Vanilla on Top
By CJ Ellisson
Discover your inner bad girl, and set her free…
Heather Pierce is done being a wallflower, both personally and professionally. Desperate to live a different life for one night, she attends a speed dating event. Maybe here, anonymous unless she chooses otherwise, she can become someone new. When a man way out of her league sits across from her, Heather gathers her courage and takes charge of what she wants, secretly fearing he won’t desire the real person she’s desperate to hide.
Top acquisitions officer and international playboy Tony Carmine is about to close the biggest deal of his career. But then he meets Heather at a speed dating event…and discovers losing control may be exactly what he needs. Her blossoming sensuality occupies his every thought, consuming him with the need to possess the most intriguing lover he’s ever encountered—until he walks into the boardroom and sees Heather on the other side of the negotiating table.
1. Where did you get the idea for the novel?
The novel started brewing with the growing rise in popularity for BDSM novels. I couldn’t relate to the hard-core ones, but thought I could relate to a more “vanilla” approach. Perhaps one that focused on a couple’s joint discovery of testing their boundaries and trying new things.
When I didn’t find anything like what I’d envisioned, I decided to write it.
2. Your title. Who came up with it? Did you ever change your title?
Originally the title was Vanilla Dom (my own creation) and I had planned to self-pub the book. My best friend, Boone Brux, only had good things to say about her publisher, Entangled, so I thought I’d check out their new steamy Brazen line and see if my light BDSM book might be a good fit. At first I was really worried it would be too much for them. I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t! They got some initial negative feedback on the title and decided to switch it. I was thrilled they came up with a compromise that remained true to the original concept.
3. Which came first, the title or the novel?
The title. For me, it was all about concept. This concept and the “vanilla” aspects of approaching experimentation with BDSM are what initially spoke to me.
4. Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
Honest to God, it was being in a short TV interview where I answered three questions and spoke for a total of perhaps 60 seconds. The moment was over way too fast, but it was still a stomach-clenching experience!
5. What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
I’m reading Faith Hunter’s first Jane Yellowrock book, titled Skinwalker. Excellent read so far!
6. What was your first book that you ever wrote (very first one you wrote, not published)?
The very first book I ever wrote is published. It’s Vampire Vacation. I wish I could change some things about the book now, but what’s done is done.
7. What is your writing process?
Get an idea, discuss concept with my husband, let the idea percolate, write the concept down, then loosely outline the entire book. Next I start writing. Sometimes I veer off the outline, but overall it helps me to stay on track.
8. Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Charlaine Harris, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Illona Andrews, and Emma Holly. They will all be auto-buys for me. Well, unless their latest eBook is $14.99, like Mr. Butcher’s was. Then I will resist until the price comes down.
9. At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say?
I write a note. If I know them from FB I will usually make a reference to that. If we’re at a convention, likewise. I thank them for trying my work and I wish them happy reading. Sometimes I ramble, but none of them have complained so far ;-)
10. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I have no formal training in writing and everything I learned about the craft and the industry I discovered on my own or through crit partners. I’m proof positive that if I can become a published author, that with enough hard work, anyone can.
11. How do you react to a bad review?
I read it over several times. I try to discern if it’s more a personal opinion, a personal attack, or a valid criticism. Then I call my best friend, who tells me to ignore the reviews, stop reading them, and get back to work.
12. How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
Interesting question because my first book never actually sold. My agent couldn’t get a deal within six months, so I started my own company to publish Vampire Vacation. This was back in 2010 when self-pubbing was still considered gauche, so lots of my peers looked down their nose at me. I’m pretty sure my husband bought me roses and took me out to dinner. That was also the month I had to go to a new specialist who turned my whole world upside down with pills and more tests, so it was a pretty restrained celebration.
Thanks for having me here today, Alisia! You asked some terrific questions!
His eyes glide over me, a slight spark of what I hope is interest in their depths. A flare of awareness ignites in my chest. The man’s charming grin remains in place. A good sign so far. Right as he opens his kissable mouth to speak, his phone rings. His relaxed expression turns into a grimace as he digs in his pocket to retrieve the offending device.
“Sorry,” he mumbles my way before answering. He turns slightly in his seat, angling himself away. “Yes?” He barks into the phone. “No, I won’t be back in tonight. The instructions are in the email I sent.”
At least I had the decency to turn off my phone before I came in. Hell, unless you’re a doctor on call, I doubt there’s anything that important requiring your phone to stay on for two hours. He looks into the distance and I feel a twinge of annoyance.
“No,” his tone grinds out, authoritative and powerful. “You need to listen to me, Brian. The directions are in the email. You follow them precisely and the deal will close. Call me again and I’m going to be really pissed.”
He clicks his phone shut and closes his eyes. Tension spills off him and I hesitate to break the silence. What could be so important that he feels the weight of the world on his shoulders? He takes a deep breath and opens them again, staring straight into my eyes.
“I’m sorry, that was rude of me.” He angles toward me. I nod my reassurance that it’s okay, but inside I can’t help but think I’ve lost even more of my precious allotted time with this desirable stranger. He really is way out of my league.
“You know what I want more than anything?” he says with a touch of longing. “I want someone else to take control for a while. I’m really sick of being the guy in charge all the time.”
I smile, not particularly sure I can relate, but willing to appear understanding. His phone rings again and sharp anger stabs my gut.
“Turn it off,” I say, with a challenge in my tone. I sit up straighter and stare into the depths of his caramel eyes. “You want someone to tell you what to do?” He nods, his calculating gaze on me as the phone continues to ring. “Turn off that damn phone,” I bite out, pretending I’m issuing a command. “Now.”
Shock registers across his expression, but he hides it quickly. I raise an eyebrow and feel the sparks fly across the table between us. He returns my stare and smiles, the first real one I’ve seen on him since he came into the restaurant. It’s kind of lopsided and lazy, curling my toes at the devilment it promises. The phone rings a third time and I break our standoff and glance away, tilting my chin an inch higher, showing my displeasure in his lack of action. He fumbles for the phone on the table between us and shuts it off.
About the Author:
C.J. Ellisson writes erotica and urban fantasy. Her vampire series, The V V Inn, mixes a heavy dose of erotic elements with suspense, action, a little bit of mystery and some light humor. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, two children, two dogs, and a fluffy black cat who makes her sneeze.
To learn more about C.J.'s books (where you can read half of the novels for free), please visit her website at www.cjellisson.com