“Everything is true, even the thing with people having sex on ice,” she says, referring to a particularly frosty encounter between Magnolia and a figure skater. “People die from this stuff because of hypothermia. I had no idea.”
Still, online research only goes so far; she also had to get a little hands-on experience at a fetish shop down the street from her New York City apartment, accompanied by her open-minded, performance-artist eldest daughter. In the book’s acknowledgements, she thanks the sales lady for demonstrating proper spanking techniques.
After all this work, how do you know you’ve written a good sex scene? “You get embarrassed. You blush. Even though the only ones in your office are the four dogs on the floor. I’m Cuban. I do not have an English rose complexion. I feel the red!”
Working in the new genre has altered Garcia-Aguilera’s outlook a bit.
“I would see couples together and think, ‘I wonder if they do this; she has a bruise on her arm,’ ” she confesses. “But we all have this seamy side to us. You travel, and you see some attractive guy and think, ‘Hmmm. What if ...’ ”
Magnolia’s ending leaves plenty of room for further adventures, and Garcia-Aguilera is working on a sequel. But she isn’t sure how long she’ll stick with “this whole new world” of erotica. Sexual fun and games are all well and good, but her true passion remains crime fiction. Besides, there’s that little matter of Lupe Solano.
“Now that I’ve started going on tour and the book is out, the first question I get is: ‘When’s the next Lupe coming out?’ ” she says. “People write me on my website: ‘I read Magnolia and liked it. What about Lupe?’ I just want a little bit of time to go by. I got too much into her. She became too much me and I became too much her.”