Using What You Know

Often when I’m preparing to write a book, I go into research mode, looking up traits of the Greek gods or directions for making a pipe bomb. Other times, the information I need is right at my fingertips.

Although I’ve been writing novels for more than thirty years, I didn’t start out inventing plots and characters. At first I was a nonfiction writer, selling feature articles to a local newspaper—always on the lookout for interesting topics I could pitch to my editor. Which is how I stumbled on a woman in my community who was working as a sexual therapist.

Yes, the editor was interested in an article about her. And after that piece was successfully published, I began thinking bigger. Could I expand the story and sell it to a national magazine? I also got a positive response to that query. After publication, the editor had an interesting request: Would the therapist like to write a monthly sexual advice column in the magazine? Since she was not a writer, she asked me to help. And there I was, with a steady job sitting down with the therapist every month, going through letter from the magazine’s subscribers. We’d find good questions. She’d tell me the answers. And I’d write them up. The arrangement lasted two years, until the therapist got tired of sifting through the same problems over and over. And meanwhile I was switching my focus from nonfiction to fiction.

I’ve used the information I learned from those sessions many times in my romance writing. Where else could you get better insights into man-woman relationships? But eventually I decided the experience would make a great setting for a novel, which I called Bedroom Therapy. As the book opens, my heroine, Amanda O’Neal, has taken over writing a sexual advice column because the original author was killed in a hit and run accident. Enter private detective Zachary Grant who’s been hired to find out if the incident was really murder. Quickly he realizes he’s dealing with a killer who has switched his focus to Amanda. Zach is also focused on Amanda, only his thoughts are centered in the bedroom. And he has an interesting sexual problem that he’s hoping she can solve—if he gets up the nerve to talk about it. Meanwhile, he entices her into all kinds of interesting fantasy situations that she finds hard to resist. And when he has trouble communicating verbally, he writes her letters asking for advice and leaves them on her desk.

It’s a fun premise for a novel. And the cat and mouse game with the killer ups the tension of the story. Zach ends up having to save Amanda’s life and then surrender to some hands-on therapy.

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About Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.  She also writes the Unbound series for Changeling Press.  View website

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