This post was originally written for Stephanie Draven’s blog.

One section of The Duke and the Pirate Queen would not exist if not for revisions.

When writing the synopsis for the novel I knew I had to visit an island, and if possible my protagonists needed to be taken captive by islanders. Since this was an erotic novel, the islanders would force them to compete in a sort of sexual display contest. It wasn’t until I’d had a little break from the manuscript, though, that I realized I’d completely missed an opportunity.

Luckily, around then I received the manuscript back with a request for some minor revisions. I checked in with my editor, told her my idea, and received permission to revamp the island scene by making it an homage to The Odyssey.

Here’s a brief excerpt from Odyssey IX, from a translation I found online:

“…on the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eaters, who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. … the Lotus-Eaters gave [the crew] to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus-eaters without thinking further of their return; nevertheless, though they wept bitterly I forced them back to the ships and made them fast under the benches.”

Some historians suggest the plant meant was Ziziphus lotus, which is related to the jujube, though I suspect there’s also an element of fantasy in the description.

The idea of islanders who subsist mainly on drugging flora fit in well with an erotic novel. I could thus easily force the protagonists into the otherwise unlikely situation of a sex competition, which led to new revelations about their characters. The drugged islanders added not only an element of humor but also of dystopic fear, resulting in a chapter that was much more gripping than before the revision.

I knew my liberal arts education was good for something.