Author inspired by Fifty Shades of Greys publishes her very own erotic novel - but confesses she still can’t say the O-word
- Credit: Nick Butcher
This is unexpected. I’ve made the writer of an erotic novel blush. Just a little, writes Steven Russell/
A storyteller whose debut offering features the O-word in the first few pages. Faked Os, too.
All I’ve done is ask about the words she wouldn’t ever use in print.
Kelly Dorward was inspired largely by Fifty Shades of Grey, whose success a few years back showed many of us there was a greater appetite for electrically-charged erotic fiction than we’d imagined.
It was the developing relationship between rich and confident Christian Grey and inexperienced university student Anastasia Steele that so gripped Kelly when she read it, rather than the – how shall we put it? – physical behaviour of an intimate nature.
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I tell her I thought it was pretty poor stuff – the sex scenes often clunky to the point of laughable.
“True,” she says. “As much as I love it, I also find it not very realistic.” Mind you, I concede that many writers have over the years found it hard to light upon the right words to describe activity that’s more about intense feelings and emotions than mechanics.
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“I find that. I can sit there for a good three hours with a pen in my hand, thinking ‘Now… what do I put?’ I purposefully try to avoid certain words.” Like what? “I daren’t say! I can’t say the rude words.” Oh go on. Like what? “Quite a few, like… I can’t say them! I’ll blush. I really will.”
Pick one. What letter does it begin with? “Well, completely and utterly, the C-word. Sylvia Day (a best-selling romance writer) uses it over and over again. That’s not in my book and never will be.
“And then they talk about the male anatomy in a certain way, a lot. I don’t like using any of those words. So I try to make the reader ‘see’ what’s going on, with the kind of thing happening, without using any of those words.”
She laughs. “Even though I’ve written a book like that, I will blush and be all ‘Ooh!’ Lots of people are like ‘You wrote this, Kelly…?!’ ‘I have!’”
The mother of three confesses that, actually, she’s the type of person who doesn’t like a fuss. “But no chance now, with a book out there!”
Three Words Falling is about London-based millionaire Elizabeth Drake, who begins an erotic affair with a man almost half her age: Sebastian Knight.
Husband Ben is “super-proud” of her work. Did he get sneak previews along the way? “Actually, I think I bored him to death!” Kelly would read bits out, chapters sometimes, and he’d often give little pointers that helped.
Also, she writes initially in longhand – arrows and bubbles all over her pad – before committing it to computer. Ben often helped type-up the story while his wife dictated and refined it.
And were her mum and dad amazed? “They haven’t actually read it. I’ve read my mum a couple of chapters and she said ‘Ooh, I’ll get flutters listening to it!’ My dad’s just so proud; says it’s such an achievement. I said ‘Just don’t ever read it!’
“My nan’s read it, and she’s 85! She loves it. ‘There are some quite naughty bits in there, aren’t there, Kelly?’ Have to be, nan!”
Have her children (aged from five to 14) read it? “No! Not a chance! I’m very open with my children. They know the character names. They know it’s an adult book. But I say to them ‘It’s an over-18, like the films.’ They’re super children. OK, so mummy is writing an over-18 book. End of story.”
I imagine there might be a day when they’re old enough, though, and curious…
“When they’re 25!”
It’s the creator of Peter Rabbit who got Kelly hooked on words.
“I got a set of Beatrix Potter books when I was about eight. I loved it. It (reading fiction) kind of fizzled out later, and then I got back into it at high school when we started learning Romeo and Juliet. I’m quite a hopeless romantic, so I fell in love with that type of book, and writing poetry.”
One of her poems was published in a Reader’s Digest book when she was about 10. In more recent times she’s written children’s stories and more poetry. But nothing took off and it’s all just filed away in a drawer.
Then, after reading Fifty Shades, Kelly was inspired anew to write her own novel; as KJ Dorward.
She couldn’t put Fifty down. “I wanted to know what happened. I wanted to know why he had so many issues. I know there are naughty scenes in it, but you do end up flicking past them – ‘Oh, here we go again’ – and you don’t really need to read it. I genuinely like the storyline.”
Kelly began reading more and more about five years ago. “As great as the books were, and as much as I loved reading them, I was fed up with reading the same scenario – powerful, rich men who are in charge.
“I thought it was time for a woman to be the rich and powerful one.
“I wanted to put the woman in the driving seat, calling the shots and having control. I decided to make her older, more worldly, with an interesting yet tragic hidden past.
“I also wanted to see progression and change throughout my story. I wanted Elizabeth to learn and grow as she embarks on an affair with a much younger man.”
Kelly had the idea in the spring of 2014, while in bed. (Steady. It’s not what you’re thinking.)
“I remember rolling over, getting a notepad and thinking ‘I’m going to have a dominant-type woman.’ I wrote some notes down and said ‘I’m going to do this.’ Everyone was like ‘OK, Kelly’s on a mad one again…’
“As with Romeo and Juliet, it’s always the man who is the powerful one, and I was getting a little bit bored of reading that. I thought of people like (actresses) Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek. They’re 40-year-old-type women and they’re strong.”
Writing really did have to pay second fiddle to the family when the children were very young, and still isn’t top priority, but momentum built once they were all at school.
Chloe’s 14, Skye is 10 and Preston five. “While they’re at school, I’ll work from nine to three. And then I’ll do my mum duties. When they’re in bed, if I get a chance I’ll write again.”
It’s been trickier. When trying to juggle parenthood and writing with part-time work, the storytelling was squeezed in at the end of the day. She’d find herself turning in at 1am, sometimes. Something had to give.
Kelly was working for a phone company for eight months – “I’d never done sales in my life” – but knocked it on the head in February to give her writing a clearer run. “I thought ‘I need to treat it like a career’.”
She does volunteer at the school near her home a couple of times a week, but the hours dovetail well. A corner of the living room has been christened “my little cubby hole”, with a desk and computer. “Nine times out of 10 I eat my lunch at three o’clock, because I don’t want to stop the flow. Then it is very difficult to think that, no matter how it is going, I’ve got to stop and get the children.
“Preston’s the last one left in the classroom. Every time! ‘I’m sorry I’m late…’”
The second book in a planned trilogy – Three Words Forbidden – is almost fine-tuned and should be out within weeks. The final story will be Three Words Forgotten – and there will be some twists along the way.
It might not be the last we see of those characters. “I’ve also got ideas for a completely different story, coming away from the erotic side of things. I want to do a massive one-off novel. And then I’ve got a mass of children’s books.
“It’s a weird thing to say, but I never wanted to die having just existed – died and nobody ever knew me. I wanted to do something so I’m remembered. So I thought ‘If I do a book, I’m officially an author, which is fantastic, and I’ll be known as that.’ That’s what I set out to do. It’s not about money, or anything like that.”
So where would she like to be in 10 years?
“Hmm… It would be a dream to be able to have it as a career; to write full-time. I could always be here for the children; here when they’re off. But I would love a four-bedroom house, so they could all have their own bedroom,” she laughs. “The girls share. And that’s it, really.”
• Three Words Falling is available from Amazon as a Kindle download (£2.99) or as a paperback (£7.99), produced via print-on-demand/self-publishing firm Lulu.com