Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Love Romances Cafe Questions part 1

Yesterday I was chatting for a short time at the Love Romances Cafe Yahoo! group. As usual with the monthly Phaze Chat there, Dawn posted some questions for us authors to answer. Here are my responses to the first set of questions.

How long have you been writing? What inspired you to pick the pen up one day and create characters that capture the imagination?

I was bored. No, seriously. It's that simple. I used to read a lot of so-called erotica on the a.s.s newsgroups. Some of it was good, most of it wasn't and Igot bored with it. I thought I could do better.

What influenced you to get published? How long did it take for your first book to get published?

That's a difficult one to answer really. Charlotte's Secret was originally published at the website "Ruthie's Club" and they hada six month exclusive contract on it. I wanted to find it a home after that and subbed it to one of Phaze's "Coming Together" anthos. It was considered too long for the antho, but Alesia asked if she could sub it for regular publication instead. After acceptance it took the best part of a year to bring it to market. The story has changed from it's original publication at Ruthie's –not the plot, but the writing has been tightened, the characterization strengthened. So not your normal route to publication, I'll admit.

What do you think is the biggest misconception in erotic romance fiction?

That it's all about sex. Yes, erotic romances have sex in them – explicitly described sex a lot of the time – but sex without plot, character development and conflict is just porn. And erotic romance isn't porn.

What makes your characters so vulnerable yet strong? Can you describe them to us? What do you do when characters stop talking to you when writing?

I'd like to think that my heroes are a bit different from most you'll find in romance by simple virtue that I'm a man and I tend to write from the heroes point of view. I don't think of my heroes as alpha males – at least they aren't intended that way. Take David from Charlotte's Secret. What drives him is his relationship (or rather his lack of a relationship) with his father. Everything he does in this story is motivated byhis desire to "be there" for his son because his father was never there for him. As he says to his son at one point– "I've said it before, Benny, and I'll keep on saying it. I am never gonna let anyone hurt you. D'you hear me? Never."

When a new book comes out, have you ever been nervous over readers' reaction to it? How much does reader reaction mean to you as an author? What do you hope readers get from your books?

I don't think one would be human if one weren't nervous. Of course reader reaction is important. After all, if no one likes what you do, they won't read your work in the future. And if no one reads your work, what's the point in writing it?

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both? Do you use mood music, candles, no noise, when you write?

I tend to have an idea of where the story is going, then I listen to my characters and let them dictate the detail. Sometimes you have to force them where you need them to go – and those are the hardest parts to write for me. As for writing atmosphere. I can pretty much write anywhere. I sort of shut everything out and just get on with it.

What do you feel is the most important aspect for all new authors to remember when writing or creating their own stories? Any advice for aspiring authors?

Learn the craft. Join a workshop group like Desdmona's fishtank and listen to everything the more experienced authors tell you. Take their advice, but use your own judgment too. It's a hard slog this writing lark. And believe me, you need a tough old skin – so grow one quick.

The editing process is an important aspect of an authors' life. How do you define the editing process for any of your books? Do you have a routine you follow when in editing mode?

Editing can be tedious, it can be hard work. But I treat it as a chance to strive for perfection. Everyone knows a first draft is far from perfect. But in the editing, you can improve it no-end. My next Phaze release "Lost & Found" benefited hugely from the work I did with my editor, Loukie Adlem. The story is better and the characters stronger because of it. Especially the main protagonist –The Colonel. He's the character I've seen come alive the most in the editing process of any book or story. I was really quite amazed at how he developed.

What is on tap for the rest of 2008? Do you have other WIP's you want to get published? Can we get a taste of what is to come from you in the future?

"Lost & Found" is released by Phaze in June. And that's all you'll see from me for a while I'm afraid. I've been working on a book with the working title "Chloe's Education" for over a year now. It's the biggest thing I've ever written. It's about 80%done, after which I'll see if Phaze want it. If they do, I expect it'll be at least a year before it's ready for sale. But trust me – when it is, it'll be worth the wait. Authors always think that the last thing they've written is the best thing they've written –but in this case, "Chloe" really is the best thing I've ever written.

What do you think is the level of sensuality/heat in your books? What can readers expect from your books with respect to sexual content and sensuality?

My writing background is one of pure erotica – I still turn my hand to the odd stroke story – so expect explicit sex, vividly described in detail. We're taking what goes where and how often. I guess as I've aged, I've mellowed and the sensual side has become more important. There are some very tender moments that, while sexy, don't actually have any sex in them in "Chloe's Education". But I expect most women will be squeezing those thighs together while they read.

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