We are very excited to have back with us today Logan Belle, aka Jamie Brenner. We had the opportunity to read her latest novel, THE LIBRARIAN, and as with other books we’ve read by her the magic of New York shows through and her writing flows beautifully. Please welcome her to UTC today!
Hi Logan, welcome to UTC! Lets talk about your latest release. I like the elements you’ve added to the same tale we’ve seen repackaged in so many books lately. How did you come up with your idea for THE LIBRARIAN?
Thanks Francesca! And congrats on the site’s new home – it looks fantastic. The Librarian started with the idea of Bettie Page. I’ve always been more in the Bettie Page camp than the Marilyn Monroe camp – to me Bettie is about a woman owning her sexuality and Marilyn is more about a man’s fantasy. Last year I was in LA and I stumbled on a Bettie Page store in Hollywood. The clothes were fantastic and a beautiful homage to her, and I started thinking about what I could do for her with a novel. And then BDSM started blowing up in fiction, and I realized Bettie was a fetish model when BDSM was not just taboo, the imagery was illegal! She was extremely brave to represent sexuality the way she did. I started imagining a female character who discovers her own sexuality not just through a powerful man, but through the legacy of Bettie Page. I talked to my agent and partner about the idea, and he sent my first novels, the burlesque trilogy Blue Angel, to one of Bettie’s representatives. Luckily, she loved the books and got on board with doing a novel for Bettie.
I love having some insight into the characters. Sebastian is very sexy and powerful. How would you best describe him and what are his best and worst characteristics?
I see Sebastian as the type of guy – and there are a lot of them in New York – who was raised with extreme privilege and has all the access that money can buy. I see him as the guy that every woman wants. At the same time, he has suffered through tragedy and has given up on the idea of love or even happiness, really. His best characteristics are that he is creative and generous and genuinely likes women. His worst are that he breezes through life with a sense of entitlement, and he is not emotionally available.
I’m not the biggest fan of naive heroines, but Regina put her foot down and wasn’t a pushover when it mattered. How do you see Regina?
First of all, I agree that the naïve heroine can be annoying. But I felt I had to start there with this story in order to really give room for an inspired transformation. It was a challenge for me. I see Regina as a woman who was very influenced by her mother – a woman greatly disappointed by her own life — to play it safe. Regina is a romantic at heart, but has had it drilled into her head that to be impetuous about love is to invite suffering. It took a man as extreme and commanding as Sebastian to break her free of that.
The ending of THE LIBRARIAN is pretty much set as a HEA, but have you considered continuing this as a series?
To be honest, by the third book of my last series, I told myself that unless there was a really strong reason to bring characters through a three-book arc, I wasn’t going to do it again. And I think The Librarian is complete. But I am really happy that readers have emailed me asking for another Regina and Sebastian novel. It means a lot to me that they want to see more. However, from the beginning, I did envision that the Bettie Page novel idea might go forward with other self-discovery stories. I’m already thinking of another heroine in need of sexual awakening
I just loved the Bettie Page aspect of the story, maybe it’s just my personal fascination with that era and sex appeal. Did you have all that information already in your head or did you have to do any research for this?
I had my own ideas of Bettie in my mind, but also lots of questions. I did my research. I looked at dozens and dozens of photos to get a full sense of her physical transformation (I loved seeing photos of her before her trademark bangs!) and the scope of how she was represented in her work, and I read books like Bettie Page Confidential by Bunny Yeager and Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-up Legend by Karen Essex and James L. Swanson. For anyone who really wants the truth about Bettie Page, I highly recommend the documentary Bettie Page Revealed. It’s painstakingly researched, full of photographs that I don’t think are published anywhere, and Bettie herself gave hours of interviews before her death. It really gives you the sense of the risks she took and also the pure joy she experienced when being photographed. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it until after I completed the novel, but it was extremely moving.
The setting of this book is obviously New York City and I felt your descriptions brought the city to life in great detail, from places to lifestyle pace, to people. Again, did you do research on all the places you mentioned? And do you consider that the setting was an important part of the story you wrote, or it wouldn’t have worked?
The New York Public Library was, to me, almost as important a “character” as any other. And the idea of the library – “sex in the library” was vital. There is no book without that idea – the contrast between the stereotypical idea of a librarian, and wanton sexuality.
As for the NYPL, it is an awe-inspiring place, and one of the challenges in writing this novel was trying to convey its majesty in words. I spent a lot of time in the main reading room of the library while doing a freelance writing project two summers ago, and thought at the time that it was one of the romantic places I’d ever been to – that I could imagine someone falling in love there. And the opening scene of the novel actually happened to me – the part where a strange woman starts talking to Regina about the lion statues? It was such a random New York moment, I had to include it in the book. One coincidental thing happened with another place setting: I write about a bar and club called Nurse Bettie and use it as the place where Regina is scandalized by her first burlesque show. A few weeks ago, I was invited to a party for the new Bettie Page documentary Bettie Page Reveals All. The party was held at Nurse Bettie! I met the owner of the bar and told him about using the bar in this book, and he was surprised and happy about it.
Do you have a favorite scene in the book?
I love the scene in which Regina first catches Sebastian having sex in the library. That moment of her experiencing both repulsion and desire is interesting to me. Maybe more interesting than any actual sex between them.
What’s next for Logan Belle?
I’m writing a modern-day retelling of the classic erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence. It’s called MISS CHATTERLEY, and is being published as a serial in the spring by Pocket books.
Thanks so much for sharing with us today!
Inspired by the iconic Bettie Page’s evolution from secretary to sex symbol, Logan Belle’s sizzling new novel explores the transformation of librarian Regina Finch from ingénue to object of one powerful man’s irresistible desire.
Regina Finch, brilliant and bookish, has worked her way up to her dream job as a librarian at the Main Branch of the New York Public Library. But her discovery of the sordid sexual adventures of a handsome young scion among the hallowed halls and sacred stacks of the library unleashes a confusing blend of repulsion and desire that threatens to consume her. It is only through her introduction to the work of Bettie Page—the world’s most popular ingénue-turned-fetish-model— that Regina can hope to discover her own sexual prowess and seduce the man she has come to love.
About the Author
Jamie Brenner, also writing as Logan Belle, grew up in Main Line Philadelphia on a steady diet of Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins, and Aaron Spelling.
Her latest novel is The Gin Lovers, published as an original e-book serial with St. Martin’s Press. Jamie is the author of the erotic romance trilogy Blue Angel, published under the pseudonym Logan Belle. Also writing as Logan Belle, her upcoming erotic romance Bettie Page Presents: The Librarian will be published by Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster and has been translated into a dozen languages.
Jamie is a contributor to HeroesandHeartbreakers.com and has worked in book publishing for over a decade as a scout, publicist, and agent. She lives in New York City. For updates and obsessions, follow her on Twitter.