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How a book series started at the dentist... by Anietta Strong

Updated: Jan 13

My name is Anietta Strong and I wanted to introduce myself and the characters in my books. All my characters meet up at some stage and when it is all boiled down just two main characters emerge. Okay, there are many sub characters and some might argue a few should be considered main characters, but that's life.

I did write under a male pen name, I'm unsure why I chose that, especially as most of my books have an LGBT theme. Maybe it was also the BDSM leaning too and perhaps I felt that more matched a man. Like all mistakes those can be corrected and now I'm writing how I feel best suits me.


All my books are based in two locations. The west of England, predominately Bristol and Bath. Write about what you know was what has guided me, just as writing without fear. I write for me, nobody else. I know this part of the world just as much as I know North Yorkshire, another part of the world I've spent a lot of time. Rosedale, Pickering, The North Yorkshire Moors, Whitby too. Bram Stoker country where Dracula was created.


It all started in a dentist waiting room. I was reading Readers Digest - (is that still around?) while I awaited treatment. There was an article about a woman who led a double life. By day she operated in the London High Court as a successful barrister. By night she donned her leathers and a basque with fishnet stockings and men would visit her to be abused and beaten. I thought - Oh my God what a theme! I imagined some blonde goddess figure whom men worshipped and would pay her a fortune to be their abuser. It also struck me how dangerous such a profession might me? Like a prostitute, although the risks taken was the only comparison between professions, they would both work alone, either visiting men in hotel rooms or providing the venue themselves. But, what about the day job for my main character? Surely, like the barrister, she would have an innocent job and her nighttime activity would be her closely guarded secret. A name too? Blonde suggested Scandinavian, of Swedish or Norwegian origin, so I came up with Petra Larson. The surname borrowed from the author Steig Larson who wrote 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' She had to be dangerous too and what better way than to make her a champion karate expert who represented England at the junior European Championships. (I learned later, karate is not an Olympic sport.) The first book was The Secret Apartment, it had another name with its male author but I changed that when I decided it needed a woman at the helm. Her innocent day job was working in a Bath estate and lettings agency agency and here she meets a man with whom she has a brief but ill fated affair. The shady job outside the property business is not the only secret Petra keeps closely guarded. Equally so, is the massive, opulent apartment she lives in on the outskirts of Bristol. Hence the title. This apartment becomes centre stage in the second book we are close to revealing.


Soon an event takes place which turns her whole world upside down. An act of sadistic brutality which defines her life thereon. It also develops the theme which runs throughout all the following books I wrote. The second book, Savage Omen introduces a character who appears only in a very minor role within The Secret Apartment. Petra's clients have always been men. Quite a mixture from company executives to bishops and Members of Parliament. So when she is contacted by a woman seeking atonement it is quite a shock! What follows is a steamy torrid affair which centres around a night of savage and brutal sadism which brings both women together in a fatalistic way which is later sealed one stormy night when together they stand naked and exposed to the the raging elements of a storm lashed beach on the south coast of England. The book ends with just Petra leaving to recover in the wilds of Montana USA with her life in ruins. Petra's story continues in the next book, The Woman on a White Horse and this places here in Yorkshire, located where I described earlier.

Petra tries to pick up the wreckage of her life, but even so she is dragging baggage with her and her old ways are not far out of sight but following behind her at a convenient distance. She meets an older woman who likes to ride the moors late at night on a huge white horse. Meanwhile, Petra is trying to seek a release from her former lover. Petra quickly engages with a young, pretty but lonely teenager who become infatuated with her. There is an sizeable age gap between them and this arouses Petra as their physical closeness creates the inevitable opportunity to become lovers. Eventually after a tragic fire with fatal consequences they leave and return to Petra's huge Bristol apartment. I wasn’t sure at this stage whether to continue with Petra as a character? I’d left her with her new teenage lover and as she’d had such a harrowing time over the course of three books, I wondered if it was best to give her a period of long overdue happiness and introduce a new main character.

Jasmine Crealey or Jaz as she preferred, was the solution. I wanted a main character who was very different to Petra. Jaz was married, with a teenage daughter, she had an interesting day job as a counsellor. No secret night time job as in Petra’s case. I chose a job which created openings to meet other interesting people which would create other storylines. In the first book, The Scorned Woman, Jaz meets a troubled teenager, who is in the care system while her mentally deranged mother was being treated after having been sectioned under the mental health act. Jaz meets a new man in her life who sweeps her off her feet and provides hope for future happiness with her marriage on the rocks. A lot happens in a fast moving story which ends in a way she never expected. This book was followed up by The Killing where Jaz meets a battered and broken woman client trying to escape from a violent, abusive relationship. It also focuses on a modern mother’s greatest fear, that of on-line grooming and the risks teenage girls face when a predatory pedophile identifies them as a willing victim. The end creates for Jaz what is a satisfactory solution but one which will leave doubt in the reader’s mind.

My sixth book was a total departure from previous themes and explores the interesting complexities of a relationship between a woman and a much older man. Enter Jessica who seeks such a relationship with an older man. Jess is swept off her feet by a romantic first date. Blind Date explores that relationship with a man burdened by his own dysfunctional life. The ending leaves a lot of loose ends and those are ideal for a writer to exploit for the future.


At this stage I wondered about introducing a new character. Then I had a far better idea. I had characters in abundance in my six previous books, so why not engineer a situation where we bring ALL the characters together in any following books. Jaz is on a railway station platform waiting for a train in Woman on the Edge. Petra is literally on the edge herself as her life has spiraled out of control and she now feels alone and unloved. The two women meet as Petra prepares to throw herself under a passing train. Through a series of letters, left behind in Petra’s huge apartment, Jaz tries to repair the pieces of a fragmented life only to put Petra in danger from events within her own past life rising like a phoenix from the ashes. This ironically becomes the title of my next book. Jaz now goes on the back burner having left for a new life in Boston USA. I choose that location for a lot of my books because I frequently travelled there in a previous life before I took up writing.


The Phoenix brings Petra back centre stage and sees a surprising return from an unhappy past event. Briefly, there is hope for happiness and soon characters abound, all emerging out of the shadows from many of my previous books. It sounds chaotic but it is all very logical and the meetings are carefully choreographed like a well rehearsed dance routine.


The next book, Repentance introduces Dominique Vasson. Her, together with Cerys Hughes, are Petra’s longest standing and closest friends. Dommy as she is affectionately known, is a larger than life character and like Petra, equally dangerous. She reads about a vigilante meting out rough justice to those engaged in street crime and drug dealing on London streets. She feels compelled to find this assassin. What she finds out is a shock and after putting herself at risk initially, it creates an opportunity to enjoy love and romance in what for her is normally a voracious hunt for sex with young women. Petra becomes involved too and this creates a huge confrontation with Dommy who sees her closest friend stealing happiness from her once more.


I sensed my connection with Petra Larson had run its course. How long could this woman struggle with her relationships. Surely everyone was entitled to love, albeit a long way down a well trodden path. Destiny explores events which follow Petra's return to the UK after Cerys, a friend from her time at university, is gravely injured in a fatal road accident which is found to have been a deliberate act. When another significant person in her life perishes too and it looks like Dommy was the intended victim, Petra realises she is the real target, but by whom? The end is surprising and for those who like to see justice delivered, the final curtain might close in an unsatisfactory manner. Will Petra re-emerge? Who knows, but I have no plans to do so in the foreseeable future.

My latest published book saw a departure from all my previous characters, especially Petra who I felt needed time and space to build upon what was always to be an inevitable love match. In Honour, I decided to explore arranged marriage. Especially in communities where perhaps a woman’s rights and freedom to choose, differs from western culture. It was difficult at times not to get trapped by stereotypical attitudes and judgement calls. I wrote based upon my research into true events and fact. Obviously it is one's interpretation where the difficulty lies,


I have a book awaiting publication in the new year. It is called The Lover’s Wall and explores one man’s quest to find someone from his past after ruthless ambition had driven him into a corner from which there is no escape, unless he looks at his life and takes a fresh approach.


I realise I could have made my books part of a series, but how do you connect all I have written above with the exception of Honour? Almost every story in the eleven books I describe has a link, so it was my intention in this blog to explain those links and allow those who choose to read my work the opportunity to see how the connections are made.


As things stand that link was broken with Honour.


All of my books are available on Smashwords


Thank you for reading this,


Anietta Strong




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