Sandrine O'Shea

Erotic Historical Romances


Writing Process Blog Hop

Zita Christian, historical romance author of Just a Miracle, Band of Gold and First and Forever, tagged me to be the next participant in the Writing Process Blog Hop.

Hope you enjoy this look at my writing process, and will check out the other blog hoppers.

What am I working on right now?

A cozy mystery.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

In my historicals, my characters' journeys are very much of their time.

In my mysteries (The Grateful Undead written as Leslie O'Grady, and in my WIP), I also focus on the heroine's journey as well as the who-and-why-dunnit.

Why do I write what I do?

I write historicals to incorporate many of the intriguing historical details I uncover during research. I also try to teach readers something they may not have known about a particular historical period.

I write mysteries because I love puzzles. I like salting in clues for the reader to find and try to unmask the murderer before the end of the book. It's fun, and a challenge, especially when I can surprise the reader.

How does my writing process work?

When writing historicals, I first pick an era--Georgian England (Sapphire and Silk, written as Leslie O'Grady), Victorian England (The Artist's Daughter, also written as Leslie O'Grady), Gilded Age New York City (The Oath and Honor, written as Lindsay Chase), and Belle Epoque Paris (The Courtesan's Bed written as Sandrine O'Shea). Then I read social histories to find interesting, oddball details I can use in a book. Next come my characters who will populate my fictional world and embark on their journey.

The first element I consider when writing a mystery is what's the crime, and what's the villain's motive? Then I develop the characters and setting.

Next comes an outline. I find I like knowing where my plot is going. Of course, the outline is fluid, and undergoes many changes as my imagination swings off into new directions.

Outline complete, I start writing a first draft. I don't write the entire book, then go back to edit and rewrite. I like to edit and rewrite chapter by chapter.

Since it helps to have extra eyes to check my writing, I meet with my two critique partners weekly, and their suggestions are incorporated into the work.

Finally, after several drafts, I'm happy with the final results and type THE END.

Now I'm tagging historical romance author Kate Rothwell to continue with the Writing Process Blog Hop.

From Heat to Steam:The Evolution of The Courtesan's Bed

At the beginning of my writing career, I had an idea for a book about a courtesan in 1890's Paris. The time period--a glittering world of courtesans, Impressionist painters, and absinthe drinkers--was a natural choice for me. My heroine would evolve from a naive girl to a woman in control of her destiny, yet ruled by her heart. A survivor.

Since my heroine would be a high-class prostitute devoted to providing sexual pleasure to a string of "protectors," this book would be much more sexually explicit than my previous historical romances.

I loved the concept; so did my editor. Unfortunately, she had to reject this book of my heart because "marketing wouldn't know what to do with it." My idea was ahead of its time, so I put the proposal in a desk drawer and moved on to other projects.

Years later, the erotica boom hit publishing. Was the time finally right to resurrect my courtesan book?

Time had passed, and when I reread my outline and the first three chapters, I wasn't surprised to see its flaws. In the intervening years, I've improved as a writer, so I set about rewriting my original idea.

The first book had been more historical women's fiction, following the heroine from her late teens as a naive governess seduced and abandoned by the dynamic lord of the manor, to her years struggling to survive in London. Finally, she rises to the top of her profession as a sought-after grande horizontale in Paris, with a succession of wealthy, powerful protectors. In my new, improved version, I telescoped the story, focusing on the heroine in Paris, and her relationship with one man, the son of the nobleman who seduced her. Her time as a governess and the London years were condensed into passages of narration.

In exchange for a grand house, lavish jewelry, and stunning Worth gowns, a courtesan's protector demanded his money's worth of varied and inventive sexual encounters not provided by his wife. So that's what I would provide for the readers of The Courtesan's Bed.

How explicit should I make the sex? As a rule, married sex among upper class women contained nothing that would shock or disgust the wife. My courtesan, however, could not be shocked or disgusted by any demands her protector might make. One of her protectors prefers to be whipped, while another who desires her is into S&M, but she rejects his advances. Instead, my heroine uses all of her amatory arts to express her love for the hero alone. My unfiltered imagination went into overdrive, so the scenes are very explicit and sensual, filled with emotion.

Even though The Courtesan's Bed wasn't published when I first conceived the idea, the end result is a better book. I hope readers agree.

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