The World of the Courtesan

As part of my October Blog Tour for Floats the Dark Shadow, I’ll be adding a couple of new pages to my website.

The first is The World of the Courtesan, which has bits and pieces of general history with a focus on the famous beauties of the Belle Époque. Among the courtesans are Marie Duplessis, Cora Pearl, Liane de Pougy and others.

La Belle Otero in one of her daring costumes.

La Belle Otero in one of her daring costumes.

There are photographs and posters of these courtesans from the fin-de-siècle

The ballerina Cléo de Mérode.

The ballerina Cléo de Mérode.

And there are paintings from many eras.

Henry Fuseli's painting, Courtesan.

Henry Fuseli’s painting, Courtesan.

There’s even one of the Greek namesake of the much loved heroine of Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Phyrne Fisher, whose father really meant to name her Psyche, but was too drunk to get it right, and so got it delightfully wrong.

Click on the image to see the books.

Click on the image to see the books.

Come have a look and learn a little more about some of the fascinating women of the era.

Boldini's portrait of Sarah Bernhardt.  Click on the image to visit The World of the Courtesan.

Boldini’s portrait of Sarah Bernhardt. Click on the image to visit The World of the Courtesan.

Click on this link to follow the tour and win a copy of my multiple award-winning mystery.

Click on this link to follow the tour and win a copy of my multiple award-winning mystery.

Interview With Ingrid Hall

I’m delighted to present Ingrid Hall, unique author, savvy reviewer, and provider of book and manuscript services. Ingrid was the prime mover behind forming Indie and Proud, our diverse group of talented authors. Ingrid has two books available. There’s Granny Irene’s Guide to the Afterlife (provocatively sub-titled Revenge, Part 1) and the novella The Tunnel Betwixt which was inspired by her own near-death experience. It is deliciously described in a review by Lenora as “Dada-esque, surreal, pagan.

But there’s more ahead. Shimmying into her alter-ego Luna Ballantyne, she’s embarking on adventures in the (fictional) erotic realm.

 

IngridHall

 

The Interview: How is constructing an erotic novel different from writing another genre?

Well, I guess the main part is the obvious part: the erotic content. I have read a lot of erotica/steamy romances over the years and I think I have a fairly good feel for the genre. I have written some fairly graphic scenes in a brothel for previous work, but because the emphasis in those scenes was very much on prostitutes/working girls, then they weren’t by definition erotic. I also think you have to have a clear idea in your head as to whether you are aiming for pure porn, or whether you are looking to introduce a romantic element and a story…I also believe that in order to write good erotica, you have to have lived and experienced (most) of it. I say most, because you always need to let your imagination run rip in whatever you are writing, but with something as detailed as this, then you kind of need to know what you are talking about. God forbid that you should write something, and the position/scene be completely unworkable in real life – Imagine the flak that you would cop for that! So, it is with a certain sense of trepidation that I am writing my One Night Stand Series, as I am a teeny bit nervous, seeing how there is quite a lot of “me” in there, as to how it will be perceived, especially among people who know me, but don’t really know that side of me.

Have you ever had a One Night Stand…and was it any good?

I didn’t meet my husband until I was thirty, and yes, it’s fair to say that I lived quite a wild life before then. I had several one night stands over the years, some of them were amazing, and some of them were a complete waste of time. I remember throwing one guy out of my house at about 04:00 a.m. because he was so boring, and I just thought that when I wake up, it isn’t going to be with you! Do I feel any guilt, or have any regrets? Well, yes, I have a few regrets about some of the dubious choices that I made, but do I feel any guilt or shame? No, absolutely not! I was a single woman, in the prime of her life…and I had fun.

Do you need to be in love with your hero to write a sexy book?

My hero in my upcoming book is a 17th Century Highwayman, who has travelled through time and has now found himself in the 21st Century. What’s not to love about him? I definitely have to have a mental connection with my hero. I have to understand what makes him tick, even if I don’t particularly like him. I definitely have to want to rip his clothes off at any given minute, and he DEFINITELY has to be amazing in bed. Does that mean I have to be in love with him? Hmmm, not too sure, I think provided he ticks all of those boxes, I could still have my fun with him and then cheerfully send him to the gallows…Does my heroine feel the same way, well, that’s the million dollar question, and as the series progresses, readers will see that my emphasis is definitely on the hero, as, unlike most erotic romance series the heroine changes with each new book!

Was your starting point a particular scenario, setting, or the characters?

My starting point was with the hero (my highwayman) and also a young woman who was accused of being a witch in the 17th Century.   The whole series is based loosely upon the real life Newcastle witch trials. I originally started with the intention of telling the story of Elizabetha and her highwayman in one go, but then realised that it would be a hell of a lot more interesting, if I separated them right from the start, and had to make him find his way back to her.   Bizarre as it may seem, by shagging everything that moves, he will gain the tools that he needs to do exactly that. The highwayman is definitely on a mission, and I hope readers will understand this. It will also be interesting to see how they respond to each of his women because while he will always take what he wants from them, he will always give them something that they desire in return… and it won’t always be the most obvious thing that you can think of!

What do you find most erotic in erotic novels, and what do you find least erotic?

I like erotica that makes me think as well as pushing my buttons! There has to be a reasonably strong story to make me keep reading. The sex scenes have to be full on, no holds barred, but they can’t be mechanical. There also has to be an emotional or psychological element. I don’t really mind how they get their kicks, or how perverse it may seem, so long as I am invested to a reasonably high level in the characters.

Is there any genre you wouldn’t attempt?

I would never say never to anything! How does writing fiction differ from critiquing fiction?

When I am writing, I am free to be me. When I am critiquing, then I owe it to the author to write a fair and balanced review, so I do take a lot of care to make sure that I toss anything negative that I am feeling about the book, around in my head for a while, to make sure that when it comes out in the actual review, it is a fair and constructive reflection…rather than something that has just hacked me off!

Does critiquing help you to view your own work more critically?

Critiquing fiction has actually made me write much better fiction. I have seen first-hand the common mistake that indie authors make and I am now doing my utmost to avoid falling into the same trap.

What’s the hardest criticism you’ve had to take to heart?

When my first novel Granny Irene’s Guide to the Afterlife was first published, a lot of people really struggled with the main character’s voice. It was written completely in broad Geordie, exactly as Irene spoke. (Not just the dialogue!) I had hoped people would just embrace it, but soon came to realise that people simply didn’t understand what the character was saying! It was hard to take, and a massive learning curve, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I now know what readers will and won’t accept and my upcoming work will all be written in a standard, third person voice. Granny Irene, will make a comeback in the future, but while she will feature, the main emphasis will be on the Viking Gods and I will be aiming that series at the Norse Fantasy genre.

A near death experience inspired your novella The Tunnel Betwixt. How did that experience reshape your life?

It made me realise that I was put on this earth for a reason and that it wasn’t my time to die, and while it took me several years after the event to fully find my path in life, the experience was never far from my thoughts. It also completely reaffirmed my belief in the afterlife and I now have absolutely no fear of death.   I guess on a subconscious level it has also made me a teeny bit obsessed with death, because to date all of my books have been death themed! My upcoming erotica series writing under my pen name of Luna Ballantyne is a massive leap of faith for me…but is also giving me a chance to explore a different dark side to me!

Have you had any other paranormal experiences?

More than I can count! I have been to several psychics/mediums over the years. Some were good. Some were downright atrocious.   I also believe that I am sensitive to the spirit world, and while I can’t talk to them (yet) I do routinely feel their presence, and can always tell when a spirit has stepped for whatever reason into my aura. Nine times out of time that is a source of comfort to me, but I have also learned the importance of putting up barriers, and psychic protection, to ensure that I don’t get pestered by those spirits that might wish me harm. This may sound completely barmy to some people, but hey, that’s me, and that’s what I believe!

The Tunnel Betwixed front coverFind out more about Ingrid at her websites:

http://ingridhall.com/

http://lunaballantyne.wordpress.com/