Fellow erotica author Laura Bacchi mentored me through my first e-book, HEATWAVE (still available at www.Phaze.com). It was a difficult process, but I lived to tell the tale-and many others!-and am a much better writer for it. Laura writes sizzling and sensual stories, with a little something for every taste. I love that she's unafraid to push a few boundaries-that sort of honesty is rare, even in the recent blossoming of erotica and erotic romance. Read on and get to know this prolific and talented author
Tell me a little about your writing journey. When did you first begin to write? How did you get from there to being a published author? And I want all the gory details!
Once upon a time there was this quiet gal who worked in a public library… Her libido, caught up in a surge of thirty-something hormonal craziness, was making her husband very happy but very tired. I liked to read romance, but couldn’t always find titles with enough sex in them—or the kind of sex I liked—so I resorted to daydreaming. Meanwhile, a local RWA chapter would hold their monthly meetings in the library’s conference room, laugh really loud, and bring good-smelling food. I was intrigued but too shy to get involved. When the authors I liked couldn’t write fast enough for me, I began to wonder if I could write my own stories. When I moved on to another library, I decided to quit whining and find out for myself. That was four years ago, and I’ve been writing ever since. Being a member of Chesapeake Romance Writers taught me a lot about the craft, and while a member, I sold a few not-too-naughty short stories to Sun magazine, a sister publication to The National Enquirer. These stories were fun to do, but I really wanted to write longer and dirtier. I met good friend Bridget Midway at CRW, and since we both wrote erotic romance, she encouraged me to try for two publisher writing contests in late 2004. I placed in both and have continued to find a home for my work at epublishers ever since.
Gory details? Let’s see… there was the first time I ever typed a body part. The word was “nipple” and I kept giggling like a kid who’d just made his first underarm fart or something. Writing about it now, I can still feel how hot my cheeks were and how utterly embarrassed I was, my eyes barely able to look at the word onscreen. What would my mom think? My co-workers? Finally I told myself that if I had these smutty thoughts and wanted to be a writer, I damn well better be able to type every nasty word out there. And I think I have ;)
One of your latest releases, Topping Tora, was a long time in the making. Tell me about the book and what was different for you in writing it?
I’m fascinated by the idea of people confronting their desire to be dominant or submissive. What makes them go after the sex they want? How do they make it happen? And what about when things don’t go as planned? Tora wants to be dominated, but when a rival who tops her at work shows up to top her at play, she can’t believe her bad luck. Jovan has wanted Tora in a bad way for a while, but after all the fun and games are over, she may not want him.
Tora’s not the nicest character, and I’ve caught some flack for that. When she decides to explore her submissive side with someone more experienced—and much more dangerous—Tora learns that “Be careful what you wish for” is more than just an expression.
As for differences, there were many. It was my first interracial and my longest story at 47K. Writing longer forces you to get deeper into your characters’ heads, for better or worse. There were days when I looked like a zombie while the characters took over my brain. I’m really a short story/novella writer, so anything over 25K drains my brain. The logic errors and timing flaws, keeping the tension going…quite a challenge for my pea-brain.I also wrote my first FF scene for this. Plus Topping Tora was quite violent in places. My hands literally shook while typing one scene, and I stayed nauseous for hours each time I worked through it. I’m also pretty stubborn and when two writers had a problem with part of the plot, I had to step back and realize they were right, then gut a big chunk of the tale. In the end, the story was better for it, but it was a painful thing to do.
Tell me about the glamorous life of a published author. What is an average day like for you? Do you have daily or weekly writing goals?
There’s glamour? I missed that part! I have a pretty challenging day job as the Director of Marketing for a nursing certification board. Then I come home and spend time with my husband and child until about I’m also the proofreader for Ruthie’s Club, an online literary erotica site, and that takes up at least three nights a week. I write with whatever time remains and basically set quarterly or yearly goals. As a slow writer, I have to think in terms of projects rather than time.
Does your family know you write erotic fiction? If so, how do they respond?
They know and they’re supportive. Well, my grandmother knows I write some kind of romance, but Mom hasn’t told her the full scoop. My immediate family laughs about what I write, but they’re all afraid to read it so far.
You write a lot of kink, as I do. What do you feel are the challenges involved in writing kinky material? And do you feel a need to educate your readers, or is your intent purely to entertain?
Kink is so big these days that authors have to stand out in the crowd to get noticed. They also have to write with authenticity even though they may not be experts in a certain area. But, hey, nothing is more fun than researching kink in my opinion. Writing with an eye for detail, getting the terminology correct, delving into the sensations—all of this is crucial. When writing BDSM, I often try to work in negotiations, safewords, etc. because I respect that lifestyle, but I don’t feel pressure to do so. It all depends on the story, the characters, the setting, etc.
What are the particular challenges in writing erotic fiction? What do you think are the most common mistakes made by new writers, or those new to writing the genre?
Keeping the sex fresh. Finding the right balance between story and sex. Making a “happy for now” ending resonate with the reader. There are many more challenges, and goodness knows there’s always room for improvement in my own work. Common mistakes for new authors include writing stale, mechanical sex and the repetition of certain words. Move, slide, wet, tight… yeah, we use them, but we have to do so judiciously. I catch a lot of echoes in my own work and actually keep a list of my “favorites” to search for and substitute with another word during the final run-through on a story. And don’t forget to know the market and read the sub-genre in which you plan to write.
Do you have a few guys in your mind’s eye that you model your heroes on? Anyone I might know?
Johnny Depp and Gerard Butler. Please tell me you know them! I’ll give them back in, oh, a few weeks no worse for wear—I promise!
What would be the personality traits of your perfect hero?
Strong. Giving. A deep thinker who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Trusting and open to change. Submissive would be nice as well, but this he could learn ;)
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? In a beautiful Tuscan villa overlooking the sea. Or maybe a rugged castle in the Scottish highlands. I like the idea of living somewhere exotic as long as there aren’t too many bugs. Or taxes.
You’re an art fan, as I am, and an artist yourself. How does art influence or inspire you? I think being an artist hopefully helps me describe things well and visualize scenes better when I’m having trouble writing. Sometimes when I have writer’s block (and that’s often), I browse istockphoto.com for “exotic places” or “sexy blond man” to see what pops up. Seeing images can feed a scene, help build a character, or add detail to setting.
Who are some of your favorite authors, of any genre? I don’t have a lot of time to read these days (bad, bad author, I know) but I love Emma Holly, and I’ve read many a Johanna Lindsey and Amanda Quick. Loretta Chase is a great writer—Lord of Scoundrels was about as perfect as you can get. Judith Ivory is another author who rarely disappoints. As for epub titles, I enjoy buddy Bridget Midway’s writing. I’ve got several MM authors in my TBR pile, as well as Lisa Andel and Joey Hill. The excerpts I’ve read by the last two hooked me right away.
What are some of your favorite sensual, but not necessarily sexual, pleasures? Dining out at a good Indian restaurant. Top-notch wine. Drinking that wine outside on a crisp fall night when there’s a breeze and a full moon. The brush of a friendly cat against my bare feet. A toe ring hidden under a sock in winter.
The cover for Heart of a Hunter is a personal favorite of mine! Tell me about the book-although I’d buy that one for the cover alone! Trace at Amber Quill rocked that cover—and the cover for the sequel, The Heart of a Man, curls my toes as well. I’ve always had a weakness for those alien-comes-to-Earth-to get-a-mate stories. In The Heart of a Hunter, Asher has been sent across the galaxy to find his brother’s bride, but of course wants to keep her for himself. It’s a short but fun romp through the stars.
As writers, we all have those days where we doubt ourselves, wonder if we should really be writers…how do you deal with days like that and move past them? Ha—I’m stuck there now, dealing with the aftermath of two back-to-back Rs. I guess it’s the love of the words and the stories they create that keep you going. Even though I’m in a rut (and often am), I came up with a scene while driving home today. When writing’s in your blood, you can’t give up. You’d be even more miserable. So we forge ahead and keep believing that some reader out there will find pleasure in the worlds we build, and the stories and characters we offer.
What projects do you have in the works, and when and where can I find them? I’m currently working on two shorts that I hope are accepted for Sasha White’s next Secret Thoughts anthology for Samhain. The release date hasn’t been set, but one story will be MM and the other MMF with a woman who has a thing for twins. Claimed and Charmed, two novellas to complete a futuristic trilogy, will hopefully be released at Amber Quill later this year or early 2008. I’ve submitted a paranormal MM to someone new (to me) and hope to hear something soon. There are a few more WIPs, but I’m dragging my feet on those, trying to write longer and be more of a plotter. Hopefully they’ll be finished and publisher-bound soon.
What is your best piece of advice to aspiring writers? Treat it like a business but love it like a hobby.