Oct. 19, 2022

Getting Uncomfortable with Bethany Bennett

Getting Uncomfortable with Bethany Bennett
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Bethany Bennett has returned to the Steam Seat and I am HERE for it! Ever wonder why we have billionaires and dukes and all manner of wealthy men in our romance novels? Escapism and fun, sure, but our brains are telling us something more.  Bethany and I dig into that. Plus we talk about her penchant for tipsy baking, her new puppy, and I get schooled in Regency vs. Victorian fashion. Then we talk about how we climb over mountains of past shame to write the naughty bits. Stay for me reading a steamy scene (and you know Bethany does amazing steamy scenes) from her latest book Dukes Do It Better.

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Elle 0:00
We have a return guest on Steam scenes, which is like my favorite kind of guest and it's really exciting because she's only return guest number two. But Bethany Bennett is here she grew up in us again and Bethany grew up in a small fishing village in Alaska, where required learning included life skills like cold water survival, along with several other subjects that are utterly useless as a romance writer, which I'm still not sure about, eventually settling in the Northwest with her real life hero and two children. She enjoys mountain views from the comfort of her sofa, wearing a tremendous amount of flannel and drinking more coffee than her doctor deems wise. Bethany Bennett, thank you for coming back to the steam seat.

Unknown Speaker 0:39
Well, thank you so much for having me back. And I'm really excited to be here.

Elle 0:42
I am. Super excited. So Bethany was on just about from the recording date just about a year ago. But y'all know that I sit on these right, like I have so many recordings banked because I'm always petrified that like, I'm going to run out. Like, I'm so petrified that I'm going to run out of gas, like gas record, and like, and I'll be like, Oh, no, I'll be scrambling for gas. So I always have like this huge bank of and I have like this huge number of interviews bank. But anyway, almost a year since your since your episode aired. So I'm super excited to have you

Unknown Speaker 1:16
back. Thank you. Yeah. And so we can just, you know, people that they want to hear all the background history and the, the, you know, what inspired you to become an author kind of type of type of questions they can go in. Yeah,

Elle 1:30
and it was episode number 30. Something it was like 33, or something like that. For some reason. It's not showing up on on, like, actual number on my website. But the title is burying bodies with Bethany Bennett. And it's a doozy of an episode. So I highly recommend hopping on over and listening to that as

Unknown Speaker 1:48
well. Yes. And I do appreciate actually that because this is steam scenes, I don't have to be like, make sure you have your headphones and a little ears around. You know, I mean, like, I don't have to give that disclaimer,

Elle 1:59
no, that kind of goes without saying, I feel like oh shit, like maybe I shouldn't have that with my mom at the beginning. But, you know, it kind of goes with the territory. We're talking smart. So

Unknown Speaker 2:10
talking about time, so.

Elle 2:14
Okay, so my big burning question. Alright, so the last time you were on,

Unknown Speaker 2:18
we talked about sneezed, of course I sneeze. Bless you.

Elle 2:22
We talked about you were talking about how you wanted to write a Victorian romance novel. And I'm very curious if you talk to your publishers, and if they went for it.

Unknown Speaker 2:32
You know, what I actually just signed the contract for for the series two days ago. Oh. Well, it ended up being tweaked. Basically, because marketing marketing is a thing. Okay, marketing marketing. And I am since and I cannot cast any shade on this because I am 100% one of those people that will will judge a book by its cover, like I have to like the cover in order for you to flip it over and read the blurb because it's a physical book in my hand, right? I, I'm guilty of this, I myself am guilty of this. Therefore, I understand the power of marketing and the power of packaging. And somehow in the historical romance Landia world when it comes to covers and cover art reaches seed gallons actually sell better than Victorian films.

Elle 3:22
So the oh my god, so it's very, it's oh my god, it is so specific.

Unknown Speaker 3:27
So specific. And so they were like, we're cool with you doing regions. I mean, we're cool with you writing this as a Victorian. But are you okay with us having packaging that's Regency. And honestly, there's so very little that I have control over when it comes to covers. Okay, so, so very little that I have control over. And don't get me wrong forever, has popped out some absolutely beautiful, beautiful covers for these books. So it's I'm not I'm not disparaging that at all. But I kind of sat with that question of like, Well, are you okay with having a regency gown on a Victorian book. And this is actually something I have control over. And so I went, you know, what, my real comfort zone as far as writing atmospheric elements, because we came into the Victorian era, oh, my gosh, everything was happening at once. Everything was happening at once there was this massive, massive industrial revolution going on that was really actually hitting the people, right. Those building blocks were coming in, were coming into play much earlier during the Regency and all that. But you were actually seeing the ripple effects in society and people having mass quantities of things available on the shelves and mass produced items and railway stations and like all of this, right? So the actual environment of London was very different in the Victorian era versus the regency era, even though we're only talking about, you know, 3040 years. And so, what 30 years but it I went ahead and said you know what? The series is about out female cousins that are working class heroines, and they work in their families bookstore. And so I like that. So they're my Bluestocking, bookseller series. And like God, like, Okay, God. So from there I went, Okay, now, working class women have always existed, okay? Women have to eat, women have to feed their families, and especially in historical romance, we like to have this idea that women just sat on their chaise lounges. And just like, you know, ate bonbons, well, you know, while the rest of the world went by, and that's not the case for a tremendous majority of the population. And so I loved the idea of having working class heroines, but I knew that I was going to get dinged on it by readers who, like, make themselves the historical accuracy police.

Elle 5:52
That was what I was going to ask you if this is going to be an issue with the readers.

Unknown Speaker 5:57
And so I actually went and I went on a hunt. And I found a print, because I wanted to have visual proof. This was the thing. It's not just, you know, some random historical romance author saying no, no, what happened really, truly. So I went and found a wood cutting print from 1815 1813. It's not in front of me. So I can't give you the exact date. But it's cool. It's a blending library. From from in Scarborough, and you can look at it and I was looking at all the people and of course, you have the the the men and the women and the shoppers and all of this. And then there's a woman behind the counter on the far, far, far left part of the frame. And I went, there she is, there's my heroine, I can actually point to this is a primary source that showed that yes, women worked in bookshops. And, and I have that image saved on my computer and on my phone so that I can whip it out and like wave it around like a little flag as justification. So but that also because this family, so I was able to squeak it in and make it Regency Oh, I just

Elle 7:09
kind of love that you have to have like this sort of source material to like, wave and be like, no, no, it's a thing. It's a thing. I swear, it's a thing. Like that, to me is really

Unknown Speaker 7:22
wild. It kind of is I sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to just like, work in the contemporary time so that you don't have people calling you at historical accuracy all the time. But you know

Elle 7:34
what, sometimes they call you on contemporary accuracy, right? Like, sometimes like you, you kind of okay, so pet peeve. So pet peeve. Sometimes they're like, and I and I get it like rock star romance? It is there's a real fantasy element here, right, like, serious fantasy element that I think we don't talk about enough. You know, because there needs to be world building. It's almost like writing a, like an urban fantasy because I need to build the world. I need to build, you know, all of that. But I do struggle sometimes to read some rock star romances because there are certain details are things like behind the scenes that people get really, really wrong? Oh, yeah. You know what I mean? I only know it because I've been involved in it, you know, so. So it feels kind of not fair. You know, I mean, of course, there are books out there and stuff like that, that you can sort of read to get a sense of what happens on the road or at an awards event, or you know, whatever. And, you know, but there's, but anyway, there's two there were things where I'm just like, never happened. Yeah, I'm that person. I'm that person. And I don't want to be that person. But I do sometimes get to be that person. But but there are like there are things when you're even writing contemporary with that you get called out on and that sort of well that would never happen, you know, thing that goes on with with some readers.

Unknown Speaker 9:09
Yeah, yeah, I can see that.

Elle 9:10
I can see that. Yeah, so I'm not sure

Unknown Speaker 9:13
that your word and then there is no safe place in writing. There is no safe space. There's absolutely not gonna be that kind of person. They're going to be that kind of person, I

Elle 9:26
guess. Oh, well. Yeah. It's kind of like the one that's always like the you know, that sort of like corrects your your when you get it wrong on social media, because you're in a hurry, you know, like, yeah, that's, that's the one

Unknown Speaker 9:39
where if you're on the road, and you're like, oh, yeah, shoot, gotta do that. Forgot to do that. And so you're just like, dictating it. Always to text. Take care of it. Yeah, I got the piece of work done that I forgot to do before I left the house. And then you go back and like Google messed it up.

Elle 9:55
And you're like, I swear, that wasn't me. It was the AI.

Unknown Speaker 9:58
It wasn't me. Blame blame the technology, blame AI.

Elle 10:03
Okay, so I think okay, so I think that's really interesting that the publishers were like, well, we're happy for you to write a Victorian but we need to do a regency gown. I mean was was the fashion that I mean Regency was such a short period of time was the fashion that different that you couldn't sort of like get away with that? Well,

Unknown Speaker 10:21
honestly, it comes down to waistline. Oh, okay, once we're in Regency Regency, it was all about lifting up, the ladies lifted up the boobs so that it was like a shelf. Right? Right. The silhouette was very different. And then there wasn't a waistline, it was this empire waist that just cinched in that basically would follow like what we would think of as like our underwire bra kind of line. That's where the waistband was, and then it was just a drop from there. So some people say that that silhouette is flattering to all body types. I think it makes me look like a tree trunk.

Unknown Speaker 10:56
That's my personal opinion. And I have a friend of mine and we go round and round and round about this particular topic. For some reason we just choose fun things to fight about. But but when it came to Victorian, Victorian was about the Wasp waist because the Victorian was all inspired by Queen Victoria herself. Right tutorial. Frickin pocket sized, okay, the woman was like, like, Ed Beatty, Beatty, Beatty. I mean, she was tiny, short. And until she started having lots and lots and lots of babies. She was extremely petite. And so it was all about trying to mimic. And so you have Queen Victoria. So she's this like, beloved icon in so many ways for the people at the time. And then she actually managed to love her husband, which was huge. I mean, talk about earth shattering when you're talking about a royal of royal marriage. That is clearly a love match. When Victoria married Albert, it was that that's why what we still wear white wedding gowns. white wedding gowns were not a thing until Queen Victoria wore a white wedding gown.

Elle 12:07
I actually did not know that. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 12:09
they were not a thing. We white wedding gowns. Were not a like white was not a thing of what was not was not a wedding picture of purity, until you had Queen Victoria. And so she actually like, I'm not saying that the woman was like, perfect. She has some really, really backwards ideas on feminism, but as far as being a cultural icon, who really set the stage and really shaped the world around her in her own country. And then that trickled out to other areas. She She did a lot to shape fashion. And so people wanted to be busty and Wasp waisted, and suddenly having curves and having full skirts. And having all of this came back into mode. And because you've had variations of those things throughout history, you know, but when you came into Victorians, there was all about making sure that you had an hourglass silhouette. And so looking at from a cover and of course, like I said, I've no control over covers, right like, and so it could be a zoom in kind of thing, like what they're doing right now with, like the Dukes do better cover is very zoomed in and has more of a modern font. It's inspired, that kind of marketing cover style is inspired by the reboot, repackaging that they did a bridgerton. Right,

Elle 13:27
right. So

Unknown Speaker 13:28
because marketing is a thing. But I don't know if my cover would have that zoomed in kind of thing. And therefore it well, it's a dress, we really can't tell. Or if it's going to be more of the clinch cover where you get the full silhouette, in which case, it's very obvious that oh, this is taking place in you know, 1856 and she's wearing a gown from 1814. And it's very, and for those of us that are like fashion nerds I knew it would bug me. Oh, no, I understand the marketing behind it. I knew it would bug me. And I thought you know what, maybe it's like, maybe it's just meet me choosing my battles. And I'm like, You know what, I know that would bug me eventually. If I wrote a Victorian series and went through all of the research to make sure that all of my my, my information on London was updated to Victorian times instead of Regency. And then to look at my book and it looks like every other Regency I knew that it would bug me and so I decided to well since these were white, this is going to be a family bookshop anyway. Therefore because you're surrounded by family, and your you her uncle is the one that that owns the shop and so so in theory, she always has her uncle supervision. And so but even then working class women do or not as as strictly supervised as women and that were from noble families. So it's that She's really, really fun to switch to this idea of women that had the freedom to, to live a little bit a little like they can breathe. They're having to work for their bread, right? They don't have the privileges. And yet at the same time, they have more freedom. It's really, really a fun dynamic to toss around.

Elle 15:22
Well, here's the question because I don't read many historicals is it? Is it unusual to have a working class woman and an has in a regency romance? Are they all sort of like, you know, descended from royalty, or, you know, because we have dukes, and we have all duchesses duchy, or like, whatever. So is it unusual to have working class women?

Unknown Speaker 15:44
Having working class main characters is not very common. In historicals, it's really not. If they're working class, it's usually well, she's from a good family, but her father lost everything to gambling debts. And so now she's a governess, or now she's, you know, whatever, but actually be like, No, this woman has absolutely no connection whatsoever to the nobility. No,

Elle 16:08
why do you think that is?

Unknown Speaker 16:10
escapism? Same reason we have a billion Dukes out there. Okay. Temporary, yeah, or the billionaire and contemporaries. You're, when you're talking about how many Dukes and how many nobles are actually we're, I mean, you can count the Dukes on your hands on your fingers, you know, you don't have to, like resort and bringing in toes into the situation to count them. It just it's, and yeah, we have a billion of them in, in romance. Because it is it's the it's the escapism of it, it's the fun of it, the fantasy of it. And you have to admit that, you know, if you have if you're going to go and write a book, you and you people are going to be reading it for the pure fun and relaxation and kind of you know, take me away Calgon kind of element, right, then you don't necessarily want to have a book about people who are living a life of struggle. And unless at the end of that book, they're no longer living a life of struggle. Right? Right. So this is why, you know, having having people who are at least financially stable in, in contemporary, even if they're not dealing, even if you're not dealing with billionaires or millionaires, one of them is at least financially stable. Right? Like, right, no one is, like, if they're both start off homeless in the beginning, they're not going to be homeless in the end. Because there's something about our, the way our brains work that we want financial stability in order to feel safe. And so our, we want our characters to be safe, and we want therefore in our brain they need it needs to feel safe to the reader to be able to close that book and be like, alright, they're happy forever. We're

Elle 17:48
good. Right? Right. And part of that is definitely that sort of financial stable stability. I never really thought about it like that, but now that I'm sort of thinking back and I'm like yeah, like where we where we ended up either my characters have their fine financially like that's not the issue throughout the book, or if it is, to the you know, it's sort of sorted out so they're able to you know, have their happily ever after, because it's not like happily ever after a parenthetical however, she still owns $40,000 to the mob. Like no, that's not happening.

Unknown Speaker 18:27
collection, I have a collection of funny magnets on my fridge. And I know that all of the home decorating shows and everything they say to take your magnets off refrigerator, so let's clean and elec No, screw that noise. I like to smile and so I have a collection of funny snarky magnets on my fridge. And one of them says And they lived happily ever after and then they went to work

Elle 18:50
so true. Isn't that sort of honest, like you know, you sort of look at like, what's the number one thing that breaks up marriages and it's actually finances and it's money right? It's huge. It's that financial strain is enormous, you know, and and the pressure of you know, do I have enough money to cover you know, cover the rent this month or you know, cover this or cover that and then you know, add the kids into the mix so like you know, I completely got it I do not I need that happily ever after of like everybody is financially secure. You know so so I hadn't really thought about the idea of of this is why we have this is why they're Dukes

Unknown Speaker 19:28
right? This is why they're Dukes. If things get really hard they can just go and you know nudge their cousin the king and be like hey dude,

Elle 19:38
like kick a little cash over this way. I'm a little late this month Yeah, yeah. So it's so funny because we like talk about you know, this was sort of your your bout of the marketing gods and I think it's hilarious because one of the things I wanted to talk to you about in our you know, Bethany Bennett put dear was Um, you got on Tik Tok? I did. Okay, so what brought you there?

Unknown Speaker 20:10
I know. Okay, I have never felt more old when I am on Tik Tok. Right, like, you think you're cool until you do something like that and then you're like, nevermind. I'm an I'm a dork and I, I admit, I am a nerd. I admit that I am a dork at times, but I'm also like, I'm a cool mom. Right? You know, like, my daughter assures me, but But no, no, no, no, no, what's on my tic tac? I'm like, crap, man. I just I was I was explaining I was explaining it to you know, because marketing, okay? Its marketing. Its marketing gods. It's the this is right now Tik Tok is selling books. And it would be super great if we could check back in like five years and see if tick tock is still selling books. Because if I'm gone, but there is a certain level of like, yes, connecting with your community. But honestly, I find that like commenting back and forth on someone's videos isn't necessarily making the connection that really lasts. About like you're doing it to build your community and to connect with your community. But I have far more success as far as that goes. Feeling like I'm actually connecting with someone with a like mind with it with a reader with you know, whatever. On Instagram. I mean, I still love my Instagram. I'm sorry, I'm old. I'm sorry. I'm old.

Elle 21:29
I'm when Instagram was for the kids. Right? All the olds were on Facebook.

Unknown Speaker 21:34
But now I was. My, my publicist was laughing at me. Because I was like, Okay. I don't really want to get on Tik Tok. And she's like, Okay, why don't really want to get in touch with Tik Tok. I'm like, Well, I don't dance. I'm gonna feel like a dumbass if I'm lip syncing things, but I'm not built like a thirst trap. I mean, like, What the hell am I going to do on Tech Talk?

Elle 21:55
To which her reaction was,

Unknown Speaker 21:57
it was like just talking about things that you like, I'm like, Okay, fine.

Elle 22:03
See, it's so funny. Because when I get told something like that, just I'm like, I kind of sit there. And I think for a minute, I'm like, Well, I don't like anything, which is like a lie. You know what I mean? But like, when you're put on the spot like that, it's kind of like, well, I just don't like anything. I've got nothing to talk about. Well, if you look

Unknown Speaker 22:18
at my first Tic Toc, um, I'm drinking and stress baking,

Elle 22:23
I did see that I actually really liked that one.

Unknown Speaker 22:27
made, and like, you can't like we talked in the first episode that we did together, we talked about how when I was you know, like, the fear of writing and all of that, like, I had to have the year bucket where I decided, right, screw it. I'm done. Like, I'm done worrying about what other people are gonna think I'm done worrying about what I'm done letting the fear hold me back from doing what I want to do, which is right. And so that was kind of the same sort of thing. I'd had a really, really just horrible day. And I laid in bed and my husband's like, your brains not turning off. Is it? I'm like, No, I'm gonna come make cookies. Love You by

Elle 22:59
reminding us we have the TIC tock conversation that we need to talk about how awesome your husband is. But we're gonna bat but we're talking about tick tock. I'm just, you know, put a pin in that one. But okay, so go back. So okay, so you got up and you went baking?

Unknown Speaker 23:12
Yeah, so we did, I just went out and I poured myself a drink. And I made myself a Moscow Mule. I'm heavy on the Moscow and I just, I whipped up my favorite favorite cookies that I actually haven't made them in forever. Because they have coconut in them and my husband's actually allergic to coconut. And so I feel like it's really mean to make something that people in your home are allergic to.

Elle 23:36
But you were in such a mood you were like making the frame.

Unknown Speaker 23:40
I was like I need my I need my coconut butter butterscotch cookies. That's just all there is to it. Thank you very much. So we're doing this and so I did and I figured I would like well you know what they're saying I need to be on Tik Tok anyway, they're saying like, just be who you are. I'm like well, Tipsy baking in the middle of the night because you've had a shit day is who I am so here we

Elle 24:02
are talk well I was wonderful. I actually really liked it. It was like a really fun tick tacos

Unknown Speaker 24:11
and the fact that it coordinated it correlated with the fact that my you know my mistress speaking here when in his last book, and I was like, okay, it works. We can't even twist it and make it sound like it's marketing, but it's really not it's just me being like, fine. You want to be on Tik Tok pour myself a very large drink and let's do this.

Elle 24:28
Okay, okay, so you broke your cherry with the stress baking and the drinking. Have you like have you been poached? And I know you were doing like a kind of like a conversation series. Like I'm trying to remember what it was exactly where you asked me anything and asked for an AMA that's what it was. How did that go? Actually went

Unknown Speaker 24:49
really well. I did i i There's because again, I say face is Instagram. So I went up on my my story on Instagram, and said, you know, ask me anything. About Deus do better, and you can make a little chat window and then they will just directly message you. And so I saw people were messaging me questions. And I would just go and shoot a real quick video of like answering it. And, and keeping it keeping it very simple. I mean, like, you look at some of the tech talks that are out there, and these people like, they've got editing skills, man skills, they have layers of images and all of this, I'm like, No, I, I really do keep it pretty simple. I'm just, I'm there talking, I make sure that I have captions generated because as someone who I like to multitask and so sometimes I'll be in I'll be in public and I'll be watching something I like watching a reel or watching whatever on my phone. But I can't have the audio on. Yeah, same so. So I want to make sure that there are captions there not just for accessibility, but just for people like me who don't want to listen to your story in the middle of like Walmart, you know, like getting in line because they never have enough checkers and I'm just like scrolling on Instagram. I want to be able to read the funny. I don't need to hear the funny so yeah. So very, very simple. Keep it very simple. Okay, cool. So

Elle 26:15
are you know, I honestly, I haven't logged in because I'm like, very I have such a difficult time with Tik Tok and I want to do it, I want to do it. But like you my safe spaces Instagram, I like it there. But I do know, like reels is a thing. And a lot of like, my, the people that I follow on Instagram now aren't doing posts, they're doing reels, like I go to their pages, and it's just video video video video. And I'm like, fuck, you know, so I feel like I should be doing video now even for Instagram. So if I'm doing video, I might as well do it on tick tock too. But I don't know, like, there's such a block there for me where I'm just I don't I can't do it. Like, I'm just I'm like, confronted with a video camera. I can do this podcast. But like, the minute you put the video on, I'm like, I'm like a stone. I just freeze.

Unknown Speaker 27:06
Yes, I'm weird. I'm like that, like if you if you if you put a camera on me, and you expect me to be acting. I'm that way. I just I'm not an actress. I'm not. And so what I actually ended up doing was when I would ask those questions, like, I would actually do a couple where it was just me getting comfortable. And I knew that it was just going to be garbage and thrown away. Right? In order for it to feel conversational. When I actually went and answered the question, and the AMA videos. And so now, now that okay, well the book is released. And now I have to somehow still come up with things to share. And so right now there's a puppy content like puppies. You know, the content and I really do need to have, you know, like, get video or pictures of my super pissed off cats because they are like, not down with this whole puppy thing. They're adapting or coming around, or coming around. But it's a process. It's gonna be it's gonna be a process. They certainly are not welcoming the Family Edition with open arms.

Elle 28:20
Well, you know, cats, cats, cats, cats. The puppy has been keeping you up.

Unknown Speaker 28:30
Oh, yes, goodness. Yes. A little beard, baby. So

Elle 28:34
I know that they're so

Unknown Speaker 28:35
cute, right? They're so cute.

Elle 28:37
Okay, I remember when mine couldn't hold it. And I'd have to get up in the middle of the night all the time. And now I'm just like, you're old and they just all they do asleep.

Unknown Speaker 28:48
Like, another month, so that physically he's developed enough to be able to hold it all night. And he's able to be house trained, and then I just don't have to worry as much yes. Right now I'm in this constant state of vigilance where it's like I don't want to deal with poop in my house. Please. Please, please. So I'm like, watching him like a hawk and stressing out about it and I have never been so obsessed over like whether another creatures butthole was puckering before puppies, man. I see that I see that pucker we're going outside.

Elle 29:24
I know you're constantly looking at them. I can just I mean it's like wow. Because fuck puppies never thought about but pay so here we are. So I mean Okay, so not to kind of bring up you know, not to sort of like go back to the conversation that we had a year ago about you know, your background and stuff like that. Again bearing bodies with Bethany Bennett highly recommend. I will link to it in the show notes. Oh, but you know, just for a word of background, and we touched upon this in the last episode, you come from a hyper religious family, hyper religious background, you write these steamy books. I know that when you started, you weren't writing steam. And then during your year of fuckup, you said fuck it, and you were writing all the naughty stuff. And but I wanted to kind of like go a little bit deeper beyond the year of bucket and sort of talk more about it was the your bucket, but there still had to have been the struggle, the difficulty to actually put the words on paper, especially coming from that environment. I knew we had been talking before I hit record, that, you know, I come from a background where my mom's schizophrenic. So there's a lot of religious ideation there. And so I was raised in this sort of like, even though she wasn't a hyper conservative person, she this was like, the area where she was hyper conservative. And so talking to her about sex, having those conversations with her. Impossible. So you know, so, so actually having to sort of write open door is still is tough for me, because it's like, I have my mom sitting on my shoulder being like, what are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing, you know, and so and so I'm just kind of I want to sort of, like, you know, talk to you about that is, is, is when you do struggle with that, like, how did you overcome that and become comfortable with it.

Unknown Speaker 31:33
Um, I think, you know, there are layers that you have to take off. When you're unlearning some of those things, those layers of shame. It's not just one layer of shame that such as one layer of guilt, it's not just one layer of, oh, well, you know, you're a bad girl, if you do this, and not like the fun bad girl away, but like the legit, you know, hang your head and shame and go think about what you've done. And no one's ever gonna want you type bad girl. And, and there are layers there. And it's not just a one and done kind of situation. You know, I mean, like, out last night, an older gentleman that I knew back in my bookstore opening days, accidentally called me, I had been in his phone for because we had a business arrangement, um, a few years back. And, and I, he was trying to get a hold of his of his daughter, and yeah, and he, he dialed me instead. And he's like, Oh, well, how are you? What are you doing? And I was like, well, bestselling romance novelist now.

Unknown Speaker 32:37
I'm doing really great, you know, and, because he knew me back in my single mom days, like, My son didn't exist. My you know, it wasn't married to my fantastic husband. It wasn't like, it was a very different life. And, and it was exciting and wonderful to be like, nope, like, really good. I'm really good. And then, and then he's like, Well, what was your you know, what, what, what, what name do you write under? I'd love to look up on your books. And my, my gut went down to my toes, really. And I was like, Okay, I write historical romance. It is open door. It's sexy. There's sex on the page, if you want to write read it I write is Bethany Bennett. And that's great if you want to read it, but don't feel like you need to, because I want you to know what you're getting into. Like, you know, I'm trying, but I suddenly I felt gripped by that, like, Oh, crap, you know, because this is an older gentleman. He's a conservative gentleman, and, you know, and this mental image of him going out and buying my books, Oh, yay. Sweet little Bethany that I knew all those years ago. And, you know, like, I was just

Elle 33:45
chased Bethany.

Unknown Speaker 33:48
What have I done. And so there are layers, and you still bump into it, you still bump into those walls, you still bump into those. And I think it's a matter of when you do peel back that first layer, that's the first step. Right? Right, that but then acknowledging and being aware enough in yourself and your body in your feelings in you know, tension and, you know, physical responses that you have to that when you run into those, those barriers and acknowledge it and instead of backing away and letting that barrier stand, choosing how you're going to deal with it. So in this case, I was like, oh, oh, wow. The idea of him going and reading my book and say, What is he going to think and once you get it started, man, that

Elle 34:32
spiral started you went to that rabbit hole and did

Unknown Speaker 34:35
and but in the moment now I you know, because I'm several years past the year if I could thank God, you know that. My response to that was not like, no, please don't or whatever it was like, Okay, you can do that. Just understand that this is what I write. About IQ. It's what I write. And, and in the past, I've even told people if you'd like to talk about why I've made that decision to write that way, I happy to go there too. Because sure, I'll go ahead and tell them you know, how completely mess that mess up it is that we, you know that we go back and listen to the first step of

Elle 35:19
revenue is a puppy and a sleep deprived. So we're not going there.

Unknown Speaker 35:23
We're not going there. We're not going to rant today. But yeah, that's really it's really easy. It's really easy to fall into those that training because you're talking about unraveling years. Yes, years and years of someone telling you what is okay and what's not. Okay, how you should talk, how you should think what you should be watching what you should be reading, how you should be dressing, and all of it is wrapped around? What's everyone else going to think about you by how you're presenting yourself to the world. Right? You know, I mean, I remember like, getting dressed to go to school formals and stuff, you know, I wasn't allowed to wear a strapless dress, I wasn't allowed to wear an off the shoulder dress. And one of the main things that I was told was it was because I was advertising. What are you advertising? I'm like, I'm not a fucking product.

Elle 36:17
Yeah, I remember that. I remember being told that you don't want to you don't want to be advertising. Exactly. Advertising. What?

Unknown Speaker 36:23
Yeah, like you're open for business like me like so like somehow that if you show your shoulders that you're a sloth that you're like, I don't understand the correlation. When you actually apply logic to it, it totally breaks down. And yet, this is something that we so often are told, yes, in religious circumstances, but also just society in general. Yeah, I

Elle 36:43
think I think I think we're still being told that to a degree in society, which is super frustrating, and outs, even outside of like conservative and religious circles, like, I still think that this is sort of part of the conversation. I know, when I hear somebody call, or like I read in a book like slot, a will shoot the slot, like, even if it's like, the person that we're supposed to not like, you know, who's like, throwing a wrench in the works, right? And then to have that, to hear that, like, that makes me like, I'm just like, you know, I've used it once in a book. And it was very specific, there was a very specific reason why I used it. But to throw that word out, just just made like, like something inside me dies a little.

Unknown Speaker 37:27
Yeah. Yeah, that'd be really careful with it. And honestly, the fact that that's something that I think that we as, as Romance Writers, you know, we are we are becoming more and more aware of, and, because, and I think that that's also because Romance Writers in so many ways, the romance genre does reflect the current environment, it does reflect current society, it reflects the, you know, what is going on to the world around us. And so I think that our language that we use, especially to describe other women, is a huge factor. And that's it has a huge impact. And so when you're, when you're writing sex on the page, and when you're writing sexy times, and you're coming from a situation in a background, where you have been repressed in a lot of ways, I think that it becomes a choice every time it becomes a choice, how you're going to style this, and how, what kind of wording you're going to use, how far you're going to go, are you going to be focusing on and then you have to go into story structure, like if you're, if you are maybe emotionally uncomfortable in the moment, because you are running into those old training mechanisms and you write those old those old learned behaviors. Sometimes it helps me to say, okay, in the moment with these two characters, where they're at in their relationship, is this about emotional connection? Is this about physical connection? Or is this about a something else? Right? Is this about something else, like in the beginning of Dukes do it better. The hero and heroine have actually already had a one night stand. And that happens off page. And I've gotten some pushback from readers for having that off page. But one of the things I was talking about with a list on a telly on reader six romance, the YouTube show, she, she was talking about that and I was like, what it really comes down to is that at the time, for Emma, the heroine, that one night stand was not about Malikai it wasn't about him. It was about her. It was about her being a single mom, and living essentially in hiding, hiding who she was repressing who she was pulling back on all of her natural instincts and natural inclinations, and she's trying to kind of like, remake who she is. And that means for her, like cutting off all of these destructive behaviors that have really, really like wrecked the world around her. And one of them was, you know, being of what was enjoying sex, which when you're talking about a woman during the Regency, bad news, right, like she wasn't married, and she got pregnant out of wedlock. And so for her when she was like, like, she's hiding away with her kids, she's just focusing on being a good mom, she's focusing on being a good person, she's focusing on remaking her reality, right? And she allowed herself one night off, she just went to the local assembly room, she was just gonna go dance, she was just gonna go and like, not be a mom for at night not be. So you know, just go and like maybe recapture a little bit of who she was. And

Unknown Speaker 40:46
she sees him and it, they end up, they end up sleeping together, they end up spending the night together. And so that, that encounter, when I'm sitting down and writing it, if I was to sit actually write out that encounter, it's not about them connecting physically, it's something about them connecting Emotionally, it was about an emotional change in her. Right, not them. Right. And so sometimes I think when we run into those blockades and those barriers have that learned, those ingrained toxicities that we have, that we have been taught, I think sometimes to take a step back and be like, Well, right now, does it need to be about banging? I mean, is this about tab a slot B, let's get dirty, right? Or is this about an emotional change where they're connecting on an intimate emotional level, in which case, you there's you can, you can have a really hot sex scene that like actually doesn't really talk about body parts, right? It's about sensation is talking about is talking about the reaction of what this person is doing to this other person and how that makes them feel, right? It can be it can be a really, really hot sexy scene, that's an open door scene that actually, like doesn't use the word COC doesn't use the word like whatever, like, there's ways to do it. And I think sometimes when we're running into those, those resist those resistances in us, because of using the language, right? I think that maybe hiding behind the structure of the story is a good way to get around it. At least until you've identified that yeah, okay, I'm feeling uncomfortable. Why am I feeling uncomfortable? And having that moment of self awareness, but you can still work through it on the page by saying, Does this need to be about begging? Or is this about like, emotional connection? Or is this about? Like, like, why are they here? Right, and maybe hiding behind the story structure until you've worked out your own shit.

Elle 42:42
I think that's really, like, really fascinating. I mean, I would sort of argue that there is always some sort of emotional connection, even when you're going for the banging, right. Like, it's because there is, like, just, neurologically speaking, hormonally speaking, what's getting released, what you know, what is like sort of physically happening during the act kind of makes it impossible to be completely like, you know, to have to have like, even if you're having a one night stand, it almost makes it very difficult to have a one night stand and not have some sort of emotional connection there. So, but I think that that's actually like a really good point of like, just, you know, work at work through the story structure, rather than necessarily like being like, Well, sure. Like, oh, my God, I'm reading about

Unknown Speaker 43:33
writing sucks. Oh, my God. Do you want the reader to take away from it? Yeah. Because that's, I think that's something that maybe the reading experience is very vastly different from the writing experience, right? We put all these different, like, layers of things down, and then the reading experience, you want it to be far less complex, and, you know, times taking for them to be just going through and enjoying the scene. So what do you want them to take out of it? Do you want do you want this to be an erotic scene? That's about physicality, or do you want this to be a deeply emotional moving scene? That is about something else, you know, and, and kind of like directing the way that we write it to to that outcome? Right. Yeah, and I it is, it's, it's fun. There's, there's so many different ways to approach it. But I know that for me, figuring out what it is about the moment in the book, or the moment in my life that is making me uncomfortable, I think really does help. Because so much of this is about pulling back layers. And so much of it is about deconstructing those old toxic lessons, that it's not just a rip off a band aid and boom, you're healed. You know? Yeah. And

Elle 44:55
it doesn't just sort of like well, I wrote one right like I except for it's fine. I've done it before I can do it again, like, because sometimes you can, like you sometimes you really do like sort of get a sticking point where you're just like, Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Yeah. I mean, I think to language, I think that's a good point where you can write a scene and not use the word COC, you know, you totally can. And just sort of like writing through the emotions and the feelings and that sort of reading through that intimacy. absolutely possible. But I know that one of the things that I sort of when I was teaching the workshop was sort of talking to talking through was actually though de Shama fIying, those words and saying them, you know, and so by saying them and writing them over and over again, like, we can dish amplify the words, and we can make the words a little bit more comfortable. You know, so it's, you know, I mean, there are some words, some people are never going to be comfortable with. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Like, you're just not, you know, it's just kind of like, you know, it's just a word like moist is not my favorite word.

Unknown Speaker 46:11
And you've what you think about too, like that I'm coming, I'm coming from the perspective of someone who is dealing with their own personal stuff, and then how that applies to me than putting this on the page. So I do think that yes, absolutely, making sure that repetition helps. It does. I mean, even though Yeah, that we joke about, like, I've done before, and that's true. And but and it's funny, but at the same time, it's also true, you know, where maybe also working through and saying, Okay, I'm just gonna write a hot scene. And I'm going to make it as filthy and erotic as possible. And it doesn't actually be part of the story. It's just going to be like a one off, and I'm going to it's going to be one scene, and like, challenge yourself, yeah. And face down the fear and challenge yourself and be like, how gritty can we get? Yeah, and no one ever has to read it. No one ever has to see that. But I think that it that it goes a long way towards de shaming those words, and that content too. So that when it is actually time to build your characters and build your story and tell your story, you can come at it from a place that's far more easy to work from.

Elle 47:23
Absolutely. And I think sort of like, the important thing to note too, is like, it can totally be like porn, like you don't like doesn't have to be good porn.

Unknown Speaker 47:33
Yeah, if you're doing that writing exercise, the goal is not to make it good. Just make a dirty issue. Make yourself uncomfortable until it's no longer uncomfortable.

Elle 47:45
Exactly, exactly. And do it. Yeah. And it does not. So it does not I want to stress that it does not have to be good.

Unknown Speaker 47:54
You have to be grammatically correct use Oh, fine.

Elle 47:57
And you can write cliche after cliche, like, do like but just get those words down. I think that that does really help for sure. I mean, you know, I mean, you'll like you said, though, you're still going to sort of like sometimes get smacked with something in the face. And you're just gonna be like, Oh, crap, here we are.

Unknown Speaker 48:17
Every now and then. Yeah. Yeah, it is. It is funny. And sometimes you can see it coming in, sometimes you can't. And then it's a matter of having worked through it in a conscientious manner. So that when you do get smacked in the face with something, you have an arsenal of tools in your tool belt to be able to work with. Yeah, you know, because you think about like, when you first started addressing those old things, like, you know, the the shame and the only good girls do this really bad girls do that. Or you're, you know, you're a slut, you're whatever for this, right? These lies that we've been told, either by specific people or by society in general. The first time it happens, it just knocks you for a loop. It just absolutely knocks and you don't have any defenses against it, and you don't have it all you have. Is this like little kernel inside of you. That's like, no, maybe they're wrong.

Elle 49:14
Like they're wrong, but yeah,

Unknown Speaker 49:16
exactly. They're wrong, but I don't actually have proof.

Elle 49:19
Exactly. This doesn't feel right. Yeah. And so

Unknown Speaker 49:24
So I think that maybe being like, actually building up those toolboxes. Like, whether it is giving yourself a one off scene where you're like, I'm gonna see how, how bad can I get, you know? And like, push your own envelope until you're like, until it becomes the games, because that's the D shaming of it. Right? When you're no longer scared of it. And when you're no longer you know, and but like starting to build up and be aware of, how does your body feel? How does your mind feel? Are you tired afterwards? Are you energized afterwards? Do you feel like you've just gone like, you know, several rounds in the ring and man, you're ready or do you feel like she needs to get a drink? I mean, like, like, how does your body feel? How does your mind feel, and being so that you're consciously building up those things that actually work for you, and for your particular traumas that you're unraveling. And then, that way, when you do get hit out of nowhere, you're you're not reeling. And it's not just that little tiny voice that's like, I don't think you're right. But you actually do have an idea of what works for you to get past this feeling to get past this emotional hit. So that you can fight back effectively. And so that you can reclaim your own power and your own. You know, body awareness, and your ability to write and your ability to create and your ability to take up space, as much damn space as you choose as a woman. And allow yourself to be a sexual creature without shame. And allow yourself to be a fully formed human being who has needs and wants and desires and opinions and doesn't need someone else's input to fry. Right.

Elle 51:04
Yeah, it's funny. I think I, you know, sort of thinking about, you know, the emotional part of things and sort of what trips me up as I'm writing the intimate moments. And I know, I write a lot of No, I mean, I guess for lack of a better word, emotionally unavailable women, which is fun. Who kind of, you know, they're the ones kind of like going Noonan into No, I'm not getting involved, like none and, and, you know, like, they're, they don't want the relationship, they don't want to fall in love. And it's the men that are sort of pushing for that. And, and so it's really interesting, because I all I write first person point of view, and I only write so far, in my female main character point of view. And so when I get to that intimate moment, it's like, I'm sort of sitting with them. And I'm fighting it from like, my own personal, whatever is right. And they're fighting it because they're like, I don't want to get involved. So, you know, so I'm sort of battling with them, like, you need to let it go, I'm battling with myself, you need to let it go. You know, so it's like, it's sort of, you know, I'm like, No, and, you know, and I write first thing in the morning, so like, you know, I guess I could do drink, but I don't know, that's the healthiest thing that I can do after

Unknown Speaker 52:28
work could mean am, I'm just saying, yeah.

Elle 52:32
I usually have to like, go do my day job after so maybe I shouldn't show up drunk. But um, but yeah, like, it's really kind of, you know, it's really kind of wild kind of being in the, in the headspace of your characters. But then you also as the author, like, there is always like, a bit of you that's being woven into the works that you're writing.

Unknown Speaker 52:53
Yes. Very much. So. Yeah. I mean, anyone who thinks that writing is not cathartic for the writer is not connected to reality. You know, there's, there's a lot of there's a lot of stuff that we work through on the page. And sometimes it's conscious and sometimes it's not. I recently had to go back and annotate a copy of my first book. And going through and annotating copies of any rock will do and be like, so that's in there.

Elle 53:25
Oh, well, yeah. A little lacking in self awareness. In that moment. We're worried about the knee. Okay. Oh, my God, that's super fun. What did you do the annotation for?

Unknown Speaker 53:41
There was a, the Romancing the runoff, Romancing the vote on Twitter is a big they do fundraisers for, for for political democracy, things. And so last year, or whether during the election year, we there was a big thing that where we were we were raising funds for Stacey Abrams. This last one was for raising funds to fight back against voter suppression bills. Oh, and so. So it was romancing the vote or Romancing the runoff, depending on you know, which which event we're doing. But this one was for was for maintaining voters rights. And it was back in February and it's Romans Landia comes together and raises a tremendous, a tremendous amount of money through auctioning off items or services or events or whatever and, and I donated a bunch of little heroine themed perfumes that I'd made right to perfu oh my gosh, that was so much fun. So I did that. And then I also did annotated copies of like they could choose any of the books and at the time there were only two in print. And they it was funny I had to have My both of them shows any work we'll do. And so, so yeah, I was going through and annotating a copy of Lottie and Ethan story and it is funny the things that are in there.

Elle 55:10
That is super fun. That's super, super fun. I'm kind of, I'm guessing you hadn't reread since you published?

Unknown Speaker 55:17
No, I hadn't. I hadn't. It was a little bit weird. At first, I was battling. I was battling my ADHD brain that's like, Excuse me, we know how this ends. Like, this is boring. Because my ADHD brain is like, we know how this is. Because I literally wrote the book. But then. So that was a factor to play with. Because neuro divergence is fun. And neuro diversity makes the world go round. So yeah, we have. So there was there was that element. But it was funny, because once I got into it, it was it was it was kind of neat, like every now and then there'd be a turn of phrase. And I'm like, Oh, that's really beautiful. And I'm like, Oh, I wrote that. Yeah. Okay.

Elle 56:02
Yeah. Look at that.

Unknown Speaker 56:04
I guess I actually can do this thing.

Elle 56:05
Yeah, totally wild, like part of me. Like, I'll go back and read. I don't haven't read like the whole thing through. But I've read a little bit. So I'm like, Oh, that's not half bad. It's really not fair. It's really not half bad.

Unknown Speaker 56:19
Kind of like remember the struggle?

Elle 56:20
Yeah, yeah. Although I still see plenty where I'm like, Oh, my God, too many dialogue tags. I'm working on it.

Unknown Speaker 56:28
Where there's a scene that you're like, Why did I put that in there? It doesn't really need to be there. I don't know. You kind of want to go back and re edit it. But yeah,

Elle 56:35
yeah, yeah, part of it. I mean, I can like that's the thing like I could, but then I'm kind of like, I'm also very much a forward looking person, like, I just want to leave what's in the past in the past. And for what kind of,

Unknown Speaker 56:49
I think what's kind of neat is like, as a reader being able to go through and go through an author's backlist and kind of read their growth as they read. I think it's a real treat as a reader. Oh, no. So you can kind of look at those like the first earlier ones and be like, they're gonna have the opportunity to grow in my craft. That's a good way to look at it. I'm

Elle 57:12
not sure there's thinking that but I love that idea. Oftentimes, I wonder if they're just looking at it being like this bitch camp, right?

Unknown Speaker 57:21
Like they'll come back in 10 years and 10 books, and there'll be like, Oh, wow, isn't it neat to see how she's developed such and such throughout the years? Like, yeah, that would be awesome. Nothing else just having the disclaimer to all readers like they kind of just remember we are human, you know.

Elle 57:43
So I want to get to from to the excerpt from Dukes do it better because I have a lot to read.

Unknown Speaker 57:50
Okay. I'm sorry. It is it is a whole

Elle 57:53
thing. No, no, no, it's not that it's a whole thing. It's actually in terms of word count. I've gotten way longer. It's just it was so good. Oh, like, I just was like, I could read the whole thing. Like, it is so good. Like the scene that you sent me is amazing. Thank you. But before I like you write the most exquisite steamy scenes, like I think hands down, like the most exquisite, they're gorgeous.

Unknown Speaker 58:19
Thank you. But before we

Elle 58:21
start, I want to talk a little bit about Roger. I feel like anytime you're on this last one, it was the French Tickler. I learned it was a thing. Now I'm learning that in the Regency times they did have dildos and they were made of wood.

Unknown Speaker 58:40
They would make wood, metal stone. I say, judges have been around for as long as people have been wanting to put things into orifices and didn't have a penis handy. I mean, really, it's just, you know, they would use anything, because people are people even right. 5000 years ago, they were still people. And so, yeah, that dildos are a thing. And they were called dildos. That's one of the things to some people.

Elle 59:06
I was wondering. I was wondering, it's an archaic. I was also wondering, is that where the term for a hard on wood that came from? You know, that's an excellent question.

Unknown Speaker 59:18
I wonder, Oh, wonder if there's some some etymology.

Elle 59:22
Like, I am wondering if that like, I was kind of like, Oh, I wonder if that's where it came from. I also was like, this seems like a really bad idea.

Unknown Speaker 59:31
Well, you think about the highly, highly polished wood and it's been sealed with wax, and it's been you know, so. So it's not necessarily like, you know, we just found a stick

Elle 59:45
that's what I was kind of like, in my head like I was like, this can be really painful and unsanitary.

Unknown Speaker 59:54
So, it actually it ties into book two in West End URL. That's my girl and pants. Book and the way that Ophelia fi managed to pee standing up while she was impersonating her brother for, you know, a decade was she had what she made, she whittled a penis basically, it's like a regency version of a shoe we right? It was a wooden penis with a fluted end on one side and a whole board all the way through. And she had she put a like, sewed a little pocket in. So she always looked like she was you know, hanging left her dangling right or whatever. And, and she would be able to whip it out and go pee standing up. Amazing, because we didn't necessarily have this whole concept of like, we think we'll just go to the bathroom like, yeah, they weren't available. Men would go and pee anywhere. Okay. And they did. And a lot of homes didn't necessarily have a specific, you know, a restroom like an actual like, Bathroom, bathroom. And so I'm even in bed, beautiful balls, public dinners. I mean, like gorgeous, gorgeous, beautiful events with all these people that we think are so refined. There was a screen in the corner of the dining room with pisspot chamber pots behind it, and people would just get up and go behind the screen and pee. And like magic. Wait, oh my god, like you're drinking you know, like you're drinking your wine and you're enjoying your soup course and Lord so and so is like literally taking a piss five feet. You're right here but then there's just like a screen between you and him. They had retiring rooms as well. But it was totally common to have like just a screened off area and the side of the room and a chamber pot. And so her so Ophelia, being a woman needing to impersonate a man, being able to pee standing up was a vital thing. And so she learned how to widdle penises and so fi and Emma end up being besties and their stories deep nude tightly intertwined throughout book two and then rolls into book three. And so when books free rolls around, that's where she got Roger was fee went ahead and just whittled her, she willed her a dildo, because that's what girlfriends do. Okay. My friend will penises anyway, and you're gonna be living in a cliffside you know, cottage for years at a time, and we'll have like, sworn off men, but you still have a sex drive? Because you're a human. You know? Yeah, having having a friend like that is super helpful. But yeah, so it's highly polished would they would make them out of Jade, they would make them out of wow, they would make them out of all sorts of different types of stone and polish stone. And, and yeah, they would seal them with wax, seal them with those wax polishes and everything and so that it was a little bit a little bit more sanitary. But even then it's not like if you have a wooden Delta, it's not like you're going to be you know, using the same wooden delta for 20 years. I mean, let's be realistic. But But yeah, Roger, Roger was, Roger has had a surprising number of questions and reader support. Like they're all like, we love Roger. It's funny that I'm like, the Delta was the is the most liked character of this entire book.

Elle 1:03:18
Well, I mean, I guess for me, like, Roger was so unexpected, like, I was just like, Oh, my God, like, I had no idea they had built it was back then look at this. So okay,

Unknown Speaker 1:03:28
earlier in the book, I mean, you gotta seen you know, which, which comes towards the, towards the end of the book, but earlier in the book, you know, she talks about Roger, I mean, she, she and Roger are buddies. And he's basically what's kept her saying for the last five, six years.

Elle 1:03:43
So okay, so set this up for us. So we You said we're kind of maybe toward the middle end of the book.

Unknown Speaker 1:03:49
You're in the last third. Okay. Well, we actually like you're in the last quarter. Oh, wow.

Elle 1:03:54
Okay. All right. We

Unknown Speaker 1:03:55
are towards the end where they have already been intimate. They already have have a relationship. And it's funny you talked about like, emotionally unavailable heroines. She's the same sort of thing. She is comfortable with sex. She's comfortable with sex with Malikai actually being being sexy, being a little bit of a vixen being a bit of a siren in bed, though. That's her comfort zone. That's where she feels it's almost like she uses it as a shield. Right? And so she will she'll be sexy with him. She'll enjoy him in bed. Show me she will read that cowboy no problem. But ask what so when the see seen at this point he has he has told her that he loves her. She freaked out. He has proposed marriage. She said nothing. She's he's now in her home like four or five days drive away from from London. And so they are now retreated to the cottage. On you know on the cliff side, back in the in the village where they initially had met But at this point now, like, he's met her family, he's won over her son. He's even one of her housekeeper. She's grappling with the reality of the fact that she does have legitimate long lasting feelings for him and it's scary. And it scares her because she has family trauma that she's dealt with. And she's scared of, um, she's scared of maybe reverting back to the person that she used to be, you know, so she, so she, she, she's kind of put him in this in this mental box of like, You're sexy. You think I'm sexy, we can totally have fun. We can totally enjoy each other. But not don't ask for real intimacy.

Elle 1:05:43
Right? That's the setup for this. Okay. All right, so we are in her point of view. And just to note, she's by herself with Roger. With a contented sigh she settled into the pillow light from the lantern shone pink through her eyelids and she cracked one eye open blast, she forgot to extinguish it. While she'd do it later. There were more pressing demands on her time, right. Then she smiled and closed her eyes again. In her mind, she let herself drift as one hand caress the sensitive side of her neck across her collarbone, then down to the valley between her breasts. Mal had followed that path so many times, the skin warmed at her warmed at the memory, a familiar fantasy began to play in her mind like an erotic theater Act. The sun was a heated bath on her skin. As she lounged under the blue sky, with blades of grass, tickling her through a colorful blanket. Her lover smiled wickedly, with his pale his lies, and no, not Hazel, blue, a blue eyed lover would do fine, thank you. A blue eyed lover pinched her skirts, upper calves and over her knees, moaning in anticipation when the fabric pulled down her thighs and settled at her hips, leaving her most intimate parts open to His gaze. On the bed, Emma raised and spread her knees slightly, while one hand played with the nipple exactly like she did on the imaginary blanket under the summer sky. The man with the blue eyes raised one bisected Brown a smile that sent her pulse racing then lowered his like his face between her legs. Emma squeezed her eyes tight, as if she could reset the image in her mind. Fine her brain wanted now her body wanted now and Yes, her heart was leaning in that direction, too. But she wouldn't do anything so silly as walk across the hall and tell him at almost midnight, light hazel eyes them, and a scarred brow and a wicked mouth she knew so well. The scene coalesced and she sighed sinking into sensation. A hand stroked lightly over her breasts then pinched the nipple hard enough to send a spike of sensation straight to recall her core. The other hand trace the edge of her lower lips than dipped in seeking her own heat. A slick greeting welcomed her fingers as she ran a finger up and down the intimate folds the way Mao's tongue had the last time they'd been in bed together, letting her imagination run wild rubbing circles around her clitoris, and flicking her fingers into her and her mind. Mao's tongue lapped her up, a breeze from the open window tightened her nipples into tight nubs under the plucking motion of her fingers, with soft mountain escape through a part of Eclipse. Roger nudged at her entrance, and Emma was on the cusp of inserting length of wood into herself when the door opened. Cool. I'm gonna keep going. But I want us to say this, this scene is like, every thing. Oh, my God. So I'm so focused, or I have a question here. I'm so focused on what my character when I'm writing these scenes, like I'm so focused on like, what my character is doing, how they strike, but how they're striving, what they need, what they want, right, move, move, move, move, move, that I think I forget to like, let them take time to have an intimate moment like this. Like just this this. When you're I can't I can't remember if you're a plotter or a pantser like, how are you?

Unknown Speaker 1:09:15
I'm a pantser. I'm answer. And I'm slowly wrapping my head around the idea that I actually need to know where I'm going, but I'm okay with not knowing how to get there. Okay. Yeah. So

Elle 1:09:28
how can you really like instead of like bringing them to like, bring him give them a scene where he walks into the bedroom before this moment, like, why was this? Like, I just was like, This is great. Like, I would never think about doing this. And it's such a great idea. And so I'm kind of curious like, why you decided like, Why? Why did this scene need to happen?

Unknown Speaker 1:09:49
Think for her because she has been sort of wrestling with this concept of you know, like, he's just he's just come in now he's in her world. Old, it's not her being in London, living in her brother's house, allowing him access to her things there and her people there and you know, like, but no, this is her world. And so earlier, like she was, she was kind of like struggling with the fact that like, he's here, and there's no renting from that. And so the fact that he would even then try to invade her fantasy life, where she had to admit that even her fantasy life really does feel better with him in it. And, but then, because these two knuckleheads will go round, and round and round and round and round with each other, you know, like, I he, earlier in the scenes that led up to this, he was just like, bald faced brave, and told her how he felt, and just laid it out for and she wasn't ready to accept that and reciprocate. And because she's stubborn, goodness, she's stubborn. And so I knew that you he really was gonna have to kind of like, push her into a corner a little bit, emotionally speaking, for her to grapple with her own stuff, and admit that she wanted him there. Admit that she actually did care for him as deeply and beyond just sex. And so I wanted, you know, and the fact is, it's been established that this is how she takes care of business. This is how she's managed to be alone for you know, as as many, you know, as many years as she has. And so he is kind of like, interrupting and almost invading that last, most intimate part of her, which is her fantasy life. And putting her in a position where now she's just been interrupted. And at that point, I thought, well, she can react several different ways. I mean, think about if somebody walked in on you masturbating. Okay. There's several different ways that you could handle that situation. Yeah. And I thought that it would be really telling how she handled it and how he handled it.

Elle 1:12:17
It was it was okay, so I totally okay, so I have this like bit where he walks in highlighted and that was like, Oh, my God, like, this whole tells me everything about her character right there. Like right there. I'm just gonna read up. Malik, I would swear because now we've go into his point of view. Malikai would swear his heart stopped from lack of blood in between heartbeats, every chamber emptied and flooded his cock. Holy, how am I was spread on the bed naked with her hand between her legs as if she was waiting for him. Maybe she was. His gaze fell to the wooden phallus by her hip. Fine, maybe not. I heard you pacing and thought you might be still be awake. I see. You are Mr. hofstadt with health data found that was part last part sigh How do you always find me in odd moments? It was like, odd moment indeed. about it. She's

Unknown Speaker 1:13:22
you again? Yes. If she's, if she's being inappropriate in some way, he's gonna pop up. It's just like this reoccurring theme and the,

Elle 1:13:29
but it's like, it's sort of great though. Because like it goes, it fits with everything that you were, you talked about her. She always had, she was worldly. She's had these experiences. She's gone away. She's She wants to have this sort of like secluded life. She doesn't want to deal with men anymore. You know, and it sort of makes it sort of makes sense that like, this guy's always popping up. Here he comes again, and like and she's not embarrassed, and she's not ashamed. And she's not like, oh my god, he just came in and told me she's just like you again, really, like more of an annoyance than anything else. And I was like, Oh my God, that tells me everything there is to sort of like to say about who she is his characters. Like, that's awesome. Yeah, that's fucking awesome. And I mean, and you know, I didn't go to where he handles it, because he's just like, it's ironic as hell tempting. Disappointed. You didn't call me and if I'm honest, you know? It's just like a really

Unknown Speaker 1:14:31
well, because again, like sex is her comfort zone. Right? You know, the two of them are able to connect through sex. But then, you know, later in the scene, he, he's, he flips the script on her. You know, where she's like, fine. I'll sit here. I'll help you sexy for you. You want to show like you give me a show too. And so you end up with your mutual mutual masturbation from across the room and And, and yeah, I mean, I got are you planning ready the next the rest of this?

Elle 1:15:05
I was gonna read the rest because I thought that it was so well done and I and like,

Unknown Speaker 1:15:11
cuz I don't want like explain something and then have you go and read it and that's just boring.

Elle 1:15:14
Yeah, so I'm gonna I'm gonna I'm gonna be reading it but I do think that there is like, you know, I think like for me I would have been like, well he's there they're gonna shoes ready that's good you know he's hard they're gonna have sacks you know what I mean, but the fact that you didn't do that I think was really interesting and I loved that choice that you made and I think that it was a really bold choice. And I'm like, okay, like, like mental note, I need to make bolder choices. Like really because like, sometimes I'm like, Oh, I don't think they should do it in different positions. But like, no, it's like, it's really not about positions. It's really about making that bold choice if again, if it fits for the characters, of course. But like, I thought that this was a really bold and really smart and really wonderful choice that you made here to have them not just have sex, and I guess maybe because they have been having sex the whole time. So it makes sense that something like this is going to be the trigger for them to go oh, wait, you are my happily ever after?

Unknown Speaker 1:16:06
Yeah. Right. Like if you know, it's the whole, you know, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Right, but they love each other, but they've got to get over this last emotional hurdle of letting sex be emotionally intimate as well as physically intimate, right? And he's ready, but she's always used it as a shield.

Elle 1:16:27
Right? So I'm gonna read this because this is like so gorgeous. Would you like me to leave? He smooth one hand over the hardness making his clothes uncomfortable? I'm a reply to the muffled groan. Not really, her breathless answer made his cock jump in new want me there are here, wrapping a hand around the length of himself he squeezed. A playful perk of her lips was his only warning. Emma let her knees fall wide and swept her fingers through her lower calls. We've never watched each other before. Stay there, but I want to see you too fierce there after all. With trembling fingers he unfastened the pocket on his breeches inside with relief when his cock Springfree. I'm a grown softly at the site, then dipped her fingers into her wet heat and a move designed to capture his attention. He knew that he he knew that Quinn the scent and tastes were imprinted on him forever. The lantern light cleaned off the moisture on her fingers and he lost his breath at the sight or how touch yourself again she demanded and picked up the dildo beside her. For the rest of his days. He would never forget the sight of that length disappearing inside her or the way her eyes fluttered closed and her mouth formed a little o of appreciations. Sliding his hand along his cock as an as another lucky piece of wood slipped into the woman he loved was a bittersweet pleasure. Waves crashed outside in a familiar song all those nights underway. He thought of her the golden beauty he'd enjoyed for one night and touched himself just like this. What were you thinking about when I walked in? He asked, spreading a bead of moisture of the tip of his cock with his thumb, a surge of arousal shot up his cord the movement. You she painted one hair, hand working the wood and the other throwing her clitoris with your mouth between my legs, tasting me as we sprawled on the grass under the sun. You push my skirts up around my hips and I gripped your hair. he grunted, matching his strokes with the rhythm. She sat he built in his thighs and he leaned heavier against the door. I'm dying to touch you. The words sounded like they were made of gravel. Although she smiled she shook her head and stared right back at her pace quick and along with her breath, but she managed I want to watch you tonight. Then he'd let her watch him. This playful temptress was familiar but then she'd always given herself to him and bad while hiding the rest of her. His lovely Emma spent so much of her life protecting parts of herself. In that moment. When she was open and vulnerable. It felt more important to ensure she believed he saw her all of her and loved what he saw. Especially after they'd both made such an effort this afternoon to be honest about everything. Right now you look like a fantasy I've had for months. Ever since the first time I saw you laughing in the street and on the street in the village. You've taken my breath away. I've never dreamed I'd be allowed to be with you for more than one night. She hesitated ever so slightly at his words. Emma liked a bit of dirty talk and bad it was a proven fact between them but this not an imaginary scenario but the truth. He had to try the sun hit your hair. Because you're holding your bonnet at your side. Everything about you was warm heartbreakingly beautiful. Your smile when you created the Baker's Wife stole my air and I've wanted you ever since. Recovering from that pause. One of our hands kept abreast gentling her touch with a fingertip across her skin, making her nipples tighten even more as a flush spread across her chest. His fingers circles his cock and smooth strokes but his real attention was on her and how she responded to his words. I see you, my Emma love all of you and you're perfect. Her the column of her throat moved, like she was swallowing his words and taking them into herself as her eyes fluttered closed. You think so? The question was huge, but her voice was small. I see you, Emma. He repeated, firming his strokes to match hers. I've seen you and wanted more from the first moment. I want your heart. I crave your body. But what you write about, I want everything you described. The moment the movement of her hips, made her breasts rock hypnotically. Alka continued loving her with his words in a way he couldn't with his body. Sit with me in this house, and make love with me by the fire and winter, two glasses of brandy because I won't make you share. Live with me. We'll keep each other secrets. Her breath went thready and in the summer I will spend hours outside on the grass with my tongue buried in your sweet Quim. You will come apart under the sky so often your chest will be pink from the sun. And you'll have everyday knowing I see you and love what I see. A cry rose from her throat a low keening. Well, that shot fire through his blood, and made his balls clench. When she went over the edge he followed, he'd follow her anywhere. Oh, my God, you are the master. I bow to your greatness. This is amazing. This is amazing. Um,

there's a lot going on here. And one of the things that really struck me through the scene was the ability to have missing more monologues and dialogues. But but being able to sort of heighten the moment and the arousal and the intimacy through conversation, I think, really cool. Um, not as much internal, you know, I think a lot of intimate scenes, when you're going there, there's a lot more internal moments that sort of come out on the page, rather than conversation between the characters, and whether it's dirty talk or actual, emotional talk as this was, you know, I don't know, I think that there's an there's an art to that. And not making it still to, it's hard.

Unknown Speaker 1:22:22
It's hard. It's hard. And I maybe this one was easier, because it was very one sided. You know, her response was physical, it was things like the hesitation were like, because like I said, she uses sex as a barrier, she uses sex as a shield, she's perfectly happy to give him her body. But when he wants the emotional intimacy, you know, like, it's almost like she's putting on an act, even though she's she's not faking it. But it's almost like she's putting on an act like she's going through the motions. And I mean, of course, she knows how to take care of business by herself. Right now. She's letting him see, she's letting him watch. And she wants to be, you know, like, he'd asked her, you know, what were you thinking about? And her response was, like, entirely sexual. Right? Right. The only emotional element there was that like, okay, it was you that was doing it. But it was like this, these were the actions that your body was taking to make my body feel good. Right, she was talking about the mechanics. And his response was to be like, Look, I have to show you that, like, I don't just love you for like, the sex goddess part of you. You know, like, I want everything that you I want every I want to give you everything that you want. And I want to give you everything that you need. And so hit the rehearse, call the call and response of a dialogue, there was him trying to speak the words to convince her that he truly, truly saw her and loved what he saw. And then he would protect what he saw that he would keep her secrets that he would make sure she was safe. And all the ways she needed to be safe. And her response to that, that he was reacting to was like, the hesitation in her body where she's like, she's not necessarily playing with herself anymore, because she's like, wait a second, dude, you're going off script. Like you're going off script. This is supposed to be about, you know, body mechanics, and this is supposed to be about using words to inflame each other and make this like a really sexy good time. So we both get off. And instead he flipped the script and he and he started talking about non sexual things. But that were wrapped up in his love for her. And by her actually allowing those things to be a turn on, letting them in, and then physically getting off to them. That was the conversation, right? Like he was her response was her bodily actions and his part of the conversation When was the was the words?

Elle 1:25:03
If it's okay with you, I would, I would love to use this as an example for the workshop, I will one day teach about writing dialogue, I would be honored. Because this is so wonderful. I mean, you know, to this is just so you know, it's just such a great example of one way to do it. And there are multiple ways to do it. And it can be, you know, dirty, I do think I have a scene in one of my books where it's just kind of kind of filthy, because that's kind of fun. Absolutely, yes. You know, and that made sense for the characters. But this I think, is gorgeous, and does so much to propel the plot forward and the story forward and change and give her that sort of like that change that she needs that, that, that that thing she needs to propel the change in her to let him to, like bring him into her life fully and completely.

Unknown Speaker 1:26:02
Beautiful. And that's, and that's the same, that's the same like afterwards, after he leaves. That's the scene where she's kind of laying there and she's like, Oh, my gosh, I really do love him. And she's and she, she makes a comparison on the page where, you know, the 19 year old version of her would have gone, like, running through the streets shouting about the cloud, you know, like, celebrating like the how she she loves this man. She's in love with this man. And it's like this big thing, you know, but being a grown woman who's gone through what she's gone through, she just kind of like, cradles it to her chest and like, it's fragile and precious. And she's kind of marveling at like, holy crap. Look at that, you know. And so he he achieved his objective.

Elle 1:26:54
Yeah, I love it. I love that. Oh, my God, Bethenny, I could talk to you forever.

Unknown Speaker 1:27:01
I know. Yeah, it's so it's always so much fun. It's just so much fun to talk to you, you. You're doing a brilliant thing for for writers and for readers and for romance lady in general with, you know, with your podcast, but also, you're in the right line of work. You know, I mean, you're just super fun to talk to, you

Elle 1:27:20
know, so to get here, but um, but thank you so much. Yeah, I love I love doing it. I love talking to other authors. And you know, what we do is so isolating, you know, even though like now it's no longer Well, I guess we're still pending. And we're no longer pandemic, are we still pandemic? I have no idea. But things are open, you know, conferences are happening again, I'm going to my second conference ever, this summer, and then I am doing a third in the fall. So like, you know, we're getting out, we're meeting each other, we're meeting people that this is like, so great, because they actually have like, really like good one on one solid conversations with other authors at a job that is so isolating.

Unknown Speaker 1:27:58
Yes, it is. I mean, I am literally sitting on the floor of my closet right now recording. I mean, like, this is an isolating job.

Elle 1:28:07
I know, I know. It's like, you know, when when my like, you know, when my husband and my kid go away, like, it's just like me and the dogs like I literally, they went to Mexico for her spring break. I had to stay here for the dogs. And I like literally think like, what days without talking to anybody but my pets? That's kind of like, I don't know, is that healthy?

Unknown Speaker 1:28:33
Yeah, no, it is, though. Like you figure it's us in our computers, you know, and we're creating these worlds, and we're creating these characters. And we're trying to make it believable, and we're trying to make it ring true for the reader. And we're trying to make it ring to ring true for us as we're writing it so that, you know, it's it fits and it feels right. But it is a very isolating and solitary kind of profession unless we make very concentrated and deliberate moves to you know, connect with other writers connect with readers connect with other people who understand the craft of it, and the details of it and the business of it. And without that I can't imagine doing this, you know, without technology as it is. I can't imagine just sitting up here in my little corner of the world, writing books and every now and then, you know, getting a letter from my pen pal, who also writes I can't imagine if that was the only interaction I had. I would

Elle 1:29:35
no wonder Emily Dickinson took to her bed and didn't get up again.

Unknown Speaker 1:29:40
I mean, think about it. Oh lordy. Yeah. Really really bad especially like I'm an extrovert. So especially for people like me know if not be it would not be a good career choice for me. Without options like this to be

Elle 1:29:53
able to talk to you need to come back for part three. Okay. You I always have an open invitation actually saying this on record. Okay, maybe we should do like a threesome.

Unknown Speaker 1:30:11
Like with another author with another

Elle 1:30:13

Unknown Speaker 1:30:13
Would that be fun? Have you forgotten?

Elle 1:30:17
I talked about this, like, ages ago, Samantha Chase was on and she was like, Oh, you need to do like our panel around and I was like, oh, that's kind of interesting. And I never did. But like, maybe we should think about that. That could be really fun. That could be totally fine. What would that look like? And I'd invite Samantha because it was her idea. Cool. Well, Bethany, thank you so much, again for being here. Because it's always such a treat to talk to you. I love having you on. Well, thank

Unknown Speaker 1:30:47
you for having me. I really appreciate it. And like I said, this is this is my dose of of you know, interacting with my with one person today. Oh, so you're

Elle 1:30:56
on Tik Tok you're on Instagram. But the best place to find you like where you live in love is going to be Instagram right

Unknown Speaker 1:31:03
Instagrams where I live in love. And the easiest way I'm Bethany Ritz kissing books on Instagram. But the easiest way to find all of my little social cliques would be Bethany Bennett author.com Which reminds me I need to add my

Elle 1:31:18
Logitech shock there. And I will have links to everything in the show notes including a link to one click Duke's do it better because it's the great bulk. You're such a great writer.

Unknown Speaker 1:31:32
Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Unknown Speaker 1:31:34
All right. Bye

Transcribed by https://otter.ai