An Interview with The Black on “The Way of a Man with a Neighbor”
B: The inspiration goes back a way, to when I was in my early teens. I read a book I had no business reading at that age, a book that belonged to an older cousin who lived with us. I read everything in my house, from the backs of cereal boxes to our encyclopedia set, so her adult books were fair game. The book was titled The Way of a Man with a Maid. It’s erotica published around 1908, by Anonymous. Wikipedia describes the book as a sadomasochistic erotic novel.
Q: So Neighbor is based on Maid?
B: When I got serious about writing for publication that book sat in the back of my mind as something I might want to retell for modern times. So a couple of years ago I bought the eBook of Maid to refresh my memory of the story. I wasn’t too far into the book before I realized I couldn’t retell it.
Q: Why not?
B: I think The Way of a Man with a Maid might be considered a classic in the erotica genre, but as written it’s an offense to modern social sensibilities. It is sadomasochistic, but beyond that it relays an outdated masculine notion that a woman doesn’t know what she wants unless there’s a man to show her. That includes sex. So in the book, the main character Jack forces himself on a virgin who has spurned his advances. He traps her in a soundproof room in his apartment and with the assistance of various restraining devices has his way with her. So of course after he’s shown her the sexual light she’s thankful to him and helps him lure other women into his apartment. Yeah, right. I wasn’t going to rewrite that.
Q: How is your book Neighbor different if it’s inspired by Maid?
B: Both books are about control, though in Neighbor it’s a subtle control. It’s different in that though my female protagonist Camilla subverts herself to the male protagonist Sam, she does so of her own will, without his request, as a means to control him and get what she wants. Thus the tagline: “He was in charge. She was in control.” Camilla wants to live her life a certain way, with a man at her disposal to fulfill her sensual desires. She uses her feminine wiles to accomplish that. You know the saying, “A woman lets a man chase her until she catches him.” That’s Camilla.
Q: Is Camilla based on anyone from reality?
B: No. What I’d initially envisioned for her character was someone like the movie stars of the fifties and early sixties—the Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield types. Those women and others like them metaphorically led men by their noses and got what they wanted from them without giving up anything. One way Camilla is like them is that though she’s a woman in 2015 she likes to wear the clothing styles of women from that era. It makes her stand out from other women. And, she knows she looks sexy in those clothes. In doing my research I looked up those styles so I’d know what I was talking about. I also watched a movie titled Promises, Promises starring Jayne Mansfield. I was familiar with her name as the “other” blonde bombshell but not her work. Promises, Promises interested me because though it was released in 1963, it has nude scenes. Of course those scenes weren’t shown in the U.S. theater release back then.
Q: So Camilla is a Jayne Mansfield type?
B: No. After watching the movie I decided that that type wasn’t suitable for today’s woman. So Camilla doesn’t put on the breathy, not-too-bright sex kitten persona. She’s too much her own woman to be that way. And she doesn’t have much time for innuendo that will influence a man to make the first move. She wants Sam, and wants him a certain way, and she goes for it.
Q: What kind of character is Sam?
B: He’s a dude looking for the next thing in life. He’s retired military and just settled into a new home in a rural and isolated area in North Carolina. He was married briefly early in his military career, a relationship that quickly fell victim to military separation. Throughout his career he’s become accustomed to friendships and relationships not surviving the military way of life. Now that he’s retired and pushing forty he’s casually hoping that will change. It just so happens that Camilla is his next door neighbor.
Q: So he’s ripe for the picking by Camilla.
B: “Ripe” is a term Camilla often uses to describe sexual frustration. Sam’s not so much ripe as he sees Camilla as an immediate and practical answer to what he wants. But it wouldn’t have happened if Camilla hadn’t led the way.
Q: It sounds like your retelling of The Way of a Man with a Maid is an entirely different story than the original.
B: It is. I let the characters take me where they wanted to go. Though The Way of a Man with a Neighbor is erotica, there’s a human story riding alongside the sex. And beyond that, in Part Two the tale becomes a mystery as well as erotica.
Q: Part Two? There’s a sequel coming?
B: No. What’s happened is that I was 50,000 words into the story, covering just over a week into Sam and Camilla’s new friendship, and sex hadn’t happened yet. There’s a slow build to their first intimate encounter, after 50,000 words of foreplay. So I decided to divide the novel into Parts One and Two, both in a single book. I might call Part One “Foreplay.” That is, if I can decide what to call Part Two.
Q: Care to elaborate on the mystery?
B: I’ll only say that there’ll be forces plotting against them. There’s a threat, with a couple or three possible suspects. Camilla and Sam might need outside help to get through it, if they can.
Q: Anything else you can tell us about The Way of a Man with a Neighbor before its release in August 2015?
B: As a teaser I’ll say that a popular character from another novel series is mentioned and has a scene in a character’s past. He’s the guy who gets paid to play.
B: That’s all I’m saying.
Q: To wrap things up, what’s on the horizon for The Black?
B: In the short term, not too much. The Black is going to step aside and let Christopher Bynum wrap up two novels: Nightwalkers Book Three: The Vampire Linares and the first novel in The Hitman Chronicles series.
Q: And the long term?
B: Too many possibilities to say. Right now for 2016 the possibilities are the fourth novel in the Insatiable series, because Simon Bishop needs his story told. There might be a Black Satin II. And a novel titled Baby Girl. And I might update the Passion series as a single novel merging the five novellas, and adding some new material. But these are only possibilities. I’ve learned not to plan too far ahead and put too much pressure on myself with a defined schedule. The stories come when they come.
Q: And with those teasers no doubt your reading public is anxiously awaiting whatever comes next.
B: As am I.