After reading The Red we were dying to more about how Tiffany Reisz came up with the concept for the novel, so we asked her a few questions:
We'd love to know more about how The Red was conceived, dreamed up, sparked? How did she go about selecting the paintings and the order she arranged them in? How did she stop herself from not making this a bigger novel--it feels compact and perfectly formed as is but I can also see that it might've been tempting to go down wormholes and side streets of Malcolm and, really, many of the characters?
Here's what she had to say:
The Red in Three Books
I am an amateur art lover. I’ve read The Judgment of Paris by Ross King and took a couple of art classes in school and have quite a few friends who are painters, so I know a little more that the average person on the street about fine art.
What I did was find the paintings first and sort of followed my gut on how to arrange the scenes to fit the plot and the paintings. I knew the Minotaur scene would be a breaking point for Mona so it happens about 2/3 of the way through the book where the usual black moment usually happens in a romance. It was all very gut-level stuff but it felt right while I was writing it.
It wasn’t a difficult book to write like a lot of my novels are. This one wanted to be written. I had mentioned The Red in a book I wrote called The Angel. That was years ago, but the idea stayed with me. One night I was lying in bed and it just hit me hard that I really REALLY wanted to write that book. So I did!
The length of the book was predetermined. I think The Story of O, which is the most famous erotic novel of the 20th century, is the perfect length. It’s about 63,000 words, so I decided The Red, which has a similar tone and is also dark erotica should be the same length. You can’t have an erotica novel like this go on and on for 500 pages. It would get very repetitive very quickly.
I just...I....How does she do it? How does Tiffany Reisz continue to come up with these wonderfully creative, inventive stories? When I think about what I just read, The Red, I just marvel at her process and I wonder what sparked her and then how did she know when to end it? To be in the "room where it happened"; to hear her come up with these ideas and then produce them must be super cool.
One thing I enjoy about her novels is that I never really think I'm the target audience but every single time she proves me wrong and I love that sense of discovery--discovering something new to fall in to. So I guess I really need to stop thinking I'm anything and just go with it, right? Case in point--The Red's tag line is that it's an erotic fantasy. The erotic part I get...but the fantasy part is the part that I typically don't engage with. But, once again, Tiffany Reisz has shown me that I'm a fool for letting my preconceptions about what the fantasy genre is or isn't get in the way of picking up a book; good writing and good storytelling are what draws me to a story and I've probably missed out on quite a few books because of my lack of exposure to an entire genre or sub-genre.
Anyway, back to The Red.
I picked up The Red on a rainy, humid evening (we've been having many of those in Louisiana, lately) and was immediately absorbed by Mona and Malcolm. From their mysterious meeting at her gallery to his 'assignations' and the resulting fantasy that was fulfilled, I found my evening slip into the wee hours of the morning and I couldn't put this erotic journey down until I figured out who this Malcolm was and how he found Mona. I enjoyed that The Red seemed to give a nod to historical romances with rakish characters--Malcolm being the primary, but others show up--and blends it with a thoroughly modern Mona in these searingly erotic scenes. Speaking of the erotica in this novel, *fans self*, if you are at all not into explicitly sexual scenes that explore all kinds of sex acts, then you should prepare yourself for exactly that when you pick up this novel. Another thing I enjoyed was how each chapter built on the story but was also a story in and of itself; I like that at any point I could pick up The Red and read a single chapter and feel satisfied by the vignette it offered. And yet, having the chapters build to a conclusion that made me smile and wonder what Mona would be up to next was utterly satisfying; it's rare that you can read a book as short vignettes or as a complete work and have either reading feel satisfying but The Red does just that.
The Red is a short novel that will check off many boxes for many readers: interesting characters and situations (I'm betting google image search will be used often by readers) and sensual erotica in blending of fantasy and reality that will hook you in from the first chapter.
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LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RED:
The Red marks international bestseller Tiffany Reisz’s return to the erotica shelves. Originally published as a limited edition hardcover for attendees of Shameless Book Con 2016, The Red—an erotic fantasy in the vein of Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty quartet—will finally being be available to the public this summer.
“The Red is the naughtiest, most explicit, sexually decadent book I’ve ever written,” Reisz says. “If you’ve read my other books, you know that’s saying something.”
The heroine, Mona Lisa St. James, makes a deathbed promise that she will do anything to save her mother's art gallery, The Red. Just as she realizes she has no choice but to sell it, a handsome stranger makes her an offer: He will save The Red if she submits to him for the period of one year.
Reisz adds: “For years readers have been asking me to write The Red, a novel mentioned in the Original Sinners series written by my erotica-writing dominatrix Nora Sutherlin. Well, readers, be careful what you wish for.”
Tiffany Reisz is the author of the highly acclaimed series The Original Sinners. Her first novel, The Siren, won the RT Book Reviews Editor's Choice Award for Best Erotic Romance of 2012. Slightly shameless, Tiffany dropped out of a conservative Southern seminary in order to pursue a career as a writer. This move, while possibly putting her eternal salvation in peril, has worked out better than she anticipated. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer, and two cats. Find her on Twitter @tiffanyreisz.