As an erotic romance author, I find that people seem to be fascinated with how I research my novels. It is the most frequent question people ask me — usually with a wink and a grin. At a recent signing at a show called Sexapalooza in my home city of Ottawa, Canada, many people asked if it’s personal experience. I glanced around at the piles of books (6 different novels) and winked, telling them I’ve been a very busy lady. (My husband of over 25 years just chuckled! Um, yeah, I was about 2 when I got married!)
So how do I do my research? Well, I’ve found that there is an unexpected wealth of information all around us. At a family gathering, my niece, who has studied hypnotherapy, told me about an intriguing concept called erotic hypnosis. That inspired me to write a scene where one of my heroines (Hanna in BLUSH) enjoyed a very hot erotic fantasy with a plethora of sexy, leather-clad bikers. What I loved most was that I could really push the limits because it was a guided flight of imagination.
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We’ve all got tropes we like – assassin heroes, marriage of convenience, small town romance, older man/younger woman (or vice versa), uber alpha heroes, beta heroes, certain historical periods (me? I love me some wallpaper regencies), friends to lovers, whatever your preferences may be – we’ve all got em.
Relentless is a story of opposites. In Abbie, we have a woman without political power. In the world I built for my Federation books, the haves are Ranked. As in they are members of the ruling Families who hold the reins of political and economic power across all the Federation Universes. Everyone else is unranked and therefore able to rise only so high.
So Abbie is unranked. She’s also a barrister, a public defender if you will and she has spent her adult life working to bring a more representative form of governance to her home ‘Verse. She’s small and fiery and full of passion and conviction.
When I received my author copies for my latest Spice release, Cleopatra’s Perfume, I re-read it all over again from beginning to end, reliving the heroine’s sexual obsessions and romantic interludes with the men in her life, the angst and horror of World War II when she becomes a spy for the British Foreign Service and the fascinating story behind the mysterious perfume in the title (and yes, I enjoyed the sex, too!).
When I came to the end of the story, I realized I had unfinished business with the heroine in my book, Lady Eve Marlowe. Before she married a member of the British peerage, she was a cabaret dancer in Berlin during the wild days of the Weimar Republic during the erotic 1920s. What were those years like in pre-war Berlin? I wondered, intrigued. Eve came to Berlin with an all-girl revue in 1928 looking for love and adventure. Instead she found a city bathed in lust and sex.
I’m thrilled that on Tuesday, March 3, one of my favorite books will re-release in trade paperback: BOUND AND DETERMINED. Let me give you the 411…then a little story to go along with it. Berkley HEAT ISBN-10: 0425226905 ISBN-13: 978-0425226902 Genre: Sexy Contemporary Romance Re-release Date: March 3, 2009
WANTED FOR KIDNAPPING: A bubbly blonde with a penchant for trouble. May be armed (with good intentions) and dangerously seductive… Kerry Sullivan is running out of time-and patience. With her brother wrongfully accused of embezzling millions, she can’t face one more humiliating hang-up from the man she’s begging for help. Rafael Dawson may be one of the top electronic security experts in the country — and the only man who can prove her brother’s innocence — but his phone manners are appalling. Damn Yankee. Too bad kidnapping the man isn’t an option. Or is it?
I’ve been working on Wolf Tales IX for the past couple of months which, counting the novellas in anthologies, is the seventeenth title in my erotic tales of the Chanku. It’s due for release in January 2010. I remember wondering when I signed the contracts for the third set of novels and novellas if I’d ever get them all written. Now, all of a sudden, the stories I’m contracted for are almost done and I’m waiting to hear from my publisher about plans for more of the series. Characters who were new to me less than four years ago have now become old friends. I know their secrets, their loves, their needs and their fears. I wonder what the future holds in store for them, and I worry about them as if they’re real flesh-and-blood people who matter to me in the way of those I love in real life.
I’m either desperately in need of a good therapist, or totally involved in my imaginary world…and I’m hoping it’s the latter, because it’s such a great world to hang out in. For one thing, it’s filled with fascinating (to me, anyway!) characters with a strong sense of family and a natural code of honor that appeals to me. And, it’s a matriarchal society. Women, quite literally, rule. It begins with their ability to control reproduction and extends to an innate sense of leadership the males are genetically programmed to recognize. While the men are physically stronger and think they’re in charge, when it comes down to a final decision, the women have the last word. For some reason, I find that terribly attractive!
The latest in the series, Wolf Tales VII, has just released. For readers not familiar with the story line, this book might be a good place to begin, as there’s enough backstory to bring everyone up to date. I write the series like an ongoing soap opera, where it’s possible to jump in at any time, but it’s definitely more gratifying to start at the beginning. The one I’m writing now has been nothing but backstory—all the Chanku shapeshifters have gathered for the birth of a new baby, and during the course of the long night, they’re telling the stories of how they first discovered their shapeshifting birthright.
I’m learning things about my characters I never even suspected, so it’s really been a fun book to write. That’s the joy of not plotting. When I sit down to write, every story is a surprise to me. Even more fun, in this particular book I’m telling the stories my readers have asked for—the members of my newsletter were invited to request the stories they wanted to hear, and the response was phenomenal. Wolf Tales IX will be a direct result of their wishes. If you’re at all curious about the series—and if you’re eighteen or over—I have the first chapters of all my books posted at www.katedouglas.com/eroticromance.
Thanks to Fresh Fiction for giving me the chance to blog, and thanks to my readers, who are the only reason I have the privilege of writing my series. I want to wish all of you the very best in the coming year, and don’t forget to make time to read a good book! To help you along I am giving away a copy of Wolf Tales VII on my ONE DAY ONLY blog contest.
Thanks so much for having me as your guest. I’m excited to have Berkley releasing SHOW AND TELL this month, the second book in a trilogy that began with THE FORTUNE HUNTER, which won the Holt Medallion for erotic romance. Here’s a little tidbit about SHOW AND TELL to whet your appetite. All her life Trinity Green has been a pleaser, first her mom and dad, then her husband. When she walks in on her husband with another woman, she realizes that trying to be the perfect wife with never a hair out of place or a smudge of makeup beneath her eyes was all for nothing. Now she’s going to indulge herself, with good food, delicious wine, and hot sex. Then she meets the perfect man under the oddest of circumstances…
And Trinity also needs to get a job! That’s where my experiences working in an office atmosphere comes into play for the book. This spring I rented all the DVDs for “The Office.” You might think that show exaggerates what it’s really like, that no real boss is going to say or do stuff like that. But, swear it, they really do. I had a wonderful boss who drove me insane. I remember a time he walked up behind me and snapped my bra strap. I was in shock as he ran down to HR to ask if I could sue him. Another time he asked if I was sleeping with the VP of Manufacturing because the guy had given me such a glowing review. Of course, he didn’t just ask that in private, he yelled it out from his office door over to my cubicle. You might think I disliked this man, but for the most part he was actually a really nice guy. He just had this problem with saying and doing things before he thought them completely through. So, like “The Office” I had to bring along some characters that I worked with for SHOW AND TELL. Specifically, there’s lovely Inga Rice who gives Trinity hell on her new job. In my real life, she was a he. It was a nightmare from which I couldn’t seem to wake. But you know, I was kind of proud of the way I handled this guy in the end. Which is why I’m proud of the way Trinity handled Inga, too. So while much of what I write is totally fiction, a lot is also based on real events, maybe my events, or maybe a story someone else told me.
So, care to share any stories you have from your work? Any bizarre things happen to you recently? Any interesting characters that you’d like to share?
I’ve been reading romance novels for over twenty years and writing them for over ten years. They are a significant part of my life. I’ve watched trends come and go, and I’ve been part of some of those trends.
But one thing remains constant: The heroes and heroines fall in fall. Romance novels are about romance.
The Art of Desire is an erotic romance. It’s a wildly passionate book where the characters fall crazy in love while having crazy, heart-thrilling sex.
I was accurately quoted in Candy’s June Inside Books column (thanks, Candy!) about how my books used to get censored, and I’d like to expound on that quote, posting it in its entirety.
In the old days, I used to get censored by my editors because my love scenes were too graphic, so when the erotica subgenre exploded on the scene, it seemed inevitable that I become part of it. Even my readers kept asking, “When are you going to write an erotica?”
So I did it! The Art of Desire is my first really, really sexy book. No censorship. No holds barred. But in spite of the sensuality, I wanted it to be highly romantic and deeply emotional, too. I created a contemporary story with a historical twist, with a hundred-year-old journal as an integral part of the plot. The historical portions gave me the opportunity to write a classic romance with tragic elements. The contemporary portions gave me the chance to spread my naughty wings and write in my most erotic voice.
The result has been rewarded. So far, The Art of Desire has garnered exceptional reviews, including a Top Pick from Romantic Times. I couldn’t be more thrilled.
While I was writing The Art of Desire, I debated if I should keep my name (Sheri WhiteFeather) or change it. Yes, lots of my readers wanted me to pen an erotica, but what about the rest of them? Would they prefer that I keep my identities separate, so they would know what to expect? Would writing naughty books under my Harlequin name confuse them?
I decided to become Cherie Feather, which flowed naturally from Sheri WhiteFeather. I let readers know that Cherie is Sheri, but that my Cheri’s books are much, much, edgier.
Museum director Mandy Cooper has always been obsessed with nineteenth-century artist Catherine Burke—and the artist’s erotically charged relationship with Atacar, her enthralling American Indian lover. But Mandy’s link to the legendary couple runs deeper than she knows. She’s having a heated affair herself—with Jared Cabrillo, Atacar’s perilously handsome great-great nephew. And the consuming passion Atacar once used to seduce Catherine is now being engaged by Jared. He knows precisely what it takes to move a woman…
He’s in possession of Catherine’s wildly explicit journal. He knows every intimate detail of what she wanted and needed. But he also knows how desperately Catherine had loved Atacar and how dangerously he’d loved her. The journal is timeless and tragic, and the secrets contained within its pages can bring Mandy and Jared together, or just as surely destroy them both—desire by shocking desire.
If that piqued your interest, watch the book trailer.
In July, I have a WhiteFeather release called Killer Passion. It’s part of a Silhouette Romantic Suspense miniseries called Seduction Summer with authors Nina Bruhns and Cindy Dees. Nina, Cindy and I were asked to write hot, suspenseful stories, and we had a blast creating romances set in Fiji with a serial killer stalking lovers on the beach.
Since I write erotic romance, the question I’m asked most often is “Do you write about real-life experiences?” And, if it’s a guy doing the asking, this question is often followed by “If you need any help with research…” then, a wink and a sly smile. Initially, I found these questions annoying, thinking them unfair. I mean, would these same people go up to my literary hero, Dean Koontz, and ask him if he was really a schizophrenic psychotic with paranormal endencies? And if they really thought so, I doubt they’d offer to assist him with research. So why, then, do people assume that just because I write about sex, I live a life overflowing with it?
I think it’s because sex is such a personal experience. And since it’s nearly impossible to write about it convincingly without having experienced it, it’s natural for people to assume that erotic romance authors live the life we write about. And since the majority of folks who read erotic romance have most likely had sex, they can tell in a heartbeat if an author is writing nonsense. But, while they’ve had sex, odds are, they’ve never knowingly met a schizophrenic psychotic with paranormal tendencies. So, having no basis for comparison, they give Mr. Koontz the benefit of the doubt, assuming that he’s merely a master storyteller (which he is!).
So, I no longer consider these assumptions unfair. For if, after reading my work, they refuse to believe that I didn’t really experience what I wrote about, isn’t that the highest form of flattery? Now, let me ask you – have you ever read a book or a scene that was so real you thought the author must’ve experienced it? What was it?
P.S. I just realized that though I implied an answer, I didn’t really answer the question. So, nope, I don’t write about real life, but real life oftentimes triggers what I write about. For example, I host a live talk show called “Chatting with Chase” and I’ve been interviewed on the radio, both of which prompted Dr. Love’s talk show in SIN CLUB. Additionally, I was standing outside of a club one night and a guy drove by and shouted out his phone number. I certainly didn’t call him, but jaded, world-weary, Sharice did in SIN CLUB – with interesting results. And The Dirty Minnie, Sharice’s drink, was created for me by a bartender in Atlanta when I was looking for Derek (http://www.findingderek.com/), the hero of my first book, SEX LOUNGE.
All right it’s in big letters on MY calendar, but likely you’re scratching your head wondering if you’ve missed a national holiday or if I’m excited about watching the next round of American Idol.
Well, it’s not a national holiday, but I’m embarrassed to say I am TIVOing Idol so I don’t miss a thing. But that’s still not why I’m so excited. SEDUCED BY DARKNESS will be shipping to readers and bookstores today!
So, now that my book will be arriving at bookstores and in the mail to my more modest readers, I can start the next round of “Will they like it?” Writers are notoriously insecure. We live and die by reviews and readers letters, because the actual measure of our success – SALES – won’t be available for months and sometimes years.
For those of you who don’t know me, it might be because my books are shelved with the “naughty” romances–sometimes with the romance books, but in a restrictive shelf high out of reach and sight of little ones; sometimes in the erotica section with the tantric sex and Kama Sutra books; and sometimes, strangely, in the zoology section. Which makes it tough for readers who would like to browse on their own rather than approach the help desk with red cheeks to ask where it’s shelved.
I’m hoping they are already hooked on the series and dying for the second book. Yes, it’s another vampire book–BUT, it’s not the same-O, same-O–it’s hotter, scarier, and full of twists and turns. Yes, it’s set in New Orleans–BUT in the aftermath of a “great storm,” which will remain unnamed.
My Dark Realm series began in my mind long before Hurricane Katrina hit. I’d read a newspaper article about some minor flooding around New Orleans that lifted coffins in graveyards and left them and their occupants strewn along river banks. A very creepy concept, but so tantalizing to my devious mind, I filed it away.
When I decided to write the series, I pulled out that article, and a stack of books covering subjects like demonology, Sumerian mythology, and Templar Knight lore and constructed a history for my otherworld that is still unfolding in book #2, Seduced by Darkness. I’m really not very methodical about how I plot or write, but I let my research spark ideas, then pluck what I want from the source material, and twist it up a bit. I started submitting the book to agents, but oddly didn’t get any bites until Katrina. I guess it really is all in the timing. The second Dark Realm book is tightly interconnected with the first, INTO THE DARKNESS. I’ve written several series and don’t know any other way to write in my other worlds without having the characters interact and work together toward a common goal. Writing series gives me chance to flesh out those intriguing secondary characters, uncover new layers in events that unfold, and give another perspective on “the battle.” That’s not saying, you couldn’t read one of the books on its own and be fully satisfied. I’m very careful to plant previous plot threads throughout. Of course, again, not in a methodical way. It just happens.