Karen Mercury

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    Karen’s first three novels were historical fiction involving pre-colonial African explorers. Since she was always either accused or praised (depending on how you look at it) for writing overly steamy sex scenes, erotic romance was the natural next step. She lives in Northern California with her Newfoundland dog, the best darn darn dog in the west.

Q: Do you “write to the market” and select a popular genre, or do you throw caution to the wind and write what is important to you?

A: Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to write to the market. My first three novels were set in sub-Saharan Africa, which isn’t the most popular setting. And I couldn’t write a vampire or werewolf novel if you paid me in gold. I figure there are already so many writers who are experts at it, and I should do something different. I really admire those writers who can switch between genres.

Q: Do you make up your story as you go along, or do you plot out the scenes beforehand?

A: I’m definitely a plotter. I would be very scared and insecure sitting down with a blank page and no plan of action. Every day when I wind things up, I write a few sentences for the next day, so I know where I’m heading. Plotting allows me to get the pacing down. I think “This scene needs to happen by about the 75% complete mark.”

Q: What is the best hero moment you’ve seen in film?

A: Definitely the scene in “Last of the Mohicans” where Hawkeye is racing through that battle to find Cora. Your heart stops and you’re literally on the edge of your seat.

Q: What are you currently reading?

A: I have been reading every David Sedaris book I can get my hands on. The only downside to this is reading them before bed. You wind up giggling in the dark after you’ve turned out the light.

Q: What do you think is so attractive about M/M/F ménages?

A: I’ve always written M/M/F, before I knew it was an actual genre. Then when it came time to ship the manuscript to the publisher, I’d delete or massively tone down all the homoerotic stuff, leaving it up to the reader to wonder if anything “untoward” had happened. I didn’t know such activity was acceptable—and maybe it wasn’t, back then. We’ve come a long way. I think the attraction for women is the rationalization: If one man is exciting, wouldn’t two men be doubly as exciting? Then the woman can take a break and kick back when the men pleasure each other. There’s not much for the woman to be jealous of if her “rival” is another man. There’s simply no comparison, so why would she feel the need to compete? She wouldn’t—she would just feel doubly safe and protected.

Q: Where do you get inspiration for your heroes?

A: This is always a huge difficulty for me. Obviously, you can’t base the hero on anyone you currently know, or you’d be married to that guy right now (you hope). So, I turn to movie actors that I find inspirational. That’s a good trick because it’s simple to study them walking, talking, moving. You can find tons of inspirational photos, so as to better describe them. My difficulty comes in finding enough hero-worthy men. It isn’t often a Daniel Day-Lewis comes along, and I’m afraid I’ll be stuck with a Ben Stiller. Is Robert Downey Jr. hero-worthy, or is he only good enough to be a sidekick? I recently discovered Alex O’Loughlin, and hoo doggie, is he hero-worthy. I tape all these shirtless photos to my closet door, so I can be inspired round the clock.

Q: What are some books that have inspired you?

A: Even when I wrote mainstream historical fiction, my sex scenes were very hot, which isn’t often seen in the world of hist-fic. So although they say “sex sells,” I got a lot of flak for that. I loved the historical details, describing battle scenes, pirate ships, African tribal customs, architecture, Victorian science. But my characters demanded to have graphic, passionate sex. I realized where I learned this sexy skill. As a teen I’d pull all the Henry Miller novels down from my mother’s bookshelf. At first, of course, I only read the x-rated scenes, the reason Miller’s novels had to be shipped in plain brown paper and were banned for a long time. But soon I realized “Hey, this guy is a pretty good writer,” and I read each novel all the way through.

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