Behind The Scenes

Below The Belt

The original title for this book was Going Down, but my publisher decided it was too dirrrrty. When I offered Below The Belt as an alternative, I didn’t think I had much chance of it getting through. I mean, come on – it’s pretty damn dirrrrty as well. Much to my delight, they liked it, and I now smirk whenever I think of this book.

The idea for Jamie and Cooper’s battle of wills came to me when I was going regularly to K1 fighting bouts when I was living in Auckland. K1 fighting, for those not in the know, is a mix of kick boxing and traditional boxing. It’s huge in Japan, and has a wide international following. It’s incredibly dynamic and exciting, and, for some reason, much easier for me to get into than traditional boxing. I don’t know what it is – unless it’s Mohammed Ali dancing around the ring, I’m just kind of appalled by traditional boxing. Too much of people’s heads being knocked to and fro. Not so with K1. Like I said, I’m not sure what it is, but it might have something to do with the sheer entertainment value of watching men throw sweeping round-house kicks at each other, like a real-life martial arts movie. Anyway, sitting there in the audience, inhaling the smell of sweat and liniment and beer and hearing the roar of the crowd, my mind started ticking over.

I loved Million Dollar Baby. Cried like a baby at the end, too. I looked like a walking, talking raccoon by the time we left the cinema. The movie really stuck with me, and I decided to combine my two ideas – make my heroine a boxer, make my hero retired. Before I knew it, the plot was unraveling onto the page.

Jamie is a stubborn, hard-headed, deeply closed-off heroine. Possibly the most in-denial female I’ve ever written. I loved her attitude to sex, even if it was born of desperate self-protection. And I loved how brave she was in facing her demons when push came to shove. As for Cooper – well, if he was a world champ, I would overcome my resistance and watch traditional boxing. ‘Nuff said.

I am besotted with the front cover for this book. It’s just so hot and sexy and perfect for Jamie and Cooper’s story. The art people at Harlequin do a damn fine job, I think, of capturing the essence of our books.

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