Guest: Lexi Post & Masque
I was thrilled when I heard the news that Lexi Post, a very talented writer who took my classes, sold her first book! Please help me in welcoming Lexi!
Lexi Post spent years in higher education taking and teaching courses about classical literature. From the Medieval work "The Pearl" to the 20th century American epic The Grapes of Wrath, from War and Peace to the Bhagavad Gita, she's read, studied, and taught great classic literature.
But Lexi's first love is romance novels. In an effort to marry her two first loves, she started writing erotic romance inspired by the classics and found she loved it. Lexi feels there is no end to the romantic inspiration she can find in great classic literature.
Lexi lives with her husband and cat in the Caribbean where gorgeous sunsets, warm weather, and driving on the left are the norm.
Q: I'm so glad you're here with us today, Lexi, and I love your hot cover. Please tell us about Masque.
A: Absolutely! Here it is in a nutshell J
Rena Mills plans to turn an abandoned abbey into a haunted bed-and-breakfast to prove she can be successful without her ex-fiancé. What she finds inside is Synn MacAllistair, the distinguished, self-proclaimed Ghost Keeper. Her dreams soon fill with sexual cravings for him. But are they dreams?
Synn, born in 1828, is determined to free the souls of the resident spirits, blaming himself for bringing the Red Death that killed them. When Rena steps into the old Pleasure Palace, he’s sure he can take her through the after-midnight Pleasure Rooms and stoke her passion to complete the Masque so the souls can cross over. Her innocent fire makes him crave more, but it’s far too late for him.
As Rena begins her erotic journey, her heart becomes more involved with every sensual caress until she discovers by completing the Masque she would lose her ghosts. Synn’s betrayal wars with her compassion for her ghostly friends. Torn, she must make a choice between her financial security and freeing seventy-three trapped souls. Either way, she could lose her Synn.
Q: Sounds unique and fascinating! What inspired this story?
A: Thank you for asking. Since I write erotic romance inspired by the classics, it is easy to pinpoint my inspiration for this story because it was Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death” which was published in 1842. That’s why I called my book MASQUE J
Q: Very cool! What is the story behind the story?
A: In Poe's story, Prince Prospero seeks to escape the Red Death by gathering his aristocratic friends and sealing them off from the rest of the town in a great abbey, leaving his other subjects to live or die as fate decrees. On the night of the prince's Masque, which is held in his seven colored entertainment rooms, when the great clock in the Black Room strikes midnight, a figure enters the party in a mask resembling a victim of the Red Death. When the Prince attempts to kill the intruder for such audacity as to remind them all of the sad state of affairs outside, the prince falls dead, as does everyone else in the abbey, and the clock ceases.
But what if the intruder had been a friend who hoped to sway the prince to do what was right by his people, only to have everything go wrong?
Q: What do you enjoy most about writing?
A: I have to admit that I love each stage in the writing process. I love the creation in my brain, the joy of getting the story “dumped” into the computer, and the revising according to my own story editor. What I like about revising after my critique partner goes through it is the challenge of taking her good suggestions and incorporating them. Those little moments of triumph can be addictive. When it comes to polishing, basically cleaning up pathetic sentence structure or misplaced modifiers, I enjoy finding just the right fix, much like someone enjoys finding the right word in a crossword puzzle. Then the marketing is another whole creative process which mixes well with my very organized, business-like side, so the other part of my brain gets some attention. As for how I feel after publication, I’m just now finding out and I have to say it is like a runner’s high. I hope I get to experience this many times over J
Q: I'm sure you will! Which element of this story was the hardest for you?
A: The black moment was the hardest part of the story for me. Actually, it is the hardest part for me to write with any of my stories. I have a difficult time torturing my characters, just ask my critique partner and my agent. In MASQUE the set-up wasn’t hard as Synn is driven to free the souls of his ghostly friends, but when Rena discovered his betrayal, I wanted to cry for both of them. Writing that pivotal scene wiped me out.
Q: Please describe your journey to publication.
A: It has been four years of serious writing and four manuscripts, though I’m revising my 5th now and the 6th is in the “percolating” stage J I wrote one Medieval Scottish romance and one paranormal romance. Then I discovered erotic romance and after reading a number of them, I knew I just had to try writing one, so I took your class J I also had great advice from some wonderful authors like Jennifer Ashley/Allyson James and Cassie Ryan. Then I wrote one erotic romance. But we all know that getting published is about being in the right place at the right time with the right manuscript. I have Brenda Novak’s auction to thank for bringing these three pieces together. I won a bid to have dinner with the publisher and an editor from Ellora’s Cave. It was a wonderful evening where I learned a lot about Ellora’s Cave, ebooks, and publishing in general and they learned a little bit about me too. So when I finished MASQUE which I thought had a strong hook, I sent it in.
Q: I was so glad you took my class. I enjoyed reading excerpts from your stories and I could tell then you had a great talent for steamy writing. :) What’s next for you?
A: I am currently polishing up my next erotic romance titled, To Bea Rappaccini. It’s inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” only my Bea Rappaccini ( a descendent of the original) must have sex to expel the poisons her body produces. Either that or die. Unfortunately, her poisons also make men extremely ill and she has unintentionally sent one into a coma! So when she falls for Zach, things get interesting J
Q: Would you like to ask readers a question?
A: Yes. I’d like to know what quality readers like most in their heroes? I have a beautiful Venetian mask made in Italy to go to one lucky commenter.
Wow! What a beautiful mask, Lexi! I will be jealous of whoever wins this! Everyone, please check out this fantastic EXCERPT of Masque!
Rena spun at the deep voice that caressed her senses. Before her stood a woman’s wet dream come to life, though as a respectable woman, she shouldn’t be having wet dreams, or so she’d been informed.
The man looked as if he’d stepped out of a nineteenth-century drawing room, except his coffee-brown hair hung loose about his shoulders. She was pretty sure it should have been tied in a queue to be proper. His entire demeanor projected upper class from his sharp nose and angular clean-shaven chin, to his broad-shouldered stance. A rather tall stance it was too, with one snugly encased leg crossed over the other. But his eyes stupefied her. They appeared gray, ancient, yet flickered with bright shards of blue.
Valerie recovered first, brandishing her tightly held candelabra as she stepped forward. “Who are you and what are you doing in here?”
He straightened and gave them a formal bow. “My name is Synn MacAllistair. That is Synn as in S Y N N. I’m the caretaker of the ghosts.”
Rena took a deep breath. She could feel her cheeks heating as his voice reverberated through her body. Sin fit him. When he moved his gaze from Valerie to herself, his intense scrutiny warmed her. She swallowed. “Uh, I didn’t think anyone lived here.”
His stare held hers captive. “I do.”
Valerie retreated to stand next to her. “Oh really. With a padlock on the outside of the gate?”
He raised his right brow, the look of arrogance worthy of Mr. Darcy. “There is a postern gate.”
Rena racked her brain. She’d heard that word before. Oh yes. “I thought only the owners of a castle knew the secret to that rear exit.”
He raised his brows together. “That is true but I desi—discovered it while following a small boy around the Abbey.”
Valerie crossed her arms. “A small boy?”
“Yes. The children in the neighborhood dare each other to get close to the Abbey. They want to see the ghosts, who are quite harmless to humans.” He gestured to the housekeeper. “Mrs. McMurray here will become more solid as the full moon approaches and will be pleased to help you in any way she can.”
They turned and stared at their ghost, having forgotten her. The older woman nodded vigorously, her white cap covering her gray hair falling to the side. Mrs. McMurray’s plump frame included pudgy arms sprouting from a short-sleeved blouse and a white apron that protected her skirt, but from the knees down, she didn’t exist at all.
Rena’s heart pounded. A real ghost. If what Synn said was true, that the ghosts would become solid, the possibilities for her new venture were endless. Could the ghosts serve breakfast to the guests? How would she pay them? She couldn’t resist asking. “Are you the one who keeps it so clean in here?”
Mrs. McMurray blushed and nodded again. She actually blushed.
Synn clarified. “She and a dozen maids have kept this place clean for centuries in the hopes that someone would come here to live. Do you plan to stay?”
She turned to answer him, but Valerie gave him a disapproving look. “The real estate agent didn’t say anything about anyone living here.”
He sighed, clearly bored. “No, I imagine he didn’t. He is what we refer to as a lickfinger.”
Rena chuckled at the strange word. She couldn’t help it. It sounded backward.
Valerie didn’t find the expression funny. “Well, you need to know, Rena owns this castle now, abbey, whatever you want to call it, and she has the right to throw you out.”
Rena grabbed her arm. “Valerie.” She changed her warning tone to a more pleasant octave as she addressed the sexy man in front of her. “You are of course welcome to stay, Synn. Perhaps you can help us understand the ghosts, the history of the Abbey and anything else that might be helpful.” She smiled encouragingly. She didn’t want him to leave.
He gave her an arrogant nod. “I would be happy to be of service. Perhaps I should start by helping you to bring your personal items upstairs as the footmen will not be solid enough to lift anything for another week.”
Another week? How strange. She didn’t remember seeing anything on television regarding ghosts changing with the moon. “Thank you. That would be perfect.” She could tell Valerie didn’t trust him. She, on the other hand, was thrilled to have him in the Abbey. Anyone who could help her succeed was welcome. The fact that the man was incredibly hot didn’t hurt either.
He nodded once and held his arm out to her. She looked at her friend and shrugged, then looped her arm with his. The second they made contact, a sizzling sensation raced across her skin.
He didn’t move. Did he feel it too? He gazed down at her, his face serious. “Shall we?”
She nodded, her throat having closed at his look. There was something sensual about his lips. They were strong, full and serious and made her want to taste him. Sheesh, hadn’t she learned anything from her failed engagement? She needed to keep her libido under control. Men like Synn wouldn’t appreciate her scandalous thoughts. Besides, who used phrases like “shall we”?
Please visit Lexi online!