Monday, October 7, 2013

Lauren Layne Spotlight

Sex, Love & Stiletto: The Making of the Series


Thanks so much for having me!  I’ve had a few opportunities to talk about specifics on my debut, AFTER THE KISS, but it’s rare that authors get a chance to ramble about the big picture of their series as a whole. The Stiletto world is so much more to me than just the string that ties the series together, so THANK YOU for the opportunity to talk about it!

Confession time: early on in my romance reading career, I didn’t care for series. They haven’t always been as big as they are today, and I used to narrow my eyes in skepticism when I read on the back of the book that it was “first in a fantastic new series . . .” I liked my books to be standalone. I wanted the characters to meet, fight, fall in love, fight some more, and then get their happy ending. From there, I’d mentally put them on the “happily ever after shelf,” where they’d ride into the proverbial sunset where I wouldn’t have to worry about them again. I think deep down I was terrified that by revisiting beloved characters, I’d find out that he farted in bed, or that she had a little crush on her boss, and that worst of all, the spark had dimmed even the tiniest bit.

Slowly, but surely, it came around. I suspect it was the prolific Nora Roberts and her trilogies about gorgeous Irish siblings, or modern day witches, or wedding planners. It finally clicked that series could be about connecting with old friends and visiting familiar places. In fact, I’ve come so far the other way, that there are now a handful of series that I hope never end. Say, Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor books, or Julie Anne Long’s Pennroyal Green series.

The Stiletto series was born out of a few writerly desires:

First: I wanted to write a series that was very “New York.” The end of Sex and the City left a bit of a void in Manhattan-based series, and as I was living in the heart of the city, I wanted to write about the gorgeously dressed women in their high heels and designer dresses and perfect hair. Despite Hollywood’s tendency to paint New Yorkers as caricatures, they’re real people with real issues and real love lives. They just happen to be a little more attractive than the rest of us!

Second: I wanted to write about women who wrote about men—Manhattan’s own “Dear Abbys,” if you will. Only of course these relationships “experts” then have to learn that love’s a heck of a lot more complicated when it comes to your own life!

The result? Sex, Love & Stiletto: A contemporary series about three magazine columnists who will do anything for a story—except fall in love.

Intrigued? I hope so! Here are some fast facts about the series:

What exactly is “Stiletto”?

Stiletto is the name of the magazine where my heroines work. Think Cosmopolitan and Glamour. Sexy, sassy and modern. It took me weeks to come up with the right name, but as soon as Stiletto popped into my head, I knew that was “it.” There’s something so iconic about the word and the image it conjures up.

Who are the Stiletto women?

Well, the Stiletto staff is HUGE, but the series right now focuses primarily on the three women behind the Love & Relationships department. Julie Greene (the heroine of AFTER THE KISS, available now), is the flirty, fun one. I envisioned her being a lot like Rachel from Friends. Grace Brighton is very East Coast sophistication, maybe a tiny bit prissy on the outside, but funny, warm and real on the inside. Last up is Riley McKenna, the bombshell of the group, who’s mouthy, gorgeous and blunt, but fiercely loyal to those she cares about.

Are there expansion plans for the trilogy?

Spoiler alert: In Book Two (LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH, available Dec 7th), we’ll see a recovering Southern Belle who turns their trio into a foursome, and I have definite plans for Emma and her ex-fiance!

So all of this goes down in New York City?

Yup! Mostly in Manhattan, although Book 3 spends a fair amount of time in Brooklyn where Riley was born and raised. The subway, cabs, Central Park, and swanky uptown bars are all a major component of the series. I think of the city more of a character than a setting!

Does one have to love Sex and the City to enjoy Stiletto?

I think fans of the SATC will definitely see parallels, but there’s one huge distinction: at the end of the day, Sex and the City was about the women. But with Stiletto, it’s all about the relationship. Big and Aidan in SATC were more or less accessories in Carrie Bradshaw’s life, but the men in Stiletto are very much real people. The books are split between heroine/hero point of view, so we get inside these guys’ heads. And while the Stiletto series definitely has plenty of sexy-times, it’s not in-your-face the way it often was on SATC. Stiletto’s every bit about the sweet butterflies you get in your stomach when he touches your hand accidentally as it is the hot and dirty against the wall.

Can we get a teaser?

Of course :) Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite scenes in AFTER THE KISS. Julie thinks she has Mitchell wrapped wround her manicured finger, and she’s so, SO wrong:

Neither spoke as they fetched her coat and headed out the door.

“You like Guinness?” he asked gruffly as they walked into the late spring air.

“Love it,” she lied. She wasn’t really a beer girl unless she was on a boat in a bikini on the hottest days of summer. But she knew how this worked. Playing the high-maintenance card this early in the game would never get her a second date.

And it certainly wouldn’t get her that story.

Mitchell led her to a small Irish bar that she’d never heard of, and opened the door for her.

“Thanks,” she murmured. He put his hand on the small of her back to guide her inside and Julie froze.

Uh-oh. She’d been wrong about them not having any chemistry. Very wrong. The brief brush of his fingers against her spine gave her immediate goose bumps and Julie resisted the urge to turn and run. Being attracted to Mitchell was not part of the plan, and yet here she was, quivering and wanting to rub against him.

Mayday, mayday! I want to hump my story subject!

Mitchell snatched his hand back too quickly, rapping it on the door jamb, and Julie felt a small measure of relief. At least he’d felt it too.

“So what do you do, Mitchell?” Julie asked, hoping to diffuse the sudden shock of awkwardness as they settled at a cozy table in the corner

“Wall Street,” he said as though it needed no further explanation. And really, it didn’t. In Manhattan, you were either on Wall Street or not on Wall Street. And if you were in the “not” category, you didn’t have the faintest idea what the hell happened down there. And you didn’t really care.

Or at least Julie didn’t care. Except this time, she had to pretend that the topic didn’t bore her to death. If she was going to survive two months with this dud, she at least needed to be able to speak his language.

“How interesting,” she said, leaning forward slightly and casting her eyes up.  “What’s that like?”

To her surprise, Mitchell snorted and sat back in his chair watching her with a faintly incredulous look. “Does that usually work for you?”

Julie jolted out of her fluttering routine, blinking in confusion. “Does what work?”

He waved a dismissive hand over her. “This whole thing. The eyelashes and the cooing and the false interest.”

Julie sat back sharply in surprise, feeling stung. “Who says it’s false?”

He braced his forearms on the table as his eyes bored into hers.

Abruptly, Julie realized her mistake. Mitchell Forbes might look harmless, but he was definitely not to be trifled with. She’d played her cards all wrong.


Thanks so much for having me, Marisa! I’ve been a long-time fan of your blog, and I was giddy when you asked me to visit :)

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WOW! What a hot teaser! I can tell you, as I've already read this incredible book, that Lauren Layne has played her cards all right in this first book! I loved it beginning to end and then begged her to spotlight on Pens and Peonies! So thanks, Lauren, for taking the time to stop by the blog!

"In the first book of a delightful new series from Lauren Layne, the star columnist of Stiletto magazine will do anything for a story. Anything... except fall in love."

What do you think? Have you ever been attracted to someone you didn't want to be attracted to?

xoxo ~Marisa


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