I recently connected with writer Lee Rene. Lee Rene is the nom de plume of a Los Angeles-based author of erotic romances and New Adult novels. Although Lee has attempted writing romances in the past, she finally found her voice in the world of erotic literature. Lee has authored the new erotic romance – The New Orleans Hothouse, and was quite enthused to talk about her maiden voyage into erotic romance, a journey that took years.
Kristin: Hi Lee, it’s great of you to find a moment to chat about your upcoming novel, The New Orleans Hothouse. Tell us a bit about yourself?
Lee: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I had a poem published in an anthology at fourteen, but though I had the knack, I didn’t have the discipline or the will it takes to become an author. Not only must a writer learn the rules of his or her craft, but writers also have to be selfish with their time. I just couldn’t do it. The muse tapped me on my shoulder in New Orleans, and I began writing in earnest, first working for a lifestyle magazine, then writing movie reviews. Fiction remained difficult and although I always wanted to write romances, they eluded me until I entered the world of erotic romance, then everything came together.
Kristin: Romance versus erotic romance? Would you mind explaining a little about the differences?
Lee: Erotic romance versus standard romances allows a writer to explore all elements of a romance including the carnal. I could let me hair down without censoring myself, use stories my friends had told me about their relationships and their erotic lives. Since my protagonist, Danny Rothstein, was a young guy, it allowed me to examine how men view sex as opposed to women.
Kristin: As a person who has gotten to know you over time, I’ve learned you love to stage your novels in the 1950s. Is there a particular reasoning behind the period?
Lee: The fifties was a turbulent time regarding sex. Feminism had emerged, women were working outside of the home, and sexual attitudes were changing. Still, the concept of sexual harassment was an alien one and girls who loved sex were still considered whores. I love New Orleans and had read a great deal about New Orleans in the 1950s when the New Orleans went through a growth spurt, and exotic dancers were the queens of the city. I threw in a bit of Mad Men and The New Orleans Hothouse was born. I have another manuscript set in the 50s New Orleans that involves gangsters and police corruption; afterward, I want to switch focus to contemporary romance.
Kristin: You made your protagonist a young man and rather sexist from contemporary views. Tell me a little about that?
Lee: I loved writing in the male voice. I found it freeing. Not only did it allow for variety, but I could also make the language a bit cruder than it would be from a young woman of the same period. I found it liberating to get into a man’s head, be as raunchy as I liked yet show the humanity underneath. Danny is at heart a terrific guy, but he’s been spoiled by women and never heard the word “no.” He meets a girl who uses him for her own pleasure in the same way the way men often use women and it shocks him. Danny isn’t ready for a truly liberated woman, it is the 1950s after all, and immediately labels her a slut. Later he realizes what a fabulous girl she is and his arc as a human begins.
Writing as a male allowed me to explore the double standard that was so prevalent during that period. I didn’t make Danny wrong for some of his views, i.e., nice girls don’t do “that”, just misguided. It was also important for me not to “slut shame” Yvette, my female character, or any of the other female characters either. I wanted them to embrace their sexuality and not be totally dependent on a man for their sexual pleasure. It’s a theme I hope to explore more fully in the future.
Kristin: How would you compare this with other popular erotic romances?
Lee: I really got into “pillow talk” and tried to make it as explicit as possible. Perhaps it’s been my own experience that dirty talk turns people on when they are making love. I remember a friend saying she had to have a man who “talked that talk.” Look at the success of that song, Talk Dirty to Me. People, male and female, love it.
Kristin: I, personally, cannot think of a better place for an erotic romp, but why did you choose New Orleans?
Lee: New Orleans is so sexy— the music, the mystery, the history. I remember staying in the Quarter one year and not being able to sleep from all the sexual activity around me. It truly is Erotic City, a dark, dangerous, and romantic place.
Thank you, Lee, for answering some of our questions. You have given us some insight into your experience writing your novel, which is much appreciated. Good luck with sales, and I hope to hear more from you soon. The New Orleans Hothouse goes on sale December 30, 2014. ONLINE ONLY! Get your copy HERE.
Stay tuned for an exclusive excerpt from The New Orleans Hothouse tomorrow!
Image courtesy of Loose Id
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