What girl hasn’t had a teenage crush? You know…that absolutely unattainable man whose picture is hanging on her bedroom wall? The last person you’d bade a good-night, and the first person to smile at you in the morning while he minded you with those bedroom eyes?
Maybe you practiced kissing on his poster. Not saying I did that, but I’m sure my crimson face revealed it all when my mother asked a 12-year-old me why the lips of John Taylor (Duran Duran) were all smeared and wet on that pin-up from Bop Magazine!
Surely, though, you’ve fantasized what it would be like to meet your fantasy man. Maybe you even wrote a few of those stories spinning in your teenage mind down. Again…I’m not saying I did it…but let’s just say that there were a few spiral notebooks tossed around my teenage bedroom, all of them filled with stories where John kissed a certain girl who looked a LOT like me. And when they really wanted to kick it up, they kissed passionately…
Skip ahead almost thirty years and about ten Duran shows later. I had that chance with John himself on my 40th Birthday when he did a booksigning here in New York City. He paid me one of the greatest compliments of my life: “Forty? You’re not FORTY?”
Maybe he was just being polite, as he is a very charming man—he truly makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room when he’s speaking to you. Or maybe he was just thinking, “If she’s forty…then I’m just OLD!” Regardless of intent, he made a memory for me that truly will last the duration of my lifetime here on Planet Earth. (My fellow Durannies will get that intentional pun.)
So when I sat down to write my Manhattan Bound Trilogy, I wanted to use what I knew in my own life as inspiration. With New York City as my backdrop, I used my own knowledge of the life and culture here as a backdrop—drawing from over twenty years of living and breathing in this town that I so love.
But I needed a hero and heroine to match the setting…so I looked to the second love of my life (after Duran Duran, of course!)—musical theater.
And then my imagination started running wild. What if I stepped outside the norm of billionaires, bassists and bikers? What if I created a hero who was a rising star on Broadway instead? Nothing seemed to shout NEW YORK more than a leading man of the stage…
What could be more enthralling than falling in love—in real life—with that man whose picture hung on your bedroom wall? What happens when she starts uncovering the real man behind her fantasies? Would she even like him?
Enter Maxine Kirk and Drew McKenzie. She’s a theatrical publicist, new to New York. He’s about to hit the big time on Broadway…if his latest show doesn’t close like all of the other disastrous musicals on his resume.
Maxine harbored her own teenage crush on Drew. By chance, she landed a job as a theatrical publicist and stumbled into his arms at a networking party. However, she begins to quickly realize that Drew has a different perspective on those tender fantasies she conjured in her mind at night before she fell asleep.
And while she eventually does admit to listening to his musical cast albums to enhance her—ahem—arousal, she discovers that those chaste little interludes in the realm of her sexual fantasies were so very boring in comparison to Drew’s brand of Dominant romance.
It’s always fun to play “What if…?” And that’s the beauty of reading and writing fiction. You have that chance to play out all of those dirty dreams within the safety of a beloved book.
Truth of the matter is, I was so damn nervous and shaking when I met John that I could barely sputter the words, “It’s my 40th birthday…” Any fantasies lingering from my devious youth swept out the windows of Barnes & Noble and splattered on the concrete right on Lexington Avenue.
I believe I did mention my lifelong love for him. I think I even told him that I spent my 21st birthday with him, too, at a concert. (Yes, MY favorite band came to town on my 21st birthday! I just have luck with them.)
I did, plan ahead and dragged along one of my best girlfriends who has a steady hand to capture the picture. She wasn’t even a Duran fan, but John left her a bit giggly. Although, she did see a side of me that she never imagined, I think. I just remember the look on her face, which was a tad bit shocked, as John entered the room. Along with the hundreds of other forty-something Durannies, I screamed.
No…I didn’t scream.
Like. A. Banshee.
Once we’d stepped outside, I just remember fumbling around as I tried to find the page he’d signed in his autobiography. “Happy 40! Here’s to 41…!”
At that point, I think I could actually feel my entire body trembling from the inside out. Forty years old, and reduced to Jell-O right there on a busy street in the middle of Manhattan by the guy who made me quiver when I was 12.
Lucky it was my birthday! Gave me an excuse to have a drink that early in the afternoon!
Now…let’s discuss…who was YOUR teenage crush? Have you met them? Were you stunned silly like I was? Or did you keep your cool? Post below! I’d love to see pics.
Juliet Braddock’s first efforts in creative writing came long before she learned to put crayon to paper. In fact, she began spinning stories in her head nearly as soon as she could form complete sentences. As long as she can remember, she’d always created sagas about imaginary friends, family members and pop culture icons, and kept everyone around her entertained with her witty—but often very tall—tales.
For her sixth Christmas, Juliet’s mother got her a child’s typewriter to preserve all of those creative thoughts filling her head, but she quickly switched to ball point pens and notebooks when the ribbon ran dry.
Most of Juliet’s early attempts at writing romance focused on members of Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet or young leading men on Broadway. However, as she matured as a writer, she decided that it was just as much fun to create her own romantic heroes and heroines.
At an early age, she also developed a love for big cities, and the tallest of skyscrapers were never high enough for her. Juliet’s wanderlust would eventually lure her to New York, a city she often visited during her formative years, and her love affair with Manhattan began. She’d promised herself that one day she would return for good.
Juliet’s passion for writing and for big cities converged, and after graduating with a degree in Journalism, she decided to set out on a journey to find her heart…just where she’d left it.
A week after her college graduation, Juliet made the big move from a small town to New York City, where she has made her home ever since.
In between building a career in communications and writing on the side, she’s indulged in international travel, theater and art. A wine and food buff, she’s by no means a connoisseur, but she can give a few good restaurant recommendations if you’re in the city.
“There’s something so inspiring about living in a city like New York that’s so rich in culture and so very vibrant. Every neighborhood has its own story to tell,” Juliet says. “I often do my best plotting on the subway, just observing the lives unfolding around me. New York truly has a billion stories nestled between the skyscrapers.”
A proud Manhattanite, Juliet couldn’t live anywhere else—except for Paris, perhaps—and is a gushing cat-mom to a Russian Blue mix who was rescued as a kitten from the streets of Brooklyn.
Q. Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I actually grew up on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, but my mom and I always visited New York City while I was growing up. We’d see a ton of Broadway shows, and just hit the town. When I graduated college, it was only natural that I moved to New York—and just a week after I had my diploma in hand.
In my Manhattan Bound series, both settings come into play. I love to use what I know so that I can fully place my readers in the environment of my characters. My heroine, Maxine, grew up in Pittsburgh, and she just moved to New York. And I really do try to give my readers who might have never been to the city a real glimpse of Manhattan through Maxine’s eyes.
Q. Tell us your latest news?
I just had my covers redesigned, which was so much fun! I’m so pleased with the look. They truly illustrate the atmosphere and backdrop of my books now.
I’m also finishing up the third book, KNOTTED, in the Manhattan Bound series right now. Only a couple of chapters left to write! Cover reveal will be late summer with an early fall release.
Q. When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
From my very first memories, I always had a story in my head, and I would tell them verbally to family and family friends. When I was six, my mom got me a small kid’s typewriter—yeah, we had typewriters back in the 70s!—and I’d pound out stories on that. When the ribbon ran dry, I took pen to paper and just started writing long-hand.
By the time I went to college, I knew I had to major in journalism, but my actual career took a slight turn to publicity. I’ve been writing professionally my entire adult lifetime, and I’ve always written some sort of romantic fiction on the side. I have a couple of books that I’ve written that will never see the light of day, but writing them taught me the discipline I need to apply now.
My inspiration for my first published book—WEAKENED, which is Book One in my Manhattan Bound series—was born out of my love for New York and for the theater. I had also toyed with writing erotica over the years, and I decided to kick it up a notch with this series.
Q. What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
Annabel Joseph and Laura Reese have influenced my erotica, but in general, I look to the romances I read back in the late 80s. There were real plots and characters with stories that had to be told. For me, it starts with the story, and if that’s strong, the kink is a bonus, if it’s written well. And that’s what I love about Joseph and Reese—their stories are rich with plot…and so deliciously kinky.
Q. Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
First and foremost in WEAKENED, I wanted to portray a Dominant, Alpha hero who was as romantic as he was kinky. Just because a man enjoys power play doesn’t mean he can’t pamper a lady with affection and have a sense of humor about his lifestyle.
While he suffers through his own nightmares, Drew McKenzie doesn’t blame his past on why he enjoys a bit of sadistic play. With my heroine Maxine Kirk, I also wanted to illustrate a pure affinity for masochism. She’s both fascinated and aroused by Drew’s proclivities. Together, they make some beautiful music…
I also wanted to set the story in my hometown—New York City—because every street corner has a story to tell. You can find inspiration sitting on the subway or taking a walk to the deli around the corner.
As for the Broadway backdrop, I’ve loved theater since I was a small child. I know people who work in the theater here in the city. Given that I wanted to stray from the usual billionaire and biker heroes, I knew that there was no better career for Drew than the Broadway stage.
Maxine also lives with her best friend Ben. He’s funny and faithful—and quite frankly, he sometimes steals the entire chapter. He’s based on a couple of different friends of mine in real life.
Q. What motivates you to write?
My love of the craft. I’ve always loved words, and I love the power they have to really draw out the best and worst in people. There’s no greater compliment to a writer than a reader saying, “You made me cry!” I love being able to evoke emotions in others with the printed page.
Often, too, though, my own characters motivate me. I always say that they writer their own stories, and I’m just their mere typist.
Q. What is the hardest part of writing?
The hardest part is the sacrifice. You truly do have to make time and work at your craft. I spend so many nights behind my laptop screen, pounding out my chapters. However, it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to publish, and now indie publishing has made that a reality for me. So I work exceedingly hard to write my books.
Q. What does your family think of your writing?
My mom passed away 17 years ago to cancer, but she was always my greatest supporter of my writing. In college, I was editor of our literary magazine, which pushed the norms of storytelling. We were often outrageous just for the sake of being college students. And she always had my back.
Now that I’m writing erotica, I don’t think she’d be surprised. In fact, I think she’d be proud. She always encouraged my creativity, and she was very open-minded. She’d be thrilled that I mustered the courage to put my stories out there for others to read and share.
Q. What is the best advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Write. Don’t think about it too much. Just type it all out. You can edit later. If there’s a story in your head, put it down on paper.
And make time. We all lead busy lives, but you have to sit down every day and work at it. Even if you only have an hour to spend—it’s critical to write every single day.
Q. What book are you reading now?
I’m actually re-reading Topping from Below by Laura Reese, which is not your Fifty Shades of Grey brand of erotica. It’s actually quite squeamish at times, so I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart. But the writing is so alluring, and the mystery keeps you guessing until the last second.
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