Playing with Words
All my life I've been enthralled by words. The family folklore claims, improbably, that I was talking at six months old. I remember vividly learning to read when I was five―my pride when I could make it all the way through Dick, Jane and Sally on my own. I wrote my first poems and stories when I was seven. Throughout my childhood, while other kids were outside in the fresh air, I lay on my bed with a book, to my mother's considerable consternation. They might have been playing softball or jump rope or dodge ball. As for me, I was playing with words.
It's no accident that I adore Scrabble. I can't remember when I was introduced to this game, but I know that as soon as I discovered it, I was addicted. It's funny, because I've never been all that attracted to crossword puzzles, but something about Scrabble clicked. Perhaps it was the intertwining of chance and skill―luck of the draw gives you a set of letters, but what you make of them depends on your knowledge and your vision. Maybe it was the opportunity to use all the vocabulary I seemed to so effortlessly acquire. Whatever the reason, I played through college and grad school, and still do, when I can hook someone into facing off with me.
I'd already written one Scrabble scene in my erotic romance Ruby's Rules. The hero and heroine in this tale are antagonists fighting for a lucrative business deal. The game is a proxy for their real world competition as well as an expression of the sexual tension between them. Then about six months ago, my publisher Total-E-Bound issued a call for a M/M anthology called Gaymes: “Give us hot, hunky guys, strong and sweaty, playing games―and we're not talking Scrabble here, ladies.”
Of course, I couldn't resist. I queried my editor and got her okay. “If anyone can make Scrabble sexy,” she said, “it would be you, Lisabet.” The result was Crossed Hearts my M/M BDSM erotic romance set in the world of tournament Scrabble, which comes out today, January 18th.
As I researched the topic of Scrabble competitions, I was disappointed to learn that linguistic skill and literary brilliance have little place in these contests. Apparently, the key to winning at the tournament level is memorization: learning every possible two-, three- and four-letter word in the English language, so that you can take advantage of tricky cross-relationships and gain points. That kind of spoils things for me. It takes away the thrill of discovering great words hidden in your random collection of letters, of seeing a fabulous opportunity on the board and making it real. Scrabble by rote lacks the creativity, the inspiration, the excitement that attracts me to the game.
However, there's plenty of excitement in my story. For the past six years, Jason Hofstadter has attended the Four States Annual Scrabble Tournament. Jason comes to the Four States for two reasons - to play Scrabble and to get laid. Every year since his first, he has managed to hook up with one of the other players for some sexual fun. This year he has a chance at the grand prize in the tournament. Meanwhile, he figures he has hit the jackpot when he spots handsome, bookish Matt Sawyer, who's competing at the Four States for the first time.Shy and seemingly innocent, Matt turns out to be full of surprises. First, he jumps Jason in the rest room at Starbucks. Then he reveals that he's into BDSM and encourages Jason to experiment with topping him. Finally, despite his lack of experience with tournament play, Matt ends up competing with Jason in the semi-final round. When Matt throws the game he should have won, Jason is forced to confront his own feelings - about winning, about casual sex, and about Matt.
You can read an adult excerpt at http://www.lisabetsarai.com/crossedheartsex.html
I had a blast writing “Crossed Hearts”. Of course, that's not surprising. After all, writing fiction is just another way of playing with words.
LISABET SARAI has published six erotic novels,two short story collections and dozens of individual tales. She also edits the single-author charity series "Coming Together Presents" and reviews erotica for Erotica Readers and Writers Association and Erotica Revealed. Visit Lisabet online at Lisabet's Fantasy Factory and Beyond Romance.