I quickly picked up a copy of the novel S.E.C.R.E.T. when I was rushing to grab a few Valentine’s Day cards in the bookstore last week. There was a pile of them sitting close to the cash desk and I had remembered that it was recommended as a sizzling hot title for Valentine’s from my friends at Kobo (yes, you can download it too). Like the chocolate bar, this was a total impulse purchase.
I got on the subway and with a long ride ahead it was a good time to start reading. On my return home on the train, things started really heating up in the storyline. I noticed the woman sitting beside me glancing over once in a while. Then it happened. I started blushing. And she smiled. She asked me what the book was called. I’m assuming she’s going to get her own copy.
S.E.C.R.E.T. is juicy….and a little naughty.
The story written by L. Marie Adeline (pseudonym for a bestselling Canadian author and television producer) is about Cassie, a 35 year old widowed woman who goes on about her daily routine waiting tables at a Cafe in New Orleans. Nothing exciting happens until one day she discovers a notebook left behind by a restaurant patron. Inside the book reveals the S.E.C.R.E.T. of an underground society dedicated to helping women realize their wildest and most intimate sexual fantasies.
I had the opportunity to ask author L. Marie Adeline about her entry into this genre and the gaining popularity.
UrbanMoms: Why New Orleans? What’s the significance there for you?
L. Marie Adeline: I love the city, ever since first visiting it in the 90s with an old boyfriend. I’ve been back a few times since then and certainly traveled there to research S.E.C.R.E.T., just to make sure my memory matched the reality. In terms of literary atmosphere, beauty and history, I think it’s up there with Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and Shanghai–cities that you may never have visited but, as a reader, you have a sense of those places. Also, weather: it’s warm there almost year-round. For some reason I couldn’t imagine navigating blizzards while going from sex fantasy to sex fantasy, though Whistler, where I once lived, is a damn sexy Canadian place and a great locale for one of Cassie’s fantasies.
UrbanMoms: Why is Cassie a widowed mid-age woman–how did you decide on this profile instead of a married woman?
L. Marie Adeline: I think middle-aged women are often sexually forgotten in a culture that worships youth and equates it with beauty. But as many thirty- forty- fifty- or sixty-something women would tell you, sex often gets better as you get older, even while career and family demands make it harder to have more of it. But mostly it’s because many erotic novels feature young heroines and quivering virgins and I really wanted to get away from that. I find women become more interesting as they get older. As for making her a widow, that just came to me as a literary trope, an interesting backdrop against which to watch Cassie grow from mournful to joyful–someone really embracing her life.
UrbanMoms: I think women are (or will be) pleased to see that this is not about the submissive and powerless woman like many others. How did you do your research on female sexual fantasies?
L. Marie Adeline: I hope women do see themselves in Cassie. And as for sex fantasies, I did a whole combination of research: I read Nancy Friday’s excellent book My Secret Garden, and all the greats from Story of O to D.H. Lawrence. And I canvassed friends and the Internet . . . and, well, I have a few of my own. Plus, my character Cassie, as corny as it sounds, really knew what she wanted and told me, so to speak. I took her on the kind of sexual journey that felt true to her.
UrbanMoms: Are you surprised by the attention that the novel is receiving? What was the moment you realized that this was going to be a big deal?
L. Marie Adeline: Yes, I’m floored by it, to say the least. I think the moment I knew it broke through was when I was in New Orleans, biking around with my editor. It was the weekend of the Frankfurt Book Fair. We had our phones mostly off while we looked at some of the places I’d picked out on Google maps, places where my characters lived and worked. I just wanted to make sure I got it right. We got back to the hotel on Friday or Saturday night, and there were a number of messages, including one detailing a four-way bidding war in Holland. I’d published two novels previously and this was not my experience. Not at all.
UrbanMoms: You go under a pseudonym…why did you get outed?
L. Marie Adeline: I didn’t have a plan really, as ridiculous as that sounds. I just assumed every erotica writer chose a pseudonym, so I did. Turns out, it was a lovely way to be anonymous, even to myself, while writing outside of my comfort zone. Then as the story got bigger, there were bets, and even some teasing from the publishing press to “out me.” And I just thought, to avoid my identity becoming THE story, I’d come out in front of it and tell people who I was. By the time the book was finished, it was no big deal to me who knew. Plus, it’s hard to keep a secret like this. I had to tell people at the CBC why I was quitting a damn good job I loved. I’m just surprised it didn’t get out sooner. The entire team of Dragons’ Den has known since last summer.
UrbanMoms: Were you concerned about how your friends and family would react?
L. Marie Adeline: I was concerned, yes. But I needn’t have been. They’re all thrilled for me, my sister especially, because she’s my first and best reader. And my dad, though he knows I’ve written a racier book than I’d usually write, isn’t going to read it; he’s old, Italian and Catholic. But he’s very proud that it has been a success. He’s relieved that I can take care of myself. My friends were squealing with delight, and couldn’t wait to get their hands on it. I was really disciplined about not sharing pages, pre-production. So this has been a fun launch for me and for them.
UrbanMoms: If there was a film made…who would be your ideal cast?
L. Marie Adeline: Oh I so want to answer this, because I have such a marvelous actress in mind when writing Cassie. But I don’t want readers to have a visual image of who I see as Cassie. They have to have their own. I hope you’re not disappointed if I pass on this question for now.
UrbanMoms: Anyone surprised that you’re Canadian? We think you’re bringing sexy to our country.
L. Marie Adeline: Not at all! I think Canadians are seen as pretty liberal, and therefore pretty sexy, people. I’ve never hidden that I was Canadian, or that I live in Toronto, a city I have always found to be sexy, mysterious and even kinky.
UrbanMoms: We’re guessing sequels are in the works…what other sexy locales are you considering? I may just want to visit New Orleans now!
L. Marie Adeline: You HAVE to go to New Orleans. I sure hope this book brings more tourists to that town. I love it there. And yes, a sequel is in the works, which will take place in New Orleans, but I can imagine a S.E.C.R.E.T. Buenos Aires or a S.E.C.R.E.T. Paris. Why not?
UrbanMoms: What do you want women to take from reading this?
L. Marie Adeline: b> A few things: that fantasies are good and normal, that women are not rivals, and that love and sex don’t always need to mix. In fact, there’d be a lot less pain and a lot better sex if more women could separate the two as easily as some men can. (And I’m sure it’s not just a male/female dynamic issue.) Some sex partners just aren’t great life partner material–they’re great in bed and a lot of fun–but they should remain fantasies, not realities.
UrbanMoms: How about curious men?
L. Marie Adeline: I am very surprised, and very heartened, by the response so far among the men who’ve read S.E.C.R.E.T. They’ve all said it provided excellent insight into the female mind, especially with regards to the kind of sex they like to have. I really liked hearing that. But I think men were surprised to know that they too can be seen as purely sexual objects, that, in fact, that’s the goal of S.E.C.R.E.T.–to teach women to separate who is a fantasy man (or in some cases woman), and who might make a viable partner.
UrbanMoms: Tying back to Dragon’s Den – if you had to pitch this idea…who do you think would be the first to jump to invest in it and why.
L. Marie Adeline: That’s funny–I think it would be Arlene Dickinson, no question. And not because she’d see a business opportunity, but because she’s always been a big supporter of women taking risks. In fact, right from the start, she was one of my earliest cheerleaders when I told her what I was attempting to do.
UrbanMoms: Are you having fun on this ride? Has anything funny happened with the public starting to recognize you?
L. Marie Adeline: Writing these books has been the most fun I’ve ever had–even while calling it work. And it kind of does feel like a ride, with its own ups and downs. But I’m beyond grateful for the enthusiastic reaction not just from the publishers around the world, but from readers so far. I haven’t been recognized per se, but I was on the subway the other day looking for the ads that Doubleday Canada put up. I was going from car to car before realizing there were two passengers actually reading the books. Here I was looking for ads for the book, when the books were already in peoples’ hands. Amazing.
Thank you L. Marie Adeline for this fun interview! So, have you read this book yet?