While my novel, An Executive Decision, is classified as hot romance, no other novel I’ve written has its roots more deeply steeped in erotica. I was living in Moscow when the original story was conceived. It was the dead of winter, and I was shut in our flat with several feet of snow and ice on the ground outside. I decided to use the time to practice writing sex scenes. Anything to keep warm, right? I was still learning my craft at that stage of the game and I was trying to push my writing boundaries. An Executive Decision began as a short story called Learning the Business. At the core of the story was a powerful CEO, who insisted sex be included in the contract between him and his new executive assistant. In the beginning it was little more than a few hot sex scenes linked together by a girl meets boy HEA proto-plot. But Dee and Ellis were not happy with those constraints, and like so many of my characters have done over the years since then, they kept nagging me to tell their story – their real story.
Dee and Ellis had lives. They had friends, they had families, they had pasts that were a part of what drove them. Dee was a business genius in her own right, dreaming of the chance to work with her hero. And Ellis would have never insisted upon sex with an employee. He wanted so much more than that from Dee. The short erotic piece evolved into an awkward and unwieldy novel called The Executive Sex Clause. After multiple submissions and multiple rejections, I sadly set it aside and moved on to something else.
It was only when 50 Shades of Grey came out that I realized that the story Dee and Ellis had to tell was at least as compelling as Christian Grey’s, and yet I knew it needed something. I just couldn’t figure out what. Then, as often happens on a long walk, it hit me in a déjà vu sort of way. The Executive Sex Clause didn’t work as it was because it was actually a trilogy. In those unwieldy first efforts, Dee and Ellis’s story was only one of the love stories screaming to be told. Garrett and Kendra had a story that was at least as powerful, and so did Stacie and Harris. All of them were crowding in on my walk and demanding that they get their fair share. Well, I’ve been writing long enough to know that my characters are always right.
Xcite Books liked the idea, and from there The Executive Decisions Trilogy was born. The Executive Sex Clause became An Executive Decision, followed on by Identity Crisis and The Exhibition. K D’s alter-ego, Grace Marshall appeared on the scene to bridge the gap between truly filthy erotica, and romance that was sexy enough to sizzle, but also mixed in plenty of mystery and suspense all driven by a strong plot and truly fun characters.
But hold on! There was one more love story in The Executive Decision Trilogy that needed to be told, and that was Wade Crittenden’s tale. The quirky, reclusive genius is the creative force behind Pneuma, Inc’s success. How could he not intrigue when he lives in the basement of the Pneuma Building and rents out a bowling alley once a week for his private use? And who would scare Wade more than a tenacious young journalist, who has her mind set on an interview? Wade apparently intrigued my readers as much as he did me, because it didn’t take long before they were clambering for Wade and Carla’s story. Interviewing Wade then became the fourth novel in the trilogy.
What I wanted most in the Executive Decisions novels was to create characters with depth and flaws and battles to fight. I wanted the reader to see those actual battles play out through twists and turns of the plot, to understand the characters more deeply because of those conflicts. I wanted to create a series of novels with sizzling sex that was hot enough to linger in, but also had compelling plots that would keep readers turning pages, reading for way more than just the sex. I wanted my characters not only to earn each other, but to truly be worthy of each other. And they never failed to convince me of the truth of their well deserved HEA.
I found that just as Dee and Ellis grabbed me by the collar and shook me hard until I let them tell their own stories, so did every one of the characters. And none of them, not even the villains, would let me get off the hook until I had written the truth about them. The wondering what they would reveal to me next as I wrote their tales was at least as much fun as curling up with a good cuppa and an exciting page-turner. That’s the true reward for me as a writer, and I certainly hope the experience is just as rewarding for my readers.