Make Your Own Happy Endings

Leslie Morris Noyes set out to write the type of story she wanted to read — erotic and empowered romance for mature and educated women, and and in doing so found an intoxicating and powerful release.

Good sex story – Make Your Own Happy Endings by Leslie Morris

Tell us about you and what motivates you as a writer.  

Here are the top three ingredients in my writing stew:

  1. The courage and imagination bequeathed by my great-grandparents, who left everything they knew and loved in Eastern Europe to reinvent themselves as Americans. They believed that people of any color, stripe, or culture have the freedom to thrive here—which is exactly what they did. My mom’s family settled in Manhattan. Seventy years later, my parents settled in Vermont. And Vermont is…
  2. A state of being. I did a stint in New York for college and work, but Vermont called me home. The New York half of me is scrappy and not afraid to “just say it.” The Vermont side is far more reticent. I enjoy the dichotomy. Vermont’s motto is “freedom and unity.” We are very independent—but we also revere community. Yet neither heritage guaranteed I’d be a writer. I owe that to…
  3. Suffering from insatiable curiosity. I live to learn. I love taking deep dives into subjects that interest me and hearing stories about where people started out and where their life-paths took them. And I store all that information for later use.

Where do you draw your inspiration?

After I divorced, I moved north to the shore of Lake Champlain. TV reception didn’t exist there, which meant my daughter and I read—a lot. I read romances because I needed those happy endings; plus, even though the sex between the pages was fiction, it was the only sex I was getting. After about 40 novels, though, the genre’s youthful (and mostly innocent) protagonists began to rankle. I wanted to read about more mature heroines and a more intimate exploration of the emotions and complications forty-plus years on the planet create. That depth existed in women’s fiction, but without the guaranteed happy endings. I wanted happy endings.

Sexual Pleasure with Anya Lust

While recovering from the breakup of my marriage, I also recognized that after 25 years as a designer, I needed a new creative challenge. So, I decided to write the novel I wanted to read. My goal was to tell an entertaining story with prose I would enjoy reading. My story would explore healing from traumas like a broken heart, the death of a loved one, the insecurity of money troubles. The fictional lovers I wanted to write about were middle-aged because that was my age, and as I aged, I’d become more accepting of myself. Being comfortable inside my own skin made me a better lover than my younger self. I wanted to write a novel wherein being older leads to hotter sex, not nonexistent sex.  

But where to start? I had writer friends to help me with the fundamentals. They suggested I start with what I know, which is classic advice for new writers. So, I mashed up my own experience with stories told by friends, added a soupçon of imagined “facts,” and baked those ingredients into a plot.

A plot wasn’t as hard to come up with as I feared. For one thing, unless a vampire or alien comes walking down your street, real life is as interesting and strange as anything a writer can cook up. The novel I’m working on now opens with the hero’s girlfriend saying she can’t see him for a while because she’s getting married soon. The hero is poleaxed. If I hadn’t based this on a true story, in which a friend called her boyfriend to see if he’d like to go away for the weekend and he confessed he couldn’t because he was getting married at the time, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Writing thrilled me. It became my drug of choice: It doesn’t make me fat, since I forget to eat while writing; and although writing is intoxicating, it hasn’t made me dangerous behind the wheel, either. Plus, writing isn’t expensive—unless you count the cost to my home’s cleanliness during a writing jag. But the best thing is that it exposes parts of me I didn’t know exist, while also sharpening my ability to observe the world.  

What do you find the most challenging and most rewarding about writing sex scenes?

The Jewish culture I come from values sexual pleasure—no guilt attached. Yet I also grew up in Yankee-land, where certain subjects are not discussed in polite company. Thus, I felt squeamish about writing explicit love scenes. Nevertheless, I was determined not to use coy euphemisms like “tumescent member” or “pleasure button.” Once I worked past my “squeams,” I put on some sexy music, channeled how it feels to be wildly attracted to a lover, and let myself go.

Sexual Pleasure with Anya Lust

Through my stories, I’m exploring how sexual intimacy can expose new facets of ourselves. But, when I told some friends about what I was doing, they looked away, embarrassed. The reward for putting up with other people’s uptightness—and getting past my own inhibitions—was that the readers I’m writing for have told me they can’t turn the pages fast enough. A favorite Goodreads review warned men not to read Willing in a food court; the reviewer noted that he had to spend time sitting with his Kindle turned off before he could walk away without attracting undue attention to the area below his belt.

What do you think has changed for women in how they’re seeking sexual inspiration and satisfaction?

Feminism freed women to own our desires, although in the United States we still aren’t as open or accepting as I’d wish. Romance fiction is critically important if we are going to continue down the path toward full acceptance of our sexuality. Romance fiction models the agency, joy, and freedom that real life lacks. Right now we are experiencing many liberation movements. One is about sex, in that the idea of one woman joined to one man no longer constitutes the only acceptable pairing. I love that all sorts of sexual preferences, cultures, and races (along with vampires and aliens) are making love in fiction. I also love that sex is no longer the sole purview of youth; older protagonists are more visible than ever before. The anything-goes-genie is out of the bottle when it comes to sex, and from what I can see, it is too powerful to be stuffed back inside!

Read a super hot excerpt from Willing or visit Leslie’s website to listen to some of the music that inspired Willing or see her Bookclub/Library resources.