No, it’s not the murder I got away with. (Just kidding.) It’s the sexual advice column I ghosted for three years. (Not kidding.)
I have a five-alarm romance, Bedroom Therapy, in the Love on Fire collection on preorder now. ( http://a.co/7uFNSgi ) It’s about a psychologist, Amanda O’Neal, who is tapped to write a sexual advice column under the pseudonym of the previous author—after the woman is murdered. A detective, Zack, is investigating the murder, and since this is a steamy romance, he and Amanda are wildly attracted to each other and get into some very heated and, um, kinky scenarios together.
The book starts with a letter from a reader —
I have a problem, and there’s no one I can talk to about it. My husband is in the Navy, and he’s on a three-month cruise. Sometimes I get so lonely that I don’t know what to do. And sometimes I get so hot for him that it pushes me over the edge. I mean, I have to make myself come. It feels good when I do it, and I always pretend he’s making love to me. But afterwards I feel guilty. What should I do?
Lonely and Hot in Norfolk
I made that letter up, but long ago, when I wrote mostly nonfiction, I got the job of ghosting a sexual advice column in a national women’s magazine. Since it wasn’t under my name, I can’t tell you which magazine. But every month the author and I would get together to read letters asking for advice. She’d sketch in answers, and I’d write them up. After I’d finished, I’d give them back to her so she could make any corrections.
Obviously this was quite an education for me. And I still do remember some of the letters all these years later. Actually, I paraphrased one of them in Bedroom Therapy. You may think this monthly assignment was a fun job, but nothing stays fun when you have to do it on a regular basis. For one thing, a lot of readers had similar questions. How many times can you say that it’s okay to have an orgasm with your partner by manual stimulation or that a big penis doesn’t make a guy a good lover? At first, we worked around this problem by answering some letters from guys. But the magazine editor decided that since this was a women’s magazine, we could only take questions from females.
And then there was the month when the columnist had a dispute with the editor and refused to answer any letters. I jumped in to write an essay on contraceptive methods—which my boss was willing to read and approve.
One thing we learned quickly was that readers were asking questions about one-night stands and brief affairs. My boss tried to teach them that sex should be in the context of a relationship. They absorbed the message, and we’d get letters that started off, “I had a relationship with a guy last night. . .”
Back then, I never thought my advice-columnist experience would be the basis for a novel. But when I was looking for a Love on Fire topic, I decided it was a natural.
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