How do you like your fiction? Extra racy? Then Leigh Marsden is the author for you.
While certainly adults only, Leigh’s books (Scarlet and new novel Crush) are also highly addictive and enjoyable reads. Leigh recently chatted with us about her new novel Crush, the joys of writing sex and scandal and the pain of wanting what you can’t have.
Tell us a little bit about your newest book, Crush.
Crush tells the story of three friends whose lives are all at a crossroads. First we meet Philippa, whose old crush has come back into town and thrown her relationship and priorities in life into question. Then there’s Gill, who’s trying to revive her failing marriage with one crazy sex escapade after another, when all she really wants is a baby. Finally there’s Sean, who is struggling with being gay in a small town.
It’s about wanting – something that is surely the biggest cause of unhappiness. Wanting something different or more than you have right now.
While there is still plenty of sex and intrigue, Crush also addresses domestic struggles such as rocky marriages and divided families. How did you reach a balance between the erotic and the everyday?
That balance is exactly what I try to achieve in my novels – a combination of the situations and issues people face every day and the wild and unexplored that goes on behind the scenes in people’s lives and in their minds. I think people primarily want a really good, dramatic story, so that is what I aim to write. Then with the sex I try to make sure there is enough to keep readers entertained, but not so much that they think “Oh no, not again” when a sex scene begins. It’s also very important that the sex contributes to the story – either in plot development or in helping us understand a character better. It’s not just people going around shagging randomly. There’s enough of that on the internet!
One of your characters, Sean, is a gay man dealing with a lot of small-town prejudice. It’s such a hot button issue at the moment, did you feel that it was especially important to get his story ‘right’?
My primary goal is to write a novel that engages and entertains. It’s great to include characters like Sean that are faced with current, topical issues because then the story feels more relevant, but it was not my specific intention to tap into a hot issue. I’m very much an organic writer – I just sit down, discover the characters as I go and let them do what they want to do!
Philippa has the best of intentions but she also makes plenty of mistakes. Do you ever find it hard to plunge your own protagonist into compromising situations, and do you feel that there is only so far you can go before readers become disenchanted?
It’s good to have characters that are flawed because people can relate to their struggles and I think as long as the character means well then readers are forgiving. Of course, there’s a limit. Readers have to be able to imagine that they too could potentially act that way in the same situation.
Reading the book, I got the feeling that though romantic relationships are important, what Gill, Sean, and Philippa really can’t live without is the friendship they share. Is this something you intended?
Definitely. When you’ve got good friends all other problems are surmountable. What’s interesting though is that although they have each other, what Gill, Sean and Philippa are all missing is that bond of friendship with their romantic partners.
There are plenty of sex scenes in your work- what response do you get from readers?
People generally know to expect something very spicy when they pick up Scarlet or Crush so they are open minded about it. Some people I know have read them specifically for the sex! I know that others have avoided them for the same reason, which is also fine. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The main feedback I get is mainly about the characters and the stories, and that the sex adds a nice bit of unexpected spice.
Crush is all about the danger or reward of character Philippa acting on a long held crush. Did you usually pursue those you had a crush on?
I say if you’re both single, why not?! I’m all for going after what you want. If you’re not single then things are more complicated - as Philippa finds out in the novel.
Crush is available now.