Making the move from jewellery store owner to author is one thing, but making the leap to erotic fiction author is quite another.
Diana Thompson, co-owner of high-end Manuka jewellery store Briolette for the past 26 years, has released her first novel, Winterflood's Passion.
Set in the Southern Highlands in NSW, which Di calls "my favourite part of the world", the novel tells of Charlotte Ranleigh, who exiles herself on her country estate after the loss of her husband. She is then introduced to English art dealer Daniel Winterflood, and said erotica ensues.
Di said that while Winterflood's Passion isn't "full-on erotica", there's "a lot of sex in it".
"These days with romance, it's well gone past Barbara Cartland and Mills and Boon where they just snuck a kiss – there's a certain expectation that there will be sex in them," she said.
"My editor had said had I ever considered just writing full-on erotica because he said the sex scenes were so beautifully written, and he said most writers can't write about sex, which I found strange because to me I found that was the easiest thing to write when you just sit there and you think about it and it all just flows.
"What I found was tougher to write was you've got conversations going on all the time and adding conversations from each character. I thought that to me was harder, because suddenly you're the male character and he's talking and then you're the female. So I jokingly said to him maybe book three."
Di and her husband live between Canberra and a property just outside Braidwood, and it was on the commute that the story developed.
"One day driving out to the farm, it takes a good hour to get there, the characters kind of came into my brain and I arrived, dumped everything, sat down and started to hand write and five weeks later, 75-odd-thousand words – they just poured out," she said.
"I've always wanted to write since I was a teenager and we'd sit on the beach and read and I'd always say to my friends 'I'm gonna write one of these books one day' but of course life gets in the way as it does."
The debut novel is dedicated to her mother, who Di says was initially "shocked" by some of the content but has "come around to it".
And as for the research for the book?
"I have been asked by people 'how do you research the sex, nudge nudge wink wink?', and I kind of look at them and think well hang on, if I was writing about murders would I be out there going murdering people? People write books about lawyers and legal stuff and they're not lawyers."
Di is launching the novel with three store appearances next week. You can catch her at Briolette in Manuka on August 27 from 5pm-7pm, Dymocks Canberra Centre on August 28 from 5.30pm-7pm and Miss Ruby's Bookshop in Braidwood on August 20 from 2.30pm.
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