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Sense & Sensuality

It was through writing romance that Hilary Murray discovered she had a knack for the naughtier stuff and now the Auckland-based scribe pens both. “Part of the attraction of eroticism is that it’s adventurous and out of the ordinary,” she tells me over a pot of green tea. “I do need to be in a different frame of mind to write eroticism but it’s no more difficult than writing romance. I’m not just concentrating on the sexual content, I’m concentrating on people. I love strong women.”

One such woman is the heroine of Choices, a tale of a banker who begins moonlighting as an escort because of financial troubles and the various moral and social dilemmas which follow. “I like to write about conflict,” says Hilary. “That’s essentially what writing is all about. I like the idea of my readers thinking, ‘that could have been me’. The reviews for Choices were great and I had one interesting message from a guy in London, who worked in finance, telling me a lot of women actually took that route once the global financial crisis hit.”

The female psyche, too, fascinates Hilary. “Men are just so much easier,” she chuckles. “If they don’t like someone, then they’ll avoid them like the plague. Women don’t do that. We can dislike somebody yet go out of our way to see them just so we can wind ourselves up as much as anything else! That wonderful interplay of women who may be suspicious of each other from the start, that’s what I like to explore.”

British-born Hilary has resided in New Zealand for twenty years, having arrived with her “soul mate”, Jason (“He’s always been an old soul, sometimes he surprises you and it keeps me on my toes”). Though her marriage appears to be a happily-ever-after one, she abhors such climaxes in literature. Hilary likes rebellion. And realism. “E. L. James brought erotic writing out of the closet,” she says. “The downside is it got so huge and spawned a lot of copycats. Just type ‘billionaire’ into Amazon and you’ll drown in the results – there’s ‘billionaire’s wife’, ‘billionaire’s girlfriend’. I don’t think there’s that many billionaires to go around, and personally, I’d rather not have one anyway.”

Hilary’s history, as all writers’ should be, is an eclectic one, with careers in the Royal Navy, construction, real estate and even a stint at banking. She was educated at convents from the age of four until 16. I ask if she’s still religious, and, after the briefest of pauses, she says she is. “Though I’m open-minded about all religions, in general I agree with Karl Marx’s sentiment that religion is the opium of the masses,” she says. “The first convent school I attended was run by missionary nuns who used to travel the world and tell us about the countries they had been to. That gave me a great thirst to travel, so the first thing I wanted to do was become a nun. I soon discovered that you don’t have to be a nun to see the world.”

The raunchier tomes are written under her pen name, Galia Ryan. Hilary is more comfortable with both writing and communicating with her erotica audience in character, as it were and she’s heavily involved with social media. “I guess you could also say it was a case of hedging my bets,” adds the author. “I may even write children’s books and have a third name.”


Words: Jamie Christian Desplaces

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