The character of M’lan existed a long time before the novel, Touch of Salar, came into being. M’lan, the monk with the power to heal by touch, gradually formed out of a fantasy I’ve nurtured for quite some time.
I have a small curve in my spine that’s caused me a lot of pain since I was a teenager and I’ve come to view a massage as an essential, nearly sacred form of self-care. As I recline on the table and the strong hands of the masseuse explore my body in highly intimate ways, I often indulge in a meditation that involves visualizing a magical healing energy extending out of their fingers into the deepest parts of my body, probing and releasing the pain locked inside.
Being a writer of erotica, I began to build a character based on this experience. Wouldn’t it be beyond fabulous if the masseuse with the magic touch were also a gorgeous man? A man who was so sensitive he knew exactly where our tension lurked and how to unlock it? And what else could he do with that power? It’s a good thing my masseuse (and chiropractor and physical therapist) never knew what was going on in my mind.
Massage is so intimate. I admire those who can remain entirely professional while rubbing their hands all over someone’s body. But what if they can’t? What if that certain someone comes to them, disrobes and stretches out in a completely vulnerable position? I imagine it could be difficult. A key ingredient in M’lan’s story came to me while my masseuse was massaging my hand. For some reason that specific part of the body struck me as more intimate than any other.
Holding hands is so basic, so sweet, and yet so powerful. The experience brought to tears to my eyes, revealing to me a longing for human intimacy I’d been repressing. I wondered about the power of simple touch to reach deep inside, beyond physical wounds, to emotional secrets and basic longings for touch that we all have buried deep within us. And so M’lan’s lover began to emerge, someone with deeply buried wounds that had never been exposed and that made him a very dangerous person indeed.
I love to write romance mainly because I find it thrilling to take opposites, throw them together and see how they react, how they threaten, anger, dazzle and eventually complete each other. One day M’lan stepped fully formed out of my head and into the healing temple of Salar. Jamil the assassin wasn’t far behind.
The healer and the killer—the monk and the warrior. Once I introduced them the story literally spilled out of me, because along with massage, writing and releasing these fantasies has become an essential form of self-care for me as well.