Erotica

I am so pleased to welcome erotic author Denise Rosetti all the way from down under. A multi-published author, she has agreed to stop by for a chat about her latest release… Strongman: Book 3 in the Phoenix Rising series. (ISBN: 978-1419914973 a male/male fantasy available now through Ellora’s Cave.)

When the credits rolled up for Brokeback Mountain were you in tears? Denise Rossetti was.

Then she got mad – two souls who were destined to be together, so much love, so totally wasted. All because of the society those men lived in. But what if a similar situation occurred in another place, at another time? In a world Rossetti knew well? Her writer’s brain started churning…

Enter Stage Center – Fortitude McLaren, a hard-bitten mercenary who’s had a gutful of mud and blood and death. Brought up in the bigoted society of the Straight Church on the fantasy world of Phoenix.

Enter Stage left – Griff, acrobat and knife-thrower, lithe and athletic, a man with a gift for friendship, for caring.

Put the players together and you get something like this…

When Fortitude McLaren joins the Ten Nations Fair as a roustabout, he’s shocked and angered by his hunger for Griff, a circus performer. Fort regards manlove with indifference and contempt.

Not for him. Never for him.

Although Fort fights with everything in him, Griff affects him like no one else. It’s not just his strong, supple body, the big mercenary is irresistibly drawn by the openhearted friendship the other man offers so freely.

Fort may have found a friend, but the cruel memories of his childhood are the greatest enemy of all. When a job for Jan the Aetherii puts Griff in danger, Fort discovers what’s really at risk-everything he is and everything he’s ever believed in. To save Griff’s life and preserve his own sanity, Fort must not only fight the battle in his soul, he must win it.

About the Author: When Denise Rossetti was very young, she had an aunt who would tell her the most wonderful fairy stories — all completely original. Denise grew up, as little girls do, but the love of stories has never left her.

These days, she lives in a comfortable, messy old house in the Australian suburbs and writes erotic fantasy and paranormal romance. Her work is intense, lyrical and excitingly different. One reviewer called it “erotically intelligent, intelligently erotic”.

Rossetti is currently published by Ellora’s Cave and Avon Red. THE FLAME AND THE SHADOW, the first book in her erotic fantasy quartet for Berkley Ace, will be released on 4th November 2008. She has also a story appearing in the Berkley Heat anthology, UNLACED (2nd December 2008), together with authors Jasmine Haynes, Jaci Burton and Joey W. Hill. She’s thinking of changing her name to Jenise to go with the flow.

Rossetti is small and noisy and dreadfully uncoordinated. She tends to wave her hands around a lot, which can be unfortunate if the tale she’s telling happens to have explosions in it!

Denise agreed to let me ask questions about her book, her writing habits and her personal life… silly Denise.

What advice would you give to aspiring erotic romance writers?
Hoo boy! There’s SO MUCH advice out there – and really, I shouldn’t add to it! But I guess I do have a couple of observations to make, can’t help myself. *sigh*

The first is that if you want to write erotic romance, you must be a WRITER, first and foremost. If you don’t get that right, not all the graphic sex scenes in the world will save you. The second is that you need to be completely at ease with whatever sex you’re writing. If you’re out of your comfort zone it will show. There’s a whole lot more in an article I wrote called Some Write it Hot: Musings and Myths about Erotic Romance

Back to being a WRITER. If you’re an aspiring author, take it or leave what I’m going to say, okay? Because if you take on board too many opinions and “systems” and bloody RULES, you’ll end up second-guessing yourself – every word, every phrase. I really abhor “how to write” books, even though many of them are both logical and insightful. But that’s because my head doesn’t work that way. You do what’s best for you, right?

Always remember that reading is a totally subjective experience and so is writing. One person’s “desert island keeper” is another’s “wall-banger”. Therefore, it’s essential that you stay true to yourself, and to your “voice”. Your take on the world is unique, no one writes quite like you. Celebrate your voice!

I know it may be unPC to say this, but I actually believe in talent. Yes, OF COURSE, hard work and persistence is important and will help you to improve, but there’s a “spark” you have to have in the first place.

After that, the only way to learn to write is to write! There’s no more magic to it than that. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my advice –

1. Write
2. Read
3. Trust your gut.
4. Write some more
5. Read lots more
6. Then write more and more and more and…
7. WRITE!

See what I’m getting at? *smile* You need to write in order to gather enough experience to know what the “rules” are so you can break them. You need to be confident enough in your own voice that you can accept constructive criticism with genuine gratitude. (Criticism? We’re supposed to listen when someone says they don’t love our baby as much as we do? Oh, yeah, that’s what editing is for…)

What’s your writing schedule like?
A  routine – if only… *sigh* The problem with my entire life is that I have next to no routine. And it would help so much if I did. I’m the Queen of Procrastination ruling over the Land of Clutter. I’m catastrophically untidy, to the point of losing things I really do need. As far as I’m concerned, putting something “in a safe place” is a recipe for disaster!

When I do have a writing day, I fluff around until lunchtime at least, doing emails, surfing and stuff. Heck, I don’t even know what it is that I do, except waste time. I usually start writing after lunch and if I’m serious, I have to move the laptop from the study to the bedroom because the wireless access doesn’t work in there. I sit on the bed with one of those tray table things over my legs. The dog lies on the floor and the cat lies on me. Everyone’s happy.

Funnily enough, despite the fact that I’m so careless with physical objects, I’m a very slow, very deliberate writer. I don’t often get carried away and have words simply flow out of my fingers. I have to dig for every single one, which means I need to concentrate. I have a timer on the computer and I turn it for 45 minutes. When it goes off, I’m allowed to check my email. (Did I say I need a 12 step program?) It’s amazing how little I can write in that time. Around 5pm I have this incredible desire to doze off, but the cat comes in and head-butts me until I fix his dinner. The dog just grumbles. So I yawn and go on. By 8pm, I’m firing on all cylinders and if I’m on a roll, sometimes I go ’til after midnight.

What do you wear while you’re writing?
Most of the time I just want to be comfortable, but every now and then, I’ll fish out my special purple dress. It’s one of those pseudo-medieval numbers, with long sleeves, a scoop neck and a floor length skirt. I like the way it swishes. And if I’m having an especially difficult time, I’ll throw a shawl over my shoulders. It’s really a delicate, open-work baby blanket my grandmother knitted for me a very, VERY long time ago. *smile* It always reassures me that I’m loved and that I can do this.

Do you have a “secret or private” drawer, box, shelf, etc. And, if you do, name five things in it.
Brace yourself! I actually have a three drawer bedside table. Five things? Okaaay…

1. A set of Tarot cards. Sadly, I’m too left-brained to let go and be truly intuitive with the Tarot, but I’m totally fascinated by it. I do use the cards for meditation and visualisation, even for plotting sometimes! I love my Robin Wood deck, it’s so beautiful, so rich in Pagan symbolism.

2. Writing stuff – pens and pencils, notepads, USB drive, backup CDs (not paranoid at all, oh no), dictionary and a thesaurus. The thesaurus is the New Oxford and it’s so huge (weighs 5.5 lbs!) that when I heave it onto the bed, My Beloved refers to it as the “co-respondent”.

3. The “smellies” – an oil burner, tea light candles and essential oils. Also a cigarette lighter. (No, I don’t smoke.) I love bergamot and lavender and rose and add a bit of lemongrass for mental stimulation when I’m writing.

4. My “comfort/inspiration” books. I have to have my own, of course, because they’re so precious to me – I print out the ones that are still in ebook. But I also have “Menage” by Emma Holly and “Natural Law” by Joey W. Hill, plus the occasional Georgette Heyer or whatever else I’m reading at the moment. Not that I have much time to read any more. *very deep sigh*

5. Music stuff – the radio/CD/Cassette player and CDs. Plus the remote control. Very handy.

6. The TMI things. You know what they are, because you have them too. And that’s all I’m going to say! *wicked grin* Oh, and spare batteries.

Thank you Denise for sharing yourself with us. Click Here to read an excerpt of Strongman from Ellora’s Cave. And to learn about my guest from Australia please visit her blog, website, or her MySpace page.

I’ve got her tied up… er… visiting for a couple of days. Please feel free to ask her questions about her books, her sex life and her writing.

So it seems everywhere I turn people are discussing erotica. Okay, I admit many of the blogs I visit are romance writers or somehow related to the industry. But still…

I belong to the national organization of Romance Writers of America. I didn’t join because I thought the national level could offer me much, I pretty much ignore them. I joined (and continue my membership) so I can be a member of my local chapter of RWA, Passionate Ink (the chapter for erotic authors), and soon will be joining the Kiss of Death chapter for suspense authors.

Why do I mention all this? Well…. there seems to be a portion of the membership that has started picking on erotic authors. Huh? Romance already gets snubbed by many people as “fluff”. I’m okay with that. Let’s face it, I don’t pick up a Sandra Brown novel to get entangled with the latest political views. I read fiction because it’s just that… fiction. Escapism.

I know erotica is not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m good with that too. But to say it is nothing more than pornography does belittle some amazing writers out there. The Tilling Passions series involves plotlines with intricate twists. I don’t want people to skip from love scene to love scene… it’s not the point. Yes, there are electronic publishers out there publishing the bulk of the erotica, but major NY publishing houses like Avon, Bantam, and Kensington (to name a few) are or have opened erotic lines as well. The stories they publish are complex plots with character growth.  Throwing open the bedroom door doesn’t mean the writing has been “dumbed down”.  

Many people DH and I know are asking about my books. I’m comfortable enough with my writing to suggest to some people that they may not want to order my book and when I explain why they usually laugh and agree… though some have surprised me!

Anyhoo… many writers were up in arms over the discussion. It was blog fodder that sparked lively debates. I went to a couple of links that went to other links until I was shaking my head in disbelief over the controversy porn vs. erotica sparked. Eventually I stopped reading it. I’m actually coming to the party very late. I didn’t bother to get embroiled in any of the rhetoric. It’s not worth my energy.

I started writing because it gave me something to do after MS forced my hand. I continue to write because now that the dam has been broken… there’s no holding back the flood! The hours at my computer are pure joy… most of the time 😉

Oh, by the way… thank you for all the suggestions on the whole blockage thing. I’m happy to say that I’ve hooked up with a couple of awesome writers to do an anthology. Nothing I want to talk about until the words start coming… but suffice it to say… the research into something new and exciting has begun!

What follows is a frank discussion on writing erotica. If you are easily offended or not over 18, you should stop now and find another blog. Otherwise, onward… 

Okay, it’s on my mind. I’ve been trying to avoid this blog. But I can’t. I just have to know what people think. You see, I’m into research. I love learning… about anything. And as a former biology teacher, and now a published erotic author, as you can imagine… nothing is off-limits.

My latest research is taking me into the realms of male/male sex and BDSM. Okay, I know some of you are blushing, but hey, as an erotic author I’ve learned to type these words without hesitation or embarassment. (I can even talk about my books to acquaintances without my cheeks turning to red orbs of fire. As I blush at the drop of a hat, this both surprised and intrigued me.) 

The fact is, good writing in the erotic realm requires not only great characters, emotion, and a story line that carries you through the entire novel, but the ability to strike a cord in the hearts of your readers during the love scenes. Hence my foray into some interesting research.

Fortunately, I belong to an online group of erotic writers. Nothing is off limits. We have frank discussions about all aspects of sexuality (as well as writing and the publishing market). It’s wonderful. I’ve asked some interesting questions about pushing limits and actual experiences of other writers. What I’ve learned has amazed me.

Mostly, I was surprised by the fascination of female readers to pick up books involving what I would have previously considered stories for gay men. The m/m storyline. Hmmm… it made me wonder why women would find this such a turn-on. So I asked.

Mostly I got embarrassed giggles and lots of “I have no idea why it trips my trigger”. But then one reader was able to explain the role-playing aspect. Putting oneself in place of one of the the heros. And it was this total, slap on the forehead, “aha” moment. Because isn’t reading romance all about getting caught up in the fantasy… being taken away to another place… another moment in time… another relationship? Allowing yourself to believe that all is right with the world and in the end, love will prevail, and the lovers will overcome all and get their happy ending?

So, now my research is stretching my writing; making me look at relationships differently; taking me in new and very interesting places. I’m not sure where exactly the next “what if” will take me, but I’m thinking Kara’s writing will be taking a backseat for awhile, at least until Nina has had an opportunity to explore more indepth these new dircections. 

So let me know, what do you like to read? And in this case… I’m not just talking erotica!

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