Xcite: Tell us a little about The Ties That Bind?
Constance: The Ties That Bind is a hot romance with a twist. Penny is about to make a huge mistake. Feeling she has missed the boat and experiencing pressure from those around her, she has simply drifted into planning a marriage with the wrong man. Enter Nicholas. Penny has a chance encounter right when she is preparing for the big day as Nicholas saves her from being run over by a car outside a hotel. Penny is about to have her Shades of Grey moment, as she is drawn into Nicholas’s mysterious world and plays along with his kinky ideas; notably a game involving small, thought-provoking gifts and a journal where he makes her relate how these gifts make her feel. Caught up in sexual fantasy and intrigue, shy Penny soon realises she enjoys this daring world she has been introduced to, and she wants to push it to the limits. In the end, though, things are going to get messy with one or two stings in the tale.
Xcite: Where did you find the inspiration for the novel?
Constance: I think it was a culmination of things. It was around the Shades of Grey time, but I didn’t want to write anything like that, I wanted to write something with a completely different angle. I do love the notion of women discovering their inner selves, so I thought, why not incorporate art and, of course, some writing as they are all dear to me, plus add an intriguing premise – this being the meeting in the hotel at the beginning. I always find hotels intriguing places and have set a number of stories around them. Then, I put myself in Penny’s position. I think we all dream of a handsome, sexy man with panache, but wonder how we could deal with him, what his motives are, maybe even if we want to know his past and motives. You see how it gets interesting? Before I knew it, I had the story in my mind and it was such fun to write.
Xcite: Penny is quite old-fashioned in her attitudes to life and love at the start of The Ties That Bind. How much of a challenge was it to make sure the readers sympathise with her?
Constance: I have a habit of doing this. Writing of course, is largely fantasy. But it’s great to give heroines and heroes the personalities of normal people. I think most of us have done things the wrong way, thought we were too shy or too plain to go after a really fascinating man. It’s always a challenge to make a personality likeable, but I hope I have done that with Penny. She is that girl next door, unsure of herself, knowing that what she is doing is wrong since she is engaged, but realising for her own sake and her fiancé’s Laurence, she has to prove they are both not about to commit the greatest mistake of their lives. Penny’s infatuation with Nicholas could have been a stumbling block and I had to be careful people didn’t criticise her for her affair, which I hasten to add, she doesn’t consummate that early on, and when she does, after a great deal of agonising – I hope I have dealt with any issues women might have with this by deftly extricating her from that argument by some twists and turns in the plot. I won’t give that away, you’ll have to read the book to see how it turns out for her.
Xcite: Nicholas is something of an enigma, and doesn’t give much of his past away. What appeals to you about creating a hero who is so mysterious?
Constance: I’m afraid I have a thing about mysterious men. They present the kind of encounter most women would like to have, even though they don’t admit it. Creating an air of mystery, which lots of my male leads have, also gives scope to add twists and surprises, sometimes pretty heavy ones – to help the story along. I think you just have to be careful how you handle secrets and secretive personalities. Mysterious men also present a sexy allure as you wonder… just wonder, what they are capable of. I could go on about this for ever.
Xcite: You have an alter ego who has written many successful male/male erotic romance stories. Why do you enjoy writing in that particular genre?
Constance: I just can’t help it. I love all types of books and especially romance with a bit more to it. But writing hot and sexy novels just happened naturally for me. I was always a shy woman myself and when younger I never felt as confident around men as most of my peers, so it gave me tons of ideas and background emotion to make my stories a bit different. It seems a long time since I first started writing for fun all those years ago and I never thought it would take me over like this. I love the challenge, the thrill of the sexual tension and the intriguing interplay between two people. I enjoy trying new and sometimes extreme ideas out and being different, even if it brings criticism. One thing is for sure, I shall never stop writing in this genre, I can’t imagine doing anything else now. Each project becomes a harder and harder learning curve and more challenging as I develop, but writing is such a buzz, a therapy, well, it is my life.
Xcite: What are you reading at the moment?
Constance: This might surprise you. I’ve just turned the first page of Ken Follett’s Winter of the World.
About Constance Munday: Constance Munday is the romance writing name for a well known erotic author. As Constance Munday she writes a variety of historical and contemporary romances that like to focus on ordinary, feisty heroines in unusual and challenging situations. She is currently working on her third romance novel; the second in a chick lit/hot romance series for publication in 2014.