The Inspiration for the Spiral of Bliss Series
At the risk of sounding rather nutty, I can say with complete honesty that the inspiration for Liv and Dean’s story came from Liv herself.
One afternoon in July 2011, I sat down at my computer to write a short, erotic story that I was planning to self-publish. I didn’t have much of an idea in mind, except I thought that if I wrote about a woman who was trying to get pregnant, that would certainly leave plenty of room for sex scenes.
But when I started writing, Olivia West walked right into my head and started talking to me. To this day, I have no idea where she came from. I don’t know anyone like her, she’s not based on anyone I know or even any other fictional characters I’m aware of. Instead she just emerged, fully formed like Athena from the head of Zeus, with all her hopes, dreams, insecurities, wishes, doubts, and fears.
I initially wrote the book in a diary format, as if Liv was keeping a journal of her thoughts, and the first draft started with her introducing herself as “My name is Olivia West. I’m medium-height, with long dark hair… etc.” (later, I realized she was introducing herself to ME). So Liv is really the one who drove the story from the very beginning. In some ways, I feel like I was just going along for the ride.
As the story progressed, I became both consciously and unconsciously inspired by some of my favorite stories and themes—the idea of journeys and returning home in Alice in Wonderland, The Little House on the Prairie series, the Wizard of Oz, and themes of true love and betrayal in Gone with the Wind.
I also found a great deal of inspiration in classic fairy tales with motifs of defeating evil and finding your way through dark forests, as well as medieval legends about chivalry and the codes of honor that Dean represents.
And of course, the theme that inspired me the most was that of a couple so devoted to each other and so deeply in love that they will fight any battle to stay together.
The beautiful Spiral of Bliss covers were painstakingly designed by Victoria Colotta of VMC Art & Design. When Victoria and I discussed imagery for the new covers, we decided to create something more unique and “outside the box” than the previous covers of sexy couples.
She and I also both wanted the covers to have a progression, with the first cover representing Liv, the second Dean, and the third cover symbolizing them together. One of the reasons I love the covers so much is that they are so tied to the story and characters.
The cover for AROUSE, a flower in a nest, represents Liv on so many levels—her love of gardening, her desire for a home/nest and family of her own, her fragility, and her hope of blossoming into the woman she wants to be.
The cover of ALLURE, books and a butterfly, is equally tied to Dean. The books represent his intelligence and love of scholarship, while the butterfly symbolizes his struggle to let Liv take flight while wanting to protect her. The butterfly is also an allusion to Liv and Dean’s conversation in ALLURE about the monarch butterflies of Pacific Grove who always return home.
The AWAKEN cover of two antique keys and hydrangea flowers represents both Liv and Dean. The keys allude to the conversation in AROUSE about everyone having a “key” to unlocking their secrets. Liv soon realizes that Dean is her key, but together they have to fight through the consequences of unlocked, destructive secrets.
I also discovered that hydrangeas symbolize “heartfelt emotion” and are the “4th anniversary flower.” In AWAKEN, Liv and Dean celebrate their fourth anniversary as a married couple, and they certainly do have a great deal of heartfelt emotion!
Finally, the color progression on the three covers represents Liv and Dean’s unity and reconciliation:
red + blue = purple
Arouse + Allure = Awaken
Liv + Dean = togetherness.
I’m so grateful to Victoria for designing such beautiful and emblematic covers—I could not be more thrilled that Liv and Dean’s story is so perfectly packaged.
The Spiral of Bliss Symbolism
When I started writing the Spiral of Bliss series, I didn’t set out to incorporate themes of home, courage, friendship, and finding your way. Those ideas grew organically as Liv and Dean’s story evolved, though early on I had the sense that Liv was a lot like Alice in Wonderland and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
Once I realized I was writing about a woman who was trying to find her way home after traveling on strange, twisting roads and battling scary creatures, I made the symbolism a more intrinsic part of the story.
In all three books, there are many allusions to characters in Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz. Here are just a few:
- Mirror Lake = reference to “Through the Looking Glass”
- Emerald, Ruby, and Poppy Streets = Emerald City, the ruby slippers, the poppy field
- Avalon Street = mystical island in Arthurian legend and the place where King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was forged
- Maggie Hamilton = Margaret Hamilton, the actress who played the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz movie
- Helen Morgan = Morgan le Fay, the sorceress in the Arthurian legend
- Kelsey March = March Hare in Alice in Wonderland
- Allie Lyons = Cowardly Lion in Wizard
- Professor Marvel = the magician/peddler in the B&W part of the Wizard of Oz movie, who is later the Wizard himself
- Crystal Winter = the witch’s crystal ball
- North = The Good Witch of the North
The symbolic themes of the books relate to Liv’s difficult past and her struggles in a strange, frightening world of uncertainty. Although she has found a safe haven with her husband, she still has to try and find her own path and a way “home.”
Along the way, Liv establishes her own friends and support system, and eventually has to figure out exactly what “home” means to her. In the midst of her journey, Dean is like the wizard, fighting to give Liv everything she wants and needs while hiding his own flaws. They both have to discover in different ways that they each have power and strength within themselves.
The Awaken Symbolism
From the beginning, Olivia West is a woman who is trying to find her way, just like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. Liv wants to believe she’s strong and capable, but her life’s experiences have thwarted her efforts. As she says, “The ground has always shifted beneath my feet. I’ve had a hard time planting myself firmly on it, figuring out in which direction I should or even could grow.”
After making her way through the twisted, confusing path of her childhood, Liv found a safe haven in her husband. For years, Dean has been Liv’s rock, her port in the storm, but she soon realizes that her need to be nurtured and cared for has made her lose sight of who she is and what she wants.
So Awaken is in part about Liv’s journey, like her compatriots Dorothy and Alice, not only to find her way home again, but also to discover her own strength and power. And we learn about her “Good Witch of the North,” a man named North who helps her along the way, and Liv’s need to defeat her own personal version of the Wicked Witch of the West.
The Wizard of Oz and Wonderland themes come to fruition in AWAKEN, as Liv both finds solidarity with her friends and learns to stand on her own. Also, Dean has to figure out his own way through the chivalric code of honor that he has always tried so hard to follow—but navigating the tenets of duty, faith, and sacrifice prove more difficult than he imagined.
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Nina Lane writes hot, sexy romances and spicy erotica. Originally from California, she loves traveling and thinks St. Petersburg, Russia is a city everyone should visit at least once. Nina also spent many years in graduate school studying art history and library sciences.
Although she would go back for another degree if she could because she’s that much of a bookworm, she now lives the happy life of a full-time writer. Nina’s novel The Erotic Dark hit #1 on Amazon’s Erotica Bestseller list, and Allure is a USA Today Bestseller.