My life is a wonderful melange of dichotomies. I'm the author of twenty-three health and wellness books for children. I also happen to be a respectful resident in one of the most conservative countries in the world and have just finished writing a seriously sexy book for grown-ups. From conception to completion, the process of developing my novel, Kavla, has been a profoundly liberating and enlightening experience.
Prior to Kavla, I had never attempted to create any form of adult fiction, let alone an entire novel. Writing 'books' for little children is a bit misleading; if it were not for the full-spread illustrations that accompany the words, the text can usually be contained on one page of a Word document. By comparison, the average length of an adult fiction novel is roughly 80,000 words on almost 200 pages and includes no pictures at all, dammit. Hardly something that can be completed in any sort of a hurry, let alone if you are committed to a 10 hour-a-day job, as I am.
Nevertheless, last spring, in the midst of a world-wide feeding frenzy over a trilogy of erotic novels, I was struck by the brilliant notion that I could write a story that was both sophisticated and sensual. Surely the two components were not mutually exclusive, I declared; convinced that if I applied enough energy and attitude, I could create a contemporary, poignant and extremely provocative story.
Fuelled by my friend, Maureen's deeply partisan enthusiasm, I set to work. I was thrilled that the concept of my story slid into my mind smoothly and with nary a niggle of angst. The notion of a sexual threesome is a perennial favourite amongst purveyors of titillating prose and porn and a surprisingly prevalent concept in real life. I knew it was topical and hoped it would be interesting to many people on multiple levels.
Combining an unapologetically carnal theme with a cerebral storyline was an interesting challenge and an essential component of my endeavor. Lusty fantasies aside, the idea of having simultaneous romantic relationships with multiple partners is nothing new. Numerous polygamous families are depicted in the Old Testament and even today, this lifestyle continues to flourish in some exotic cultures. It is important to note the fundamental differences between the unilateral configuration of polygamy and polyamory, in which case all the participants may choose to be lovingly connected. On the other hand, intimate affiliations rooted in infidelity are a frighteningly ubiquitous deal breaker for many couples in western societies. Perhaps the polyamorous concept of several adults participating in a consensually loving scenario is not only downright sexy, it is more honest and sustainable in the long term. Much to muse.
Well, once the concept was clarified in my mind; the next step was to create the storyline and again, the process was relatively fast and remarkably painless. Jordan, Lily and Sorrel drifted into my consciousness and relayed their tale in compelling fashion. I truly felt a privileged spectator in their lives and a deep obligation to tell the story well. Did I mention that at the beginning of this adventure, I had also committed to exhibit Kavla at the Frankfurt Book Fair; the world's single largest compilation of book industry stakeholders? The fair's designated week in October loomed alarmingly close and I felt a great deal of pressure to devote all energy unconsumed by my nursing duties to my writing project.
In short notice, my days fell into a predictable rhythm. I completed my shifts at the hospital, squeezed in a five kilometre run and coaxed a few thousand words from my keyboard before closing my eyes on the day and my book. However, after a few months it became apparent that in order to meet my target I would need to devote a sustained period of time solely to writing and I applied for a leave from the hospital. I set myself a very rigid schedule; wake early, run, write, eat, write, eat, write and sleep. I was relentlessly unwavering in my plan and denied myself almost all forms of socialization, but it was also supremely effective. I wrote 40,000 words in three weeks and in an astonishingly short time, found myself catching my breath en route to Germany.
Attending the Frankfurter BuchMesse as an exhibitor is a rather surreal experience. My booth was located in Hall 8, a massive building with two levels, each roughly the size of four football fields. Halls 1 through 7 were the same astronomic dimensions. Almost 8,000 exhibitors display their products, sell their services and negotiate deals based on the publication of tomes in foreign lands. I loved my booth. It was located on the corner of an intersection in full sight of all pedestrians and was draped from ceiling to floor with elegant black depictions of my book cover and an enticing excerpt of my story. Many, many people stepped in, full of curiosity about who and what I was representing.
I really had no preconceived idea as to what to expect. I knew that my novel was steamy; in fact I laughingly referred to it as "69 Shades of Grey" on more than one occasion. I thought it was well-written and I hoped readers outside of my nepotistic clan of followers would concur. I was just thrilled to be there and by the end of the first day, when seven publishing companies from around the world had expressed an interest in acquiring the foreign rights to Kavla, I was in writer's heaven. It was astounding, exhilarating and incredibly gratifying. I truly felt as though I had hit the proverbial bull's-eye.
The rest of the week was just as much fun and I thoroughly enjoyed the comments, queries and congratulations of the myriad publishers, agents and other book-brokers who stopped by my booth. I can honestly say that as an author of only one novel who was fortunate enough to have my very own gorgeous booth, I was a freak at the Fair. In fact, a literary agent from the UK tweeted that the two strangest sights at the 2013 FBF were a purple display of children's books and Kavla, by D. Lesley Leslie. I felt a strange sense of pride in having made such an impact in Twitterland.
Over the course of the week I was interviewed by a brand new Swedish magazine, Fyrahundrafemtio, which will be launched in March, did a video spot for the Worshipping Puppet Machine radio station from Frankfurt and was invited to write for the luscious Wall Street International magazine. I asked advice from everyone and diligently made notes at the end of each day. As the fair drew to a close and I took down my beautiful posters, I felt even more driven and focussed on my next steps. It had been suggested to me many times that the most effective way of marketing my novel would be to publish initially on-line and upon my return from Frankfurt, I unpacked my bags and immediately started the process.
Having filled the pages of my life from cover to cover for one incredibly prodigious year; Kavla will make its publishing debut online and everywhere, March 17th.
Excerpt from Kavla
Jordan had cleared the table in the same room they had all met in the night before and set it with Asian-inspired black plates and chopsticks. The sushi looked delicious on a red serving platter and a bottle of crisp sauvignon blanc was waiting to be poured. Big cushions were spread invitingly on the floor and all three made themselves comfortable while Lily did the honours with the wine.
‘Mmmm, nice music,’ murmured Sorrel, listening intently to the piano concerto playing softly in the background.
Lily raised her glass.
‘To new and lasting friendships,’ she toasted and the others lifted their glasses in acknowledgement.
Two bottles of wine, much conversation and many laughs later, the threesome shifted their cushions in front of the windows overlooking the ocean. Jordan had dimmed the lights and placed aromatic candles on the table. Lily was leaning back against her husband and Sorrel watched in fascination as his fingers moved concentrically, gently twisting her blond hair into little curls.
Smoothly, Lily reached out and languidly began running her beautifully manicured nails ever so lightly up and down the inside of Sorrel’s arm. Startled, Sorrel’s green eyes locked onto Lily’s lovely face, which tilted toward her with a tiny, questioning smile. It was the most exquisitely erotic feeling imaginable and somehow felt completely natural despite the newness of their relationship.
Sorrel instinctively relaxed her body, lay back on her cushion and closed her eyes. All three rested silently, enjoying their tactile connection until the candles burned low and the piano keys grew still, at which point, Sorrel sleepily bid the other two a good night and made her slightly tipsy way down the hallway to her room. Perfunctorily washing her face and brushing her teeth, she wiggled out of her jeans and t-shirt before climbing in between the crisp sheets.