Q: How much of your real life ends up in your writing?
A: Not much, actually. When I was a beginning writer, I wrote fiction that was fairly autobiographical, and I think part of the reason it wasn’t very good is that real life is just too boring to make for compelling fiction. We read books to escape real life, after all. Most of the real-life stuff that works its way into stories comes in the form of dialogue. I have some very witty friends, and I’ve been known to steal a brilliant line or two from our conversations.
Q: You write about dance fairly frequently in your books. What is it about dance that inspires you?
A: Part of it is that I’ve been studying dance for nineteen years; I was a dancer before I was a writer. Dance was my first love, and has always inspired my other creative endeavors. Plus, dancing is one of the sexiest things you can do with another person. You’re touching, you’re grooving to great music, and you’re probably sweating on each other. I had a ballroom instructor who once said that “Dancing is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire.” I’ve definitely used that idea to inform my stories.
Q: Which books or authors have inspired you as a writer?
A: It’s difficult to list just a few. My mom is a librarian, and she instilled a love of reading in me when I was still only able to understand picture books. As a result, I’ve always read widely, and have drawn inspiration from so many different sources. I love the strong women in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s novels. I love the way Virginia Woolf and the poet Eavan Boland take regular women’s lives and make them extraordinary. Good writing transcends genre, and when I read erotic romance, I admire authors who can push the boundaries. I think Sophie Oak is my favorite erotic romance author, because she writes in the genre without being constrained by it.
Q: Where and how did you learn to write?
A: I’ve taken a variety of workshops. Some of them have been one-time seminars at festivals or conferences, and others have lasted for several weeks or months. For example, when I discovered I had a knack for writing sex scenes and started writing erotic romance, I took a fantastic six-week erotica class with author Shanna Germain. That helped me really hone my skills for writing erotic romance.
Q: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?
A: Author Dean Wesley Smith has a lot of good writing advice on his blog; I think it’s a must-read for any author, whether they’re a beginner or have an established publishing record. One of the things he talks about is how a writer does not have to write slowly in order to write well. A single short story does not have to take weeks or months. A novel does not have to take a full year. When I first read this advice, I was skeptical that I could do it, but I actually trained myself to write quickly. My drafts don’t come out completely perfect the first time around, but they’re solid. I can always fix things during the editing process!
Q: How do you motivate yourself to write quickly? What do you do if you get stuck?
A: The key to writing quickly is to minimize distractions. No text messages, phone calls, or emails. No browsing Wikipedia for hours on end and trying to justify it as research. Just sit down and write. If I’m struggling, I put on some good music to get my creative mind going. I’m also not above bribery if necessary. For every 500 words I write, I can have a piece of chocolate, check my email, or make a cup of tea. Just a small goal to get me over the hump. If that doesn’t work, I start working on a different chapter of the book, in hopes that working on a different section will help. If even that doesn’t work, I stop writing for a few hours and work on editing a draft of another piece. That way, I get my mind off writer’s block, but I’m still being productive.
Q: What made you choose to write erotic romance?
A: It was almost a fluke, actually. I’d never read anything in the erotic genre before I wrote my first dirty story. But one day, I had an idea for a story about a woman who has a steamy encounter with her dance instructor, and wrote I it down. It was definitely the work of a beginner, but I had so much fun with it that I knew I’d found my ideal genre.
Q: What made you decide to focus on ménage stories?
A: Three’s a party. It’s not a crowd until you can’t all fit in the bed.
Q: How much research do you have to do before you start writing?
A: I’ve yet to write something that required me to do extensive, in-depth research before I started writing. Most of the time, I figure out what I need during the outlining phase, look it up, make some notes for reference, and get going. If I realize during the writing process that I need to look something up, I just highlight the section and try to move on without it. I hate having to stop my flow in order to look something up, so I try to write around it and then add the information I need later.
Q: How long do you usually spend outlining before you start writing?
A: It depends. If I’m starting an entire new series, I’ll spend at least a day developing the overall ideas, figuring out how many books I want to include, and other large-scale issues. When I get down to the individual books themselves, I try to spend less than two hours doing prep work. My outlines are pretty simple because I don’t want to feel confined. They describe which plot points to hit in which chapters, but leave a lot of room for my ideas to change as the story develops.
Q: What is the most difficult aspect of writing?
A: For me, it’s coming up with book titles and naming characters. I got a name generator app for my phone, which has been a big help. I still hate having to settle on a title, though. I keep a whole Google Doc full of terrible title ideas, listing things off until I find something that sounds decent.
Q: You’ve written about Male Order and you’ve created a whole series about dance. What’s next?
A: I’ll be going back to writing about Texas, although not to Male Order. I don’t want to give too many details before things get finalized, but there will be a road trip and coyote shapeshifters. That’s all I’m saying for now, though.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A: Dancing, first and foremost. I’m either taking lessons or out social dancing almost every night of the week. I also love playing poker. I’d love to get good enough to play in a Vegas casino someday.
Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A: I love to travel, but my heart belongs in Austin. If I had the money, I’d have a bunch of properties all over the place. I want a house in Austin, but I also want a ranch out in Terlingua, Texas. If I’m really dreaming big, I’d also like a penthouse apartment in Manhattan and a villa somewhere in Italy. I just want to be able to take off for a long weekend somewhere and find a home ready and waiting for me.
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