Joey Hill visits with her latest outstanding winner.
Hey everyone! It’s wonderful to be here with you today. One of the questions I get most often is “how did you come up with that?” Which could mean a storyline, a series, or a particularly creative erotic scene using raw vegetables and rubber gaskets, lol. When I recently released Knight Nostalgia, a 3-story anthology of revisit novellas with my Knights of the Board Room series characters, and Desiree invited me to be a guest on her blog, she wanted me to talk about how this popular series came about. (I’ll hold the vegetables and gaskets for another post!)
Before I had the privilege of writing fulltime, I was a secretary. As such, I have sat through a LOT of meetings. Enough to know 95% of meetings could be replaced with a strategic email and a phone call or two. I’m sure any admin assistants reading this are nodding vigorously and saying some version of “tell it, sister.”
However, since those long, drawn out meetings were how I came up with the Knights of the Board Room, I guess I do owe them thanks. I have a pretty restive mind, so while I was taking minutes I usually also had a bag of crochet to keep my fingers busy between note taking. It would startle managers at first (as it did my professors in college, lol), until they realized I used it to focus, which resulted in exemplary work.
I’ve slowed down some over the years, but at that time my multi-tasking abilities were my superpower. Even the crochet and recording the minutes didn’t fully occupy my mind. Because I was writing during almost all my years as a secretary, an important part of my head was always staying alert for any triggers for story ideas.
I believe a lot of romance writing takes place in the personal terrain of one’s fantasies first. If it doesn’t capture the author’s heart, soul and body, how will it do it for the reader? So, I have to admit, the day the KBR “pinged”, I was doing some lovely sexual fantasizing. All indulged while my crochet hook was flashing and looping yarn, and the other part of my brain was noting that day’s meeting discussion.
Hey! Before you get all “judgy” because I was doing this at work, an erotic romance author’s fantasizing qualifies under the tax code as research and storyline development. So I WAS working. (wink)
Here was what was going through my head. I was imagining an executive team in a top floor board room. This select group of very sexy, powerful men were bonded like brothers, and every one of them was a sexual Dominant. While each man wants to find his own woman, they have a pack mentality, so they have no qualms about using a combination of their sensual talents to win over their fellow Dom’s chosen love. Even if that takeover has to happen on that very board room table.
The flip side of what I said above about personal fantasizing is that, whether I want it to become story fodder or not, it does. If it captures my imagination, the writer side of me snatches it right from the private, “do not enter without invitation” part of my head. That writer side is really rude – no respect for personal boundaries.
So that was the spark. But at the time, it was a random thought, written down in one of my many notebooks. No real form yet. After a spark, I need a trigger. A trigger is usually a scene idea that is a powerful pivot point in the story, which opens the flood gate for a bunch of other scenes, and the story starts to come to life.
Fast forward a bit. Now I was working as an executive assistant for a CEO and his VP team. It was a manufacturing company with a lot of offshore plants (which would become the rough business model for Kensington & Associates, or K&A). I had a situation one day where I needed to change out the bulb in the light above my desk. Not wanting to bug maintenance, I stood on my desk to take care of it. Around that time my boss the CEO came by and saw me. He was a very old school guy about women, and a very authoritative male. It bugged him, me up there like that. When I tried to explain what I was doing, he just held out his hand and said, emphatically, “Get down. Now.” Then he took off his shoes, got up there in his dark dress socks, and did it.
Now, I had no sexual attraction to my boss, but that moment set off MAJOR pings for a character AND a scene idea. I believe Matt Kensington was born right then! Soon after, I was offered the chance to be part of a three-story anthology with fabulous fellow authors Laci Alexander and Liz Lapthorne, and my loose idea and brainstorming turned into a story where a powerful CEO decides to engineer an aggressive takeover of the woman and submissive of his dreams, the CEO of another company. And he brings a unique arsenal to that fight—the sensual talents of his four-man executive team.
After Matt’s story was told, it in turn led to Lucas, Peter, Jon and Ben’s. I figured the series would stop at five, but during the course of the stories, a former Navy SEAL, the K&A limo driver Max, got his story with Matt’s admin, Janet (who is a Domme). Her and Max’s story is the only Domme/male sub story of the series, but it’s one of my favorites of that sub-genre I’ve written. At least on the contemporary side of things – Jacob and Lyssa of Vampire Queen’s Servant are my favorite paranormal couple with that dynamic, though Quinn and Selene, the couple that Desiree and I wrote in Nightfall, come close!
The final book of the Knights of the Board Room series is about the reporter who gave the K&A men the Knights of the Board Room title. Celeste had to have her own story, and so it was that Leland, a Baton Rouge cop and a close friend of the K&A men, came together with her to be the final full length book of the series, Book VII.
But the fans of these guys continue to clamor for more, so I’ve written three free novella downloads over the years revisiting them (I’ll tell you where you can find those at the end). Now I also have this new three-story anthology for publication, Knight Nostalgia. I don’t think any of us ever want to leave them behind!
To close, would you like to read the scene that incident with my boss and the light bulb inspired? Because here it is! You can find those links I mentioned and other stuff about my work after this.
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Matt often wondered if Savannah realized she had a circle of devoted knights trying to protect her from harm, when she wouldn’t let them into the inner circle of her life. Geoffrey was gone, and what protection her father had provided, as well as the damage he had done, was gone. She was as alone in the world as a person could get. Matt wanted her in his world, and she wouldn’t even give him an opening to make a move in that direction.
He rounded the corner, his peripheral vision sharpened so he could see if she was in her office. The door was open, her desk light on. And she was standing on top of her desk.
She hadn’t taken off her shoes, and he assumed it was to give her extra height to reach her objective, though he shuddered to think about her stepping on her unstable wheeled office chair in those skinny heels.
He detoured. Determining in a few strides what she was doing, he quickened his pace.
Apparently a bulb had burned out in the incandescent ceiling lighting she preferred to fluorescent. Anal retentive plague that she was, she was changing it herself, rather than waiting to have a maintenance person with solid shoes and a ladder do it tomorrow. She was on the ball of one foot, the other off the ground, straining, her right breast clearly outlined against the fabric of her turquoise turtleneck. The ceiling was too high for her to use one hand to steady her upper body, and as she worked to free the panel over the light fixture, she was precariously balanced. When it came free with a jerk, she overbalanced.
Matt got there in time to clamp his hands on her hips, his palms curled over the hip bones, his fingers on the soft curves.
“What are you doing? Get down from there.”
She was flustered, and he didn’t often get to see that. She backed out of his hold, and he nipped the panel from her fingers, taking it to the floor.
“I’m trying to change a light bulb.”
“I can see that. Get down.”
“I just need to—”
“Get. Down. Now.”
Instead of coming back with another sharp retort, he saw something incredible happen. A moment of confusion. Nervous tension. Something came over him, too, an instinct, and the remarkable feeling that a door had just swung wide open. And he wanted to test it.
“You heard me, Savannah,” Matt said softly. “Come here. Now.”
It was a long moment. Then she shifted her gaze away from his, down, and moved toward his reaching hands, her neck and cheeks flushed.
Still reeling from the revelation, he almost missed his cue, but he recovered in time to take her elbow as she reached down for him. He gripped her waist and she put her hands after a brief hesitation on his shoulders, curiously docile as he lifted her clear of the chair, pushing it out of his way, and lowered her to the floor.
It was a moment before he found his voice, and he managed to make it gentle, since she was blinking at him with the startled look of a deer, not anything like the Savannah he knew.
“Don’t you attend the corporate safety seminars you torture your employees with?”
He saw the snap as the spell was broken. She even took a defensive step back, looked around herself, and that familiar disdain and faint irritation took over her features.
“We fulfill all OSHA requirements, Kensington.”
“Oh, yeah. That was definitely an OSHA-approved maneuver.” He flicked a hand out, caught a loose lock of her hair, enjoyed her look of shocked anger at the casual familiarity.
“I know you think you have to live up to your Savannah Cyborg image, but you don’t have to be and do everything yourself, you know.”
He saw a split second of hurt at the nickname that was used too often for her not to have overheard it countless times before. It made him angry with his clumsiness. And with her, for being so worthy of the name, but only in how she closed herself off to any advances of affection or friendship.
“You delegate administrative tasks to your assistants. Why can’t you let other people help you with things?” He let his concern for her show, hoping to amend that inadvertent barb. “Damn it, if you’d fallen, there’d have been no one to see you fall.”
“That’s the plan,” she said dryly. “Better to bust your backside when no one’s looking.” Some of the spunk was returning, but in the shift of her eyes, he saw she knew something significant had happened. He wondered if she understood what she had revealed, if she even knew it about herself.
The thought brought out a fierce possessiveness in him, a desire to crush anyone who’d taken advantage of such a sweet gift. He enjoyed the many faces and forms of sex, and having an excess of alpha in his personality, he’d often let the natural Dominant in him take over with his casual lovers who liked BDSM. The idea of exercising it in a less casual mode with the woman who’d become his obsession was so intoxicating he had a hard time keeping his cock settled in his trousers. Fortunately, she chose that moment to distract him.
“Fine.” She tossed her head, presented him with a bulb from her desk top. “You want to do maintenance, here’s your chance. And don’t worry. I’ll stand right here and catch you if you fall.”
* * * * *
I’ll put some other fun tidbits about the series in the comments below, but please don’t hesitate to leave your own comments and questions about anything you want to talk to me about. It doesn’t have to be about the new book or this series. It can be about whether I like Cheerios or Apple Jacks for breakfast! (Cheerios, actually, but I love Apple Jacks as a snack, lol). Here’s all the info about the new book, the series, the free novellas and other stuff about me. Thanks again to you and Desiree for letting me be here!
Knight Nostalgia – excerpt, buy links, blurb – http://storywitch.com/book-kbr-kn
Knights of the Board Room series – http://storywitch.com/series-kbr
Winner of the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement award, Joey W. Hill has published almost fifty contemporary and paranormal BDSM erotic romances, including six series. Her emotionally-intense love stories offer everything from vampires, mermaids, witches and angels, to boardroom executives, cops and simple housemaids. With her books, she hopes readers won’t “look past the sex,” but instead will “look within it,” and find a story that can touch not just the body, but also the heart and soul.
Facebook Fan site: JWHMembersOnly
Free novellas revisiting my characters: storywitch.com/series-cantrips
Ooh, thanks for sharing that background and that tidbit, Joey! Loved that scene and learning about how that inspiration led to that creation!! I love the peeks at how your process can work, and love the chance to see the world a bit through your eyes that way. Your stories capture so much emotion as well as passion and plot, and I love the chance to learn a bit more about how you craft them! Thanks for the visit! (And I love Apple Jacks too–total nostalgia cereal for me–I remember when they only came in pink 😉 )
Fedora, I still can only eat them in pink. The other colors look weird to me, lol. And of course now that I’m older and can’t tolerate “quite” as much sugar (grin), I can eat a cup of them and be happy, versus an entire box!
Thank you so much for those wonderfully kind words. I’m so glad my books and characters have been able to give you that experience!
And I like to be able to share these “how it happened” glimpses, too. Often, the origins stories are far less interesting than the KBR beginning. It goes more like “Uh, it just kind of popped in my head one day and I started writing it”, lol. Thanks for coming by!
I am so honored to have Joey on my blog today. She has always been my inspiration and I love everything she writes.
Desiree, that feeling is so mutual! You represent all the good things about writers of this genre. Thank you for letting me be here.
I posted this bit of trivia under another blog post when I was promoting Knight Nostalgia, but figured you all might enjoy hearing it, if you haven’t already!
Did you know the series was almost NOT called Knights of the Board Room? I wrote the first book as a novella for an Ellora’s Cave anthology with Liz Lapthorne and Lacey Alexander, with no idea that I would be turning it into a series. Then I was told I was going to be included in a Berkley anthology with Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes and Denise Alexander, and so I needed to come up with another novella idea. Well, it made sense to do another story about one of the K&A guys, so Controlled Response came next. And that’s when the first reference to Knights of the Board Room was made.
When the Berkley anthology did well, they wanted one more, so Honor Bound came next, and in that book, the nickname was expanded upon – “A female journalist…had picked up on it, coining them the Knights of the Boardroom. Or Soul-Sucking Predators of the Bayou, depending on who wrote it.” Lol…
So, when I wrote the first series full length book, Book 4, Afterlife, for Ellora’s Cave, I told EC I wanted to call it the Knights of the Board Room series. They initially turned me down, because they didn’t think the name was all that catchy or marketable. However, since I had already been calling it that with the Berkley books, they agreed for continuity’s sake to let me have that as the series name. It was probably about the only reason writing one series between two publishers turned out to be a good idea, lol. Any aspiring authors out there – do not write one series between multiple publishers! Bad idea. Very bad. :>
I remember that scene and it gave me shivers. I didn’t know if she was going to totally reject him as she was so determined to succeed at everything on her own (something she has in common with several of the KoB women). It was wonderful watching Matt show her she could be strong and still let love in.
Donna, agreed. Which led to the scene at her father’s funeral, where Matt carries her down the stairs when she’s not expecting it, and he says one of my favorite quotes of the book – “…someday, you might need someone else to carry the load for awhile. And you can trust me to get you where you need to go, no matter how steep the hill is. Up or down.”
This sounds amazing, I’m going to checknit out. Thanks for sharing.
Ninfa, thank you!! Glad you enjoyed the post and hope you discover and fall in love with the K&A men and their ladies (beaming).
Love your books, Joey! Thanks for the trivia!
Thank you so much, Mary! Glad you liked those snippets. :>
Another thing I’ve been talking about in reminiscing about the KBR series is the research I’ve done for it. Like for Controlled Response, the make/model of motorcycle that would allow Cassandra to stretch out and masturbate upon the seat resulted in a VERY interesting conversation with the local Harley dealer.
For Honor Bound, I had the generous time/knowledge of a three-tour Iraq veteran and his wonderful wife to help me depict Dana’s situation. I also watched a couple days’ worth of documentaries on the Military Channel, which helped me set up the ambush scene. I wished I’d been smart enough to consult someone when I was writing Board Resolution, because my initial references to Peter’s military status were completely screwed up. Thank goodness I was able to correct them in the self-pub re-release, lol.
For Afterlife, yoga. I was taking yoga at the time, and it helped fuel many of those scenes between Rachel and Jon, and gave me a tremendous respect for a man who can appreciate the strength and discipline it takes to do advanced yoga practice. As well as one who internalized its spiritual side.
For Hostile Takeover, the visit to New Orleans was essential, because out of all the men, Ben is most connected to the city’s life and heart. Thanks to that visit, I was able to include Ben’s cemetery scene, the beads in the tree, the lovely references to Café Beignet…in short, the setting provided vital points in the storyline.
For Willing Sacrifice, SEAL research! Again, I had two fabulous readers who were familiar with that world and the military in general, who gave me so many resources. One of them mailed me a crateload of books, videos, etc. Then there was the ballet side of things. I had a friend and former co-worker from my day job who’d danced seriously at one time, and she helped me bring that scene in the ballet school between Max and Janet to life.
Finally, Soul Rest. Having realized how much visiting New Orleans enhanced Hostile Takeover, I took a trip to Baton Rouge, the setting for Celeste and Leland’s story. And while I was there, I did an interview with a member of the Baton Rouge police force and visited their district offices, seeing firsthand the neighborhood where Leland would patrol his beat.
Now, interesting points about what I DIDN’T research. I don’t remember doing much if any research for Board Resolution. I had worked as an executive secretary for a manufacturing company that had plants overseas, so it gave me the basic background I needed for the business end of things – at least for that book. I think I’m as guilty as any romance author about depicting powerful business men who run vast empires and yet always seem to have oodles of time to be there to do amazing and wonderful things for their women (Roarke, anyone? Lol). Since the entire story takes place in a board room, I didn’t even really have to do much research on New Orleans, though as you’ll note above, I’m VERY happy that in later books, trips to NOLA were required to get a richer sense of the city’s environment.
Jon’s inventions – I have never done any research on whether most of Jon’s inventions are even possible or not, lol. In the later books, as my awareness of BDSM furniture grew (like the cocoon bed in Hostile Takeover), I did research those and then had Jon make “modifications” that I liked, to heighten the eroticism of the scenes, but since I have zero mechanical or chemistry aptitude, I have no clue if they are pure fantasy, if they exist in some form, or if it’s possible to invent them. But if the books inspire someone to try, I don’t think any of us would object!
I think one of the main things I’ve always loved and admired about you is your ability to make your imagination come to life in the way of words. Oh to be a fly on the wall of your imagination. Absolutely love the “behind-the-scenes” insights. Thanks yet again!
I’m not sure who left the comment since I think you entered my name (or there was a glitch of some kind), but I thank you regardless! (smile). And I’m sure we will revisit them in the future, never fear.
Whoops, we had two comments that listed my name as the poster, and I mixed them up. So sorry – meant to say I appreciate that wonderful compliment. Sometimes it’s a lot like throwing mud at a wall and seeing where it splatters, lol. But it’s always fun seeing where it goes. I was just reading a foreword by Stephen King where he talked about how he often doesn’t know how a story is going to go until he writes it, and it’s very much like that! Thanks again!
Joey, thanks again for taking the time to give us these peeks! It really deepens my already substantial appreciation for your writing and these works in particular! Love learning these, and I love how much care you take in crafting each character and story!
You’re very welcome, Fedora. Thank you again!
Thanks for sharing the background info on how the KOTB series came to be, I don’t think that I knew the history. Congrats on another wonderful book and thanks for the opportunity to revisit some of our favorite characters!
Christi, over the years, because I’ve talked about things in different interviews at different locations, I’ll think everyone knows this stuff, but of course that’s not true (I can cover about 1% of the things I want to learn about online, so why would I expect that readers would be everywhere, lol?), so I’m tickled when someone gets to hear it for the first time and enjoys the background. Thank you!
Spark or thought or just a “whif” in your brain is all it took to create this amazingly fantastic series??? Has to be a truly God given talent.
As I told you the other day, Nostalgia was amazing and I hope we get to visit with the KBR team and their ladies somewhere down the line. I never get tired of visiting with them and seeing what they’ve been up to.
Okay, now I can put this comment in the right place (grin). Thanks so much, and don’t worry; I’m sure we’ll see these characters again in the future, whether in future vignettes or in guest appearances in other books. :>
I love hearing about how you get your ideas. Just this afternoon I finished a reread of Afterlife, prompted by the Knights Nostalgia where Jon wants to give Rachel better memories than here first outing which Cole spoilt ????
Kath, you know I love hearing that my books/characters inspired a re-read! I enjoyed doing some of that myself when I was recalling details of Afterlife to write The Card Game (beaming). Thanks so much!