I Am What I Read…And What I Read Is Me

We all know that ultimately a novel is a collaboration between author and reader. An author (usually) writes the book that he/she would want to read, and then each reader synthesizes the words, absorbing them through the filter of his or her own experiences, tastes, background and mores, with the end result being a unique reading experience. No two readers will ever experience a story in exactly the same way. Because of that, it always intrigues me to read negative reviews of a book I have loved, or vice versa. This was especially true today, when I read some of the low-rated reviews of Beth Kery’s Because You Are Mine, an erotic romance that I just finished and loved. Foremost among the criticisms was that it is in many ways a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. There are similarities…we have Ian, the dominant alpha billionaire hero with a troubled past and an affinity for BDSM who needs to punish and control Francesca, the beautiful, naturally submissive heroine. Ian, like Christian Grey, professes that he can offer sexual pleasure but not love or romance. Furthermore, a few of the scenes, set-ups and secondary characters in Because You Are Mine are deeply evocative of Fifty. While these similarities made a negative impression on some readers, for me it was just the opposite. (And we can’t forget: Fifty itself was the retelling of another tale.) Far from being a hindrance, I loved seeing how Kery would take these similarities and make the story her own, and she did not disappoint. The caliber of her writing, the crafting of her characters and her beautiful language make Because You Are Mine very compelling fiction–erotic writing at its finest. Writing in third person (my preference because it allows an author to tell a broader, richer story), Kery took me on an emotional journey with Ian and Francesca. One of my favorite elements of the novel is the fact that, years prior to their first meeting, Francesca, an artist, had seen Ian from the rear and been moved enough to capture his desolation on canvas:

“She’d painted him four years ago. That’s what he was telling her—that he knew she’d observed him walking the dark, lonely streets in the dead of the night while the rest of the world slumbered, warm and content in their beds. Francesca hadn’t realized the identity of her inspiration at the time, nor had he probably known he was being observed until he saw the painting, but there could be no doubt of it. Ian Noble was the cat who walked by himself. And he’d wanted her to know it.”

That’s a beautiful scene, one that speaks to the heart of the connection between these two characters. When it comes to erotic romance, Beth Kery is at the top of her game and the top of my list.

There were also a few things about this book that I loved on a personal note, e.g. when Ian takes Francesca to Paris, they stay at the Hotel George V. Apparently, it’s the hotel of choice for fictional billionaires. (I have it on good authority that Heaven in the Dark ‘s David Swift always stays there.)  Also, as the book is set largely in Chicago, the protagonists visited many of my favorite spots. Dinner at Trump’s hotel? Yes, thanks.

In summary, the person that I am–my tastes, my experiences–had a fulfilling journey with these characters. For me, Because You Are Mine was a work of beautiful, nuanced writing, and each turn of the page was time well-spent.

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Release Day…At Last!

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After a year-long journey, it’s finally time to let go of my little book baby, Heaven in the Dark:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015HJ1AJS
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/heaven-in-the-dark
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heaven-in-the-dark-tina-wright/1122718454?ean=2940152748055

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1044526311

A HEAVENly Casserole for Cheese and Artichoke Lovers

My novel, Heaven in the Dark, is set in Milan. When you read it–as hopefully you will when it comes out on Oct. 20–you’ll find that good food is important to, and relished by, the characters. It is Italy, after all! While most foods described in the book are authentic to the region, I did take advantage of a dinner party scene to have the characters enjoy one of my all-time favorite recipes, savory bread pudding with artichokes and two cheeses. I highly recommend going the extra mile and using Parmigiano Reggiano–there really is no substitute for its sublime flavor. I like to serve this rich, decadent casserole around the holidays, but cheese lovers will crave it all year. David Swift loves it! Here’s the recipe, courtesy of the Vegetarian Times:

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Buon Appetito!

Pre-ordering…all the cool kids are doing it.

Heaven in the Dark is now available for ebook pre-order at all major online book retailers! Sales links are below. The paperback version will be available exclusively at Amazon on the October 20 release date.

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Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015HJ1AJS

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/heaven-in-the-dark

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heaven-in-the-dark-tina-wright/1122718454?ean=2940152748055

iBooks:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1044526311

Teaser Time

I can’t believe that in only six weeks, I will publish my debut novel, Heaven in the Dark. To that end, it’s high time for a teaser, so here is the beginning of chapter one:

Chapter One

​​Was it night or day? Allie wasn’t sure. The room where they were being held was windowless and small, scarcely large enough to accommodate the beat-up wooden table and four metal folding chairs centered under the harsh illumination of a single bare light bulb. She sat, rubbing her eyes and trying to lift the veil of grogginess that enveloped her, and looked across the table at the two other girls who shared her captivity. They were younger than she, perhaps 16 or 17. One was crying softly; the other petted her and spoke comforting words in Czech. So most likely they were also from Prague. But where were they now?

​She could hear a group of men talking outside the room. Fragments of sentences seeped through its thin plywood walls, the familiar voices of her captors mingling with others in a multitude of accents, European, Russian.

​“Proč? Proč?” one of the girls kept repeating. Why? Why? Allie was afraid that she knew the answer: human trafficking.

​Prague was no more dangerous than many other cities—and no less. A young woman with no family, as she was, or one from a family with few resources, could disappear without a trace, a living commodity to be brokered for sex or forced labor, and no one would have means or motivation to pursue her. She shivered at the thought of what future lay on the other side of the wall…prostitution, servitude, imprisonment…or worse. She’d attempted escape once, on this forced, multi-day journey, but her efforts were fruitless, gaining her only rougher handling and a sharp blow to the back of her head. Recalling this, Allie rubbed the bruised area instinctively. Now, it seemed that the end of the line was here.

​The door swung to and a man grabbed one of the girls by the arm, yanking her from her seat and pulling her toward the opening. Her friend stood and snatched the other arm, forming a human tug-of-war until a backhand to the latter girl’s face sent her reeling into a chair. The first girl was taken away as the door slammed. Allie moved around the table to sit next to the remaining girl, putting an arm around her shoulder. It was meager comfort, Allie knew.

​Some minutes passed before the man returned for the second girl. He reached for her and she clung to Allie, wailing and screaming epithets at him in Czech. He pried her hands from Allie’s waist and dragged her away, closing the door once more.

​Being left alone accelerated Allie’s fear. Her limbs felt like sandbags, weighing her to the chair, and her heart hammered erratically. Bile rose in her throat and she resisted the urge to vomit. Her hands and feet were numb, her vision blurry. She felt simultaneously detached from her body, and physically overwhelmed with terror. It wouldn’t be long now until it was her turn. The door opened.

The Name Game

When I finished writing and editing my soon-to-be-published novel, HEAVEN IN THE DARK, one of the hardest tasks still lay ahead of me: what to call the darn thing. I already had a working title, SWIFT (the hero’s last name), and I kind of liked it. But SWIFT, darn it, just didn’t sound like a romance. If the name didn’t evoke swoony possibilities for me, I knew it wouldn’t for anyone else, either. When I went back to the drawing board, I tried two time-tested author methods for finding a title: 1) Combing my manuscript line by line; and 2) Looking through my iTunes, in hopes that a talented songwriter had already come up with a great title for me.  And in the end, both methods resulted in the same title. Meant to be!

A rose by any other name...but what about a book?
A rose by any other name…but what about a book?

Late in the novel, the heroine, Allie, talks about how a very dark moment in her life inadvertently led her to the happiest time of her life…to a heaven of sorts. Meanwhile, over in my iTunes, I kept going back to a Neal Coty song titled “Heaven in the Dark.” Coty’s song, which is an autobiographical tune about his being given up for adoption, includes the lines: “I’m the firstborn son of a father I’ll never know/But I’ve got his eyes and that means he’s hiding somewhere deep inside my soul.” These words could just as easily be spoken by David, the hero of my novel. I knew right then that HEAVEN IN THE DARK must be the book’s title. Will it evoke lush, romantic feelings in others? I can only hope. But for me, there was no other choice.

Heaven in the Dark

Late last August, I woke up one morning with two characters in my head. They were in a warehouse in Milan, and they were in danger. Strange, I thought at the time. I couldn’t shake the duo, a man and a woman; they would flit through my mind at bedtime, and reappear the next morning. Slow on the uptake, it took me about a month to realize that they had a story to tell. Finally, in early October 2014, I grabbed my laptop and started writing it down.

The end result is HEAVEN IN THE DARK, my first adult contemporary romance novel, which I am excited to announce will be published on October 20th. Without further ado, here is the cover copy:

Their meeting was chance.

Their love was fate.

Their future was…dangerous.

Orphaned at 14. Kidnapped at 20. American college student Allie Miller has known more than her share of heartache and terror. But when Italian industrialist David Swift inadvertently interrupts her captors, rescues her and whisks her off to his villa to recover, Allie’s future finally looks bright. She and David embark on a passionate love affair, but soon Allie must battle two new obstacles to her happily ever after: David’s past, including the mysterious American father he will not discuss; and one of her kidnappers, a sociopath with a vendetta against the couple and an affinity for abduction.

Now, the couple’s love…and their very lives…are on the line. Can Allie and David keep history from repeating itself? Can they stop a madman bent on revenge? Or will their pasts destroy any chance of a future?

I’ve never had a child, but this whole process feels a lot like giving birth. You wait for many months, and hope at the end that people think your baby is cute…or in this case, that it’s sexy and compelling. In any event, it feels good to have the due date on the calendar.