July 13, 2013

Writer Wrangler: Logan Belle On Adaptations and Serials

Today we have Logan Belle, aka Jamie Brenner to come and chat with us about her serial, MISS CHATTERLEY, writing serials and upcoming projects.

Braine: Hi Logan and welcome to Talk Supe! So of all the things you can adapt why D.H. Lawrence's classic? Why not Madame Bovary or even Anna Karenina?

Logan Belle: It’s funny you ask that, because I loved Madame Bovary so much. It’s kind of untouchable to me. The idea for MISS CHATTERLEY came from a conversation I had with my fiancĂ©. He found a box of old books – one of which was his high school copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. He told me it was the first erotic novel he ever read, and the idea kind of took off from there. I’d written four erotic novels by this time, and he said “You should re-tell this story but modern day.” Total light bulb moment. Two elements of Lady Chatterley’s Lover that always stood out to me was 1: Cliff’s literal impotence and 2) Connie’s experience of her first simultaneous orgasm. This gave me enough to start planning MISS CHATTERLEY.

Braine: What was the most challenging aspect for you in this adaptation?

Logan Belle: Two things were challenging: the first was finding a way to create a sexual obstacle that could parallel Cliff’s war-wound induced impotence from the original. I didn’t want to replicate that exact situation, so in MISS CHATTERLEY, Cliff isn’t literally impotent, but as a technology mogul, he is so consumed by screens and computer coding that he can not connect to his girlfriend physically. The idea for this came from a study showing that an alarming number of people prefer time to Facebook over more time to have sex. It made me think of the irony of all the social media sites helping us “connect” and yet keeping us from connecting with our partners

Braine: Facebook over sex? Hmm... maybe I should go back to Facebook... and I do see the irony of social media.

Logan Belle: The second challenge was shifting from 1920 to 2013 without losing the moral stakes. Re-telling any classic in today’s times is difficult because we don’t have the same societal restraints to put external pressure on the situation. Most women in American today are not going to be shunned by society for having an affair. But the emotional cost of waking up and wondering if you’ve married the wrong person, or feeling an intense longing for someone new, or cheating on a boyfriend or husband and getting caught, is timeless. We have the same inner turmoil when torn between two men, or two ways of life. What’s more important – love or passion? Can we have both? The human element does not change, and that is what I had to focus on in this novel,

Braine: Did you get some backlash from literary classic aficionados? I know there's a bunch of snobby readers out there.

Logan Belle: Ha! No. Perhaps because literary classic aficionados don’t go anywhere near my novels. Either that, or because they love a hot sex scene as much as the rest of us. 

Braine: I agree! Who doesn't want a steamy read?! Anyway, what's your favorite scene and line in the serial?

Logan Belle: I think my favorite scene is the first time Connie and Mellors have sex. She is so overwhelmingly attracted to him, and she finally gives in to those feelings. Aside from the fact that the scene becomes a complete moment of undoing for her physically– an episode of raw, animalistic sex, it is a hinge moment for Connie as a character. I love that moment when characters cross their own line in the sand, when something clicks and who they are has changed irrevocably. In books, film, television – whatever the mode of storytelling, that’s the best for me.

Braine: MISS CHATTERLEY is forthcoming in being an adaptation. Aside from the obvious how is it different from Lady Chatterley? To what extent did you exercise your creative license?

Logan Belle: I tried to be true to all the character dynamics in the original novel: Connie and Cliff, Connie and Mellors, Connie and her sister, and even Ivy Bolton (Cliff’s nurse in the original, here his striving assistant). But I made one major change that I don’t want to discuss because it’s kind of a spoiler. Let’s just say I wanted MISS CHATTERLEY to be a bit more hopeful than the original.

Braine: And I think readers who have read and are fond of Lady Chatterley will appreciate Connie's "hopefulness" as you put it. I sure did! We're starting to see more and more serials, for those who aren't familiar, what exactly is a serial and how is it different from a novella series? 

Logan Belle: That is a great question and I’m glad you asked. A serial is novelized storytelling structured almost like a weekly television show. Each “episode” has it’s own mini dramas, but it is part of a larger story that will be completed by the end of the serial (think of Downton Abbey). Depending on the publisher, it could be three, four, or up to six installments. I write episodes at 80-90 pages each, and they end of a cliffhanger.

Braine: Yeah, good job on those cliffhangers, made it hard to look away.

Logan Belle: When I learned that publishers were publishing serially, I was extremely excited. I grew up addicted to soap operaslike The Bold and the Beautiful, and prime time shows like Melrose Place and 90210. I loved the anticipation of seeing what would happen next. The experience of watching a serial on TV can’t be completely replicated in a book of course, but for me, this was the chance to combine my first love – books – with the thing I enjoy most about television.

Braine: You have another serial previously released, The Gin Lovers, under Jamie Brenner. Is it easier to write and release a serial versus writing a book? I'd think serials are more tricky because it's shorter and you have to be clever with the endings, make sure the readers come back for more.

Logan Belle: The Gin Lovers was my first serial. Planning that story was what inspired me to try the e-serial format. And to answer your question, it was SO difficult at first there were times when I wanted to cry. (And my editor probably felt the same way!) But now – and I might be in the minority in this -- I prefer writing serials. Knowing that there will be breaks in the reading experience forces discipline on me in the outline stage. I build in multiple peaks in the plot, and I think the overall story is stronger in the end because if it.

Braine: Is MISS CHATTERLEY going to be compiled and released as a book in the near future?

Logan Belle: I’m not sure yet. The thing about publishing with a major publisher versus self-publishing is that these types of things are out of the author’s hands. Once I hand in the manuscript, future formatting is really up to them. But I hope so! Feel free to email all requests to Pocket Star.

Braine: What are you working on currently?

Logan Belle: I’m writing – surprise – another serial. It’s called Sweet Descent, and is about an NYU student named Lucy whose mother is a famous art gallerist. All Lucy has to do is keep her mother happy, and she’ll be handed a glamorous career among the art elite of Manhattan. But Lulu falls for a lawless, reclusive street artist. And like Connie Chatterley and so many of our favorite heroines, Lucy is torn between security and passion. I’ll be publishing this book with St. Martin’s Press, reuniting with my Gin Lovers editor, Vicki Lame.

Braine: When and where is your next signing, appearance, gig?

Logan Belle: I have three events planned so far for August and September:
  • Reading at Lady Jane’s Salon on August 5th in New York City.
  • Signing books at Terrywile Mansion in Danbury, Connecticut on August 22.
  • I’ll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival on September 22.

Braine: So if we have Supies is these areas, I suggest you take some time to meet Ms. Belle. Thank you for stopping by, Logan Belle aka Jamie Brenner, I am looking forward to reading Lucy's story.

Maybe it’s my guilt over being attracted to the guy at the gym.
Maybe it’s just that I desperately need to feel that Cliff still wants me.
Or I just need sex.
Whatever the reason, I made sure that when Cliff walked into the bedroom, I was seductively draped across the bed in my bed underwear: a black lace bra and matching boy shorts from GAP Body.
The lights are dim, glasses of wine are bedside, and Cliff’s favorite album, Radiohead’s The Bends is playing softly.
“This is a surprise,” Cliff said, dropping his laptop case on the floor. A surprise, yes -- but I couldn’t tell from the way he said it if it was a pleasant one or not.
“Come here,” I said, patting the space next to me.
He complies, stretching out next to me, still wearing his sneakers. But he smiles, and reaches out to tuck a stray lock of my hair behind my ear. The tender gesture emboldens me, and I take his hands and put them on my breasts.
“Everything okay?” he says, accepting the cue he couldn’t very well ignore and stroking my nipples.
I kiss him. I don’t want to talk.
The feeling of his mouth on mine, the familiar dance of our lips, our tongues, floods me with even more need for him. I unbutton his jeans, and he stops touching me long enough to help me tug them off.
I move my hands under his t-shirt, touching his chest, then sliding my fingers down to stroke his cock over his boxers, trying to get him hard. When I feel him pulse to life under the pressure of my fingertips, I tug off his boxers.
Touching his naked skin, his cock semi-erect, I increase the speed and pressure of my touch along his shaft. I feel a needy twitch between my legs, and quickly pulled off my underwear. I’m dying to feel him inside of me, but first things first: I get on my knees, bending forward to take him in my mouth, running my tongue along the tip the way I know he likes. I can feel him get harder, and this makes me almost unbearably excited.
After a few more strokes of my tongue, I pull back, raising myself up on my knees, one leg on either side of his hips. I lower myself slowly onto his cock, savoring the exquisite sensation of him slowly filling me.
He unhooks my bra and runs his hands over my bare breasts, stroking my hard nipples as I ride him. His touch heightens the pleasure between my legs, and I think maybe, just maybe, we are finally in sync. I looked down at him, his eyes closed, his face tense with concentration. I close my own eyes, feeling the tension build in my pelvis, a tight coil that needs to unwind. I want to reach down and touch my clit, but I know it would distract Cliff and more than anything, I want him to come.
But the urge to touch myself is too great to ignore. I haven’t been satisfied in so long. I decide to guide his hand, to help him do it for me. Gently pulling one of his hands down, I lead him to my sweet spot as our bodies move together in a familiar rhythm.
Suddenly, he slips out of me, and I realized he is losing his erection. Trying not to panic, I immediately take his sagging cock in my hand, trying to resuscitate it. But after a minute or so, I realize it’s no use.
We lay side by side, and Cliff pulls me to him. My head rests on his chest, rising up and down with his breathing. I’m on the verge of crying, but I fight the tears, knowing that would be a disaster. It would only make Cliff feel worse.
“I’m sorry,” he says quietly.
“Is it me?” I ask. How can I not?
“No, no – of course not,” he says, hugging me.
I sit up, pulling the comforter around myself. “Cliff, what’s going on?”
He runs his hands through his hair, and then reaches for his boxer shorts.
“I’m just under a lot of stress, Conn.”
“I understand that. But things are going well. You’ve got your funding, we’re out here, Chatterbox is getting more users by the minute. Every tech magazine and blog is hailing you as the second coming of Mark Zuckerberg…”
“I’m a long way from being Mark Zuckerberg. Do you have any idea how many companies fail for each one that becomes Facebook or Twitter? I could just as easily become the next Friendster.”
“I don’t believe that for a minute,” I say.
“Not to mention the pressure of paying back the investors.”
“They don’t expect that to happen overnight, Cliff.”
He squeezes my hand. “You know, once I go over 500 shareholders, SEC regulations will essentially force me to go public.”
“You’ll deal with that when the time comes. Just put it off as long as you can. I believe in you,” I tell him. And I do – I believe in him and the company. I just don’t understand why his mission to connect the world through Chatterbox is eroding the physical connection between us.
His phone buzzes, and he reaches for it.
“I’m going to take a shower,” I say, trying not to sound as dejected as I feel.
I close the bathroom door and lean against it, willing myself not to cry until I can mask the sound with the shower.
I step into the ultra-modern, all glass stall, turning the handle to “on.” It’s already pre-set to my optimal temperature, and this is one of the few automated features I never tire of.
I turn my back to the needles of water, letting it pound my shoulder blades. Finally, I let my sobs loose, thick and messy, and I press my hand against the glass to steady myself.
There is just no way around it: Cliff has lost all sexual interest in me. He could blame it on stress, he could blame it on work, but I couldn’t believe that’s the only reason. Have his feelings for me changed? Does he wish he’d embarked on this Silicon Valley adventure alone?
No. I can’t start thinking this way.
Whatever the problem is, I’ll find a way to fix it.
But what should I do in the meantime? I ache for him to touch with me the old hunger. I want so much to feel desired. And I need an outlet for my own tension, as trivial as my stress might seem compared to what Cliff has weighing on him.
I pick up the soap and lather my body. As my hands ran over my breasts, I wish I got more satisfaction out of masturbating. But the ability to satisfy myself in that way has always been elusive. I’ve always wondered if women who talk so passionately about their vibrators are exaggerating. It’s the only explanation I can think of for the fact that they don’t do anything for me.
Maybe I just have never needed that sort of release badly enough. I’d only slept with one other person aside from Cliff, my high school boyfriend. We didn’t even do it that many times. And between him and Cliff, I’d been sort of sexually dormant. But now that I’d gotten used to having a sex a few times a week with Cliff for the past four years, to have it suddenly stop was an adjustment I’d never had to make.
But now I do.
I move my hands lower, sliding over my belly, pressing downward still until I lightly brush the outer lips of my vagina. I spread my legs and slip my middle finger inside myself. I think of Cliff, imagining it’s his fingers brushing over my clit, then back inside again, moving steadily in and out.
And my mind shifts gears, and I’m feeling someone else’s hand. I’m looking into his piercing eyes, my lips brushing the stubble on his cleft chin.
My pussy tingles and my heart beats faster. I keep touching myself, recalling the trainer’s voice as he spoke to me, his eyes locked onto mine, “It’s life-changing…”
It’s so late that the locker room is empty. I step into the shower, letting the hot water hit my muscles, exhausted from the workout. Just as I’m starting to relax, I’m shocked to find the curtain pulled back, and he is standing there, naked and hard.
He steps inside with me, not waiting for an invitation. His eyes sweep up and down my naked body, and while this would usually make me feel self-conscious, all I can think about is how much I want him.
He takes the soap and lathers it over my body, lingering over my breasts, his fingers teasing my nipples until my clit begins to throb. He turns me to face the water, and I feel his cock against my ass. I lean against him, closing my eyes as he reaches around to stroke between my legs. I feel myself open to him, giving myself over to his touch. His hands are big but they easily master my body, his fingers playing me like he’s been touching me forever and there’s nothing I can do but give into the pleasure.
I try to turn around, but he holds me in place, his hand relentless, not satisfied until I am crying out, moaning over and over as a powerful orgasm consumes me….
. “Oh my god,” I murmur, the water hot and steady against my back as waves of pleasure ripple through me. I stop touching myself and lean against the glass wall, panting like an overheated dog.
I stand still for a minute, almost overwhelmed by the power of the fantasy.
Finally, I turn off the shower, not realizing until I’m already wrapped in a towel that I’d forgotten to shampoo my hair.
When I walk back into the bedroom, I find Cliff asleep, his phone still in his hand.

Purchase Miss Chatterley

Jamie Brenner, also writing as Logan Belle, grew up in Main Line Philadelphia on a steady diet of Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins, and Aaron Spelling.

Her romantic historical The Gin Lovers was praised by Fresh Fiction as one of the Top Thirteen Books to read in 2013. Writing under the pen name Logan Belle, Jamie is the author of Miss Chatterley (Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster), a modern day re-telling of D.H. Lawrence’s erotic classic Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Also writing as Logan Belle, she published the erotic romance Bettie Page Presents: The Librarian (Pocket Star) which has been translated into a dozen languages, and the erotic burlesque trilogy Blue Angel (Kensington).

Jamie is a contributor to and has worked in book publishing as a scout, publicist, and agent. She lives in New York City. 

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