From time to time, I spotlight other authors and books on my blog. Today I'm pleased to welcome Julie Shelton, who's here to talk about how a French major's dissertation became a steamy erotic menage novel. (Two, actually.) Welcome, Julie! Tell us how DARK WARRIOR came about.
WHY I WROTE DARK WARRIOR
Dark Warrior is my third novel to be published, but it was the first novel I ever wrote, and that was over forty years ago. Back in 1972, in order to graduate “With Honors”, I had to write a lengthy dissertation IN FRENCH (since French was my major) on a topic of my choosing. So, I chose life in a 13th century French castle, thus cleverly uniting my love for the middle ages with the goal of graduating “Cum Laude”. I began researching, taking notes the way I had previously found most effective for me—on 3 x 5 index cards, one thought or fact per card. I quickly accumulated three shoe boxes full of notes on all aspects of daily life in the middle ages.
While I was studying the era, the germ of two completely different novels sprang full-blown into my mind, one inspired by my research, the other inspired by a blue gown worn by a minor character in the movie Becket. I couldn’t write them down fast enough. As it happened, I also wrote THEM on 3 x 5 index cards, one sentence at a time, thus enabling me to add scenes, switch scenes around, slip in research details, etc. as I went. Each of those novels wound up filling two shoe boxes. When I got my first computer back in 2003, Dark Warrior was the first thing I typed on my word processor. I chose it because at one point I had DROPPED the shoe boxes containing the OTHER medieval novel, spilling index cards all over my driveway. In the rain. So I just scooped them up and shoved them back into the boxes. I still have those boxes full of jumbled cards. Not sure what I’m going to do with them.
In the meantime, in my reading life, I had discovered the delights of erotic BDSM romance, so when the idea for Loving Sarah came to mind, I started writing. After four years of polishing, and revising, I finally said, “Enough already,” and sent it off to Siren. You can imagine how thrilled I was when they said they wanted to publish it! My first book! Owning Sarah, the sequel, contains quite a few scenes originally written for Loving Sarah, so I wrote it next. As I was working on it, I realized that my 14th-century novel could quickly be brought into the 21st century (so to speak) with a few revisions, updates, and rewrites, so Dark Warrior became my next project. When it was published on January 15, my first book became my third book.
by Julie Shelton
When Nicholas Herron, Duke of Berwick and his best friend, Rolf Torgesson, two of King Edward III’s most powerful and respected knights, discover a badly beaten young woman hiding in the forest, they swear to protect her. By the time they learn that she is Lady Kathryn Weston, and that her attacker is none other than her betrothed, Robert Walford, the powerful and ruthless Duke of Pemberton, it is too late. They have both fallen in love with her and she with them—a love so forbidden it could cost them everything, even their lives.
Set amidst the turmoil and pageantry of 14th-century England, Dark Warrior weaves a vivid tapestry of three lost souls bound to each other with a deep, abiding love. But will that love survive Walford’s evil plan to attack Berwick Castle, take it apart stone by stone and ultimately destroy everyone who lives there?
After realizing they were still asleep, she simply lay there, unmoving. She didn’t want to wake them. She needed this time to herself. To think. So much had happened today, she hadn’t had a chance to think about Robert Walford. To replay the horror of his brutal confrontation over and over in her mind.
He had called her a whore.
She cringed inwardly, hearing its vicious echo again in her mind’s ear. Hearing the utter contempt in his voice as he had spat it at her, as if she were something ugly. Something unclean.
Whore. It was, after all, just a word, its power to damage and punish technically no greater than any other word. Yet, coming from his mouth, used the way he had used it, it had been a hateful weapon hurled at her with intent to maim and destroy.
Whore. The ugliest word she knew. Made even uglier by the sheer viciousness of it as it had spewed from Walford’s ugly mouth.
But was it true? Was she a whore?
She was, after all, in love with two men. Two primal, dominant males. She had given herself freely and wholeheartedly to those two men. Had taken them both inside her eager body in ways that thrilled her to her very soul to even think about. And she couldn’t wait to do it again and again.
`Did that make her a whore?
It certainly made her a sinner, according to the Church. Damned for all eternity in the eyes of God. According to the Church. Except she didn’t believe in the God espoused by the Church. She didn’t believe in a vengeful, petty God just waiting to pounce gleefully on unwary sinners. A God bent on punishing every little weakness, just as the nuns had punished her in His name at the convent. Nay, she just had to believe that, if there truly was a God, He was a whole lot more loving and humane than the God worshipped by those nuns.
Nicholas was awake. She knew it instantly and, just as instantly, knew the reason why. Rolf had awakened also, making absolutely no sound that she had been able to discern. Yet, that powerful, mysterious link between the two men had inexplicably alerted them both, bringing them to wakefulness at the same time.
She lay still and silent, eyes closed, keeping her breathing smooth and even so as not to betray her own wakefulness.
Rolf opened his eyes, but he didn’t otherwise move. “Dost thou think she’s all right?” he whispered softly above Kathryn’s head.
“Aye.” Nicholas’s mouth twisted. “She is stronger than she looks.”
Rolf sighed. “By all the gods, Nick. That was the most awful thing I have ever been forced to witness. I never wanted to kill anyone so badly in my entire life.” He shook his head. “It was all I could do to stop myself from jumping over the table and running him through. Odin’s beard! I have never felt so helpless.” His voice was a raw whisper in her ear. “I just wanted to pick her up and carry her out of there and make love to her until I could wipe that terrible, haunted look from her eyes.”
“I know,” Nicholas agreed, wincing. “When he called her a whore—Christ, the look on her face—I never want to see that look on her face ever again—”His voice broke. “Sweet Jesu! It nearly destroyed me. “His arm tightened involuntarily around Kathryn’s recumbent form. “I cannot even begin to imagine what it did to her.” He blinked his eyes rapidly, his vision suddenly blurred by unshed tears. His throat closed down.
Rolf yawned, nuzzling his cheek against Kathryn’s hair. “I agree with Thomas,” he went on thoughtfully. “I think he’ll make his first move at night with his war machines in a massive show of force. The way he kept bragging about them, trying to impress us with his power and might—I just know that’s what he’s going to do.” He sighed. “But enough about Walford. I’m tired of thinking about him.”
His smile, unseen in the dark, was evident in his voice. “I just want to think about our sweet lady here, and see how many times we can make her come with our loving.” He plumped the soft flesh of her breast as his thumb and forefinger grabbed the hard nipple and tweaked it gently.
Pleasure jolted through her body and she gasped, arching her back to push herself harder against his pleasuring hand. Her eyes flew open to find Nicholas smiling at her, his eyes hot and hungry. Her lungs seized and all of a sudden she couldn’t breathe.
“I thought you were awake,” he accused mildly. “How long?”
“A while,” she confessed, slightly breathless from Rolf’s thumb stroking across her nipple like a lash. “I was thinking about some of the things Walford said.”
“Ignore the things he said, yndling,” Rolf murmured, sliding his tongue into the ticklish cavity of her ear. She squealed in pleasure as he stroked her sensitive skin. “They have naught to do with thee.”
“But they do,” she wailed, and she suddenly realized that she was crying. Hot, desperate tears she was helpless to prevent or control. “He called me a-a—”
“Nay, beloved.” Nicholas quickly placed his fingers against her lips. “Stay. Do not bring that villain into our sanctuary.”
“But he called me a—”
As one they rolled her onto her back and rose above her, resting on their elbows so they could look down into her face.
“This is the only time I am ever going to say this, beloved,” Nicholas said sternly, stroking his hard fingers across her satiny smooth cheek. “So listen well. You are not a whore. You are the purest, most loving, most generous woman I have ever known.”
“But I love sex!” she cried and to her utter shock, both men burst out laughing.
“That doesn’t make thee a whore, yndling,” Rolf chuckled, once again covering one soft, fleshy breast with his big hand. “That makes thee a miracle.”
About the Author
Julie has always loved stories, both reading and writing them. A career as a children’s librarian eventually led to her dream career as a freelance storyteller and puppeteer, a business she operated successfully for twenty-five years. During that time she created and wrote all the original material for a monthly language arts resource newsletter for early childhood educators. For that endeavor she won the prestigious EDPRESS Award, given by the Educational Press Association of America. She has also written other resource materials for preschool and early elementary teachers.
Now she writes erotic romances, thus following the basic children’s-performer-to-erotica-author career path blazed by so many of her fellow writers.
Connect with Julie: