Thank you so much for having me here to talk about my ‘other’ writing life, that as an author for erotic publishers Ellora’s Cave and Totally Bound, with the pseudonym Beverley Oakley.
Taking a pseudonym happened by accident, really, for I’d never considered writing erotic romances. However, the book I’d just completed in 2011, a racy, Regency romp called Rake’s Honour, was just a little too saucy for my publisher at the time, Robert Hale, and although it had won a number of writing awards resulting in requests for the full ms from Berkley and Avon, it didn’t fit neatly into any formal mainstream category.
After finding a publisher for Rake’s Honour at Totally Bound – or Total-E-Bound, as they were then known – I was assigned a fantastic editor who saw great potential for making the saucy scenes in the book considerably more explicit. Initially I baulked, since writing hot sex scenes was not something I was at all used to doing. I thought my bold debutante Fanny Brightwell had already crossed as many boundaries as I was prepared to have her cross and this was, after all, a Regency romance – albeit a hotter-than-normal one. The action and events had to be credible, given the very few opportunities, or even knowledge, respectable young women had then about those activities to which only marriage gave them licence (to put it demurely :-).)
When the book was edited and the boundaries pushed to everyone’s satisfaction, my husband, who thought it was huge fun that his wife (Miss Goody-Two-Shoes at High School) was writing erotic fiction, gave me every encouragement to continue down this path.
I’ve always been lucky to have enormous variety in my real life with my work and strong contacts giving me access to Norway and Southern Africa as well as to Australia, so it seemed natural not to limit my writing life to just the one name and persona.
Now my fifth erotic historical romance, a Regency called Dangerous Gentlemen, has recently been released by Ellora’s Cave, and again I had a great time developing a background in which an innocent debutante (with a worldly and horrendously manipulative older sister) is accidently plunged into the Regency Underworld. As with all my books, I linked the fictional events to the politics of the time, my hero, Sir Aubrey, being falsely linked to the Spencean plot to assassinate the entire Privy Council in 1817. Events, however, take an odd turn when my well-brought-up heroine, Hetty, finds herself confused for the high-class prostitute who Sir Aubrey’s friend and brothel-madam has promised to surprise him with.
I should add that all of my writing – both as Beverley Eikli as well as Beverley Oakley – has been extremely influenced by a book I bought when I was eighteen years old called London’s Underworld, a comprehensive 400+ page report on the ‘detritus’ of society compiled in the 1850s and early 1860s by a Victorian-era investigative reporter called Henry Mayhew.
While Mayhew’s real-life interviews are sad and fascinating, I found his own judgemental attitude equally interesting. No doubt it reflected Victorian Society’s lack of sympathy and understanding of the real motivations which thrust people into a life of prostitution and other criminal activity. And it’s these motivations as much as the events they resulted in, which interest me.
As a writer, I’m less interested in what my heroine did, than why she did it. What utter desperation would motivate a woman to risk her reputation – essentially, her most prized possession in the era in which I write – to engage in sexual activity not sanctioned by society? Tackling these multi-layered motivations has been an exciting challenge in my erotic historicals which include Regency-era marriages, the storming of castles and hostage-taking during the English Civil War, and blackmail during the early years of photography.
Many thanks once again for the opportunity to visit.
Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical novels, laced with mystery and intrigue.
She has worked as a journalist, magazine editor, a safari lodge manager in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and an airborne geophysical survey operator on contracts around the world.
Beverley wrote her first romance at seventeen, but drowning her heroine on the last page was not a clever start to a career as a romance author. When she finally realised this, she rescued her heroine from drowning in her first-published novel (Lady Sarah’s Redemption), and in real life married the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire in Botswana twenty years ago.
Recently she received her third nomination from Australian Romance Readers for Favourite Historical Romance with her suspenseful Napoleonic espionage Romance The Reluctant Bride.
Beverley teaches in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, Melbourne.
Her latest Choc Lit release is The Maid of Milan, a dark Regency-era ‘Dynasty’ with love triangle, drug addiction and manipulation themes but an uplifting ending.
She also writes erotic historicals as Beverley Oakley.
You can buy Dangerous Gentlemen here: