turned the manuscript in, and it’s wonderful fun reconnecting with Ann (and the other Foursome girls) and remembering what I was thinking when I wrote this book. (“What were you thinking, for God’s sake? Ann hears her mom in her head? Talks to her mom, who’s across the country from her? Not only that, the poor girl has internal dialogues with herself? And on top of that, sometimes this stuff spills over and she says it out loud?” “Yeah, well, that’s just who she is. Forgive me, I’m only the author. All I do is type the stuff the characters tell me.”) OK, what did I say about all of us having voices in our heads?

By the way, when I wrote Ann’s book, I called it Taking Turns on Top, because that’s Ann’s “rule for having sex.” My editor thought the title stunk (well, she phrased it more politely) and I had to agree. We brainstormed and she came up with Touch Me, which is absolutely perfect. Thanks, Hilary! This book is about how Adonis touches Ann in so many ways - yes, physically, and definitely sexually, but also how he touches her mind, heart and soul. I love the cover that the fabulous Kristine Mills-Noble and Hilary chose. It’s so feminine, and reflects the way Ann gets in touch with her feminine, sensual side.

And now I can’t wait to read Rina’s story, the fourth and final book in the series. I turned it in last August and it’s scheduled for release in February 2008. I called it Lights Off, because those are Rina’s rules for sex. My editor again disagreed (“OK, girl, face it, you stink at titles.” [No, that’s not Hilary, that’s my internal voice.] “Whatever. I can live with it, because I write awesome books. So there!”)  It’s currently untitled, just waiting for the perfect idea. I haven’t seen the cover yet, and I’m waiting with baited breath. (“Where did that weird term come from? What does it mean? Wouldn’t it make a great title?” “Yeah, yeah, don’t distract me, I’m trying to finish this thing before they call my flight.”) Anyhow, I know that Kristine and Hilary will choose something absolutely fabulous.

I hope you’re waiting with baited breath too. Yeah, go on, bait that breath! Hint, hint, a little Pinot Grigio doesn’t hurt.