James Hayhurst on Virginia Ford’s IRDA Winning Book POLARITY, “a magic flying carpet to the mysterious, unexplored continent of BDSM and kink.”

POLARITY was the winner in the EROTICA category of the 2020 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with James Hayhurst, the agent, editor and friend of the late author Virginia Ford.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

POLARITY – published October 2019

What’s the book’s first line?

“My second divorce nearly did me in.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

“The thinking woman’s Fifty Shades.” POLARITY is for women who read the Fifty Shades series and longed for a heroine to whom they could relate and a path they might legitimately follow. POLARITY goes far beyond “mommy porn”—it’s an alluring, fun and educational story, with accurate, reliable information that dispels the myth that kink is all about brooding billionaires, whips, chains, and red rooms of pain. Even better, it serves as a primer for men who want to become superior lovers, able to bring their partner’s deepest, darkest sexual fantasies to life. The perfect story for anyone who has ever wondered about the “secret garden” that is BDSM, and the perfect escape during the Covid-19 crisis!

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

Prudence (Virginia Ford) told me she that was frustrated by the inaccuracies and misconceptions about BDSM propagated by the Fifty Shades series; inspired to write a compelling semi-autobiographical romance based on her experiences that the kink community would embrace as being an authentic and responsible portrayal of their world. As a lover of great literature, she also wanted to write a book that rose above the wretched prose of typical porn. Prudence admired the work of Henry Miller, and agreed with him that modern American culture is a culture of  death, with violence, rape and murder a mainstay of many best sellers. She wanted to write an erotic best seller that rose above pornography to the level of literature, one that celebrated healthy expressions of sexuality.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

POLARITY is a magic flying carpet to the mysterious, unexplored continent of BDSM and kink. Anyone with an open mind and heathy sex drive will love it.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Sara Jane Spencer is authentic. She is every woman who picks herself up off the ground and risks all to make their one “wild and precious life” count.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

Sara Jane Spencer: Natalie Portman or Keira Knightley

Gayle Winston Gentry: James (Jay) Harrington or Bradley Cooper

When did you first decide to become an author?

Virginia Ford (Prudence) began writing in her mid-30s, dabbling with romances and kink short stories. But her love of writing goes back to childhood, books like The Velveteen Rabbit and Black Beauty, read aloud to her by her grandmother. As a young woman, she fell in love with the Victorian classics: Jayne Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Little Woman, Frankenstein, Lady Audley’s Secret, etc. She became an admirer of the French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, and later, the American erotica writer Henry Miller, particularly because of their authentic, unflinching portrayals of love and sexuality. She loved the poetry of Mary Oliver.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

This is Prudence’s first full-length novel. She wrote several erotic novellas previously, serialized in online kink forums. She wrote in longhand, in pencil or ink. Her manuscript for POLARITY runs well over 1000 pages, enough for three full novels, divided 40% (Polarity), 30% (Polarized) and 30% (Polar Crossing).

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

Prudence had retired from a career in banking when she wrote POLARITY. She became a full-time writer, living in the Blue Ridge Mountains north of Charlottesville, where she tended her garden and wrote the remainder of her hours. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018 and died in October of 2019.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

As Prudence’s (Virginia Ford’s) agent/editor (and friend), I put in thousands of hours over the (too few) years I knew her, typing and editing her manuscript.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?

The best part is the ability to maintain literary authenticity—not moderating Prudence’s voice to meet the expectations and dictates of the mainstream publishing world. The hardest part (for me, her editor) was learning how to format the book to meet Amazon/Kindle requirements for publication.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Prudence would say, “Write from your heart about what you know.” I (her editor) will say, “Use the Kindle publication templates from the start if you plan to go that route!”

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?

Yes. I went Amazon/Kindle because as Prudence’s agent, I couldn’t find a more recognized agent or agency to represent her work to a well-known publisher. However, if the book gains popular attention, I’d consider leveraging the platform of a major publisher to get POLARITY out to a broader audience.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Prudence (writing as Virginia Ford) was an intensely private person. So definitely not fame. But fortune—we used to dream about all the wonderful charities she planned to fund with her earnings from POLARITY, most especially a woman’s shelter in Baja, Mexico, Mujeres Nuevo Comienzo, and a world-wide charitable organization, ADARA.

As for my motivation, I found Prudence’s work both compelling and informative—the concept of a superior man and the reality that BDSM and kink can be fun and a way to deepen love and romance in a relationship. I think her voice needs to be heard, and that it can transform lives. I feel honored and humbled to carry the torch for her work.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

Prudence admired Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, and Henry Miller; more recently, Margaret Atwood, Harper Lee, and J.K. Rowling (yes, she loved the Harry Potter series!). Also, she loved Mary Oliver’s poetry.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

This based on my recollection of places of honor on Prudence’s bookshelf:

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
  3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
  4. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.
  5. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.