How I Came to Write Substitute by Isobel Rey – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publishers – Sourcebooks Casablanca. Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of Substitute by Isobel Rey (US/Canada only).

Substitute is my first novel in this genre and it’s set in a world I know quite a lot about.

I fell into this genre almost by accident. I was out with a friend one evening and she introduced me to a publisher friend of hers. The three of us ended up having dinner and a lot of wine, and I mean a LOT of wine! I was talking about some of the crazy worlds that I get a window into from my job and all the politics and sexual tension that go with them. I work in advertising in London and I’ve worked with clients from all kinds of industries, some of them pretty glitzy and glamorous. And what I’ve learned is, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, where you are from, how much bling you wear or how much money you earn, everyone wants the same things in life and everyone worries about the same things.

Several more glasses of wine into the conversation the publisher asked me to tell her some of the stories of the things I’d seen and heard. Well the stories came tumbling out didn’t they?! There’s a scene in Substitute involving a one way mirror, three guys, two girls and a hidden audience, and many people have asked me how I made that up, and they’re astonished when I explain that I didn’t. And no, before you ask, I wasn’t there, but the story was told to me by someone who was. Even though the book is in the Erotic Romance genre, I think you still have to have a ring of truth in your stories!

I told the publisher how hard it can be for women to navigate the high octane worlds some of our advertising clients live in, when they are looking for love. There are a lot of very good looking, charming guys out there, but they’re usually ambitious and ruthless and don’t want to get tied down.

So the publisher encouraged me to try my hand at capturing one of these worlds in a novel. I already had experience of writing advertising copy and I’ve been writing short stories for years but never done anything with them. I wrote three sample chapters and she loved them. So Isobel the novelist was born, almost overnight! I can’t believe how lucky I am, I guess it was fate having dinner with her that night.

The book is set in the very ambitious and wealthy world of Premiere Sports Promoters. It’s a world populated by superstars with huge egos and wealth and agencies that manage them.

My heroine Alexia is just coming out of an abusive relationship when she runs into an old friend who gets her a job at the agency where she works. I’ve been asked if she was difficult to write. Sadly finding her voice was all too easy. I like many have experience of a bullying man, although not as bad as Alexia. But it’s all too common. I helped a dear friend through a divorce and lived almost breath of her agony in trying to leave him, then trying to build her confidence back up. She is a very attractive woman and was instantly fighting off men, most of them who only wanted sex. She was very vulnerable and needing affection but also needing to be strong. I imagined what it would be like for someone as young and inexperienced as Alexia, trying to cope with all of this baggage, then being thrown into a lion’s den of a workplace.

This glamorous setting is not a world everyone gets to see or live in, but it’s great fun to watch! When people work in this kind of environment, things are far less hidden than in most people’s lives. The ambitions are naked, as are many of the people, who will get naked at a speed that makes most people’s head spin. They’re not slow in going for what they want, and it can be pretty raw. Most of us take our time working out how to deal with the men we find attractive or who show an interest in us, but I wanted the reader to feel what it’s like to be thrown into the fast lane, with all the insecurities and frailties we all have.

I’ve seen quite a few like Alexia in the workplace, like Bambi, sliding around on the ice while the hyenas are watching. She has needs like every woman, but how would she cope with that when the men around her are so predatory? She’s torn between two men, Tony, a womanising but charismatic guy who pursues her ruthlessly and Nathan, the owner of the agency. Nathan is an ex army officer who’s seen too much action. He’s charming and smooth but in a cool and detached way, not like Tony.

But I wanted to her to triumph, because there are nice guys out there, and the Nathans of this world, the books hero, can see what she’s worth.

As this is my first book I was very nervous but I’ve been blown away by the amazing reception the book has had. I wasn’t sure what my writing style was going to be until I started, but I quickly settled on a very pacy and conversational style as I wanted my readers to go on the same journey as my main character.

What will I do for my second novel? Well I’ve a few ideas boiling away, perhaps following the journey some of the other characters in Substitute might take after the action in the book ends. Who knows? It’ll be a journey!

6_10 substituteIt took all of Alexia’s courage to leave her abusive boyfriend and strike out on her own. When she lands a job at a glamorous sports agency, she thinks she finally has it made. But shy, blonde and beautiful, Alexia is totally unprepared for the fast sexual politics of rich men and ambitious women that is waiting for her. Most of all, she is totally unprepared for her dazzling but damaged new boss, Nathan Fallon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Isolbel Rey is a Cambridge graduate. After interning at a stage/film talent agency, Isolbel now works at a London advertising agency. This is her debut novel. Originally from Surrey, Isobel lives in London with her partner and a one-eared rescue cat called Thumper.


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