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A.S. Fenichel writes historical romance about empowered women going on grand adventures that include plenty of steamy sex. In this episode of Steam Scenes, we talk about what makes a good hero, what makes for good steam, and how sex needs to have a point. As a bonus, we throw in a little real estate porn and discuss how to pick dirty words.

Find A.S. Fenichel online:
Website: http://asfenichel.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A.S.Fenichel 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asfenichel 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/asfenichel 
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/asfenichel/ 
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/a-s-fenichel 

Check out Misleading a Duke in her Wallflowers of West Lane series on Amazon.

Transcript:

Elle
Joining the podcast today is A. S. Fenichel. She gave up a successful IT career in New York City to move cross country and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back. A. S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic, and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. We love mayhem around here. Books have always been her perfect escape, and she’s still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story. The author of The Forever Bride series, The Everton Domestic Society series, Wallflowers of Westlane, and more, A.S. adores strong, empowered heroines, no matter the era, and that’s what you’ll find in all her books. A Jersey girl at heart – Jersey represent – he now makes her home in southern Missouri with her real-life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking, travel, history, puttering in her garden, and spoiling her cats. Andy, thank you for joining me today.

A.S.
It’s my pleasure. Good to be here, Elle.

Elle
I started tripping over your name. I did it when we were talking when I was double-checking. And then I was like, Oh, God.

A.S.
You must have done it good because I didn’t notice so. When someone mispronounces your name, you cringe.

Elle
I was like, Oh, my God, panic! I did it right before. And now I have like, all this pressure.

A.S.
Nope, you were perfect again.

Elle
So thank you for being here. Thank you so much for doing this.

A.S.
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Elle
So I guess we’ll just like jump right in with the big question. When did you realize you wanted to become a writer because you were in it, which is sort of I think very different, but I suspect maybe not than what you were doing?

A.S.
Well, it’s pretty different.

Elle
Okay.

A.S.
So I wasn’t writing programs. I worked for Hugo Boss. And I supported their software program. So that was pretty different. I taught people how to, you know, run the software program.

Elle
Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah, that is pretty different.

A.S.
Yeah. Um, the only thing that is a little the same as sometimes, like, if I give workshops, I can like fall back on how I did workshops when I was teaching computers to how you do because the workshop is a workshop.

Elle
Right?

A.S.
The content may be different, but the process is the same

Elle
As the kids call it now UX user experience. So you move from IT to writing, which is kind of curious. But if your dream you had a lifelong dream of being a professional writer, so when did that start?

A.S.
Sometime in my early 20s, I recognized that I could write down the stories that were in my head. They were all had always been there I was, you know, that kid that stared out the window and daydreamed and told stories, and made up interactive games with my friends. But it never occurred to me to write them down until sometime in my early to mid 20s. And I wrote a little short story, I think it was, most certainly was science fiction. And, and then I went back to college later in life and took a couple of writing classes, and just fell in love.

Elle
Wow, so Okay, so um, just to backtrack a little bit, how did you end up in it? Of all places. Um,

A.S.
so I started in customer service for a company in New Jersey. And, well, several companies, I worked for Shaw Industries, and then I worked for a Dutch import company, and I was in customer service. And then I did that for years and years. And, frankly, I was really good at it. I have the best customer service voice ever. People get mad, nothing. It does not work on husbands. Just so you know, husbands hate the customer service voice

passionately.

Elle
I mean, that is a whole thing in and of itself. And honestly, though, you have to you must like have a lot of psychology, like maybe not necessarily a, like a formal background in it. But I feel there’s a lot of gut-level psychology that goes on there in that job.

A.S.
I know how people will react under stressful situations.

Elle
You know, I never really thought of it as a good precursor to being in particular, a romance writer, but it actually is really good training.

A.S.
I actually think any life experience is probably good for being a romance writer. But no, I think customer service really helped because I know what will tick people off. Because I know what used to tick me off. And still I would continue to talk like this. I would just continue to talk like this. And work with clients, that works great. Because if you will raise your voice, it’s hard for them to continue to raise their voice.

Elle
Right. But my husband not so much. 

A.S.
Oh no they get furious. I was doing that. And then the company I was working for which was the Dutch import company. They implemented a software program. And because I was that person in the office that knew lots of different bits and pieces of the business, they asked me to go to school and learn the program.

Elle
Okay, well, I did and

A.S.
then I taught everyone in the company how to use the program. And then I went to the Netherlands and learned more and worked there for a while and then when that company closed their us office and I didn’t want to move back to the Netherlands. I got a job with Hugo Boss.

Elle
Okay, so sort of accidentally, it just kind of fell into this job.

A.S.
Yeah, I did. Okay.

Elle
Okay. So, so then jumping back to your 20s when you’re like, Hey, I can write down these stories like what prompted you to actually do it?

A.S.
Um, oh, I don’t know, the stories were in my head. And once I started writing, it’s quite addictive, don’t you think?

Elle
Yeah, I do I do.

A.S.
Once you start writing it down, and someone says, hey, that’s not bad. Or you even if you won’t show it to anybody right away, because goodness knows it was a long time before I would show it to anybody. You go back a few weeks later, and you read it, and it’s like fresh again. And you’re like, hey, that’s not bad. And then you take some classes and you learn how to write. That’s really important. Not everyone does it, but it’s really important to learn how to write. And then one day, somebody says, Yeah, I’ll publish your book.

Elle
Oh, my God, that’s so crazy. So did you always know that you were writing romance? Like you said that first story that you wrote down was probably sci-fi didn’t have romantic elements?

A.S.
It did. It did. I always want to happily ever after. It’s not always the case in real life. But in books I generally want to have happily ever after unless I’m reading a history book, and then it’s not gonna end happily.

Elle
So, so what? So is that like you’re drawn to the happily ever after is, is that what draws you to romance?

A.S.
It is, it is. I like the escape of that. And the knowledge that somehow, unfathomably, this is going to end well. But you don’t know how it’s going to get from this completely miserable, horrible everybody’s a jerk point to happily ever after. And, and hopefully, we’re all going to like the characters by the end of the book.

Elle
Here’s a left field question for you. Are you one of those people that tends to sort of flip to the back of the book when you’re halfway through reading? Because you can’t wait to know?

A.S.
No, never.

Elle
Really?

A.S.
Never. Because once I know then I’m, I’m a little devastated that I cheated.

Elle
Because I do and, you know, it’s funny, I don’t do it with romance because I know, no matter what happens, it’s going to turn out to be good. But if I’m reading like a thriller, or a horror or something like that, I will totally skip to the end. I want to know. I want to know who lives and then I can go I don’t like so everyone’s always spoiler spoiler. I’m like, I don’t care about spoilers, like I want to know, because I find the anxiety of not knowing who’s going to survive, for example, to just be too much and so I just need to know and then once I once I’m okay, and that’s why romance I never feel the need to sort of jump forward and ruin it because I know it’s going to be okay. And I can just enjoy the journey rather than having all this anxiety about the journey.

A.S.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s what’s beautiful about romance. And that’s why when, you know, people say something that ends tragically like Shakespeare is a romance. I’m like, sorry, Romeo and Juliet is not a romance. That’s a tragedy. Or Nicholas Sparks is not usually a romance. I mean, it’s romantic. But if it’s with everybody living happily ever after, I’m not solid that it’s a romance.

Elle
That ain’t no way. I mean Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet would not survive Romance landia critics? No, no, no, he would not. So do you remember the first romance you ever read?

A.S.
I’m pretty sure it was Fantasy by Sandra Brown.

Elle
Okay.

A.S.
And the girls in the office, that’s when I worked for the carpet people, they were giving me books all the time. My husband was working nights. And I was like, so bored and lonely. And so they were giving me all these books to read. And there were a lot of Star Trek books, because I love Star Trek and big Star Trek geek. And then somebody slipped in this fantasy by Sandra Brown. And I was maybe 21. I mean,  I’ve read the dirty parts, you know, that you read when you’re 12 and 13. And all your friends are reading the dirty parts of their mother’s book. So I’d read those when I was that age, but never just sat down and enjoyed a romance book until Sandra.

Elle
And what did you think like when you’re because if it was your first one, were you like, ahhhh.

A.S.
I was totally sold on it. I’m like, that’s why all these women are sitting in the doctor’s office with the bodice rippers in their hands.

Elle
What did you love about it? I mean, apart from the happily ever after, what did it for you?

A.S.
I think it’s that, that sexual tension? That, that building of something and, you know, Fantasy is is? I mean, for the time for it was the 80s pretty sexy little book, and it’s a little book. I think it’s like 150 pages. But

Elle
Oh, wow. Yeah, that is little book.

A.S.
Yeah. But I mean, and it tried to. This is a long time ago. But it’s just it was sexy. It was smart. The characters were smart. And there was all this sexual tension and issues going on. And then once they had sex, it was a lot of sex. Once we got over the hump, it was all good. Pun intended.

Elle
Sex For days. Okay, so you’re a sci fi, you’re kind of a sci fi fan than if you’re a star if you’re a Trekkie. And I noticed that you write mostly historicals, which we will definitely talk about, but I did see some contemporaries mixed in your Amazon profile and some paranormals that looked like that’s where you started? Is that correct? Okay. All right. So why the pivot?

A.S.
Well, I was writing for Elora’s Cave. And I had written the first book, which is Mayan Afterglow was a call from the publisher, they were looking for end of days stories. And so I had written, this is gonna sound silly, but I had had a dream about like a court jester robbing jewels from a castle. And the next day, there was this call from Elora’s Cave for end of days. And somehow in my twisted mind, those things went together. And so I changed my court jester into a real hero. And he was stealing like food and stuff from homes where everybody had died, because it was after end of days. And so somehow, in my mind that that made sense.

Elle
Okay. No, it total actually, it does to me right now, when you’re telling me and I’m like, I’m like over here. I know Elora’s Cave went under and I’m like, is that still for sale, because I think I might want to read this. So tell me more.

A.S.
So then I finished the series, I wrote three books in that series of which was the end of days, Myan Afterglow, Mayan Craving, Myan Inferno. And so I figured, okay, I’m a paranormal romance writer. So I wrote Cain’s Bounty and Training Rain and Joshua’s Mistake and those were more contemporary-ish. They’re almost urban fantasy. My characters are all part or on the outskirts of psychic kind of CIA. So that’s what I write.

Elle
I’m curious where the urban fantasy is with romantic elements so they are still romances.

A.S.
They are like an urban fantasy they all take place in cities or around cities. Joshua’s mistake takes place a lot in New Jersey.

Elle
Oh, cool. Jersey. I lived in New Jersey for like, 12 years. So yeah, Jersey. Yeah.

A.S.
I’m from Central Jersey. I know some people say there’s no such thing, but there is. I’m from South Brunswick, which is just outside of Princeton.

Elle
Okay, yep. My husband grew up – he’s a Jersey boy – he grew up in Bergen County.

A.S.
Oh, sure. So he was within sight of New York.

Elle
Yes. And I lived there for 12 years. Yeah, we met in New York City. So yeah. And then we moved out when we had the kid, we move closer to his family. And so I was in Jersey for 12 years. Nice.

A.S.
I love New Jersey but it’s too expensive to live there. And write books and my husband’s retired. So we actually live in Missouri now. We were in Texas for a while and now we’re in Missouri.

Elle
Well, you know, it’s cheaper. East Coast is really expensive. It’s just very expensive. Anyway, sorry. We’ve now turned the podcast into a real estate podcast. Okay, so now you have these paranormals urban fantasy slash romances. And then you have the pivot to the historicals. So why did you?

A.S.
So there was a call for historical novellas for Christmas. So I wrote Christmas Bliss. And I had read historical romance through you know, throughout my life, I love them. So I wrote Christmas Bliss, and I really enjoyed it. And then later, I wrote Wishing Game and I actually wrote it for an Easter call. But timing didn’t work out. And so actually changed the holiday to Ladies Day, which is a holiday that used to exist in, in England, in the 19th century.

Elle
Oh, wow. So wait a minute, how you’re writing these on a lot of like, calls? How quickly do you write?

A.S.
Well, I mean, they’re short. They’re novellas. I probably wrote Christmas Bliss and Wishing Game in maybe three or four weeks.

Elle
Oh, my God.

A.S.
I write as fast as the deadline is. If you give me six months to write it, I promise you, it will take me six months to write it. If you give me six weeks, I could probably pull it off.

Elle
Oh my god, I’m so okay. I’m totally like, I’m very envious of that. I wish I could write like that, you know, I mean, I’m a little bit of a slow one.

A.S.
Everybody’s got it their own process, but I’m better. Like I probably am doing very little writing for the first four months of that time, because there’s so much time I have so much time I can do other things. I can spend more time on promotion. But once that, that ticking clock starts, then I  am suddenly a fast writer.

Elle
Do you outline?

A.S.
Yeah, I do. I rough outline. Because I like to give my characters a lot of room and I’m not married to it. If it changes if they do something unexpected, I’ll change the outline.

Elle
Okay, all right. Because usually people that can go fast I’m sort of half a half ass outline and then and then I think that’s part of my problem.

A.S.
Well I don’t know if it’s a problem. It’s just your process. I mean, there’s lots of pantsers, right? There’s tons of people who write like that, and they write people beautiful books and it’s all somewhere in their head, even if they haven’t quite discovered it or pulled it to the front yet. But and I used to do that when I first started writing but then I, I find that I’m less stressed out if I know what’s going to happen at the end of the book.

Elle
So are you going to stick with the historicals now or do you think he’ll go like go back to the contemporary or are you just absolutely in love with your historicals?

A.S.
I’m gonna, I’m gonna play around a little Um, so after Elora’s Cave shut their doors, I actually merged historical with paranormal and I wrote the Demon Hunters.

Elle
And oh, how fun, I missed that.

A.S.
Yeah, so essentially Deception, Betrayal, and there were supposed to be more books. And there will be more books, fingers crossed. But the publisher didn’t pick up the rest of the series. So, um, but I’m probably gonna self publish them. But anyway, so I merged them. And they didn’t do that well. But the people who read them, I get emails all the time. When are you going to write more? When are you going to write more? So, tell your friends!

Elle
I’m grabbing those two that is so up my alley. A historical plus demon hunters. And I’m actually just started a new urban fantasy that I want to wrap more romance into, because I write urban fantasy, separate from contemporary romance and is not happily ever after at all. And so even though there are romantic elements, but now I think I’m going to combine into the urban fantasy. So I’m super curious about your urban fantasy as well. I’m probably buying like your entire backlist. Cuz I’m like, I gotta see how she does this.

A.S.
Yeah. It was a lot of fun in there. You know, my lords and ladies, and even there’s housekeepers and maids and stuff that, that fight demons. Those were super fun. And I just loved them. But because they didn’t sell and I wanted to keep writing for Kensington, I switched to historical. And I love it. And I’ll keep doing it. But I definitely want to write more paranormal. And then I have this high fantasy series in my head that won’t let go. So that’ll probably happen to I don’t know about contemporary you never know.

Elle
So now historicals like, readers are usually sticklers for details. So I’m very curious what sort of research goes into these books?

A.S.
So it depends on the book. For example, let me think of a good one. So Misleading a Duke has a lot of spies in it. And so I had to do a lot of research on spies in Regency England. And actually, the three French spies, so they’re not all French, but they’re spies for France, that are in the book were real people. Historical people who did not do what they do in my book, as far as I know, but, I use them to do terrible things in my book.

Elle
Okay.

A.S.
I don’t want to give too much away, but they do terrible things. But there were real people. And historically, two of them were really horrible people. But um, yeah, so I used them, because I thought that would be fun. It’s all about having fun in my world. If writing isn’t fun, then you shouldn’t you shouldn’t pour your heart into it.

Elle
I agree. So I’m just jotting that down I love that all about having fun in my world. So when your characters you know, where they randy back then? I’m just going to ask the question.

A.S.
I don’t think that we invented sex, or the desire for it. So yes, sure. And that’s why people got married so quickly. You know, they know each other for three weeks and they get married once the bands were read. Because they didn’t want them having sex before marriage, but and they often did. And there were lots of seven month premature babies. And even like in Mansfield Park, Jane Austin, Henry and Mary Crawford are pretty….we don’t actually see it on the page, but they’re pretty promiscuous. Right. Um, but yeah,

Elle
Yeah, I guess we’re always sort of told that there were there was certain proprieties and, you know, and so and so as you know, when I’m reading steamy historicals I’m sort of like, okay, so I know that, you know, there’s I know some historical readers are still like, right down to the details of the dresses and the clothes and the, you know, like you really have to have your history and an understanding of that history. But then like, does that go out the window because these characters are having these promiscuous moments? Or were they really having a lot of sex there?

A.S.
I think they were having a lot of sex. However, I think you have to be careful. It’s a romance novel. So right? You don’t want your heroine to be a slut. You want her to be so desperately attracted to the hero that she has to have sex with him. Or, well, no, no or. And you have to make it so that no one would find out. Because they would be ruined if they found out and didn’t get married. Now if they got married, then everything it would be forgiven.

Elle
So but your happily ever afters I’m assuming come with marriage attached because of the way because of the historical period or do some of them not have marriage attached to it?

A.S.
Well, they don’t always plan to get married. I write pretty strong female characters.

Elle
Yeah.

A.S.
I write in powered women, no matter what period I’m writing in. So like the Everton Domestic Society, those are all women who have chosen this career rather than marriage. Every one of them has chosen to join the Everton Domestic Society for one reason or another. Because they don’t think they can get married, because they don’t want to get married, because they’re in trouble and they’re hiding out. Whatever it was they aren’t planning a marriage. So since all of my characters have sex before marriage, I think all I’m trying I’m looking around my room at my book covers thinking Did anybody not have sex before marriage? I don’t think so.

Elle
Really great.

A.S.
I think that says something about me.

Elle
No, I don’t think it does.

A.S.
They all, it all happens in a way that either they think they’ll get married, or they think it’s worth it, to have sex with this person and not marry him.

Elle
Gotcha. So going way back to that first, you know, your first book that you wrote, and your very first sex scene because Elora’s Cave, they sort of like made their name on their steam. What was that like for you to write your very first one?

A.S.
Um awkward.

Elle
Was it really?

A.S.
But, for me, as long as the sex scene is moving the story forward? It can’t just be sex for the sake of sex. Although there’s nothing wrong with sex for the sake of sex. I feel like in fiction, it has to have a point. Is it healing something? Is it saying something? Is it moving something forward? Is it just relieving desire so that you can move on to the next thing? Whatever it is, it has to have a point. So when I first submitted Myan Inferno, this is a little known fact. Maybe nobody’s maybe I’ve never told anybody this before my husband knows. They said, this is a great story. It needs more sex.

Elle
Oh, how much did you have or not have it?

A.S.
It’s a novella. It’s only like 35,000 words and it had two sex scenes. And so I added another sex scene. I think just one more, maybe two more. It’s still a really short book. And there’s a lot of sex in it. And that’s actually harder to do than just to write a sex scene that’s part of my story arc. Because now I have to change the arc.

Elle
Right, because you need to include a new a new scene. How difficult was that?

A.S.
It was less difficult than I expected it to be. When I go got the letter, and keep in mind I’ve been trying to get published for years and years. So when I got the letter, and the first part of it said, we really liked your story, I’m paraphrasing, but and as soon as I got to but I stopped reading, because I had gotten so many rejection letters. And I was in a little diner with my husband. And he’s like, what’s wrong? And I just handed the phone to him. And he read the email. He’s like, this is actually not bad. So I’m like, Oh, well, let me read it.

Elle
And then you’re like, Oh, crap. I mean, did they tell you we need two more? We need two more. We need one more. Did they say to add more sex?

A.S.
They said, and we’ll take another look at it if you add more sex.

Elle
Oh, man.

A.S.
That was their thing. Right? For the most part, they published sexy books. Now my historicals with them were in their sweet line. There’s no sex in those.

Elle
I didn’t even realize they had a sweet line. I had no idea that they had a sweet line.

A.S.
They did. It didn’t do very well, but they did have one. But yeah, so I just, I just went through it. And I found a spot where, you know, some romantic moment could turn into more, and I, I added a really sexy sex scene. And I sent it back and they said, Yes.

Elle
Wow. I don’t know, I would feel a little I guess I mean, because I struggle to write my intimate scenes to begin with. So I feel like that would just throw like, I would just be like, Oh, no. Like I would freeze.

A.S.
You have to be desperate to get published.

Elle
Do you have a process for writing the steamy bits? Or is it just you just plow along? And it’s no, no big deal.

A.S.
It is harder than writing anything else.

Elle
It is.

A.S.
However, I have tried, like putting in the marker. And I’ll come back to it. And I can’t get past it. Because if I don’t know what happened in the sex scene, you know what, what moved the story forward, then I’ll just end up going back and having to rewrite everything past the sex scene.

Elle
Right.

A.S.
So even if it’s just little bits, it’s like a whole new editorial process. So I just write them and they take longer than any other scene in the book. But I write them, I’m very linear.

Elle
Yeah, yeah, I tend to be too. So because they are the slower scene what trips you up there? Do you think it’s the choreography? Do you think it’s getting the pacing right? Do you know like, I still don’t know what kind of slows me down with them. But I do know I slow down.

A.S.
Hmm.

Elle
And they don’t with my urban fantasy like, because you know, urban fantasies are fight scenes, you know, when you’re not writing right? So, so I don’t with my fight scenes.

A.S.
Fight scenes are the best to right.

Elle
Thank you all. Thank you.

A.S.
They are awesome.

Elle
I can fly through those.

A.S.
Yeah the demon series had all these fight scenes with demons, and those were awesome. And, and there is a lot of choreography? But every fight is different. And I think that the hardest thing with sex is you don’t want every sex scene to be the same. He put his hand here. And then she put her hand there. And then he kissed her here. And you don’t want that.

Elle
Right.

A.S.
And are they chatty? Are they not chatty? Are they loud? You don’t want every scene to be the same from book to book from even from scene to scene with the same two characters. So I think that’s hard. I mean, I don’t know. It’s hard. It’s hard to write sex. It’s hard to talk about intimate things to strangers, so you kind of have to take yourself out of it. And it’s, it’s an intimate scene, but it’s an intimate scene between two people who are not you.

Elle
Right.

A.S.
And that’s the key to it. For me anyway, is, you know, when I first went to college before I went back, I was a theater major. So that’s how I think about it. This is not me. And I do that through the entire book, not just sex. Right? I’m sure there’s bits of me. There’s definitely bits of my mother.

Elle
Well, I mean, I think we take our part we have to take our experiences into it because that’s where we gain our understanding. I, too, was a theater major in college so I think we do take our you know, we take our lived experience to the work that we write, even if it’s not the same, we still have experienced the same emotions that our characters have felt. Whether you know whether it’s love or shame or anger or you know, whatever. I mean, ironically though, I guess I’ve never been a bloodthirsty vampire yet I write one so well.

A.S.
But you can say if I was a bloodthirsty vampire, this is how I react to this situation.

Elle
And quickly. Yet for some reason, you know, the process of writing, like writing that steam and I think it’s really writing and writing anger maybe versus writing love and anger tends to be fast. And, loud and exciting. And sudden, yeah. Whereas love unfolds so slowly, and I’m wondering if maybe that’s it, like maybe it maybe it’s maybe it’s simply that.

A.S.
Yeah, maybe it’s meant to be slowly.

Elle
Yeah.

A.S.
It’s an interesting, interesting thought. Yeah. Yeah.

Elle
Okay, so I have your excerpt here it is from Misleading a Duke which is from the Wallflowers of West Lane series. Can you set up the scene for us?

A.S.
Yes, I’m going to try and do it without spoilers. So those terrible spies that I mentioned, have captured Faith and Nick. And they’re in this little castle where Faith had, I may have to go back a little further. Faith and Nick are engaged. Faith had never met Nick before. Faith did not like that her mother set this up. And so she fought it. And she had her friends in the West Lane Wallflowers of West Lane, investigate him. Nick is a spy. And he figured it out. And he did not like it. And he’s tried to get her to call off because if she calls off, there’s no harm. If he calls off, she’s ruined. I don’t know if you read historical but that’s the way it worked. If the if the woman breaks off the engagement, there’s no harm. But if the man breaks off the engagement, that means a woman is an undesirable. It was not a fair world. It’s still not a fair world. But that’s how it worked back then. So he’s trying to get her to call off and she won’t because she doesn’t like to be pushed. She does like her mother pushing around. So she doesn’t like him pushing around. So she tricks him into going to this little castle and they’re all alone there. And no one besides her friends knows they’re there. Except these spies followed him there. And they’ve tortured him and she took care of him. And that’s the setup.

Elle
Okay. So already, we’ve got this sort of actually, like, you know, they’re going to fall in love after that, you know? Okay, I’m gonna read this little bit, which I really loved, okay. I want to touch you, Nick. Never had any six words sounded so beautiful. He released her hip, and let loose the fall of his breeches. Rising with care, that pain not and this before it had really begun. He removed but few clothes he had on I will not be able to lie on my back. She sat up and Dr. Phil of him in the moonlight moonlit room. tentatively she touched the tip of the shaft then slid her fingers lower. Her touch was soft and light and maddeningly erotic. Is it strictly necessary for you to lie on your back? Taking hold of her hand he stopped her seduction. Not strictly he laughed. If you’re a certain I’m sure we can make do. Faith got to her feet on top of the mattress and temptress chemise over her head, then flung it to the floor. I’m taking your word that you find my form pleasing. With the moon behind her, she glowed in a perfect feminine silhouette before she knelt down in front of him. Knowing it would not be what it should Nick vowed it would be wonderful for Faith. He slit his hands from her shoulders down and let his thumbs rub over her pebbled nipples. Okay, I’m in love with him. So he must have like, he was a roguish hero. I’m guessing.

A.S.
He’s a spy. He’s secretive. So he’s very secretive. And that that I mean, that’s the problem. That’s their whole problem is he won’t tell her anything about himself beyond his childhood.

Elle
So she obviously wants to know more of him and he’s holding back and that’s what’s creating their conflict.

A.S.
Right. And now she knows. She’s I mean, she suspected she figured a lot out on her own with her friends. But now, obviously, they’ve been captured by spies. She’s very familiar with what he used to do.

Elle
Okay, all right, because it just seemed like already right here he was so completely likable. And I’m guessing if he wanted to force her to break up their engagement, um, he was probably behaving like a bit of an ass.

A.S.
If he had broken off the engagement and ruined her would have been worse. Right? But yes, he was being a bit of an ass for not giving her a chance to explain why she had done the things she had done?

Elle
Right. Okay. I also am struck by the language that you use, because it is so sort of, of the time, right? Like, like, your paranormals are probably very different. And I’m kind of in awe of people of people who are able to sort of like shift their voice like this. I think it’s so cool that you can do like you’re able to do that.

A.S.
I have a list of words that can’t I use in historicals. So, I, because I say okay, a lot, okay, makes it into my historicals a lot. And sometimes they slip through and I get all kinds of emails about them. But I go through and I look for okay, because okay, was not a word used until like the 1920s. And in America, not in England. You know, think about it, because we use it so much. And there was no spelled okay, why that didn’t exist until much later. But the O and K was like i the Boston Post in 1920. For some, I don’t I’m not even sure what it was, what the headline was, but it was some headline. And so that word didn’t exist. There’s lots of those kinds of things, use of language?

Elle
Yeah, how do you learn about this use? Well, I like that, to me is sort of pretty fascinating. Like, how did you is like, Is there like a big Encyclopedia of words from the olden times?

A.S.
There certainly are lots of books about it. A lot of times, my editor will find it. Or, unfortunately, sometimes they get through and a reader will say something, and then it gets added to my list of words to look for when I do my first edit. But most of the time, most of the time, you know words that probably didn’t exist and you can check and sometimes you’ll be surprised that they did.

Elle
Well, because I would think particularly for, you know, I mean naming body parts, right when naming a penis naming a vagina naming a vulva naming breasts, like, you know, you can’t repeat the sort of clinical anatomically correct name over and over again. And I imagine for the time period, they must have had very different words.

A.S.
Yeah, they didn’t say penis and vulva. I mean, beyond a medical world that anybody would have known what a vulva was.

Elle
But you know, but even then, like, like, I guess they would have said cock back then.

A.S.
They did. So, that depends on whether what I’m writing. So cock offends a lot of readers who read historical even though it was probably the more used word so because I’m not writing erotic anymore. That’s another thing like when you write erotic you write caulk and write and slit and then when you’re not writing that you have to tame that back a little bit. Right and they so shaft and rod work. They did us mons, which I actually hate. I don’t know it just hate that word.

Elle
I actually forgot about mons. I actually completely forgot about that one.

A.S.
I really don’t like that word.

Elle
I don’t either. There’s a reason why I forgot that word. But yeah, I completely forgot about that. But yeah, like just because cuz you know even now like with modern language, I will still struggle with what to call things because it gets repetitive and you’re right, there are words readers can just completely, you know,

A.S.
Skeeve.

Elle
Yeah, skeeve. And you don’t want to do that either.

A.S.
Yeah, no, there are books for that too.

Elle
There are

A.S.
Yeah. Cara Bristol wrote Naughty Words for Nice Writers. It’s on my shelf right here. It’s like a romance novel-saurus and she’s actually a wonderful person and she’s got all the dirty words. And the nice words for all the parts.

Elle
Oh, I’m gonna have to take that I have to give that a look. That might be useful.

A.S.
She’s awesome.

Elle
All right, more reading more reading. Okay, Nick. Love you, Nick. Nick slid one hand between her knees and applied just enough pressure so that she knew what he wanted. An instant later, her legs open for him. Lie back sweetheart. Staying on her elbows she watched. Somehow her constant attention was even more arousing. Nick’s body thronged with need, but he lowered his head and made love to her with his mouth. She tasted like the sweetest honey and threw her head back while biting her lip to keep from waking the house. Faith collapsed back on the mattress, her head rolling from side to side and her hips pumping against his ravenous mouth. Nick slid finger inside her justice, her muscles clenched and released. It was spectacular. She was magnificent. He pulled her from the bed and into his arms, holding her until her rapture past, wishing he had the strength to lift her onto the bed wouldn’t make it so. Instead, he lowered her to the mattress with her help. When she put her head on the pillow and waited. He joined her on his side facing her. Are you all right? Poppy said it was wonderful. But I have to admit I didn’t believe her. Laughing Nick caressed her from shoulder to hip. And what do you think now? She took his shaft in her hand, I think there is more pleasure to be had before the sun comes up. Now this is a woman who knows exactly what she wants. And it is Nick. So I mean, this kind of like this is where I sort of jumped in about the Oh, well, you know, what was the sex life of Victorians back then, before they were married? I do know that they had those dirty playing cards.

A.S.
That was just for men though I think.

Elle
Yeah, and those were just for men. Exactly. And so it just kind of, you know, the idea. And I get this, you know, all the time when I do, I don’t read a lot of historicals. But I’ve had one other historical romance author for this podcast. I’m just sort of fascinated by how much sex was going on here. And that this isn’t necessarily you know, something that romance writers are making up. This actually did happen.

A.S.
Well, the story is certainly made up,

Elle
Right.

A.S.
But people had sex before marriage, people have always had sex before marriage, and likely always will. So in this in this particular story, they are in a room together, they’re locked in a room together. There are only three servants in the house. And they’re also captives. And then at the moment that this is happening, there’s only one of the spies and he’s a drunk. So I mean, they’re pretty safe, right? At least from gossip, if not, from, you know, certain death. And when there’s certain death involved, people will have sex.

Elle
Yeah, they loosen their restrictions on sex. Okay, one more, one more section. She wrapped her hand around the back of his head, allowing him to deepen the kiss and moaned into his mouth. Lord, he could listen to that sound for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, that might only be for a few more hours. It would have to be enough. He rolled her to her back but couldn’t hold his own weight and his arms. Sighing, he rolled back to his side. We’ll have to try this another way. She faced him with those inquisitive eyes boring into him. There’s more than one way hundreds my sweet I wish I had time to show them all to you and perhaps to discover some new ones. Frowning, she cradled his face in her hands. Do not talk like that. make love to me Nick and don’t think about anything else can you do that? His painfully hard chef jerked indicating that he could. I will do my best. Rewarding him with a long wet kiss, she bent one leg over his bringing them intimately close. Nick lifted her other leg over him but kept hold of it so she didn’t touch his back. She rolled onto her back, cheeks flush with desire. She was so wet to his touchy couldn’t help sliding his fingers over her sensitive button until her hips pumped in her eyes closed. With just the slightest adjustment, his tip entered her and he drew her her hips down hard. What I thought was really interesting about this is kind of in terms of the choreography where you’ve complicated the act with an injury. And so like, you know, and already, you’re kind of like, Okay, how did the legs go here, arm goes here, too. And now, you’ve also got to stop and think about, well, wait a minute, he’s been tortured, and his back is all chewed up. And so that’s one more complication to the writing. And so I’m kind of curious, why did you have their first coupling at a moment when he was injured?

A.S.
It wasn’t up to me. It was up to them. If not, then maybe never, from their perspective. He certainly fully expects not to live through the next day or two. And, and she knows he’s probably right. And before then, they hadn’t really forgiven each other.

Elle
This is almost there all is lost moment. Right? And they’re just gonna, they’re just going to do it, because all is lost.

A.S.
Exactly.

Elle
But writing in that injury, and particularly an injury that is going to affect, you know, some performance abilities, they’re not gonna be able to do it a certain way, like, did that add another layer f complication to writing?

A.S.
I think it made it almost easier? Because he cannot lay on his back. And he’s kind of weak, he’s in a weakened state. So there’s a lot of things he couldn’t do. So I think about, well, if you can’t do this, and you can’t be up on your knees for a long time, because that would be exhausting. What can you do? How much pain? Are you willing to endure? for pleasure? And really, he’s more worried about her pleasure than his own. Which is lovely.

Elle
Yeah. Which is so sweet. So is this all written? Is this a dual point of view? Or is it all written from his?

A.S.
It’s dual point of view?

Elle
I really love that you wrote this sex scene in his head. I think that that is so cool. Do we get it from her perspective, too? Or is that sort of like, later?

A.S.
Later. Not in this in this time.

Elle
Okay. And it seemed like this was this his turning point in terms of kind of falling for her and not wanting to call off the engagement?

A.S.
It was earlier. Yeah, it’s earlier, because this is not the first time she had to take care of him.

Elle
Okay. And that’s where it, that’s where it change.

A.S.
It’s I think when he realizes this is not an ordinary woman.

Elle
Right. So at this point, has she released him from the engagement?

A.S.
No. I mean, there’s no one to call off to at this point. So, not yet. No.

Elle
Or even to him? Has she really has she said, I’ll release the engagement. Did you know, has she actually said that to him or not?

A.S.
No. He hasn’t asked for it. in a long time, either.

Elle
Okay. Okay, because he does make an assumption, kind of at the end that she’s going to find a nice nobleman to marry. And I guess that assumption is also based on the fact that he thinks he’s going to die.

A.S.
Yes.

Elle
Got it. Okay, cool. I thought they were so lovely together. And he was like, it was just like, Oh, my heart. He was great.

A.S.
Yeah, Nick is lovely.

Elle
He was so amazing. So this one just came out at the end of September, Misleading the Duke but now you have another one coming out in this series, Wallflowers of West Lane, Capturing the Earl.

A.S.
It’ll be out in January.

Elle
Okay, what happens here?

A.S.
So Capturing the Earl is about Mercy, Mercedes Heath. And she is an orphan. So one of the things about the Wallflowers of Westlane is they were sent away to school and that’s where they met.

Elle
Okay.

A.S.
And I did that because we always see men who were sent to Eton and became friends and they have a lifelong friendship, and you rarely see that in historicals with women so I wanted that.

Elle
Oh, I love that. Okay, cool.

A.S.
So when they first get back from school, Aurora is the first one to be married off. And she’s abused. And that’s not on the page just for everybody’s heart, it’s not on the page. It’s only in my head. So because of that, and then the husband dies. That’s where we start the first book, which is The Earl Not Taken. And he dies. And now, they all make a pact that they’ll never let that happen to each other again. They’ll protect each other. So in Capturing the Earl, Wesley Renshaw wants to marry Aurora, because she owns a piece of land that he needs. And we shouldn’t make him seem too cutthroat. It was always done was done quite often back then, that people married for money and still married for money. And people married for plots of land. And so Mercy’s job, if you want to call it that, is to discourage him because he doesn’t ever want to get married again. And so they’re thrown together quite a lot. And he’s, he’s really lovely, too. I love my heroes.

Elle
What makes a good hero?

A.S.
I think a good hero will fall in love with a strong woman for exactly what she is. Not trying to change her. Because I write these really strong female characters, who I also love. But I mean, not in real life, not all men love strong women. I mean, I’m married to a man who likes very smart women. And I’m happy about that. But you know what, a lot of times, even today, women will dumb themselves down for men. So I but I write these women who will never do that. And Mercy is actually a very accomplished musician, which is like my dream, which I’m not at all an accomplished musician. But I keep trying. But Mercy is and she’s so beautiful in the music, and then so torn in life, because he’s an Earl and she is just an orphan who has very high ranking friends.

Elle
Right.

A.S.
So it’s really a lovely story. But there are no spies in that one. There’s no torture.

Elle
No torture going on

A.S.
No torture in Capturing the Earl.

Elle
So, okay, one more question. I’m curious about to you, what do you think makes a good intimate scene? What are the elements that goes into it? That makes it good?

A.S.
Um, okay. So I think it has to start with a lot of sexual tension. I think there has to be a lot of what’s the word? Not just desire, but willingness to trust. I think that’s true in real life, as well as in fiction. So with fiction, you know, your characters are probably, or possibly coming from a place of mistrust, especially in historical where most of the women that I’m writing are virgins, not all because Aurora was married and she’ll have a story and she won’t be a virgin. But she’ll have her own issues, right, because she was a battered woman. So it’s that point where you get to trust and the same with Nick and, and Faith. She doesn’t trust him because he shares nothing. And he doesn’t trust her because she spied on him. And now they’ve come to this place of trust and just like opens up like a flower. Hate to be sappy and metaphoric, but I just think that once you get the passion, which you can have with, you know, without trust, and then the trust, it’s just becomes a beautiful moment.

Elle
I completely agree. And I never really thought about the trust as being the point where everything unfolds, but it actually is. I’m thinking back to, you know, my books and where, you know, the relationship, then blossomed, you know, to continue with the flower metaphor. And it was always once that level of trust had been established. And then maybe the character pull takes that trust back because they’re scared or, you know, whatever it might be. But that initial moment, that barrier has come down, because there is a level of trust between them, that’s grown between them. And I think that I think that maybe, oh, I feel like I’ve just had a revelation.

A.S.
You had a breakthrough.

Elle
Where can readers find you on the internet’s?

A.S.
AS Fenichel dot com. and I’m on Twitter, as AS Fenichel, and I’m on Instagram, AS AS Fenichel, and I’m on Facebook, and BookBub. And if you put in AS Fenichel, and you find me almost everywhere.

Elle
I will include links in the show notes as well. So, Andy, thank you so much for being here. This was so great.

A.S.
Thank you. And all this was, this was a lot of fun.

Elle
Yay.

A.S.
And I wasn’t that weirded out about hearing my own sex scenes read back to me.

Elle
So that was okay.

Yeah, it wasn’t that bad.

Okay cool. Because it weirds. Some people out. They are like, oh, my god, that was excruciating.

A.S.
It wasn’t that bad.

Elle
Like, I’m sorry, but we can’t talk about it without like, reading it. And understanding we can’t dig into it. So well. Thank you for being a good sport, and I’m glad that it wasn’t too painful.

A.S.
This was a lot of fun. Thanks a lot.

Elle
Thank you.