Tell us about yourself and your books.:
Until last year, I was one of those readers–you know, literary snobs who look down their noses at romance for the usual stupid reasons: too corny, too predictable, too fluffy. After finishing another (as yet unpublished) mystery manuscript, I read a few online articles about how fun and lucrative writing erotica can be. I thought, what the heck? Let's try.
I have never had so much fun with a writing project! It nearly wrote itself, though it damned sure didn't edit itself. And now, my first contemporary romance Through the Red Door is available from The Wild Rose Press. Book Two in the Book Nirvana Series, Runaway Love Story, is coming in the spring of 2019.
I've totally immersed myself in the world of romance, gobbling books like popcorn, filling my ears with romance podcasts, and joining the Romance Writers of America. I find this genre excellent psychic self-defense against the current political poop-storm. At least in these stories someone will have a happy ending.
Why set the series in a bookshop? Ever since I was a wee lass, I dreamed of owning one. Add to that my fascination with historical erotic art and literature, and you’ve got the Book Nirvana series, set in an indie bookshop with an extensive erotica collection behind a locked red door.
I love stories in which a couple’s powerful physical attraction leads them to consider a partner outside their usual M.O.—one who just might turn out to be their perfect match. That’s how it happened for my husband and me, and my romance fiction contains that element.
I sort of pulled the setting out of a hat. I live in Washington State and wanted to set my series in a college town. I’ve heard that Eugene, Oregon is a great one with a lively arts scene and a continuing counterculture legacy from the hippie era. After touring the city via online research, correspondence, and Google Earth, I finally made the trip. Eugene is even lovelier than I’d imagined. Kate Rock, a resident author, kindly shared her knowledge of the city’s history and the flavor of the different neighborhoods. I look forward to many return trips.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Well, I do most of my writing standing up. I bought one of those adjustable stand/sit desk toppers and a squishy floor mat–heaven for my feet!
What authors have influenced you?
I aspire to reach the heights of glorious, sexy goodness achieved by contemporary romance writers like Victoria Dahl, Lauren Dane, Roni Lauren, Sarah Castille, Alyssa Cole, Alisha Rai, and Tessa Bailey–and of course, Damon Suede (swoon!). I'm also a huge fan of historical romance authors like Robin Schone, Joanna Shupe, Tessa Dare, Elizabeth Hoyt…clearly, I could go on all day.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Writers write. Every day, if possible–even if it's just a few lines to keep the story active in your subconscious mind. Take classes–RWA offers excellent online courses for not much $$. Read craft books. Find a way to meet up with other authors. If there's no writing group near you, start one. Meetup.com is a great resource for this. Take critique with courage and give it with kindness but no phony B.S. You'll learn almost as much from critiquing as from being critiqued. Attend conferences. Writers are, for the most part, a very supportive bunch.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
A wise old Southern lady once told me, "Honey, ever'body's got something to teach you, even if it's how not to be."
What are you reading now?
I'm diving into audiobooks. Currently, I'm listening to J.T. Geissinger's Melt for You. Fabulous book, funny and touching with a satisfying slow burn. Fabulous narrator too: Pippa Jane? Jayne? I'll seek out more books narrated by her. Her Scots brogue is to die for.
What’s your biggest weakness?
Squirrel brain. I'm highly distractible.
What is your favorite book of all time?
I couldn't possibly pick one. My favorite read from 2018 was Damon Suede's Hot Head. I love the way he weaves sensuality and emotion. His characters ring true.
What has inspired you and your writing style?
That's a tough one. Dialogue's a strength for me, probably because I enjoy eavesdropping on conversations. I aim to write realistic, believable settings and characters. Some readers prefer extremes: billionaires, space cowboys, wolf shifters. Those can be fun to read, but I prefer the challenge of portraying the wrenching and hilarious moments (and sexy ones) that happen to all of us.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently writing Book Three of the Book Nirvana series. Still untitled, it features Margot, Clara's punk-pixie shop assistant, and Elmer, a muscly, tattooed, ginger-bearded flirt introduced in Book Two (coming soon). She's a graphic designer; he's a ceramics artist. Both are struggling to balance day jobs and make time for art. Their steamy chemistry tugs them together, then they find they're competing for the same art grant–an infusion of much-needed cash and support that could propel one, and only one, toward a real art career. Darcy, Nick's sultry assistant from Through the Red Door, doesn't want to relinquish her hold on Margot, either. Can Elmer persuade fiercely-independent Margot that he's not out to steal her freedom? (I'm having fun writing my first threesome scene.)
What is your method for promoting your work?
Since I'm a debut author, I'm exploring every sort of free and inexpensive promo I can find. Fellow authors have been generous with hosting me on their blogs and such. I've done a few Facebook parties, though most of those were attended by authors. It's a challenge, for sure, and could easily gobble my writing time.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I've written two cozy mysteries and one work of women's fiction. After I finish the Book Nirvana series, I plan to alternate shorter works of erotic romance with finishing the first three volumes in a cozy mystery series set in a fictional artists' colony on the Northern California coast. Those'll be published under my own name, since the tone and heat level are quite different. A Sadira Stone book will always be spicy.
How well do you work under pressure?
Give me enough coffee and I do fine.
How do you decide what tone to use with a particular piece of writing?
The characters' situation and state of mind determines the tone. Book Two in the Book Nirvana series contains more humor, because the hero and heroine find themselves in some ridiculous situations: her 90-year-old great aunt blurts out whatever's on her mind; their love story goes viral on social media just as their real-live romance is faltering.
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