Book review: Chapel Hill author’s spicy novel appeals to Duran Duran fans

dmenconi@newsobserver.comMay 18, 2013 

  • Meet the author

    Karen Booth will read from and discuss “Bring Me Back” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Flyleaf Books, 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., in Chapel Hill; and at 2 p.m. June 30 at McIntyre’s Books, 220 Market St., in Fearrington Village. Admission to both is free.

Write what you know, the saying goes. Chapel Hill author Karen Booth knows the music industry from having worked for record companies (including Mammoth Records during its 1990s heyday), and she knows about being a fan of ’80s new-wave heartthrobs Duran Duran from having been a teenage girl during the group’s pop-star prime.

Thus we have “Bring Me Back” (Turquoise Morning Press), a chick-lit bodice-ripper that features Duran-esque rock icon Christopher Penman as an object of desire for rock journalist Claire Abby. The heroine grew up idolizing and fantasizing about Penman and his band, Banks Forest. When she gets a magazine assignment to interview Penman on the eve of his big comeback album’s release … well, mayhem ensues and nature takes its course.

Booth has already published three earlier erotic-romance novellas, and “Bring Me Back” is the first of three full-length novels that will be published over the next year (all of them set in the world of music, including a sequel). It’s plenty explicit, although well short of the line that “Fifty Shades of Grey” crosses.

Upcoming promotional events include an appearance at this October’s “Durandemonium” conference for Duran Duran fans in Chicago. Meantime, she has two local readings. We caught up with her to talk romance literature.

Q: Since your Duran Duran fandom was an inspiration, which member is Chris based on?

Chris is very much an amalgamation of bits of different rock stars I’ve known personally. Also John Taylor from Duran Duran, who was and still is my favorite. I was trying to tap into the way I felt about him as a teenager to write about the way Claire felt about Chris, in terms of the superficial fan/rock-star relationship. But while Chris started out as a combination of a couple of different people, he very quickly became his own person.

Q: How has the book gone over among Duran Duran fans?

It’s been amazing. A lot of women are like me – remembering what it was like to be 15 or 16 and idolizing Duran Duran as this sort of ultimate escape – and I very much wrote this for myself. Duran Duran fans have been insanely supportive and the book is full of what I call Easter eggs, little Duran Duran references. Even the tiniest things, Duranies pick up on. Like the scene where Chris is trying on clothes and asks, “Do these give me a square bottom?” That was something (singer) Simon LeBon said in “Sing Blue Silver,” a Duran Duran concert movie from 30 years ago. I thought no one would pick up on that, but I was amazed at how many people tweeted about it while they were reading the book.

Q: So, uh, what does your husband think of the book?

Steve had to read the first drafts and he said, “I’m surprised you took the sex this far.” I was, too. But as a reader, I’d always felt frustration with the closed door. Little did I know just how much more explicit I would get. But it’s just writing. People think it’s this big reflection of you, but it’s not. You’d be amazed at how non-sexy writing this stuff can be. There’s a learning curve, for sure, especially with the erotic-romance stuff in the novellas. I’d be sitting at my desk, getting a little flush in the face. Then you have to let writer’s brain take over and just go with it. You get more used to it as you do it.

Q: How much of yourself is in the heroine, Claire?

Claire felt very close to me, and it was like I was channeling her. But once I got started, she took her own path and I just followed along. I did a lot of things to her character that are outside my scope of life experience. The whole thing about her mom being dead and she was still dealing with that, my parents are both still alive. Claire’s relationship with her father is terrible, mine with my dad is great. And the whole single-mom thing, too. She’s definitely more like me than any other female character I’ve ever written, but she’s still not me.

Q: What do your parents think?

My dad tells people I write dirty books. “Dad! Come on!” I don’t think my mom actually reads them. She buys everything, but she’s very noncommittal when I ask what she thought and I don’t push it. But they’re both just happy that it’s something I enjoy and have had a bit of success with.

Q: What about Duran Duran? Does the band know?

I’ve not tried to contact them about it. If it’s meant to happen, it will. It’s not like they’d want to put their stamp of approval on it, so I’m leaving it to fate.

Menconi: 919-829-4759 or blogs.newsobserver.com/beat

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