Until I understood the complexities of the sport, all I saw were sweaty, grunting, near-naked men rolling around together on a mat, trying to mount each other.
The idea for Vicki Essex’s book came similarly. The Toronto author was watching UFC with her sister and a friend — Canadian champion Georges St-Pierre was in the octagon — and the ladies’ thoughts turned to sex. I spoke to the writer and proofreader at Harlequin about her new romance novel, Her Son’s Hero.
Q I heard GSP inspired your book?
A I was watching a UFC match with my sister and her friend and they were saying, “You should write a book about MMA fighters.” They wanted me to write a really steamy sexual book.
Q So they could more easily fantasize about the fighters?
A Maybe that was part of it. There’s certainly a great appeal to MMA fighters. They’re some of the most well-conditioned athletes in the world. They train eight hours a day. Women love them.
Q Except for the fighters with missing teeth or cauliflower ears.
A I think there’s still an appeal. Athletes draw women.
Q You didn’t end up writing just a steamy sex saga though.
A As I started doing more research, it became a story about a family and bullying. [I learned] romance and MMA have a lot in common. They are both misunderstood by people and unfairly judged.
Q What are the ingredients of a good romance novel?
A It’s very hard to say. What one person likes another person doesn’t. Romance has a lot of sub-genres. But people like to read about good romantic conflicts.
Q What are the ingredients of a good sex scene?
A I like to have a couple who have a lot of magnetism. I like relationships where things build quietly.
Q The best part of reading romance novels, for me, is seeing all of the euphemisms for body parts. Do you have any favourites?
A All of those euphemisms are sub-genre specific. One of my favourites is “cuny.
Q What does that mean?
A Change the letter ‘Y’ to a ‘T.’ Some of my favourites come from Bertrice Small. She used “rose hole” and she likes to use the word “rod” a lot.
Her Son’s Hero ($5.50), is published by Harlequin and is available this month in stores.