He’s a professional scientist by day and an author of erotic romance in his free times. His stories involve beautiful characters who enjoy steamy sex scenes and also happen to have hang-ups, anxieties, and problems. Meet Ian Smith and the players of his series of interesting and sensual tales.
Lilah: Hello Ian, it’s a pleasure to have you in here and congratulations on your new book. How does it feel to be a published author? Pros and cons of being traditionally published?
Ian: Hi, and thank you for inviting me, Lilah. For me, having a book published is a mixture of encouraging, exciting and scary! Several people at my publishers clearly thought my story was worth investing time and effort it to get it on sale, which is a huge confidence boost. But suppose no-one buys it, or no-one likes it? I’ve not self-published anything yet, so I can’t comment on pros and cons. But my publisher takes care of all the “non-writing” details, like cover art, formatting and uploading to the various e-book retailers, which saves me a lot of time and stress.
Lilah: Why did you choose erotic romance as your genre? Were you an avid reader of the genre before?
Ian: I think my interest in erotica developed from reading stories from different genres and thinking the “love scenes” were a bit too tame. I enjoy reading quite a mix, including some “chick lit”, thrillers and crime. And yes, I read “Fifty Shades of Grey”, which I wasn’t over-excited about, but it clearly entertained a lot of readers and its popularity boosted the whole genre. My hope is to write entertaining and engaging stories about characters in developing romantic relationships. And the erotic stuff is part of the fun, but not the reason for writing the story.
Lilah: Have you been writing before? What was the most challenging about putting your ideas and words?
Ian: This is my third novella, and I’ve had several short stories published in anthologies over the last few years. But almost all of my writing has been factual, for my “day job”. These were the sort of technical reports and scientific papers which are typical for a professional scientist.
When I turned to fiction, I think the initial challenge (and fun) was finding my own natural “voice” to start writing my own ideas with and then finding my feet with characters, dialogue, plots and so on. Having been an avid reader for most of my life, I’ve seen plenty of examples of how to write well, so it’s just down to practice to write as well as I can.
Lilah: Do you have any writing method or ritual that helps you?
Ian: Not that I can think of. I tend to let ideas rattle around in my mind for a while, then just start writing them. If a story doesn’t seem to be ready for me to write it, I wait until it is.
Lilah: Are there authors and books of the genre that inspired you?
Ian: There are lots of authors who’ve inspired me by writing something which made me think “hey, I like that way of saying it”, and others who have helped me understand story-telling in a more general sense. And yes, a few who inspired me to see if I could do it better!
Off the top of my head, I remember reading “The Ipcress File” as a teenager and enjoying Len Deighton’s pretty sparse narrative style. I loved the way Elmore Leonard showed us a fight scene in “Be Cool” by having Chilli Palmer describe it to his lover. And Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” impressed me with its epistolary structure, interweaving multiple first-person written accounts and newspaper reports into a coherent story.
Lilah: Is there something in your current work you would have done differently if you could go back in time?
Ian: I can’t think of anything at the moment, but in a couple of years I may well look at my early work quite differently. I know I’ve still got so much to learn about writing.
Lilah: What are your future writing plans? Do you plan to branch out to different genres?
Ian: I want to finish the other three stories in this series of six, and have already made a start on number four. I’ve a “spin-off” novel which I hope will be published, and I’ve got an idea for a second book involving the same characters.
I’d also like to see if I can compile an entertaining anthology of some of my flash fiction and short stories. And I have quite other a few characters in my head who want me to tell their stories.
There’s one “must get back to this” story, primarily an adventure or mystery. Yes, this will include a developing romance, but this will be far less erotic and more “mainstream”. I started this a couple of years ago and it got to about 30,000 words when my characters seemed to go off on their own and did something which totally stopped me in my tracks! Now I see that this is an interesting twist which can add drama and tension, and I want to return to it and see what adventures these characters want to have.
Lilah: A favorite character of your books?
Ian: That’s an interesting question. I think I’d like all my main characters if they were real people and I met them. But the one character I’ve included who I find the potentially most interesting is Tom Petherick, one of the supporting cast in “From The Top”. I think he’s got some great stories to tell, but he’s not ready to share them with me yet. He’s an army officer, originally serving with the SAS, who commands what he insists is a “small ceremonial unit”, mostly of reservists, but they tend to deal with… unusual things. He features far more in my spin-off novel and will appear in novella number four as well.
Lilah: Thank you for your time, Ian. Before you go, is there anything people would be surprised to learn about you?
Ian: I’ve always been interested in trying new things, primarily, just for fun. Things like learning to ride, taking up archery, having an aerobatic flight, driving a tank, diving in a small submarine, and racing hovercraft around a field, for example. And I had a brilliant day learning the basics of jousting on horseback.
General comments on the series
I have six “Merely Players” stories in mind, where my three characters share a developing FFM relationship while they work on various TV shows. I thought it would be fun to make the three characters a bit more real-life than might be typical, each with their own hang-ups and anxieties, and a relationship which isn’t clearly dominated by one person.
Paul, highly intelligent, 6 foot 4 tall, well-built and a competent stunt performer with his own suit of shining armour, would easily be type-cast as an alpha male. But it struck me that a man moving on from his wife’s tragic death would have the odd anxiety about forming new relationships, let alone one with two women who have been close for ten years.
I decided they’d work mostly on family-friendly TV shows because these would mean I could include some light-hearted fun from the slightly silly storylines and improvised dialogue.
Paul and his jousting team are performing a series of shows when two interesting and attractive women approach him. Best friends Becky and Hayley want stunt performers for a TV show and are both clearly interested in him personally. This nice guy doesn’t want to come between them, but they seem to be making it difficult for him to pick between them.
Paul, now Hayley’s leading man, finds acting in a TV show pushes him totally out of sight from his comfort zones. Off-set, he gets caught up in some terrifying, almost supernatural real-life dramas. Most confusing of all, Hayley isn’t bothered that her best friend Becky is still openly chasing Paul. Learning a secret which threatens his trust in both of them, he has to decide if he has the courage to ask them what they want.
“From the Top (Merely Players book 3)”
Paul, working with his lovers Becky and Hayley, feels deep-ended acting in his first studio production. This is a slightly mad family-friendly TV show where amateur Egyptologists find a hidden tomb and temple, with a very realistic mummy on set.
They want to keep their developing three-way relationship private, while surrounded by people who love to gossip and just might let things slip to the media. Time is tight, working with a professional stunt team and egotistical actors is stressful, and Paul and Becky get some unwanted attention.
Adding to his anxiety is the important question of where their relationship can go.
Then there are his terrifying, painfully realistic, and very life-like dreams about nasty accidents. On TV, he can have another take. Real life only gives him one go. But it’s almost as if he’s getting a chance to change how things work out.
This is early in the story, when Paul, Becky and Hayley are supposedly running through their scenes for the following day, but might be losing interest after a few drinks. That show was set in the Second World War, with Paul as an RAF ace who saved London from an attack with “gueschtunkina poison gas”. The word was actually invented by Spencer Dryden for his excellent story, “The Gueschtunkina Ray Gun”, I used it with his permission.
Hayley slapped Becky on the knee and gave her a convincing pained look. “Notwithstanding the indelicate protestations of my so-called best friend and the equal third party to our mutually loving and supportive relationship, I think it’s got something sexy about it.”
I grinned. “Maybe we could distil it into bottles? Becky’s gueschtunkina aphrodisiac tincture, guaranteed to make you frisky.”
Becky drained her glass. “Aphrodisiac tincture, my arse. Just need the right company, the right setting, and enough alcohol.”
Hayley nudged her. “You can’t take the piss out of me being noisy with Paul. You sounded like you were having an asthma attack last night.”
Becky shrugged casually. “Well? You’d both already made me come.” She looked at me and smiled. “And he felt kinda big inside me.”
Hayley giggled. “Yeah, I know that feeling. Maybe we could market that ray gun as a novelty sex toy,” Hayley said.
Becky laughed. “Yeah, let’s get the props guy to knock one up for us, rent some space suits from a costume agency, then use my HD video camera to do our own sci-fi porno stuff.”
I stood up, made a pretend gun from my fingers and pointed at Becky. “Stand back, or I’ll fire!”
“Do your worst.” Hayley giggled.
“I warned you. Peeum, peeum. Ha, got you both.”
They looked at each other.
“He got me, Hayley.”
“And me. And that’s after having his wicked way with me this morning.”
“You mean as in all that ooh, ooh, aah, ahh noise the two of you were making?”
Hayley nodded. “And a loud yes, yes, yes shortly before the end. Made my knees go all weak.”
Becky shook her head sadly. “Just like he did with me last night. Big mistake to zap me, not himself. Big mistake.”
Hayley sat up, grabbed Becky and they fell onto the bed in an embrace, giggling.
“Paul, it’s working,” Hayley said. “Save me from this randy woman.”
I watched as Becky wrestled Hayley’s dressing gown off, despite very half-hearted resistance. Both seemed to be enjoying themselves. Seeing my two favourite women wrestling each other’s clothes off was one hell of a spectator sport.
“You two were sleeping together before I came along,” I said. “Not sure I get a say when you’re feeling frisky for each other.”
“Who said we’re just frisky for each other?” Becky asked, slipping out of her dressing gown. “It’s our last night here and it’ll be a couple of weeks before we all meet up again. I want lots of sex now.” She sat astride Hayley’s thighs, twisted to face me and raised her hand. She made a pretend gun with her fingers and pointed it at me. “Come on, more the merrier. Peeum, peeum.”
“Ah,” I said, and clutched at my chest. “I’ve been shot by the randy gun.”
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