Q: What kind of feedback have you been getting from readers?
I’ve gotten some lovely emails from readers, which has been great. Personally I get shy about contacting my own favorite authors, but it’s absolutely true: one of the nicest things that can happen to an author is to hear from a satisfied reader.
I’ve also gotten some wonderful reviews by readers at the various places where you can say why you liked a book (e.g., Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.). The reservations expressed by readers are often quite insightful. I read them with a lot of interest; those comments do help me get better as a writer.
Q: The erotic romance sub-genre seems to be increasingly hot right now … why do think that is, and do you think the trend will continue?
“Increasingly hot”? Did you intend that pun, or are you just glad to see me? LOL
Well, 50 Shades of Grey has brought erotic romance to a lot of readers, some of whom perhaps didn’t know that such books existed. Of course, sexy romances have been around since the days of the so-called “bodice ripper,” but there are some key differences. The strength of E.L. James’s trilogy is that her characters are relatable while still being larger-than-life. Twenty-seven-year-old billionaires aren’t exactly run-of-the-mill guys, but that feeling of falling in love and being desperate to maintain the connection with another person: that’s something a lot of us have experienced or want to experience.
What the sex adds to such a story is a universal point of connection. I could write about Xavier and Angela (my hero and heroine in The Secret Heart) intensely playing backgammon, but a lot of people have no experience of that game. Sex, on the other hand, is frequently fun to do and fun to read about.
Finally, 50 Shades of Grey focused on the core of two people falling in love. There was a modest suspense subplot, but most of the three books was taken up with the relationship. I like stories like that: they look at the two people and what they’re dealing with in the course of falling in love.
Sex and intense emotions: my favorite sides to a main dish of romance!
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Sadly, I don’t have as much free time as I would like. My day job tends to keep me in the office a lot. I like to travel when I can, I read (of course!), and I’m passionate about the Philadelphia Eagles. I never miss a game.
Q: Without spoiling things too much, is The Secret Heart the last we will hear of The Aerie?
I may come back to visit from time to time—I do love these characters—but it’s tough to present them as viable characters after their HEAs (happy-ever-afters). Part of me would love to see Kai and Jenna’s wedding, or Darby and Damien’s domestic bliss after their baby is born. And Xavier owns a Queen Anne Victorian that I’m just itching to visit. But a little of that can go a long way, and as the characters themselves are stable, what would I write about them? Part of the HEA is the assurance the writer gives the reader: “They’re okay. You don’t have to worry about them anymore.”
That said, I’m currently working on a short story, Roman and Juliet, that pairs off a visiting Dom and one of the usual subs at The Aerie. So I’ve not locked the doors to The Aerie yet!
Q: What are your plans after that?
Oh, I’m so excited about this. Someone online asked if anyone knew of books with actual BDSM contracts in them. There’s 50 Shades of Grey, of course, and Annabel Joseph’s Comfort Object, but it got me thinking. (I’m a lawyer in “real life.”)
Contracts and other legal documents have limits, including a prohibition against any agreement that violates public policy. So a piece of paper signed by two adults that lays out the terms of a sexual power exchange is unlikely to be enforceable in a court of law. That doesn’t mean there aren’t situations where it’s still a good idea to draft that agreement.
And if you’re going to create a legal document, you may want a lawyer to help. Who’s that lawyer going to be? Someone intimately familiar with the BDSM community.
At the same time, I LOVED the recent BBC adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia,” the short story that introduces Sherlock Holmes to Irene Adler. In the remake, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” Irene Adler is a professional dominatrix who’s clearly attracted to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Homes. She’s the one who got away, his “what if” woman. Of course, she never shows up again in Conan Doyle’s stories, but what if she had?
In other words, what if an all-powerful lawyer fell in love with a woman who has to disappear…and then, when he is used to life without her, she reappears? And that’s when I got the idea for Mackenzie Lyon, the super-hot “Lawyer to the Doms.”
I have in mind a trilogy (good things come in threes) that starts with Mac dealing with an unusual bequest from an uncle to his vanilla nephew. When the uncle dies, the nephew inherits his estate…and the young woman living in the uncles house as a 24-7 submissive. Of course you can’t “leave” a human being in your will…but as introductions go, that’s a doozy. What’s the nephew going to think when he meets this woman? And what’s she going to think of him? And was the uncle matchmaking the whole time?
In Mac’s second book, he’s the lawyer helping a young woman negotiate a contract with a Dom who’s hiding behind legalese. We all know the sub has a lot of power in these situations, so how can the “Lawyer to the Doms” help her get what love story she wants?
Finally, in the third story, Mac’s “Irene Adler” is going to return and we’ll find out what an all-powerful guy does when his heart starts up again! As we’ve seen in Xavier and Angela’s story, I enjoy watching very powerful men deal with the one situation they can’t control: love.