with Lisabet Sarai
Featuring her novel Exposure
Welcome back to Sharing The Love, Lisabet Sarai!
My latest release, Exposure, started out as a writing exercise in the Erotica Readers & Writers Association Storytime critique group. I’ve been a member of Storytime, on and off, for more than twenty years. It’s a wonderful community that offers both warm support and practical advice.
Back in 2009, the Storytime moderators used to pose regular theme challenges – invitations to try writing a new topic or in a new genre. It was always fascinating to see how different authors interpreted those invitations. Exposure began as a response to an erotic noir theme.
I’d never produced anything “noir” before, but I had some idea what the sub-genre entailed: urban grittiness, disreputable and world-weary characters, tension, darkness and an oppressive air of suspicion, in which nobody was who they seemed. I decided to stretch myself and give it a try. The result was “Private Dance”, a short story featuring a self-confident stripper, a dubious commission, and a bloody double murder.
The story was really different from anything I’d previously written. I originally thought it was a one-off, but for some reason my main character Stella Xanathakeos wouldn’t let me go. I decided to see if I could turn the story into a novel. The result was Exposure.
It was a rough slog. Writing a mystery was a completely new experience for me. I found the genre to be far more demanding than the BDSM erotic romance that was my stock in trade. In a mystery, every plot detail is critically important. At the same time you need to include a few red herrings to keep things from being too predictable.
Another tricky aspect was that, following the original story, I decided to use first person present tense. That fits well with suspense; your characters don’t know any more than your readers, so both are repeatedly surprised and shocked. However, managing time in a present tense novel takes a lot of care.
If you’re familiar with my other work, you’ll find Exposure something of a departure. It’s steamy but decidedly dark, with an ambiguous ending where Stella really hasn’t made up her mind what she’ll do, or who she wants. Nevertheless, I’m very fond of the book, at least partly because writing it pushed me outside my comfort zone and helped me broaden and deepen my craft.
About The Book
Sex, blood and betrayal: it’s all in a day’s work.
I strip for the fun of it. Don’t let anyone tell you different. It’s not the money. I could make nearly as much working at the mill and keep my clothes on, but then I’d have to suck up to the bosses. Up on stage, I’m the one in charge, and I like it that way.
Tony Pinelli hired me for a private dance. I was determined to give him his money’s worth. I didn’t expect to be caught in the cross-fire of a double murder. When his widow shows up at my door, I know I’m in way over my head. Now I’m everyone’s target. I can’t trust anyone – not even the police detective who was sweet on me in high school. My only chance at survival is to shift through the lies and expose the truth.
Genre: Dark erotic suspense – ambiguous ending
Length: 65,000 words, 218 pages
Rating/Heat Level: Explicit. Mature Audiences Only. 5 Flames.
The next night I show up at the designated room number, at eight on the dot. I like to be professional. I’ve tried to dress as elegant as I can, in a nice peach linen suit that hugs my curves and makes me look dark and exotic. I’m nervous, though, as nervous as I was that first night I stepped onto the Peacock stage. Taking a deep breath, I rap three times on the door like Mr. Clean told me to do.
I recognize the man at the door immediately. I may be a stripper, but I read the papers. It’s Anthony Pinelli, leading businessman, local power-broker, candidate for mayor. Hey, I was planning on voting for him, in spite of the stories about his mob connections. Nobody’s lily-white these days. From what I’ve read, he seems to have the kind of strength that you need to run this tough town.
I’ve seen his picture lots of times, but in person he’s even more impressive. Big but not fat, with a shock of shiny black hair and bushy eyebrows to match. He has a nice straight nose, lips that look decisive, and dark eyes that seem to go right through me.
But more than his good looks, I’m impressed by the sense of power that he projects. Charisma, I think the word is. He looks me over, those firm lips curve into a warm smile, and I suddenly feel like I’d do anything he asks.
“Please come in, Ms. Xanathakeos,” he says, standing aside so that I can enter the suite. His voice has a round, mellow sound to it. It slides over me.
“Call me, Stella, please.” I look around the fancy suite curiously, noting the modern paintings on the walls, the horseshoe-shaped sofa, the bar set up in the corner. The closed door next to the desk must lead to the bedroom. My heels sink into the thick, plum-colored carpet. I’m afraid that I’ll damage it. Maybe I’ll have to dance barefoot.
“Well, then, Stella, you must call me Tony.” He takes my hand in a kind of old-fashioned way. His touch sends shivers through my body. My nervousness is gone, replaced by a feeling of breathlessness. I won’t have any trouble at all getting turned on enough to dance, that’s for sure.
“Can I offer you some refreshment?” Tony asks, gesturing toward the bar.
“Just water, please.”
He hands me a long-stemmed glass full of carbonated water. I watch the bubbles dancing. It feels as if there are bubbles inside my chest, too.
He pours himself a tall scotch. We sit together for a few minutes on the sofa, not talking, sipping our drinks. I feel flushed and sweaty, as if I’ve already danced for him. His body gives off waves of heat. It’s like I’m lying under a sun lamp. I don’t know what to do next.
Finally, he puts down his drink. “Shall we get started? Let me get a bit more comfortable.” He shrugs off his suit jacket and places it over the desk chair. I gasp as I see that he is wearing a revolver in a shoulder holster. He smiles, just a little, as he removes this and hangs it over the chair on top of the jacket. “I’m a dangerous man, Stella, and I have many enemies. I have to take care of myself.” I nod vaguely. I’m not exactly reassured.
He seats himself back on the sofa. “The stereo is over there,” he says, pointing to a complicated pile of audio equipment next to the bar. Somehow, I figure out how where insert my thumb drive and how to start it playing. I turn to face my audience.
The first bars of the music free me from any anxiety. I fix my eyes on him and begin to move. Graceful. Sensual. I’m extremely turned on, but I want this performance to be classy, not raunchy the way I sometimes am.
The shoes go first. Now I unfasten my jacket, lingering over each button. Building the suspense. I’m wearing regular lingerie, flimsy and feminine, instead of one of my costumes. My breasts are like melons, encased in black lace. No padding or wires on this bra; my nipples are clearly visible, pushing the fabric into sweet little peaks.
Buy It Now:
About The Author
Lisabet Sarai became addicted to words at an early age. She began reading when she was four. She wrote her first story at five years old and her first poem at seven. Since then, she has written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and lots of erotica and erotic romance – more than one hundred titles, and counting, in nearly every sub-genre—paranormal, scifi, ménage, BDSM, GLBT, and more. Regardless of the genre, every one of her stories illustrates her motto: Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (https://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (https://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads, Bookbub and Twitter. Join her VIP email list and get a free ebook, plus exclusive contents and other benefits: https://btn.ymlp.com/xgjjhmhugmgh
Lisabet’s Fantasy Factory (website): http://www.lisabetsarai.com
Beyond Romance (blog): http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com