The Story Behind Her Bush by Penelope Bloom
20 May 2019
By Penelope Bloom
Planning the book
If I was explaining to a reader of mine why they should be excited about this book and I only had one sentence to do it, I’d say…
“Her Bush gets back to the roots of what made this series special.”
I feel confident in saying that because it was my number one priority while writing it. I always make a point of going through all the feedback I get with every launch and I ask myself, “how can I improve?”
My biggest takeaway from the criticisms of my previous book in the series, Her Secret, was that readers came in with expectations that weren’t met. Specifically, I think readers who were familiar with the series sat down with the expectation that it’d be a super light-hearted, fun book. At times, I think it was, but I also know I put more drama and emotion into the book, which naturally tends to detract from the comedy and lightness.
So I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice, and since this is the last book I plan on writing in the series, I really wanted to end it with a home run. The direction I needed to go seemed obvious when I stepped back and looked at everything I had in front of me. This one needed to get back to having a title that was an in-your-face, sexual innuendo. The cover needed to be bold and attention grabbing. It needed to be dirty enough at a glance that it would make some people uncomfortable. Because that’s what the series is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be in your face, bold, witty, and unapologetic. It’s fun and carefree, and all of that needs to come through just from glancing at the cover.
Writing the book
I had a lot of challenges when I was writing this book. Interestingly enough, one of them came directly from my experience working with the developmental editor Montlake assigned to my first two books with them. Going back and doing that kind of broad stroke style of editing with somebody’s guidance helped me see how much I’ve been leaving on the table in my books. There were themes and threads of characters that I had just left hanging, waiting to be pulled and developed in my books I wrote for Montlake. Naturally, I figured they would exist in this book as well.
Unfortunately, my usual method is to kind of plow forward and refuse to let myself look back until I’m mostly finished. There will occasionally be books where I realize I’ve created a big problem and I can’t just continue because I need to know how I fix it before I press on. Aside from those cases, I really try not to let myself go back until the very end. With Her Bush, I think I literally went over the first 25,000 words about 10 to 12 times before I was finally comfortable moving on.
My initial issue was that I needed a better source of tension between Nell and Harry. I felt really great chemistry between them, but it quickly became clear that they got along almost *too* well. I didn’t want to sacrifice how good that felt to me on paper, so I had to think of an external wrinkle to throw into the equation. Sometimes, characters just clash, and in those sorts of stories, I hardly need to sprinkle more tension. Just putting them in the same room can be enough.
In cases like this one, I needed an X factor. Finding the right one was a big part of my back and forth. It would be too big, then not big enough, etc.
Once I finally found that, I struggled with the ending, which is also something I don’t normally struggle with.
But one way or another, I managed to get the book finished. I’m happy to say that all the back and forth feels like it really paid off this time. I think there are more satisfying layers to this book than some of my other light-hearted stuff, but those layer’s don’t come at the cost of bogging you down, slowing the pace, or detracting from the humor.
In short, I think this book ended up being the perfect ending to a series that has literally changed my life, both as a person, and as an author. Without these books, I wouldn’t have been given all these wonderful opportunities that have come to my attention in the past six months, from getting my books translated in more than ten languages, audiobooks, and of course, a traditional publishing contract.
I’m so excited to start reading reviews and seeing what people think. As always, I’ll be paying close attention to the feedback and looking for ways to keep improving as an author as I go forward.
Thanks for reading!
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