1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.
I’d say about a 4, now. I feel a lot more grounded than I did when I was younger, more rational and levelheaded. I used to be higher on that scale, so I guess either age or knowledge has calmed me down.
2. You’ve written erotica, erotic romance and now you’re publishing your first full-length fantasy (ooh, alliteration!) novel. Was the process of writing it different from your erotic work?
Yes, mostly in that the world building is different, although not necessarily larger in scale. Every story demands some level of world building, with fantasy it’s usually much more engrossing for me because it’s coming from a deeper level of my imagination. At the same time there’s a freedom to it because you can make things function as differently to the real world as you like. Once that becomes a natural way to work, it feels different again to make things accurate to the real world in, say, a contemporary. It’s a very interesting question, because now that I think about it I did nearly as much world building to set a contemporary in the world of finance as I did to create a world akin to the ancient mid-east.
3. As a British author, you’ve talked about submitting to US publishers on your blog. Can you share what other difficulties might an author outside the US submitting to New York might have?
The biggest practical issue is probably an awareness of what might not work for an international audience. I’m lucky in that respect because I’ve lived all over the world, so I have a bit of insight. But it comes down to common sense — avoiding colloquial language, for example. One of the first US publishers I subbed to requested the full but then decided my voice was too British for the line. Other publishers haven’t had that problem and saw it as having potential appeal, but it’s something to be aware of. There are other questions that the author needs to address, such as should you get a local or a US agent? For me it made more sense to get a US agent, because she canbe more in touch with what’s going on. If you’re publishing in both your own country and the US, it might not be the case.
On a very personal level, feeling far away can get you down. Things have become so much easier since I started out, though, thanks to more extensive use of email for subs and so on, but I think all the hard parts of being an aspiring author (waiting to hear back on subs, and so on,) become exaggerated by that sense of being in a different country. I’m very lucky in that I’ve made some great author friends over the net, and they often touch base for me, reporting to me after an RWA publisher lunch I longed to be at, and so on. That means such a lot to me. My advice to authors outside the US is to go for it, what have you got to lose?
4. Have you ever been asked, as an erotica writer, about your personal life? It seems that this happens a lot to romance writers, so I was thinking, would you share with us?
Yes indeed, and I’m getting used to it now! My take on is that affection and desire are the most intimate emotions, and it’s that intimacy that suggests our lives are there on the page, which leads people to wonder if it’s true — just a theory. Also, when we write about murder or magic, the assumption would be that we hadn’t done those things, because it’s more extreme, less commonplace and so on.
5. There have been some rumblings online from readers who are unhappy about imprints like Avon Red, Kensington Aphrodisia and Berkley Heat, which published your Double Dare, not requiring a happy ever after. In other words, not all of the books are romances according to the RWA definition, making some wary about trying other books by these imprints. What’s your take?
These lines are relatively new and finding their feet, and my feeling is that they may gravitate in one direction or the other, depending on the market and reader reactions. It will be interesting to watch. One of the things that I feel gets overlooked is that the lines you’ve mentioned are growing out of the romance sector, and being edited by romance editors, (and that’s important,) but they are possibly also trying to live up to the erotica tradition of the empowering sexual journey for women, such as we might find in a Black Lace novel. It’s a problem for labeling, yes, because we all need to know exactly what we are buying, and that’s the crux of the problem.
Personally, I’m very fond of the happy-for-now ending, as well as the HEA. At the end of a romance novel a couple are at the start of the rest of their lives together, and I love the idea that it might live on in the readers mind in a positive way. I’ve never been able to write anything longer than 5,000 words without falling for the man in the story, so a HEA or HFN are guaranteed in my novellas and novels. That also meant my proposals were rejected from erotic labels for being too romantic! My heroines are of the “Sex and the City” variety, independent and sexually curious. Kate Seaver, my editor at Heat, tells me she loves my strong women, and I’ve been encouraged to let my heroines explore their sexuality and find their perfect partners in doing so. For me, that’s a great mix, as well as a fun-packed, liberating agenda.
6. Do you think you’d be the same writer you are today, if you had lived a different life?
Probably not. I’d like to say yes and to believe my imagination is that unique thing only I’d ever own, but I had the privilege of living in many different countries as I grew up. That flavors my writing, and for that reason alone I have to say no.
7 . So, you have fantasy, erotic romance, and erotica covered. Are you planning to branch out to other genres?
I’d like to write a big suspense one day. At the moment I’m really enjoying the mix of writing fantasy and erotic romance, because one seems to refresh me for the other. I’ve got heaps to learn and discover, and lots of stories to tell, so I think it might be enough to be going on with for the time being!
Her work in the anthologies A Is For Amour (February), D Is For Dress Up (February), She’s On Top (February), Got A Minute (March), and Lust: Women’s Erotic Fantasies (July) will be released in the months following from Cleis Press.