Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Guest Blogger: Rhonda Leigh Jones

Telling people from my Georgia hometown about my vampire novel, The Maestro’s Butterfly, is like drinking a really strange glass of wine. First, there is a bouquet of excitement when they learn I’ve been published. Then, an initial taste of interest which builds as they find out about the erotic elements and the little twists and turns involved in having a vampire lover. After that, there is the finish that comes seconds after they ask where my vampire lives.
“Hephzibah,” is the answer.
First, there is shock. Then, laughing. Lots and lots of laughing.
You see, many people can’t imagine a dangerously debonair 18th-century French vampire like Claudio living in a place like Hephzibah, Ga. The rural town just outside of Augusta sports an image of being home to a bunch of run-down little houses and aging pickup trucks sporting Confederate flags. There are rustic little feed ‘n’ seed shops and bars that boast having “both kinds of beer” – Bud and Bud Light. In addition to all that local color, there is an aroma reminiscent of old gym socks being boiled in cabbage, which comes from the paper plant.

How in the world, my homies want to know, can a man who dines only on the most beautiful women he can find, live there?
Easy. That’s not all Hephzibah is. Just as that’s not all the South is.
When you live in a place, it can be pretty tempting to miss the romance of it. That’s especially true if you experience only the terrible rush-hour traffic or blistering heat. Anyone who steps outside of that humdrum day-to-day existence and really looks around, who spends some time searching for the little tidbits of texture that can make a place worth living in, knows that the South is actually a great place to have a romance.
We have a long tradition of romantic things, and there are still plenty of sights and sounds with which to spice up a Romance setting. Summer—which lasts from about May to October here in the Central Savannah River Area—is my favorite time of year. That’s when you can smell the lemony magnolia blossoms on the Hill, and the honeysuckle down by the river. That’s when you can hear the buzzing and chirping of cicadas and frogs, and the hooting of owls at night, and when all it takes is a cool breeze in the middle of the afternoon to make you feel like the happiest person in the world.
One of the strangest things I tend to say about the South, especially Georgia, is that we have the prettiest dirt anywhere. There is nothing like the deep, rusty color of Georgia red clay, and no power in the universe strong enough to get it out of your clothes. But when I see it after being in far-off lands where the dirt is some strange color like black or brown, it lets me know I’ve come home.

Don’t even get me started about summer storms, where pink or blue veins of lightening streak across the sky and thunder rumbles like God’s own bowling alley. Rain comes down in big, sloppy drops. And you can play in it, because it’s warm.
In Hephzibah, if you know which turns to take away from Highway 56, you can find some lovely, green country estates that use their majestic old trees to shelter their owners from a noisy, concrete world. In these pastoral paradises, your characters can be serenaded by crickets and treated to the low songs of cows in the distance or the crowing of a rooster. They can take romantic forest walks or lie out under more stars than you can imagine. So many stars, in fact, that they give the night sky a soft, white glow.
Of course, you can find romance in any setting if you bother to look, but it’s just so very easy to do in the South that it surprises me when people give me blank looks and say there’s nothing good here. As if the only good things in life were terribly expensive and purchased from boutique shops in high-rise buildings overlooking crime-ridden alleys.
If you are living in the South and contemplating whether to set your next book in Manhattan or L.A., why not take a different approach? Consider choosing a place where the days can be long and slow, the aromas heady and the passion high. You may find yourself falling in love with the familiar as though it were an oddly handsome stranger glimpsed across a crowded New York art gallery.
Sometimes the exotic is just outside your door.

As an erotic romance writer, Rhonda Leigh Jones believes that the most important sex organ you have is your brain. What happens in the mind - the associations, the memories, the emotional content - is what gives meaning to the actions. Her writing reflects that. Rhonda writes about power dynamics. She enjoys frightening, dominant men, and women who find strength in submission. She will take you to the edge of your darkness—and then push you in. Rhonda was born in Augusta, GA in the United States, in 1968. She holds a B.A. in English, with a professional background in journalism.My second book, THE MAESTRO'S MAKER is now available! Find both it and THE MAESTRO'S BUTTERFLY at They are “kinky, edgy romance” with vampires, as well as strong elements of domination and submission. Go now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rhonda that was good, I agree with you on that also. You to know where to look. I also love the spring and summer months here in Georgia.