Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
Thanks so much for having me visit! I started writing erotic contemporary at my agent’s suggestion because she said I have the voice for it. I was rather surprised because I always thought I had a historical voice but it’s a voice with a very immediate feel so I guess it worked. My problem is that from growing up in England I find it very difficult to reproduce American phrases and diction, which is one reason Hidden Paradise has a lot of English characters (and Tell Me More, the first erotic contemporary I wrote for HQN has an adorable Irish hero).
It seems we all endured English and/or World literature coming up in high school…What was the worst book you were ever forced to read and what about it turned you off?
I went to high school in England so I was spared Nathaniel Hawthorne (my daughter’s English teacher told me it was all about the vocabulary) but I was almost put off George Eliot for life by being subjected to Silas Marner. Why the designers of the syllabus chose that particular book, very beautiful and complex, was quite simple—it’s her shortest book and they wanted something we could get through in a semester. Big mistake. I think we would all have adored The Mill on the Floss—or been enraged by it—it’s such a teenager-y book or even enjoyed the hot Will Ladislaw in Middlemarch. Bad choice, educators.
You have a million dollars that you must donate to one charitable organization. Which one would you choose and why?
Funny you should bring this up. I’m donating $1 per comment on this blog tour to Heifer.org up to $250. Why $250? Because that “buys” a water buffalo and nothing says hot romance like a water buffalo. I’m a great admirer of this nonprofit which gives families worldwide independence and is particularly beneficial to women and children.
Do you have one of those pesky day jobs, or are you a full-time writer? If you do have another career what do you do and do you enjoy it?
I work for a baroque music organization, a sort of strange job. I administrate. I like having a commute and reading time (on the Washington DC metro) and being out in the city. And I also like baroque music so it works out well for me. I have one weekday off that I use to write, do promo, blog, bake bread, refinish furniture, rip up weeds etc.
Due to the world we live in, most editors will tell a romance writer they have the moral obligation to protect their characters from scary life altering things, thereby being obligated to the reader. What are your thoughts on this? Do you protect your characters and how?
Not at all. I also very much dislike the idea of a character learning something and thus teaching the reader a moral lesson of some sort, particularly in erotic romance. I think it’s a legacy of the Puritan roots of this country and it strikes me as a sort of intellectual laziness.
Romance has come a long, long way since Fabio graced the covers regularly…it seems the hinges are off the proverbial door. How far is too far in your mind? Are there things you simply won’t write?
Bad prose? I think I’m the only writer who’s been accused of having too much sex and not enough sex in the same book, so I don’t know that I’m qualified to weigh in on this. Romance covers are still, for the most part, insulting though I must say Hidden Paradise’s cover does the job!
I’ve been asked, as has my husband, if we do “all that stuff in my stories.” Do you get asked this and if so how do you handle it?
I’m probably too old to be asked this; the questioner might start thinking icky thoughts about what their mom and dad got up to. But my standard answer is that I’ve never ridden around Hyde Park in a phaeton or danced at Almack’s either.
Wine or beer? Beer.
Satin or cotton? As a historical writer (sometimes) I should probably say satin, but I love cotton.
Fries or tots? Fries.
Cake or pie? Pie, ooh pie, baby.
Steak or burgers? Burgers. I was a vegetarian for a while and I still don’t like meat that reminds me of an anatomy lesson.
Candle light or pitch dark? Oh heck, let’s keep the light on.
When you’re writing a ménage how do you keep the characters, names, and body parts straight and where they should be at all time?
It is tricky and the point of view thing is tricky too, because you do want to show a sense of blending, of touching and being touched and the two acts becoming something else. And I think you also have to convey a certain amount of incoherence and urgency in your narrative while still retaining some clarity for the reader. After all, you want her to be in the moment and stay with you. I think dialogue is very important in any sex scene and writing something that is realistic but a little more literary than “oh yeah” or “higher … no, do that again… to your left”—I mean, they might be having their back scratched—is very important. I don’t think I’ve ever written in an extra limb or penis but it’s possible.
I’ve been told many times write what you know. Unless you’re a gay man ;), how did you learn to write m/m sex realistically?
It all comes down to the characters, I think. They should dictate how they’re going to have sex or express love. I do know that, despite its prevalence in m/m erotic romance, many men don’t go in for anal penetration, for instance, but it does seem to be rather flavor of the day and something that fascinates female readers. Or editors!
CALL IT SENSE AND
Louisa Connelly, a recently widowed Jane Austen scholar, needs some relief from her stifling world. When a friend calls to offer her a temporary escape from her Montana ranch, she is whisked into a dizzying world of sumptuous food, flowing wine...and endless temptation.
She's an honored guest at Paradise Hall, an English resort boasting the full experience of an authentic Georgian country-house weekend. Liveried servants tend to the every need of houseguests clad in meticulous period costume: snug breeches, low-cut silken gowns and negligible undergarments.
It's Mac Salazar, a journalist immersing himself fully, deeply, lustily in the naughty pleasures of upstairs-downstairs dalliances, who piques Louisa's curiosity-and libido-most. He's a dilettante straight out of a novel: uninhibited, unapologetic and nearly insatiable. But Lou's not romantic about this much, at least: Paradise Hall is a gorgeous fantasy, nothing more. A lover like Mac is pure fiction. And the real world beckons....
Lou took a deep breath, enjoying the solitude and silence. She took inventory of her outfit and gathered her fan, gloves and fancy red-and-black reticule. Her remaining silk flowers wouldn’t work with this gown, or her headdress, a small turban which was little more than a twist of the same fabric sewn into a circlet. But she needed some sort of adornment, some bling. She looked at her meager collection of jewelry and picked out the ruby on a fine gold chain that Julian had given her for their wedding. When was the last time she had worn this? At his funeral?
She threaded the necklace carefully around the turban, adding a few clumsy stitches to secure it with the sewing kit the room provided. By candlelight, her inadequate housewifery would pass and the ruby, a large square-cut stone, glistened. Perfect.
A touch of glossy red on her lips and she was ready, and only just in time. She joined a flow of guests down the stairs, where women in gorgeous gowns and men in Regency evening wear or military uniforms mingled. Footmen passed through the crowd with trays of champagne. There was a little more light than usual in the foyer and she guessed the floral arrangements concealed hidden lights. A few flashbulbs exploded as they descended the steps, members of the media incongruous in modern clothing, and a couple of camera crews.
A man stepped forward and bowed, dressed in a severe black swallowtail coat and snowy white linen. His evening trousers were black knit that shone with the luster of silk and clung to his beautiful physique, a lock of dark hair tumbled over his forehead. He extended a gloved hand to her.
“Mr. Darcy, I presume,” she said.
Janet Mullany, granddaughter of an Edwardian housemaid, was born in England but now lives near Washington, DC. Her debut book was Dedication, the only Signet Regency to have two bondage scenes (and which was reissued with even more sex in April 2012 from Loose-Id). Her next book, The Rules of Gentility (HarperCollins 2007) was acquired by Little Black Dress (UK) for whom she wrote three more Regency chicklits, A Most Lamentable Comedy, Improper Relations, and Mr. Bishop and the Actress. Her career as a writer who does terrible things to Jane Austen began in 2010 with the publication of Jane and the Damned (HarperCollins), and Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion (2011) about Jane as a vampire, and a modern retelling of Emma, Little to Hex Her, in the anthology Bespelling Jane Austen headlined by Mary Balogh. She also writes contemporary erotic fiction for Harlequin, Tell Me More (2011) and Hidden Paradise (September, 2012).