Today is a very exciting day for me!!! Why? Because my first book, MISTRESS OF PLEASURE, officially hits stores. (Gleefully clapping hands here). Instead of the usual throwing of pitches and excerpts and what not, I decided to keep it simple.
Behind every book, there is a story. And needless to say, behind my upcoming debut, MISTRESS OF PLEASURE, which centers around a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction, there are several. Because I don’t want to write a book about THE book, I’ve decided to elaborate as simply as I can about the inspiration behind the creation of MISTRESS OF PLEASURE. That inspiration first coming from my research, when I stumbled upon Ninon de L’Enclos, a French 17th century courtesan.
Truth be told, I find it rather astounding that this fascinating woman somehow disappeared into the shadows of history. She is but a ghost whenever the topic of courtesans arise. For we usually hear of the same old, same old courtesans like Kitty Fisher, Cora Pearl or Harriette Wilson. Let me be the first to tell you, however, that none of these women could possibly rival Ninon de L’Enclos or her life. But don’t take my word for it. Research her on your own and come to your conclusion. Bottom line, Ninon’s thoughts, philosophies, and her approach toward men and sex went beyond anything I have ever seen in a woman of her day.
Much like other courtesans, she kept her bedroom door open to aristocratic men, yes. But unlike other courtesans, she kept that bedroom door open for more than just sex. This woman actually held meetings and classes in the confines of her bedchamber where men of all ages would come to visit in order to discuss topics of sex, philosophy and love. These so-called meetings fascinated me and in turn, began to create the growing threads of what is now Mistress of Pleasure. The more I researched, the more excited I became. For there was almost too much to work with. For instance, Ninon had various lovers, as you might imagine. But to one lover in particular, she birthed a son. A son who was raised apart from her to never know who she was due to her being a courtesan. Then one day, when her son was a grown man, he happened to one day meet Ninon. And fell madly in love with her. (And no, I’m not bloody making this up…). Though she had sworn to never reveal her identity to her son, because his advances were growing more and more passionate and he altogether outright refused to leave her be, she finally told him the truth. That she was in fact his mother and that was why there would never be a sexual relationship between them. Her son was so overwhelmed and distraught by the confession, that he left her house and committed suicide by falling onto the blade of his own sword. Another story, somewhat less morbid, was about one man who begged and begged Ninon to admit him into her bed. She refused him time and time again and finally told him, “Return when I am eighty. Then I shall bed you.” The besotted fool took her words quite literally and arrived on her doorstep many, many years late, when she turned eighty. Ninon was so amused, she ended up bedding him, after all.
As you can tell by the stories I am selecting, it is the older Ninon that ultimately fascinated me. Which created a dilemma for my writing. Because my heroine couldn’t possibly be an elderly lady. It would never sell. But then I got to thinking. What if she were a grandmother of the heroine? Now THAT had possibilities. At about the same time I started writing AN IMPROPER EDUCATION (which is what I called it before the publisher changed it), MY grandmother re-appeared in my life. After 20 years of complete and utter silence. Which is a whole other story I don’t have time to go into… Soon, I discovered that the grandmother I never knew was actually an opera singer who had married into American Aristocracy and was living the life of a queen. My grandmother had an air of royalty to her and was quite beautiful for a woman her age. She had a heavy accent, walked with a sashay and always used amusing little words that I’d never heard before. For instance, she referred to sex as “Poom-poom.” She amused me so much so, that I could not help but morph her and Ninon together to create the fictional character that ultimately became Madame de Maitenon, who is both the creator of the School of Gallantry and the grandmother of my heroine, Maybelle de Maitenon. And so, I ended up with a story about a retired French courtesan who opens up a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction, and the granddaughter who is unexpectedly forced to take over the operation of the school and educate all the men. Even though she has very little personal experience. Life certainly makes for some interesting fiction. And I have to say, I’m glad for it. At least in the case of this book. For an excerpt, more information or to sign up for my newsletter, please head over to my website, www.DelilahMarvelle.com In the meantime, anyone who posts today will be entered to win an autographed copy of my book, Mistress of Pleasure. So don't forget to post!