In 2019, bestselling Australian author Sally Hepworth was on the top of the world promoting her latest acclaimed novel, The Mother-in-Law.
At the same time, she was submitting her next book to various editors. But one editor didn't even finish reading her draft before telling her there were problems with it.
It all revolves around marriage, monogamy and swinging.
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When Sally was writing The Mother-in-Law - a book about family relationships - she knew her next book would explore marriage, specifically, sex in marriage.
Then, she came up with the idea that her latest book would follow three couples, all in a different crossroads of their marriages. And it would all take place at a swingers party.
"When I came up with the idea, I had very little idea about what a swingers party was. I had an idea that maybe we all have, that it was a '70s style, keys in the bowl type party," Sally told Mia Freedman.
"So of course, I started to research. I read a lot about swinging, or consensual monogamy as it's called or 'the lifestyle' is another name [for swinging]. And when I started to dip my toe in, I realised I need to experience this."
Listen to the whole interview between Mia Freedman and Sally Hepworth on the Lady Startup podcast here. Post continues below.
No, Sally didn't actually experience swinging, but she needed to understand what happened at these exclusive parties and why couples attend them.
"There are lots of ways people do it. There is a thriving online community, there are apps and there are these parties; and there was one coming up in Sydney," she explained.
"I spoke to my husband and he was a bit discombobulated by the idea, but I talked him through it. The one [party] we were looking at had a lot of rules though. You had to be under 40, which we just scraped in at the time, you had to look a certain way, submit a photo and it was a fair bit of money — about $1000.
"So off we went. It was very hidden in the sense that we only found out where to go on the day, it started at 9.30 at night so I had to have a nap during the day and it was a masquerade — we got our masks at Spotlight."